holiday challenge #3: baking a holiday treat

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Only one week until Christmas! The countdown is on. Last week, our challenges were to watch a holiday movie and treat yourself to a new tree ornament. Well, I’ve certainly achieved the first one because I’ve officially watched 11 holiday movies thus far this season. 😅

I like to play one in the mornings while I’m eating breakfast or getting things done on the computer, so it’s been easy to breeze through them. My favorites this year have been (of course) Home Alone, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (I’m not even a Disney person but this one is just so nostalgic), and the new Hallmark movie Road to Christmas. Seriously, I know they’re cheesy but this one was actually a really interesting storyline that wasn’t just centered around an unrealistic romance. Funny enough, I also really loved The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina holiday special. It’s perfectly festive but in a darker way.

As for ornaments, there was one I really wanted from Anthropologie but couldn’t find it in stores and didn’t want to pay half the price of the ornament itself in shipping, so I ended up getting a cute little silver champagne bottle ornament from Kirkland’s!

Okay, here’s this week’s challenges:

5. Bake something festive.

6. Do a holiday craft.

It might even be fun to do both of these one after the other and make a cozy day of it. I’ve been doing a little holiday baking, but plan on doing vanilla bean scones for Christmas morning. Below, you’ll find some recipe ideas as well as craft options!

the cutest treat for your nutcracker viewing party

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One of my favorite things to do each Christmas is watch The Nutcracker. If I can’t get to a ballet performance, I always love watching a past performance online. This year, The New York City Ballet’s 1993 performance is available on Netflix, making it super easy to enjoy from home. This story always gets me in the most festive mood and also reminds me of when I played the Sugar Plum Fairy in a school Christmas play when I was little! #goals

I feel like when you watch The Nutcracker, it’s only right that you have a really cozy, festive treat with you like hot chocolate or a sparkling cocktail or, in this case, a sweet cupcake. I have a list going on holiday treats I want to bake this year and cupcakes actually weren’t on it until I saw this set of Nutcracker cupcake toppers and obviously had to have them.

To go with the toppers, I made my favorite cupcake combination: dark chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream frosting. I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and then made the frosting with real butter, although you can definitely use vegan butter if you prefer.

For some reason, I’ve always had trouble getting the perfect cupcake in the past. They tend to come out too dry or they sink in the middle, but this time they were perfectly moist and the frosting was incredible. As in, I would like to eat it with a spoon. The raspberry is sweet yet tart, which helps to give the cupcake a rich flavor rather than just saccharine.

A few tips for the perfect cupcake:

  • Once the oven has preheated, let it sit for a while. This ensures it’s getting to the right temperature, fully heated, and is ready for your batter.

  • Use room temperature ingredients. This is especially true for frosting. Using room temperature butter will help it to blend more smoothly and prevent lumps.

  • Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. I find it helps to bake the cupcakes right before you’re going out for the day and then coming back to frost them when you get home.

  • Be precise. This is so important in baking! Everything from the measurements to how you measure them (it really does matter that you use dry measures versus liquid measures) to how much you fill the cupcake tins. Follow the recipe precisely for best results.

pretty things no. 29

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Happy Saturday! This week, I wanted to collect all things for a cozy winter weekend at home. I’ve always dreamt of spending Christmas at a cozy cabin with lots of books and a fully stocked kitchen. Luckily, we’re able to recreate much of that at home, so that’s my goal this month. Grab the essentials, pick up a cozy book, and choose which holiday film you’re going to watch!

The first order of importance is to keep your feet warm with a pair of cozy socks or slippers. Ugg makes the cutest cozy slippers and I particularly love this shearling pair.

I know we’re all familiar with dry brushing at this point, but did you know that you can actually dry brush your face (with a softer bristle of course)? Before you get settled in for the night, exfoliate your face and then follow that up with a calming mask like the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Masque.

