Sunday, December 21, 2008

More cookies and cards

This weekend I baked almost 12 dozen cookies and I'm exhausted! I was really in the mood to bake this year and try out some new recipes. But I cannot possibly eat so many cookies on my own, so I decided to make up cookie bags for the people in my department at work. I ordered the small window coffee bags from Papertrey and used the Papertrey set Holiday Treats to decorate the bags with SU Night of Navy and Close to Cocoa ink. Each one has 4 butter toffee cookies, 4 peanut butter blossoms, 3 bon bon cookies, and 2 iced gingerbread people - one boy and one girl.

I've got two more Christmas cards to share - one that's more elegant and one that's just fun. They're both clean and simple designs, which seems to be the only style I can come up with lately! The first card uses PTI white as the base. The image is from A Muse and is colored with a silver sakura gel pen and SU markers. The sentiment is from the PTI set Take a Bough. I used Marvy punches for the circle and scallop circle and a white gel pen to dot the scallops. Clear gemstones act as headlights and the stitched ribbon "road" is PTI Pure Poppy.

On the second card I also used PTI white for the base and image piece, SU Brushed Silver for the strip, and PTI Pure Poppy for the border. The image is from a Basic Grey clear set I bought last year and is stamped in Encore silver ink. The berries on the wreath were dotted with a red sakura gel pen and I used a paper piercing tool to create a border for the image. The sentiment is from Lizzie Anne Designs and was stamped in PTI Pure Poppy.

This will likely be my last post until after Christmas as I spend the next few days finishing up holiday preparations and then spending time with family and friends. I hope you all have a safe, warm, and very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I love the Believe set from Papertrey Ink. I never scooped it up last year when it first came out, but this year I just couldn't resist and have really enjoyed playing with it! This Santa is especially fun, because you can paper piece it (kind of a pain to do, but really cute!) or color it as I did on the second card. And the set comes with all kinds of things for him to hold - the star and heart you see here, plus lots more!

Both of these cards use PTI white cardstock, Palette Noir ink, Encore gold ink, PTI gold ribbon, and liquid applique for the trim on Santa's outfit.

I used paper from last year's BasicGrey Figgy Pudding line for Santa's robe on the first card and SU's Real Red marker to color the second card. I used my R02 (Flesh) Copic for the faces and a gold paint pen to fill in the heart on card #2. I think that's it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cards and Some Cookies

I am typically not a gold person. I wear only silver jewelry, have different silvery tones (chrome, nickel) for lamps, curtain rods, hardware, etc. in my house. Even my car is silver! But there's something about Christmas that makes gold seem to work so well and I really love how both of these cards turned out.

For the first card, I used the ornament cuttlebug folder on SU's brushed gold cardstock and flipped it over so that the front of the card was debossed rather than embossed. That was mounted on PTI Pure Poppy cardstock, as was the sentiment panel. The sentiment is from Lizzie Anne Designs and is stamped in Pure Poppy ink. I used gold stickles to trace around the white sentiment panel, and finished off the card with Pure Poppy twill. Quick, easy, and I think pretty elegant.

For this 4.25" x 4.25" card, I used SU brushed gold as the base. I then created poinsettias (my favorite holiday motiff!) using white shimmery flowers from the bridal section of Michael's. I just pressed them onto my SU Real Red ink pad and, while they were laying on the ink pad, added a few drops of reinker to really saturate the flowers and get a deeper red. I put two flowers together with a gold brad in the center and adhered them with mini glue dots to the card base. The sentiment here is again from Lizzie Anne Designs, stamped with Palette Noir.

And finally I thought I'd show you the peanut butter blossoms for which I made the dough over the weekend. Try to look past my less than desirable photography skills, poor lighting, and reflective chrome plate! The Recipe Girl herself saw on my blog the other day that I was going to make these cookies and suggested that I roll them in red and green sugar rather than regular white granulated sugar for a more festive look. Duh! I don't know why I didn't think of that myself! But then I guess that's why she's called The Recipe Girl and I'm just The Girl Who Likes to Drool Over Her Recipes! The colored sugars do make for a more festive holiday cookie, and I swear they actually are red and green, not radioactive pink and green!

I still have so much to do in the next few days. I went from being totally relaxed because my family is not really exchanging much in the way of gifts this year to kicking myself for being so relaxed and leaving my homemade projects to the last minute. I have two scrapbooks that I need to finish that I'm making as gifts for friends of mine who went to Disney World with me in April (I've only had 8 months to work on them!!), some Christmas cards to finish and mail out, a mini scrapbook to make for another friend of mine, stocking stuffers for my mom, 4 more kinds of Christmas cookies, and gift packaging for all the cookies! And yet the motivation doesn't seem to be with me. Instead of being productive tonight, I sat on my couch, admired my Christmas tree, and ate peanut butter blossoms while I watched the new Muppet Christmas special. Then I watched the 2008 White House Christmas special. And now I'm sitting here typing about all I have to do instead of doing it! Will I never learn?!

Hope you're all being a lot more productive than I am!

