December Goals + Holiday Cookie Recipe ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

The calendar has rolled around again – and it’s time for a goals check-in! Here we go.

In November, my personal goals were to track meals and workouts Monday-Friday, to continue using time-blocking techniques in my daily schedule. These two goals both get a tic beside them because I succeeded in meal-tracking and time-blocking in November – and I’ve felt so good!

Work goals: finish and format the novella that is coming out in March: the novella is finished (tic!) but I need to tweak a little bit on the formatting, along with making a couple of more editing changes before it’s 100% finalized (partial-tic). All in all, I’m happy with my progress, which will make December goal-setting a bit simpler.

For December, my goals will be a little different because the holiday season means a lot more activities than usual, which will mean I need a bit more focus on the work/writing front. Here we go:

  • Set a daily writing goal on Sunday of each week (Sunday is my planning day); my minimum writing goal will be 1,000 words.
  • Finalize a partial/synopsis for my agent.
  • Finalize the novella edits and formatting in preparation for the March release (I just saw the cover and I canNOT wait to share with you guys!).

That’s it. It sounds like December will be a simple month, but with holiday parties and family trips and last-minute baking and shopping, Speaking of holiday parties and baking, I’ve got a fun recipe to share with you guys today! It’s my mom’s sugar cookie recipe, along with my sugar cookie icing recipe. We always take a couple of Saturdays in late November/early December to bake and ice and then we freeze the resulting cookies so that starting on December 23, we just have to grab a tin of cookies from the freezer when we’re ready to munch. Here we go with the recipe!
Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter (the real stuff, don’t use butter substitute, the cookies won’t taste right)
2 cups granulated sugar

Kristina’s Christmas Sugar Cookies!

4 eggs (medium sized works great!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good stuff, from Mexico, not the generic stuff off the grocery shelf!)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cookie Baking Directions: 
Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream them together until smooth; beat in the eggs and vanilla, again until smooth. Next, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Now cover the bowl and put it in the fridge, you’re going to chill this mixture overnight. The next morning (or afternoon), preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out your dough (finally! something to use that rolling pin Aunt Betty gave you at your wedding!) to about a half-inch thick. Use whatever cookie cutter shapes you like (we’re fans of stars, trees and balls because reindeer legs have a tendency to get too thin and burn…but you do you!). Cut out the shapes and place the cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Back about 7 minutes and then let them cool completely. Ice the cookies (don’t worry, the icing recipe is below)!
The most important piece of a sugar cookie (in my opinion) is the icing. Some are fans of buttercream, but I like a lighter icing. One that adds sweet, and maybe has the hint of a crunch, but that stays soft in the middle…that is exactly what this icing recipe does!
Icing Ingredients:
3 teaspoons milk (I like 2%, but whole would also work well)
2 teaspoons KARO syrup (the white kind, not the dark)
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (the good stuff, from Mexico, don’t just use that generic stuff off the Piggly Wiggly shelf)
Food coloring (I like gel coloring because the colors are more vibrant)
Any sprinkles or other edible decorations you want
Icing directions: 
Put the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl, add the milk, KARO syrup and vanilla and cream all of that together. You want the icing to be almost firm, not drippy, but it needs to spread easily. I always test it with a simple kitchen spoon — if I can hold a spoonful upside down without it dropping right off, the consistency is right. Once the icing is the firmness you want, divide into different bowls and add the colors of food coloring you want, mix and you’re ready to ice the cookies!

I’m going to need a lot of focus. How about you? What are you planning and goal-setting for December?

November Goals + Fun Holiday Event

November Goals

When November rolled around last Thursday I was floored. I mean, how did it get to be November already? And what happened to my October goals? And how am I going to get through the rush of the holiday season with my sanity – and my deadlines! – intact? Seriously, these questions stressed me out for almost a full day before I got hold of them, and my calendar, and came up with a plan. Before we get to the plan, though, how about a goals recap. For October, my four goals were:

  • Track my meals and workouts – I’ll count this as half a point because I did track my workouts – and averaged 5/week, yay! – but I wasn’t so great at tracking my meals/calorie intake. 
  • Finish an indie novella for a project that is releasing in March – This is not even half a point, because I didn’t finish by October 31, it took until November 2. But, the project is now with my proofer and editing will commence in a couple of weeks.
  • Themed planning days – this is a full checkmark! I started block-scheduling my days in October and I really like how that is working for me, although it also caused a planner hiccup which I’ll explain in another blog. What I like about block scheduling is that every task (errands, appoints, emails/social media, writing, etc) has it’s own box (or “theme”, which actually allows for more freedom with writing time. Block scheduling will continue! 
  • Finish revisions: also a full checkmark. I sent revisions for a brand new project to my agent mid-October and am waiting for her feedback and a final polish before sending that project out into the world.

All in all, October wasn’t horrible. I give myself 3.5 out of 4 checkmarks, which I think is totally great! For November, my goals will be a little different because, lets face it, Thanksgiving will eat into writing/editing/authoring time, as will preps for December. Here we go with that list: 

  • Edit and format the novella to prep for publication; start an initial publicity plan.
  • Do any last minute touches to the with-the-agent project before it goes out into the world.
  • Prep and send 2 proposals to the agent for new projects that I’m super excited about <– this is my NANO project. I know, NANO is for writing a book in a month, but that doesn’t work for me so I use it in a different way.
  • Continue with block/theme scheduling my days because that is really helping me to be more productive – and happier, too!
  • Track meals Monday – Friday and track workouts Monday – Friday, too.

What about you? Do you have a goal or two for November? Share in the comments and we’ll keep one another accountable! 

Several authors & I are hosting a fab holiday event – join the fun!

Oh, and Through Thanksgiving, some author friends and I are hosting a really fun event – filled with books and games and maybe even a holiday recipe or two. It’s happening over at our Facebook Group: Coffee, Cupcakes & Contemporaries. Stop in, join the group and see what we’re up to – I’m hosting on November 10 – that’s this Saturday! – and I have some fun stuff in the works.