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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gingerbread Cookies, Frugal Holiday Treasure

I stumbled upon what may be the perfect holiday cookie with more perks going for it than dietary downfalls.

Busy days have always deterred me from doing cut-out cookies for Christmas since rolling out dough usually became a frustrating experience. Drop cookies were so much less of a mess and took half the time, so I thought till now.

Gingerbread cookies have to be the one holiday treat that is guaranteed to lighten the mood and produce a smile.  No matter what a person's age, he or she cannot eat one without murmuring an "ahhhh, I remember when..." moment from childhood.

Most cut-out cookie recipes are made up of the ingredients we are usually trying to avoid: white flour, white sugar and solid shortening. This recipe I discovered is a gem. It is probably from the lean years of the Great Depression or the rations of war time because it doesn't contain any white sugar or eggs. Years ago such simplicity was out of necessity or availability, but today it can be seen in a more positive light:

A nutritional boost of iron
No white sugar
No eggs or milk
Very easy handling dough
Perfect for those who want a not-so-sweet cookie.
Ideal for dipping in milk, tea or coffee.
They are a crisp cookie so hold up well for packing into tins as gift ideas or shipping.

By Helen E. Goodwin 
"Yankee Church Supper Cookbook"

1 Cup baking Molasses (Blackstrap if want the nutritional boost and not as sweet)
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Tbsp ground Ginger spice
1 rounded Tsp Baking Soda
3 Cups Flour

Boil together the molasses and butter.
Let cool.
In a large bowl, sift together the ginger, baking soda and flour.
Add the molasses, butter mixture and blend well.
Roll dough thin (about 1/8 inch thick) on a floured board or surface.
Cut out with cookie cutters.
Space out on greased cookie sheet so fit from 9 to 12 cookies, depending on their size.
Add desired decorations, such as raisins for eyes or cinnamon hearts for belly buttons.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 - 10 minutes
Makes 2 - 3 dozen gingerbread men or 4 - 6 dozen smaller cookie cutter shapes.

Yankee Church Supper Cookbook


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Holiday Wreaths, Reused, Resurfaced Memories

Craft stores and holiday bazaars abound with beautiful home decor to beautifully decorate your home for the holiday season. But you can create your own work of art even if you don't believe yourself to be all that crafty. We all have an imagination, it just seems to get buried over the years with the load of everyday responsibilities leaving little time to revisit that part of us.

If you have a love for thrift shops, yard sales and bargain bins, try to get in the habit of collecting stuff for the "possibilities" of what can be done with it. You can often find wreaths you may not like as is, but they can be taken apart to reuse the base wreath.

This wreath started with one of those wire wreath frames. Wrapped around that frame is burlap that you can get on a roll. Wrap the burlap around the metal frame, overlapping the edges as you go and do it tightly enough to eliminate any bulges. Use a safety pin to secure the end or glue it down with a hot glue gun. What you do from there is up to your own creativity, but for this one I had one of those artificial berry garlands that are used to drape mantels and doorways. This one was about four foot long. I tucked the wire on one end under the gaps from wrapping the burlap and then wound the garland around and around the wreath and tucked the other end under the burlap as well. Add a loop of fabric or ribbon around one of the vines for hanging.

Plastic canvas is a fun needlework project that requires time and patience but once done, these craft projects are very rewarding to know you made it yourself. Digging them out at the holidays can bring back memories on what was happening in your life at the time you were working on them.
If you don't have time or interest in making your own, these little sewing creations can be found at craft shows and thrift shops. Someone put a lot of time and loving energy into creating these types of sewing kits and it is a shame to see them end up at a thrift shop. So if you can bring a new life back into someone's work that would be great.
The chickadee seen above on this burlap wreath had been a gift to my mother-in-law and holds a special place in our hearts now that it has been returned to us so many years later.

This wreath was another thrift shop recycle project. I bought the green wreath as it was and took off the trimmings it already had. I wrapped the whole thing with a 50 bulb string of the tiny white lights. Use the string with a bulb on one end and a positive plug on the other. If you use one of the end-to-end types of lights you'll have to hide the negative plug so it doesn't show.

Next, use whatever trimmings you have to decorate your wreath. A hot glue gun works great for lightweight balls, ornaments and ribbons. The Rudolph plastic canvas was done when my children were small and to now have it pulled out again and added to this wreath means it'll  bring back fond memories every year when the kids come home for Christmas.

So have fun and let your imagination soar as you decorate your home with a little piece of who you really are!