orange cranberry scones

Scones have always been one of my favorite treats for breakfast, brunch, or tea. They feel fancy but still cozy, and look impressive but are easy to make.

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Growing up, my dad would make chocolate chip scones for holiday breakfasts, and berry scones in the summer. We would snatch them warm out of the oven while the chocolate was still melty and the berries were juicy, scalding pockets of flavor amidst the soft, buttery breakfast bread.

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

For Christmas breakfast this past year, my dad went out on a limb and tried an orange cranberry variation that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. This recreation of those delicious scones is perfect for citrus season. The fluffy, buttery scones taste so fresh and light with the addition of orange juice and orange zest, and the dried cranberries bring just the right amount of sweetness.

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Drizzle them with honey and an extra pat of butter and you’ve got the dreamiest of breakfasts, or cover them with clotted cream and jam for the most elegant and delicious tea with friends. No matter how you serve them, orange cranberry scones will be the stars of the show. I made these over the snow days last week and have been nibbling on them every day. I get so excited each morning to come downstairs and toast one to have with my tea for what feels like such a fancy breakfast. :)

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

Orange cranberry scones are flaky, buttery, and moist with a fresh citrus flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness from dried cranberries.

Orange cranberry scones are flaky, buttery, and moist with a fresh citrus flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness from dried cranberries.

Orange Cranberry Scones
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks), cold butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
½ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons milk
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture using two knives, a pastry blender, or quick hands, until there are pea-sized clumps throughout the flour. Stir in the dried cranberries.

Combine the orange zest and orange juice and pour into the flour mixture. Add the milk and mix just until combined, being careful not to overwork the dough. If the dough is too dry, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a round or rectangle that is about 1 ½ to 2-inches thick. Cut into 6 to 8 pieces (6 for large scones, 8 for reasonable-sized scones ;)) and put each piece on a baking sheet a few inches apart from each other. Brush the tops of the dough with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately.

Scones are best the day they are made, however, you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them.

Orange Cranberry Scones | Pass the Cookies |

link love

What a week! Between a busy travel schedule last weekend (and for the first three weekends of January), and the 11+ inches of snow we got on Wednesday, I feel like the busyness and the restfulness have finally balanced each other out. While I have loved the trips I have taken so far this year, I’m excited to have a weekend at home.

link love 1.19.2018

There has been some great link love over the past week or two that I can’t wait to share with you. January always seems like a fresh start and a chance to try new things and see if they work better for you than routines you may have had last year. Many of this week’s links are related to that – improving routines, schedules, and efficiency to make you happier this year.

By now, I’m sure everyone has seen, heard, or read Oprah’s Golden Globes speech. Not only was it a great, compelling speech, but there are a lot of public speaking tips the rest of us can take from it. Leave it to Oprah to teach us a lesson while giving her own speech.

I talk to my college friends and my sister about this all the time: making (and keeping up with) friends as an adult can be hard. I love these linked posts that pool advice from lots of people who have made it work, some in very unconventional ways.

Some of my favorite links to share this week are from Emily Thomas’s and Nancy Ray’s “How We Do It” series on their blogs. The two started the series with posts about organizing and managing time, moved on to organizing and managing finances this week, and will continue with five more topics over the next month. I always love seeing how other people make tasks work for them, and in my goal of simplifying, I’m trying to re-read these posts for any takeaways I can put into place in my own life.

On the theme of simplifying and time management, I love this post on the importance of white space. This was one of my biggest reasons for wanting to simplify things this year –
to add more white space to my calendar so I could get greater enjoyment out of the things that I love and the things that fill my calendar.

Lastly, another how-to post focusing on something else I want to improve – time spent reading. I used to read all the time, but after busy college semesters, and now with other things occupying my free time, I often set books on the back burner. My reading list has grown and grown, and I want to start digging in to some of the (hopefully) great books! Carly’s post on how she reads a lot is filled with do-able actions that I sometimes push away because I don’t think I have time. Hopefully getting past that first step (having books on hand) will make it easier to get into the habit of reading regularly.

