Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recipe > The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

The title really says it all. I found this recipe on a blog a few months ago and decided I should try it out.
I have always been horrible at making chocolate chip cookies. The last time I made them they so bad Zack wouldn't eat them. They were so flat, greasy, and an ugly brown color. Zack didn't eat one of them he was too scared over what they looked like. When I saw how these cookies turned out I thought that I wouldn't be able to do it, but all that changed and I made the best chocolate chip cookie ever.

Don't they just look divine? I have never had my cookies look this good and I am so glad that I found this recipe. The secret is to make sure that the cookie is taller than it is wide. Here is what I did

I made sure that that the bottom of the cookie was flat so that it wouldn't topple over or anything. The picture from above is the way the cookie turned out so I promise this recipe is really good. 

2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg +1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 bag chocolate chip cookies

1. Combine flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine butter (make sure it is melted! I put mine in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make sure it was melted), brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg & egg yolk, and vanilla with a whisk. 
3. Combine wet and dry ingredients together in the large bowl. I used a hand mixer to make sure the ingredients were all mixed in together really well but you can easily mix it together with a large spoon. Make sure the ingredients are blended well. 
4. Cover the cookie dough and chill for 1.5 to 2 hours. Chilling is a must. 
5. Take the dough out of the fridge and let is sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease the sheets. 
7. Roll the dough into balls, as seen above, making sure that they are taller then they are wide. Mine ended up looking like an egg which turned out fine. Just make sure and flatten the bottom so that they don't topple over. Put about 8 cookies on each baking sheet. You may need more than two baking sheets. 
8. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. DO NOT GO OVER 12 MINUTES. The cookies will look mushy and not baked at all, however if you go over they will become too crisp. Pull the sheet out and let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes. The cookies continue baking on the sheet even out of the oven. 
9. After they have cooled, make sure and grab a glass of milk and enjoy some one on one time with the best chocolate chip cookie ever. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry & Bright > Christmas with the Holladay's

This year was so much fun. It all starts Christmas eve for Zack & I, and I feel like it will continue on into the new year. The partying and family time just keeps getting better.

My mom has claimed Christmas Eve will always be a celebration at my parents house. We went over there around 4:00 Christmas Eve and had a great time chatting with my parents and my 3 sisters. I have one sister who is in El Salvador this year (who we got to talk to-- more on that later) so it was just us four girls and my husband. The evening started out with some potatoes, peas, and white sauce (we have this meal EVERY Christmas eve, since I was little and it is so special because my mom only makes it once a year). We also had rolls, and party punch (a drink my family made up with cranberry sauce and sprite, really good). After dinner we moved onto the next event which was the talent show. Jenna and Rachel (my two youngest sisters) played a piano duet, then Cassidy showed off her self timer skills with the iphone camera for her talent My husband represented our family and juggled some apples he found in the kitchen. Cassidy took this picture of everyone during her "talent"

Next we put on the Natvitiy, there are a lot of boy roles in the Nativity story from the New Testament so we had to improvise:

Jenna played Mary. 
Rachel played the angels.
Cassidy played Joseph
I played the shepard and the sheep
Zack played the wise man

After the nativity my sisters unwrapped their Christmas pajamas and my dad read us the Polar Express (also a tradition we have done every Christmas Eve). 
Zack and I went home around 9:00 pm and opened our own Christmas pajamas up, then we went to bed. 
Christmas day we spent a few hours unwrapping gifts and enjoying our presents. I found this little beauty in my stocking:

It's a Green Amethyst stone accented with diamonds! I feel in love with it. My husband said he had a connection with Santa and knew that I would love it. He was right. 
After presents we went to my in-laws house for Omelets and to spend Christmas morning with them. 

John, Rose and Zack doing the "Sasquatch pose"... I have no idea what brought this on. 

My lovely husband, making me laugh right before the photo is taken. He always knows how to put a smile on my face. 
After breakfast with my in-laws we went to my aunts house to spend Christmas day with my family. 

My Grandma decided she wanted to have a dance party so they showed us all up with their amazing dancing skills. It was so cute to watch, my Grandpa was really a pretty good dancer. 

