What I Got For Christmas 2017

7:35:00 PM Andrea Ryan 4 Comments

PURSE: Lulu's
BOOTS: Rue 21
POUCH: Target
PRINT: T.J. Maxx
CANON 50mm LENSE: From my fiancé's family
SLIDES: Meijer
CANDLE: gift from my aunt
          I've been wanting to do more outfit posts lately but it's unbearably cold outside.  It's hard to blog when the ground is covered in snow and it's below 10 degrees.  I decided to do a post about the things I have been given for Christmas.  I am very thankful for everything.  These things are mostly from my parents.  I picked most of them out myself because my mom hates Christmas shopping.  The candle is from my aunt.  I live the eiffel tower, it's so pretty.  I received the choker from my sister and the planner stickers from my other sister.  The 50mm lens is from my fiancé's family.  I have used it a few times and absolutely love the photos that it takes.  I'm looking forward to using it in the future and experimenting with photography.  I bought the calendar and mini pouch with my christmas money.  The rest of the items are from my parents.  


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My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

8:28:00 PM Andrea Ryan 5 Comments

          Today I wanted to share my favorite sugar cookie recipe in the spirit of Christmas.  I love making sugar cookies year round because I love decorating them.  I think it is so fun to frost them with different tips and sprinkles.  I think making sugar cookies is my favorite holiday tradition as well.  I've always made them as a kid but they never really turned out very well, until I got older and decided to put in a little more effort.  To decorate them well you will need some piping bags, a variety of tips, sprinkles, and food coloring.
          I've already made them twice this holiday time and it's so easy.  I've used this recipe three times total and they always turn out well.  I've used so many different recipes over the years and I have found this one to be the best.  I found it on Allrecipes.com.  It is not my own recipe.  I have made some small changes each time with cookie thickness, cooking time, or amount of flour added.  You may even want to cut this recipe in half because it makes a ton of cookies.  It can be a bit overwhelming to cut and decorate a full batch.

1 1/2 Cups butter, softened
2 Cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

The first step is to make the dough (before preheating the oven).

Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix those in.  After everything is mixed really well add the flour 1 cup at a time with the baking powder and salt.  You may not need all the flour the recipe calls for.  If you get to a point where the dough is becoming too dry and hard to stir I'd just omit the rest and save it for rolling.  Then cover the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour.

Once the dough is cold preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Flour your surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out.  I separate my dough into sections about softball sized and do one at a time.  Roll the dough out about 1/4" thick.  Cut out all of the shapes you want  and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make sure they are at least a half inch apart.  Continue the process until all of the cookies are cut and the dough is gone.

Bake for 6-8 minutes according to the recipe.  I baked some of mine for 5 minutes and 30 seconds.  Most were perfect within 6 minutes.

Let them cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, just look up a basic vanilla icing recipe.  I honestly don't use a recipe because I make icing all the time and always have slightly different amounts of the ingredients I need.  To get the icing to be smooth I used a technique that I kind of just tried.  I don't think it's what professionals do but I'm not really sure.  I start with thick icing and pipe around the outside of the cookie so it holds the more liquidy frosting in place while it sets.  Do that to every cookie that has that color as a base.  Then add a little milk to the icing to thin it out.  Once the icing seems like it will smooth out but also stay it place it should be perfect.  Then I just put the runny frosting in a piping bag and cover the surface of the cookie.  You can shake it a little to get the cookie to be completely smooth.  Sorry, this is hard to explain.  Let the cookies sit for a little while so the icing sets up, then you can add more details on top with thicker frosting.  If you are using sprinkles, make sure to use them before the frosting hardens.  There are so many possibilities for decorating ideas.  I like to try to do each step of all of the same cookies shapes at once so you don't have to switch back and forth between colors and tips.

Let them dry completely before transporting.


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Winter Stripes

1:30:00 PM Andrea Ryan 1 Comments

TOP: Diane Von Furstenberg  |  JACKET: H&M  |  JEANS: Forever 21  |  BOOTS: Primark
Happy first day of Winter.  Today I paired my striped Diane Von Furstenberg button-up with some jeans.  It's a really simple outfit but I like how it looks with the shirt tied up with high-wasted jeans.   I am wearing my faux fur coat over the top for some added interest.  Overall, I like the way the outfit looks together.  


