Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

link love

Happy happy Friday, friends! I am excited about the cold weather we have been having – it finally feels like fall! Someone mentioned yesterday that we were only two weeks away from Thanksgiving. Can you believe that?! Maybe it was the warmer weather we had in October, but it feels like November barely started. I have a busy weekend ahead, but I’m trying to squeeze in a little time to relax before the real craziness of the holiday season kicks into high gear.

link love 11.10.2017via

Before the weekend gets started, here is some link love to enjoy from this week.

I love this collection of lessons from female entrepreneurs. I have been listening to some of the stories about female entrepreneurs on the “How I Built This” podcast recently and find them so empowering and inspiring. This post was right in line with that and provides real-life business advice from women who have built up their own businesses.

Each Olympic season I am a sucker for the Procter and Gamble “Thank You, Mom” commercials. This year is no exception. I seriously teared up when I saw their new commercial for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is so sweet.

In the last 24 hours (more like 10 hours), the buzz in the music world has been about Taylor Swift’s new album, but did you hear that Beyonce is going to be in the new live-action Lion King movie?!?!!! So excited!

Ready or not (I’m not), the holidays are coming like a freight train. I’m always intrigued by Oprah’s annual “favorite things” list. While I have never intentionally set out to buy any of the items on her favorite things list, it can be a fun place to find new items that I didn’t know about, get ideas for what other people might like, and see which items I love made the cut.

Last, but certainly not least, the NYC Marathon was last Sunday and I have been reading about it all week. As a runner and a UNC grad, Shalane Flanagan’s win was so exciting! But, I also love seeing the photos of “regular” people, who aren’t necessarily professional athletes, running the big race. The NYC Marathon is such a unique race, spanning across five bridges and through all five boroughs, and seems to really embody the diversity and excitement of the city itself. Seeing these photos makes me want to go on a run too!

Have a wonderful weekend!

new york through an iphone

I mentioned in my November goals post that October was a busy month, both for work and in my personal life. The two biggest, and most fun, parts of the month were the trips I took: a girls weekend in the NC mountains to visit a friend who is due with her first baby any day now, and to NYC for a work conference. Which the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, both were such amazing places to visit in October.

After visiting the mountains, New York was a stark, but fun change. The leaves in the city were changing colors and the weather was crisp and cool, especially on my last day. I have been to New York in October before, but this trip convinced me that October is the best time to visit the city. It was beautiful and just what you expect from New York in the fall.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

While I came for a work conference, I stayed with one of my college suitemates and had so much fun seeing her favorite places and exploring the city on my own. I wish I could do it all over again. Since I was only there for a short period of time, I packed light and left my camera behind, so these iPhone pics are all I have from this trip. They aren’t the best quality, but they still show New York in it’s fall glory.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

My flight didn’t leave until the afternoon the day after the conference, so I had the whole morning to wander and chose to do so on the upper west side. I decided to immerse myself in the New York way and grabbed a hot bagel from Absolute Bagels to eat on a park bench in Riverside Park, just one block away. I have been to NYC multiple times, and have spent time in Central Park, of course, and even Prospect Park, where my half marathon finished two years ago, but had never been to Riverside Park. It was amazing! The three-level park extends most of the way down the west side of Manhattan, sandwiched between the Hudson River and beautiful brownstones. There are bike paths that wind though the park and playgrounds every few blocks. I always find it amazing how great New York is about creating and maintaining green space. While I was eating breakfast I saw crews cleaning the paths, blowing the sand from the sandboxes out of the playground area, and picking up trash from the edges of the streets. The whole park was immaculate and peaceful, even though there were bustling streets just one and two blocks away.

