Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sugar and Spice Ginger Cookies

I know gingerbread cookies are usually considered a Christmas cookie, but this recipe transcends seasons. These cookies are soft and chewy, with a satisfying bite of spice. 
 They are easy too, which makes them even better in my book. I usually avoid anything that requires a rolling pin, but these are the exception to my rule. I did learn the hard way to stick with simple shapes when making them, though, as they spread quite a bit when baking. The cute forest animals I tried making once all came out as unidentifiable blobs. 
Hearts, stars, and other basic shapes work beautifully.
This recipe is originally from Kraft.

You'll need:
3/4 cup butter {room temp.}
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 {3.4 oz.} package instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Beat butter, sugar, pudding mix and egg in large bowl with electric mixer till well blended. Combine remaining ingredients in separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, or till firm.
Heat oven to 350. 
Roll dough onto lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place onto parchment lined baking sheets. 
Bake 10-12 minutes, or till edges are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack. Cool completely before decorating. I used royal icing, applied with a very inexpert hand. No one seemed to mind.
I'll be linking up here:
My Romantic Home
The Shabby Nest

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Welcome to WIWW! 
pleated poppy
I'll be linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy.

 I've been trying to pull items from the back of my closet lately. It seems like I wear the same handful of clothes regularly, and the rest are relegated to dark, forgotten corners. 
Here are a few outfits from the past week...

Cozy, lazy day. 
 Sweater: Old Navy
Tee: Boden
Scarf: Target
Jeggings: NYDJ
Boots: Macy's

My birthday suit...
Okay, not that  birthday suit, just what I wore on my birthday.
Scarf, belt: Target
Dress: Shade Clothing
Jeggings: NJDJ
Boots: Keen
Petal Pusher: The Pleated Poppy

This dress is so much cuter in real life. The picture and angle {my tall husband took this one} don't do it justice. It's simple, but comfy and surprisingly flattering.  You'll just have to take my word for it.
Dress: Land's End
Necklace: Allora Handmade
Tights: Target
Boots: Macy's

Casual layers for running errands.
Scarf, Tee: Old Navy
Sweater, flats: Target
Jeans: Gap

Monday, January 28, 2013

Musings on Museums, Freezer Meals, German Food, and Other Such Nonsense

If ever there was a random title for a post, this is it. A good blogger would make these totally unrelated topics into separate, self-contained posts. But I am a lazy creative blogger, so they're all dumped into one! 
I took Hunter on a field trip to our local science museum last Tuesday and, since it was a teacher-inservice day in our district, Caitlin and some friends got to go with too. It was a great day to go; we had the place to ourselves. The kids loved being able to explore the interactive exhibits without fighting the crowds.

I was apparently unimpressed by the triceratops.
{He's all right, but I'm partial to the stegosaurus.}
Whatdya think? Do I have Ms. Maroney's face down or what?

Pinterest got the best of me somehow, and I decided it would be a good idea to try my hand at freezer meals. I made 10 different dinners on Friday.
 And then fed my family Domino's for supper. 

The kids made me breakfast in bed on Saturday for my birthday. It's such a fun treat, and I always look forward to it. They also got me two new charms for my Chamilia bracelet. Love!

 My handsome boys took me out for a birthday lunch at Noodles. Their truffle mac is to-die-for good. 

 Then we all went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for the day. I wanted to see the Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit they were hosting, but didn't buy tickets in advance and it was sold out. Boo. 
We had fun exploring the museum anyway, especially the period rooms. I like to pretend I live there and can take the splendor for granted, ala Downton's Lady Mary... "Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it."

My two rugrats wore their best hoodies for a day of culture and fine dining. Once upon a time I would have dressed them in cute outfits with fun accessories... but no more. They are way too cool for that.

