Almond Wreath Cookies

Almond Wreath Cookies

This is another of my favorites when it comes to Christmas baking.

These Land O’ Lakes Almond Wreaths are a soft, flavorful, fun-shaped cookie.

They take a little effort to construct, but once you get the hang of things, they’re pretty quick to bust out.

Almond Wreath Cookies

The use of confectionery sugar in the batter gives the finished cookies a smooth texture.

Almond Wreath Cookies

They are a little soft, though, so you have to wrap up the dough and refrigerate it before shaping the cookies.

But while they’re in the fridge, it’s a good time to clean up the kitchen or even make a different type of Christmas cookie.

Almond Wreath Cookies

I follow the directions given in the recipe for making my wreaths:  Shape one-inch balls, cut balls in half, roll each half into a rope, twist the two rope pieces together and form the twisted rope into a circle.

Again, it takes a minute or two to get the hang of it, but it’s not nearly as daunting as it looks!

Almond Wreath Cookies

I don’t dye my dough.  You could make the cookies green, but I never do.

In the original recipe, they’re left uncolored and decorated with white icing and white sprinkles.  I change that up a bit by using green sugar sprinkles on top of the icing.  I like the look of it.

Almond Wreath Cookies

After brushing the icing on two or three cookies, add the sprinkles before the icing hardens.

If using a larger decoration, like the sugar pearls I used, add them first, and then add the finer textured sugar sprinkles.

You could also use regular nonpareils for a more colorful look.

Almond Wreath Cookies

This recipe can be found on the Land O’ Lakes website: Land O’ Lakes Almond Wreaths

And if you thought they looked scrumptious, you may also want to check out these:

Spritz Butter Cookies

Soft Iced Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Almond Mummy Cookies

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Ultimate Norwegian Spice Cookies

Elf-Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Easter Bunny Spiced Sandwich Cookies

Yum!

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Spritz Butter Cookies

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

I looooove Spritz cookies!

Of course, I usually just refer to them as “butter cookies” since I’ve found there are a lot of people who have never heard of “spritz.”

Which is a shame, really.

These cookies are almost entirely made of butter and sugar.

There isn’t much in life that’s better than that.

And one of the reasons I made sure to share this recipe is that I recently did a search for spritz and every recipe I found was different than the one I use.  I LOVE these cookies!  The thought of not sharing them with the world was just too terribly depressing.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

These are totally a favorite of mine at Christmas.  I may make them a few times a year, but they’re definitely always part of my Christmas baking.

And my favorite way to make these little guys around Christmastime is by dying the dough green and making little Christmas trees.  It’s easy but super cute.

I also tend to make some red and leave some plain, too, which you’ll see in the pictures.

The easiest way to add the food coloring is to add it into the butter mixture, before you add in the flour.  I usually toss it in with the egg.

But if you’re not planning to dye the entire batch one color {you can see some plain dough in these photos – I did it half plain and half red}, then you can just massage some color into the finished dough with a gentle hand kneading.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

There are a lot of cookie presses out there.

I’ve tried quite a few.

I’ve attempted the electronic version and tackled the pump handle ones, too… but they’re all just plastic pieces of crap, in my opinion.

There’s nothing like my mom’s old copper cookie press.

That said, if you don’t have one, the closest I can come to making a recommendation is the OXO Good Grips one,and only because it has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon.  But you’ll have to judge for yourself.

And please – PLEASE – if you know of a good cookie press, please tell me!!!

The good news?  You don’t actually need a cookie press to make these butter cookies.  Sometimes I just roll the dough into 1-inch balls and dip them in nonpareils.  You could also roll them out and cut them out with a fancy roller, kind of a la my easy cut out cookies.

But I usually use my press because they’re just so darned adorable.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Another fun option for these little cookies are making cherry wreaths.

These are another big hit and look lovely on cookie platters.

You simply cut a maraschino cherry in half and add it to a wreath-shaped cookie before baking.

If you didn’t dye the dough, you can also add some green sugar sprinkles.  Or some nonpareils for decoration.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

I like the little swirl-looking cookies in red because they remind me of poinsettias.  :)

The sprinkles on those are the white sugar pearls.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

And here they are baked.

