2013 Goals {Update}

Yesterday I went through my blog to see if I had made any 2013 goals (how quickly i forget) and sure enough, I had! Since I had forgotten I even made these, I think it’s safe to say I didn’t do that great sticking to them. Maybe next year I will write them down and put them on our fridge so it’s something I see every single day.

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1. Be Positive – Like I said above – Think positive and positive things will happen. I would say I was 80% positive last year. We’ve had some crappy situations come our way (and some great ones too!) so it was hard getting over those bumps. I will continue my positive outlook!

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2. Get my last name officially changed from Kuminski to Kartzman. If someone doesn’t MAKE me do something it takes forever. I’m giving myself til February 6th to do it (That will be 4 months from our wedding date!) 4 months…hahahahaha. Took me almost as long as it took me to send out our Thank You cards. 11 months — But at least it was before our 1 year!

3. Improve my time management skills – It seems that I’m only late to one place… Work. I really need to get better at this! I am actually 7 minutes early to work every day. I guess it helps when you like your job.

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4. Run anything longer than a 5k race. An 8k, 10k or 1/2 marathon sounds good to me! I’ve run some of these distances, but not as a race. 

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5. Take a photography class. I need to take more pictures with my new Canon Rebel camera instead of my iPhone. My phone is so convenient but the quality is so much better on the Canon. No photography class was taken, that is still on the list.

6. Continue with my pescatarian diet. I have never felt better than I do now. Giving up meat 13 months ago was a great choice!  I would have kept going if it weren’t for the fact that my doctor said to start eating meat again because my body needed it. We do only eat grass fed organic meat/poultry though.

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7. Add more strength training into my workouts – Running is great but I would love to tone up! Adam and I are joining a cross fit gym across the street and we’ve been twice so far – I can tell you this, I have never been sorer in my life! I sneezed today and almost cried because of how sore my abs were. I did do much more strength training this year — I also got into soul cycle which kind of took over my love for running!

8. Move into a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment/house. We need more room… Ok fine, I need more closet space. We did! I got that MUCH bigger closet space I was hoping for 🙂 

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9. Volunteer. I am thinking about joining the New York Junior League and am attending a meeting next week to see if it’s the right fit for me. Unfortunately, the NYJL wasn’t for me… It was a huge commitment and I didn’t want to sign up for something if I couldn’t fulfill their expectations. We did try and volunteer once this year but their was an overflow of volunteers. Glad to see so many people doing good in this world!

10. Continue going to Church every Sunday – We decided we would start to go to Church in December and so far we’ve been every week this month. I hope to stay on track! We did really well until the summer time. We traveled a lot from March – October and it was hard to get there every week. We will be back soon 🙂

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Good News Jar

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I saw a “Good News Jar” on Pinterest and loved the idea of celebrating the little things. We always celebrate the big things (new job, engagement etc..) but tend to forget about the little moments. With this jar, we can capture all of  these moments throughout the year and read them before 2015 (<— whoa) starts.

Some examples of things we will write down to place in the jar:

  • Surprise Gifts
  • Good News
  • Accomplished Goals
  • “LOL” Moments
  • Memories
  • Daily Blessings

If you are interested in making a “Good News Jar” all you need are the following items:

  • Mason Jar
  • Glitter
  • Glitter Glue
  • Ribbon
  • Permanent Tape
  • Cardstock
  • Stickers
  • Paint Pen

If you do make one, feel free to share!

Peppermint Blossoms

Did I mention that while I was on a baking spree last weekend I was SUGAR FREE? Do you know how hard it is to make cookie/brownie batter and not test it out? It’s basically torture and I don’t suggest you try it unless you have to. The third batch of cookies were Peppermint Blossoms and Adam said these were his second favorite cookie of the day (Sugar cookies #1). I trust my cookie testers judgement so here is the recipe!

