Tag Archives: Christmas

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

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Here are two cute projects that you can still put together before Christmas.  I had one of these little button snowmen for years and have made and given away quite a few. They are cheerful on a lapel or collar and super easy to make.

I’ve been cooking and crafting and taking pictures but I haven’t been very good about getting blogs written and published. It is always a challenge during the holidays for me to 1.) Find the time to blog and 2.) Not post anything that is a gift for someone until I’ve given it to them.

For these little snowmen pins, you need two white buttons with one slightly larger than the other, a pin-back, hot glue, scissors, felt, and maybe some pipe cleaner.

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The pin-back needs to be long enough to back part of two buttons without showing above or below them. The silver ones in this picture, with the three holes, is 1 inch long and it works well for most snowmen.

Align the buttons, face down, on your work surface so the two holes on the top are horizontal for eyes and the two holes on the bottom button are vertical for buttons. Apply a small stripe of hot glue and quickly press the back of the pin-back into the glue. Remember that hot glue is very, very hot, so use care when adhering the pin-back. I glue the pin-back on so it is vertical with the clasp at the top.

The glue will likely squish out a bit, but the scarf will probably cover it up. Let the glue cool.  If you need to, remove any glue threads or blobs. Cut a thin strip of felt for the scarf, or use a length of pipe cleaner. Keeping the pin face down, open the clasp of the pin-back and  dot a drop of hot glue onto it, then quickly put the scarf down, a bit off-center.  Wrap it around to the front and use a little tiny bit of glue to keep it in place.

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For a top hat, cut out a rectangle, making it a bit wider than the head. Once you have a good size, trim off two corners to make the hat shape, and glue to button head. A red triangle and white pom-pom make a cute hat with the point of the triangle glued forward.

If your buttons have four holes, you can align the button for the head so one hole is covered by the hat and the other holes make two eyes and a nose, like the one in the top photo with the lighter green scarf. A four-hole button body looks like your snowman has a double-breasted jacket.

With an extensive button collection or somewhere to buy a nice variety of buttons, here are ornaments you can make from them.

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These are simply buttons stacked with a sturdy thread looped through them. For the snowman stack, I added a scarf made from felt and for the Christmas tree, a little star trims the top.

I hope your Christmas to-do list is nearly buttoned up.

Thanks for stopping  by.

 

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Salt Shaker Angel

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I am trying to focus on activities and holiday outings this year and spend less time (and money) shopping. As usual, I browse Pinterest for ideas and it’s where  I saw this cute recycled salt shaker angel made by Thuula at Thrifty Rebel Vintage.

With fingers crossed, I stop at the Goodwill and was very happy to snag a shaker for 99 cents. I then collected goodies from my craft supplies: beads, buttons, wooden head bead left from making clothespin doll ornaments, an ornament cap, paper, aluminum and copper tape, hot glue, glue pen, glitter and music-print scrapbook paper.

One of the angels Thuula made had a halo made from a key ring and I contemplated using wide gold ribbon for the wings, so don’t think my list of supplies is absolute.

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I unscrewed the top of the shaker and washed and dried it, then filled it with beads, buttons and a few glittery pom-poms. An ornament cap, left when a glass ball broke, made a lacy gold collar, which I hot-glued to the top of the glass salt shaker.

Although I have some old sheet music, I was glad to find a page of scrapbook paper with a music design. The old sheet music was too fragile to use in this project. I cut two wing shapes, one smaller than the other, than folded them accordion style. A glue pen and glitter added some sparkle to the wings and hot glue adhered them to the back of the angel.

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Fine-tipped markers worked on the wooden bead head to draw a simple face, and a double layer of card stock circles covered in triangles of aluminum and copper tape was hot-glued in place as a halo.

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A unique little angel for a friend who has a special place in her heart for all-things-angelic.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Little Paper Houses

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When it comes down to it, I’m a big homebody.  I enjoy the warmth and simple pleasures of home.  I haven’t traveled that much but loved it when I did, but I also am very happy to come home. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to these sweet Little Paper Houses, and my recent Art Journal: Home page.

I made these for my mom for Christmas.  I know it’s it’s a little late but these are too cute not to share. They have battery operated votive lights inside so they are really house-shaped Luminaries.

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I saw them on Cathe Holden’s fabulous site Just Something I Made. She has several variations, but these ones with vintage-style paper and button embellishments were what caught my eye.