NYC October 2017-7

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

After my bagel and UWS wanderings, I made my way to Columbia University, grabbed coffee, and explored campus until I had to head to the airport. Campus was very pretty, but not what I expected. The buildings seemed to all be in different styles of architecture and were on different planes. I’m sure if I had been able to stay a little longer and walk around more the design may have made more sense. Despite the confusing planes, it was cool to walk off of busy streets with tall buildings onto a typical college campus. It didn’t feel like it was in the middle of NYC at all.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

It was fun to explore new places and return to some of the places we went last time (because you can’t have too many Levain Bakery cookies). By the end my trip, I felt like I could navigate the city by myself. With each trip, I see new places and enjoy the city even more. I don’t have plans to go back anytime soon, but looking at these photos makes me want to book a ticket.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

link love

You guys! This is the 100th link love post on PTC! Can you believe that?! I can’t. When I saw 100 in the url I actually went back and counted the number of link love posts in the archives because I truly didn’t think it was right. Thank you for following along with me for these 100 link love roundups throughout the years. I hope they bring some fun to your weekend :)

link love 10.27.2017 via

Without further ado, our 100th link love:

I love love love this post on ways to save money. Will and I have our own methods of saving money, but seeing money-saving tips from other people always opens my eyes to great tricks I wouldn’t think about otherwise.

Speaking of money, I’m so late to the game on this, but I was recently introduced to Refinery29’s Money Diaries and find them so interesting! I love that you can see how women with different jobs and salaries spend money in different parts of the country. The project aims to remove the taboo from the topic of salaries. It also encourages people to track their spending in a money diary to help them realize where/how they are spending their money, and hopefully realize how they can save money (going back to the previous link). I find it interesting to see how people spend their money in a week because it really seems like a peek into what they value. Since I was in NYC this week, this recent money diary from a Brooklyn native seemed very relevant.

I have followed Joy the Baker for years now, and am so excited about the new venture she launched in The Bakehouse NOLA. Joy invites guests to join her at her gorgeous Crescent City home for cooking classes, workshops, and events based on different themes (this weekend is a homemade bagel event!). The idea of a well-known blogger welcoming guests (and fans :) ) into her home for a hands-on learning event is so unique and cool! I know it isn’t feasible for many people, but I love the idea!

In our female communities we often discuss self-confidence issues, body-image struggles, and unfair comparison to those we follow on the social media. This article on how to improve body image just by wearing clothing that fits well and makes us feel good is needed in today’s society and trends in fashion. Some days this may be more difficult than others, but shouldn’t we all dress in a way that helps us love ourselves, whether that follows the current trends or not? I think yes.

Lastly, if you still haven’t figured out your Halloween costume for Tuesday, here is a handy list of 25 last-minute costume ideas. I’d love to hear your creative ideas!

Happy weekending, friends!

what is your favorite pick-me-up?

What is your favorite pick me up? | www.passthecookies.com

Some days you just need a little boost, or a small treat to get you over that 3 p.m. hump. Do you have a favorite pick-me-up? What about a regular coffee shop order? I have always wanted to be the type of person with a go-to order, or at least have a place I visit so frequently that the staff recognizes me. I go to a small coffee shop a few times a week during my lunch break, sometimes to grab a drink or snack, sometimes just to do some blog work, and finally feel like the baristas know who I am when I walk up to the counter. The dilemma here is that they don’t ask for names for your order, and I pay with cash to get their “cash card” benefits, so they still don’t know my name, haha! Despite not knowing my name, it does feel nice to know that they recognize me and know me a little bit, even if it is just my schedule, habits, and random caffeine orders :)

While I often switch around my coffee shop order, I definitely have a few snacks I reach for consistently (apples, almonds, tea, coffee, and dark chocolate), which sometimes serve as my go-to pick-me-ups for other people too. Throughout the year I like to ask my friends and coworkers for their favorite coffee-shop order, snacks, or treats. Then when I need an easy way to say happy birthday or want to grab a pick-me-up on a hard day, I already know what to get. To really be prepared for any occasion, you can expand this and ask for a favorite candy, favorite food, favorite flower, etc. I have a huge Google Doc with a group of my college friends with all of our contact information and favorite things – I’m talking columns A-ZZ filled with addresses, birthdays and favorite snacks, drinks, patterns, colors, office supply the list goes on and on. This makes it so easy to know when birthdays are coming up, and exactly how to love them best at any time of the year! It is easy to send a “thinking of you” card or gift they will love (I love me some snail mail), and, when the time comes, makes secret Santa so much easier, too! So, what’s your go-to pick-me-up? What goodies should I add to my list?