We finished the day by having a birthday dinner with my dad and stepmom and a few cousins. We ate at one of our favorite German restaurants, the Gathaus Bavarian Hunter; I had riesling, spatzel, jagerschnitzle, and apple strudel.
The kids had chicken strips. 
So much for honoring their German heritage!
Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birthday Giveaway Winner

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Catie @ Catie's Corner who said
"Happy Birthday Jessie! ! =)  I did a giveaway one year on my birthday too. It was fun! I'd love to enter. I've been a follower on FB and on GFC.  As always, super cute outfits. ~ Catie"

Congrats, Catie! You should have received an email from me.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway and sent me some birthday love!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Warm Your Heart Mantel

I want to start by giving a HUGE thank you to all of you who commented on yesterday's post! I am so excited about my first blog-giveaway! In celebration of my birthday {on Saturday}, I am giving one lucky reader a package with a few of my favorite treats: a $10 Starbucks gift card, Godiva chocolates, and a copy of my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. If you haven't entered yet, fear not, you have till Sunday. More info on entering is included at the bottom of this post.

Today, I'm happy to share my kitchen "Warm Your Heart" mantel. I started off thinking it would be kind of a hot chocolate bar, but it has evolved into a Valentine's/candy/hot chocolate/coffee thing. 
 I figured I had better share pictures now,  before all the M&Ms are gone. They keep getting lower and lower everyday. No one will own up to eating them, though!

This was a no-fuss, low-cost mantel~ my favorite kind! I gathered a bunch of glass containers, some cute mugs, a few accessories, and filled in the gaps with sweets. The pink marshmallows are my favorite part.

The coffee house sign has been hidden in a corner of our kitchen for years, and I love having it out where we can enjoy it now.

The 'R' monogram gets a lot of milage and frequent facelifts. You can see it here in my autumn mantel, and here in my Christmas mantel!

This print is from Target, several years ago. I had my eye on a similar one in the Ballard catalog forever, but Tar-jay came through with their version for 1/4 of the cost. I love it when that happens.

Given the fact that we've been averaging about -15 most nights {-35 wind chill!}, we definitely have "cold hands/warm hearts" lately.  Cuddling by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate is the perfect way to warm up a winter night, and with this mantel we have all the necessary supplies within easy reach.
Thanks for stopping by!

To enter the giveaway:
~Just follow my blog via Google Friend Connect and comment here so I know. 
~For a second chance to win, "like" Dream and Differ on Facebook, and leave me another comment there.
~Already a follower? Let me know in the comments and you're entered too! 
Winner will be chosen randomly. Giveaway ends on Sunday, January 27th.
Good Luck!
I'm linking up here:
My Romantic Home
Jennifer Rizzo
Shabby Nest
Creative Cain Cabin
Savvy Southern Style
French Country Cottage
DIY by Design
The Ironstone Nest

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIWW and a Birthday Giveaway!

I love presents~ getting them and giving them. Since it's my birthday on Saturday, I thought I would do a bit of the latter and cross my fingers for the former!
In celebration of my 34th year, I'd like to share a birthday treat with one lucky reader.
I am giving away a goodie package containing a few of my favorite little luxuries: a $10 Starbucks gift card, some Godiva chocolates, and a copy of my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice.
See the bottom of the post for info on entering.

Here are a few outfits from the past week, which I'll be sharing with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy.
pleated poppy

Sweater: Lands End
Scarf, turtleneck: Target
Jeggings: NYDJ
Boots: Madden Girl

Sweater: Lands End
Slacks, necklace: Banana Republic

Tee, scarf, cardi: Old Navy
Jeans: Lucky
Socks: Target

To enter the giveaway:
~Just follow my blog via Google Friend Connect and comment here so I know. 
~For a second chance to win, "like" Dream and Differ on Facebook, and leave me another comment there.
~Already a follower? Let me know in the comments and you're entered too! 

Winner will be chosen randomly. Giveaway ends on Sunday, January 27th.