We played some white elephant bingo! My cousin Blake is wearing her present on her head. 
We talked to Tori on Skype. She is the one in El Salvador on her mission. It was so great, she looked even more beautiful then the day she left and she was so happy. She was just beaming from ear to ear and she couldn't remember how to say some words in English. It was fun to watch and see how much Spanish she knew after only living there for 4 months. 
Overall it was such a fun Christmas day and we were so blessed by everyone who gave us wonderful gifts. 
We are going to St. George tomorrow for a little family vacation with my in-laws, it should be a lot of fun. 
I am excited to get some warm weather and hopefully sunshine as well. Utah December's are not very good, not a lot of sun so the trip will be welcoming. 
Well I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Caitlin, Currently

I haven't been up to a whole lot lately except lots of Christmas parties, wrapping of presents, and getting ready for Dec 25. I am loving life right now because I have the entire week off (paid time off even) which means I get to be home when Zack gets home from work. This never happens. I have a whole weeks worth of meals planned and ready to be prepared. I got all my Christmas shopping done today (I know I am a big procrastinator, luckily all the stores still had what I needed) and I got my daily workout in.
Lately though I have been loving the view out our kitchen window:

Mostly I just love the snow on the twiggy branches. Its so magical. 

We went out to my work Christmas party:
(sorry its a little blurry)

It was so much fun introducing my husband to everyone that I work with. It was a little weird watching the guys get completely drunk but kind of funny when we played some innocent pranks on them. They were too drunk to figure out what was happening, maybe in the future we will tell them what happened? Ha ha I doubt it, pretty funny. 
The food was so good, I ordered Salmon:

Zack got steak so he was pretty happy about that. Everything was portioned just right so you didn't feel like you were eating a lot of food, which is good. I loved the Salmon it was so delicious. If you need a really fancy place for date night make sure and eat at Christopher's in Salt Lake City, its good food and a fun environment but really pricey. 

I love our little Christmas tree. Its so beautiful and fits just perfect in our living room. Although the ornaments are a little scattered (I am not a perfectionist when it comes to decorating the tree) it looks great and as a bit of a Holladay touch that you can only get with our family. I love seeing all the presents wrapped up under the tree as well, although our Christmas is small this year its fun giving gifts to others so most of our presents are for other people. 

And our beautiful stockings all hung up. They match which makes it even better. My mom made our Christmas countdown and I love it. I think I need to change it to two days though... Also don't mind the laundry basket in the kitchen. It's all folded I just need to put it away, which is what I will be doing today. 

I just love this time of year and I am so grateful for this time to hang out with my family. I am especially grateful for the true meaning of Christmas. This time of year I always reflect on the Savior and his birth as a little baby. I think about Joseph and Mary and how much joy they must have had at holding that little baby in their arms. I also think that they had a lot of anxiety and fear, knowing and realizing that they were going to be raising the Son of God. I am grateful that I have a Savior and that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am especially grateful that I get to be with Zack for time and all eternity. I love him so much and I am glad I get to be with him Forever. 
Well have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recipe > Honey Mustard Pork Chops

Honey-Mustard Pork Chops

I made this recipe last night for dinner. It is so delicious and has a bunch of good flavors. I think it would make a great sauce for chicken as well. Zack really enjoyed it which means I will make it again in the future. Make sure and dress it up with some sort of vegetable, our staple is green beans but peas would work or a yummy Caesar salad. 

1 package Thin Cut Pork Chops (I used 6 slices of pork chops, but you can find packages in 4 if you don't want leftovers)
2/3 cups honey
1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
2 Tsp paprika
2 tsp parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease a 9 X 13 pan and place pork chops on the bottom
In a small bowl combine honey, Dijon mustard, paprika, parsley, and salt/pepper. Mix ingredients until well combined. 
Pour mixture over the pork chops and make sure each piece is well covered.
Cook for 30-35 minutes or until there is no pink in the middle of the meat. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas parties and a family tradition

