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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Shortbread Heart Sandwich Cookies filled with Strawberry Jam

Shortbread Heart Sandwich Cookies filled with Strawberry Jam

This idea originally stemmed from the classic Linzer Cookie  that is a nutty shortbread sandwich cookie filled with raspberry jam.  I decided shortbread + strawberry jam would a great combo for this Valentine's Day treat.  If you are a novice cookie decorator, this is a perfect project for you since it is just one solid color, and mostly jam.  You can see I even did some with powdered sugar sprinkled over instead of icing - even easier!

Of course the packaging of these cookies is my favorite part.  Here is a list of supplies used : 

I also put some in Rectangle Window Boxes (Set of 10 for $10) - great for neighbor gifts, teacher gifts or to drop off for friends.

I used my favorite basic shortbread recipe.  It is so simple to stir together and takes no time at all.  Unlike my soft sugar cookie recipe, shortbread cookies are a bit sandy and crumbly.  The keep their shape perfectly when they bake because there is no egg, baking soda or baking powder.  I made it during the day, put in the refrigerator then rolled them out with Emma after school.  Keeps for weeks in the refrigerator!

For the sandwiches, you'll need solid hearts for the bottom and a heart with small cutout heart for the top.

Shortbread Cookie Recipe
(this made 16 large heart sandwiches)

3 sticks of butter, room temp
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Cream together butter and sugar in a mixer until pale.  Add vanilla and mix in.  Add flour and salt together and stir together slowly just until combined.  Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, wrap it tightly and keep it in the refrigerator for 30+ minutes, up to 2 weeks.

Roll out on a floured surface.  Cut out with cutters.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet (keeps from sticking without spray + easy clean up!) in 350 degree for 12-14 minutes, just until edges start to brown.  Cookies should be firm.

Let cool, then ice with a simple butter icing... we tinted ours a very pale pink to contrast with the deep strawberry jam.

We used a disposable pastry bag (100 for $14) for the icing.  Just cut a small snip off the end - no tip needed!  We used another bag in the same fashion for the jam.

Butter Icing Recipe

1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of milk
3-4 cups of confectioners sugar

Melt butter and milk together in the microwave.  Stir in confectioners sugar.  Add more milk to thin, or more confectioners sugar to thicken.

I heated the jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds to make it more melty - then it sort of molds to the inside of the cookie and sets up.

Use a little pink icing like glue to stick the top heart to the bottom heart.  Then, fill with Strawberry Jam.

If you run out of icing patience, sprinkle some tops with powdered sugar : )

These are perfect for adults with less of a sweet tooth - nice with tea or coffee... or breakfast : )

Last year, I made these with the Copper Cutters.  They are very expensive, so this year, I'm offering a set of three inexpensive cutters that can be used in the same way!  Yay for fun, inexpensive hearts... not everything has to be expensive to be great : )

Rectangle Kraft Window Boxes, 10 for $10 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Emma's Big Girl Room | "Real" Furniture

After living in our house for a year and a half, Emma's room is finally furnished and complete.  I have to admit that Mike really pushed me to get to it, and make some decisions.  I had kept putting it off - after all, her room was completely fine.  She had a great upholstered headboard we bought last year... but that was it.  I was searching for the perfect pine dresser for her and an antique bedside table.   The search takes a while, I would tell him.  He reminded me that if I waited too long, she might have even more opinions than she does now : ).                                                    After much searching, I found the perfect pine chest of drawers that was petite in stature, with porcelain knobs and a price tag that would've put it at one of the most expensive items in our home.  And it was going to go in her closet (since her room is so small, and her closet is so big).  I just couldn't do it!  I showed it to Mike to help me with my decision and he was baffled at the price, and the fact that the drawers didn't easily slide in and out... which meant they would never be shut/always be messy.  He appreciates antiques, and items with a history, but we discussed that we wanted Emma's room to feel comfortable and easy.  Adding investment antiques that don't function perfectly (but gave me the "look" I was going for), wasn't the right decision.  

I set out on a search for a new set of furniture that would have a classic, whimsical and nostalgic feel.      I typically don't consider matching furniture sets.  Too predictable, too matchy-matchy.  However, in a room that is usually strewn with dolls, skirts, socks, shoes, toys and toys and toys... I started to think that maybe simple was best.

The hunt was so simple.  On the recommendation from my sister who recently heard that a Jenny Lind collection that was once at Land Of Nod, was now available at Target - my decision was done.  You might remember that Emma had a Jenny Lind style crib from Pottery Barn in her nursery.  It was the perfect mix of nostalgia and whimsy.