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Peppermint Blossoms

Ingredients

  • 48 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Red and green sprinkles ( can use sugar crystals too)

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.
  • Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  • Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. (If they start to melt transfer them to the freezer immediately) Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

My Christmas Wishlist

I’ve always made a beautifully color coded list of things I hoped Santa would bring me on Christmas. Now that I’m 29, im grown up enough to ask for nothing, i still make one. Maybe once we have kids I’ll sit that one out. Until then…

Wish List
J. Crew

Sperry Top Sider for J. Crew — Modern Red (pictured is blue, red seems to be sold out now)

Smartphone Leather Gloves —  Black (pictured is brown, black seems to be sold out now) 
Checkered Hat (seems to be sold out now)
Wool Gloves – One size – heather saddle  (pictured is mint, heather saddle seems to be sold out now)
Earrings (seems to be sold out now)
Nordstrom
Bee Venom Face Mask (<— Kate Middleton skin here I come!)
Lululemon
Apple
Bip and Bop
Anthropologie
Brittany Fuson
Loren Hope
Victorias Secret

Gift Guide: DIY

If you are more of a homemade gift giver I have a list for you too! I like to think of myself as a crafty person but I’ve never thought about making anything as creative as these gifts below. If you are feeling crafty and giving I’d like them all 🙂 Happy DIY’ing 🙂

 

Candy Cane Vodka

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Photo Coasters

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Chocolate Oatmeal Face Mask

All Natural DIY Chocolate Face Mask from TidyMom for GourmandeintheKitchen.com

 

Newspaper Rose Wreath/Frame

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Shoe Clips

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Monogrammed Wine Glasses

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Painted Ornaments

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Gold Striped Vase

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Lavender Lotion Bars

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Mason Jar Herb Garden

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Sugar Lip Scrubs

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Homemade Holiday Peppermint Spoons

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Homemade Cookie Mix

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“Crack”ers (Cookie Style)

I received these “crack”ers a few years ago through a blogger Holiday Sweet Swap and could not get over how amazingly addictive something was for how simple it was to make. I’m pretty sure I ate the entire tin to myself that day and I’ve thought about making them ever since. Since we were slowly moving back into our apartment last December I skipped my usual baking spree. But this year, it.was.on. These would be perfect for a holiday party, they only take 10 minutes!

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“Crack”ers (Cookie Style)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Club Crackers ( I only used about a sleeve and a half)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 12 oz package MINI chocolate chips (<— must use mini)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line an 11 x 15 cookie pan that has a lip with foil.
  • Cover foil with one layer of crackers, breaking to fit bottom as necessary.
  • Heat sugar and butter together in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
  • Then pour and spread mixture over crackers while hot.  It will seep in and around the crackers and that is okay.
  • Bake for 5 minutes in 400 degree oven.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle mini chocolate chips all over.  As chips melt, spread evenly with a spatula.
  • Place in refrigerator to cool.
  • When very cold break apart in large pieces peeling away the foil.  Then break into smaller serving size pieces and store in covered container in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Note:  the unevenness of the pieces makes these cookies attractive.  Do not expect to break them into the shape of the crackers.  Also, you must use MINI chips.  Regular sized chips do not melt appropriately.

Gift Guide: Under $25

I’m always looking for small gifts to give to co-workers or friends that won’t break the bank. You don’t want to be that person who is caught with nothing to give when the other person has a beautifully wrapped gift in their hand. Below are my favorite picks for items under $25.
Gift Guide: Under $25
J Crew elastic headband – These are the best hair ties. Normally $12, on sale for $5
Tart server  – Love these fun cake/pie servers for any special occasion
Monogram mug – I am obsessed with this mug! I bought one for all of my co-workers and stuck cake pops in them.
 Gift Boutique Fortune Cookie Box  – I don’t know why I think this is cute, but I do.
Hot Chocolate – Ah.maze.ing.
Deborah Lippmann beauty product – Perfect color combo
letterpress recipe cards + tags – Mignon Kitchen Co. – I bake/cook a lot so these would come in hand when I am winging a recipe
Black Hawaiian Sea Salt  – Perfect for the bath lover
Tuscan Blood Orange Natural Soap – A friend of mine suggest this soap and said the Blood Orange scent is unreal
Diane Von Furstenberg earphones earbud – I keep a lot of earbuds on hand in different places of the house, car and my purses. Never know when you’ll need one!

