Monday, December 16, 2013

Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Icing {Cookie Exchange!}

This is one of my most cherished recipes.

Growing up, my mom was always volunteering for everything imaginable.  Need someone to sew costumes?  She'd sew.  Need someone to teach Sunday School or VBS?  She'd step in.  Need someone to be room mom?  There she was!

I always knew that my mom worked extremely hard to make things special for my brother and I.  Now that I'm juggling my own little family, I have even more respect for all the amazing things she did for us.  One of the things she was known for in her room mom days was her amazingly wonderful sugar cookies with buttercream icing.  These were made faithfully for just about every class party you could imagine.  I was always so proud to say "my mom made these" when all the kids lined up trying to grab an extra cookie.

So without further ado, here is her fabulous sugar cookie recipe.  I've made just a couple changes, switching out shortening and margarine to unsalted sweet cream butter.  Because butter only makes things better.  ;)

Mom's Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup of unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the butter, sugar, and eggs to a stand mixer (or a large bowl with hand beater) and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixer until everything is well blended and the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface, and roll out to 1/4" thick.  Cut out cookies using cookie cutters of your choice, and lay cookies on an un-greased cookie sheet, about 1-2" apart.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are just slightly turning golden.  Allow cookies to rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.  Ice cookies once they are completely cooled.

Buttercream Icing

2/3 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
food coloring (optional)

Place butter in a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand beaters) and beat until smooth.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the sifted confectioner's sugar until it is all incorporated well.  Add the milk and vanilla while beating on medium-low.  Once the icing is a smooth consistency, you may add food coloring if you like.  If the icing becomes too watery due to too much food coloring, add a little more sifted confectioner's sugar until the consistency becomes a little more stiff.

You can use the icing to "butter" your cookies and then add sprinkles on top, toss it in a Ziploc bag with a corner cut to pipe easy designs onto the cookies, or use decorating bags and tips to make more intricate designs.  Keep it as simple as or make it as fancy as you like.


P.S. For todiefor Gingersnap cookies, these are an oldie but a goodie. :)

P.P.S I'm linking up today with Edie at Life In Grace!  Head over to her beautiful blog to see more wonderful cookie recipes. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Best Greens Evah {A Tale of Two Recipes}

My Mema can cook.  If I were in 3rd grade I'd say "my Mema can cook better than your Mema", but I'm not so I'll refrain.  ;)

There are some people who stick meticulously to their recipe cards and cook wonderful meals.  Then there are those people who have those recipe cards tucked away somewhere, but have committed them to memory and improved on them over the years.  When you watch them cook it's like watching someone create art on a plate.  A pinch of this, a heaping spoon of that, stir 'til it looks right, give it a taste test, and voila....a masterpiece.

Time is taking its toll, but in her hey-day that was my Mema.  Sunday dinner was magic.  If you are lucky enough to have one of her recipes, you do not deviate.  She doesn't just give you the list of ingredients, she gives you her tips on how to make it turn out right every. single. time.

But occasionally I come across someone else who shares that "art" of cooking and their recipe is a just a tad different from Mema's.  What's a girl to do???

The answer, my dears, is to take the best from both and create your own masterpiece.  :)

Greens were one of my Mema's specialties....but they are also a specialty of a former co-worker of mine!  They are a Fall staple in my house...even our little Poppy girl loves them {pureed and sans bacon fat}.  Using fresh greens yields the best result, hands down.  But frozen greens are what I reach for more often than not, simply because they are more convenient.  After a couple of years of tweaking, I've come up with the perfect combination of the recipes of the two ladies who taught me to cook fabulous, savory greens.  I think it honors the spirit of both their recipes.  Enjoy!

The Best Greens Evah


2 - 16 oz packages frozen greens of your choice (I use mustard and collard) OR 8 cups loosely packed fresh greens, stems removed (you can buy fresh greens bagged, de-stemmed, and pre-rinsed...use two bags if you go this route)
1 ham hock
2 large cloves garlic (or 4 small), crushed
1 yellow onion, finely sliced
white vinegar
bacon fat (yes, bacon fat!)


Remove all stems (if using fresh greens) and put greens in large pot.  Add water just to cover and bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes.

Strain and rinse greens in hot tap water.  Return to pot and again, just cover with water.

Add ham hock and bring to boil.

Add garlic, onion, 2 Tbsp of bacon fat, and 2 capfuls of white vinegar (about 1-1 1/2 Tbsp).

Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook 30 minutes to a couple of hours.  The longer they cook the more intense the flavor will be.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Doll's House {the beginning}

I'm a doll girl...well woman, now.  Some people get freaked out by dolls...and while I can attest to the fact that some pretty scary dolls are out there, I generally love them.

