life via instagram part 2

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one year later.

There was this time, lets say about 365 days ago, I made a list of five goals I wanted to complete.  They were simple and cliche goals that almost everyone makes around January 1st: lose weight, be more active, have better time management, take a cooking class, and pay off my credit cards & stop unnecessary shopping.

I wrote them out with sincere hopes and dreams of completing them but in my heart, I did not actually believe I could do it.

Then a funny thing happened, I began to care about myself.  I began to realize that I matter.  I began to see that I needed to do these things not because they were New Year’s Resolutions, but because my health (both mental and physical) was at stake and that is not something you mess around with at age twenty-one.

My approach to weight loss has always been simple, eat less and you lose weight.  Honest to god, that is the real truth.  Its not eating green smoothies, its not taking supplements, its not working out for 6 hours a day, and its certainly not starving yourself either.  It is eating less.  As simple as this philosophy may seem, it is not always as simple to do in practice.

As I’ve noted before, I’m an emotional eater.  I will eat because I feel bad, sad, upset, happy, giddy, etc.  Give me a reason to eat and I will do it.  Learning to cope with my emotions in different ways has been difficult but I have been doing pretty well for the most part.  Yes, there are always still days where I sit and eat chocolate by myself while watching a sappy movie (Pride and Prejudice anyone?), but that is who I am.  The difference is that I’m not doing this every day of my life.

This year past year, I completely changed my life.
What did I do this year? I:

  • switched into a major that I absolutely loved, despite being “impractical”
  • raised my gpa from a 3.02 to a 3.34 in two semesters and summer session
  • became active and started walking a lot more
  • started taking a hot yoga class every week that I love so much and makes me feel so much better
  • lost 37 pounds
  • was cleared from having to go on any medication for high cholesterol, high HDL, and other scary healthy problems that were a reality for me in 2010
  • realized that my love for cooking and baking far outweighs academics
  • discovered amazing friends and people who make me feel better and don’t bring me down
  • officially have $0 in debt (thanks mostly due to my parents helping me, love you <3)

Yes, those things I accomplished for the most part fit in with New Year’s Resolutions that I made last January 2011, but the truth is that I did those things because I made a change within myself.  I realized that I needed to take control of my life.  None of it really came from stupid New Years Resolutions.  January is just another month and 2012 is just another year for me to continue to do things that make me happy.

I am not a long-term goal setter in general.  I do not do well with things where I cannot see an end in sight and often feel overwhelmed by them.  Instead, I have made some general goals for the next few months (I would say into about April or May) that I hope to accomplish.

  1. Continue with hot yoga.  This has been the best thing I have added into my life since October.  It is a serious workout and I always feel so good after I do it.  I can’t really afford to do it more than once a week, but I have noticed a significant difference in muscle strength and definition since October!
  2. Add more cardio into my life. I have not been doing enough cardio.  I would contribute it as part of the reason my weight loss progress has been stagnant lately.  I would like to add in about two to three days of 40 to 50 minutes of cardio each week.  I was doing it over the summer and just got lazy as the holidays approached.  I’m hoping now that school is done and I have more free time, this will become more of a reality.
  3. Get my eating habits in check.  I’ve had a crazy two months, and my eating habits have gone down the drain.  Chocolate is a daily occurrence in excess and my body is definitely feeling it.  While I wish I could say I was just eating out of boredom, I contribute it a lot to emotional eating.  I stopped tracking the food I was eating around October, and have definitely just been maintaining my weight since then.  Its time to get back to tracking to lose the last thirty to forty pounds!
  4. Stop weighing myself every single day.  I think this is a really bad habit I have.  On the one hand, it really keeps me in check when I have a bad night of eating.  On the other hand, it really messes with my head.  I seriously need to get back to weighing myself just once a week.
  5. Save money. This is pretty self explanatory.  Without any debt or school taking up my time, I really need to work a lot and save some money.

Okay, so those are pretty cliche goals, I’m not going to lie.  However, I think that these are manageable goals for me.

This past year has made me invigorated about my life.  I feel such a sense of meaning, even if I don’t have a plan right now.

And the truth is, you just have to look at these pictures from 2010 and the end of 2011 to see the different woman.

2010

2011

Alright, I’m off for now! Hopefully there will be some delicious recipes coming your way in the future for you to try 🙂  I have a few ideas floating around in my head at the moment.