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I enjoyed changing things up a little bit by using different paper for the walls and roofs, cutting different windows and doors and using different embellishments.

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I found another site (Little Glitter Houses) that had a pattern for a steeple.  The first one I made for a friend was a little bit too large in scale for the rest of the building.  I also cut the slot for the roof a bit too wide so the steeple was a little wobbly.  Luckily it was only made of paper so it wouldn’t have hurt anyone in the case of an earthquake.

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I scaled it down a little and my second church worked out better.  I still think there’s room for improvement but for now I’m finished with paper house construction.

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Little clips on the roof of each house come off to give access to the votive light.  I included embellishments on the back of the buildings as well.

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My initial trial didn’t work out because I made the mistake of using double-sided paper.  Unfortunately, it hadn’t occurred to me that when you put a light inside, both sides of the paper would show through.  But I’m very happy with these completed Little Paper Houses.  I’m also content to be at home, crafting and writing blog posts about it.

Thank you for coming over to see my post.

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O Henry Bars (Two Ways)

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I saw these bars mentioned on a friend’s Facebook status.  Andy had baked a batch using her friend Leanne’s recipe which turned out to be the recipe of Leanne’s cousin, Megan! It is an oatmeal bar topped with a combination of peanut butter and chocolate. They are pretty easy to make and they are delicious.  The recipe looked like the best one of many I saw online and once I made a batch I didn’t need to try any others.

They would make a wonderful, sweet Valentine for someone special.  The first time I cut them into average brownie-sized bars and when I made them again, I cut them smaller, more like a piece of fudge.  They’re very rich and the small size makes them less guilt-inducing.  I also put them in candy papers for giving.

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Rem and I make holiday treats for our neighbors after Christmas and one family is vegan. I read a few articles and blog posts about replacing butter with an equal measure of extra virgin coconut oil. By subbing coconut oil for the butter, this recipe worked beautifully.  The oil adds a mild coconut flavor that works well with the other ingredients.  I found organic, extra virgin coconut oil at Trader Joe’s.

Here is my slightly adapted recipe:

O Henry Bars

Ingredients

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Bars:

2/3 cup softened butter * (1 stick + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup (I had light corn syrup in the cupboard and used it, but I think dark corn syrup would work fine too)

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 cups rolled oats (I’ve made it successfully with quick oats)

Topping:

6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt, optional (I use unsalted peanut butter and thought the salt helped balance the sweetness in the bar)

* You can substitute 2/3 cup of extra virgin coconut oil for the butter.

Directions:

Set oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugar until well-combined and creamy.  Beat in corn syrup and vanilla.

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Stir in oats.

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Press mixture into a well-buttered (or sprayed with non-stick spray) baking dish.  I used a glass 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish but it could be a little larger and still work, just watch the baking time because it will be thinner.

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Bake 12 to 15 minutes – err on the side of underdone rather than overdone.  I found that I slightly over-baked the pan with the coconut oil and they were a real challenge to get out of the pan.  Delicious but I learned that I should have taken them from the oven sooner.

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This picture is the butter version and it looks a little gooey and soft still.  The coconut oil version was more toasty and dry looking.

Let bars cool in baking dish.

Once they’re cooled, make the topping: in a medium/small, microwave-safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter, and salt, if using.

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Heat on high in microwave for 1 minute, remove from microwave and stir.

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Continue to heat for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate and peanut butter are melted and you can stir them together into a smooth mixture.

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Spread chocolate-peanut butter mixture on oat bars.

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Chill until set before cutting.

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Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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12 Ideas for Christmas

Clothespin Doll Elves

Here are links to 12 past posts I’ve written with some of my favorite (Christmas) things. No girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but recipes, gift ideas, ornaments, a card and wrapping paper you can make.

These Glass Tile Pendants use beautiful scraps of paper.  A link to an Etsy site has beautiful tiles, jewelry bails (the little loop), glaze and chains.

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Another necklace idea are these Hand Stamped Washer Pendants.  I gave them out last year and still love and wear the one I made for myself.

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Ornaments are some of my favorite gifts to make and these are some of my favorite ornaments.

Vellum Ornaments are like miniature works of stained glass made with vellum paper, stickers, colored markers and stick on jewels.

Since I said I was going to share 12 things, I’m not going to give you the link, but if you click on the link for the Vellum Ornaments, you can go to the next post and find Easy Paper Heart Ornaments for a simpler project.