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

First photo via Pinterest, second photo from my pumpkin bread with chai crumble.

diy cane bed

I’m coming at you with a different type of post today, but one I’m so excited to share: a DIY cane bed.

DIY Cane Bed | www.passthecookies.com

Most of the time I share food and recipes, but I also love interior design. Since we moved out of our tiny one-bedroom apartment (but basically studio, since the doors to the bedroom were glass) and into our two-bedroom apartment, I have been struggling with what to do with the extra bedroom. I loved having open space to do yoga or YouTube exercise videos when I didn’t feel like running outside, but I knew that wasn’t the best use of the space. (more…)

love to texas and our (almost) flood story

Texas Illustration CDRvia

The stories I keep reading and watching from south Texas are heartbreaking. They aren’t the first stories we have seen about devastating hurricane damage, and, unfortunately, they likely won’t be the last, but stories about hurricane flooding and tragedy always tug at my heart. As a North Carolinian, I have lived through many hurricanes. Some hurricanes were worse than others, none as bad as Harvey. It is hard to understand the impact of the incredible amount of rain that has come with the storm until you see photos and look at maps of the affected areas. I hurt for all of those people who have lost their houses, their loved ones, their livelihoods, and who don’t know when they will be able to return or how they will create a new life. It is difficult to know how to help in these situations while we are states away, without a lot of disposable funds. For those in a position to help, the New York Times has provided a good list of ways to help disaster relief and hurricane victims – listing donations of money, shelter, food, diapers, and even blood.

The feeling that many in the Houston area are experiencing is a feeling I know all too well. When Will and I first got married we found a tiny 1-story building apartment in a good location for a good rental price. It had new carpet, new kitchen floors, and new appliances. It was also in a 100-year floodplain. The carpets, floors and appliances were new because two years prior the entire building had flooded and everything had to be replaced. The apartment manager reassured us that the building hadn’t experienced a flood for many years before that, and that, based on the statistics, the chance of another flood in the 100-year floodplain in next 5 years was low. So we decided to stay. We lived there for a year without experiencing any problems with rising water, so we signed a lease for another year.

www.passthecookies.com

The day before New Year’s Eve that year, we woke up at Will’s grandparent’s house in Georgia to repeated flash flood alerts on our phones. We monitored the situation, knowing that our apartment could be at risk during flash flood situations. As Will pulled up the local news website, we saw the image of fire trucks evacuating the apartment complex connected to ours, and water levels already at knee-level. The rain was not predicted to stop until the next morning and we were six hours away in Georgia, watching these apartments adjacent to ours on the news, wondering what that meant for us. We frantically called our family members who were still in town, asking them, through tears, if they could please get sandbags and check on the status of our apartment as we abruptly hopped in the car and rushed back. It was the worst and most suspenseful drive home we have ever experienced – I cried and prayed and cried and prayed as the rain battered the windshield. We were so lucky to have loving, wonderful family nearby who were able to move valuables out and barricade the doors with tarps and sandbags as the water outside rose past their knees and spilled into their rainboots. Without them, I’m not sure that the damage would have been so limited.

