St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and most definitely Valentine’s Day are spring holidays that bring on the arrival of brightly coloured, sprinkle encrusted sugar cookies. Though they may look festive and inviting, most grocery story plastic clam shell specials are likely to disappoint or even break a tooth. Sugar cookies in general have a bad reputation for being too sweet and having the texture of adorably shaped chunks of drywall. They may seem simple and there are a million recipes online that only have slight variations in the ingredients. The key is a balance between the butter, sugar and flour. This will results in a crisp around the edges, soft and chewy in the middle cookie that is a great blank slate for all your decorating aspirations. These sugar cookies have only 7 ingredients and they are easy to bring together with a stand-up mixer or by hand if you are in need of an at-home arm workout.
Begin by mixing the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. I consistently skip this step but it really does speed up the mixing process to have the flour mixture prepared before you get too far into the recipe. Make sure you allow the butter adequate time to soften before you get started. It can be tempting to melt the butter or force your mixer to work overtime but neither option will be as successful as putting the block of butter on the counter the night before.
Once the chunk is beat up to a light and fluffy butter cloud of goodness, add in the sugar, egg and vanilla while the mixer is running on medium slow speed. Then add in the conveniently premixed dry ingredients slowly allowing the flour to be completely incorporated between additions. From experience, I recommend not leaving the mixer running while you do this…especially if you are wearing a dark colour. Once your mixture has completed come together, you can turn it out on to the counter.
One caution, some sugar cookie dough can be very dry and crumbly. To avoid this you may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk if your dough is too dry. Try to resist the urge to add more flour if your dough seems overly sticky. You can incorporate some of your bench flour while rolling out the cookies instead.
On a lightly floured surface, bring the dough together into a log-ish shape. Divide the log in half and shape each half into a disk about 1 inch thick, wrap each disk with plastic wrap and throw them in the fridge until you are ready to bake the cookies. If you are in a cold or dry place, like we are, you really only need to chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. At this point, you should preheat the oven to 350F. On the same lightly floured surface, roll out one disk at a time to between 1/8”- ¼” thick. This is a good time to get the kids involved with helping to cut out the cookies with the cookie cutters of their choosing. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and bake until the edges are very slightly golden. I always bake my cookies on parchment lined baking sheets to prevent sticking and very easy clean up. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack or cutting board before letting your kids go crazy with the decorating.
For our valentine cookies, we chose to use simple heart cutters. In place of the classic royal icing, we are using melting dark and white chocolate in a pastry bag. We, of course, got easily sucked into the wonderful world of sprinkles but limited ourselves to champagne, black and gold.
2 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup, softened butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
3. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to butter slowly and mix until well incorporated.
5. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into 2 disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough at a time to the desired thickness between 1/8” and ¼”.
7. To prevent sticking, dip the cookie cutter into flour before cutting each cookie. Place cookies on parchment liner baking sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes just until the edges start to turn slightly golden.
8. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing, chocolate, or sprinkles.
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As you probably already know, we are busy updating a portion of our basement in order to create a work and play space. The biggest challenge, other than the small square footage, is that this space really needs to be dual purpose. It’s definitely time that we have a dedicated work area now that I’m running the business from home, but we also need to make sure it’s usable as a play and craft area.
Design-wise, my priority is to make sure there are lots of opportunities to be creative. At the end of the day, my little is going to be using the space the way he wants to, and it will most definitely change as he grows. I will mostly be using it for emails, design space and a little storage. I’m aiming for a clean, bright, simple space with room to move and make a mess.
I am starting a few DIY projects next week once we’ve got a couple coats of paint (white, obviously) on the wall. Although my work space is already planned, I’m still looking for ideas on how to bring playfulness into the design. Below are some of my favourite examples that seem to be doing just that!
Anyone else working and playing in the same room? What makes it work?
We are so excited to be joining the local market circuit this fall, and Little Modern Market is our first stop! The ladies who organize this event do such a fantastic job of curating a cohesive list of vendors that helps this market really live up to it’s name. Although our focus is obviously for the littles this time around, there are also some amazing finds for him, her and home that I’ve got my eyes on. Here are the items I’m going to be picking up in an effort to give and get as locally as possible this Christmas…
1 / I love this dress from The Skinny which is truly made for a mama. Breastfeeding, washing machine and play-on-the-floor friendly, I can see how this dress could easily be worn any day and styled for many occasions. So ya, I’ll take two!
