Hot Cocoa Mason Jar Recipe

mason_jar_recipeHappy Monday friends! Only a few days until Christmas and I’m in panic mode. I have so much left to do and not much time to do it. Last night, I spent a few hours baking and being creative. Notice I said a “few hours”. I never knew it took so much time out of your day to play Martha Stewart. I started out by baking gingerbread cookies (recipe to come tomorrow) and went on to make mason jar hot cocoa mix. Lucky for you, I saved the recipe and instructions!

Step 1: Get all the ingredients out, trust me it saves time.

  • 4 (8 ounce) mason jars
  • 2 cups of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 10 crushed up candy canes
  • Bag of mini marshmallows

Hot_cocoa_recipeStep 2: Layer 1/4 cup of sugar, half a cup of cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in each jar. Have a butter knife handy to even out each layer. Follow this by layering the candy canes and then the mini marshmallows in each jar. Use as much or as little of the candy canes as you see fit. I like a lot of peppermint!

Step 3: Print out heating instructions and attach it to the jar with string.

mason_jar_crafts“To serve: Remove the marshmallows to a plate and mix together the remaining ingredients in the jar. Bring 1 cup of milk to a simmer over low heat. Add 3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix and stir until completely combined. Pour into cups or mugs and top with marshmallows before serving.”

Step 4: Add a festive bow on top of the jar and then take a photo for Instagram!

I’m giving these as cute gifts to a few friends. They’ll be impressed simply because they know how bad I am in the kitchen. Hopefully they feel loved too because I hate spending time on things like this, and believe me, I spent hours perfecting this! I guess I really can do anything when I force myself to. At least it made for pretty pictures!

christmas_crafts

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My Christmas To-Do List

christmas_to_do_listDo you ever just have those days where all you want to do is sit at home and relax? With the Christmas season upon us, I feel like this is all the time! Between homework and my part-time job, I don’t have the time to sit around and do nothing. I haven’t had time to bake any cookies or decorate my little tree. Life just gets away from me!

In an effort to enjoy these next few festive weeks, I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll take one day out of every week to enjoy the season and relax at home. I’ll drink my latte, decorate my tree, bake some sugar cookies, wrap gifts, light a candle, cuddle up under a blanket, and just enjoy the festive nature of December.

Be sure to check off these to-do’s over the next few weeks!

  • Decorate a tree
  • String lights on bushes outside
  • Try new cocoa recipe
  • Bake cookies
  • Have a Christmas movie marathon
  • Cut out paper snowflakes
  • Hang mistletoe
  • Listen to Christmas music
  • Enjoy a roaring fire
  • Lounge in warm Christmassy pajamas

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How I’m Paying Back my Loans Early

Today is the last warm day of the season I’m thinking. While parts of Minnesota got 40 inches of snow, my hometown in Maryland sported a breezy 68 degree day with abundant sunshine. Towards the end of my afternoon I noticed the breeze was getting a bit brisk for my taste. I don’t do brisk. I do warm breezes and sunny days. As much as I adore mittens, warm coats, Ugg boots (I know, so tacky), and PSL from Starbucks, I just prefer 75 degrees and a shorts and hoodie combo. How chic, right?

In my efforts to embrace the coming holiday season, I splurged at Starbucks and bought their new Chestnut Praline Latte and a snowman cookie. All I can tell you is to try that latte! I’ve never had a drink from there I enjoyed so much. The cookie, eh, well it was made in a factory far away from here and doesn’t have that home-made sugar cookie taste. But, hey, it’s sugar. I’ll take it!

This time of the year I enjoy window shopping and taking a look around stores to see what Christmas-y things they have on their shelves. I have the worst time restraining myself. Today, I think I did rather well. I’m trying to save money for after my graduation when I have to relocate to who knows where. Spending money is so easy, making money is next to impossible. In my endeavors to do the latter, I found a few freelance writing gigs. Now, if I could only get people to respond to emails faster then I know I would be on the fast track to getting out of the red.

Speaking of getting out of the red, if you’re like me you have some student debt to pay off from college. I’ve always wondered how on Earth I would be able to pay back every cent I owed to the government, but I’ve found a clever way to do it that I bet you’ve never heard of. It’s called FundUcation.com and this website hooks writers, marketers, designers etc. up with short-term freelance work with small businesses. The cool part is each time you get paid for a job the money you make goes directly towards your student loans. When you sign up, the website will ask for your lender’s name and your account with them. After you get your first job done, the payment will sync with your account and pay back some of your loans. The jobs don’t pay thousands, but they do pay up to $100. I talked to the founder of the website, Chris, and his vision was to make paying back student loans easier and faster.

There are so many brilliant people out there and I’m working my hardest to be one of them. Do any of you have clever ideas on how to make money? I’d love to hear them. Comment below and share with your besties!

