If everything goes according to plan, then by the time you are reading this post, I’ll be in sunny Florida, living vicariously through my kids as they take in all the magic of Disney!
In preparation for this family vacation, my kitchen and I worked some serious overtime! I wanted to be sure to bring you this recipe today, because Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays (naturally ), and y’all know how much I love to give a home-baked gift.
This one’s gonna be short and sweet, 1) because I have made macarons so many times before on this blog (scroll down and you’ll see), and 2) because I’m trying to pack up a family of four for a week in Florida, people!
The idea is simple: when I think of Mothers Day, I think of mimosas! I’m not sure how it came to be, but in my family, it’s tradition to head out for brunch. I don’t make a habit of imbibing before lunch on any other day of the year, but for some reason on Mothers Day I feel like I have a free pass to get looped on o.j. and champagne….!
In an effort to increase that loving feeling that is just so needed in this complicated world, I’ve been spending more time lately doing crafty stuff with the kids, for two reasons:
1. Cold weekends are a huge catalyst for cabin fever, (kids bouncing off walls, making mischief). Crafts contain the mess to one room, and give the kids something to do for at least an hour.
2. Crafty time forces me away from the distractions of the computer, to spend quality time with the kids, really joke around and talk to them, give each other compliments, etc. It’s good old fashioned family time, something that’s too easy to forget to do when you’re busy working hard to get things accomplished all the time.
So, this weekend we decided to make some of the pretty white DIY ornaments that I’ve been seeing around Pinterest lately. These are so much freaking fun to make. One of the main ingredients is corn starch, and I don’t know if you’ve ever made oobleck, but if you have, you know that corn starch is seriously awesome to play with.
While I mixed up the dough, I just gave Brooke a plate of it to dip her hands in, and she loved it! It’s got such a groovy, smooth texture, and it feels cold. She preferred to to call it corn syrup, and said it feels like metal. OK.
Brooke wanted to wear a crazy scarf around her head. I think it gave her a certain, mushroomy quality!
Stir ingredients together over medium-low heat until the dough thickens up. You’ll know it’s ready to remove from the heat when it’s the texture of soft play-doh. Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit before kneading it out.
You can sculpt it, roll it and cut it with cookie cutters, make thumbprints, handprints footprints. Use the end of a paintbrush to poke a hole for hanging on the tree.
To dry the ornaments, place them on a pizza stone or on a pan covered in parchment paper, then cook in a 175 degree oven until they feel hard. Basically you don’t want to take them out until they feel hard and brittle. If there’s any softness, keep them in there. For thicker ornaments, this could be up to 2 hours. Thinner ornaments harden up in about an hour.
This dough is SO fun to play with (again, cornstarch is awesome). It’s easy to roll out, is extremely smooth, and stays VERY white. The finished ornaments almost look a little sparkly, like snow. It’s lovely.
We made the cute little mitten ornaments we saw on My Buddies and I, and we also did some fun stuff with cookie cutters. Brooke had a cool idea to layer 3 thin stars together, and it created a cool effect.
I used the last remnants of the dough to make some simple little thumprint ornaments, because I need some smaller, filler ornaments to sprinkle throughout the tree.
This was such an amazingly fun project for us, and I’m pretty excited to make more of these really soon. This could just be a year-round kind of project for us.
I know you just love ‘em, in all their sweet, marshmallowy, melt-in-your-mouth glory:
I initially started experimenting with French Macarons as part of a series I created for YinMom YangMom on 2012 Food Trends for the Home Cook. French Macarons were predicted to be a huge trend this year, and if the search terms leading people to this blog are any indicator, then I’d say that prediction was right on the money!
For today’s macaron adventure, I’ve decided to show you a recipe that makes a perfect homemade gift. ‘Tis the season, right? We all want a little chocolate splurge at this time of year, and the addition of some warm spice makes these just perfect for the holidays!
Macarons are so special because they aren’t the sort of thing that everybody goes around making. Besides being trendy, they also have that little bit of European mystique surrounding them. They are adaptable to so many different flavors, (and colors, so they are also beautiful to look at!) but they can be a little tricky to make, so I’m here to make it super simple and foolproof for you. Why not let’s just make this an in-depth tutorial for all the macaron maniacs out there?
I’m also going to show you my measuring method, which results in the least possible amount of dirty bowls in your sink. With all the weighing, sifting, and mixing, macarons have the potential of leaving your kitchen looking like a hurricane just blew through if you aren’t judicious about your dishes (I swear I didn’t mean to do that!).