Good Luck!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello {Bitterly Cold} Monday

Hello and happy Monday!
Don't smile about it, though, or your face will freeze that way.
The temperature on this fine Minnesota morning has dropped into "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me" range. I took the dog out this morning and my eyes began to water from the biting wind. The tears instantly froze to my cheeks. 
Hello, frostbite.
Hello, dumb, smiley-face dog.
Our dog apparently has some gastro-meteorological issues. 
Whenever the weather is bad-- pouring rain, blowing snow, sub-Arctic wind chills-- he has "performance issues" about going to the bathroom.  Because we don't have a fenced yard, we have to take him out on a leash to do his business. As I stand there holding the leash, braced against the wind, muttering curses about the stupidity of canines, I am reminded of why I like  {clever, litterbox-trained} cats so very much.
Hello, long weekend.
Caitlin has today and tomorrow off school, so Hunter and I do too. 
Actually, tomorrow we are going on a field trip to a local science museum.
And today we'll be talking about why today is a holiday and brainstorming ways we can serve our community.
Hello, to not only remembering and honoring Martin Luther King Jr., but continuing his work.  Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Click here to find more information about the MLK Day of Service.
Have a wonderful {and warm} Monday.
I'll be linking up with Lisa to greet the new week.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Valentine Vignette

For many years, I suffered from an aversion to all things Valentine-y. Working as a floral designer will do that to a person. In a flower shop, the weeks leading up to February 14th are so saturated with roses, chocolates, roses, cupids, hearts, and more roses, that it was hard to enjoy any fun Valentine-decor in my own home.
Fortunately, I have gotten over my anti-amore tendencies and can know embrace it "whole-heartedly."
{I big puffy heart puns, by the way!} 

I've never decorated the open shelving in our kitchen before. It is usually home to my big mixing bowls and various household detritus. When I cleared them off for this project I found no less than one broken door knob, two paper clips, a dry-erase marker, and an earring. It was high time to do a bit of sprucing up!

 You may have noticed the happy couple in the photo on the top shelf... that's Chris and I on the day we eloped, nearly 14 years ago. We ran away to Hawaii and got married on a beach in Maui at sunset. It was quite romantic.
 I felt morally obligated to put a bowl of {boring} fruit next to the platter of {sweet, delicious, mouthwatering} cookies.  It's good to have options, but I make no promises that the cookies will still be there when the kids get home.
I'm linking up here:
My Romantic Home
Jennifer Rizzo
Shabby Nest
Creative Cain Cabin
Savvy Southern Style
French Country Cottage

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What I've Been Wearing

Before I get started, I have a technical question for anyone willing to help a girl out.
What do you use for photo hosting? 
Previously, I just uploaded my photos right into Blogger/Picasa, but I got a notice that I had filled my quota and I balked at paying a monthly fee. So, I switched to Photobucket. I haven't loved it~ it's slow to upload, adds an extra step since I edit with Picmonkey, and when I reorganized my albums all the links to previously posted photos were broken. * Also see example of weird funhouse mirror effect below. No idea why that happened! 
So, I ask~ what do you do? Any advice would be most welcome!
{I asked the same question on Facebook, so you're welcome to follow me and comment there too!}
On to what I've been wearing...
with a disclaimer.
Anytime you see me wearing cute shoes in these photos, please know that I don't leave the house in them. Ballet flats and high-heels just won't cut it for a Minnesota winter, so I wear them around the house in lieu of slippers. Okay, not the heels... they're just for looks. 
Tee: Boden
Jeans: Gap
Ballet flats: Target

Sweater: J. Crew {old}
Tee, jeans: Target
Flower pin: Claire's
Shoes: El Naturalista 

Jeans: Silver
Scarf: Old Navy
Flats, Cardi: Target
Tee: Boden

Sweater: Gap
Jeans: Target
Scarf: Dress Barn
Pin: The Pleated Poppy
Shoes: Macy's

Sweater: Lands End
Jeans: Target
Boots: Macy's

As always, I'll be linking up here:
pleated poppy

Have a great Wednesday!