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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Edible Gifts

On my recent-grad-student budget, I've been forced to execute even more creative gift-giving than usual. Sometimes I hate it, because there's little that's more fun than finding unique and interesting gifts for the people I care about - but some baking and a pretty little box can go a long way.

I decided to make some (hopefully) interesting cookies and buy white boxes, ribbon, and the tiniest little ornaments as tie-ons. Presentation is the best part!

All three of these were a success, and I'll recommend them. The pumpkin cookies could stand to be a little more complex in flavor, so in the future I might add more pumpkin pie spice or do cinnamon nutmeg free pours. Nothing wrong with throwing some spices around.

easy easy

Golden Sesame Roll-ups
John and I both love sesame, so I was excited to try these. They are very good, but very sugary. With my leftover puff pastry, I tried a variation: half the cinnamon, a little less sugar, and a few shakes of poppy seeds. The result was slightly less sweet, with a depth of flavor that we both loved. Poppy is very distinct, and it worked well.

Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

Sugar Cookie Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwiches
Great sugar cookie recipe that I've used before from Real Simple. It's not overly sweet, which allows for the non-nauseating addition of sugar, sprinkles, icing, Nutella - whatever you like!

Happy Baking.

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone I know a Merry, Merry Christmas. I hope yesterday was full of love and laughter and all things good.

Favorite Hymn 
My dad said it was his favorite once, a very long time ago, and I've loved it since.

Enjoy these last few days of 2010!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maxwell-Concklin Christmas

Don't get me wrong. Christmas isn't over. John and I are still very excited to see both of our families, go South, celebrate, see Justin play, and celebrate again!

But because tonight is for cleaning, yoga, and packing, our special dinner in Cleve was yesterday. A little early. But it was perfect, because I don't think either of us could wait another day to exchange gifts.

Tomorrow I work, and then we hit the road for the first half of our trip to Atlanta. So excited!

Here are some highlights.

Herbie asks very nicely for his stocking.

I got home from work to find a clean house,

candles, incense, and presents,

and Herb, bathed and dressed in his Christmas PJs.

For John's Mom 

Furry Sidekick

Here's to going South and seeing loved ones. Happy Holidays to all!

Speaking of Christmas Wonder

Monday, December 20, 2010

I love paper, and I love birds.

from imagitek.com

I love everything about this.

And this.

And this!

Beautiful color.

A bit of simplicity during the holidays.

A reminder that Spring will come.

Big Week, Wonderful Week

from Wolf and Willow
I'm so holiday-excited this year. Maybe even more than ever.

1. First official Christmas with John, even though he did give me a gift last year and he was the first person I heard from on Christmas morning.

2. We're driving home to see our parents on Thursday, with Herb and his Christmas toys in tow.

3. I can't wait to hang with my Mom, or to see John's Mom. And the two of them will meet!

4. Before the drive, John and I are having our own celebration, and I'll be busy working and spearheading several creative gift giving/baking/projects designed with a low budget in mind.

5. This is the first White Christmas I've ever seen. It's lovely!

Christmas Wonder

Look at the wonder in this sweet little girl's eyes. I wish this moment on everyone I know at some point over the next few days.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thanks to Liz

I have a really dear friend named Liz. We went to graduate school together, but our friendship didn't really flourish until we acquired the same bizarre church job. We got paid to sit in an organ loft, listen to a crazy, smelly Scotsman play the organ and tell inappropriate jokes, and use our favorite books to drown out a long-winded pastor who annually bestows her congregation with pet rocks. Liz endured my half-asleep "I woke up at 7 on a Sunday" demeanor and offered some really great advice along the way.

The two of us, unfortunately, live in separate parts of the country, but gchat and a knack for emailing have served our friendship well. And when I have the dollars to travel, you better believe Austin is high on my list.

At her (never disappointing) suggestion, you've got to see the following:

My mind is spinning with living room concepts based around this chair.
Think rustic but soft, with lots of natural woods and neutrals, letting this piece speak for itself but with a few whimsical touches. A mantel of old pictures and clocks, and below a yellow coffee table?

from inhabitat.com

This is Anna-Sofia, spotted by Hel Looks, who says
"I'm wearing my aunt's old jacket from the 70s, my friend's beanie and my roommate's boots. The backbag is always with me. I don't buy new clothes. I don't want to be part of the culture of consumption. If I need more energy, I wear orange. If I want more peace and calm, I wear blue.”
Liz said I would love this, and she was right. Anna-Sofia has my vote, from her awesome use of texture to the annoying culture of consumerism to the effect of color on your mindset.