Have a wonderful Wednesday ❤

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life via instagram

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cinnamon chip scones

I’m not going to lie, scones are typically not my favorite things. I have found that they are usually dry, not very flavorful, and only taste good when dipped in steaming hot coffee.

These scones are none of those things.

Cinnamon has recently become one of my favorite spices.  I seem to add it to everything I can lately.  I have one of those huge bulk containers of it from BJ’s and it has been disappearing quite quickly.  I also finally found cinnamon chips in my local grocery store. I used them last year in banana bread and loved them.

I wanted to make some sort of breakfast pastry recently because we’ve had a couple of really early days at work (oh the life of a retail associate around the holidays) and after searching out recipes on my computer, I came across this one.  I decided to give it a try and I am so happy I did.  These are delicious and were a huge hit a work.  They’re buttery and dense.

I think the key to making these successful is using really cold butter and full fat buttermilk.

Cinnamon Chip Scones
makes 12 to 16 scones
source unknown*

Ingredients
3 ¼ cups flour
⅓ cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup cold butter (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup full fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup cinnamon chip
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold in cinnamon chips gently.  Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead gently.**

Divide in half and pat into 7 inch round circles.  Cut into 6 or 8 wedges.

Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes. Let scones cool on baking rack.

Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and stir together.  The glaze should be on the thicker side but you should still be able to drizzle it.  Add more milk or powdered sugar to create desired consistency.  Drizzle over scones and enjoy!

*I don’t know where I found this recipe. If you recognize it and know the source, just let me know!

**When the dough is coming together in the bowl, it is quite crumbly.  I stirred it until most of the wet ingredients were absorbed, dumped it on the table, and put the dough together with my hands.  It takes a little work to make the dough stick together, so you will have to work with it, but just be gentle!  You don’t want the butter to become too warm while working the dough.

I hope you all have a great day! I’m off to make some sugar cookie dough and going to wait to sign for FedEx for my new iPhone 🙂  Also, Happy 1st night of Hanukkah ❤

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perspective.

Four and a half years ago, I left Albany, went to Manhattan with big hopes and dreams, and began what I thought was going to be the most amazing journey of my life at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  I believed that I would graduate in May 2011 with a degree in fashion merchandising and be working for some huge company.  I thought I would have my own apartment in Manhattan and traveling the world.

I could not have been more wrong.

For a very long time, I believed my choice to go to FIT was the worst decision I ever made in my life. I came home that summer and only two weeks before classes were too begin in the fall, I made the life changing decision not to return.  The details are not important, but what is important is that at that time I never felt more lost in my entire life.

All of those hopes and dreams: crushed.

I felt defeated.  I would spend the next two years dabbling in different majors and trying to force myself down a path I was not meant for.  I would put pressure on myself that only a practical degree was an option for me and not follow my heart.

Then last fall, everything fell apart and everything came together.

Its crazy how the times when you feel the most down, you really find yourself.  I realized what I loved.  Its not science.  Its not fashion merchandising.  Its not academia.

Its food.

That day in October, all I really knew at that moment was I love cooking and baking in a way I’ve never loved anything else in my life.  I feel happy and better about myself when I do it.  I have such a sense of accomplishment when I’m done.  It is never an obligation and I always want to do my best.

And no matter how smart I may be or how well I do in school, I never felt that way about anything there.  I always just felt like I was lingering there because I didn’t know what else to do.  And yes, I may have maintained a great GPA and wrote papers really well, but at the end of the day, that meant nothing to me. I never felt passionate about anything in school the way I saw my friends excited about their majors.

Deep down inside, I think I always knew I was meant to do something with food. It has been such a pain and joy in my life, I feel like I’m inexplicably tied to this object.  I know I may sound crazy, but when you realize things you love in life, I believe its a moment to treasure.

And today, I’m that much closer to doing what I love.  I am officially done with undergraduate forever.  Although I may have never found what I loved at school, I feel such a sense of accomplishment.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t think there were days where I didn’t think I was going to finish my degree.  I would be lying if I said I never felt envious of my friends who were off away at college living in a separate world while I chose to live at home, work, and go to school.  And I would also be lying if I said I was not proud of myself for finishing school.

I would not change anything that has happened to me the past four years…. changing schools, heartbreak, weight gain,  a sense of hopelessness, confusion, learning to pick yourself up, learning to be alone and be okay, losing weight, and happiness.  Everything I learned is invaluable and I know I am better off for going through rough times and sometimes having to face harsh realities.

