Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Mail Art

...hope they like 'em...

   Just wanted to share with you three pieces of mail art that I have done for this month. I woulda done up a tut, but I forgot to stop and take pictures! It happens sometimes. Anyhoot, all of these went to players on ATC's For All. The first one I did is for Megan457.

I believe this is my first try at apples. I can't remember ever drawing them. My favorite apple is the one in the middle. I think that one came out the most realistic. I used color pencils and water soluble wax pastels. The address was written with a recollections pen. 

This second piece was done for Angelmuz.  She loves fairy tale themes. I have to admit, I cheated a little on this one. I took a vintage book page from the Wizard Of Oz and used it as my focal point. I did the flowers myself. I used color pencils, water soluble wax pastels and my Pentel Color Brush.

Last but not least is this water color that I did for Neener. It's a mug of coffee. The fact that I feel like I have to explain what it is, makes me think I could have done a better job! Hopefully, I can improve on it. I saw the idea on Pinterest and just had to give it a try. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thee Impressive Shortbread

...So versatile...

   One of my favorite cookies is the Shortbread. If you can get a basic can then dress them up in so many ways. This can come in handy for those of you that need to make a lot of cookies for several peeps, but don't have the time to make a bunch of different recipes. Let me show ya what I mean...

Here is a basic shortbread cookie that I scooped and baked. When the cookies are cool, I dipped it in white chocolate that I used a little bit of peppermint extract in. I also added a couple of drops of red food coloring.  I stuck some peppermint "Andes Candies" pieces to the top and lightly brushed some food grade shimmer. 

This is one's another....

Same basic scooped shortbread cookie. This time I dipped it in Dark Chocolate and sprinkled Sea Salt on top. (My fave!)

Again same basic cookie. I dipped it in white chocolate. Topped it with a Cranberry. Brushed it with the shimmer. (I love to shimmer everything!) Sorta makes them dramatic. :)

For the above cookie, I sometimes chop up a handful of dried Cranberries aka Craisins and add them to the dough. The pic below shows them before being baked, with the Cranberries included....

Okay, pictures speak volumes. These are just my could probably get carried away with even more cookie dress up ideas. Here is the basic Shortbread recipe that I follow. 

Basic Shortbread

1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted room temp butter.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (I use Kosher)

*You might notice that I use Kosher salt for all of my baking. Why do I use it instead of table salt? It more mild. The granules are bigger. When you eat these sweets, you can taste the little flecks of salt among the sweet. I think most can understand the idea of the sweet and savory appeal. :) 

Directions: With a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Mix until incorporated. (You're suppose to add the flour a little at a time while mixer is running, but I add it all at once with the salt. Then I turn my mixer on at it's slowest speed.) Mix until it forms a dough ball. You can take it out and give it a couple of hand kneads to combined it the rest of the way. Use a cookie scoop to make even sized cookies. Place them in a Tupperware and in to the fridge over night. When you're ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350F. Place your dough balls evenly spaced on a prepared cookie sheet. For non bakers a prepared cookie sheet just means that you placed parchment paper or silicone mats on your pans. Makes for easy clean up and prevents cookies from sticking. :) 
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until you see a light golden color at the bottom. Let them cool and have fun dressing them up!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Scooped Gingerbread!

...spices & everything nice...

    In the past I would do up cookies really fancy. Gingerbread cookies were always iced. However, my kids have requested so many cookies to give to their friends and sometimes teachers. I can no longer keep up! Most of my cookies are done with a cookie scoop. Here are my scooped Gingerbread...

I love that they look like scooped blobs of ice cream! These are with out icing. (My dad is a diabetic, so I tried to go easy with the sugar.) If I were to give these away, I would use a standard cookie icing and do a simple drizzle on top. :) 

Here are some cookies that I've done in the past...

I used the same recipe for the above cookies. I just rolled them out to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut the shapes out with a cookie cutter.

Here's the recipe that I use. I printed it out years ago from, under the title Gingerbread Men.


3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (I use Kosher salt)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg
2/3 cups unsulphured molasses


With a mixer (hand held or stand) cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Add the eggs and molasses and beat until combined. 
According to the recipe, in a separate bowl ,you are to combined all of the dry ingredients together. Then slowly add that to the wet ingredients while the mixer is on. Personally, I add it to the wet ingredients when the mixer is off. Flour first, then the salt and baking soda. I use the fact that the flour is white, to keep tract of the spices that I include. I put each spice in a neat pile a top the flour. I can easily see my additions. Then I start my mixer at it's slowest speed, working up to the next fastest.

Divide the dough in half. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. can roll the dough out like I mentioned above. Make sure you flour your surface first, before putting your dough down. ...or you can do what I did and use a cookie scoop. :)

I use parchment paper to line my pans. You can also use a silicone mat. Bake your cookies in a preheated 350F oven for 8-12 minutes. 

I wait for the cookies to cool on the pan for about a minute. ...and yeah, most peeps would use a cooling rack to cool their cookies. I simply lay out a long piece of foil on the counter to transfer my cookies then makes a good spot for icing.

I don't have a set recipe for icing. I normally use confectioner's sugar and a little water. I mix the two until I get a a thickness that can still move through a piping bag. :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Coconut Macaroons!

...'Tis the season to bake...

    My baking sessions have begun! I'm starting off with my parent's favorites. I made 4 different kinds of cookies and 8 batches! All together they looked like a small mountain of cookies! Here they are...

From left to right I have, Coconut Macaroons, Cranberry & White Chocolate, Gingerbread and Cranberry Shortbread. 

It's my first try with the Coconut Macaroons. They are SO easy to make! I found the recipe on Pinterest. it goes like this...

4 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
4 and 3/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut. (14 oz. package)

Preheat oven to 325F
Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or stand mixer, mix sugar,vanilla and eggs for 2-3 minutes. The mixture should look a little frothy. Add coconut and mix until coconut is completely coated. 

Use a cookie scoop to make mounds of the mixture. (I scooped up the mixture and used my hand to really compact the mound. You want it to be tight.) Gently release the mound to your prepared pan. I used my fingers to gather any loose pieces at the bottom of the mound. When you get them all down, bake them for 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking I turned the pan around to insure an even browning. 

Allow them to cool....then munch them up! Visit the site that I got the recipe from. She has more tips and info. Also many ways to fancy up the basic recipe. You can find it here at: