How do you say Happy Valentine’s Day to those you love? Flowers, candy, cards, or some even bigger display? Or do you prefer to do something special together? Or is it one of those days that just slips by? I saw a funny “quote” the other day. It was a photo from Star Wars and the caption was “I’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day Han’s style….Solo!” Maybe that’s more you 🙂
We don’t make a super big hoohaw about Valentine’s Day, a few special things, like maybe chocolate or sometimes flowers. I’m usually in favor of homemade or home-printed Valentines. (OK, I admit sometimes I put way too much work into the “homemade” Valentines that the kids take to school. But this year, I put in 10 minutes of work on a printable, and then they are on their own, I’m just too tired,with a been there, done that kind of feeling). Anwyays, I came up with a brilliant idea that I think will make a memorable Valentine’s Day for us this year: The kids are in charge of making and serving supper for my husband and I. Sounds a tad dangerous, but I intend to enjoy it! We’ll see how it goes…
After having said that, I admit I did make a few Valentine’s cookies. I had the dough in the fridge and a few more M&Ms from the last couple of posts! 🙂 And I had these cute letter cookie cutters to try out! (A fun gift from a friend) So here goes a little tutorial for some fairly easy, but attention-getting cookies.
Ingredients: chocolate cookie dough and candy melts (I use Wilton brand) and letter cookie cutters (or just freehand it) and small heart cutters.Amor= love in Spanish 😉 Galletas=Cookies! Cut out letters and a bunch of small or medium hearts for bases.Bake and let cool…..cool!Melt up some red and white candy melts and get ready to pipe them out of baggies with only a tiny corner snipped off…Squeeze strings of candy melt out while moving back and forth over all the letters. Repeat with next color.Then pick up each letter and break off the extra bits of candy melt off the sides, this is really easy and works well.Line up the letters and the bases, some letters need two hearts for their bases.Use some more candy melt to attach the bases, I used dark cocoa candy melts (only took 3 melts)Holding the letters in place for about 5 seconds was mostly enough to balance the letters, but if necessary, prop them up for a bit…The candy melts set up quite quickly. Here’s the bird’s eye view:And there you go! The letters are quite sturdy and just so fun looking! Great for a Valentine’s Day centerpiece.Oh wait! Since you have the cookie dough out, and maybe a few extra cookies baked, go ahead and decorate some more for your centerpiece. Here’s how I did it with Nutella and M&Ms using the same idea from the other day’s post: The kids wanted to cut out some Os and Xs for hugs and kisses, so I used up the last of the red M&Ms on these:And here’s one for you from me (sorry it’s not edible but I’m all about digital stuff)
I’d love to hear from you if you try out some of my little cookie techniques! 🙂
I’m a bit late with my New Year’s Greetings, but that’s nothing new! 🙂 (At least it’s still January) Here’s Snoopy, apparently fast asleep atop his doghouse, but in reality he’s thinking deep thoughts about the new year, and wishing the best for you and yours in 2014.We did a gingerbread decorating day with my sister and all of our kids, and after the frosting stopped flying, and the kids rumbled off to their next activity, I assembled this gingerbread doghouse for cookie Snoopy. I used the birdhouse pattern that I printed from the instructions here, and just trimmed in the roof sections a bit and cut out the doorway. Then decorated with royal icing and nonpareil snowflakes. Snoopy is such a comforting image from my childhood! Here’s Snoopy’s doghouse with some Christmas lights that I swiped from my nephew…..They didn’t stay on too long when my nephew finally noticed them….! I just love gingerbread!! YUM! I usually end up making some in February, too, not just for Christmas! Anyways, have a great New Year!
The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, and I’ve always thought that it’s my favorite. “It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.” (Though every time I start reading any book from the series, I think this one is my favorite!) Can you tell I’ve got Narnia on the brain? Let’s start at the very beginning….
When I first thought of having a Narnia theme around here, I thought: a display. Then I thought: baking. That’s how my brain works. How to display something edible with a theme. That’s what it’s all about, people!