I’m excited to see what comes.  I constantly have to remind myself I’m only twenty-two years old and I don’t have to have everything planned.  I don’t have to have the job I’m going to have the rest of my life.  I don’t have to be married with babies.  I don’t have to go to graduate school.

I can do whatever I want.

For now, I don’t have any particular long term goals.  I know I want to go to culinary school at some point, but I need a serious break from school right now.  If I went in the spring, I know my heart would not be in it completely.  I know I really want to travel, so at this point I think I’m going to try to save my money to do some serious travel in the next two years.

Who knows, anything can happen. The world is my oyster, right? ha

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dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream filling and chocolate ganache frosting

longest blog title ever?

I cannot believe I never shared this delicious cake from Thanksgiving.  It was not a difficult cake to make  but very time consuming.  However the results were amazing and I highly reccommend this cake.

Also, if you’re a smartie like me, realize that it is a three layer cake, not a two layer cake.  There are even three layers in the cake pictured in the recipe I will link to so I don’t know how I could have bypassed this very important step.  For the life of me could not figure out why the cake was taking so long to bake and then I realized I only made two layers.

Opps!

That being said, if you only make it a two layer cake like I did, it will still be a delicious.  Go to Annie’s Eats to find the recipe 🙂

Okay, this blog post is short and sweet.  I am in the final week of undergraduate EVER and I could not be more thrilled.  Three papers and a final until I am a free woman.

(oh and then I guess I have to start being a real person or something?)

I hope you all have a wonderful week ❤

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things I know at age 22

365 days ago, I turned 21 years old.
365 days ago, I weighed 40 pounds more than I do today.
365 days ago, I was extremely unhappy.

I never knew that 365 days could make me change so much, but they did.  However, I don’t know that I feel anymore accomplished than I was on my 21st birthday.  I still feel lost and I still don’t really know what I’m doing with my life.  However, despite feeling uncertain about many things, I do feel like I have a grip on who I am and what I believe in more so than I did 365 days ago.

I may be simple, I may be unsophisticated, I may not be the cool one, and I may not be the most beautiful, but I am my own person.  I am someone.  I may not quite know who that someone is yet, but I have learned that I’m not a nobody and I matter.  And while I don’t know many things, I think the things I do know are some of the best life lessons any person should know.

things I know at 22:

  1. Being miserable and unhappy is not going to make anything better in your life.
  2. Sometimes it is healthier to be alone to find out who you are rather than be in a relationship as a nobody.
  3. You have to be a friend to have friends.
  4. To be passionate and love what you do is more important than being really good at something and miserable while doing it.
  5. Love with everything you have inside of you, but also know that it might not always be enough to keep something.
  6. You can love someone with your whole heart, but that does not mean that person is meant to be in your life forever.
  7. Cutting people out of your life is painful but necessary for you to be completely happy sometimes.
  8. It is okay to cry somedays because it is the only thing you can do to feel better, but crying everyday will make you miss out on a lot of things in life.
  9. Taking time to find yourself does not make you a failure.
  10. Just because you think you are not following the same path as everyone else, it does not mean you are not being successful in your own way.
  11. You don’t need to prove or show anyone why you’re happy, just knowing that you are is enough.
  12. Learn to love yourself because you can’t love anyone else properly until you do.

I have 365 days to change myself again.  I know I’ll succeed.  I know I’ll fail.  I know I won’t be perfect.  I know I’ll do some things right.

But most of all, I know that I will never be that girl I was 365 days ago.

Thanks to all of my friends and parents who support me unconditionally.  I can never express how much you all truly mean to me ❤

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buffalo chicken garbage bread

My morning consisted of dancing in my kitchen to Rihanna and Beyonce while making buffalo chicken garbage bread.

What did you do today?

I also cleaned out the sink in an effort to remain in good daughter graces.  My birthday is coming up next week and we all know that I’m wishing and hoping for the typical 22-year-old gifts.

Dutch ovens, silplat mats, and of course anything from the Martha Stewart cooking line at Macy’s.

I’m special.

Anyway, lets be frank (no pun intended, I’m so clever, haha), buffalo chicken is one of the top three reasons I could never be vegetarian.  Clearly bacon takes the number one spot, but buffalo chicken is a close second.