Monday, December 15, 2008


...are not just for birthdays anymore!
Let me first apologize for these horrible pictures. I of course did not check the pictures before mailing the cards out, so I didn't realize how unclear they are, especially the first and third ones. And the sentiment on the first one is barely visible in the photo, but was stamped in Encore silver ink using the Lizzie Anne Designs sentiment "Have yourself a merry little Christmas".

All of the cards feature the cupcake tier from the Impression Obsession cupcake set as the main focal image. All ribbons are from Papertrey Ink and all cardstock is as well, except for the shimmery cardstock. That is SU's Shimmer White. The cupcakes were all colored with a combination of SU markers, spica glitter pens, and sakura glitter gel pens. Liquid pearls added finishing touches here and there.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

...or at least what Christmas would look like if it exploded in my kitchen! I make such a mess when I'm baking. This picture doesn't even show the half of it, or the flour all over my floor! It's so much fun though, except when I knock over an almost full bottle of vanilla and it spills all over my recipe...

I started off the night making peppermint bark using this recipe from I didn't take a picture of my bark because, due to my impatience, I didn't wait until the second layer fully hardened. As a result, the minute I poured the warm melted white chocolate over the top, the middle layer began melting, so the top of my bark has a swirled effect that is much less pretty than it should be. But it still tastes phenomenal and really is so easy if you just wait the amount of time suggested for each layer. I'd even suggest putting the pan in the freezer rather than the fridge to make sure the layers really do harden up properly. A little side note: I had no idea how much 6 oz. of peppermint was in terms of candy canes. I crushed up 4 and it seems to have been the perfect amount.

Then I made a batch of gingerbread dough using this recipe on my friend Tammi's blog. I was going to make a double batch, but this is the first time I've made gingerbread cookie dough from scratch and in case I messed it up, I didn't want to have a ton of dough. It was super easy to make, so I can always whip up another batch later in the week. I shaped the dough into a log and put it in my freezer until I'm ready to make the cookies in the next few days.

I finished up this evening's endeavors with a double batch of dough for Peanut Butter Blossoms. My best friend's mom has made these for years and I finally got the recipe from her. I've tried other versions of this cookie, but hers is always the best! She said the dough freezes really well (and actually the baked cookies do as well) so I've got two logs of this dough in my freezer. Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Blossoms
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
3 Tbl more sugar
36 chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Put margarine, peanut butter, ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg into a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium until smooth and creamy.
Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder together, and mix into creamed ingredients. Cover w/plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper or silicone mats.
Put the 3 T of sugar in a plastic bag.
Shape the dough into balls the size of walnuts in the shell. Shake three balls at a time in the bag of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake 8 minutes. Put a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie and press down gently. Continue baking 2-4 minutes, or until chocolate has melted down a little.
Remove cookies with a spatula and cool on a cooling rack. (I let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet a little before removing to a cooling rack, or they fall apart sometimes.)

I'm going to make half the cookies with Hershey Kisses and half with milk chocolate Dove Promises just to compare. Dove is my most favorite chocolate, so I have a feeling they'll be pretty darn good!

I've got a bunch of Christmas cards to share and will do that over the next few days, so check back! For now, my feet and legs are tired from my evening in the kitchen, and it's after 10pm and I haven't eaten dinner yet, so I think I'll go curl up on the couch with some food and watch the end of It's a Wonderful Life on TV. I love this time of year!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cheese Balls

Cheese balls are, to me, a very holidayish food. I've never made one before, but this past week I had a few occasions for which I needed to make an appetizer and a dessert. I experimented with both a savory and a sweet version and both turned out very well if I do say so myself! I didn't take pictures of either of them, but thought I'd share the recipes in case you happen to be in need of some new ideas this season.

Tammy's Tempting Cheese Ball
1 (1 ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
5 ounces roasted, salted almonds, chopped (I omitted)

If you want to see the actual directions, click on the link above. I didn't follow them. I am lazy, so I just threw everything into my food processor at once rather than mixing particular ingredients together and whatnot. It turned out nice and evenly mixed, so I'd recommend going that route if you have a food processor. This made quite a large batch, so I separated it into two balls and wrapped each in saran wrap. I made this the night before it was needed so the flavors had more time to blend and so the balls could set up properly. As noted, I did not roll the balls in chopped almonds. I do not like almonds, so I wasn't going to taint perfectly good cheese with some icky nuts. And I didn't miss them, nor did my friends who came over last night. We had the whole ball eaten in about 10 minutes flat. :-) I served these with Wheat Thins and Triscuits, but any cracker would do. Or even vegetable sticks I suppose, though I would never.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (omitted)

Again, I just threw all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into my food processor to mix everything up. Then I just stirred the chocolate chips in by hand. As with the savory cheese ball, I spooned it onto plastic wrap, shaped it into a ball, and allowed to chill overnight. Mine was a little softer than I think it should have been, I think because when "softening" the butter in the microwave I got carried away and partially melted it. If I wasn't so lazy, I would have added a little more powdered sugar to firm it up, but I didn't care enough to bother. I did not roll my ball in pecans as the recipe suggests because, again, that would have ruined the recipe for me. I served this with those holiday cookies that Keebler comes out with this time of year - the gingerbread men and those Jingles cookies - but graham crackers, chocolate wafers, or whatever other kind of cookie you like would be just fine.