Paris Remix

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 I sincerely hope you are all enjoying a joyous day, full of family, traditions, and cookies!

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I am here to report that I am venturing away for the holidays.  A little relaxation full of wine, crepes, and macarons!  If you haven’t guessed it by now, I superexcited to report: I am in Paris for the holidays!  I am doubly excited to be going with my family and boyfriend too!  I absolutely love Paris, and am so excited to be back here for more adventures   Of course I will miss all my favorite American Christmas traditions, but my favorite things about Paris (mainly the food) are almost as good.  Alright, the bread is better.  Way better.

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and these.  THESE. 

I hope anyone and everyone who reads this mess of words that I call a blog has the greatest holiday full of love, laughter, and of course, cookies!  Can’t wait to share all my European adventures in 2013!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Gingerbread People

“Run, run as fast as you can,
You can’t catch me
I’m the gingerbread man!”

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If you don’t know that little rhyme you probably grew up under a rock.  Or your mom didn’t love you enough.  Or you might hate childhood.  But the chances of that are pretty slim, because that story is synonymous with growing up.  I’m pretty sure there is some moral to that story, but I really couldn’t tell you what it is.  I am certain that I love gingerbread and Gingerbread Men are delicious.  I so wanted to be that fox in the story.  Absolutely.  No problems eating an adorably cute man on the run.  Obviously I am a horrible person.

photo 4Pirate Gingerbread

 

Somewhere along the lines gingerbread became a symbol for the holidays.  I grew up baking them with my mom and decorating gingerbread houses with my brothers.  I was seriously bummed to not make one this year.  Going to Paris for Christmas is totally cramping my holiday baking style.  Life is hard.

But one afternoon I whipped up some gingerbread cookie dough and baked some cute little gingerbread people.  I am a sucker for traditional holiday activities and decorating cookies is high on that list.  I do not have one artistic bone in my body, as you can see below, but I just roll with.  At least I get to eat these creations.  My boyfriend and I spent an afternoon decorating these little monsters and after the fight with the frosting (it was a draw) we had some yummy little guys.  When I was little I always ended up with more frosting in my hair and on my face than on the cookie.  Thankfully, that has changed some, but not much.

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my stellar artistic skills
Read on, there’s more!

Eggnog Cupcakes

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I hear that eggnog is an acquired taste.  You either love it or you are not a fan.  Well, I think I was born loving it because once it pops in stores I get really excited and immediately rush to load it into my shopping cart.  I only recently discovered that it is originally intended to be an alcoholic beverage with brandy or bourbon.  Well I really love those things, so can you imagine my excitement increased twenty fold?  Yep.  That sometimes happens.

From September until about a week ago I have been beyond stressed as I prepare applications for graduate school.  Obviously I am a big nerd and have to go back.  Once I submitted my final application I was in desperate need of an amazing baking project.  Well, since it is the holiday season and it just so happened to be a friend’s birthday, I decided nothing sounded better than making cupcakes.  That is where the eggnog comes in. Read on, there’s more!

Moving Forward with Empathy

The tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut last Friday has us all walking a little slower and cherishing our loved ones a little more — and I am no different.  I was at work when I heard the news.  My entire office of early childhood professionals was rocked to the core.  We all felt for the families, the community, the victims.  But my heart really goes out to all the children involved.

My entire professional life has been solely dedicated to children.  As a researcher and a psychologist in early childhood, I am consistently involved in discovering ways to enhance the lives of our young people, in every phase of their life.  Events that put children in danger knocks the wind out of me.  I am still trying to make sense of it all.

The events from last week are beyond tragic and I have gone back and forth, upside down and sideways in my thoughts, trying to grasp my own perspective.  My emotions are getting the better of me and this is where I find my views converging: who is to blame for this?  What is the answer to prevent these tragedies from occurring?  I then realized that I was too emotional to think straight, which goes against the researcher in me.  Before we can begin to talk about the various issues this tragic event has brought up, it is important to remove emotion and talk specifically about future actions.  This is nearly impossible.  I am a researcher driven by facts and data, but when my heart is being pulled left and right the opportunity for action is difficult.  I, like so many in the US, want nothing more than to protect those who can’t protect themselves.  But how do we do that?  To discuss this and come up with a concrete plan of action, emotion needs to be removed.  I do not mean to imply that I am not heartbroken.  I am, but there are facts about this incident that can not be ignored, no matter where you fall on each issue.  Whether it is gun control, mental health issues, parenting styles, or community safety, emotion clouds our judgement and eliminates the possibilities for compromise and healing.

We all have different experiences and perspectives, and disagreements.  These perspectives shape our career, relationships and choices.  The freedom we have as citizens in this country is truly amazing.  A 20-year-old man took away the power and freedom of 26 people in a devastating way.  We move forward by ensuring that all citizens rights are not infringed upon, ever again.  You may not agree with your neighbor, or the politician in a neighboring state, but we need to find a way to agree on a course of action that continually supports our freedoms and gives voices to the voiceless.  We are a country of brilliant, kind, generous individuals.  It is time we show more of that and less hatred and aggression.  It is time to put our emotions aside, stop pointing fingers, and find answers to the many questions going through our minds.  The best thing we can do is seek to understand.  Understand why violence is so prominent in our culture.  Understand how an individual could spiral so low to cause so much heartbreak.  And most importantly, understand how to maintain our freedoms and build a system of support everyone needs.

The Great Cookie Swap of 2012

Holidays mean cookies.  Which might be a great idea, except I have never really been a huge cookie fan.  Except if they are giant cookies from New York City or mini cookie-press cookies.  Seriously.  Have you ever had those little things?  How can you not eat 18 in one sitting?  I remember growing up and decorating cookies with my mom and brothers.  Of course I always ended up with more frosting on my face than on the cookies, but that’s how we all do it, right?

Now if my nostalgia doesn’t get to you the rest of the year it must annoy you now.  I love Christmas.  So much.  I decorated my apartment before Thanksgiving.  And I love the way it smells, just the way Yankee Candle tells you Christmas is supposed to smell.  I am all for traditions.  And Nutella is an awesome one at that.  Is it really a holiday tradition if your obsession lasts all year?  Maybe more of an essential element to my life.  I’ve professed my love for Nutella before.  And even shared my love of Nutella ganache, so this is nothing new here.  But combining it with my new favorite spread?  Yeah, let’s start that tradition pronto.

But these cookies.  They just exude Christmas.  They are sweet and spicy and the Nutella adds the cozyness of your favorite winter blanket.  Which is perfect because these cookies are just the ones to share with friends.  Which is exactly what I did.  I signed up for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and was so excited to receive a bunch amazing cookies to enjoy.  Between the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Thumbprints, delicious biscotti, and the most amazing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies I have ever had in my entire life, what more do I need in life?  Maybe some awesome person to help me eat these cookies.  Oh wait.  Amazing boyfriend who just happens to love cookies.  Winner.

2012-12-01 10.29.59 Read on, there’s more