Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fireplaces and New Years

One of my biggest regrets about our house is that there is no fireplace. No fireplace in a New England home? I know, crazy. When we were house shopping fireplaces were pretty high on my list but I compromised because our house has an amazing backyard view, a huge deck and two full bathrooms which makes having guests much more convenient. I tried to compensate not having a fireplace with having a chimenea. No one up here knew what a chimenea was so I think it may be a Southern/Southwest thing but I finally found one up here this summer and it has been happily installed on my deck since July.

However, the weather turned from lovely and warm to this:
My first blizzard on 12-27-10. We ended up with about 14"
As you can see, the chimenea is not only not accessible but also a bit impractical since I am fairly certain all my important extremities will fall off if I sit out there long enough, even with a small fire. I have been mourning the tragedy of not having a fireplace ever since it got cold. I went home for Christmas and my mother surprised us with an electric fireplace! I have always thought they were extremely cheesy and don't look realistic but I realized that technology has come such a long way. They not only look very realistic  but also can put out heat, you can adjust the flame level, and do all sorts of cool stuff. We shopped around quite a bit and we finally settled on one we liked at Lowes. It has ceramic logs that really help with the illusion and also a grate in the front, just like a regular fireplace. After purchasing our new addition, my lovely husband was able to assemble it within an hour and just like that my wish was granted! I now have a wonderful fireplace that is almost always on and putting off a romantic firelight glow.
I absolutely love it and I am so happy that I have a mantle to display our wedding pictures and to hang stockings on (which I never did this year but will definitely do next year!).

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Weekend. I am happy that Logan actually has the day off so we going to watch some Sooner football and eat our black eyed peas (for luck), spinach (for prosperity) and also ham and macaroni and cheese because they are delicious. My family has been doing a similar New Year's Day meal for as long as I can remember and once again, since Logan and I are on our own, it is up to us to carry on the tradition. One of my favorite parts of being married has been creating our own traditions that someday our children will pass on...we always buy a Christmas ornament when we travel, we celebrate Valentines Day on February 28th because it is when Logan proposed and it's double as romantic (get it 14+14=28...I know we are kind of nerds), we build a gingerbread house on our anniversary (12-19) and we always kiss goodnight....just some examples. I think I will have a few New Year's resolutions this year but I am still not sure on exactly what I want to do. I know resolutions are kind of silly but it is a chance to improve and start fresh which I always love. 2010 has been a good year for me...I traveled to Asia on a mission trip and spent weeks traveling all over Europe with my wonderful husband, hiked up a waterfall, played in the deep purple green waters of Martha's Vineyard,  moved to a new state, relearned how to play Warsaw Concerto on piano, bought a house, and my favorite, celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary. I know that 2011 will be just as special and exciting.

The days are long and the years are short,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Cookies Part 1

I know, I know, I has been almost a month since I last posted. I have been so busy this month with traveling, getting my application together for a Ph.D. program and holiday decorating. A quick recap: Thanksgiving went wonderfully although it was still strange setting the table for only myself and Logan.
It was nice deciding exactly what dishes I wanted to make and everything came out so tasty. I also got to use my china which so far has only been used our first night in the house when we partook of pizza and champagne.

In case you were wondering, the red stuff in the wine glasses is Cranberry Zinfandel, a wine made locally. I was not a fan because it tasted a lot like cranberry cocktail juice. Anyway, it was a fabulous meal and then less than a week later we traveled back home to Tulsa. Since Logan is on call during Christmas we celebrated the holiday while we were in town. I ate even more turkey, dressing etc. and now I am so sick of turkey. We are eating a ham for Christmas and thank goodness.
So back to the cookies, Logan is on call on Christmas (last time this happens ever since he chose an elite and cushy field that he starts next year) so I thought I would make him cookies to take up for him and his fellow residents to enjoy. I made traditional Snickerdoodles and a devilishly delicious Snickers Bar Cookie.
First up: Snickerdoodles
I used the Better Homes and Garden's recipe and the only thing I changed was adding a bit of salt because I firmly believe every cookie recipe should have at least a pinch of salt to balance everything.
Snickerdoodle Recipe
All your ingredients...except the salt cause I added that later :)
I won't put too much instruction on this recipe since the link goes into detail but first you cream your butter and sugar, soda and cream of tartar and then add your egg and vanilla and beat until it is nice and fluffy. Then add your flour and voila! a snickerdoodle batter is born. It is kinda ridiculously simple and the cream of tartar really makes it.
Delicious buttery snickerdoodle batter...may have to taste just to make sure it is yummy
I went ahead and let it chill for an hour since I needed to make the other cookie batter. In the meantime, mix 2 TBS of sugar (did you know 2 TBS equals 1/8 cup? finally a use for the little called for measuring device) and 1 Tsp of cinnamon. Once your dough is nice and cold, take a small hunk--the recipe calls for 1 inch balls but I just kinda eye-ball it--and roll it into a ball and then roll the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 375 for 10 mins and you have delicious, soft, and buttery snickerdoodles.

I have played around with this recipe a bit before. I really like adding a bit of cocoa powder to the batter and a bit of ground red pepper to the cinnamon sugar. It gives them a Mexican chocolate flair and the sweet/spicy is really tasty and interesting.
Part 2 will be the Snickers cookies and some Christmas pictures!
Happy Holidays,