Baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my Grandma Shirley is one of my most beloved holiday memories. She had every kind of sprinkle variation imaginable, and her cookies always turned out perfectly. My sister and brother and I would spend the whole day at her house baking and decorating and then eating the fruits of our labor. Christmas music was always on in the background and I’m sure we destroyed her kitchen. I can’t claim to be as skilled as Grandma Shirley, and my sprinkle collection is probably a fraction of hers, but I wanted to share my cookie recipe with you all for the holidays! Honing my icing and cookie decorating skills is taking some time, but trial and error is always more fun when you get to eat the failed attempts! I’ve mentioned this before on another cookie post, but I often just leave cookies unfrosted, and luckily my husband thinks they are tastier that way.
Well the other day, baby Jules and I headed over to my parent’s house to make some Christmas cookies with my nephew Bennett. You can see his cute chubby hand helping out in the photos above! I knew I couldn’t leave these Christmas cookies naked, so I found a super easy royal icing recipe to try out. I kept the icing simple and white and used mostly my white sprinkles for this batch. The next batch was green and red, it just didn’t last long enough to be photographed!
This sugar cookie recipe has been my go-to for as many Christmases as I can remember. It’s simple, fool proof, and only requires an extra 30 minutes to chill before baking. My nephews, and whole family loved the cookies. Baby Julian even got a few bites! Baking and decorating Christmas cookies is a delicious and festive way to get in the holiday spirit!
Do you bake Christmas cookies with your kiddos or family members? There are so many special memories around baking Christmas cookies. I’d love to hear yours!
¾ cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
Grated rind of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
2 ½ cups flour
With a standing mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating until light in color. On low speed beat in egg and egg yolk just until combined. Add vanilla, lemon rind and salt. Add the flour until blended, do not over beat batter. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough and stamp with desired cookie cutters. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for approx 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely before decorating. Store in an airtight container if you don’t eat them all! Enjoy!
Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Baking
ROYAL ICING: Wilton’s recipe
Decorating for Christmas has always felt so magical to me. It’s those twinkling lights and glistening ornaments that get me everytime! Recently, I shared with you our trip to Valley Nursing in Poulsbo to pick out our perfect Christmas tree. I got such a great response from sharing our autumn decor, that today, I am sharing with you how I like to decorate our home for the holidays!
I always start decorating a tad early, because I love to be able to enjoy the holiday decor all season long. Christmas music is playing in our home starting early November. I told you I start early! My poor husband. As you could have already guessed from Julian’s first birthday party, I love to decorate with greenery! I took these photos on different days, so you can see two different looks for how we decorate our dining room table for the holidays as well. I love how the simple garland on our dining room table can transform the whole room into a cozy winter wonderland.
Our tree is so tall and stately, I feel as though these photos don’t do it justice. I was on the very top rung of a ladder trimming this tree! I kept the ornaments silver and gold for a classic feel. For a chic look on our table, we picked out a gorgeous long centerpiece from Valley Nursery.
I adore how our holiday decor turned out this year. Our home feels cozy, festive and ready for the winter holidays. If only I could leave our tree up year round!
Tree, poinsettia, and large centerpiece: Valley Nursery // Wreaths, and garland: Sherwood Forest Farms
One of my favorite days of the year is the day we pick out our Christmas tree! And this year did not disappoint. We went to Valley Nursery in my hometown of Poulsbo to get our perfect tree. One of the things I love most about Valley Nursery is that it’s a family business (including a resident cat, Bizzie), and they know their customers by name. They have an incredible assortment of trees, handmade wreaths, garland and centerpieces. There was something magical about walking through their trees; perhaps it was that gorgeous smell! Or seeing how curious and excited Julian was. Makes me ready for Christmas to be here tomorrow!
I am still swooning over their beautifully adorned wreaths, with all their gorgeous ornaments and ribbons! They had some of the largest wreaths I’ve ever seen, as well as the most darling petite wreaths. We ended up picking a beautiful centerpiece styled with green ribbon and gold ornaments for our dining room table. Their shop is blooming with festive holiday decor and poinsettias of every color. We took a cream colored poinsettia home and are determined to get it to rebloom next year! But the biggest mission of the day was the find the perfect tree. The winning Christmas tree was their Turkish fir. It is tall and stately, and I cannot wait to finish decorating it! Also, I will be sure to share with you all our holiday home decor in the upcoming days. Really hoping Julian doesn’t try to eat every ornament, but I realize that is wishful thinking.
Have you picked up your Christmas tree yet? If not I highly recommend Valley Nursery in Poulsbo! And maybe on your way home you can swing by Christmas in Big Valley and make a day of it!
Hat: Anthropologie (on sale now!)// Jacket: old, similar here // Sweater: Vince Camuto //Jeans: J. Brand // Boots: Hunter
Julian: Hat: Angelica Casmiro// Jacket: hand-me-down, similar // Sweater: Mayoral// Pants: Tea Collection // Boots: Hunter
The rainy season in Washington state stretches from October to May. Okay, really it’s more like October to July. Now I know that sounds really gloomy in print, but for most of the Washingtonians I know, it is really quite tranquil for us. I’ve written before about how much fun we have staying indoors on rainy days. But rainy days don’t always mean cozying up inside, playing board games and eating pie. We carrying on it the rain or the shine around here. And stepping out into the rain can be just as fun as basking in the sunshine! More fun if you ask our Julian. This guy splashed in the water, and plopped his booty down right in the middle of a puddle. I can’t help but get out and explore more than ever now that I am a mama. Seeing how Julian loves to adventure and explore the outdoors inspires me to spend more time in the elements. Even the rain! And perhaps even in the snow! Did you guys see today’s weather forecast?!
