We bake a lot of cookies at Christmastime. I use to hide out in Barnes and Noble (way before Pinterest) and scope out all of the new cookie books just to line up which ones I would bake during the holidays (I know...a little cookie-extremism but that's what I did). I take pride in using real butter, sugar, shortening and chocolate and creating little bakers perfections.
Out of all the cookies I bake, my sons favorite, is the rolled out iced sugar cookie. I have a great butter cookie recipe but you have to make the dough and chill it for a couple of hours before you can bake them.
One year, I was running short on time and thought I'd take a short cut. I bought Pillsbury sugar dough already made and a can of icing. Cringing at the thought of packaged dough and icing, I figured my son would take one bite and know that this wasn't the real deal. Ha! Not only did he "not" notice, but these turned out to be his very favorite. I know... don't send me emails telling me that nothing tastes better than a real butter cookie. I get it.... But he doesn't care. And if you have boys....you know that they eat lots and lots of cookies. :)
Now, you can take the dough right out of the fridge slice, bake and ice and you are ready to go. Or, you can roll out onto wax paper and cut out your cookies to be more festive. Use a good bit of flour as they will be a bit sticky if you are rolling. Keep the dough thick and don't bake too long. You want them chewy.
I made three rolls of these on Monday afternoon. They are already gone. Go figure. :)
I have a friend who told me she was creating a "dressing room" in her home. I helped her with a couple pieces along the way and was blown away when I saw what she did. With golds, blacks and creams, she took a spare bedroom and created the most beautiful space for herself.
Above is what you see when you first walk into the room. You can see my blog on how I painted this Little Black Desk on a previous post. You can also see how I Gold Leafed the mirror.
On both sides of the room her handyman husband created these awesome open wood closet spaces for clothes and what not. She isn't fully done with the room but I wanted to capture some of this creativity while I was there. :)
There is a small bed in the room (she is still working on this) and above the bed are these beautiful framed giant Barbie pictures. Aren't they great? They totally set the tone for this fabulous room.
The thing I love about this room is that it's a place my friend created for herself. It's glamorous, romantic and feminine. It makes you feel good just looking at it. She had a vision and brought that vision to life. Beautiful!
Sometimes.... the smallest accents make the biggest differences. Below is a simple cream table that I did recently with gold accents. It would have been fine painted all cream, but the gold gives it just a little bit of pop and makes it just a bit different than most finished pieces.
Each of the legs received a 4 inch gold accent all the way around. The top indentions also got a bit of gold too.
The piece was finished with a very thin layer of polycrylic.
Gold accents are a great way to add character to your hand painted pieces.
As we run around gathering gifts, baking cookies and ensuring that the decorations are up, make sure you stop and remember the true meaning of what is behind all of these things.
What is the real meaning and "reason for the season"? Maybe we can all slow down a little bit and wake up each morning for the rest of December and contemplate what is behind all of the holiday festivities. Maybe with reflection we can all help bring the true spirit of Christmas to the lives of others.
Where is your heart? Are you finding the need to compare and be critical? Are you judging the spirit and creativity of those around you? Do you feel the need to speak unkindly towards others? Do you measure your value based on the gift you receive? If so, you are missing the point here.
Giving, blessing, hoping, encouraging, helping. Love, service, life.
Don't stress over the hostess, teacher, friend and holiday gift exchanges. There are great small gifts you can buy that are sweet and useful and will really be appreciated. Don't grab the candy at the end of the isle of BBB.... if you aren't going to eat it, neither will your hostess. :) Look at the gift and think "would I like this"? If the answer is "no"....keep looking.
Here are items that I think are great gifts to give:
Monogrammed mugs. Get a good mug from Anthropology or Williams and Sonoma. Throw in a box of tea or coffee and you are all set. I have one of these and reach for it every morning. :)
Honey. This is a great gift as honey has all kinds of healthy uses today and comes in cute little packages.
Soaps. There are all kinds of cool organic soaps out there. This set here comes from a neat website called Cool Material. I'm only giving them a plug because I think this is an awesome gift for men. :) You can find other organic soaps that make great gifts for women too.
Books. I'm a huge lover of books. They have books for everything these days. This one is a coloring book for adults! Did you know that coloring is a huge stress reducer? Grab this and a cute little pack of crayons and your gift will be remembered as one of the neatest of the season.
Candles. I love candles but scents are funny with people because we all don't have the same agreement on what smells good. If you are going to give a candle, even a small votive, get a good one. Keep to simple smells; vanilla, cinnamon and holiday scents. This one above is one of my favorites.
Ornaments. I love ornaments...if they have a special meaning. If you know someone loves a certain "thing" and you can find it in an ornament...then yes. Make sure the ornament has meaning and you are good to go.
You can find small gifts that don't cost a lot of money and have meaning behind the gesture. Just give it a little thought.
In our house, it's all about the cookie at Christmas time. We do a lot of baking during the holidays and we eat a lot of cookies. A favorite in our house are Mom's Ginger Cookies. These are big and moist and almost like potato chips....where you just can't eat one. I've been making these for a long long time and can't even remember where this recipe came from.
These are my husbands favorite. And let me tell you..... he is very picky about his sweets. No dry crumbly cookies for him. If it's not a really really good cookie, he isn't eating it. :)
In the spirit of Christmas, I want to share what might become one of your holiday favorites too.
Mom's Ginger Cookies
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp of baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp of salt
1 1/2 cups of shortening
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of molasses
3/4 cup sugar (to roll cookies in)
Preheat oven to 350. Put your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Beat shortening for a 30 seconds and add the 2 cups of sugar. Then add two eggs and molasses and beat well. Beat in half of the flour and then slowly add the rest. Mix will be stiff.
Shape dough into 2 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes or until light brown and puffed. (Every oven is different and the size of your dough balls will determine if you cook shorter or longer). If you overbake, your cookies will be dry and that defeats the whole point of this cookie. Better to undercook a little. :)
I'm baking these today if anyone wants to come over.
You can gold leaf just about anything....it doesn't have to be furniture. A friend of mine had a large silver mirror that worked in her old home, but not in her new home. No sense spending money on new things when you can change what you have. She wanted to gold leaf this baby and what a great choice.
To get started, prep your mirror and tape off any area that you don't want the medium to get on.
Brush on the gold leaf medium and allow it to set (about 30 minutes). Apply gold leaf sheets to the entire mirror. Gold leaf is very thin and delicate. You also need to apply this in an area where there is little wind and can easily be vacuumed. Trust me when I say you will have gold leaf pieces and flecks....everywhere. I did a Gold Leaf Tutorial on a little table that goes into more detail if you want to check it out. This is how your piece will look until you begin to rub it out. Don't freak. :)
With a soft cloth, gently begin to rub the gold leaf into your project. What comes in contact with the medium will stick and what doesn't will fall away. You should gently "pat" the areas that are creviced and decorative so the leafing will get into the cracks. You can pick up little pieces that fall to the floor and place them back onto your piece where the leafing may not have taken.
Once you are done, seal the piece with a clear polycrylic.
This mirror turned out just beautiful. The detail really pops with the leafing and you get an old world feel to your piece. You can't get this look with spray paint.
It's not quite as bright as it looks...it's sitting right under a light :) I wanted you to see all of the creases and detail with the leafing. The mirror went from cold to warm in an afternoon.
Here is the before and after. I just love it!
How about you? Do you have an old mirror that needs an update?