Homemade Valentine's Cookies

Making Valentine's Day Cookies can be more fun than making Christmas cookies.  The production is basically the same but with much, much less stress!!  Valentine's Day is usually more carefree.  Normally there isn't all the decorating, shopping, cooking and entertaining like at Christmastime.  So, relax and simply enjoy the fun!  Pick a day when the kids are home on a snow day or bake the cookies while the kids are at school and you have time to yourself...whichever one makes you the most happy!  They'll get eaten either way. :)


I always use the tried and true Betty Crocker's Cookbook "Traditional Sugar Cookies" Recipe

3/4 cup shortening (part butter or margarine, softened)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I always use vanilla)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt

Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring.  Blend in flour, baking powder and salt.  Cover;
chill at least l hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered
board.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes
or until very light brown.

ABOUT 4 DOZEN 3-INCH COOKIES.

*If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt.

After you have baked the cookies, you'll have to cool them on a cooling rack before frosting them.  For the chocolate frosting, I purchased pre-made frosting in a tub.  I've forgotten which brand.  Any of your favorites will do.  For the white frosting, I used my mom's old recipe.  It's not scientific or precise but, here goes.  Take a box of confectioner's sugar (16 ozs.?) and place it in a bowl, drop a dollup of shortening (my guess is it's between 1/4 and 1/2 cup), a teaspoon of vanilla and add enough milk until it makes the right consistency for nicely frosting the cookies.  

Next you can divide the white frosting into little bowls and add food coloring to make different colored frosting.  I chose to simply make pink.  Red would be pretty too.


 Frost the heart-shaped cookies as you wish.

Add sprinkles, sugars and nonpareils

Fun, fun,fun!!!

Be as creative as you'd like.  The cookies will be delicious!


Why not make a batch, put them in a decorated box and give some to a friend?

Hand Tied Flowers



I was going to have lunch with a couple of my girlfriends and wanted to bring a little gift for each one.  Nothing big, just a little something.  It's January and who doesn't like flowers? This is especially true since these friends were ones I had made through my garden club. 
 I loved the color of the roses and the hyacinths were beautiful, as well as, extremely fragrant.
In order to keep the flowers as fresh as possible during our lengthy lunch, I wet some paper napkins and put them into a plastic food storage bag.  I placed the stems of the flowers in the plastic bag and semi-tightly wound an elastic around everything.  It didn't look very pretty but it worked.

Next, I cut a square piece of this brown gift wrap from Michael's and loosely wrapped the flowers in it.


Tied it with twine.

A very casual look but, that's what I was going for.

I had some sheer grey ribbon I thought would look nice with the blue hyacinths.  I'm not sure if I wouldn't use the twine the next time.  I liked the twine look best...I think.  Two different pieces of gift wrap, perhaps one in a print along with the brown would have looked nice, as well.  Maybe, I'll try that next time.

Flowers always work well in the middle of the winter to lift your spirits!  Especially if you just want a "little something."




Christmas Design at the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City














My husband, Tom, and I decided to finish the holiday season by going to Quebec City on January 1, 2015.  We had never been to Quebec before but someone had strongly recommended it to Tom some time ago.  So, since we have been wanting to take a road trip for a while, we made reservations at the Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world (we had heard), grabbed our passports and off we went!

For people who love Christmas, this was the best!!! The village looked like something out of an old Christmas fairy tale with beautiful decorations and streets covered in new fallen snow.  It was truly magical and kept us in the Christmas Spirit for a few days longer, which was wonderful.

Our vacation only got better when we arrived at the hotel.  It was still decorated for Christmas and still had the New Year's celebratory buzz.  The grand lobby was lavishly decorated with unusual and gorgeous floral designs.  It was like a dream!



                        As you can see... unusual floral designs










This was a long hallway leading back to the main lobby.  These Christmas trees had been decorated by various organizations.  I'm not sure but, there may have been some sort of competition involved.  Quite lovely.










They were all so beautiful.  It was hard to choose the one I liked                                                    the best.



This was a grand staircase leading up to meeting rooms.  The area was roped off so, I couldn't investigate.


 And to my heart's delight, the hotel had an in-house florist.  I assume it was responsible for most of the designs in the hotel lobby.  As I have said, very exciting and chic!