Jenny Lind Furniture Collection at Target, this is not sponsored : )

I am so impressed with the quality.  It is solid wood.  It is heavy.  The paint color is a perfect soft, creamy white.  It was delivered in about a week and a half.

I accessorized with the pine finish I was looking for in the antiques, which added just enough charm and primitive feel, in an un-rickety way.  

I have a decorating color philosophy.   I also think that any color or tone, should be repeated 3 times to make a space feel right.  In Emma's room, the colors are Cream/White, Pink, Gold, Medium Brown and Black, each of those are repeated in a few places throughout the room.   

I used natural linen on the two roman shades, and on the lamp shade.  Matching shades and windows is a great place to find continuity in a room.   There are gold accents in the wreath, the gold stars and her "E" that sits over her silhouette.  We used various shades of pink - the palest on the field of the wallpaper, then brought out the brighter rosette from her wallpaper on the embroidery on her bed.  The black and white from her silhouette is echoed in another set on the other side of her room and in the black hardware on cream doors.  The antique pine wood finish is used in the lamp, in the frame, and soon to be on a stool that will go with her mini vanity table... as soon as I find one : )

The pale pink velvet pillow ($28) from the Valentines Collection is the perfect finishing touch for her room.  Puppy finds it very cozy.  Emma uses it as her pillow every night, too : )

I wallpapered the room with help from my Mom.  I LOVE this sweet paper.  You can see more details on that adventure, here.

I added roman shades to her windows from my all time favorite roman shade resource - Home Depot. You might remember that I used them in an ivory linen in our bedroom and bathroom.  For her room, I chose a natural linen, in a fine weave called "Oxford Jute."  You can find it here.  The price starts at about $125 each - a great price for a custom shade.  The quality is superb.  We are getting ready to order these same shades in this same fabric for our hearth room and dining.

I found these little mini potted flowers at Trader Joe's.  They are the sweetest thing.

This perfume bottle is one of Emma's most prized possessions : )   See that tiny cupcake?  From her calico critters bakery.

We are big on house shoes around here.  They are well used and well loved.

I took these photos while Emma was at school one morning, giving me time to get everything just how I wanted it - which hardly ever happens, so I indulged myself.

This same collection has been around since she was a baby and still are all loved and played with... usually as spectators or pupils.

The silhouettes are from Pottery Barn Kids.  I decided to keep the artwork very simple in her room for now, since it is usually pretty busy with toys and "things."  Everywhere.

Sometimes the littlest things make the biggest impression - just as these stars have.  They are Emma's favorite, and mine, too.

In her closet, you can see that I chose a simple, white dresser - Caroline Pottery Barn Kids.  I still think about that sweet pine dresser, though... maybe someday : ). Meanwhile, Emma loves having a big girl dresser to keep her clothes in. 

In full disclosure, on a recent trip to Target she loved this "aqua" blue reading lamp and just had to have it for her room.  I think it is sweet she is excited about her decor and compromised with her.   It does add a nice juxtaposition touch of contemporary.  It is also a hint at her progressing style - she continues to wear most of the items that I pick out, then adds 2-3 hair bows in crazy colors or a bright pink sparkly skirt.  

She is completely delighted with her big girl room, and is constantly adding her personal touch : )  

My Secret for the Best Cupcakes from a Cake Mix

I love making homemade pound cakes, and homemade chocolate cakes... but for cupcakes, I usually turn to a cake mix.  I don't know why, I've just found them to be easier and more reliable.  However, because I can never leave well-enough alone, I have my own way of doctoring up a cake mix to be even better and have more of a homemade taste.

Doctoring Up a Cake Mix

1 cake mix (works for any flavor)
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixer, combine all ingredients and mix for 2-3 minutes until thick and smooth.

Scoop batter into cupcake papers using the large scoop*.  This keeps all of the cupcakes uniform and your cupcake pan clean.

Bake them for 13-15 minutes, just until they bounce back when touched.   Let cool.

Frost with homemade easy vanilla buttercream (recipe here).

Scoops, Set of 2
*New addition to the store!

Comes as a set of two scoops, of the sizes I use all of the time.  The large (2.75 oz) is what I use for cupcakes and large cookies.  The smaller (.875 oz) is what I use for regular cookies and small muffins.  I find myself using these scoops all of the time.  They are heavy duty and will last a long time.

Find these cupcake papers and more baking essentials, here:

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