I have been thinking about this combination for a few weeks.  Perhaps I should explain garbage bread? I didn’t realize everyone didn’t know what garbage bread is, maybe its just an upstate NY thing.  Its basically a calzone except you wrap the pizza dough so its in layers.

Needless to say, this was quite delicious.  Not necessarily ass friendly, but I’ll totally take the buffalo chicken any day over the gym 😉

Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread

Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp. olive oil
1 pizza dough (I used store bought and let it sit out for about 20 minutes)
8 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part skim)
3 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of Franks Wing Sauce
1/3 cup of ranch or blue cheese dressing

Directions

Cut chicken into cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat teaspoon of olive oil in skillet and add chicken when hot.  Cook chicken completely and then add 1/4 cup of wing sauce.  Stir to coat chicken and let simmer for a minute or two.  Take chicken off heat and let cool.

Pre-heat oven to 425°F.**

On a well floured surface, spread pizza dough into a long rectangle shape.

Add ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing (depending on your preference!) and remaining 1/4 cup of wing sauce.  Spread across the dough.  Add chicken and then top with mozzarella and cheddar cheese.  You can also add a bit more of the wing sauce on top of the cheese if you want it to be a little bit spicier.

Roll the dough like a pinwheel until you reach the end.  Make sure to tuck the ends of the dough in so the middle doesn’t ‘ooze’ out when baking.

Spray baking sheet with light coat of non-stick cooking spray.  Place garbage bread on the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let sit for five minutes and cut into and enjoy!

**Some people have commented that they found this cooked too quickly and the inside is raw. All ovens vary and cook differently.  I would highly recommend that the rack you use is in the middle of the oven as opposed to the bottom rack or really high up in the oven where it will brown more quickly.  You could also lower the temperature to 400 degrees, but it may take a little longer to cook!

I’m so thankful tomorrow is Thursday and the end of my school week.  Although I’m working all weekend, I only have two days of class next week.

It’s officially only 31 days until I’m done with school forever and I could not be more excited! I know I have to start real life I guess, but that can’t be worse than working AND being in school.

Hope you all have a great week ❤

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Dinosaur BBQ and why I’ll never go back

I normally don’t gripe about restaurants and their policies on my blog.  I work in sales and understand that negative experiences are usually only occur because of something that happened by accident.  I’m very forgiving and considerate when I go out to eat at restaurants if something isn’t 100% up to par. I really understand that frequently if a negative experience happens, its usually beyond the waitress or hostesses’ control.

I would also like to state for the record, I have eaten a good meal at Dinosaur BBQ during the only other time I’ve been there and the waitress I had was very pleasant.  I also will acknowledge that what has caused me to be upset is beyond the hostesses’ control and really is more a poor policy of the Dinosaur BBQ.

source

The last time and only other time I visited Dinosaur BBQ was on a Sunday around 4PM.  It wasn’t that busy and we did not have to wait for a table.  I noticed a sign outside the restaurant that said you couldn’t make reservations unless you had a party of 6 or more which I thought made sense.  I knew of many restaurants that wouldn’t take reservations because of the volume of customers they always had and I completely understood why.

The food was good during that visit, our waitress was pleasant, and my parents and I decided we would probably be back within the next two months.

This morning before I left for work, my parents said they wanted to go back to Dinosaur for dinner tonight.  I would get home at 4:30 from work and I figured if we got there by five, the wait time wouldn’t be that bad.  I never checked the website to see if they took reservations, because from what I saw on the outside sign, they only took reservations if you had 6 or more people.

We arrived at the restaurant at 5:05 PM and they said it would probably be about a 35 minute wait.  I wasn’t upset or neither were my parents, we realized it was Saturday and it was a popular restaurant so we would have to wait.  We shared a beer from the bar and the place began to get more busy.  However, after about 20 minutes we realized that people who had gotten there after us that had less than 6 people in their dining party continued to be seated before us.  Around 5:30PM, my mother went up and asked where we were on the list.  The woman said we were coming up and had another ten to fifteen minutes.  I was getting a little impatient, but realized it was busy.

However, people who came in after us with less than six people continued to be seated within five to ten minutes of getting in.  My mother went ask to find out what was going on and the hostess informed us of a call-in policy where you could call in thirty minutes before you arrived to be put at the front of the list.