Are you a fan of rainy days? What is your favorite rainy day activity? Let me know!
(Jacket: Penfield, Sweater: J. Crew, Jeans: Nordstrom, Boots: Hunter. JULIAN: Hat: Angelica Casimiro, Jacket: Barna and Co, Jeans: Levis, Boots: Hunter)
Photography by Jessica Crockett
Today is my 30th birthday. I am 30 years old! And I am being completely forthright when I tell you, I have never been one to shy away from aging. My life gets richer and fuller each year. I learn, I grow, I make new mistakes and try not to repeat the old ones. I have become a wife and mother over the years. I have lost dear friends, family and fur babies and have gained more along the way. I wanted to share with you the most important lessons I have learned, thus far. Some have been the simplest of epiphanies, and others have been heartbreaking realizations. Here are 10 thoughts on turning 30…
- Be true to you. Find out who you are, and what you want in life and honor that. For the longest time I tried to do the things that my friends did. I tried to be as social as they were, I tried to have plans every weekend. But I am an introvert, through and through. So all of my efforts to be a social butterfly just drained me. I would much rather spend an evening baking or with a book than out on the town. Yes, even on New Year’s Eve. That’s just me! And I’m finally at the point in my life where I won’t apologize for that.
- Family is everything. My family members are my best friends. I rely on them for so much, and I am that support system for them as well. We have an insane amount of fun together. Playing The OC trivia, having spaghetti eating contests, and staying up too late eating candy. There is no deeper friendship than that of a family member.
- Trust your instinct. Becoming a nurse has taught me this lesson the hard way. I can’t tell you how many times I ignored my instinct, only to later regret it. If you listen, your gut will tell you the right path. You owe it to yourself to listen.
- You are the company you keep. Like all of us, I have been in toxic relationships simply for the sake of ease and familiarity. I cannot begin to explain the relief of saying goodbye to a relationship that does not serve you. Just because you have invested years of your past, does not mean you need to ruin your future happiness. Surround yourself with people who really matter. People who lift you up. Who listen to your crazy ideas and encourage your wildest dreams. You are too valuable to be stuck, for any reason. And don’t ever look back. I haven’t.
- Embrace what you excel at. There’s a reason I only blog about a few subjects. Those are my strengths. They are a few things I truly enjoy and do relatively well. Whatever your strength is, do that. Do it often and make it your own. There’s a reason I don’t blog about DIY crafts and how to eat on a budget. Not my strengths!
- Be your biggest advocate. No one else can do this like you can, so do it yourself, for yourself. My husband has innumerable qualities, but knowing (telepathically) that I need a break, is not one of them. Becoming a mother has taught me to advocate for myself and my wellbeing like I’ve never had to before.
- Take care of you. My mom has instilled this in my from a young age. This circles back to #1 for me. Taking care of myself means being true to myself and having plenty of me-time. For me that means baking, reading or writing. For you it may mean playing video games, reading Harry Potter fan-fiction or watching Real Housewives. You can ask more of yourself when you give more to yourself.
- Practice gratitude. I keep a gratitude journal, and regularly write down the things I am most thankful for. Even on the craziest days, chances are your life is full of blessings. Even if nothing goes my way that day, I am able to write “I am grateful for being a wife to Jeff and a mother to Julian,” and it reminds me of what is most important in my life.
- Celebrate the little things. I’ve mentioned this before in this post, but I am a professional at celebrating the little successes of the day. A glass of champagne, a new read, whatever does it for you, be sure to treat yourself!
- Eat the cake. No one, but you, notices those 5 extra pounds. Trust me, I’ve done lots of research. So eat that slice of cake, or pie, or that last slice of pizza. (Man, I really enjoy slices.) It was Jennifer Weiner who wisely said “No woman ever said on her deathbed, ‘I wish I’d eaten less cake.’” Indulge, enough said.
Dress: DVF // Cake stand
Happy December everyone! December is my favorite month of the whole year, and Christmas is my favorite holiday. How could it not be? The gift giving, the baking, the twinkle of lights. Not to mention, I have a very big birthday coming up in a few days, as does my husband! There is something magical about December, and I soak it in every year.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do a family shoot at a beautiful Christmas tree farm here on Bainbridge Island. I quite literally shed a tear when I saw the photos. Since I was a little girl I have dreamed of having a family of my own to celebrate the holidays with. Last year Julian was only weeks old when December rolled around. I was too deep in that new mama daze to truly enjoy the holidays. Think exhaustion bordering on delirium; you mamas know! So I have been eager for what feels like my first holiday season with my little family. I love how Whitney captured our family, and the magical feel of the season. It makes me feel even more excited for the holidays!
For us, December means cookie baking, cider drinking and celebrating with the ones we love. Our family makes a point to focus on spending time together over the holidays, as opposed to emphasizing gifts. I mentioned it briefly in an autumn to-do list post, but it is one of my favorite family traditions. On Thanksgiving we all draw names out of a hat and everyone gets one gift for the family member they drew. It’s a nice way to keep the holidays simple and to focus on what really matters; family. I hope you are all feeling the cheer of the holiday season already. Do you have any holiday family traditions you love? I would love to know!
Earrings: Slate &Willow similar here // Skirt: Slate & Willow, similar here // Shirt: Rails
Jeff: Jacket: Filson // Shirt: Pendleton, similar here // Pants: Levis, similar
Julian: Sweater: Gymboree, similar here and here // Flannel: Baby Gap // Pants: Tea Collection // Shoes: Barna and Co