Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best of 2010

My local paper asks an "On The Street" question every day, and today's question was "What was the best thing that happened to you in 2010?"

I'm not sure if I'm amnesiac, but 2010 didn't have any single, solid best thing for me. However, there were lots of little pieces that made 2010 a pretty decent year.

But I'll share my biggest 2010 disappointment first: Nebraska. First, they announced they were leaving the Big 12. And then then they lost the Big 12 tournament game & their bowl game. Oh well.

Moving on to the positives! (in no particular order)

Best New Recipe- Brazilian Fish Stew

Best Music Acquisition- Jamie Cullum: "The Pursuit"

Best Minimalist Moment- Unloading my big ol' TV

Best Minimalist Project- My sister's playroom

Best Dessert- Scottish Shortbread

Best Website-

Favorite Personal Blog Post- You, Me & Stuff

Best Technical Acquisition- HP Netbook

Best Electronic Recycling Discovery- Best Buy

Best Work Moment- Moving to a new office with a HUGE window

Best Vacation- Hiking 14ers with my dad in Colorado

Good Times- Hanging out with my family in Texas

People Who Win for 2010- My parents

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scottish Shortbread Fans

Last week, my mom and I went to a class at the local health food store called "Fabulous Holiday Cookies." Not only did we get to try eight fabulous holiday cookies, we also got the recipes! Some of the cookies I'm a bit scared of since the Chef warned us, "There's one minute difference between undercooked & burned!" but this recipe I knew I could at least attempt.

I have always liked shortbread. I decided I liked it even more when I found out there are only THREE ingredients. This recipe was originally called 2-4-6 Shortbread since it's an easy way to remember the ingredient measurements.
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 6 oz flour
In normal-people measurements-
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 stick butter (if unsalted, add a very small pinch of salt)
  • 1 1/2 loose cups flour
Cream butter and sugar just enough to smooth out. Using your hands or the paddle attachment on your mixer, work in the flour (and optional salt) until the dough just holds together when squeezed.

In an ungreased 8-inch cake pan, press the dough into a firm, even layer.

Use the tines of a fork to press 1/2 inch lines radiating like the rays of the sun all around the edge of the dough. Score the dough into 12 or 16 wedges and prick each wedge with a fork, pricking all the way through the dough. (I started getting a little nervous at this stage since my dough started flaking a bit. I kept on packing it back down & that seemed to work. It still turned out ok!)

Bake in a preheated 275F oven until set & beginning to turn a light golden color- about 50-60 minutes. Cool the cookies in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully tap the "cake" out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the wedges along the markings while still warm (that's very important).

Cool completely, store in airtight container. Both the dough & cookies freeze well. Or eat them!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Merry Minimalist Christmas

Has Christmas indeed become commercialized & all about the stuff? Perhaps. And even if it has, I still like Christmas.

My minimalist philosophy is, "Don't own stuff you don't like," and some people really, really, really like Christmas stuff. If you do, go all out! However, that doesn't mean that everyone shares those feelings & just because others don't, we aren't being Scrooges. I will appreciate your Christmas efforts from slightly afar.

I'll admit it. I like twinkle lights. But some people really, really, really like twinkle lights.

Na. It's Christmas!!!

I own two basic Christmas things. In college, I bought a pre-lit tree about 3 feet tall. This year, my parents adopted it to use instead of their 7 foot tree since they're not hosting Christmas. Good call!

On the flip side, one of my Grandma's friends really, really, really liked Christmas trees & had one for angel ornaments, one for Santa ornaments, one for shiny stuff, & one to hold the presents underneath. It did look cool. I'll favorably remember her trees.

The other Christmas essential that EVERYONE really needs to properly embrace the feelings, spirit & sentiment of the season is the Ugly Sweater. I purchased mine for $1 last year at a second-hand shop and never got to wear it since the intended party was canceled, but did try to wear it to work as a joke. FAIL. I received many a sincere compliment from co-workers who considered it highly acceptable Christmas gear. However, my roommate borrowed it for a different party & won 1st prize for Ugly.

And here are a few other Christmas things I appreciate, though typically from afar-

Gingerbread houses-

Picture from here. That's some talent!

Christmas Cookies-

(I didn't make these particular cookies) My mom & I went to a class at our local health food store on "Fabulous Holiday Cookies" and that was fun! There's something magical about combining flour, sugar & butter. If I can track down an 8" cake pan, there's a shortbread recipe I want to try. We also tried several cookies that were SO delicious, you only want one.

Gumdrop Trees-
My grandparents started this tradition (I think?), then my mom got one & I believe my sister has one too. Gumdrops get a bit flavor-fully repetitive after eating about three, but if this Christmas tradition makes an appearance, I certainly don't mind.

My Church's Light Show-

This really is something incredible. The side of the building facing the parking lot comes alive with thousands & thousands of lights (the mega-star on top has 10,000+) that move in sync to the LIVE MUSICIANS features in each of the windows. The viewers stay in their cars for the 15 minute show and tune to a radio station to hear the music. It's a huge production with tons of volunteers & hundreds of hours of work, and the end result is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.

Christmas Music In Small Doses-

My roommate & I threw a party on Wednesday and as we were setting up, I put on some Christmas music. That lasted about an hour. For the actual party, we rocked out to the best of today's hits & random Gen X favorites through


It is after all the celebration of the birth of our Savior. The season is about Love, Hope, Peace, & Joy since that's what He brought. And whether or not you're religiously inclined, it's still a nice time to reflect on meaningful intangibles like those that we all strive for in our lives.

Merry Christmas y'all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Introvert Blogging

So I was thinking the other day, "Hmm, I haven't posted anything on my blog lately. Oh crumb, I have no ideas of anything to post on my blog. What's wrong with me?" And then a friend posted this article on FB about introverts.

As a person who is a few steps in the introvert direction, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read and reflected, "Yes, it's true. I haven't had any time lately to reflect on life, process what's going on, and be able to focus on one topic long enough to compose my thoughts."

A lot of the activities in both my work & personal life lately have been run by extroverts. I like extroverts (most of the time), but I also need time to process & sometimes they don't allow for that. And when multiple extroverts are wanting multiple things out of multiple situations & presume I'm tracking, yeah, I get overwhelmed. That's why I like email- one thing, one subject, one person at a time.

So my focus has been diverted from my inner monologue lately, but that's ok. Extroverts plan some fun stuff!