With that, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and maybe a chance to implement some of these tips!

healthy breakfast cookies

Tis’ the season for new resolutions and healthy eating. While I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, I do like having a healthy reset after an indulgent holiday season. Healthy breakfast cookies are the perfect solution.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Often times we struggle with healthy eating not because we are unsure of what is healthy and what is not, but because in the midst of our busy schedules, we don’t allow enough time to prepare healthy food and instead end up grabbing an unwholesome snack or heating up an unhealthy meal. Today we are going to combat that by making a big batch of healthy breakfast cookies to keep on hand for when you are running out the door in the morning, or when that 3pm hunger hits you at work.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

My favorite thing to get at the local coffee shop on campus is a “banana chocolate ball,” made by a local bakery. I don’t even like bananas (it used to be marketed as a coconut chocolate ball, which was much more appetizing to me), but I have been getting these little balls of tasty goodness since I was in college and love them! I have tried to recreate them many times in the past, with many failures along the way, but I finally developed a close replica!

My version of these healthy breakfast cookies is gluten free, vegan, and naturally sweetened. It is filled with nuts for protein, with optional add-in ingredients to break up the flavors and texture. I like to add blueberries, additional chopped nuts, or, in this case, deep dark chocolate. Use the add-ins to make them your own and to change them up from week to week!

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Thanks to the banana and almond butter, these treats are soft and moist. They are filled with good ingredients and healthy enough for breakfast, snack, or even as a substitute for sugary desserts after dinner. I brought a bag of these to Paris with us a few weeks ago and even my hot chocolate and croissant-loving family was asking for them before we headed out in the morning.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Makes about 21 1½ tablespoon cookies

¾ cup dates, packed (soaked for 10 minutes in warm water and then drained)
¼ cup honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
1 medium ripe banana
2 tablespoons natural salted almond butter or peanut butter
¾ cup almond meal
½ cup rolled oats (if you are making these gluten free, make sure to get certified gluten free rolled oats)
½ cup unsweetened coconut
¼ cup almonds, chopped
¼ cup additional optional add-ins: dried fruit, chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, blueberries, flax seed, chopped nuts, etc.

In the bowl of a food processor, pour in the soaked dates and pulse until only small bits remain. Add the banana and almond butter and mix again until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.

Next add the almond meal and rolled oats and pulse until everything is combined. The dough will be sticky and wet, but should stick together when you scoop it.

Scrape your dough into a mixing bowl. If it feels too wet to the touch to form into cookies, add another few tablespoons of almond meal and/or oats and stir. If you want to add additional mix-ins, stir them into the dough now. I used dark chocolate chunks, but also love adding chopped pecans and craisins. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop 1 ½ tablespoon balls of cookie dough onto your prepared baking sheet. They won’t expand so you can place them close together, without touching. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops have a hint of golden brown. Let the cookies set on the pan for a few minutes. Serve immediately.

Store leftovers in an airtight container for a few days. If you want to keep them longer, store them in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. I love pulling these out of the freezer for a quick on-the-go breakfast or snack!

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

Healthy Breakfast Cookies | Pass the Cookies |

january goals

This is the week of goals here! How have you been doing with yours? It feels like my December goals post was so so far away. So much has happened since then! In efforts to cultivate my goal of simplifying this year, I’m going to try to add one thing that will simplify my life to each month’s goals. This month I’m focusing on my home – decluttering and purging. I have read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “A Simplified Life” which both give great tips on decluttering, but I’m still not very good at it. Wish me luck!