Zack and I have so many parties tomorrow and the next week. It is so fun having our family close by so we can go to all of them. Tomorrow we are hanging out with the Sweets, then we have the Keith party then we have my work Christmas party which is at Christopher's in Salt Lake City. I am really excited for the work party because Christopher's is a five star restaurant and I have heard the food is amazing. I ordered Salmon which I am excited to try, I love Salmon.
I am excited to be celebrating Christmas with my husband. We have some fun traditions we have started between us two that I will post about next week. One of the traditions we have is going to see the lights at thanksgiving point. We met at thanksgiving point so it brings back lots of memories of dating, falling in love and getting engaged. The lights are so pretty and its fun to drive through them with my hubby at my side.
Here are some pictures of the lights they have up:

The lights are really fun so if you are looking for a new family tradition I would definitely recommend going to Thanksgiving point. It's $8.00 per car.
Well until next time. Happy Friday

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Years Eve party ideas and a free printable

I know it isn't quite Christmas yet, but Zack and I are hosting a New Years Eve party this year and I am sending out the invitations Monday. I started browsing the www for ideas on design and saw some really cute cards out there. Since I designed my own I wanted to share my ideas for the party and the cards with you all. Etsy had some really great cards but I didn't want to spend $15.00 when I knew I could just design something similar. Here is the front of the invitation

Standard yet functional and cute, I am loving that gold is such a trendy color right now. We are going to decorate our apartment gold and silver for the party so incorporating these colors into the design of the invitation created an easy theme to play off of. Here is the back of the invitation

I added our address in the blank line and my phone number underneath the RSVP section. I thought the invitations turned out pretty cute and I am excited to mail them off Monday. So if you are a friend of ours and find one in your mail box make sure and come, it should be lots of fun. 
My favorite New Years Eve appetizer is Jalapeno Poppers, they are so yummy (found in the frozen food isle) and easy to cook. I am sure we will be cooking some for the party. I also created some fun new years resolution cards to use that night as well. Everyone can write down one goal and take it home. They are the same size as business cards and fit 10 to a page. 

Here is a close up of what it looks like. The above picture is a littler blurry:
This printable is only going to be free until my etsy shop opens sometime before January 2014

These will be great to use as conversation starters and as a fun way to get to know someone. Zack is inviting some of his friends from high school and I am inviting some of my friends so not everyone in the room will know each other. We are excited to be hosting the party this year and I will post more ideas later as it comes closer to the party.
For now I have to focus back on Christmas and finish up our Christmas shopping. We are having a pretty low key Christmas but it should still be a lot of fun, we also have a few Christmas parties this week and next so it will be busy. I will post some of our Christmas traditions in the next few days as well, we have a few that we have started between the two of us and a few that we have carried on from our childhood. 
Well have a great rest of your Tuesday

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finals Week

I kind of love finals week. Not that I love taking tests but I love the feeling of accomplishment. Finals week definitely brings me a sense of accomplishment. I passed my hardest class yet, which is the best news I received today. I have one more test tomorrow and a paper due Friday. I am not done yet but I already have the feelings of accomplishment sinking in and I am proud of the work I did this semester.
It was a busy one for me with 15 credits, but it needed to be done. Next semester is my last and it is only 12 credits, so a much easier work load and only one of those classes is actually required for graduation in April. The rest I am taking just as electives and for fun.
It feels so surreal to be this close to the end. I honestly am having a hard time believing it because it has taken me so long to get to this point. I graduated high school in 2006, so to think that it would take me 7 years until I graduated with my bachelors degree is so odd. Of course I served a mission in 2009 and was gone for 18 months. That gave me a little bit of a break. Overall it took me 10 semesters to finish my bachelors degree, 5 years which is average for most undergraduate students.
There were so many times I wanted to quit, let me tell you. I always had a job during school, whether it was full time or part time I was always working and paying my way through college. The last few semesters I was able to qualify for grants and have the government pay for tuition which was so nice. I remember having some of the hardest classes and toughest teachers. I have met some wonderful people who have helped me stay on track to graduate and I can't wait to have a big graduation party with all of them. I am just so grateful that I have gotten to this point in life and although it's not the end yet, I can feel the end coming near and it's exciting to see that happening.
I am so grateful for Zack, he's such a wonderful husband and I could not have accomplished all of this without him. He is working full time to pay most of the bills so I could finish my degree, he has sacrificed a lot for this and I am grateful he loves me enough to want to see me successful. Now that I am done with my toughest class of the semester, I feel like I can relax and focus on some upcoming projects I have in mind. I need to clean out our study closet (it's a huge mess, just wait until you see the before pictures, they are awful), clean off my desk and organize it better, organize the study room in general, and organize my closet. I have a lot of things I have to get done in the three weeks of Christmas break and I am excited to get started on all the projects.
With that being said, have a happy finals week this week. I will post more later this week.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Games