My parents and I were really upset.  I didn’t see anything written anywhere in the restaurant about this policy and we had been there almost forty minutes.  We ended up leaving because at 5:43, we still had not been seated.  After getting home, I did go and check their website.  It stated the call-in policy, but I still found the policy ridiculous.  To me, the call-in policy is basically the same thing as a reservation but you just have to wait an extra five minutes.  Had I really been aware of this policy, I would have done this, but I still think that the restaurant should just have a “we take reservations for everyone” or “no reservations under six people”.  Why should I have to wait for 50 minutes when someone called in the car driving over to put their name ahead of me on the list.

I know this might sound irrational to a lot of people, but I was really upset.  I will admit I did leave the restaurant so infuriated, I did not check the sign again outside to see if it said anything about this policy.  I really do believe I would have remembered if it had when I read it the first time.

I don’t fault the hostess for not seating us earlier, she was only following the restaurant’s policy.  I don’t think I should have to check the website to know this policy, and I just don’t think its right that because I didn’t call on my way to the restaurant to put my name at the beginning of the list that I was not seated for fifty minutes.

I have nothing negative to say about the food, but I can honestly say I will probably never go there again.  I find that there is no logical reasoning to this policy and that a person who went there on a whim would have no idea about this call-in policy.

I don’t expect compensation, I don’t expect a free meal, I just expect that I should be seated before someone else who arrives after me at a restaurant when a restaurant says it doesn’t take reservations for under parties of six.

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November Things and Homemade Apple Pie

1. How is it November 8th already? On the plus side, it is still technically less than a month since I’ve last blogged.

2. I’m stuffing my face with a way too hot puffy peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and I don’t care.

3. I think I might finally be a real person again this week.  Last week was a complete and total blur in my head because of school and work.  I barely remember how I got from Point A to Point B in most cases. (watch out if I’m on the road! ha)

4. It’s my birthday two weeks from tomorrow. I’m not very excited.  Are all birthdays downhill after twenty-one? Not that I went wild and crazy on my last birthday, but I think I’m supposed to be an adult or something now? Um yeah, call me when I stop living at my parents house and don’t call my mom on the verge of tears because I can’t make a decision about a shirt to buy at the mall.

5. I wish I had more exciting things to tell you, but I don’t.  I’m slowly turning into a grandma at age 21,  all I need is an early bird dinner special most nights and a bedtime of 7PM.  I also hang out with a my cat a lot, but that might qualify me as a crazy cat lady.

6.  This apple pie is amazing. Make it because its totally worth the work and you’ll thank the apple pie gods that it was developed.

Dutch Apple Pie
Pie Crust from Barefoot Contessa
Apple Pie Filling and Topping from Brown Eyed Baker

Perfect Pie Crust

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Apple Filling

2 to 3 large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ pounds)
3 to 4 large McIntosh apples (about 2 pounds)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream

Streusel Topping

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)

Directions

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Ease the dough into the pan corners. Trim the dough edges to extend about ½ inch beyond the rim of the pan. Fold the overhang under itself; flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and hat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freeze, press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy-duty foil inside the pie shell, and fold the edges of the foil to shield the fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over the foil. Bake, leaving the foil and weights in place until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

For the apple filling: Peel, quarter, and core the apples; slice each quarter crosswise into pieces ¼ inch thick. Toss the apples, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl to combine. Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven (or pot) over high heat until foaming subsides; add the apples and toss to coat. Reduce the hat to medium-high and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the Granny Smith apple slices are tender and the McIntosh apple slices are softened and beginning to break down, about 10 minutes.

Set a large colander over a large bowl; transfer the cooked apples to the colander. Shake the colander and toss the apples to drain off as much juice as possible. Bring the drained juice and the cram to a boil in the now-empty Dutch oven over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and a wooden spoon leaves a trail in the mixture, about 5 minutes. Transfer the apples to the pre-baked pie shell; pour the reduced juice mixture over and smooth with a rubber spatula.

For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, cinnamon and sugars in a medium bowl; drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and the mixture forms many large chunks with pea-sized pieces mixed throughout. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the pie filling. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake until the streusel topping is deep golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature and serve.

**Note – this recipe actually makes two pie crusts and you only need one, so I’m sure you could just cut the ingredients in half if you don’t want to make two!

So I’m beyond exhausted right now. I think I’m ready to curl up in a ball and go to bed, but I’m waiting for this batch of cookies I’m baking to be finished.

I know, I’m insane.

I hope you all are enjoying fall, have a great week ❤

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