Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Window Cookies: Our Sweet Tradition

Need a sweet treat to make on Valentine's Day with the kids?  Cookies, of course are always a hit.  The more sprinkles, the better in their book, right?  Here's a bit of a twist on your normal cookie that I'll share with you.  It is something my mom liked to make just for Valentine's Day and even though it's  more work than the my typical quick favorites, I'm a sucker for sentimentality and tradition.  What can I say?

To make your window cookies, which are inspired by stained glass windows, you'll need your favorite sugar cookie recipe, red, purple, or pink hard candies (crushed), various sizes of heart shaped cookie cutters, parchment paper, a cookie sheet, your cookie decorating frosting of choice (not to be confused with icing), and decorating tips, couplers, and bags.  And of course some sprinkles if you'd like.

Now, if you're like me, every time you make sugar cookie dough, your cutout turns into a blob by the time you try to transfer it to the cookie sheet (yes, I DO refrigerate the dough).  So, what I've been doing is lining the cookie sheet with parchment paper, rolling the dough directly on it, and then cutting out the cookies on the pan where they should be for baking. Then remove the excess dough.  I used airbake pans, which have no sides so it is really easy to roll out.  Plus, it keeps the candy from scorching while it bakes.  If your pan has sides, roll the dough onto the parchment paper on the counter, then put it on your pan.

Ok, now you need heart shaped cookie cutters in various sizes.  You'll cut a large heart, then cut a smaller heart out of the middle.  You need to fill the empty space with the crushed hard candy.  Use all one color, or mix them up a bit.  Now just bake according to your cookie recipe.  The candy should be melted by the end of the baking time, and be careful not to over bake as the candy could scorch.
Here is our mix of window cookies and cookies with sprinkles galore!  We're having fun!

Let your cookies cool until the candy has completely hardened again, and carefully peel them up off of the paper.

Once completely cooled, decorate as you wish!

- Make these the day you'll be serving them for best results, especially if your home is warm or humid.
- When crushing your candy, DO NOT USE your rolling pin, unless you want to throw it away.  Learn from my mistakes...oops!
- Be careful not to over bake as your candy may scorch, and will taste awful.  If you have an air bake pan, you'll want to use it.
- Remember - they don't have to be perfect!  I'm not a cake decorator (obviously!).  So, don't worry if they aren't magazine quality.  Just enjoy creating and making memories with your children.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

My First Collection - "Aqualicious"

Well, I finally did it.  I decided to go ahead and make an ArtFire Collection.  After making a treasury on Etsy once, I decided it took up way too much of my time.  But, I've found it's actually quite fast and simple to make one on ArtFire.  And a little fun, too, I have to admit.

"What's ARTFIRE?" you ask?  Well, it's another selling venue similar to Etsy but, well, different.  You should check it out sometime!

As I was browsing handmade and vintage items in one of my favorite colors, aqua blue, I found some beautiful and unique pieces, and decided to put them together in a collection for my fellow lovers of aqua to enjoy.  Ahhhhh...aqua!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Ornament Frenzy!

Ok, so you know those days when you, on a whim, decide to go crazy with crafting?  There I was, minding my own business, when my Christmas supplies were calling my name.  Maybe it was the cold weather.  Maybe it was the fact that the craft store has been playing nonstop Christmas music since Nov. 1st.  Either way, I was an ornament making maniac today.

There was one point that I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  You know, that point where you wonder if this was REALLY a good idea or not.  Surrounded by paint, glue, fabric, three different kinds of scissors, glitter, buttons, ribbons, rick rack, and even some moss and plastic bird eggs.  Yes, I had definitely reached the point of no return.  I even went to the store to get more supplies!

So here I am, 17 ornaments and a wreath later.  Now that I've gotten the Christmas bug I think I need to make some more.  Stay tuned for some pics of today's fun!

**UPDATE** 11-23-10:  Finally some pics!  I ended up listing these in my shop, but need to make more for me to keep. Happy Crafting!!!  

Monday, November 8, 2010

What is Amy's Cottage Retreat?

A pinch of cottage style inspiration, a dash of DIY craftiness, and a heart for family and the realities of life. I'm talking REAL life. No Photoshop. No airbrush. No professional designers. No maid. I'm all for good old-fashioned ingenuity, and enjoying the simple things in life that are the sweet morsels in our daily lives.

Does this sound like you? Then I'm glad you're here, and welcome! Let's get inspired and get those creative juices flowing, shall we?

Tie on a vintage apron, settle down in that worn, comfy chair, and sip some chai as we share recipes, how-to tutorials, handmade gift ideas, and photos that make the cottage style lover drool with delight!

I look forward to getting to know you! ~Amy