When we arrived back, hours after the flash flood warnings, the water had begun to recess. There was a water line along the outside bricks and front stoop that stopped not even 1/4-inch below the bottom edge of our front door. That night we went to bed in the guest room at Will’s mom’s house, exhausted, relieved, and emotionally drained. There were no tears left in either of us. We returned the next morning to check on the water levels and assess the results of the storm. While the apartment smelled like mildew and the bathroom linoleum was peeling up around the edges, nothing was beyond repair. We were so lucky that day. Lucky to have family nearby and willing to drop everything and help, lucky that our apartment was built just high enough to avoid total floodwaters, lucky that it wasn’t a hurricane that would have continued through the next day, and lucky that the water began to recess when it did.

While we were extremely blessed that day, so many others have not been as fortunate during Hurricane Harvey, and I feel deeply and empathetically for them. I know the fear, the sadness, and the unknown that rises up with the waters. The overwhelming feeling of absolute helplessness and vulnerability transcends culture, race, socioeconomic status – it is felt by everyone in these situations. 300 miles of the Gulf Coast have been and are being battered by Hurricane Harvey and hundreds of thousands of people are displaced with rainfall surpassing records and continuing to increase each hour. Whether or not you can round up money to send, or offer local services, we can all send thoughts, prayers, and love. To Texas, with love.

Update: Other bloggers and groups have put together great lists of ways to help. Check out these lists from Lynzy and Co, Houston-based Veronika’s Blushing, Houston-based Sugar and Cloth, and the non-profit Charity Navigator.

How to Make Cookie Favors for a Wedding of Any Size

In the past few years I have made desserts for multiple weddings. It all started my senior year of high school when I agreed to make a three-tiered wedding cake for someone I didn’t know. After making that one tiered cake, transporting it 30-minutes away, assembling it on site, and leaving it on it’s own, I vowed never to make a tiered wedding cake again. It was so stressful and there was so much pressure to make sure nothing went wrong.

Josh and Alyssa Wedding Cookie Bar

I have learned a lot in the years since that large stressful cake, and more recently have made packaged cookie favors for my own wedding, a bride and groom’s cutting cake for my cousin’s wedding, and a plethora of cookies for a cookie bar at another cousin’s wedding. Each time there is still pressure to make sure this dessert is perfect for the bride and groom’s special day, but these projects have been much more doable than that dreaded three-tiered cake. Each project comes with it’s own challenges, but I have learned to have confidence in what I can do well, and what I should stay away from (hello, cupcake frosting). While you may not be asked to make a wedding cake on a regular basis, I’m here to tell you that if you can measure ingredients, you CAN make wedding cookie favors for a wedding of any size!

This past spring I made 750 cookies for a wedding reception cookie bar. There were five types of cookies and twelve dozen of each type. I’m reliving the journey here so you can accomplish this cookie milestone too. Wedding cookies for everyone! For reference, I made flourless peanut butter cookies, double chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (similar to these), snickerdoodles (similar to these, but with fewer spices), and chewy ginger cookies (similar to these).

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Six months out: Talk to the bride and groom about their cookie preferences, expected attendance, and number of cookie types. Come armed with suggestions of a variety of your favorite cookies. Get excited about all of the delicious cookie possibilities. Practice the cookie types that you haven’t made before or aren’t as comfortable making.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Five months out: Put all ingredient amounts for each cookie recipe in one spreadsheet and calculate the total amounts of ingredients you will need to get. Perfect baking times and determine order in which you will make the cookie dough batches. I recommend baking one type at a time so you don’t get confused and mess up a batch of dough. This also cuts down on cleaning time since you don’t have to wash the bowl and beater between two batches of the same type of cookie dough. Create your cookie dough-making schedule based on your availability. Purchase a medium cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoon) and a small cookie scoop (2 teaspoons). These will be your best friends.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Four months out: Commence cookie dough making. Avoid stares at Costco as you haul 13 pounds of butter, 7 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of brown sugar, and the 25-pound bag of flour that you thought no one in their right mind could possibly go through. You will need it all. Clear your freezer to make space for gallon-sized bags filled with dozens of frozen cookie dough balls.
Three months out: Make enough of one type of cookie dough to have 150 (or however many you need based on your headcount) dough balls. Maybe make a bit extra dough for snack.