So in today’s post I have our first display, for the first book, The Magician’s Nephew. The book starts out with two children named Polly and Digory exploring an old house, and accidentally ending up in Uncle Andrew’s study. He is a magician, or magician wanna-be and has supposedly found a way to travel to a different world. Or at least he thinks it’s possible, but has only tried it out on a guinea pig, who unfortunately can’t tell anything about his experiences in the other world! So Uncle Andrew needs someone else to try it out! But not himself, of course! He offers to let Polly have one of the lovely shiny yellow rings that are humming on a red wooden tray on his desk….
I love the image of the red wooden tray with the shiny green and yellow rings! I knew that it had to be a part of my display. I had already decided to start off with things that would remind me of Uncle Andrew’s study. I dug around in our basement and found some old-looking and even just large books. Some old candlesticks, an ancient globe, anything that looked old. (I wanted sealing wax and an old microscope, but didn’t have them on hand!) My old wooden “treasure chest” with safari animals on it was perfect, representing the secret box where Uncle Andrew first found the dust from another world, and the safari animals were perfect graphics for the animals who burst out of the ground in the new land of Narnia! There are a few other symbols in here that weren’t from the study, but just appeared in the rest of the book (like the golden apple, but more on that later!)
Back to the red tray….I thought a lot about it. How to do it? I didn’t want to buy anything for this project, (except the special plastic animals, in this case, the winged horse). A picture frame could work as a tray….yay, found one from an old school award. Next step: to paint. My son was happy to help me out with this project and painted the frame and a piece of cardboard red. After that, we added some wood-look lines and a few sprays of glimmery paint, then a bit of distressing with brown paint. I really really wanted to make handles for this tray, and spent a lot of brain power on it, but didn’t end up having the time. Assemble the frame without the glass, presto, a tray!
Next: the rings. That took a lot of thought, and it wasn’t till the last minute that I thought of making cookies. But how perfect (much better than another idea of cutting up paper rolls from toilet paper). Here are the cookies, step by step. Many of the photos were taken by my son, as those are my awkward-looking hands in the photos. For the cookies, I used the End-All for chocolate cookies recipe from Lilaloa, so yummmy, and melted Wilton candy melts for the icing.
Cut out small circles cookies. They are about 1 and 1/2 inch cookies.Melt up some black candy melts in a small baggie and snip off a corner. Outline 2 circles per cookie.(When I saw these photos I realized how strangely I hold the icing bags! ha! And don’t worry, that is fresh chocolate candy melt under my fingernail!)With yellow candy melts, snip off a bigger corner and fill in outlines that have already set. Then go for the green!Before the “icing” on each cookie had set, I added a small white line for a bit of a “shine” on one side of each ring. Then later when they were set and hardened, added a white asterisk to make it look like a sparkle. Can’t leave well enough alone, I wanted more shine. I painted on a bit of silver sparkle, too. It went faster than it sounds. Really.All that spiffing up and you can hardly notice…. ! Set out the rings in pairs of yellow and green on the red tray! We’re ready to travel to the Wood between the Worlds and on to Narnia…(My son was practicing some fancy photography techniques…) This is how Polly must have felt when she touched the yellow ring….“They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them because they were so bright. They were the most beautifully shiny little things you can imagine. If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to put one in her mouth.” (I have always loved that description!)I think the “funnest” part about these ring cookies, was sending them to school in my kids’ lunches, then asking them if they had whisked off to Narnia during Math class!!! 😉
We’ve started a theme around here….a before-and-during Christmas theme. We don’t usually “do themes” for Christmas, other than Christmas, but I fixated on this idea for awhile and decided to go with it. (I was told that a theme was ok, as long as it’s not too girly!) To introduce the kids to my super idea, I made up a little guessing game. See if you can guess what our theme is…
The items are hidden in the basket and came out one by one….(I did it without the hints, and added those later)
I wanted to use a compass, but someone lost it for me, so I went with the spyglass.next…guessed yet?and the most obvious for last…My last clue was a chocolate bar called Big Turk…chocolate covered Turkish delight, but it was eaten so quickly that I didn’t get a photo of it!! And no, I still don’t really like Turkish delight, though some of the kids do. So did you guess our theme?
