Friday, December 19, 2014

10 Great Christmas Cookie Recipes


10 Great Christmas Cookie Recipes // Bubby and Bean
1. Egg Nog Cookies, Alexandra Guarnaschelli  //  2. Flourless Hot Cocoa Cookies, Fork Knife Swoon  //  3. Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups, The Gunny Sack  //  4. Peppermint Crinkle Cookies, Bakers Royale  //  5. Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies, Melissa D'Arabian  //  6. Christmas Sugar Cookies, Pastry Affair  //  7. Snowy Chocolate Pinecone Cookies, Handmade Charlotte  // 8. Candy Cane Cookies, Country Living  // 9. Gingerbread Lattice Cookies, Pure Wow  //  10. Red Velvet Kiss Cookies, The Cafe Sucre Farine


Christmas is in six days you guys. In addition to all of the other sparkly magical merriment that comes with this time of year, 'tis the season of sweet edible deliciousness. It's the one (and for the most part, only) time of year that I actually bake - especially in the week leading up to Christmas day. Robbie makes homemade caramels for our friends and family, and I'm in charge of the holiday cookies. I'm guessing that many of you will be whipping together some joyful holiday cookie goodness in the next few days as well, so for this edition of 10 Great, I thought I'd share some of the tastiest looking Christmas cookie recipes I've come across lately. Even if you don't plan on doing any baking, they're awfully pretty to look at, right?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All of Our Holiday Favorites (From the Whole Bubby & Bean Team!)


Bubby and Bean Team Holiday Favorites

One of my favorite things about this year was the expansion of Bubby and Bean to include a small team. (You can read more about each team member here.) It's been such a great experience to get to work together with some really incredible women, all of whom have helped make this blog better than ever before. Paige's home posts are consistently full of the most gorgeous collections of decor, furniture, and DIY projects, put together with the eye of an exceptionally talented Interior Designer. Sara's recipes are beyond delicious (and always with insightful tips on how to prepare them for the little ones as well!), and her wine-themed pieces, which are interesting, educational, and visually lovely, are so clearly written by a wine country expert. Morgan's beauty posts, which always include items that she's personally tried, are my go-to resources when I'm looking for new cosmetics or beauty products, and her help as a consultant when choosing beauty products for my round-up posts here has been major. Kari's continued work as my assistant (for those who don't know, she was the long-time customer service and fulfillment manager at my clothing company) has been invaluable, and her spirit and enthusiasm continue to be contagious. These girls have been such an asset, and because of them, I'm more excited than ever before to see what the new year brings here at Bubby and Bean.

I thought it would be fun to all come together as a team for a special holiday post, and share some of our favorites this season: our holiday wish list items, our holiday food picks, our top Christmas movies, our favorite things about the season, and our plans for the holidays this year. We loved putting this together for you guys and hope that you enjoy reading it!


TOP TWO HOLIDAY WISH LIST ITEMS 

PAIGE - I'm eyeballing the Nikon D3300 (#1) which has been a consistently great price on Amazon. I also want a simple silver necklace to wear everyday, like this (#4).

SARA - A Passion Planner (#9) and new Hunter Wellies (#6).

MORGAN - I'm just going to be honest here and say it: I like gift cards. Target (#10), F21, H&M... They're practical and appreciated. I'd also love some Bordella eyeshadow from Urban Decay (#2).

KARI - I'm not one to have much on my list. This year I have one simple (a Zooka iPad speaker, #7) and one splurge (a cashmere cardigan, #3).

MELISSA - My large suitcase is almost ten years old and falling apart, and I really need a new one to check when I travel. I've come across several gorgeous models that are super easy on the eyes but (in my opinion) way too expensive for something that's going to get beat up on a baggage carousel. So I'd be all about a classic black Swiss Army piece, or this cute (and on sale!) Orla Kiely roller (#5). I'd also love a gift card to a local spa (#8). Getting to spend an hour away for a pedicure or facial is a rare and much appreciated luxury.


FAVORITE HOLIDAY FOODS

MORGAN - Bacon. Christmas morning mimosas. Shrimpies. Bacon. Stuffed French toast. Ham. Ginger cookies. Bacon. Ham. Also, ham.

MELISSA - Mashed potatoes! They may not technically qualify as a 'holiday food,' but I'm sticking with my answer. I also love soy 'egg' nog, and stuffed french toast, which is a Christmas morning tradition in our family. So many delicious calories packed in every bite. Oh, and mimosas. Obviously mimosas.

SARA - My Mom's Maple Twist Coffee Cake. She only makes it for Christmas morning and now, whenever we visit as a special treat!

PAIGE - PIE. Any pie. With a side of cookies.

KARI - Anything pumpkin or gingerbread. I love it all!



FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE

KARI - Planes Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone, Rudolph, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the original, LOVE that yeti).

MORGAN - Easy. It's A Wonderful Life. 

PAIGE - It's a tie between Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. My sister and I watched both of them every year as kids so they've kind of melded into one movie for me. The stories are still great as an adult, and I find it really charming to watch stop motion animation because hardly anyone does that anymore.

MELISSA - It's A Wonderful Life, always and forever. The original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is definitely my spirit animal though, so that comes in a close second.

SARA - White Christmas. I love everything about it.


FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON

SARA - I LOVE everything about the holidays. Cinnamon scented candles, seeing the tree decorated with all my childhood ornaments, my Great Aunt's framed holiday art (which my husband Ralph despises when I leave up for months after), all the parties, all the food, and watching my favorite holiday movies by the light of the tree. My daughter Piper just turned 1 this year, so I can't wait for her to start picking up on how much joy mommy gets out of all her silly traditions.

PAIGE - This is going to make me sound like a total goober, but just I like the magic of the season. You get to celebrate with your family and friends, stores are decorated, Christmas lights are everywhere... And if we're lucky enough to get a dusting of snow for a white Christmas, that makes it even better. Sure, it can be stressful with the gift-buying and party-hosting, but at the end of the day there's a lot to enjoy.

KARI - For me one of the best parts of the holidays, as cheesy as it sounds, is the music. I'm a total geek when it comes to Christmas music. I try to hold off listening until December 1st, but honestly, Thanksgiving is fair game to start, much to my family's dismay. I also love the lights, smells and feel of the winter air. I love it all, and especially being with my family and friends to finish out the year.

MORGAN - Family. Knowing that I get to spend a few intimate days with them makes the craziness of the season all worth it. I love my family more than anything in this world.

MELISSA - I love most everything about Christmas. It's my absolute favorite time of the year, which says a lot, because I truly hold no hatred in my heart except for that which I feel for the evil season known as winter. If I had to pick one favorite part though, it would be spending time with my family and celebrating via our quirky holiday traditions. I'll also confess that I secretly love the hustle and bustle - the week before when my businesses slow down, I love running around and doing last minute holiday errands with Christmas music blaring in my car. It energizes me and makes me even more excited about Christmas Eve and Christmas day.


HOLIDAY PLANS THIS YEAR

PAIGE - We're spending the actual Christmas holiday with my parents, and then both taking several days off of work to sit around like blobs until January. I can't wait.

KARI - This year we will have a quiet actual Christmas, just the 4 of us, but will be hopping a plane to glorious Mexico 2 days later. We meet my parents there every year (thanks Mom and Dad if you are reading), and this marks our 10th year in a row of doing this trip. This year we are trying something new and making our home for the week in a beautiful fishing village called Sayulita, on the Pacific Coast about 30 miles N of Puerto Vallarta.  Check it out!

MELISSA - There are a lot of 'firsts' involved in our plans this year, and I'm stoked. This will be Essley's first Christmas, and she's the only kid in the family (aside from Robbie's brother's kids, who sadly won't be here). Judging by our collective excitement, I'm pretty sure that she's going to be our shining holiday star. I can't wait. Robbie's parents are also coming into town for the first time and staying through the New Year. This will also the first time in many, many years that Robbie and I won't be hosting everyone for Christmas eve and morning. Instead, Robbie, his parents, Essley, my sister and her husband, my mom, stepdad, and I will all be spending those two nights at my mom's/stepdad's, who have a whole lot more room than we do. Then on Christmas night, we'll all have dinner at my dad's/stepmom's. Essley's first birthday (what??) is the 28th, and on the 27th, we're throwing a party for her. Then Robbie leaves on the 28th to prepare for the band's 5-show (yikes!) New Year's run in Atlanta. I'll be joining him down there for the 31st and the 1st (my birthday). There's lots going on and I wouldn't have it any other way.

SARA - Since this will be Piper's first official Christmas (she was just a blob last year), we are having a really low key holiday. I love having family and friends over for Christmas Eve brunch and I'll prepare a great spread with the following; berry salad with citrus & mint, braised lamb sliders with pickled onions, quiche lorraine, asparagus, leek and Gruyere quiche, and a lemon glazed poundcake. I'll also do a great champagne bar with the set-up for 10-12 champagne cocktails. It's my "go to" menu every year. After the crowd leaves, we will have a quiet night in and celebrate Christmas morning with just the three of us. Christmas Day is all about making all of my favorites recipes that my mom has passed down. Ham, mac & cheese, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, roasted brussels sprouts, and sugar cream pie. I will inevitably attempt to make my mom's Maple Twist Coffee Cake, but it never comes out quite right. The day will be filled with nothing but holiday movies and lounging in our jammies!