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The Blogging Blues

pouty_faceThank God it’s Friday people. I’m ready for this week to be over. Do you ever have those weeks where nothing quite went how you wanted it to? It started with a long day at work on Monday and has ended with more confusion about the next steps after graduation than what I had last week. On top of figuring out my everyday life, I’m trying to understand my blogging life. For example, how on Earth do you integrate Google Analytics to your WordPress blog? I don’t speak “geek” and the articles I read skipped over quite a few steps. It’s frustrating!

However, I’ve made a goal for myself to learn one new thing about running a blog each week. Trying to do it all at once is just too much! So far, I’ve learned that I need to set up a Facebook page for my blog pronto. Here’s the funny thing I hate admitting though- what if no one likes it? How embarrassing would that be?

I’ve talked about starting an Etsy store selling my cute little designs and artwork. What if no one likes them though? I really hate the thought of that! My life and dreams are based on making a business out of my creativity.

I guess for anyone that’s ever taken on a daunting task there were many what-ifs. Taking the risk in the end is probably worth it. Motivating yourself to take that risk though is the hard part. Knowing that I have so much ahead of me before I can even consider making a career from my blogging is really intimidating.┬áHere’s a short list of things I came up with just sitting here writing:

  • Create a Facebook page
  • Set up Etsy store
  • Design printables and artwork for Etsy
  • Buy permanent domain name
  • Create color scheme for permanent blog
  • Figure out if WordPress will let me use my own palette and how
  • Buy a really good camera to get Pinterest-worthy pictures
  • Figure out how to set up a good email subscription option
  • Learn about Google Adwords and Analytics
  • Research how to get more followers from other sites besides WordPress

I’m sure you’re exhausted too! If you’re a blogger, then you must be frantic writing things down and setting reminders to do some of this stuff. Truthfully, I don’t know how the big bloggers like Rach Parcell or Emily Schuman have learned to do it. Obviously, they have somehow but they aren’t giving away their secrets and I can’t blame them!

Essentially, successful blogs require a lot of money to run. I doubt these girls started out with a budget for their blogs, but when did they decide they needed one and had a following to make it worth it? Right now, I’m edging 1300 followers (thanks to all of you) so is it time to set that budget? According to the only thing I could find on Google about this, it all depends. Well, depends on what? I still have no clue.

Just like you, I sit here wondering if I’m doing anything right. I haven’t seen significant growth at regular rates since the summer. That can’t be good. So what’s a girl and a blogger to do? I don’t know. So I’m just going to sit here and eat my Peppermint ice cream.

peppermint_ice_cream

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3 Things I did for Halloween (and what scared the pants off me)

Happy November 1st! Hope your Halloween was fun and rain free. I woke up this morning and its pouring rain and everything is gloomy outside. I hate depressing days like this. Luckily I have enough to keep me busy that it really won’t matter how wet it is outside.

In true November 1st fashion, I believe its about that time of the year when stores go into Christmas mode and put panic in the eyes of parents all over. Before popping in my Michael Buble Christmas CD, I’ll recap my Halloween for you all while drinking my PSL (pumpkin spice latte).

Pumpkin Cookies

pumpkin_cookiesMy mom made soft, warm pumpkin cookies! They have a thick, caramel glaze drizzled on top that hardens after a few hours. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 8 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

Directions:

1. Cream shortening, white sugar, and pumpkin. Add eggs and mix well. Sift together the baking soda, ground cinnamon, salt, and flour. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

2. Drop from spoon to cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

3. To make frosting: Cook butter, milk, and brown sugar until dissolved. Cool and add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. SPread over warm cookies.

These cookies are my favorite Pinterest find to date. They are so tasty!

cat_shaped_cakeMom also got a cake from the local bakery for us to dig into to. The inside was chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse filling. The outside was a hard chocolate shell with whipped icing detailing the kitty’s face. It was so rich! I could only eat a small slice. For almost every holiday my mom gets a cake or cupcakes to celebrate. My grandma did the same thing when my mom was a kid. Keeping these traditions alive is an important part of life.

Last but not least, my sister had her best friend sleep over. We ended up watching a ghost hunters type show. It scared the pants off of us. The hunters went to ancient haunted castles in Ireland. Several of these castles had druid and pagan rituals performed in them. The ghost hunters were trying to communicate with any evil spirits that still lurked in the castle. Needless to say they made contact and it scared the living tar out of them. One even claimed that something with sharp nails grabbed his ear! The man was actually crying. Upon entering a new castle another ghost hunter asked a spirit what touched the other man in the first castle. An audible voice said “Satan.” At that point my sister, her friend and I screamed and the ghost hunter proceeded to cry and then throw up. Freaky stuff! Enjoy the photo of us and be sure to tell me how your Halloween was!

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