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Last year I made a whole bunch of these Little Clothespin Doll Ornaments.  They are really fun to make and I really enjoyed the details that gave each little doll her character.

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If you like to make your wrapping extra special, here are two ideas.

First is Vegetable Printed Wrapping Paper.  It is really easy and looks great.

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This is a way of scrunching tissue paper while wrapping for a ruched effect.  Take a look at  Scrunched Tissue Paper Wrapping to see how to do it yourself and also how to make the tissue paper roses.

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I used to make and send LOADS of Christmas cards.  It started to feel like a chore that I no longer enjoyed.  After a few years of sending no cards, I make a handful and I’m happier.

This is the card I made two years ago.  The Half Circle Christmas Tree (or Angel) Card is made using two-sided paper and embellishments.  It’s a fairly easy technique and the results are really cute.  Do the same fold and make it into an angel.

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Always popular are food gifts.  I made this easy and delicious Infused Oil after receiving some as a gift myself and I decided to reuse the bottle.

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How about a gift of fudge or truffles?  This Chocolate Nutella Fudge & Truffles recipe makes creamy and delicious treats.

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Christmas Crunch is a sweet salty combination of cereal, M&M’s, pretzels, nuts and melted white and peanut butter morsels.  Make a batch for a party or potluck.

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These Cheese Wafers are a big hit.  My niece, Caitlin, often requests I bring them to our family Christmas Eve party.  They’re made just like drop cookies but are loaded with sharp cheddar cheese, butter, Rice Krispies and a little flour.

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My twelfth and final Christmas idea is the ever-popular and oh-so-delicious Cracker Toffee made with Saltines, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips and pecans or almonds.  I LOVE this stuff.

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I would be delighted to hear if you use any of these crafts or recipes this Christmas.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Clothespin Doll Ornaments

Two Elves

Belated Christmas greetings to one and all!  I’ve been a busy elf, crafting these cute little clothespin doll ornaments and I didn’t want to share them before the holiday because they were all gifts.

To be honest, I’ve also been using up all my discretionary time on Christmas projects: these ornaments, a bit of cooking, a little shopping, another craft project (washer necklaces – I’ll show you those another day soon) and wrapping, mailing, and tagging of gifts.  I’m sorry that I really haven’t had time to catch up with you here.

Santa Lucia (dark hair)

The awesome  Once Around, a craft shop in Mill Valley, offers free, weekly, drop-in workshops.  Earlier in December, I had a delightful Tuesday evening at “Craft Gym” making Santa Lucia clothespin dolls.  I went online before the class and found lots of cute pictures on Pinterest, like this one and this one.

A wonderful bonus to the craft gathering was seeing a friend from grade school, Victoria Murphy, née Thomas, and her sister, Phoenicia.  So not only did I get a free class, some craft-shopping time and a fun evening, but I had a nice visit with old friends.

Mrs. Claus

The store is a well-stocked with beautiful arts and craft supplies, and it is always a pleasure to visit and browse.  Here are some pictures are from a previous visit.  As you can imagine, I’m like the proverbial kid in a candy store!

Ribbon PunchesRubber StampsOil Pastels

Yarn Card Stock & Envelopes

Once Around has a “Do-Dads” section with jars of little goodies like tiny shells, miniature candy canes, sequins, itty-bitty baskets,  little jingle-bells, buttons and bows which were perfect for this project.

Do-dads

Little Doodads

The clothespin dolls (also called peg dolls or clothespeg dolls) are fun to make.  I like how small they are and how each little detail can really add character and personality to the finished dolls.

Striped Socks

Striped socks and buckled Mary-Jane shoes and a little basket for Little Red Riding Hood.

Red Riding Hood

Music for the caroler

Tiny sheet music made from washi tape for the caroler.

Caroler

Candle Wreath

Toothpick candles and embroidery floss braids for Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia

Another aspect that amps up the adorable factor of these dolls is their big heads.  I’ve made clothespin ornaments before and found the small head of the clothespin to be a little unsatisfactory.  When I saw dolls with the wooden bead added for the head, I knew that was the way I wanted to do it.

Clothespin Doll Supplies

The dolls are pretty simply: old-fashioned wooden clothespins (I prefer the one that is flat at the end, but the pointed-end ones also work and look great for some of the designs), wooden head bead, pipe cleaners for the arms and paint for the facial features and hair.  I first grabbed some paint at the dollar store because I was short on both time and brains. Don’t waste your time on dollar store paint.  It looked almost the same as these paints, similar containers and all, but the paint was thick and gloppy and had very little pigment.  It was very frustrating and wasted my time and money (yes, only a dollar, but still).