I always, always wanted a doll house when I was a little girl.  And I got one.  I had a Heart Family doll house.  Do you remember the Heart Family?  There was a mom and a dad and twin babies....such an 80's toy.  But, what I really, really wanted was a "real" doll's house.  The 2 or 3 story wooden miniature dolls house that generally cost a fortune even when you buy them as a kit you put together yourself.  And that champagne dream just wasn't going to happen on our family budget.

Now, I fully plan on springing for a fancy schmancy miniature doll house kit one day to put together with Poppy, if she is at all interested in doing something like that.  And if she isn't, then I will buy one for myself someday.  But in the meantime, I found this doll's cottage at a Goodwill in Waco a couple of months back and could. not. pass. her. up.

 I have drooled over a few dollhouses lately, and thought excitedly of doing something similar for my little ones.  I love the Haute Dollhouse, and the mousehouse Doll's House it inspired.  And I also like the version they created over at Young House Love last year.  So when I saw this little nugget I knew I could "save" it {which is what I imagine I'm doing when I go thrifiting...saving little treasures from the dump hahaha!} and make it a beloved toy once again.

I originally planned on fixing it up and putting it on display in Poppy's nursery, but then the Kiddo discovered it and would hide it in various corners of the house, playing with imaginary people who live in the tiny house.  I love his creativity and I love listening to the very detailed stories and play-schemes he comes up with.  So this doll's cottage will be for him.

All for $2.99!  Yes, it was in incredibly rough condition.  Very, very, very dirty.  I had a moment where I realized I should probably put it back for that reason alone.  But I was sure some Mrs. Meyer's spray and elbow grease would cut through most of the grime.  And it did!  The Hubster gave it a once over with some leftover spray lacquer from our chairs yesterday, and now we have this.

It probably needs one more light coat, but I cannot wait to get started decorating this bad boy!

I'll keep y'all posted as it all comes together.  :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

To-Do List for My Casa

I don't know about you, but I love checking out the List McListerson's over at Young House Love.  It's fun to take a peek at someone else's wish list for their house and then watch them check off projects as their completed.  Maybe it's because I so throughly enjoy making lists and crossing them off.  ;)

Anyway, I thought I'd make my own little dream to-do list for our house.  I kind of like the idea of making the list and completing things little by little.  And, by sharing it with you, I will feel held accountable to at least making some sort of progress.  ;)  Here goes...

Master Bedroom

-fix nick in hardwood floor
- new floor length mirror {wall mounted}
-new or revamped lamps
-reupholster chair???

Master Bathroom

-repaint shower/toilet closet
-remove caulking and re-caulk with clear silicone caulking
-clean out and organize drawer and shelves
-new towels
-jute rug runner???

Breakfast Nook

-remove old caulking and re-caulk along baseboards
-repaint baseboards
-new pantry door???


-remove old caulking and re-caulk baseboards
-repaint trim
-repaint cabinetry
-new double oven w/ self-cleaning function???

Laundry Room

-clean out and re-organize shelves
-move cleaning supplies to shelves {out of kids reach}
-install countertop over washer and dryer????

Dining Room/Studio

-organize shelves
-paint curio cabinet
-sew sewing machine cover
-new desk chair
-new rug
-paint china cabinet????
-find vintage settee for window???

Living Room

-reupholster chair in hot pink!
-lamps for top of piano??

Guest/Kids Bath

-paint lighter color
-make a new shower curtain
-install new shower curtain at ceiling height
-new lower sink??? double???????

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Picks for Summer Reading

For me, summertime evokes memories of endless days spent on the beach or lake, stretched out in the warmth of the sun, and enjoying a good book.  You won't catch me taking in much sun these days, but I still enjoy my love of reading.

I've learned to be sneaky about it.  As a mom of two tinies, I don't often get uninterrupted lengths of time to devour books.  But I've become adept at sneaking a few minutes here or there {in lieu of Facebook or *gasp* blog-reading} and have surprised myself at how much reading I've accomplished since my little Poppy-seed was born. And as to the sheer volume of books listed, I have not won the lottery. Let's just say my library card and I are BFFs again.

So without further ado...heere are some of my picks for summer reading...

Parenting Books


Design Books

Books on How We Eat

Books that Inspire

Entrepreneurial Inspiration


Children's Picture Books

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

3 Months Already!

3 months old...13 lbs, 15 oz...not so teeny tiny anymore!

John Lennon could have written the song for her...just needs a name-change...
diamonds are her birthstone after all. ;)

"Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes"

"Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone"

"Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah"

"Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high"

"Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you're gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah"

"Picture yourself in a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah."

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles