Sunday, December 21, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Winter Solstice

Only 4 days left until Christmas, which means... today is Winter Solstice, or the first official day of winter. I love when we pass solstice because it means that the days begin to grow longer again. 
More sun = more time for me to play and enjoy the day! 


I don't know about you, but I am very excited for these holidays and the many plans I have with my family and friends over the next week, and then New Year's is coming! This is one of my favorite times of the year and I absolutely am looking forward to it all! There are so many traditions that my family and I choose to partake in that give this time of the year a certain structure and nostalgia that I just love.
I'm most looking forward to reading The Night Before Christmas and popping open our Christmas crackers on Christmas Eve. 

What are your favorite traditions?

p.s. I accidentally skipped one of the days of Christmas yesterday, so I will have lots to post tomorrow!

Friday, December 19, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Stocking Stuffers

Gift Guide 2014: Stocking Stuffers

Sip Back and Listen Flask // It's a Done Meal Kitchen Timer //Anchor the Call Mug // Home Sweet Houseboat Wall Hook // All Along the Watts Tower Flashlight // Sippin' in the Stars Flask Set
Refinements are Forever Cocktail Shaker

Christmas is coming - only 6 days away! 
I've compiled some of my favorite things from Modcloth for stocking stuffers - most of these gifts are under $20! 
As you can see, there are many coastal-theme (read: anchors and lighthouses, my favorites) items as well as flasks/drinking items, which I know my friends would love! 

What are you hoping to find in your stocking this Christmas?

ps. **This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**

Thursday, December 18, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Books!

This book is absolutely beautiful - I know that I appreciate looking at it (possibly) more than my preschoolers. It's a fun one to sing and see if they can remember the words, too - not to mention, it's a Christmas classic. 
I'll definitely be adding this one to my Christmas collection.

Santa Is Coming to Santa Cruz by Steve Smallman
This one is great! The words are personalized to fit a certain location (in this case, Santa Cruz) but they have them for many locations all over! This one is long so I would recommend it for older children aged 5-8. 

Pete the Cat is always a preschool favorite, and this time of year, Pete saves Christmas! Santa is ill and cannot deliver gifts, so Pete takes care of the situation in a very silly and fun way. Very cute read.
by Clement C. Moore
This is a Christmas classic written almost 200 years ago! Crazy to think about, but I always remember curling up in my father's lap and listening to him read this every Christmas eve. It was one of my favorite traditions and I miss it terribly. This is probably my favorite Christmas poem/book ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas books?
Tell me in a comment!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Cheesy mashed potatoes right in the front
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

I chose to pair these delicious cheesy mashed potatoes with turkey meatloaf (recipe) and baked asparagus spears. It was delicious!
Here's the recipe for the potatoes:

3 cups yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
10 oz (1 1/2 cups) sour cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cheese

  1. In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until you can easily pierce with a fork (about 35 minutes or so).
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Drain potatoes and return to the pot.
  4. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes.
  5. Add the butter, half of the sour cream and half of the milk and start whipping them with a hand held mixer. Then add the remaining sour cream and milk, whip together until well blended.
  6. Add the salt and 1 cup of the cheese. Whip together until blended.
  7. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and spoon the potatoes into the dish evenly.
  8. Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Sharp Cheddar cheese and cover with foil being careful not to touch the cheese.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  10. Remove from oven and keep covered untilb ready to serve.
*adapted from Cozy Country Living*
Hope you enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

  • Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup extra-crunchy Peanut Butter 
  • (*The original recipe uses creamy but I much prefer crunchy*)
  • 1/2 stick Crisco Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening 
    (Or 1/2 cup Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening)
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat only until blended.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly in a crisscross pattern with a fork.
  3. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

*recipe adapted from Jif*

This is my absolute favorite cookie to make and to enjoy!
It is always a favorite at Christmas parties and my friends always ask me to make them these cookies. 
I hope you try them out this holiday season - and if you do, let me know how you like them in the comments!
Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Ornaments

'Staching through the snow; London Calling!

Oh, Christmas Tree...
My tree has been up since before Thanksgiving, but I finally finished putting on the lights and ornaments just this weekend! Every time I think I'm done, I find another box of ornaments! I'm sharing a few of my favorites.
Above is the moustache, which came in a "Gentleman-Theme" box, also containing a pipe and a pocketwatch. Next to it is my London ornament, which was, unfortunately, not purchased in London. Someday it will be replaced with a London ornament that is actually from London!

 This ornament is one of my favorites: it's Paris-theme, glittery, and has kraft paper and twine involved?! All of my favorite things! I made sure this one was front and center. 

This is the newest ornament added to my collection, bought over Thanksgiving on my trip to Yosemite. It was a gift purchased for me at the Ahwahnee Hotel and I love it! 
Owls and good memories. 

What are your favorite ornaments?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Decorations

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
I absolutely love decorating for Christmas. It's one of the best times of the year; the house has all of these trees, lights, shiny ornaments, stockings... There's so much to look at and decorate with! My living room is a light turquoise so I tend to go with a coastal Christmas theme in there, as pictured above. All of the ornaments are ocean-related or teal/blue/green. There's a starfish, jellyfish, whale, pufferfish, and dolphins!

Above that mini-tree, I hang my stockings on the wall (unfortunately, I lack a mantel) and my favorite Christmas sign! The stocking on the left was hand-made by my grandmother and the one on the right is my father's; he was born a week before Christmas and got to go home in a baby-sized stocking! These are two of my most-loved possessions. 

On top of my armoire is my father's toy car, which I paired with ornament-garland, tinsel garland, and two of my grandmother's vintage nutcrackers.

That's it for the living room!
 I'll have to share more of the house in another post soon!
Do you have any specific themes for your decorations?
Tell me in the comments!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Boat Parade 2014

This year, I attended the Santa Cruz Harbor's boat parade for the second year in a row. This time I went with a large group of friends (my Santa Cruz family!) and had a lot of fun. It was very chilly down at the harbor. There weren't as many boats this year, and many were the same as last year, so that was kind of disappointing, but going to a boat parade at Christmas has been a tradition for me my whole life. 
I really liked the jelly fish boat (pictured above) and my favorite from last year was back: Rudolph the Red-Nose Rein-boat! See this post for the picture. 

They even lit up the lighthouse! 
Overall, it was a lot of fun to enjoy the boat parade tradition with new and old friends, who have become my family.

Have you seen a boat parade this Christmas? If so, where was it? 
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Family Trip: {Yosemite, part one}

El Capitan

Over Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to stay with my grandfather in his house outside of Mariposa, a small town near the entrance of Yosemite. So, on Black Friday, I took my brand new camera, my family, and drove up the mountains into Yosemite National Park.
Our first stop was El Capitan, a beautiful granite rock formation. It was so tall! It was also quite chilly, seeing as it was late November. There was even a little bit of snow on the ground. 
Yosemite Chapel - frost on the ground!

It was a wonderful experience - I can't wait to go back and explore some more, when it's a little bit warmer. I think snow is gorgeous but I much prefer it when I'm curled up (wearing fuzzy socks) next to a warm fire with a good book.

I have some pictures of the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite to come!
Have you ever been in Yosemite?