By the way, I couldn’t find the heads in local shops and ordered them from Clickety Clack Collectibles on Etsy.  These are the dimensions: 1-1/4 inches in diameter with a 19/32 inch hole x 5/8 inch deep.  There are little wooden stands that I’m going to buy too but for these I used a small screw eye screwed into the top of the head so I could attach an ornament hook.

I work on the dolls in stages – use some folded tape on a clothespin to attach a head so you can paint the face and hair.

Tape on clothespin head

Head attached with tape for painting

A round toothpick dipped into paint is a perfect tool for dotting on the eyes.

Round toothpick into the paint

Dot on the paint for eyes

After painting the mouth and cheeks with a very small brush, I set the peg to dry on the edge of a glass.

Drying on the edge of a glass

Most of the time I painted the hair on.  I started with a darker color and then added detail with both lighter and darker colors.  For a few of the dolls I glued on a bun or ponytail from embroidery floss, pipe cleaner or felt.

Painted Hair plus ponytail

Mrs. Claus with Felt Bun

With Mrs. Claus I started with all-white hair and added a few details with grey.  Her bun is made from narrow strips of white felt, braided then glued into place with hot glue.

The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly but you don’t want to mess it up, so while the hair is drying, I start working on the body.  Sometimes I paint  the whole peg and sometimes I paint the feet and sometimes I don’t paint it at all. Don’t glue the head on to the body until the clothing is completely done because it will be in the way and make it difficult to get the clothes on the body.

After the body paint is dry, take a pipe-cleaner and, with the peg aligned so the space is centered between the legs in front, wrap the pipe-cleaner from the front, twist tightly in back and bring the two arms around to the front. I like the arms right up at the top of the cylindrical portion before it narrows to the neck. Use craft scissors (not your good fabric ones) to trim the ends to a good arm length, leaving enough extra to bend little hands. I use more than half a pipe-cleaner for one pair of doll arms.

If you aren’t paying attention, you might end up with the legs and body out of alignment.  Some of my little sweeties ended up that way, but I decided not to sweat it.

Ladybug

Felt is great for clothing because it doesn’t fray. But I also bought “fat quarters,” quarter yards of fabric sold for quilting and other projects, and used pinking shears to cut out circles for the skirts and triangles for headscarves and shawls.  A scrap of eyelet lace trim makes an apron.

Babushka with a pot

Babushka with basket

Using colored pipe-cleaners to match the felt tops made sleeves for my little cardigans and jackets.  The little dog walker has felt mittens and pipe-cleaner ear muffs (not to mention a pipe-cleaner dachshund).

Dog Walker

Miriam Elf

I also made little sleeves of felt or lace for some of them.  The sleeves were cones or tubes that I glued on individually after putting on the bodice.

Angel

Skier with mirror sunglasses

Pink & Green Girl with bird

Rosie the Riveter

For Rosie the Riveter, the sleeves had rolled cuffs and I pushed the tube sleeve back and glued it in place.

For skirts, trace a circle on your fabric using a lid of a Tupperware container or something similar.  You’ll have to experiment to learn what size circle for what length skirt.  Cut into the circle from the edge to the center and cut out a small inner circle for the waist.  A larger inside circle made for more gathers in the skirt.

If you know me, you know that I really don’t sew.  I grew up with my mom and two sisters all very talented in that department, and I never had the knack (nor patience) for sewing. But for this project I got out my little Ziploc bag sewing kit, threaded a needle and ran small stitches around the waist of each little skirt.  Lay the doll down on the skirt and tie the thread tightly around her waist. I dabbed some glue (sometimes hot glue, sometimes Ailene’s Tacky Glue) where the skirt overlapped in back.

The rest of the clothing was made from snipping, folding and gluing with hot glue. When working on collars and necklines I would try on the head to check scale and once the clothing was finished, I used hot glue to attached the head.

In one instance, the clothing was more minimal.

Mermaid

A little felt for the tail fins, a tiny scrap of fabric for the top and lots of sequins created a beautiful mermaid.

After making about 18 of these little ornament, I’m still enjoying it and coming up with more ideas.  Once I get stands, I’ll make some that can stand on their own.  It’s been a real pleasure thinking up the right doll for each person and crafting each one with that person in mind.