Look almost the same as before they were baked, don’t they?

They’re just so pretty … which, if you didn’t know, also makes them taste better.  :)

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

And the trees again.  These are totally my favorites – so cute!

You could also take the time to add a little star to the tops of the trees, if you like.  Sometimes I use daisy sprinkles for stuff like that.

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

When you cook the spritz with cherries on them, you’ll notice a slight darkening of the dough around the cherry.

That’s from the cherry juice.

It’s part of what makes those particular cookies so good, but it also will make them soft.

This is awesome if you like soft cookies – but you need to keep it in mind.  These cookies get REALLY soft over time, so if you’re planning to serve them more than a couple of days past making them, then go ahead and freeze them the day you make them.  Then pull them out the day you’re going to serve them.  I also store these cookies separate from the other spritz that don’t have cherries.

Oh – and below you can see most of what I made out of two batches of the recipe.

I also made some dog-shaped cookies out of the plain {non-dyed} dough.  My girls love these.  :)

Spritz Butter Cookies with FREE Printable Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Spritz Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cream together butter and sugar with a mixer. Blend in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture.

Put dough into a cookie press and follow manufacturer’s directions for making cookies. Press the cookies out onto ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate with sprinkles or cherries, if desired.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until just starting to brown on the edges.

Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Store covered. Cookies can be sprinkled with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.

[Color Option: mix gel or liquid food coloring into the batter for colored cookies. You can do this by adding the color to the butter mixture before adding the flour, or, if you only want to color a portion of the dough, by massaging it into the finished dough.]

**********

And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Spritz Butter Cookies

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25 Books of Christmas

25 Books of Christmas

I’ve always been a big reader, and I love reading with my kids, but I just recently heard about a fabulous new way to celebrate Christmas:  an advent calendar of books!

A new book for every day in December?  Oh – I am SO loving this!

Part of the reason I was so inspired was because of these gorgeous photographs I found online!  They are {above, clockwise from left} from Enjoying Life with 4 Kids, Mer Mag, and Over the Big Moon.

I rushed over to my bookcase with excitement, ready to tackle this project……. only to discover that I didn’t quite have 25 books celebrating Christmas.

*gasp*

I … I didn’t have ENOUGH books???

Well.  That’s something we’re going to have to fix.  And soon.  But in the meantime we’ll just have to reread the ones we do have a few times, which is not a problem for me!

I love incorporating activity books into the kids’ day, too.  I’ll read to them all day long if that’s what they want, but my girls really enjoy books they can interact with as well, like coloring books or books that play music. Which is why I’ve listed so many Usborne books in this post – because they have SO many great interactive books for Christmas!

And the activity/sticker books are great to unwrap in the beginning of the month – especially something like the Advent Calendar to Color – to keep them busy all month long!

Now, part of the awesomeness of being an Usborne consultant is that even though I don’t own all of their Christmas books {yet}, I’ve seen most of them.  And they’re really nice, so I don’t hesitate to recommend them.

Below are links to over 3 dozen Christmas books from Usborne for ages infant through teen.

I’ll be posting reviews of other, non-Usborne books, too, during the holidays, but for this post, it was easier for me to stick with just one group of books.  Here are pics of just a few of the ones I’ve listed links for below:

Christmas Usborne Books

And to make things easier for you, I’ve grouped my recommendations by subject.

Enjoy the browsing!  :)

Touchy-Feely Baby Books

That’s Not My Reindeer
That’s Not My Angel
That’s Not My Snowman
That’s Not My Penguin
Nativity Touchy-Feely
Santa Claus Touchy-Feely

Books with Sound

Little Children’s Christmas Music Book
A Christmas Carol with Sounds
Nutcracker with Music
Jingle Bells
The Twelve Days of Christmas with Sounds
Twas the Night Before Christmas

Coloring Books

Advent Calendar to Color {Open this one on December 1st!!!}
Christmas Drawing Doodling and Coloring
Christmas Pocket Doodling & Coloring
Christmas Patterns Coloring Book
Santa Sticker & Coloring Book
Christmas Doodles

