December 22, 2012

Cute Christmas Cookies (recipes and tutorial)

 I spent a day in my pajamas making these Christmas cookies, and I love how they turned out!  A while back, I tried making flow icing cookies and they looked o.k., but tasted not so great.  I used a different recipe this time , and they were delicious!  The flow icing technique is time consuming, but really fun!

 First, make the cookies using this recipe:

You don't need to refrigerate the dough for hours like it says, because you can use this cool trick...
 Roll out a circle of dough 1/4 in. thick between two sheets of wax paper and refrigerate for about 10-15 min.  Cut out cookies and bake.  I kept rotating new discs of dough to and from the fridge, and it went swimmingly.  This recipe is great because the cookies turn out smooth and flat for decorating.
Now the fun part!  I modified a recipe I found online to work a little better than the original.  Here it is...
Royal Icing

4 TBSP meringue powder
1 cup water (not quite filled to the top)
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine meringue powder and water.  Sift in powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add extract and corn syrup and mix on high for about 5 min.  It is ready when a stiff peak forms when lifting the beater out of the icing.  Color with gel food coloring if desired.  Put in squeeze bottle or pastry bag and use for outlining cookies.  The outline acts as a dam for the thinner icing you will use to "flood" the cookie. For filling in or flooding cookies, thin the icing with water a TBSP. at a time until it's the consistency of syrup.  A good test is to drizzle some from a spoon into the bowl of icing and it should  disappear in about 3 seconds.  Flood cookies and use a toothpick to help spread the icing. 

You can add decoration with another color of thinned flood icing.  If you decorate while the base color is still wet, you will get a smooth, flat finish like these.  If you prefer raised pattern, wait a few hours for the base to dry, then apply the details with the second color.  

Let the iced cookies dry overnight, or for several hours.  Once dry, they can be stacked without messing up the design.  This makes them easy to transport to parties, etc.  

Now EAT one or some because they are sooooooooooooooooooo yummy!

December 11, 2012

Shopping Tip

Just thought I'd share this fun little shopping tip I saw on a friend's blog since I can totally picture all of us doing this.  She says:

JCP's Christmas Buttons. Here's what you do: Go to every JCP cash register possible and ask for Christmas buttons. It's basically as awesome as trick-or-treating because at each register they give you 2 to a handful of adorable Christmas pins with a code on the back where you go online to enter for a chance win gift cards and other prizes. You can enter 2 per person a day and it's kind of fun and addicting because we've already won $70 dollars in gift cards in just two days!

I will say that I tried this and found that people here in California are far more stingy--no handfuls for me. But so far I've got $15 so it's worth a shot (plus now I have a bunch of cute pins that I don't know what to do with)! Also try to go at a time that's not very busy, because it's pretty awkward to stand in a line of people making actual purchases just to ask for some free buttons. Let me know how it goes!

December 4, 2012

Easiest Skirt EVER

One time I found this awkward-fitting, stretchy dress at a thrift store.

Then I chopped off the top 4 inches and had a new skirt.

Then I remembered that tight, horizontal stripes are not for the pear-shaped (hence the long sweater). But for those of you narrow-hipped ladies who probably have not yet given birth, go for it! 

P.s. If you don't happen to have a stretchy dress lying around, you could easily make this by tracing a pencil skirt you already have onto 2 layers of stretchy fabric and sewing up the sides.