Once your face is clean and soft, put on a pair of cashmere pajamas for the most luxurious vibe of all time. This set is great for lounging at home, but it’s also a really nice option for long haul flights. You’ll be cozy and comfy, but still look chic and pulled together.

Next step, boil some water in your kettle then brew a pot of your favorite tea in this chic little teapot. That way, you can carry it up to your bed or the couch and have it nearby for easy refills.

Finally, you’re going to need the coziest blanket ever, so check out this ribbed blanket from Barefoot Dreams. I promise, with this formula, you’re not going to want to leave your spot until it’s time for bed ☺️.

healthy plane snacks for your upcoming holiday travel

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With the holidays right around the corner, I know a lot of you are heading to the airport for flights home and are probably anticipating a ton of sweets and amazing holiday food when you arrive. Flying can be really hard on your body in so many ways, so it’s important to eat healthy when you’re on the plane. Your skin is already getting dehydrated and your immune system is really vulnerable, so it’s best to be mindful of what you’re eating mid-flight.

Here are a couple of easy ideas for healthy plane snacks that are TSA friendly!

avocado on rice crisps
Pack a sealed container with seeded crackers (I love the brand Mary’s Gone Crackers) and sliced avocado as a super healthy, savory snack.

fab four smoothie
Kelly Leveque had the best idea for an easy drink to take with you on the road. Fill a shaker bottle with two tablespoons of chia seeds and a packet of collagen powder. Once you get through security at the airport, order an unsweetened iced green tea from Starbucks and mix it all together!

bare apple chips
I love these apple chips for a travel snack because they’re sweet and chewy and a little bit crunchy.

dang coconut chips
Another good sweet snack that comes in nice little portions. There are a variety of flavors, but I just like the classic toasted coconut.

fresh fruit
This one is so easy, plus the clean up is simple. My favorite fruits to take on planes are bananas, apples, pears, and grapes because they’re not at all messy and they’re super filling.

roasted chickpeas
This is one of my favorite snacks whether I’m traveling or at home and it has so much protein. I pour a can of drained chickpeas on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes until they’re slightly crunchy. You can add all sorts of seasoning too! I like doing a simple salt and pepper or adding in a little paprika or Old Bay.

veggies + hummus
Fill up a little Tupperware container with sliced carrots and celery, maybe even some pita chips, and homemade hummus or you can pick up some at the airport if you forget!

popcorn
This is a wonderful plane snack because it feels indulgent, but it can be super easy. You can make a bag at home and bring it along but it’s probably easier to buy a bag in the terminal. I suggest Skinny Pop, Boom Chicka Pop, or Budda Bowl.

nut butter packets
Bring along some individual packets of peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter to eat by itself or spread onto fruit.

protein truffles
Make your own protein truffles to bring along as dessert. I recommend these, but there are so many variations to try out.

holiday challenge #2: getting into the spirit

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for the next two items in this year’s holiday challenge. Let’s start with a recap of last week. The challenges were to read a holiday themed book and buy a festive holiday candle. I started reading “Seven Days of Us” by Francesca Hornak and also got "One Day in December“ by Josie Silver from Book of the Month. As for the candles, I got my second Cedar & Balsam candle this year from Trader Joe’s as well as the orange clove candle from Mrs. Meyers that’s so good! I love it because it smells festive, but also really clean and fresh at the same time.

Okay! On to this week’s challenges.

3. Watch a holiday movie

4. Treat yourself to a new tree ornament

I highly doubt that you need Christmas movie recommendations because I know we all have our favorites and our annual go-tos, but nevertheless, here are some ideas.

  • The Family Stone

  • White Christmas

  • Christmas in Connecticut

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

  • The Shop Around the Corner

  • The Holiday

  • Home Alone

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

  • Road to Christmas

  • The Polar Express

  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

  • Frosty the Snowman

  • Eloise at Christmastime

  • The Nutracker

  • Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

  • The Island of Misfit Toys