2018 january goals | Pass the Cookies |

December Goals
– Get all of our Christmas shopping done by December 17 (we’re so close already!)  YES! All of our Christmas shopping except for a few stocking stuffers was done by December 10th! This was one of the best things we did this season – it left room for more Christmas activities and I was less stressed about finishing our shopping than I have been in previous years.
– Continue to exercise and practice self-care as the season gets crazy. This includes getting more sleep than I have been getting recently.  Definitely didn’t get more sleep, but I did a great job at keeping up an exercise routine, so I’m marking this as completed.
– Post all of my gift guides by December 12 – Nope, but close. I should have switched this date with the date for finishing my Christmas shopping ;)
– Decorate for Christmas so our home is available for planned or impromptu holiday gatherings  Yes! I seriously cried when we had to take down the Christmas tree before we left on our New Year’s trip.
– Meal plan again – we have been going out of town so much that our meal planning fell to the side on weekends, which left us scrounging during the week. I want to get back to planning our meals again because it always makes the evenings less stressful. – Didn’t do a great job of this at all. Whomp whomp.
– Spend meaningful time with both of our families for Christmas celebrations Yes, yes, yes. We spent time with lots of family in December and it was all so wonderful.

January Goals
– Clean our apartment
– Purge at least one bag of things I don’t use or need
– Build in free time on our trips to make them relaxing rather than overwhelming
– Wake up early enough to enjoy a slow morning before work at least two days a week
– Get back to meal planning

What are your January goals? Any tips for decluttering? I’m all ears!


2018 goals

Happy 2018! I didn’t intend to take so much time off from blogging, but with a very busy holiday season I didn’t have much time to take and edit photos or write posts. I would usually stress about the next time I would be able to prepare a post, but I found such peace from spending time with friends and family over the holidays that I realized I haven’t had (or haven’t made time for) relaxation and rejuvenation in a long time. Instead of stressing about a certain number of blog or Instagram posts over the last few weeks, I focused on being present with the people I love and doing things just for enjoyment, not for social media. While I spent the end of 2017 rushed and exhausted, I entered 2018 refreshed and relaxed.

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but as you know, I do like regularly setting good goals. Last year my goal was growth, and I really feel like I achieved that in many aspects of my life. I grew in my professional life, creative abilities, skills, fitness, and toward the end of the year, in my ability to recognize when I need to simplify and slow down. I learned a lot and am excited to put it all to use this year.

I recently read the book, A Simplified Life, by Emily Ley. The principle of the book is that in our modern world we are living busy, overwhelming lives, and have a lot of things vying for our attention, but we can adjust some of these things to make life a little simpler so we have more time to enjoy those we love and the rest and activities that fill our tanks. As I learned in December, continuing at such a crazy pace will quickly drain me and eventually cause burnout. These lessons come at a fitting time, as 2018 is so fresh and I am coming off such a wonderful period of rejuvenating rest. My goal for this year is to put those lessons to use and simplify. It will be easier in some areas of life and very difficult in others, but I know it will make for a better year and a better me when I am with my family and friends.

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging this week, and I’m so excited for what this new year holds! Happy new year, friends!

2017 favorites

As 2017 comes to an end and we look forward to 2018, I enjoy looking back at some memories from the year. My word for the year was growth. As I reflect on the year’s events, I fell like I accomplished this goal in both my personal and professional life. 2017 was full of travel, professional development and improvement of skills with conferences and workshops, and new ideas. Along the way, I am proud of the many goals I accomplished that led me to grow little by little throughout the year. Below are some of my 2017 favorites, and some reader favorites from this year.

Homemade Croissants |

We started out the year with a snow day and homemade croissants – both adventures in their own ways. I was (and still am) so proud that these croissants came out as fluffy, flaky and buttery as I could have imagined. This was definitely a new challenge for me, but one that I loved!

Chocolate Cake with Whiskey Caramel Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache aka one of the best cakes I have ever made |

Chocolate cake with whiskey caramel buttercream and dark chocolate ganache frosting was the most popular blog posts this year – and for good reason. I made this cake for multiple occasions and loved seeing friends and readers recreate it!

Dark Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal Cookies |

My most requested post was the recipe for the classic dark chocolate pecan oatmeal cookies that I shared earlier this year. These are my go-to cookies – I can make them with my eyes closed and always have frozen dough balls in the fridge for unexpected company (or late night cravings).