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Shoulder Ruffles

5:12:00 PM Andrea Ryan 10 Comments

TOP: Halogen  |  JEANS: Forever 21  |  PURSE: Michael Kors  |  BOOTS: Gamiss
          I love the ruffle trend that has been going on for a while.  I think the placement of ruffles is so unique.  I have a few tops that have ruffles here and there.  This sweatshirt just seems so over the top with the ruffles on the shoulders.  I love how extreme it is.  It's super comfortable too because it's literally a sweatshirt.  I found it at Nordstrom's Rack a few months ago.  You may still be able to find it there.  


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Instagram Guide to Chicago

1:24:00 PM Andrea Ryan 6 Comments

 Greetings from Chicago Mural
The Greetings From Chicago Mural is located at 2226 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647.
Flamingo Mural
This amazing mural is part of a building.  The whole building has flamingos painted on it.  The business is called Flamingo Rum Club, at 601 N. Wells Street.  
Willis Tower Sky Deck
I think this is probably the second most popular Instagram spot in Chicago (after the Bean).  I definitely do not feel like the Sky Deck is overrated.  I've been a few times and always enjoy it.  It can take a very long time to get up to the top, so make sure you go early enough that it will still be light out.  There are amazing views.  Chicago has such a pretty skyline.  
Millennium Park
Millennium Park has so much going on these days.  There are tons of Instagram worthy spots here.  This is where the Bean is located.  Cloud Gate is just a tiny section of this park.  Just take the time to explore the park when you go.  It's especially good in the warmer months.  Although, there is ice skating here in the winter.  
Michigan Avenue
There is a really pretty courtyard located right off of Michigan Ave.  It's located just North of H&M and Topshop.  I think it's part of Fourth Presbyterian Church.  It just feels kind of surreal when you walk in because it's such an old, beautiful building in the middle of sky scrapers.  If you're one that enjoys old architecture then you would probably really like this spot.  
Uniqlo has huge windows near the Starbucks, that give you a good view of the historic Water Tower.  It's above the trees, so it can make for a nice good Instagram shot in the middle of the city.  
Lake Shore Drive Lakefront
Every part of the Lakefront Trail near Lake Shore Drive is pretty.  It boarders Lake Michigan.  There are marinas, break walls, and beaches, and makes for some really good shots.  Of course it's best in the warmer months because it's a lot more active and the boats will still be in the water.  It very pretty at night as well.  
Navy Pier
These views are from the new Navy Pier Ferris Wheel.  There is a lot to explore at Navy Pier.  It's pretty tourist-y but good for a first time Chicago visiter.  
The Chicago River
I think the best view of the Chicago River is from the DuSable Bridge (Just ignore the Trump Hotel). There is a park that goes along the river.  Just follow the set of stairs down.  This is where the river gets dyed green for Saint Patricks day too.  
Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain may not look that amazing in my pictures but trust me, it is.  It's located in the center of Grant Park.  It's huge and has lights that shine on it.  It's one of my favorite spots in Chicago. 
The Chicago Theatre 
The Chicago Theatre sign is just one of those pictures you have to take while you are there.  It's located on North State Street.  
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo in Lincoln Park.  It's fun to just walk around.  There is a new boardwalk area that goes around the pond.  That's where this wooden arch is located.  It's right outside the zoo.  It's a super popular spot for wedding photographs so it may be difficult to get a picture there.  
If you walk over to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, there is an amazing green house.  I think it's actually my favorite green house ever.  It's also free to go inside.  There are a bunch of separate rooms with different plants and flowers.  Just be aware, it's super hot inside.  
Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is literally one of my favorite Chicago spots.  It's pretty far outside of the city.  You cannot walk there and I'm not even sure if it's actually in Chicago, but it's incredible.  It's also free to enter but parking costs money.  It's an enormous garden that spans miles.  There are different themes to each area.  It's chucked full of Instagram worthy spots and a little bit less common for tourists.  
           Welcome to my Instagram Guide to Chicago.  I have been wanting to put this together for a while.  Chicago is one of my favorite cities with so much Instagram potential.  A lot of the spots that I have included are pretty popular and already well known but I think they are worth a mention.  I would like to make a part two to this in the future.  I'm moving away soon so I'm not sure how long it will be before I get that up.  Let me know if you guys have visited Chicago or are planning on it soon.  


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