a simple elegance

December 16, 2014

HOLIDAY NEIGHBOR GIFTS


it's only tuesday and this week is already proving to be a hectic one. what with all the holiday baking, online christmas shopping, mitch's final taking, and packing and moving our apartment, this house has spun into one seriously chaotic web. however, there is one holiday tradition that can't be overlooked despite all of our current chaos. a tradition that my grandma did and mom did and I have sort of done the past few years. and that's the tradition of holiday neighbor gifts. this year, I picked things that were somewhat traditional, sweet and tasty, and that needed ingredients that I could get my hands on here on our little island. and the best part is? they can all be baked at 350 degrees fahrenheit, which if you're needing to multitask your oven, is super convenient.




here's what I included in mine ::

sugar cookies via vintage revival
some chocolate covered pretzel rods (fairly self explanatory)
and these magic bars ::

the recipe

1/2 cup of butter or margarine
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 bag chocolate chips
(I used semi-sweet)
1 bag butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup nuts
(left out because of allergies)


the method

step one :: preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. melt butter or margarine in the bottom of the pan. I usually just stick it in the preheating oven for a few minutes.

step two :: if you put pan in the oven, remove it and spread graham cracker crumbs evenly throughout the bottom of the pan.

step three :: spread a layer of chocolate chips, a layer of butterscotch chips, and a layer of coconut on top of the graham cracker crust. drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly on top.

step four :: stick in the oven for 30 minutes or until sweetened condensed milk is no longer visible and coconut is toasted.

step five :: remove from oven and cool. cut into 1'' squares. then, share the love!


and that's just about as simple as neighbor gifts get! perfect if your holiday season is as crazy as mine. those magic squares were my absolute childhood favorite and I used to get so frustrated that my mom would, basically, give them all away! sad to say, I pretty much did the same thing to mitch this year. with the promise I would make him another pan when we get to the states in two days! I hope you are all having a wonderful tuesday and thanks for reading!

love, arielle




December 12, 2014

TEN SIMPLE THINGS || A VERY WARM DECEMBER


oh, the weather outside is glorious. though, I'd be a little concerned about the whole global warming issue if it wasn't for the fact that we're in the toasty warm caribbean. on a more christmassy note, we will be joining the most of you in the more frigid temperatures by this time next week and we are kind of chomping at the bit to board that plane and sit down with a cup of starbucks hot cocoa. but overall, this week has probably been my favorite of the whole semester, which is so perfect because I always like to go out with a bang. here's how this week came to be dubbed, favorite.

one :: the real christmas tree the medical school put up in their foyer. it smells amazing and reminds me a little bit of the mountains where we used to live.

two :: after many many prayers and a truckload of hard work, mitch did really really well on his last set of blocks. it has made our week so much less stressful and was followed by a celebratory dinner with friends where we paid way too much for a starter of five mozzarella sticks. but hey, he's worth it.

three :: midnight ninety-nine cent ice cream cones. even amidst all of the gourmet gelato, nothing says "let's do date night college-style" like a cheap sugar cone from mcdonalds. 

four :: I can't believe I just mentioned mcdonalds and now I'm going to add that the victoria's secret fashion show was this week! it's pretty much one of my favorite nights of the year. I guess that could be misconstrued as kind of weird, but it's gives me so much inspiration to go forth and be fit and eat right. and for the sake of transparency, I was definitely eating homemade pizza whilst watching those models strut their stuff.

five :: endless virgin margaritas, which are really just frozen limeades, at this little resort down the road. even though the bartender kept on giving me the stinkeye every time I ordered, each drink was even more delicious than the one before.

six :: making some new friends. I don't know why it took me so long, but I got a chance to talk to so many of the other wives this past week and they are all kind of awesome. it only took me a year to notice. hashtag, embarrassing.

seven :: I am officially finished christmas shopping for mitch. and what's even better, one of the gifts I got him was on supersale the day I purchased and went back to being full price the day after. don't you love it when that happens?

eight :: mitch grabbing my hand and dancing with me in the kitchen. even after two years of dating and three years of marriage and what has been, admittedly, the toughest year yet, he is still sweeping me off my feet.

nine :: all the twinkly lights set up everywhere. even though it doesn't really feel like christmas outside, I really appreciate all of the little reminders strewn all over the island that it really, truly is december twelfth.

ten :: my dad calling just to chat. living on an island thousands of miles away can occasionally make you feel out of the loop, so it was so nice to hear from my dad who filled me in on all of the goings-on with our incredibly spread-out family.

how have your weeks been? I'd love to hear about it below. I think I'm going to begin packing this weekend and am keeping my fingers crossed that we really don't have as much stuff as I think we do. keep your fingers crossed, too, won't you?

have a great weekend!

love, arielle

December 11, 2014

RECIPE :: APPLE CIDER CRANBERRY SCONES


you've heard me say it before, and I'll say it again--everything british is better. the only time I've ever actually set foot in britain was exploring the scottish countryside for a week with my mom several years ago. but within that week, I fell in love with the jargon, the manners, and the obsession with teatime. and maybe it's just my perception of britain, but what is more british or teatime-worthy than a scone. now, mitch's idea of a scone is yeasty and deep-fried and smothered in confectioners' sugar and in my house, we called that a beignet. my idea of a scone is something akin to an american biscuit, but much sweeter and way more moist. and honestly, you gotta throw some goods in there, if you know what I mean (ie :: cranberries). admittedly, I've crashed and burned a few times with scone creation, but I've tinkered around with it quite a bit and I think I've pretty much got it down to a science. though, I'm not sure it's british-teatime-worthy just yet. I'll let you decide. here's what you gotta do ::


ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) butter
1/2 cup chilled apple cider
(I used homemade but only for the lack of store bought)
1 egg


method

one :: in a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, salt, and rising agents. 

two :: cut in butter. I used a pastry cutter to combine until the result looks like a "coarse meal," which you have most likely heard in every scone recipe you've ever read, but I can't think of any other way to describe it. be careful not to overmix, unless you're actually craving cookies because that's what you'll end up with.

three :: whisk together the egg and the chilled apple cider. pour over meal and, using your hands, scoop it into a ball. cover or wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour or overnight if you are making dough ahead of time. in the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

four :: pull ball of dough out of the fridge and simply press down until it makes a 3" thick disk that is probably 8" across in every direction. then, taking a knife or scraper, score into eight equal triangles. roll some parchment paper out onto your baking sheet and place evenly apart.

five :: place sheet in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until scones are just slightly brown on top. when finished, remove and enjoy warm. or, store in an airtight container. ours are still pretty good even after two days.

mitch and I were both pretty surprised at how long these little guys stayed moist. especially after experiencing several of my failed scone adventures in the past. and not to toot my own horn, but I don't know if it's the brown sugar, the egg, or the overnight rest time that I gave mine, but these are the moistest scones I have ever had. and with my british obsession, I've had quite a few scones in my day. can I just say again how moist they are?


and how has your week been? ours has been kind of wonderful, thus far. I talked to such an inspiring lady yesterday who made me question every outlook on life I've ever had and it has me feeling invigorated and empowered. we talked about how short these little moments are, when life seems hard. and in a few years, we'll look back and realize that these are the moments we draw upon. it really left me yearning to be more optimistic. have a great thursday and have I said thank you lately for reading this little blog? well, thanks.

love, arielle

December 10, 2014

IF THERE'S STILL ROOM UNDER YOUR TREE...

**original image via dash of serendipity found via pinterest

I don't know about you all, but I'm not even close to checking off that whopping christmas list of mine. and can I tell you a little secret? I think I sort of really like waiting till the last minute to do all of my holiday shopping. I like the hustle and the bustle and the stress of it all. and then coming home and stashing all my finds in secret hiding places until I get a private moment to get it all wrapped. I say I don't like it, but I'm coming clean, I do. all of this probably means I need to be institutionalized, but hey, if you're like me and there's still room under your tree, this one's for you. you'll find something personable, yet inexpensive, for a new friend. something more luxurious and a little pricier for the friends of old. something for the men in your life--be it romantic, fatherly, or brotherly. and something for those sweet littles that make life worth living and christmas so much cheerier. so have a look and I would love to know what all of you have been bundling under your trees. goodness knows I could always use some more ideas!


1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6


1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6


1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6


1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6

can you even believe that wooden doctor's kit? I couldn't not, you know? and that bathrobe is the softest, most amazing thing you will ever hold in arm's reach. I hope you are having a very merry tenth day of december and seriously, let me know what's on your wishlist below!

love, arielle


December 09, 2014

A PERFECT WINTRY SUNDAY IN THE CARIBBEAN

 

there was church that was went to and a home to come home to. there were holiday candles burning and christmas music playing and a heavenly pot roast roasting. and of course, there was a gorgeous sunset setting. like all the sunsets down here do. all of these intangible aesthetics helped in making sunday one lovely wintry sunday despite the current, constant eighty-two degrees that lingers over our little island--a wonderful relief since I thought that by moving down here, we would be opting out of all of that christmas cheer until we arrive home in less than ten days. less than ten days. can you believe it? in the next ten days, we will pack up and move apartments, mitch will take his third set of comprehensive finals, and we will have completed three semesters (one year) of medical school whilst living on this toasty warm island. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with us. I knew mitch could do it all along, but I was a little skeptical about myself. as you probably well know, I'm not nearly the trooper he is.

here are a few other reasons this past sunday was such a wintry one ::

one :: the smell of the last of my autumn apples cooking and baking  away in my kitchen.

two :: watching I'll be home for christmas with jonathan taylor thomas (may he rest in peace). mitch and I are such 90s kids.

three :: turning on the air conditioning to enjoy a cup of hot cider.

four :: a handsome husband studying for his last set of blocks, which he took yesterday.

five :: freshly washed and folded laundry in perfect, little stacks crowding the coffee table.

six :: this year's annual christmas devotional. so many beautiful messages delivered just in time for this beautiful, essential time of year.

seven :: the smell of detergent as we drifted off to sleep.

and how have your week's been so far? ours started off with mitch completing his final set of blocks and a celebratory dinner with friends. now, all that stands between us and the states are his final comprehensive exams and then we'll be on the first plane home for a jolt of cooler weather. needless to say, I'm a little giddy about it. 

let me know how your weekends were in the comments below. happy tuesday!

love, arielle