2 / The Rollo Towel Co. has great big, round towels that I love to use all year round. We use them as a play mat in the living room and a picnic blanket outside in the summer months. Easy to wash and a great size that serves so many purposes!
3 / Graphic, cool tees and accessories are only part of the story for Jacob Grace Designs. Proceeds from their Small and Mighty collection goes towards supporting neonatal intensive care here is Calgary. Make sure these guys are on your shopping list!
4 / This jumper from Hazelberry & Co is right up my alley. All-in-one to keep things simple and a little colour to keep things fun.
6 / I used to be pretty good about keeping all the little piles around the house in check, but now it’s just impossible. There is always a little collection of something on the coffee table or nightstand, and I’m always looking for a stylish way to keep them contained. These jars by Co.Create are handmade and can be completely customized. I love the natural concrete colour but the rust is also on my list!
We hope to see you at the market next month, or at one of our other stops later in December. Not only can you avoid the mall parking lot by hitting up one of these great events, but you will also be supporting local makers and businesses. Follow us on Instagram for more market dates and product info!
A random little list of the items I am currently coveting for home, wardrobe and my little. Funny how my wish lists have changed…It’s all about practicality these days!
1 / This romper is at the top of my list right now…Is it the name or just the fact that it looks like it would pair pretty well with a home work day and a cup of coffee (or wine…depends on the time of day really).
2 / Speaking of work, my office currently resides on my dining room table while we revamp the basement. I’m dreaming of proper organization and a place to escape and get some work done. I love this update on the cork board. Perfect for creating moodboards, displaying fabric samples and posting general to-dos throughout the week.
3 / Basically a mini version of No.1 by Shop the Skinny. I told myself I would not be a matchy-matchy mama but here I am, coordinating outfits with my babe.
4 / With the holiday season coming up, I’m starting to think about parties. We are hosting a lot more now that one of us has a 7pm bedtime, and I think a beautiful cake stand is one of the most versatile pieces of serve ware out there. Forget only using them for sweets! A unique cheese platter, a plate for hors d’oeuvres or just use it to add some height to the table with candles or flowers. I am still pink obsessed so this coral marble style is calling my name!
5 / For some reason I have started a new business, launched an online shop and pulled the trigger on our basement renovation all in the past two months. Oh, and I have a nine month old. So…champagne, obviously.
6 / I try really hard to keep it festive and at least a little bit colourful around the house during the holidays, but then I see these. I also found matte black christmas ornaments the other day, so…It’s all over. It will be a monochromatic Christmas once again!
It’s coming up on holiday season which means time to source out the perfect turkey recipe, practice up on your bartending skills and dig out the fall decor. It’s also time to put the patio furniture away and host some cozy Sunday suppers and holiday gatherings indoors. Whether it’s a fancy night or not, there will most likely be a meal involved so I thought I would show off two ways to use a few simple style ingredients to set the stage for the evening.
I am slowly collecting quite an arsenal of serve ware that allow for a ton of mixing and matching. This means creating different looks without having to buy five sets of dishes just to keep things interesting. A few styles of placemat, a couple sets of nice napkins and a basic white dinner plate are a generous start to be able to set both casual and formal place settings. First up is my take on a formal look. Then I’m challenging myself to restyle it while reusing as many of the same pieces as possible. So here we go. One table, two ways.
My family is pretty traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas meal rituals. I have been trusted with hosting duties a total of twice over the past three years with the stipulation that the meal itself remained the same as always. Oh, and my dad will still do the gravy no matter what. I am not yet trusted with the gravy. My favourite part of dinners at our home, besides the fact that I don’t have to put on real shoes or a coat, is setting the table. I love planning the table, from linens to the dishes to the florals and place settings. I usually start a few days in advance pulling out the basics and making sure that nothing needs replacing or ironing. From there, I add in something seasonal. This usually ends up being a DIY but could also be a pretty place card or floral arrangement. For this shoot, I painted out some faux-pumpkins from the craft store to use as a focal point on each plate. Finally, I fill in using plain white dishes as a base. When it comes to a formal look, symmetry in the layers will help create impact and will clean up all the elements you need for a multi-course meal. These antique salad plates and a faux snakeskin chargers add both contrast and graphic layers to the look.
