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Every year growing up my mom and my sister and I would make sugar cookies around Christmas time. Now as an adult I have carried on that same tradition with our children and it warms my heart to spend this time with them together, it's something I always look forward to this time of year. I love watching them as they thoughtfully pick and plan their cookie cutter shapes and anticipate the decorating of them as they bake. And then upon decorating each cookie I adore seeing each sweet little detail they add. Some with a lot of icing, some with a little, some with squiggly little lines and some with plops. And as our little ones grow I can already see the slow evolution of their skills, now both precisely placing cutters on the dough where there is space, picking and choosing icing colours accordingly for their item they are making, each little detail being so joyous and exciting to them as they add it. I love it, it's a tradition that I hope to carry on with them as long as possible and one I hope that they too pass on to their children and so on.


The recipes that I have used for sugar cookies has varied from time to time, with the recipe that we used this year and last seeming to be the best from ones we have externally sourced, But nothing compares to the recipe I grew up with (I plan to go back to using this recipe next year). So I'm sharing both recipes today as they really are each amazing in their own ways. The recipe from Canadian Living magazine's "Holiday Baking" issue creates a dough that holds up beautifully with handling, even with repeated rolling and cutting it does not spread upon baking so the shapes come out perfectly. My mom's recipe has the best taste I think and it makes a lighter, flakier cookie.



Basic Sugar Cookie Dough

From Canadian Living magazine (2017 Holiday Baking Issue)


3/4 cup butter softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt


In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla beat together. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, stir into butter mixture in three additions. Mix until combined.


Divide dough in half, press into discs, wrap with saran and then refrigerate for 1 hour (you can refrigerate up to 24 hours if you want to make the dough ahead of time).


Let dough stand at room temerpature for about 15 minutes.


Roll out dough and cut desired shapes, repeat until all of the dough is used (I like to flour my surface as well as the top of the dough before rolling it out).





Bake at 375 F until edges and bottom are light golden in colour (about 10-12 minutes). Let cool before icing.




*You can make the cookies and then freeze them for up to 1 month by layering cookies between sheets of waxed paper/parchment paper in an airtight container.




Mom's Sugar Cookies


2/3 cup butter flavor Crisco 3/4 cup sugar 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp milk 1 tsp vanilla 1 egg 2 cups all purpose flour 1 ½ tsps baking powder 1/4 tsp salt Combine Crisco, sugar, milk and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer as we did growing up). Beat at medium speed until well blended then beat in the egg. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix into the creamed mixture at low speed until well blended.

Form into a disc and cover with saran wrap, refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Roll out ½ of the dough at a time to about 1/8th inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper). Repeat until all of the dough is used up.

Bake at 375 F for 7 to 9 minutes or until set and edges and bottom are golden. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

Let the cookies cool fully and then decorate.



Here are some of the cookies we did this year. We used both simple icing and butter cream to decorate them (both recipes below). I liked dipping one side of the cookies in a very thin layer of simple icing and then piping on decorative layers with both types.



The sweet sheep were inspired by charming Christmas paintings done by @blessedmommatobabygirls. I came across them this year on her Instagram account and I adored them the minute I saw them!



As you can see, the piped on simple icing sets into the first base layer of thinner icing which makes for a beautiful effect.



I chose to keep all of the designs fairly simple.



It's hard to tell from these phots but the tree and the outline of the train are actually a dark green-they read nearly black on the screen!




And the best cookie decorations of all are definitely the ones done by the kiddos, how adorable are these-precious!



Simple Icing


Milk

Confectioner's Sugar

Vanilla


This was the type of icing we always used for our sugar cookies growing up and it's only two ingredients. Just add milk and confectioner's sugar to a bowl (I'll usually make a large bowl and then separate it into smaller ones for mixing in different colours and then place them in piping or Ziploc bags from there for decorating). Add more milk to make it thinner/runnier and more sugar to make it thicker, keep tinkering until you have found your desired consistency for each colour. I also added in a little vanilla to taste (maybe a 1/4 tsp) for the thin icing which I dipped the cookies in (for this technique be sure to let the excess icing drip off upside down over the bowl before placing cookies face up or it will run off all over the place).



Basic Buttercream Icing

(From marthastewart.com)


6 sticks unsalted butter, softened

9 cups confectioner's sugar (*I use less as I find it too sweet with this much, I suggest starting around 5-6 cups and go from there for your taste)

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Beat butter and 3 cups sugar in bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low and continue to beat. Gradually add remaining 6 cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time. On medium-high speed add vanilla. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.