Carrot Cake Scones with Cream Cheese Glaze |

Perfect for spring, carrot cake scones with cream cheese glaze were one of the top recipes and photos on Instagram this year. I’m already looking forward to making them again next year.

Weekend in Philadelphia |

With Will’s crazy clinical schedule we often didn’t know what our weekends would look like. A last minute weekend in Philadelphia was so fun and too quick of a turn-around.

One of my favorite recipes this spring was the delicious cinnamon swirl scone bread. Fluffy, cinnamony scone heaven in every bite!

Los Angeles |

The next big trip I took was a girls trip with childhood friends to Los Angeles (parts 1 and 2) I had never been to LA, and it was so great to spend time with longtime friends and interesting to compare it to some of the other big cities I visited this year.

Flourless peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches were one of the easiest, yet tastiest recipes this year, and fulfilled all of my gluten free friends’ dreams! They are seriously the simplest to make and are one of my new favorites to make for guests (everyone likes them!).

Slow Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Maple Pecans and Maple Bourbon Butter | Pass The Cookies |

Another of the most popular recipes this year was slow roasted sweet potatoes with spiced maple pecans and maple bourbon butter Their instagram popularity (and the number of times I made them again for lunches and dinners) proved that they deserved the spotlight.

While I am certainly not a DIY blogger, I couldn’t resist showing you my DIY cane bed. I’m still so proud of my IKEA bed hack – it makes the whole room feel more put-together and fancy.

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies |

As you know, I’m a sucker for all things pumpkin. pumpkin bread with chai crumble was an amazing addition to my pumpkin supply this year and I’m itching to make it again. It’s never a bad time for pumpkin bread – especially one this tasty!

I covered food and drinks in a totally different way this fall when we participated in coffeeneuring – biking to coffee shops. This is one area where I grew this year in confidence and adventure. Before starting our first ride I didn’t think I could bike a few miles to a coffee shop across town, but I proved to myself that I could do it and quickly became addicted to the fun coffee-seeking cycling adventures.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cake with Bourbon Molasses Frosting | Pass the Cookies |

With Thanksgiving on the brain, there were some great pies in November. But, the brown butter sweet potato cake with chocolate ganache and molasses buttercream took the cake – literally. Not only was it beautiful, it was also a delicious combination of flavors and textures and unique enough to stand out amidst all of the pies.

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Lastly, brown butter ginger cookies from just last week were some of my favorite cookies of the year. Even though I have gobbled up more than my fair share of cookies this Christmas season, I am still tempted to make more of these delicious little treats.

Thank you for following along this year! I’m excited for what 2018 has in store!

how to build your own hot chocolate bar

With people rotating in and out of our homes this time of year, I love to have hot chocolate and a few treats on hand to make everyone feel comfortable and special. A hot chocolate bar is one of my favorite ways to do this.

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies |

Stocked with an apothecary jar full of hot cocoa powder, homemade marshmallows, candy canes, and Christmas cookies, everyone can build their perfect cup of hot cocoa with little hands-on time from the host or hostess. Last year, I created a hot chocolate bar for a baby shower I hosted for two friends and ended up leaving it out for the rest of the season, replenishing the toppings after visits with family and friends. It made the perfect welcoming touch and was so fun to have on hand!