Now, not all occasions require this level of formality. I think it would feel quite strange to show up for family dinner on a random Sunday and feel under dressed for the seven pieces of polished flatware flanking each dinner plate. As I mentioned before, I wanted to test myself to see if I could keep most of the elements the same while still achieving a distinctly different look than above. I would have normally removed the table runner but I decided to layer instead. The natural texture of the placemats immediately takes things down a notch with their irregular edges and chunky texture. I switched out the antique salad plates from the first look and added in some pattern with this set from Oh Joy’s spring Target collection. I love that each one in this set of four is a different colour which adds a little character and playfulness. Lastly, I simplified the flatware and number of plates. Most of our more casual meals involve finger foods, stews or pasta dishes served family-style so not much is required in terms of cutlery or dishes…Just the way I like it! I usually put a mason jar with some extra spoons, forks and napkins on the table somewhere in case someone needs it, but for the most part they don’t get touched.
So there you have it. One table, two styles, little effort. I would love to know what you think and if you have any favourite tips for keeping your table fresh over the holidays. If you’re looking for any of the items shown above, follow along on Instagram where each look is tagged and linked. Happy styling!
I have to admit that it feels a little strange writing about sweater weather while sitting poolside in 34-degree heat, but I know those days are closer than I’d like to believe. I also know that if there is any time to plan ahead before setting out on a shopping trip, it’s fall. There are so many temptations this season, and I have often been victim to that one, oh-so-on-trend item that is worn once, maybe twice, and then collects dust at the back of my closet until spring. I’m getting more serious about choosing carefully and really curating a capsule collection a few times each year, and this year is still a little different than most as I’m spending so much more time at home with my little. Dry cleaning and handwashing just aren’t an option, so wearability and washability have climbed the list once more as some of my top criteria.
So, having said all that here is what I’m looking to add into the mix this fall…
Anyone else subscribe to this whole capsule wardrobe idea? What are your must-have items this season?
Fall usually feels like the right time to add warmer, darker tones to a space, but this year I’m gravitating towards the idea of keeping it light and focusing on texture instead. Mixed metals and layered, tone-on-tone neutrals can feel just as luxurious as as the jewel tones we’re used to around now. Here are some of my favourite new arrivals, finds that I think will fit the bill when it comes to a cool, cozy vibe this fall.
1 / The Lixhult Series feels like the logical upgrade to the much loved (and pinned) PS Cabinet, especially if you’re looking for some new colour options. Three sizes let you stack them up as required or use it as a wall-mounted storage option. Oh, and the price…Seriously.
2 / These Linear Plant Stands from Anthropologie are the perfect upgrade to the summery baskets your plants have been living in lately. These pieces also get them up off the floor which is good news for me with a baby crawling around the house…
3 / I can picture these Woven Wall Sconces fitting in perfectly above a modern nightstand, not only because of their soft look but because of the woven pattern. They are in their prime lit at night when you can see the light filtering through the rattan. There are several colours available, so if you love these little ones as much as I do then check them out!
4 / These Box Tables spotted at Guildhall Home here in Calgary are a great way to infuse some modern colour into your space. Several hue and size options let you create the look you’re after and, although they fit perfectly with the current trends, they are essentially seasonless.
5 / My secret shopping pleasure is tableware. In fact, I have been guilty of hosting a group dinner just to use some new placemats. I also like to mix things up, keeping the table looking different for each occasion, so these Capiz Reversible Placemats are perfect. The iridescence is the touch of luxe that you crave in the fall without being heavy, and I can picture these working equally well with white or patterned dishes. On my shopping list for sure.
6 / This sweet little set of Ceramic Wood-Neck Vases is a great group of beautiful basics for your shelves. The mix of materials suits the theme perfectly and, really, you can never have too many vases…
7 / The Commune Leather Sling Chair from West Elm is the little black dress of this round up. Easily styled for the summer months with a mudcloth throw pillow, it would make just as much sense covered in a sheepskin for the cooler months. It may not look it right away, but this piece is going to be a staple in many looks for the next many seasons.