MORGAN - Family, bacon, mimosas, family, sleep, bacon, family, sleep.


We'd love to hear what your holiday favorites (and plans for this year) are as well, so please share in the comments! And from all of us - Melissa, Paige, Sara, Morgan, and Kari - Happiest Holidays!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup


By Food + Drink Contributor Sara Little


I love this soup because it embodies all the late fall/early winter flavors I crave - and it is super easy. It's also another recipe that can be easily adapted to work for babies as well.

INGREDIENTS
5 c Water
6 c Butternut Squash (2 whole squashes or 2 small packages of the already cubed squash)
1 Apple
1/2 Yellow Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
1/2-1 T Red Curry Powder
2 T Better than Broth (Vegetable or Chicken)


DIRECTIONS
Clean the squash and apple, then roughly chop. Chop the onion and garlic. Saute the apple and onion in a little butter until soft. While you saute, bring the water to boil, add the Better than Broth, and then add the cubed squash and curry powder. You'll want to start with a 1/2 tablespoon of red curry powder if you are sensitive to the heat from curry. (I use a full tablespoon because my daughter Piper actually loves the intense spice!) Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer on the stove top for 30 to 40 minutes. After the squash has softened and the flavors have had time to incorporate, you can remove from the heat and blend with a hand emulsifier or wait for it to cool a bit and put into a processor.


For adults, serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a crusty roll. For baby, I simply stick this soup in her favorite sippy cup with a straw and she gulps it down with joy. It's the best for warming your soul after a long day in the cold! -Sara

Big thanks to Sara for sharing yet another fantastic recipe that works for both adults and the little ones! I grabbed all of the ingredients to make this yesterday and can't wait to try it out tonight. Sara is an event planner and "expert in indulgence" who has lived in the heart of Sonoma County California's wine country for 12 years.  In addition to sharing her favorite foods and wines, recipes and more as our Food and Drink Contributor, she plans unique, personalized getaways to and events in wine country for her hospitality business, Wine Country Goodness, and travels the country in search of the best places to stay, explore, eat, and drink. You can also find Sara on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Eco-Fashion Forever (+ Some Great Green Clean Gift Ideas)


Eco Fashion Forever

As many of you know, last month I closed the doors to my eco-fashion line, Mountains of the Moon, after 15 years. And while I made the decision to focus on other things career-wise, I still am, and will always be, a big advocate of sustainable practices when it comes to apparel. So I was pretty stoked to read a recent Yahoo! Style article titled 'Eco Fashion Gets Greener,' which focuses on Fashion Positive - the new initiative from Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The initiative hopes to give new meaning to the term 'sustainability,' by applying five principles (clean water improvements, renewable energy, social practices, designing for upcycling, and material health and chemistry) to materials (fibers, dyes, yarns, fabrics, threads).

In my years working in the sustainable fashion industry, one of the biggest lessons I learned was that in order for a garment to be truly eco-friendly, more needs to be taken into account than just the type of fabric used in creating it. Lots of companies have been quick to jump on the eco-fashion bandwagon over the years, and it always bummed me out to see a piece of clothing labeled as 'green' when it was made with organic cotton but produced in a sweatshop, or an 'earth-friendly' garment made with a recycled fiber that used massive amounts of energy to produce and harsh chemicals to dye, or a piece of 'recycled' jewelry made with reworked metals but packaged in excessive plastic. It was really refreshing to read about Fashion Positive's mission to apply so many important aspects of sustainable fashion production as part of their initiative.


I also loved reading about how Lewis Perkins (Fashion Positive's Senior VP) has not only teamed up with established eco-conscious brands who are already using sustainable models, but is also in talks with larger, more well-known design houses (like Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Seven for All Mankind). I met so many designers during my years working in fashion who wanted to make their lines more earth and social conscious, but had no idea how. The fashion industry as a whole tends to be incredibly wasteful, and in my option, by working with these larger brands to educate and brainstorm, a pretty substantial step is being taken toward making a profound difference when it comes to a more sustainable industry.

It's easy to get caught up in the convenience and affordable price points of fast, disposable fashion. I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of it myself. And I've also been disappointed at various times throughout the years when it's felt like truly sustainable fashion might never become a reality for the masses. Reading this #YahooStyle article gave me a renewed enthusiasm and sense of hope that with some real work, education, and practice, eco-fashion can still eventually become the industry standard someday.


(Psssst… All the images you see above are from my former eco-fashion line. Each piece from every one of our collections was made locally with organic cotton, tencel, and hemp fabrics, dyed with nontoxic dyes using sustainable methods, crafted to last for decades, and packaged without plastic and with only 100% recycled tags designed to act as bookmarks after they were removed. Eco-fashion forever!)


While we're discussing Yahoo! Style (and eco-conscious products), I also want to quickly share one other great piece I came across over there that's a part of their gift guide series. Titled 'Neat Freak: the Best Cleaning Items for Your OCD Friends' (best title for a gift guide ever), it features all sorts of creative ideas for those who like to keep things clean. The guide may not be specifically about eco-fashion, or even fashion, but there's a lovely sense of style to each of these picks. There are also some really great eco-conscious items on it. The Murchison-Hume Everyday Furniture & Upholstery Cleaner ($9) is made from organic Australian white grapefruit and gets the job done without the use of chemicals. I'm also all about the Moso Line Bags - natural purifier-dehumidifiers that remove unwanted odors around the home without toxins. And how about The Laundress All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate & All-Purpose Bleach Alternative Duo ($26)? Acclaimed New York cleaners The Laundress crafted these cleaning products to eliminate hazardous ingredients like bleach and other chemical surfactants, and they have a proven track record of keeping luxury fabrics looking brand new. Yes please. See the rest of the guide right here.


Do you consider sustainability when make clothing purchases? Have you purchased any eco-friendly holiday gifts this year?


Thank you Yahoo! for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity from Yahoo!, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Adventures in the Dominican Republic


Our Adventures in the Dominican Republic // Bubby and Bean

We arrived back home on Sunday night after six blissful days in the Dominican sunshine, and I'm still dreaming of all of those tropical stereotypes that I soaked up while there: lazy mornings by the beach, afternoons sipping fruity drinks poolside, and evenings dancing under the stars in the sand with friends (and their babies!). I came home with a nasty stomach bug, but it was worth it. Truly. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that the band my husband stage manages for a living has put on a festival every year around this time for the last eight years (first in Jamaica, then Mexico, and now the Dominican), and most of their significant others and kids get to tag along. Last year I was almost 38 weeks pregnant so I had to skip it (and Robbie actually had to fly home early because I was admitted to the hospital), so I think I appreciated it even more this year than in the past. The thing that ultimately made it my favorite so far though was having Essley there. I was so worried about bringing her on this trip, and now I can't imagine it any other way. She had the best time you guys. And in turn, I had the best time as well.


I made a last minute decision before we left not to bring our DSLR camera, because too often I find myself stressing about capturing the perfect shots on these trips rather than just enjoying them. I really wanted to be present this time and not obsess over visually recording everything. So aside from the few photos I'm including that were taken by the festival photographers (each of which are watermarked with their credits), these are all spontaneous phone shots, and they're more of people and the experience than beautifully staged scenes or intentionally captured details. They're not the highest quality images I've ever shared here, but they're real, and I think they genuinely capture what this trip ended up being for us - a fun and relaxing multi-family vacation that also happened to include some great music and a little work for my husband (although I'm confident he'd say that this is his easiest gig of the year).


I have to admit that the title of this post is a little misleading - I wouldn't exactly say that this trip was full of "adventures," at least in the literal sense of the word. These festivals are different than other international travel we've done because they're held at all-inclusive resorts. I'm incredibly grateful to be able to accompany Robbie, but I'm always left with a longing in my heart to get to experience more of the countries we're visiting. (Those of you who have been to all-inclusives know that you're pretty confined, and there isn't a lot of culture infused in the food or experience.) Really though, being where we were was perfect this time. The resort made it so that having an eleven month old with us was almost effortless, and the staff was seriously amazing with Essley (and all of the kids there). She slept better than she ever has at home. She woke up excited every morning. She adored the sand and ocean and the pools. She had so much fun playing with all of the other babies. She loved the music (I have a video I'll have to upload and share here of her dancing and waving her arms at the stage) and loved hanging out side stage with her daddy. Watching her experience so many things for the first time was really special for us.


Aside from watching Essley take everything in, which was by far the best part of the trip for me, highlights included the coffee (Dominican coffee is officially my new favorite), the weather (after lots of cloud and rain, we got three solid days of sunshine), the design of the hotel (this place was insanely gorgeous - from the layout of the resort to the details of the rooms), and getting to spend time with some of my best friends who I only get to see a few times a year. I'm also so glad that I allowed myself some time away to just be present and chill out a little. One of the greatest challenges in my adult life has been trying to separate myself from work and not feel guilty about it (and/or stressed the entire time about what I'd have to do when I returned). I'm getting better at this, and this trip in particular was probably my greatest achievement so far in terms of keeping my computer off and my mind focused on being in the moment. The older I get, the more I'm able to establish a balance between devoting equal time to work and play, and the happier I am as a result.


We're already talking about going a little early next year and renting a house with some of our friends for a few days in advance so we can explore outside of the resort. And I already can't wait to bring Essley with us again. Thanks for letting me share some pieces of our trip with you guys!

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