This and That



1. Maxwell had a cookie decorating play date with his little friends this week. I think he put more sprinkles and candies in his mouth than on his cookie.

2. Holiday gifts that would probably disappoint kids today. I had a few of these.

3. I have been listening to the Dan Patrick show since 1999 and listen almost every day. This was hilarious.

4. The Warriors play the Jazz tonight and I am trying to talk Maria into going. It would be a fun date night.

5. I am thinking about getting one of these. Anyone have one?



1. It is our first Christmas in our new home and we are loving it. Our tree is up, the stockings are hung, and I even added some fresh garland to the fireplace! We hosted a Christmas brunch and holiday party with friends this week and I have the holiday spirit! I love this time of year.

2. My favorite cardigan. It is so soft and cozy!

3. How is your holiday baking going? Any favorite cookies so far? Do tell! I am always looking for new cookie recipes. I hope you saw these Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops yesterday, they NEED to be on your baking list.

4. A fun way to top the Christmas tree!

5. I am always in the mood for an oatmeal cookie.

6. Simplify gift giving! YES! We do something similar with our boys. We do three gifts-one for the heart’s desire, one for the body, and one for the mind…and then we do fun stocking stuffers. It makes life so much easier and helps us focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

7. Speaking of simplifying, I signed up for an online course that is going to help me simplify my life in 2017. I am super excited about it! You should join me, you can sign up for A Simple Year here!

8. We hit 1 million followers on Facebook. THANK YOU!! We are so grateful for all of you and your continued support over the years. Oh, and we shared two new videos on Facebook this week-Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles and Salted Caramel Pretzel Fudge. Both are winners!

9. Avocado toast goals.

10. Brown butter makes everything better. Proof, these cookies and these cookies!

11. I bought this cake stand for a friend…and then I bought one for myself:) It’s so pretty!

12. These wooden salad servers are on sale. Santa, are you listening? 🙂

13. This Saturday afternoon, 12/10, I am going to be at Smiths’ Marketplace helping with Santa’s Milk Drive. Smith’s has committed to donating $5000 worth of milk to the Utah Food Bank in addition to matching any gallon milk donations we get on Saturday. There will be milk, cookie samples, and fun giveaways, so come see me if you are in Utah. And if you would like to contribute to Santa’s Milk Drive by donating a gallon of milk (the most under donated store-bought item across the nation) online, you can donate here: You can enter your zip code so the milk you donate will be delivered to your local food bank. Your donation will stay in your community.

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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This and That

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  1. Maria, I TOTALLY agree with your idea for simplifying gift giving. It seems we have become such a materialistic society and so many parents think that giving children everything they want/ask for is going to make them grateful. I feel that the opposite happens…they become entitled. I have a 12 year old godchild who has been indulged excessively at Christmas…as was her mom growing up. She has a huge stocking that gets filled,  often there are so many gifts under the tree, they are opened in “sessions”.  She told me, when she was maybe  4/5 years old that Christmas is “all about the presents”. She learned this phrase from her Grandmother, who is an over the top Christmas crazy person. 
    The entire meaning of Christmas seems to be  lost .So, last year, one of the two gifts I gave to her was a “hive of bees” purchased through Heifer International.  This year, it is a symbolic adoption through the World Wildlife Federation. 
    I realistically know my small attempt to give a different perspective will probably not change what she has been taught since her very first Christmas but I feel I have to try.
    That said, your living room looks lovely, cozy and perfect. I wish you , Josh and your little guys a very happy and blessed first Christmas in your new home.

  2. Josh, we just got the Amazon Echo Dot…Alexa is a handy little assistant around the house (especially with home automation, timers and measurement questions etc. in the kitchen)! We’ve really been enjoying it. Listening to music on it is pretty nice too, I’d imagine the full Echo is even better!

  3. We got an Amazon Echo last year for Christmas. LOVE IT! It’s so cool to just tell it to add items to your shopping list so you don’t have to go write it down before you forget. It’s really handy too, when my husband goes to the store, I can still add items from home as I think of them and all he has to do is check the app on his phone to see the updated list. We also use it almost daily for playing music, checking the weather, and sports scores. I know it can do a million more things, but these few features alone make it totally worth the money in my opinion 🙂

  4. You have decorated your new home so well!  It looks so cozy and inviting.  I look forward your ” This and That ” posts.

  5. Love the idea of giving less gifts – we all don’t really need more more more! What do you mean when you say a gift for the body and a gift for the mind? I’m guessing a gift for the mind could be a puzzle or a book?

    1. Yes, for the mind we usually do books, educational games, puzzles, art related gifts, etc. For the body, it is usually clothes, shoes, snow boots, etc.

  6. Looks like Maxwell was having a great time at his “cookie date”. The house looks great and ready for Christmas – we have not decorated yet …and I haven’t done any baking yet. My excuse/reason is that my nephew is getting married in a week and 3 days… will jump into Christmas prep after that…lol…I saw the video for the pretzel fudge and plan to make it…

  7. We have been simplifying over the years too- for our first few Christmases, we focused on giving to those in need and didn’t get any gifts for each other.  Now that we have a little one, we try to just get her a couple things that will last (hopefully) like books and wooden toys.  The grandparents don’t share our sentiments, unfortunately! 

    Which Smith’s will you be at this Saturday?  I’d love to come by and say hi- I’ve been reading your blog for several months and am a big fan! I just started my own blog last month and shared Pfeffernusse cookies if you’re looking for a great, spicy, crumbly delicious Christmas cookie- they’re traditionally German, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.  So good!

    1. I will be at the Valley Street Smith’s in SLC. Click on the link for the exact address. I would love to meet you!

  8. We have an Echo and we love I! It takes up almost no room (about the size of a Pringles can) and you never have to even touch it, just plug it in and connect it to your Wi-Fi and you’re in business. Totally voice activated and fun. It will tell you jokes and lots of other stuff. Still discovering all it will do. Comes in really handy to find out what the weather is, etc. Love, love, love it. And, it doesn’t cost much either.

  9. The Barefoot Dreams cardigan is my favorite, too! I have three BD sweaters and adore them. They’re the best to take when traveling.

    Your new home is so lovely! Merry Christmas to you!

  10. Your decorating is beautiful, I love it. I also like your idea of 3 gifts with the stocking fillers, it is a really good idea.

  11. I love the idea of a simplified Christmas! My family has been simplifying gift giving the last 8-10 years  – we pick out a hat, get one person’s name, and just buy presents for that one person, then everyone gives everyone 2 stocking gifts. It makes it so much easier and stress-free. 

  12. Yes, I have an Amazon Echo – Alexa – and we love her. The very best thing (in my opinion) that she does, is the shopping list. Now when my husband says “I need”, I just ask him if he told Alexa. The speaker is great and it plays music from Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc. She will greet you each morning with a random fact, if she is asked. She tells jokes when asked, sport scores, she is just pretty amazing. You should get one, it’s (she’s) great.