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies |

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies |

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies |

I usually place my electric kettle and some fun holiday mugs around the spread so everything is ready whenever guests decide to partake. A 1-tablespoon measuring spoon and a small whisk with it’s own plate to catch drips are two easily forgotten, but helpful items for measuring the right amount of cocoa and getting rid of those pesky clumps. One trick my mom taught me on snow days when I was younger is to pour the hot chocolate mix into the mug, add a little bit of hot water, and whisk to create a thick, almost syrup-like mixture. Then add the rest of the water for your perfect mug of cocoa. This process makes sure there are no lumps of unmixed cocoa powder floating at the top of your otherwise beautiful mug.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies |

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies |

Homemade marshmallows aren’t necessary, but they make a huge statement for the small amount of extra effort it takes to make them. I went with plain marshmallows this year (just substitute vanilla for the peppermint in these peppermint ones), with some dipped in chocolate and crushed peppermint, but in the past have made peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, whiskey, and amaretto flavored marshmallows for a fun treat! While the bar transforms into a hot chocolate station, don’t worry about moving all of the alcohol. I like to leave the liqueurs that make for tasty spiked hot chocolates, like Irish cream, hazelnut liqueur, coffee-flavored liqueur, and peppermint schnapps.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies |

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies |

To create your own hot chocolate bar like this one you will need:

  • Hot chocolate mix (powder, homemade, or piles of chocolate shavings, like this)
  • Hot water or milk in an electric kettle or air pot
  • Marshmallows
  • Candy canes
  • Cookies (I included my favorites from this year – brown butter ginger cookies)
  • 1-tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the hot chocolate powder
  • Small whisk and a plate or bowl for it to rest on after people use it
  • Mugs
  • Fairy lights
  • Flavored liqueurs

While you may not think designing a bar cart is much like decorating a room, it takes more zhushing than I sometimes think it will. It is a fun way to start small and work your style into your holiday decor, or just your rooms in general after the holidays. Sometimes it is hard to move past the small pieces of decorating and see the big picture, or tackle a whole room. I have heard so many people talking about affordable online interior designs, like Havenly, recently, which seems like a great mid-way point between designing your own bar cart and designing your own room.

I can’t wait to settle down this weekend and fix my perfect cup of hot chocolate – who said it was only for guests? ;) What are your favorite hot chocolate toppings? Anything I should add to my rotation?

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.comThis post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Pass the Cookies.


brown butter ginger cookies

If you make one type of cookie this holiday season, let it be brown butter ginger cookies. Out of all of the cookies I have made all year, these are my favorites and the ones I have made the most often, which is crazy, since I just started making them in November. The name aptly describes them – you can clearly taste both the brown butter and the ginger, but neither overpowers the other. Ah-mazing.

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown butter makes your whole kitchen smell glorious, and the deep, nutty flavor penetrates each bite. The dusting of sugar that coats each dough ball bakes into a sparkly pillow. All of that combined with ginger and cardamom, these cookies are soft, warm, and so flavorful. They are so delicious that I can never stop at just one.

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

In the past few weeks I have brought these to family gatherings and work potlucks and have heard raves each time. While they look like gingersnaps, they are so much better!

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Since they require brown butter, which adds a step to the cookie making process, I make the process easier by browning the butter one night, letting the brown butter cool throughout the evening, and making the dough the next night. Don’t let brown butter stop you from trying these! You can definitely make these in the span of a few hours (especially if you speed up the cooling in the fridge), and I have done that a few times, but sometimes it is easier to only devote a little bit of time in two chunks, instead of a longer amount of time once, with dead time in the middle. If you have a day when you do all (or most) of your holiday baking, brown the butter at the beginning, continue with the other recipes, and come back to it when you are done with the other things on your list. The extra time is worth it!

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies | Pass The Cookies |

Drop the rest of your holiday baking pans and whip up a batch of these for everyone you know.

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies
¾ cups butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it is medium-brown. You will notice the bubbling will stop and it will smell nutty. This should take between 5-10 minutes. Remove the butter from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. To speed up this process, pour the browned butter into a shallow bowl and refrigerate for a bit. It is okay to use if the outside is firm and the inside is liquid.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl after 2 minutes. Add in the molasses and egg and mix to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter mixture. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the sugar into a bowl. Scoop or roll chilled cookie dough into 2 teaspoon to 1 ½ tablespoon-sized balls and roll them in sugar. I like the 2 teaspoon size (I use the small cookie scoop), but the 1 ½ tablespoon gives you even more of that chewy center. Place the dough balls 2-inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes for the small cookie dough balls, or 12-15 minutes for the larger dough balls. They will still look like they are not quite done when you take them out. Don’t bake them until they look done, otherwise the edges and the base will get harder.