I have tomorrow off! The plan is to have another date with John, see a daytime movie, and celebrate with friends at tomorrow night's Murray Hill Galleries Holiday Open House.

And one week till we drive South!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ann Arbor

John had a gig in Michigan this past weekend, and we jumped at the chance to visit bff Ellen and husband Ryan in Ann Arbor. I've been dying to visit AA for a while now, and it did not disappoint. It's artsy and intelligent, cute and welcoming - with a great food culture to boot.

Ellen and Ry took me to the microbrewery Jolly Pumpkin, where we had yummy food and a Pumpkin Ale (not listed here) that was delightfully sour and hoppy with a smooth cocoa finish.

Truly, it was excellent. They've gotten national recognition for their brews, and some kind of Top 25 Beers Award from Men's Journal and Wine Spectators. I think I'll go back sooner rather than later.

Urban Outfitters, $10
We also started watching the FX's Damages, starring Glenn Close (who, by the way, is terrifying)This show, friends, is fantastic. We were on the edge of our seats. Part lawyer drama, part psychological thriller murder mystery, it's got me craving more.

With today's "near-blizzard"conditions, and after last night's slow trek home in the storm, all I really want to do is curl up with John and Herbs on the couch, wear my bear slippers, and be horrified by Glenn over and over again.

Herbie hates the blizzardy days.

But at least he got his very own doggie fleece blanket out of it.

(Thank you, Target.)

Holiday Sparkle

It's so snowy and windy outside that it's hard to imagine dressing up, but doesn't this sweet little bag make you wish you had a holiday cocktail party to attend?

from J. Crew

Or...you could wear your sparkles on your back.

But maybe you just want to put them on a sweatshirt and wear them all day long (yes, please).

J. Crew

No matter where you put your glitzy glam, I hope you have lots of holiday dinners and parties, mulled spice and everything nice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


John Lennon's been on my mind today. On the 30th anniversary of his untimely death, NPR has does their part to make sure of it. 

I don't mind, though. The truth is that I hope to hear this song more often than any other in the next three weeks.  
His Handwritten Lyrics - The John Lennon Museum, Japan

As easy as it is to dislike Yoko, this picture has always been incredibly sweet.

From that brief era during which a select few could make a cigarette look unbelievably hot.

Monday, December 6, 2010

If this doesn't make you happy, I don't know what will.


While in Baltimore, I searched for local jewelry artists to buy gifts for friends, and f1nneran is one that I've used several times. She keeps me coming back. 

She also offers great customer service; she once sent me free (adorable) earrings when I had to wait a little too long for my order!

For my best friends - 3 peas in a pod.

If John gave me this, I would melt on the spot.

Just to be romantic, the other disc says the same en Francais.

So very sweet.

For my much-loved, cat-rescuing aunt.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


So LeBron returned to Cleveland this week. It caused...quite an uproar. Everyone's been talking about it, and whether they are mad at the Cavs for losing or mad at the Cavs for hugging The Guy the City Loves to Hate, the collective emotions are anger and embarrassment.

The restaurants downtown are hurting because LeBron's fandom no longer frequents them. There is constant discussion of LeBron's terrible ego and his notorious failure to tip Cleveland's food and bev-ers. There are conspiracy theorists coming up with possible reasons he left at every turn. All of it makes for interesting conversation, that's for sure.

As a newcomer to Cleve Land, I think the city has a really interesting dynamic to observe. Cleveland is tired. They placed all of their faith and hope and energy and optimism in one guy. Now it's drained, and Cleveland feels betrayed. Until the wound heals, finger pointing is really the only thing that can be done.

But Cleveland has a way of getting you where it counts. I've only been here for three months, and somehow they already have me on their side. I already feel so sorry for the Browns that I really want them to win. And despite my fierce loyalty to Baltimore, I find myself wondering how the Ravens could have possibly been so cruel, turning their back on Cleve Land, Ohio!

This article is one you have to read. It's an explanation of Cleveland's exhaustion, viewed through the lens of sports, and, of course, Mr. LeBron James plays the starring role.

Enjoy. And if you visit me, maybe you'll find yourself hoping a Cleveland team wins, too.
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