Talk to the bride and groom about how the cookies are being served and who will be providing the serve ware, displays, and favor bags.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Two months out: Make cookie dough for two more types of cookies, ensuring that you have 150 dough balls of each type. Play tetris with bags of cookie dough balls in the freezer.

One month out: Make the last two types of cookie dough and scoop 150 cookie dough balls out of each. At this point, you may need to revive your college mini freezer to fit all of the cookie dough. Determine which cookies will last longest without getting stale after they are baked.

Wedding Cookies-4

One week out: Have a minor panic attack because you have to bake 750 cookies in a short enough time span so that they all stay fresh. Also, you have to bake 750 cookies. I feel that should be reiterated. Have a coffee date with friends who give you a much-needed pep talk and start baking, starting with the cookie dough that will last the longest without getting stale, and working toward the most temperamental. I made my most fickle cookies on the day of the rehearsal dinner so they would be as fresh as possible without having to stress on the actual wedding day. Contemplate buying stock in parchment paper. Thank your oven mitt and baking sheets for serving you well and marvel at the newfound space in your freezer.

Place the cooled cookies in plastic containers or metal tins and clearly label them.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Day of: Drop of the cookies at the reception with the reception-site event planner. If it is your responsibility, set out the cookies on the cookie bar. Otherwise, make sure the event coordinator understands the labels and has your phone number. Enjoy the wedding and feel a sense of relief and joy as people chew on cookies on the dance floor and stock up on more to take home. At the end of the night pack up the leftover cookies in the reusable containers you brought them in.

Day after: Bring leftover cookies and lots of plastic bags to post-wedding family breakfast and distribute cookies among all visitors for their trips home.

Top photo is of all the cookie bar at my cousin’s wedding by Anna Holcombe Photography.

july goals

2017 July Goals

Since I work in an academic setting and Will’s medical school schedule mostly changes with the academic calendar, my year is primarily measured by the August to May academic calendar. This means my summer is measured in months between the end of one school year and the start of the next. Working on projects for the start of the new school year, as I am now, is always startling and kind of scary because it reiterates how soon the next school year will be upon us. In some ways it feels like a month and a half have passed since the end of the (college) school year, and in some ways it feels like June only lasted a week. Mostly the latter. With all of it’s events, this summer has been both crazy busy and wonderfully relaxing at the same time, which is just how I love it.

Having a summer bucket list has helped give some purpose to any unexpected free time we have, and has helped me continue to cross things off the list as we go through these summer months. Some people prefer to spend their summer free time relaxing, but having structure helps my Type A personality feel like I can relax and I’m not forgetting about something that is looming on my plate. Sometimes though, I plan out my weekend or overbook my week and end up doing something completely different than my plan, but usually because we want to spend more time walking outside or spending time with family or friends, which are the perfect reasons to bend my schedule. This summer has been one of learning grace and flexibility with my Type A scheduling, my summer bucket list, and my monthly goals. With that in mind, below are my July goals, with a side of grace.

June Goals
-Make and decorate a cake for a baby shower
-Celebrate Will’s brother and almost sister-in-law getting married!!! – Woohoo!
-Help with the wedding, rehearsal dinner, and other celebratory events
-Enjoy a girl’s trip to LA with childhood friends – More on that to come
-Add two go-to dinner recipes to our list
-Use the lettuce and herbs from our garden in meals – We each got at least 4 meals out of it!
-Find a moisturizer or foundation with SPF that I like and start wearing it regularly – I have an SPF face lotion but did a poor job wearing it regularly until the end of June, but now I feel like it is almost part of my routine, so I’m marking it as an achieved goal
-Make new popsicle flavor combinationsRoasted strawberries and cream popsicles! I made another one that wasn’t good enough to share, but still a fun experience!
-Continue with a regular running schedule or do indoor toning exercises when it is thunder storming or too hot (welcome to North Carolina summers!)
-Have tea at Honeysuckle Tea House
-Celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary (!) – We made plans to!