Barely adapted from Bake from Scratch Holiday Cookies magazine.

local gift guide for the triangle

As much as I love the gift guides for all categories that can easily be shopped from the couch, there is something great about supporting local businesses this time of year. Many readers are local to the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), but even if you aren’t I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can find local gifts in your area too. This last week before Christmas, run out to these stores and pick up your last minute gifts, while still supporting local businesses. If you don’t have time to get to the store, some of these are on Amazon Prime (Write the Word Journal, Counter Culture Coffee, and Greenwich Bay Trading Company soaps and lotions, to name a few).

Triangle Local Gift Guide | Pass The Cookies |

North Carolina felt pennant from The Zen Succulent in Durham. This mother-daughter store has a Durham pennant and other great home items and pretty terrariums, too. They even offer local delivery of some of their potted plants around the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. If you are looking for flowers to gift in Raleigh, hop downtown to Wylde. They have beautiful arrangements, wreaths, and small gifts for the flower lover.

High Cotton ties and bow ties. This Raleigh company has the cutest ties and bowties for all of the stylish men (or those you want to force a little style on ;)) in your life. Their holiday line is so good that I’m having trouble picking a favorite!

Cultivate What Matters Write the Word Journals and gift cards (these would make a great stocking stuffer!). I have the “Cultivate Renewal” Write the Word Journal and have loved using it throughout the year.

Greenwich Bay Trading Company holiday soaps and lotions. Greenwich Bay Trading Company is a family-owned business in Raleigh. Their holiday collection of soaps and lotions always smells so good, and is wrapped in paper so pretty, all you need to do is add a bow. They don’t sell their soaps from their own website, but you can find them on , on this website, and at many local stores in Raleigh (I usually see them at Zest and now at The Local Squirrel).

Shops for various, unique, local gifts:
DECO, The Local Squirrel, Steven Shell Living, Form & Function, Union Camp Collective in Raleigh
Chet Miller, Parker & Otis, and The Makery at Mercury Studio in Durham

Raleigh bakery tour - croissants, morning buns, hot chocolate, and more.

Raleigh bakery tour - croissants, morning buns, hot chocolate, and more.

Food gifts:
Pretty pastries and fresh bread from Boulted Bread, Yellow Dog Bread Company, and Lucettegrace in Raleigh, or a pie from East Durham Pie Co. or Scratch in Durham. If you haven’t tried a loaf of bread from Boulted or Yellow Dog, or the hot chocolate at Lucettegrace, you don’t know what you are missing. In our opinion, the best bread in the Triangle is from Boulted and Yellow Dog, so get it while it’s hot! Pick up a freshly made loaf of bread made from just-milled grains and tie a bow around it for a nice hostess gift, or grab a box of amazingly flaky and delicious pastries for your holiday guests. You can’t go wrong at any of these places! In case you missed it, I did a bakery tour of Raleigh last year with my family and featured all three shops in this post.

Raleigh bakery tour - croissants, morning buns, hot chocolate, and more.

Chocolate from Videri Chocolate Factory or Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Raleigh. The bars from both of these small factories are delicious, but for a beautiful gift, put together a box of truffles (this makes a great hostess gift or treat for your guest room). If you want a more unique way to gift Videri, grab a bag of their hot chocolate (it is amazing!), or a chocolate box subscription! Both of these local chocolate shops have brick and mortar and online stores, but Escazu bars can also be found in Whole Foods around the Triangle as well as local co-ops, markets and grocery stores in the Triangle and around the country (find the list of retailers here). I have to say though, if you have a chance to stop by their downtown Raleigh locations, it is worth seeing the beautiful confectionaries at Escazu and the behind-the-scenes of a chocolate factory at Videri while you pick up some delicious local gifts.

