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.]

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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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Red, White, and Blue July 4th Cookies

Red White and Blue July 4th Cookies

Happy July 4th!

Made these festive cookies today.

I dyed some sugar cookie dough red (with Wilton Christmas Red gel), rolled the balls of dough in red sugar sprinkles, and baked.

Just after pulling them out of the oven, I gently pressed on a chocolate star that I made from blue candy melts the night before.  I put a white chocolate dot in the center of the star, but, honestly, they wound up looking a little bit more like fireworks than stars.

Still tasted awesome, tho.

Enjoy your weekend!

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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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Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Our next Christmas craft this year was a felt Christmas tree that was bigger than my girls.

It’s a similar concept to our Halloween felt board, but much, much bigger.

And more fashionable.

I had actually intended on doing a more traditional-looking felt Christmas tree, kind of like this tree that I saw last year.

But then I came across these amazing felt sheets:

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Score!

With these printed felt pieces I could make a delightfully girly Christmas tree instead!  :)

Found them at Walmart, of all places.  And I bought a yard of dark green felt from their fabric department, for the tree.  I thought about getting some dark purple or a paisley patterned piece heavy with lime green (they sell precut pieces like these at Michaels), but I decided to stick with the green.  I liked how it looked.

And I was going to cut a star from one of the pieces I had, but then I came across those adorable pink felt star ornaments on sale at Michaels.  For forty cents, I couldn’t pass them up.  Especially since they matched the felt I already had.

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Because I didn’t want to screw up the tree while cutting, I folded my yard of fabric in half, lengthwise, and drew a tree pattern on it with chalk, instead of just cutting it out by hand, like I do most things.

Then I cut out the ornaments.  I cut rough squares and then cut circles out of them.  I cut a dozen ornaments from the two with zebra stripes, but only six from the other two patterns, to give them some variation of size.

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Then I had to decide where to hang it.  I tried using tape, even packing tape, but it was kind of heavy, so I didn’t consider the tape sturdy enough.

I tried sticking the felt directly to the stucco wall on the porch, thinking it would stick like felt does to brick, but the stucco was too smooth because of the paint.

I wound up going with Command Strips (pictured above).   The picture hanging ones come with a texture similar to Velcro, so, instead of using the 8 pieces as a set of 4 hangers, I stuck the rough side of the strips right on the felt tree.  Then I peeled off the sticky backing and stuck it on the wall.

The main reason I used the Strips is because I can adjust the tree.  With a gentle pull, the felt comes right off of the rough side of the strips.  And, when it’s time to pack up the Christmas decorations, I can gently pull the Strips off the wall.  (But always follow the directions – if you do, they won’t harm your wall, but if you don’t, they’ll take the paint right off.)

Although, if you prefer, you could just leave the tree on the floor and let your kids play with it that way.  But I think they have more fun with it if it’s hanging up.  Like this:

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

I love the felt for playing.  It’s great for both my preschooler and my toddler.  They can put the ornaments on the tree, take them off, rearrange them, make patterns, and then do it all over again.

And I love that I found these fancy felt sheets.  I was prepared to do the tree in traditional colors, but I love this concept.  It’s so easy to change up the colors.  Like, you could do a white Christmas tree instead.  Or blue.  Or green, but with just gold ornaments.  Or whatever colors you’ve used to decorate your home for Christmas.  What a great way to personalize an interactive toy for your kids!

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Have fun with it!

And please share if you’ve made your own!  :)

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

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Easy Christmas Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

Easy Christmas Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Ornament Painting

Crystal Snowmen

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