July Goals
-Celebrate the 4th of July with fun, family, and food
-Find a paint color for the second bedroom
-Spend a weekend relaxing at the lake with family and friends
-Pick blackberries
-Get/order wedding gifts for our next three weddings
-Celebrate with friends at a wedding (I’m excited about the venues for this one! The other weddings we have been to this year have all been gorgeous, but I haven’t known anything about the locations/venues since most of them have been in different cities and states.The venues for this one are local, and places I have been, but never for a wedding. I’m excited to experience them in a different setting!)
-Make a plan or a timeline for our list of projects
-Run regularly, even in the heat
-Celebrate a childhood friend and soon-to-be mama
-Continue to use my Write the Word journal regularly throughout the week
A note: I got this one a few months ago and have loved it! Everyone can use it differently. Some people start a new page every day, but for me “regularly” means reading and writing down the verse and what I’m grateful for one day, filling out the “what’s on my heart,” and my word for the day another day, looking at the contextual passages another day, and rereading the verse and remembering what I’m grateful for each day. All of the Write the Word journals are sold out right now, but according to their instagram, all of the journals will be back in stock in August!

summer bucket list 2017

Happy summer! It’s officially here with the humidity to prove it!

Summer Bucket List

For the past few weeks I have been gearing up for the new season and adding things to my summer bucket list. While it is not my favorite season (I’m not a fan of the extremely hot and humid days we get here), I do love that summer always seems more relaxed than other parts of the year. Summer comes with its own kind of fun. It brings a relaxed vibe, long days, warm nights, fresh fruit and vegetables. The sunny days entice me to spend more time outside and allow for dinner on the back patio and outdoor weekend projects. I am excited for all of these fun experiences this summer!

-Swim in the pool at our complex (we didn’t swim in it a single time last year!)
-Spend an evening at Honeysuckle Tea House (we went for the first time to cross it off my spring bucket list and we loved it!)
-Go to one place on our Triangle bucket list
-Try a new coffee shop
-Ride bikes together
-Pick blackberries
-Make popsicles
-Go to the lake
-Make and start to implement a plan for our back patio beautification
-Refinish table
-Pick paint color for guest bedroom
-Take a trip before Will starts his MPH year
-Try a new seasonal recipe
-Go to a Durham Bulls game
-Buy local food from the Farmers’ Market

What fun things are on your summer bucket list?!

link love

link love 6.2.2017via

It’s Friday (and national doughnut day at that)! Sometimes short weeks get me all confused. My days are all off and every day this week has felt like a different day of the week, but not necessarily in order. My brain is very confused, but hey, it’s almost the weekend! We’re avoiding the news and focusing on some link love because covfefe and climate change are both terrifying right now (and in case we need a reminder, let’s take a look back at the “Antarctica is Melting” link from last week).

Moving on, this list of the best romcoms is enticing as the weekend approaches. There are so many on that list that I haven’t seen, but I agree that the one’s I recognize should be on the list. What are your favorites? I’m always up for a good romcom.

My to-do list this weekend includes “buy sunscreen,” among other errands. New York City beach goers may be able to remove that from their list this year. The Parks Department has organized a pilot program of free sunscreen dispensers at city beaches this summer. We already have hand sanitizer dispensers all over, why not sunscreen? Reapply, reapply, reapply.

As we head into the weekend, here is a tip to make yours feel longer: try new things! I read this article earlier this week and then heard something similar on the radio this morning. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m not trying enough new things. Hmmm.

I love some good science of baking explanations, or just helpful answers to baking faqs. Joy has that down pat. Salted butter, gluten free wizardry, cookie troubleshooting, flour on flour on flour, buttermilk…whyyyy? You name it, she answers it. It’s good information for anyone to know.

Enjoy your weekend – I hope it’s beautiful for you!

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