Mason Jars: A Love-Hate Relationship

mason_jar_usesI have many pet peeves in life. From messy desk tops to my pants creating an unwanted muffin-top, my little dislikes range from normal to crazy. One pet peeve that I rarely am brave enough to mention because everyone is obsessed with them is mason jars. You read that right. I can’t stand them… for the most part. There are a few times when I think they’re appropriate to use and about a million times when they’re just, dare I say, tacky.

What’s my least favorite use of these glass, Pinterest-y objects? Wedding decorations. Dear Lord, don’t get me started! At first, it was kind of cute, but then everyone thought so and all of the sudden every single wedding had mason jars. It is no longer clever to wrap twine around the tops of the jars to make bows and then put flowers inside. It’s also not unique to put lights inside and then hang the jars from the rafters of your barn/reception space. I’m not a hater, I’m just over this trend. Since I’m talking about trends I’m so over, I may as well mention my severe dislike of using chalkboards for anything at a wedding. It’s been done too many times.

Mason jars do have their purposes though, and these are a few of my favorite Pinterest-inspired uses.

  1. Portable Mason Jar Meals– I really like this idea for salads as a slightly prettier way to carry in lunch to work. Tupperware just isn’t as cute.
  2. Herb Garden– I don’t garden and never will but being able to grow herbs in my home for when I cook (if I cook) is really useful. Sit them in the sun and give them a watering everyday and you’ve got herbs!
  3. Kitchen Storage– I hate opening a bag of nuts or popcorn kernels and having them spill all over my drawers after a period of time. Putting food items like that in a clear, glass jar make it easy to see and super organized.
  4. Make Up Brush Storage– This is way cleaner than throwing it in a make up bin and you can actually find it without digging around for a few minutes.

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Baking Basics List

If you’re in the eastern part of the United States right now, then you know its raining like monsoon season in Asia. Since I can’t go outside to chop wood or reseed the lawn (like I’d do that anyway), I’m inside doing some planning and prepping for when I finally move out and get my own place!

baking_basicsI’m focusing on the kitchen and making a list of things I’ll be needing. From utensils and sauce pans to basic mixing bowls, I’ll be buying out all of Williams Sonoma! Given my budget though, it might be more like the housewares section of Target. After looking through my list, I’m noticing a trend: I really only care about buying baking supplies. Quite honestly, I don’t care if I have the supplies needed to steam veggies or grill a steak because neither of those things I’ll ever be doing anyway.

I found a fabulous company called Sur la Table and they specialize in cookware. Their selection of baking products is awesome though! Here are nine things every girl needs in her kitchen.

  1. Very basic, a stand mixer. My mom got one for Christmas a few years ago and it has been loved and used ever since.
  2. Measuring cups and spoons. Do I need to explain this one?
  3. For the messy baker, an apron. Sur la Table has plenty of adorable ones to choose from!
  4. Simply because they look so cute, a tart pan!
  5. I love a cute cupcake so these cupcake liners are a must for every cupcake connoisseur.
  6. Tea towels. I literally can’t buy enough of them, partly because our chocolate lab loves to steal them and run around the house.
  7. Cookie cutters! Seriously, sugar cookies are for all year round.
  8. For the love of all things pretty and Paris themed, a cute spatula. It’s a basic for baking right?
  9. A cake stand. There’s nothing more adorable than a pretty pastry sitting in a glass display.

What’s on your baking basics list? Leave a comment!

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Simple Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread_cookie_recipeWell friends, a miraculous thing happened the other day- I baked cookies from scratch AND they didn’t burn. Gingerbread cookies always seemed like a difficult thing to make but aside from a few technical terms I had to Google, they were fairly simple.

I started out simply wanting to try my hand at making something tasty and sugary for Christmas. When I couldn’t find the pre-made Pillsbury gingerbread dough, I had to improvise by making the dough myself. Betty Crocker poked her way into my derp_facepersonality for a few hours and I was a baking wizard in my mom’s kitchen. Who knew such things were possible?

As it turns out, I’m not all that bad when it comes to baking. The gingerbread cookies came out warm and soft without a single burnt edge. Even my mom was proud of my new-found abilities! She actually enjoyed this baking endeavor of mine! If I had all the time in the world and a limitless grocery budget, I might actually do a little more in the kitchen.

Here’s the amazing recipe I used that got good reviews from tons of people! It really was tasty!

 

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At Home Coffee Station

butfirstcoffeeThis post is for my fellow coffee lovers out there. I’m a coffee addict. I have one cup in the morning and two in the late afternoon. Its my ritual and I love it. Additionally, I collect coffee mugs. They just make me happy. I also take my coffee with seasonal creamer… lots of creamer. Right now I’m on a pumpkin spice kick. That will end probably mid November when the radio stations start to play Christmas music and I get a hankering for peppermint mocha everything.

In my future home, I hope to be able to have enough counter space for this wonderful little thing called a coffee station. After seeing an awesome one online (seriously, check out that link), I was inspired and created a little list of things you might want in your at-home-station.

1. A collection of fabulous mugs like the C. Wonder mug I featured.

2. An espresso machine or just regular old coffee maker (duh).

3. Starbucks’ professional-in-store syrup pumps for that shot of vanilla you have to have.

4. Biscotti for the slower days when you can actually enjoy your coffee.

5. Stir sticks so you don’t dirty a million spoons.

6. Multiple kinds of bean roasts so you have options (remember, this is for coffee addicts).

7. Sugar stored in a mason jar so everyone knows your awesome at Pinterest.

8. Whipped cream for the illusion of your coffee being made by a barista, oh wait, it was, wasn’t it? Winky face.

9. Spice shakers filled with cinnamon and other heavenly spices to top off that latte.

I can think of a few other things I might have on hand as well such as agave nectar for the friend that comes over and cringes at the chemicals you put in your drink. Possibly a few Starbucks recipes so you can make professional grade lattes. Whatever you fancy!

I got tired of spending $4 on a latte at ‘Bucks and decided to start drinking more of my own creations at home. It saves a fortune. I’m such a typical American girl when it comes to my coffee. It has to be flavored and named something complicated in order for me to drink it. What’s your typical Starbucks order look like? Share with me below!

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Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (with a twist)

Sugar and Spice

I hate to cook but I love to bake! Recently, I made some lovely chocolate chip cookies with some added surprises mixed in to give it more flavor (and calories). I call them “Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies.” baking_suppliesThey were a big hit with my family and I was so proud of myself because nothing burned! Here’s the recipe!

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter; let it sit out for easier mixing
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup stick pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 cup caramel bits (I’ll explain later why this didn’t work as well as I had hoped)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

First, in a mixing bowl combine all wet ingredients with the sugars. Mix until well combined.

Second, add dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) to the wet ingredients. Mix well. how_to_make_cookies

Third, fold pretzels, chocolate chips, and the optional caramel bits into the mixture. I found that the caramel was too thick to fold in and ended up spilling out of the cookie and burning as it was baking. My suggestions is to use butterscotch chips instead!

kitchen_mixerFourth, place  the cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper so they won’t stick. Put the cookies in the oven at 350 degrees for 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Pro tip: Flatten cookies with a spatula so they won’t bake into clumpy messes.

Normally, I would give you all a photo of the finished product but they were all eaten before I snapped a picture!

Tell me what you guys think of this cookie recipe or any other cookies recipes you’ve tried lately!

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