I thought my guessing game was a good idea, but of course things don’t usually work as planned….before I even opened the basket one of my dear children blurted out the theme. And didn’t even really give the other kids a chance to guess, just yelled “Narnia” every time something came out of the basket. That’s when I was getting them to explain exactly how each item went with the theme. And yes, the theme is Narnia!! At the end my dear child explained that I had already given away my idea weeks ago….hmmmm….I had forgotten that part! Oh well, it was kinda fun anyways….even with the spoilsport!And then there were cookies….to go with the theme…of course! What’s a theme without baking???!!!Words to get through the winter on…..”When Aslan bares his teeth, Winter meets it’s death”….that’s what is engraved on High King Peter’s sword. So this week we’ll be doing our Narnia theme, I’ve already got a few projects on the go! Can anyone tell me why this week, of all weeks, is the perfect time for a Narnia theme??? Hmmmm??? There’s a good reason 🙂
I love squirrels!! The icon that is, I don’t want to pet a real squirrel or anything like that, though I do find them fascinating to watch…anyways, here’s a super cute place card idea for your next fall event or Thanksgiving. We assembled and used them for Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Beside our little brown friend is a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing and a little fondant pumpkin topper. First a word about the pumpkin toppers, then about the friendly picketing squirrels….The cupcake toppers turned out so cute! They were really fast and easy to make. I found the idea and tutorial by Nikki here on Catch My Party. I just mixed up some marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows, icing sugar, water and vanilla) and rolled out little balls, scored them with a knife and popped a clove in the top…..that’s all!After I baked a pumpkin pie, I had a cup of pumpkin puree left, so I made up my traditional pumpkin and cream cheese recipes. They were easy cupcakes and baked while the pumpkin pie baked, then just added the icing and fondant pumpkins at the last minute before serving.So I found the pumpkin topper idea on Pinterest, but this next idea was my own idea (I have to make a distinction because my kids are always asking if it’s a Pinterest idea or my own idea! heh heh). Ikea has a cute set of woodland cookie cutters that includes this little squirrel. A batch of The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Lilaloa was perfect for little brown fall squirrels. I was in a rush when I was making them, so I don’t have step by step photos. But it’s easy, just cut out squirrels, and for every squirrel cut out a circle (plain or scalloped) for a base. Before baking, add a toothpick to each squirrel, sliding it under the head and poking it through the little hand, so it looks like the squirrel is holding the toothpick on his shoulder. Bake them up, and when they are totally cool, use some melted chocolate candy melts to ice the squirrel to the base. It’s probably a good idea to add the signs to the toothpicks before “gluing” the squirrel to the base. You can just tape the place card to the top of the toothpick. Then it only took a line of melted chocolate on the bottom edge of the squirrel, then a few moments of slight pressure holding it onto the base to assemble. Here they are, being assembled by my sister….The squirrels were my idea, but I did see another fun idea on Pinterest that I really wanted to try….chocolate acorns! I found a great tutorial here on Once Upon a Pedestal for these candy acorns. They looked so cute! But I couldn’t find the same kind of peanut M&Ms that she used….and I didn’t have Tootsie Rolls, so I used chocolate covered almonds and brown fondant (another idea to add to my Chocolate Almond Ideas!!). And I asked my daughters to make them while I was working on Thanksgiving dinner! (remember, everything’s done last minute around here….)The table settings looked really cute with a cookie squirrel, a chocolate acorn and a fall leaf doily at each place….I used the same set of cookie cutters and same idea to make a stand up chocolate moose, too….kinda hard to see, but he’s in the middle by the cornucopia.Mr. Squirrel and his friends were a hit!! But he didn’t stick around very long…..Any squirrels that did linger around too long, and Mac the Moose, were sadly (or more like, deliciously) turned into another dessert with the leftover real whipped cream from the pie….leave overnight in the fridge, and voila!Who knew squirrels and moose could taste so wonderful?? 😉
Well, it’s more like a sewing party….and what could fit that theme better than some button cookies?! Button cookies are not my original idea, there are all sorts of button cookies floating around out there in cyberspace and other people’s kitchens and such. But anyways, this is my version of them. I gave them a photo shoot this morning. I needed to see something sweet and colorful to cheer me up! The ugly photos for the “how to” were taken last night in bad bad light…they are FYI only. Here are the cute buttons:Here’s the HOW TO:
Make: cookie dough with real butter, add liquid food coloring.
Tools: rolling pin, small circle and scallop cookie cutters, other round objects, plastic drinking straws, scissors.
First ,mix up some cookie dough. I used LilaLoa’s recipe (click here) for vanilla rollout cookies and was very pleased with it! I followed all her directions and used the full amount of flour and baked them for about 6 to 7 minutes. I divided the dough into thirds, even before I was finished mixing it, and added a few drops of liquid food coloring to each little batch (they were the neon colors from the grocery store). The colors didn’t mix in well until I kneaded it…totally looked and felt like playdough!! The dough is quite stiff. You can roll out the dough right away with this recipe, which is nice. I did stick the colors I wasn’t rolling out into the fridge to wait.
Roll out the dough and start cutting circles! Use 2 slightly different sizes of circles. I used the 2 smallest cutters that I have from a set of circles that are plain on one end and scalloped on the other end. You can also use other small circular objects (clean) for making patterns in the buttons.Using a slightly smaller circle, press into one of the cut out cookies…but not hard enough to cut right through!For some of the buttons, I used a plastic communion cup to make an even smaller third circle…
Then use a drinking straw to punch out the holes in the middle of the button, either 2 or 4 for each button. I cut up a plastic straw into thirds, then used each side to punch out holes, since the straw gets full of dough. You can squeeze out the dough to reuse it (or eat it), but it flattens out the straw. I went though a handful of straws with the whole batch (three colors) of dough.It is quite easy to do, and doesn’t take too much time. You do have to eye-ball everything to get it centered up. I suppose you could make a paper pattern with circles punched in, then overlay it to punch the holes through the dough….that just sounds like way to much effort to me, though the results would be practically perfect!!Some of the cookies received a scalloped flower design….I really liked these ones!Bake those babies! I always use parchment paper to bake cookies, since I only have one cookie pan, so I fill a sheet of parchment while the other batch is baking. The colors in my photos are weird, I know, the cookies didn’t really change much when they baked…it’s my flash. Here are the baked cookies, they hardly spread at all and kept their shape very nicely!Hmmm, I forgot to count up how many cookies the batch of dough made….lots though!! We ate up the deformed ones of course, and some raw dough, and even so that left lots and lots of little buttons. I re-rolled the scraps several times, so some of the cookies look a bit cracked, but I was trying to get as many as I could from the batch. You could probably avoid that….
Now back to the “fancy” photos….The colors turned out quite well with minimum effort, I thought. The right shades of blue and pink can be hard to make, since sometimes the blue looks more aqua since there’s a lot of yellow in the butter and the egg yolks….good thing I wanted aqua!! I didn’t fuss with the pink, either, and even started dropping in purple food coloring by accident! I dug most of it out and then tried the pink coloring….it matched my color palette close enough!!
I did make quite a few flower-shaped buttons and poked indents around the edges, but these are some of my favorite designs, the simple ones:
May is almost here!! We just had 2 days of blowing snow…and finally this afternoon the sun burst out and is turning the snow to puddles.
Today I started thinking about May, since it begins tomorrow. In many countries of the world, tomorrow, May 1st is a holiday, but not here!! On the weekend there is el 5 de Mayo, which is another holiday also not around here! I’m late for holidays this year….but I did make some festive cookies today…kind of for May fiestas, but mostly for Lilaloa’s cookie challenge!!
The challenge is to think outside the box….or outside the cookie cutter shape! There is a diamond ring cookie cutter that is popular for engagement cookies, and Georganne over at Lilaloa has challenged everyone to make something different than a diamond ring, using that cutter. I confess that I have been thinking about it for a week (or more!) but just haven’t had the umph! to make anything, until today…inspired by the sunlight and the festiveness of May….I made some parrots. (I also happen to have been thinking that a parrot would be the perfect pet for our household. Years ago we had a green parrot and he had such a fun personality!! Ok, ok, lots of feathers everywhere….but he was my little baby….anyways…)
I’m liking the “1960’s filter” on these photos! The lighting is so awful in my house….I have to try and edit to try and get near the cookies’ original colors… I know I complain a lot about the lighting…really I’m just not a great photographer and never use Manual 🙂
Get ready to have a great May!!