2017 September Goals |

Coffee from Counter Culture Coffee in Durham (they have a limited edition winter blend, “Iridescent”). Counter Culture Coffee can be found at lots of local grocery stores and coffee shops in the area. Find it in Whole Foods stores across the Triangle (I have seen it in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill stores), at Jubala Coffee, and Sola Coffee Cafe in Raleigh. In Durham you can find it at their headquarters, and at Durham Coop. In Chapel Hill, stop by Perennial Coffee to buy some. I have also seen it at several Harris Teeter stores throughout the area. For those not local to the Triangle, Counter Culture is all over coffee shops in the US now and can be ordered online!

Big Spoon Roasters nut butters. I love their almond ginger, chai spice for this time of the year, but you can’t go wrong! I have seen their nut butters in Whole Foods, at the Durham Farmers’ Market, Bean Traders in Durham, Johnny’s Gone Fishing in Carrboro, NOFO in Raleigh, and tons of other locations. Don’t live in the Triangle, but want to try the magic of these nut butters? Lucky for you, they are sold online and at hundreds of local shops around the country too!

Brewery Bhavana

Beer from a number of local breweries, including, but not limited to Lonerider Brewery (Sweet Josie is one of our favorites), Trophy Brewing Company, Crank Arm Brewing, Big Boss Brewing Company, Fullsteam Brewery, Ponysaurus Brewing, Carolina Brewery, Steel String Brewery, YesterYears Brewery, Top of the Hill, and Brewery Bhavana. If your gift recipient is local to the Triangle as well, grab a pack of beer or a growler from a specific brewery and pair it with a brewery tour for a fun experience you can have together. While not a brewery, a gift card to Raleigh Beer Garden is a great experiential gift for the beer lover. The atmosphere at RBG is great, and with three floors of beer on tap and the largest draft beer selection in the world, there is something new for every beer aficionado!

A few of these links are affiliate links, but all of these companies are those that I love and support.

Last photo from Brewery Bhavana

link love

Throughout November and December I have been trying to plan ahead and spread out my tasks and to-do list items so I can enjoy the season and reduce stress leading up to Christmas. I have done a good job of that in some areas – all of my Christmas shopping was done on December 10, all but one of my gift guides have been posted – but with last minute additions to our calendar (all wonderful additions, but lots of them) and unexpected changes at work, I have hit a point where I’m just exhausted. I am looking forward to seeing friends and family this weekend and focusing on filling up my tank, rather than just going from one gathering to another in exhaustion.

link love 12.15.2017 | Pass the Cookies |

via Pinterest

If you are looking to slow down this weekend too, here is some great link love to enjoy as you relax:

I have been reading Cup of Jo for a long time. It is so honest, down-to-earth, and relatable. This interview with Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo is a wonderful one. While you’re at it, check out this guide to surviving holiday travel from the perspective of her seven-year-old. My favorite part is his advice for dealing with tired siblings: “If your brother is crying at the end, you can carry his luggage. You can do that to help. But don’t go close to him in case he hits you. Take a step back.” I’d say that advice is still applicable when dealing with tired grown-up siblings ;)

We just started watching the second season of The Crown. I loved the first season and
I can’t wait to see the second season has in store. I have also heard great things about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I’m wondering if we should watch it next. Have you seen it?

A few weeks ago I shared the New York Times’ dialect quiz with Will’s family who was visiting from another state. We all took the quiz and it came up with the city we grew up in more often than not! I think differences between states and regions are so interesting to study – we are so close, but so different! This article discusses the regional differences in personalities in the US, finding three major trends in how we act. And yes, it confirms that Midwesterners and Southerners are the friendliest.

Maybe the best link for this week is this video of someone who uses Amazon Prime Now to help homeless people. Get ready to get emotional. Amazon didn’t sponsor him, but if they’re watching, they should.

Happy weekend, friends – the last one until Christmas Eve! Refill your cup well!

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