Sticker Books

1001 Things to Spot at Christmas Sticker Book
First Sticker Book Santa
Christmas Sticker Dolly Dressing Book
First Sticker Book Christmas Market
Christmas Carols Sticker Book
Santa’s Workshop Sticker Book
Winter Wonderland Sticker Book
Sticker Christmas Cards

Activity Books

Busy Santa Book with Pull Back Toy
Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold & Stick
Christmas Things to Stitch and Sew
Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do
Christmas Activity Book
My First Christmas Activity Book
1001 Things To Spot At Christmas
Christmas Jigsaw Book
First Stencil Cards Christmas
My Christmas Tree

Picture Story Books

When I Love You At Christmas
Little Stories for Christmas {Board Book}
Nativity Flap Book {Board Book}
Twas the Night Before Christmas {Record Your Own Voice}
Christmas Carol, A (Picture Book)
A Christmas Carol – Illustrated Originals

And let’s just take one more look at how awesome it looks to dress up a big pile of books in Christmas wrapping paper……

25 Books of Christmas

I can’t wait to try this!!!

Please share with me your favorite Christmas stories – I’m always on the lookout for new books.  :)

Happy Reading!

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Red & White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decorations

Red and White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decor

I’ve got holidays on the mind.  We’ve been doing tons of Halloween and Thanksgiving projects, but I’m always thinking ahead to Christmas… even tho it’s not quite Halloween yet.

It’s my favorite time of year.  :)

And with Christmas on my mind, some of the newest products I’ve made for my Joyful Expressions store include these red and white chevron monogrammed Christmas decorations.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Tree Skirt is 44 inches in diameter and available in brushed polyester, faux linen, or coral fleece.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Christmas Stocking are available in the same fabrics as the skirt, with your choice of sizes:  9 x 16 inches or 12 x 20 inches.

The Red & White Chevron Monogrammed Pillow come in polyester or cotton, and the sizes range from 16 inch or 20 inch square to a 13 x 21 inch lumbar pillow.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Dated Photo Ornament has a monogram and personalization on the front, that includes the year, and a photo on the back.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Ornament is about 2 x 2.5 inches and can be plated in either silver or gold.

Plus, they’re also available in silver:

Silver and White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decor

 

The links for the silver and white decorations are

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Tree Skirt

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Christmas Stocking

Silver & White Chevron Monogrammed Pillow

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Dated Photo Ornament

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Ornament

What colors are you decorating with this year?  Do you stick with the traditional reds and greens, or do you have a different favorite?

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Merry {Caffeinated} Christmas

someecards.com - It's not a happy or merry anything until I've had my coffee.

True.  So true.

Perhaps that’s why I felt inspired to construct my latest BuzzFeed post around porn for coffee addicts.  But not just any porn.  Holiday porn.

Here are a few examples:

*shudders*

Oh, my… are you salivating yet?

If you haven’t abandoned your computer in pursuit of your favorite coffee mug, then check out the rest of the tantalizing photos at 45 Photos Of Holiday Porn For Coffee Addicts.

May your holidays be ever joyful.  And fully caffeinated.

Ice

Ice

My latest collage on Polyvore is a simple, understated bohemian look I titled Ice.

I can see myself curled up and cozy in this tattered snowflake sweater, offset by the color of my well-worn jeans, the infinity scarf hanging loosely off of one shoulder, the metal finger cuffs cool against my warm skin.

…sweater weather = love…

Ultimate Norwegian Spice Cookies

Norwegian Spice Cookies

These Norwegian Spice Cookies are my mom’s favorite Christmas cookie.

I know that, originally, we had copied the recipe from a magazine.  Many years ago I typed it up and put it in my recipe binder.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the original source.  But I’ve made a few changes over the years anyway (to turn them into the proclaimed “ultimate” spice cookie), and so my own version of the recipe is featured here, along with a printable version.

But first, all the yumminess my camera could capture:

Norwegian Spice Cookies

I just love how the shadow of the mixer in the mixing bowl looks like a Christmas tree.  :)

This is the butter and sugar about to be creamed together, with the eggs and vanilla waiting patiently nearby.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

When you blend together the dry ingredients (flour and spices) be sure to thoroughly sift them together.  I use a fork for this. You want the spices to be evenly distributed.

I know it looks like a lot of spice when you’re measuring it out, but don’t worry, it won’t look like that much once it’s all mixed – and the flavor is fantastic!

Norwegian Spice Cookies

The gooey, spicy, luscious dough…

Once it’s blended, it’s pretty soft.  At this point you need to divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disc, wrap the discs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for an hour.

I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and scoop the dough into the center of it.  Fold the plastic wrap over the small mountain of dough and shape generally into a flattened circle as you pull the wrap over and around the dough.

It’s sticky, so using the plastic wrap to shape it instead of your hands saves you some time and aggravation.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

After you’ve had an hour to clean the mixer, sort through your cookie cutters, place some parchment paper on your baking sheets, and dance to a few Christmas songs, then the dough will be ready to be rolled out.

You could actually leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, but I don’t think I’ve ever left it overnight.  After a few hours the butter in it gets too hard to roll out and then it needs to sit at room temperature for awhile, but if you leave it too long then it gets too soft, and that just makes my life complicated… so, really, between 1 to 2 hours is best.

Usually, in the midst of Christmas cookie baking marathons, I’ll make this dough, put it in the fridge, make and bake another cookie (like chocolate chip, for example), and then cut out and bake these.  Works out pretty well that way.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

And look at the spices in those snowflakes:  you can SEE the cinnamon, the cloves… *mouth waters*  …mmm, you should smell the magnificence.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

And these reindeer cookies are a great way to illustrate that flour helps you cut out the cookies.  The dough is soft and will stick to the cutters, but dipping the cutter in a dish of flour before stamping out a couple of cookies will help the dough to fall right out of the cutter.

Also, peeling away some of the dough surrounding the cookies before trying to lift them will help.  As will using a spatula like the one pictured below, or like this.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

But, sometimes I peel away the extra dough, and sometimes I don’t bother.  I certainly don’t pull away ALL of the dough… except for in the above photo because I thought it would make a neat picture.  :)

But you really only need to do a little at a time to help with transferring the cookies to the baking sheets.

If you’ve rolled out the dough without enough flour under it, the cookies will stick to the counter.  Just dip your spatula in flour before sliding it under the dough to loosen them.

And remember, with soft cookie dough like this, flour is your friend:

Norwegian Spice Cookies

You should put flour under the dough, on top of the dough, on the rolling pin, on the cookie cutters, and on the spatula.  I mean it:  flour party.

If there is too much on the finished cookie, just blow off the excess before baking.  Any extra at that point will be absorbed by the egg wash that you put on the cookies just before baking.

Although, I have to admit, I sometimes forget to add the egg wash.  But that’s okay.  It’s not essential to the cookie, but it does add a nice shine and a silky smoothness to them.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

The above picture is what was left of my dough after I collected all the scraps, rerolled them, cut out more cookies, and did it all again.  I got two small stars out of the last roll.

But we don’t waste food in our family.

Especially cookies.

So, I rolled up these scraps into a circle, flattened it into an oval, and placed it on my last sheet of cookies to bake.  After all, sometimes these last-of-the-scraps creations are the best part of making cookies.  :)

Norwegian Spice Cookies

And really, these cookies are great two ways:  thick and soft or thin and crunchy.  My mom likes them crunchy, I prefer them soft.  Luckily, that’s an easy problem to solve when baking multiple trays:  just cook some longer.

So, even tho the directions call for 10 to 12 minutes, I’ve cooked some larger ones up to 14 or 15 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them, to prevent burning.

Once the cookies were fully cooled, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar.  This step is not necessary, and I wouldn’t suggest doing it until you are ready to eat/serve them, but it is a nice touch.

Oh, and I didn’t bake them in that little metal pan – it was just to keep the sugar contained.  :)  The cookies need to cool on racks before you add the powdered sugar.