Now look at this!  Do you remember my post from a few weeks ago where I featured my faux fur wreaths?  Here the wreath was hanging in the window of the hotel gift shop!  I felt very avant garde!

This was another area of the lobby that was stunning.  It too was off limits, however.  I think it was a grand ballroom for weddings.  I can't imagine how long it takes the hotel to decorate all these spaces.



Here is the famous Chateau Frontenac.  If you ever get a chance to stay there or anywhere in Quebec City, I strongly recommend going.  If you love Christmas like I do, you should put this city on your bucket list.  Make sure you dress for arctic temperatures, however.  Even with the cold, you won't be sorry you went.  The people and the scenery are not to be missed!

Homemade Ice Sculpture

 We have had arctic temperatures here in the Northeast, going down to as low as -5 degrees below zero in my area.  Not exactly going outside weather!  However, one thing these temperatures are good for is making ice.  Therefore, I decided to play around a bit and try to make an ice sculpture out of household items.




I started with a plastic tub I found in the basement as the base for my sculpture.  I added around 4-5 inches of water and placed it on my back deck.  My husband said the ice would break the plastic container, but it didn't, to both of our surprise.




Next I decided that blue ice might be kind of cool so, I mixed some blue food coloring into this pitcher of water...
and filled up an old bundt pan that I had forgotten I owned.  I put that on the back deck to freeze also.
I also found this mini bundt pan and filled it will blue water as well.

Finally, for this stage, I cut down a large soda bottle to make the top of my sculpture.  It's hard to tell from this photo but, I filled the bottle with clear water then placed a plastic drinking cup in the middle.  The drinking cup had to be weighted down with some rocks and mint containers to keep the little cup from popping up to the surface{:)}  This step allows for a candle to fit in the sculpture for illumination.  The drinking cup was held in place with  some electrical tape.  It seemed to work very well.
 
 

 
 
 The day I was putting this sculpture together was 2 degrees below zero so, I had to work fast or my fingers would have frozen!  The bottom layer is the from the big pink tub.  Surprisingly, that layer had not totally frozen.  There was liquid sloshing around the middle of the ice.  It made me think about how safe ponds are in the winter.  As I had said, we had had arctic temperatures for at least two days while I was trying to freeze all the layers of the scultpure!
 
Anyway, I am getting off track.  The next layer up from the bottom was the large bundt pan, shown with the blue ice.  At the top was the clear frozen soda bottle.  I placed the mini bundt sculptures around the base.
 
It looks nice enough during the day but, it really looks neat in the evening.



I put votives in the cravasses of the ice pieces.  Above is the top of the sculpture on the left.  The right is a photo of a mini bundt shape.  



I think it looks awesome at night.  I wish I had made other cravasses in the large bottom layer of the ice to be able to add extra votives for more light but, as I said it was very cold and I had to work fast.


I think this would be a really fun idea if you were having a winter party and you had an outdoor area of your home that is visible from the inside of your house. A table on your deck would work perfectly for this. What a conversation piece it would be.  Not too mention how beautiful it is to see light shining through ice!

This was a fun experiment for me.  At this moment, I have an old snowman salad mold freezing on the back deck.  I'm going to see what creations I can come up with using that.  Should be more fun!  At least, I am keeping my mind working through this month of January!

Frozen Beauty


Now that we are in the cold and dark days of January, it's important to find beauty wherever we can.  That's why when a freezing rain storm passed through our area and left all the trees and shrubs in my yard covered in ice, I decided to take a few pictures.  Everything was glistening and looked like frozen works of art.  After all the activity and bright lights of the holidays it was kind of nice to enjoy the simple beauty of naturally frozen tree limbs and branches.  It made me realize that even in the dead of winter there is still loveliness to be found.  I hope you will have opportunities to find it too.





 This looks like I stuck a dried hydrangea in the middle of this planter.  Actually, this is a boxwood shrub I transplanted into this pot last summer.  I'm hoping it will make it through the winter, although things aren't looking great right now!


 I still think the frozen pine needles are beautiful.


These are pictures of a huge magnolia tree that grows next to my house.
 Frozen pine boughs
 
 
 
 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...