And finally, I’m including links to purchase all of the special equipment and ingredients you will need, so you can grow up to be just like me Just click the links and set yourself up for macaron success!
Evidently, somehow, it is December now. (?!?!) Just the other day I was teaching my kids how to use the slip ‘n slide in the backyard, so I really don’t understand how this happened. However, I have confirmed it with several sources, that it is, now, in fact, December the first, and that means there are just 24 days until Christmas, and only eight more days until Hanukkah.
We gotta get our butts in gear, friends.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life who deserve nice gifts at this time of year. It can get a little overwhelming sometimes, choosing and shopping for everyone’s gift, trying to make it personal, and working it into the budget. One thing I really like to do is try to make homemade gifts, because by their very nature, they are more personal, and unique, and as a nice bonus, they are often more affordable.
Spoiler Alert (for the five most important men in my life)!
I begin by chopping the apples and putting them into a large pitcher with a lid. I also add in the cinnamon sticks and ground nutmeg.
Then, I open the bottles of bourbon and pour them over the apples and spices.
Put the lid on the pitcher and let that sit, at room temperature, for four days.
While the bourbon is infusing, I use Goo-Gone to remove the original labels from the bottles.
This stuff works miracles. You can buy it in my shop.
Just spray it on the label and let it sit for ten minutes or so. The labels just scrape right off, no sticky residue.
Clean the bottles with hot, soapy water, or in the dishwasher.
You can also print and cut out these nifty labels!
After the bourbon has had it’s four-day long nap, place a funnel in the neck of the clean, original bourbon bottle. Place a fine mesh strainer over the funnel, and pour the infused bourbon through, discarding the solids. Add 2 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar to each bottle, and replace the cork topper.
Mist the backs of the labels with spray adhesive and adhere them to the bottles.
These can keep in the fridge for up to two months!
I plan on giving them along with a six-pack of artisinal ginger ale, for a delicious and festive winter cocktail!
Do you like to receive a homemade gift? Do you like to make them and give them? What kinds of homemade gifts will you be making this year? I have some other ideas up my sleeve, you can check them out on my Homemade Gifts Pinterest Board. Be sure to also check out all the fabulous gift ideas in the Homemade Gifts Category of this blog. Let me know what you think!
Anyone who knows me or who follows this blog will tell you that one of my quirks/traits/flaws is that I tend to bounce around (a bit obsessively) from project to project. As the school year has been drawing to a close, I’ve had my eye out for a cute, thoughtful, homemade gift I could give to all the teachers who have been such a huge part of my family’s life over the last nine or so months.
I ended up combining a couple of ideas I found (pinterest, of course) for these adorable iced cookies.
Despite my effort to stop, I can’t help but keep thinking about the starving children in the world.
My little girl asked for a Lalaloopsy doll for Christmas. She also asked for about 100 other things, so it was a little difficult to weed through it all and get her the things that she’d really love the most. We don’t go overly crazy at Christmastime, I try to keep it at around 5 or six presents each, which for some may be a lot, but compared to my Christmas’s growing up, is relatively small. I figure they’re so young, they get overwhelmed with too many things, and then it’s money and clutter for us.
So, I opted not to buy Lalaloopsy this year, because I only heard her mention it once or twice, but other things she was a little more obsessive about. Christmas came and went, and the kids were thrilled with their gifts. Until, I heard her sweet little voice coming from the potty after a morning spend opening and delighting in all the presents, in the saddest, most melancholy tone: “I guess Santa Clause didn’t bring me a Lalaloopsy doll….”. Sigh, whoa is me, I am the saddest little pitiful girl. Poo.
I was a little crushed. The sadness in this poor child’s voice, how could I underestimate her desire for this doll? What is wrong with me?
We helped her kind of get over it, joking that maybe Santa left it on the roof, and if not I’d have to give him a call and find out what happened. It hasn’t really come up again since, so she’s OK, but it keeps lingering in my mind. And the question keeps popping up, “should I just go get the darn thing for her?”.
This doll is actually really cool. I’m kind of driven to buy her one now, because I actually kind of want one. I’m slightly conflicted though. We spent a decent amount of time and money to give our kids a nice Christmas. What kind of message does it send a kid if they receive so many toys (from us, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc) over a 4 day period, and when they’re slightly disappointed they didn’t get one. more. thing., I just run out and buy it for her. I don’t want her to take gifts for granted. So, I feel like there should be reason to buy the Lalaloopsy other than just pure whim.
Or, am I just being uptight, the child is four, she’s delightful, and who cares?