Norwegian Spice Cookies

These ultimate spice cookies go great with coffee:

Norwegian Spice Cookies

And with Christmas trees:

Norwegian Spice Cookies

Ultimate Norwegian Spice Cookies

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Powdered sugar (optional)

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt in a bowl until well blended.

Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually add flour mixture.

Divide dough in half, flattening each piece into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Roll dough about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface.  Cut out cookies with cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour.  Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet, preferably covered with parchment paper, and brush with the eggs white mixture.

Reroll scraps and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until just browning on edges.  Cool on wire racks.  Store covered.

Before serving, as an optional step, you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar.

*****

Click for the FREE printable PDF:  Norwegian Spice Cookies

Merry Christmas!

And Happy Baking!  :)

Elf-Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Elf Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Actually, all I had intended to do was make mini chocolate chip cookies… until my daughter said, “I want to put sprinkles on them!”

Whoa.

How did I ever come up with creative ideas before I had a 3-year-old to guide me???

Seriously.

Elf Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Anyway, as you can see from the batter, we actually poured the sprinkles right into the mix so they would be spread throughout the miniature cookies.

Elf Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

And when we scooped them onto the cookie trays to bake, we made them smaller than normal, about a half of a teaspoon each.

Perfect for elf-sized hands.  :)

Elf Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Elf-Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, with a mixer or by hand.  Add egg.

Gradually blend in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Drop a half teaspoon of batter onto baking sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool on wire racks.  Store covered.

*****

Click to PRINT the free PDF of the recipe:  Elf Sized Chocolate Chip Confetti Cookies

And, of course, don’t forget to share some cookies with your elf.

Merry Christmas!  :)

Crystal Snowmen

Crystal Snowmen | Borax Christmas Ornament Craft

I love how these crystal snowmen catch the light of the low winter sun.

These snowmen are our version of the traditional borax Christmas ornaments.  I used white pipe cleaners (chenille sticks) to represent the snowmen:  one per ornament/sun catcher.

Crystal Snowmen

The above photo shows how we made them.  They were pretty easy for my 3-year-old to help with.

We took one stick and made it into a circle, twisting the ends around each other to seal the shape.  Then we twisted it a little over a third of the way up to create the bottom circle of the snowman, and again to create the torso and head.

Crystal Snowmen

I tied some thread to the top of the snowmen and wrapped that thread around the handle of a spoon that fit over a wide, 1 liter measuring cup.  You can do just one ornament in a smaller glass, but I wanted to do two at a time.

Make sure you have a enough room to hang the snowmen, then take them out of the glass.  Fill the glass with water and boil it in the microwave, or add boiling water from another source.  Mix in the borax and stir gently, then put the snowmen back in.  Let it sit overnight.  Done!

You’ll need:

pipe cleaners (chenille sticks)
thread
4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup borax

After sitting overnight, dump out the water.  If the crystals that formed on the snowmen attached to crystals on the bottom of the glass, simply chip them gently away with a fork.  Then, unravel the thread from the spoon and tie a loop to attach to suction cups for a window or a hook for a tree ornament.

What kind of borax ornaments have you made?

And don’t forget to check out these other Christmas crafts:

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Easy Christmas Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

Easy Christmas Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Ornament Painting

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Coloring the Disney Box

coloring disney box

The best part of the Disney Store box?  What’s inside, of course!

What was inside were Christmas presents… and another surprise.

I opened the box that came in the mail when the girls weren’t around, expecting just the things I ordered awaiting me.  But, much to my delight, the inside of the box was a present in itself:  it was decorated with Disney characters.

The plain, brown cardboard part of the box was on the outside when it was packaged and delivered, with the fun stuff hidden inside.

So, after storing away the Christmas gifts in the closet, I opened up the box into a flat piece of cardboard, and invited my girls to draw on it, much like they did their gingerbread house.

There was an outline of Tinker Bell and Pluto all ready for their designs, plus a trail of pixie dust and plenty of white space to fill in.

A great way to keep my little artists entertained.  :)