Zack and I have some fun news (no we aren't pregnant). We just got an assignment in our church to teach the 9 turning 10 year olds. We are really excited for this opportunity and think that it will be a lot of fun. Of course teaching 9 year olds for 60 minutes is a lot to take on. Their attention spans don't last that long so I am coming up with some creative outlets to use during class. Keep in mind it is church so I want to keep it focused on the Savior. For a fun Christmas activity we thought this game would be great to get their minds rolling. 

Can you guess the  Christmas songs from the pictures? I remember doing this in school.

Can you guess some of the answers? 

Or I thought that LDS Christmas bingo might be fun:

My Heart & Home's Christmas LDS Bingo Game

And I could never forget some good LDS Christmas coloring work sheets. 

LDS Games - Color Time - Christmas

These are just a few of the ideas I saw on Pinterest that I thought I could use with the kids in our class, maybe as an activity before the spiritual lesson, etc. 
Hopefully they will like it and if you have a few Christmas parties coming up you can use these ideas for your families and friends. 
Now its back to studying for finals. I have one paper, and two tests to go and then I am done for the year. Very exciting stuff. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What I have been working on lately

I have been pretty busy with the end of the semester assignments I have, so blogging hasn't happened a whole lot. I have been working on a few side projects in between my papers and studying for tests. It gives me a good excuse to have a break. I have a paper due Thursday, a 10 page research paper due Friday, a test Monday and another test Tuesday. Also I have a test this Friday as well, I forgot about that. So busy week with lots of studying to do. Its been good to keep me busy but I will be so glad when I have a break, even if it is only two weeks long.
For this project I have been thinking about opening up an etsy shop. Mostly offering some printables and downloadable word art. I have a few of my favorite movie quotes and other quotes typed out already and just want to preview them to you guys for the time being. So here we go, right now they are going to be offered for free until my etsy shop opens. I estimate that the shop will open in January so get your quotes you like while you can and a lot more will be coming. When I do open the shop they will cost only $3.00 and look really great in your home. Enjoy these ones for the holidays.

Reads the best thing to hold onto in life is each other -Audrey Hepburn 

Reads her price is far beyond rubies- proverbs 31:10

Reads: Marriage is a gift from god to us, the quality of our marriage is a gift from us to him -L Whitney Clayton

Reads: He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. -Wuthering Heights

Reads: Falling for you was like laying taking an afternoon nap, promising myself only a brief slumber, But as soon as I had fallen, I was already dreaming -anonymous

So there you have it, hope you enjoy the first batch. I have a few more coming and will post those next week sometime. I might post them Friday if I get through all my homework between now and then. Hopefully I will come on and post about our Christmas decorations and some fun activities we have been doing for Christmas. It's my favorite holiday and I can't wait for it to come. Have a good Tuesday.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Temple Square Trip

Each year our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) puts up lights around temple square in downtown salt lake. The lights are always so beautiful and its so fun to go and see them every year. Zack and I have always tried to go since we met and its a fun tradition that a lot of families in Utah have.
We went last Sunday with Zack's family. It was really fun and I saw a lot of people I went to high school with there so that was fun to catch up with them. Here are some pictures I took on my iPhone. I forgot to bring my camera but the iPhone can take some great pictures when I am in need of one.