Box of Clothespin Doll Ornaments

Looking at this box of dolls I’m reminded of “It’s a Small World,” and as the song says, it’s a world of laughter, a world of tears.  I experienced both this Christmas.

Thank you for your visit. Wishing you all the very best for a happy, healthy New Year!

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Gingerbread Christmas

Gingerbread Cottage

Getting ready for Christmas is always a hectic time for me.  I want to make gifts for my family and friends.  Rem takes care of most of the decorating of the apartment but there are always more gifts to be crafted, cookies to bake, cards and packages to send and stocking stuffers to buy.

This year at work, Friday the 22nd was the last day of finals as well as the last day to finish packing up my office before moving to a new building during our Winter holiday.  In the midst of this busy time I caught a cold.  It was, needless to say, inconvenient.

Slowing down was the obvious answer and really the only solution for me.  I wasn’t going to get everything done and it didn’t really matter.

One thing I kept on my to-do list was a visit to Creekside Bakery in Novato to see their beautiful gingerbread cabin.

Front Porch of Gingerbread Cabin

This bakery, tucked into a shopping center, make a gingerbread structure every Christmas, but this was the first one we’d seen. A gingerbread man holds open the door on the front porch, welcoming one and all into the rustic cabin.

The following photo is pretty dark, but it gives you an idea of how big the gingerbread cabin is.

Rem for scale

We went on Sunday in the pouring rain.  We sat down with hot chocolate  and a ginger-pear scone (me) and coffee and bear claw (him).

Pear-Ginger Scone with Hot Chocolate

Coffee & a Bearclaw

The pastries were still warm.  I didn’t stop to take a picture before I started eating and sipping.  The whipped cream was not from an aerosol can.

They really get into Christmas at Creekside Bakery.

Jazz Cats in Santa Hats

From the wall mural of Jazz greats in Santa hats (cats in hats?) to the little village on a side counter.

Village I

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Which, by the way, I think I could have lived in happily if only I were a bit smaller.  With a small bakery, miniature pub, bookstore, school, bank, quilt shop (surely they supply a few other craft supplies there too) and more, it was a lovely arrangement.

A Christmas tree in the corner was decorated with ornaments of cups of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries painted in mouth-watering detail.

Bakery Christmas Tree

In addition to a case full of freshly baked pastries, the cookies included gingerbread and iced sugar cookies.  I love the muffler-wearing polar bear and the gingerbread men with frowns amidst their smiling brothers.

Iced Cookies

Gingerbread

The piece de resistance was the gingerbread cabin.

Cabin Interior

I didn’t get a good picture of the potbellied wood burning stove in the other corner but please note the little pink ham in the small yellow oven, all made from fondant.  The tiny ham is even studded with cloves!

Back Door with Wood Logs

The whole setting is formed out of Rice Krispie-marshmallow hillocks with fondant-covered boulders coming through the snow.  Gingerbread log and post fencing surrounds the property and a small deck is on one side. Little logs of rye bread sticks are stacked outside the cabin ready to bring inside, and an owl sits in a tree nearby.

We were inspired to go home and bake.  We made simple but delicious Spice Cookies, a favorite recipe I got from my sister.  I asked her where she got it and she thought it was out of a magazine years ago.

I know most of us are cookied-out around now but at least bookmark this recipe for next year when things are just starting to get crazy.  I found that rolling and cutting out cookies is relaxing for me, and the delicious way the house smells during the baking make this an activity I want to keep on my list.

Spice Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. orange zest (zest from one large orange)

2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup (we used light because we had it – dark would provide a richer color and more pronounced flavor to the finished cookies)

1 Tbsp water

3 1/4 cups flour (+ additional flour for rolling out cookies)

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cloves

Optional:

Sanding Sugar or other decorative sugar for sprinkling on cookies before baking.

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy.

Add egg, orange zest, corn syrup and water and beat until combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.

Add flour mixture to sugar and butter mixture and mix until combined.  If using a hand mixer, you will probably need to save your mixer at the end and stir by hand.

Press dough into a ball, put in a plastic bag, and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Set oven to 350F.

A portion at a time, roll dough out on lightly floured board, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

Cut with cookie-cutters and place on parchment paper covered baking sheets or lightly greased baking sheets.  We used nonstick spray.

Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool for a minute or two on baking sheet before removing to a rack to finish cooling.  If they sit too long on the baking sheet, they tend to stick.

Roll and cut the remaining dough – reroll scraps until all dough is used up and bake as above.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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