I then sperate it into smaller bowls and add food colouring as needed before placing them into piping/Ziploc bags for decorating. Alternatively you can just spread the icing over a cookie with a knife or spoon.



Christmas shopping usually starts around October for me, I definitely approach it with the intent to take my time and gather items and ideas slowly, ensuring that they are thoughtful, quality gifts and something that the person wants and will use is important I feel. This year I feel like I have done a lot of my shopping online from Amazon, like A-LOT (this is not a sponsored post, you an rest assured that non of mine are at this point!). I think it's because of my whole shift in mindset about what Amazon has to offer in general. I used to think of it as a cheaper, low quality seller of not-so great items, but , this is so not the case.


Many times I have come across something on Amazon that I had already purchased elsewhere, but usually it's offered at a lower cost and with free shipping-win, win. Now, I'm not saying that one should buy completely online, I am a huge believer that we still need to support our brick and mortar business, and make a concerted effort to especially buy locally from those smaller boutique style stores (my favourite). But...sometimes at the end of the day shopping online for the items you can only get vie Ecommerce for a great price is a major plus, and this is definitely the case for the items below.


Today I'm sharing my top picks for classic children's gifts from Amazon, some of which I have purchased already for our littles and some of which are on wish lists or just great items I have discovered (you can also likey get them all on Amazon.ca for my fellow Canadian friends). I have put together this list with the hopes that maybe it'll give some others ideas for gifts as well. Whether it be Christmas this year or next or just a gift for that special someone for any occasion, sometimes you just don't know where to start (been there) so make it easier on yourself with hopefully checking off a few gifts all from one location-happy shopping!


Little Girl | Classic Gift Ideas



baking set | teaset picnic basket | kids nantucket bike basket | doll highchair | play kitchen | dollhouse | horse stable | dollhouse furniture | angelina ballerina book | parisan teaset | bunny roo I love you book | mice skating book | maileg bunny | claris in paris book | guitar |



Little Boy | Classic Gift Ideas



barn | play doctor kit | tool set | maileg mouse | ride-on vintage truck | guitar | train | harmonica | wooden cars | town play mat set | hobby horse stick | play castle | paddington book | wooden floating sail boat | blocks set |






Gingerbread is a classic Christmas tradition and one we cherish in our home, from houses to treats and decorations it's something we always associate with this marvellous time of year. This homemade gingerbread man garland is one of my very favourite Christmas decorations in our home. It took a little time to make (maybe a morning?) but it was completely worth it. I'm guessing this is about the 4th or so year it will be strung on display in our home-and incredibly it still smells as amazing as the first year I made it! I'm literally going to give you the instructions below via verbatim from the site I used to make it. It's been so long that I wouldn't be able to add in many of my side notes or commentary even if I tried! I did set aside a couple of the gingerbread men and turned them into singular ornaments as well that we put on our Christmas tree or hang off of pictures frames/easels.



Ingredients


3 Tablespoons Shortening 1/2 Cup Sugar 3/4 Cup water 1 tsp of Baking soda 1/2 Cup Molasses 1 tsp Cinnamon 1 tsp ginger 1 tsp cloves 3 1/2 Cups of flour


"In a medium large bowl, beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in molasses. Combine dry ingredients and sift then add to shortening mixture alternating with water. Dough should be stiff. Cover dough and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease baking sheets.

Cut dough into 3 piece sections and knead to warm on a lightly floured surface. Cut out using cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets. Decorate with peppercorns and rusty bells. Bake for 20 minutes, then shut off oven and let cool inside. Remove ornaments from sheet and place on rack and allow to dry for 3 days. Then preserve with 3 coats of clear varnish. Ornaments are not edible and will last for years." Instructions and photo sourced from decorcharm.com


*Side note, I did not do the varnish step, I just let them dry and they have held up beautifully! I also poked two holes into each gingerbread man (see photo) before baking using a straw so that I could string them onto a velvet ribbon afterwards. For the ones that I was going to use as ornaments I only poked one hole at the top of the gingerbread man's head to be able to place a ribbon through afterwards.


To store them I wrap the garland gently in tissue paper and then place inside a Ziploc bag and remove the air. And how pretty is the photo from decorcharm.com? Just says Christmas!




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