Sugar Cookies

When my kids were young, I did not make any decorated sugar cookies--not even at Christmas.  When I was blessed with a grandson, I decided I needed to know how to make fantabulous sugar cookies and how to decorate them.  After trying about ten different recipes, I settled on this one.  In deciding on this one, I had to decide what I was looking for.  Some people like a sweet cookies, and the icing makes the cookie even sweeter.  Some people like a more shortbread type cookie, and the icing makes the cookie sweet enough.  I went for the latter.  I was also looking for a dough that would be easy to roll out and not get tough if overworked.  This is the recipe I decided on.
Sour Cream Cookies

1 c. butter

2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
7 c. flour
1 cup sour cream

Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Soft baking soda, salt and two cups of flour and add to mixture.  Add sour cream to above.  Add our flour (about 5 cups) to make soft dough.  Roll 1/4 inch thick.  Cut and lay on greased cookie sheet.  Bake in 375 oven for 11 - 15 minutes.  Dough may be kept in refrigerator.  Cookies freeze well.  Makes 5-7 dozen depending on the size of the cookie.

I use some guides on my rolling pin to get a consistent thickness of cookie.  The guides look like rubber bands.  You put them on the ends of the pin and roll the dough.  You won't be able to roll the dough any thinner than the guide you have put on the pin.  You will want your cookies to be done but not brown, so you may need to play with the baking time until you get it right.  Another nice thing about this dough is that the cookies stay true to the shape you cut them out.  They don't spread much.  I can usually get 16 cookies on a cookie sheet (obviously it depends on the size of the cookie).

For the frosting, I use a Royal Icing recipe.

Royal Icing

4 c. powdered sugar
4 T. meringue powder (comes in a can in the cake decorating supply section of craft stores or WalMart)
1 t. almond extract
1/4 cup water

Blend well.  Use liquid or gel food color to get desired colors.  You may need to add water to get the consistency you need.  I use squeeze bottles to ice the cookies.  They work just like a marker.  I use the dam and flood method.  Outline the cookie with the icing and then flood the area to fill in.  I use the tip of the squeeze bottle to spread the icing.  Some people use a toothpick or spreading knife.  The icing needs to be thin enough to flood, but not so thin that that icing falls off the cookie.  The royal icing will dry hard on the cookie within 3 hours.

As you well know,  presentation is everything.  If I am taking the cookies someplace, I individually bag the cookies and seal them with a twist tie.  I carry in a big basket of cookies.  It makes quite an impression to give someone a beautiful cookie in an individual bag.  The cookies pictured are some examples of my cookies.

 I have also discovered that colored sanding sugars give a richness to the cookies that you would not believe.  The shamrocks, valentines and some of the Christmas cookies pictured were made using this technique.  You just frost them like usual, and while the frosting is still wet, you sprinkle the sugar on and shake off the excess--just like using glitter.

If you are making a face, instead of putting a lot of detail into the face, sometimes just putting two little black eyes will bring the face to life (snowman).  I did a bunch of animal cookies.  I just frosted them with one color and just putting the eyes on the cookies, made them come to life.

I Love Hydrangeas!!!

I first fell in love with this plant when I was about 9 or 10 years old. When my great grandfather died, there were about 15 hydrangea plants that were given at his funeral. I thought that it was the most incredible plant I had ever seen. I asked my mother if I could have one. She told me that if there were any left after all the other family members had taken what they wanted then I could have one. I watched as one by one of the plants went out the door in the hands of aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters, and friends. At the end of the day, there was one plant left that had only one broken bloom .  I took it home and planted it in my parents flower bed and watered it faithfully. It lived that year. It had one bloom the next year. The third year, it was waist tall and had about 15 huge pink blooms. 

I love hydrangeas!

Soaring Spirit

I selected this rose because it did not look like a typical rose. This is the second year for it to be in my garden. It had about thirty blooms on it this year. It's name alone is reason enough to buy it and plant it--Soaring Spirit.

Friendship Plant

This plant sat by the garage of our dear friend across the street, Maureen Black.  When she moved, she decided not to take the plant. I asked her if I could have it, and she told me she would love for me to have it. I then asked her what it was called. She replied that it was a friendship plant.

It is a treasured plant in my garden. It grows back every year, and I remember my friend Maureen Black.

Garden Bargain

I found this at the Target Dollar Spot.  I only bought one package. I brought it home and found several ways to use it, so I went back and bought all the packages that they had--9. This was one of the best ten bucks I've ever spent.  I used it to tie up some vines, hang several birdhouses, and tie up some house plants. It is very soft, flexible, and easy to work with.

Backyard Beauties

Double my pleasure with two lily pad blossoms on my koi pond at the same time. You can even see my babies under the lily pads.

Warm Prayer Shawl

This prayer shawl is also made of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn.  This variegated yarn is a very modern color combination of shades of aqua and tan and chocolate.  It is worked in half double crochets throughout the whole fabric.

I hate making and putting on the fringe, but I love the look of fringe on a project.  I'm trying to talk someone into doing it for me.  I don't have any takers yet.  Oh well, I guess I will continue doing it myself for the time being.

Aggie Afghan

This is an afghan I made for my husband for his birthday. He graduated from A&M so obviously I had to make it in Aggie maroon and white and some grey accents. For this afghan I used Red Heart yarn.

African Violets

Every kitchen window sill should have at least one African violet. I have been growing them for years. When they droop, I water them. When they multiply, I split them up and repot them.  They have a reputation of being finicky.  If that's the case, then I have found the perfect place to grow them--the kitchen window sill. They are a beautiful addition to your widow sill.  Try them!