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A Cheer to the New Year

It's crazy to believe that it's almost time for the New Year.
Nevertheless, I've had the best times and the worst times this year, but if I had to choose I'd still live it the same. This week I had fun baking spice cake with the family and getting cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Factory. New Years is a time to celebrate a new beginning, a new year. But the holidays are almost over and the New Year is on the horizon, which means the last party of the year is quickly approaching. It’s a time for sparkle and sophistication – maybe even a hint of extravagance.
With my New Year's resolutions in mind, I'm ready to watch the annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on TV with my splendid family and hanging out with close friends while sitting out and watching the fireworks all night. Tonight, New York City is celebrating one of it’s most famous Times Square traditions-the New Year’s Eve ball drop. My favorite part? When the sky is a blazin' with exploding fireworks, confetti and more. I've always wanted to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve but I know how unlikely that sounds since I visit my dad's side of the family in DC every single year.
I'm grateful for all my friends and family that are always there for me when I need them the most.
Happy New Year's! 

Style with a Smile

I do believe it's never too early to start preparing for the next season. Yes, spring may be a few months away, but it's safe to say that I've already begun to search for top-notch transitional outfits that look forward to spring while still mixing in those great winter essentials. So it's only natural, then, that you'd want to be styled to the nines and end the year on a tip-top fashion note.
I've never been a huge fan of the full skirts. Mainly because I have shorter legs and my height isn't exactly tall. But the full skirt look looks amazing on some people. But as for someone who wants to go into the fashion industry, I can see the many different aspects of this trend. I know short and flirty skirts seemed to the topic of all the previous seasons, but there's something modern about this retro-inspired style. It's modest but still makes a statement because of its voluminous length.
Dolce & Gabbana skirt, $1,950

I went walking in a winter wonderland. . .

My wonderful day consisted of drinking hot chocolate while playing out in the snow for hours until my fingers and toes froze. Eventually I had to come inside for certain breaks but I wasn't going to stay in too long. We had snowball fights, made snow angels, and even created Pierre (our french snowman). That's right. I would make a French snowman. Moustache included...
Seulement je le ferais ;)
French for... only I would.

 Pierre the french snowman :)
Hot chocolate with marshmallow breaks in between.
It's honestly never snowed this much in Fayetteville, which is why this is all still a shock to me. And even if it did snow, it would stop in the next hour or so. But not this year :)
As 2010 draws to a end, I spent the rest of the day jotting down some New Year's resolutions. And as I did, I couldn't help but think about how fast 2010 flew by. I'm not the least sad that this year is coming to its end. I just can't wait for what 2011's going to bring. One thing I'd agree with anyone on? Time seriously flies...

Merry Christmas

 Today is the day.
I woke up early this morning (a little too early in my opinion) to my brother's request. I'm almost certain that he woke the whole house up by running upstairs and downstairs just so he could open his presents. I slept late last night so I definitely wasn't in the happiest mood.
But after getting a hot steamy mug of hot chocolate from the kitchen, I'm certainly in the Christmas spirit as of now and the repeats of Christmas songs replaying around my house don't bother me at all. It's already been a good morning and I'm almost certain that I'm planning on having the best Christmas ever. Baking cookies, listening to Christmas carols, drinking hot chocolate, opening presents, spending time with the family... gotta love Christmas :)
I hope everyone has a great weekend. Merry Christmas!

Tis' the season

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
December 24.
I've been repeating those same words over and over in my head all day, hoping it'd do me any good at all. I think it's all the excitement building up inside me that's keeping me happy. I always spend Christmas with my family every year and I could never ever get tired of it. Ever.
For instance, watching The Polar Express has always been a tradition on the Eve of Christmas. I never get tired of watching it, even though I've seen it at least 50 times! 
Baking cookies for 'Santa' and putting out the milk on our festive cookie plate every year and putting exactly five cookies (one for each of us); giggling because we know we're going to end up eating it at midnight. I get stoked for these little details every year and making memories that we're forever going to cherish in our lifetime. But this year, I know it won't be the same.
My mom left for Korea to visit my grandparents for Christmas and it's weird not seeing her around the house everyday. My mom is basically like my best friend. We're that close.
It's comforting to know we have Skype dates / phone calls every single night, but I keep telling myself this year will be different.
But not to ruin the rest of my family's traditional festivities, the Polar Express and (other Christmas movies) will still be played tomorrow night, along with the baking. In other words, I'm prepared to have a splendid night on Christmas Eve :)
Other things keeping me happy:

