Create*Bloom*Grow

Growing through life creatively…


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Confessions of an Obsessive Compulsive Christmas Cookie Baker

There are many creative avenues I love to pursue, but most don’t make me quite as OCD as baking Christmas cookies.  It all started one year when I was single, living in San Francisco and working a stressful corporate finance job.  One weekend in December, seeking a creative outlet, I started baking Christmas cookies and just DID NOT STOP.  At the end of the weekend, I looked around my sugar spattered kitchen and wondered what on earth I was going to do with them all.  I decided to have a “Cookie Party” which was to be an Open House where friends and family stop by to enjoy some cookies and holiday cheer.  What fun that was!

Fast forward 15+ years, a husband, 2 kids, a move (or 2 or 3) to the suburbs, I still continue this fun tradition.  It sometimes gets a little out of hand – both the baking and the party (we once had more than 150 people stop by)!  Luckily, my family enjoys it and my husband is great about washing the mounds of dishes required to make so many cookies.  I have done it almost every year with just a few exceptions.  Last year I took a year off, so this year I really need to turn it up.  Having a new double-oven will make it even more fun.

Here is a quick shot of one of the tables from 2011.

Cookie Party

Recipes have been gathered from a variety of sources.  I always start of with Chocolate Krinkles because my Mom made these cookies the morning I was born (after mopping the floors on her hands and knees and before making it to her 11am doctors appointment, but I digress) and I just think it is a good way to kick things off.  Next inspiration came from Southern Living at Home’s Christmas Cookies book.

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This is actually the 2nd copy of this book I have owned as the first one nearly disintegrated.  I honor that 1st Cookie Party, but making a few of the same recipes that I have made every year (Peppermint Swirls, Coffee Crisps & Oreo Cookie Balls).

My second source of recipes is Better Homes and Garden’s annual Christmas Cookies issue.  This magazine comes out around September 1st (I am not going to lie when I say I start “stalking” the news stands not long after that date) and can be found a most craft stores and sometimes even the supermarket.  I have these dating back to 1998.  I just got the bright idea last week to look for older issues on EBay (duh!).  “Viola!” several issues are already on their way to me!

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I usually make about 30 different kinds of cookies and nearly 2,000 individual cookies.  Because this much crazy baking would involve a thousand trips to the store if I didn’t plan ahead, I do create a spreadsheet to list which recipes I plan to do, where I can find the recipe and what ingredients they require.  I do sometimes get inspired by new things along the way or decide to make multiple batches of my favorites, but this gives me an idea of where to start.  How else would I know that I needed 40 cups of flour, 31 eggs and 13 cups of butter?

I guess it is time to stop procrastinating and get baking!  I will keep you posted on how it is going this year and maybe share a few of my favorite recipes…

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Showered with Love

In the last few years, our family has been closely involved with a number of weddings.  I have thrown a several showers, but my very favorite one was for one of my nephew’s fiancees.  Entertaining is one of my favorite creative endeavors.

She is a country girl at heart and I tried to think of a theme to suit her tastes.  Taking into consideration that the bridesmaids dresses were chocolate brown, I decided to go with a sunflower theme.  I knew that I wanted to feature sunflowers and burlap.  I was very pleased with the results and so was the bride!

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I set the tables with white tablecloths and alternated between brown and gold napkins.  Down the center of the table, I ran a strip of burlap and topped this with some brown polka dot tulle to soften the look. I was lucky to have a friend that offered me her sunflower plates as I was planning this event.  We used mason jars for the beverages which I was able to borrow from another friend who had already invested in the Martha Stewart chalkboard labels.  I set out pieces of chalk for our guests to write their name on their glass.

The “Happily Ever After” banner was my first foray into painting on burlap.  I cut the triangles of burlap, folded over the top and sewed a quick line to give me some way to string up the banner.  I then made “stencils” for my lettering out of vinyl on the Cricut.  The font used was from the Creative Memories ‘Tis the Season cartridge. I took chocolate colored brown acrylic paint and filled in the stencils.  To add a little more zing the the banner, I sprinkled brown glitter on the paint immediately after I painted the lettering.  Then I removed the vinyl stencil.  I let them dry and strung twine through the tops of the triangles.  I completed the banner by adding a big satin bow to each end.

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I kept the flowers simple.  I took glass cylinders and wrapped them with a strip of burlap.  To make sure the burlap stayed in place, I carefully ran a little hot glue to attach the burlap to the glass.  I added the thick ribbon tied with a floppy bow.  The burlap, tulle and ribbon all came from one of my very favorite web stores – Papermart.

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I got out my trusty Cricut to make the boxes for the favors.  The bride dress boxes were cut out of heavy white cardstock.  The waist of the dress was tied with a brown ribbon and then a sunflower button was added as embellishment.  The boxes were filled with chocolate covered coffee beans.  I was afraid that they may melt and ruin the boxes, so I put the coffee beans into a clear plastic bag before putting them in the box.

It was a beautiful day and I hope it inspires you to shower someone else with love 🙂