Grandma’s Sugar Cookies

The recipe I’m posting today brings back warm memories of my childhood. When we were younger, we would head up to Maryland from Florida to spend Christmas with my moms side of the family and every year I would help my Grandma make her infamous Sugar Cookies. We start eating these during Christmas Eve Brunch and continue eating them until they’re gone (Christmas Dinner). I think we usually make 2 batches? It makes A LOT of cookies but they are in high-demand with our family. The dough, which has to chill for a few hours before rolling out, is so yummy too and you know we sneak many a bites during the whole process.

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Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 lb margarine (4 sticks); softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 rolling-pin
  • 3 cans of frosting (We use Betty Crockers Vanilla <—we cheat!)
  • Sprinkles

Directions

  • Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees
  • Mix the margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, salt & baking soda together and then chill, covered for a few hours.
  • When you remove from fridge, leave it for an hour or so before you start to work with it.  The first batch always seems to be a challenge…so be patient as you roll it out.
  • Sprinkle flour on your surface before you start with the dough, and rub flour on the rolling-pin frequently.
  • Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, and use cookie cutters.
  • Lift gently and place on ungreased cooking sheet.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes at 375 degrees.  (If not quite done another minute or two.)
  • Frost and sprinkle.

 

Caution:  they are addictive! The consensus is that they are best once the icing sets into the cookies and makes them very soft so I suggest making these a day (or two) in advance of when you will need them.

Pack like a Pro!

 

Happy Friday! When the weather gets cold, we want OUT of NYC. I am headed for a weekend getaway in less than 12 hours and plan on packing extremely light. Lugging an over-packed bag is not fun – Plus, they charge for everything these days and I rather save my money to shop! Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the weather going to be like?
  • Can I wear a piece more than once?
  • Will I need shampoo/toothpaste/blow-dryer or will the place I’m staying provide this at no charge? (<— big space saver!)

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Once you have these 3 questions answered it’s time to start packing.

 

  • Make a list. This seems so simple but it’s extremely important in helping you stay on task. I write down the number of days I will be there, then pick a day & night outfit for each day.
  • Take pictures of your outfits. This helps me remember what I originally planned on wearing instead of looking at my clothes and thinking nothing goes together all of a sudden.

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  • Be reasonable. Override that voice in your head trying to convince you that you absolutely need six pairs of heels for a three-day trip. You don’t…and the practical you knows that.
  • Don’t skimp too much. If you know that you’re going to a wedding with formal dinners planned every night, then yes pack a few extra dresses. The trade-off? Include a neutral-toned pair of ankle-strap sandals that go with each outfit, so you don’t have to overload on the shoe front.
  • Roll your clothes. First of all, it minimizes wrinkles and therefore you don’t have to worry about the quality of your hotel iron. Second of all, it frees up a lot of space for other traveling necessities.

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  • Don’t forget accessories. Pack a great belt, a pair of statement earrings, and a classic pair of flat sandals. When in doubt, these things will come in handy.
  • Adopt Kate Middleton’s recycled-outfit policy. Unless you’ve been out hiking all day, or rolling around in the sand, there’s a very good chance you can wear certain wardrobe pieces more than once in a single trip. If you first wore your sundress with a jean jacket and wedges, use it as a beach cover-up for the next 2 days.
  • Use bright, colorful tags to easily pick out your suitcase at the Airport. This tip will get you quicker to the warm beach and a cold drink.

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Gift Guide: The Couple

Sorry if you are tired of the gift guides but I still have two more for tomorrow (DIY & Gifts under $25) and then I’m done. All of my friends are in the get married (or about to get engaged) stage so  practical gifts are at a high during this period of our lives. These are also great gifts for an engagement party since the couple typically hasn’t registered yet.
 Gift Guide: The Couple