Inspiring holiday cupcakes
- I'm so jealous. I wish I could make cupcakes look this good!
The color turquoise.
- It's been catching my eye a whole lot this winter and I'm starting to wish I had a turquoise blazer just like the fashionista Miroslava Duma (above). I am in love with her fashion style. Soo retro.
 My new Macchiato mug
- it's absolutely adorable and perfect for coffee and macchiatos..
and yes, I'm wearing gold nailpolish!
 Lavender-scented fragrance sticks
- the scent is heavenly. I keep it in my dining room for special occasions.
Festive decorations
- Despite the fact that this is a pinecone, 
I have to admit it captivates me with its genuine touch of unique-ness in my living room. Why yes, it's glittered with sparkles and has my brother's artistic work written all over it.
 But for a decoration? It's a keeper.
Black and white
- Such classy colors that give Christmas an edgy feeling. 
I could never get tired of these two classy color combos. I don't see how anyone else could either.
 simplistic sugar cookies
- irresistible on Christmas Eve.
*Hint* : Bake them for "Santa".
 White furniture and accents
- The perfect setting for winter wonderland d├ęcor.
Gold-wrapping paper
- Use the holidays as an opportunity to showcase your favorite color.
Gold <-- enough said.
 Colorful bulbs in a jar
- these can certainly brighten a room even when they're unplugged.
Such a unique decoration for the holidays.
In other words... I love it.
 Holiday Ribbon Tags
- I find these the most adorable tags on presents. 
Even if the gift bag isn't the cutest one out there, these ribbon tags can make it look ten times better.
 Gloves with bows
- I still cannot deny my obsession with bows. 
One of my good friends bought me a pair of gloves with bows for Christmas. (on the top of my Christmas list)
And wearing them sometimes would be an understatement.

 Christmas Countdown: ...tomorrow night!

Desserts with candy canes are 'mint' for me

Ho Ho Ho cupcakes.. love the festive creativity.

Wanted to try making chocolate dipped candy canes today.
It was simple and super easy to do. As much as I like making things from scratch, I love dipping anything in chocolate.
The last few days leading up to Christmas can get hectic, despite the fact that I know it's going to be spent watching Christmas movies and baking cookies. But then again, hasn't Christmas always been spent that way?
I've literally gone through a box of hot chocolate packets and previously purchased a bag of original marshmallows and even the french vanilla / caramel flavored ones. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and dipping peppermint candy canes inside them always makes everything better.
You can put marshmallows in such good use. After baking so many cookies for friends and family, I remembered all the leftover sprinkles and candy canes I had left, so I thought... why not?
Sprinkles and crushed peppermint candy canes
Dipped marshmallows in melted chocolate and sprinkles... yummmy.
They taste perfectly with my daily mug of hot chocolate.

This candy-caned marshmallow is sitting atop whipped cream...NOM.

Life is sweet

I had the most exciting week. For the rest of the year, I get to sleep in and not worry about setting my alarm clock early in the mornings. Thank the Lord.
Today...was an exception. It didn't go as well as I hoped it to be...
For starters, it was raining. Yup, first day of Christmas Break and it was raining. No trace of snow either. I mean, considering the fact that it was practically freezing and I didn't bother leaving the house too much because of it.
I told you I'd put my baking pictures up. I had so much fun baking and mixing and decorating these yummy treats. That day my kitchen smelled of peppermints and chocolate - a perfect combo :)
From grabbing the whisk to fetching the eggs, pouring the milk and at the same time trying NOT to make a big mess, I could say I enjoyed my couple of hours of being chef in my household.
To be completely honest, I carry this cute holiday recipe book with me everywhere. I keep it in my handbag along with Lauren Conrad's Style book. Haha I know, but it really does come in handy. Especially when you're hungry....
My finished sugar cookies.
Marble caramel-topped walnut brownies in making. 
Ran out of toothpicks so I used a chopstick to mix the caramel. Haha so much for being prepared.
Cute cookie packaging + baked brownies + baked mint chocolate chip cookies = success!
 How does it all taste?
The chewy bite into the cookie brings a smile. The mint chocolate is excitingly tasty. The caramel-topped brownies are delicious. The milk chocolate with peppermint is classic and rich.
The variations are, well... endless.

But it amazes me how you can start out having a bad day to ending with a great one.
Spent the rest of the night with my family, opening a few Christmas presents (because my mom is visiting Korea over Christmas so she'll be leaving soon) while eating leftover brownies / cookies.
There is nothing like sipping delicious hot chocolate on a cold winter night. Which is why I made steaming hot chocolate and sprinkled peppermint candy canes and fluffy marshmallows that melt in your mouth on top while sitting around the couch watching movies for the rest of the night. There's really nothing better than spending the holidays with your family <3
 The outcome.
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