I can never get him to look normal in a picture but I look fabulous ;)

Just some fun memories of that day for us and how goofy my husband is when it comes to taking pictures. Hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday. Zack tried to get his car started this morning and something is wrong with the mechanic part of the key turner. Hopefully we can figure out what is going on with it so he can get to work in the morning. This month has been so stressful already I just can't wait for it to be over, and its only the 8th! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 tips to get you through finals week

Everyone knows that navigating through finals week is really stressful. It can be an overwhelming time for everybody. Learning useful tips to help you get through it a little smoother is always appreciated and helpful.
So here are some tips as I enter my last semester of college I have finally figured out how to survive finals. 

1. Back up all your files! I can't stress this is enough. I am a little crazy when it comes to this step. I have had some bad experiences in the past with loosing work before its due and starting completely over. This is never good during the month of December. I back up all my files at least three times. If it is a really important assignment (for example: I have a research paper due in a few weeks worth 100 points) then I back it up four times. 
My number one way to back up files is on a flash drive. Its nice and convenient. I put every assignment from the semester on it, that way I always have it on my person as I go to class each day. The bad part is that the flash drive can be easily lost, this is why I don't rely on it for everything.
The second way I back up files is on my desktop. Of course I save it on my computer but I put the folder on my desktop in case I need to call my husband and have him send me an assignment, its in a place that is easy to find. 
The third way is that I email the assignment to myself that night before, again just in case. I know this seems like a lot of work but honestly its better to be safe then sorry. 

2. Clean your house the last weekend of November. Zack helped me clean and it has been so nice to have everything nice and organized when I get home. I haven't had to stress about a messy bathroom, or vacuuming. Of course I still have to do the dishes and laundry but that is a lot easier to do when everything else is already cleaned. We even cleaned out the fridge before December. Having a clean house helps me to study better so if you live with roommates see if you can all get together and clean up your apartment. Everyone will feel a lot better. 

3. Get a planner! This is so helpful. Get something you like whether its colorful, lots of room to write, etc. Mine comes from Jennifer over at I Heart Organizing. Its great and has a ton of room. At the beginning of the semester I get the syllabus from every class and fill out the calendar. Writing down every assignment helps me see when the due dates are and I can plan ahead. Time management is a huge thing when it comes to finals week and a planner helps to see what your priorities are. 

4. Find a favorite place to study. My favorite place is in my kitchen on the dining table. It is huge (thanks to my in-laws for donating it to us) and has enough room for me to spread out all my paperwork. I always take up a lot of room when I study so its important to have a big table. If you like the library that is great, I have never been able to study at the library but  a lot of people can get more work done there then at home. Wherever it is make sure you feel comfortable enough that you can stay a while and get some long studying hours in. 

5. Take a lot of breaks: Sometimes I use laundry and dishes as an excuse to get up and move around. While the laundry is going I study for an hour then have a 10 minute break to switch the loads. I also like to watch my favorite shows, whether that's catching up on current episodes or watching re-runs of the office. I usually pick the office when I need a laugh, cause it always makes me laugh out loud. Just remember to take breaks. 

6. Eat food during those breaks: make sure and take your food with you to your study area. Its important to keep hydrated and your belly full. 

7. Ask for help. Professors love it when you have questions. Really they do! My professors are always grateful when I ask them about assignments. Whenever I am stuck on a paragraph for a paper I will email it to them and they will help me go over it. Its great to get their feedback and boost my grade. If you can't ask professors ask your classmates. Someone in class might have the same question and already have the answer. Also work on assignments together, its helpful to get someone else's opinion on your work. 

Well those are my tips. Hopefully one of them is helpful to you. Enjoy this time, I know I am because next semester is my last, three more weeks and then I am done. Woo Hoo. So excited. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Bake Cookies

I know this isn't the best picture of no bake cookies but they were so good. We cleared through these cookies in about three days. With just the two of us at home it takes us a while to eat treats but we went through these so fast. My husband loved them so here is the recipe:

1 stick of margarine or butter
2 cups of sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk

Mix together the above ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Once boiled reduce heat and add in 
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
3 cups of oats
1 Tsp Vanilla
Mix together well then drop by rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper. 
Let sit until hard. Usually about 1 hour. 

They are so good. You will love them. 
Have fun baking