Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sweet Comfort and Joy

At one point during the holiday season, I realized I was letting myself get really stressed about all the things that I thought HAD to be done. Baking included. I let myself get into a vicious cycle of stress. I really do love to bake. It's another creative outlet for me, but you can easily get caught up in thinking that it's a chore. Once I called attention to the fact that baking was fun and I needed to treat it as a such, the whole season seemed brighter. In fact, one of my new year resolutions is to bake at least one new cupcake every month. It's going to be fun, not a chore. It's a chance to play in the kitchen. Something I don't do often as I fly through the day and try to find time to feed my family. So I made the above journal page to remind myself of the joy of baking.

We had many cookie baking sessions at our house this year. I finally found a spritz cookie recipe that worked. In the past, the dough has always been too melty or too hard to press through. I love making spritz cookies because I hate to roll out cookies. We used Wilton decorations and I am so in love! Their decorations are WAY better quality than what you might find in the grocery store. If you haven't walked the Wilton aisle at your local craft store, you really should! You'll want to bake as soon as you get home! We also made thumbprints, using pie filling flavors like cherry, poppy seed and almond paste (my favorite!).

I also made marshmallows! Yes, from scratch! Yes, people made fun of me and called me Martha Stewart. Then they ate them and exclaimed that they were heavenly and I should make them every year. I passed out little bags to my neighbors. One tip, don't store the homemade marshmallows in a sealed container. They are actually best if left out. Because they are homemade and don't have chemicals, the aren't stable, plus you want them to dry out a bit. I had so much fun packing them. Another fun & creative outlet about baking is dressing-up what you make for gifts.

Of course cupcakes were made! In fact, we even made a cupcake for Santa. Judging from the number of gifts under the tree, he really liked having a cupcake. Maybe we just stood out from all the cookies?!Speaking of cupcakes, I have a Christmas tree in my kitchen that is dedicated to all things pink and blue and sweet. I love the tree and am adding a little to it each year. I just started the tradition last year and didn't have a tree topper for it, so this year I made one. I enlarged a photo I took of a cupcake cake I made using the Wilton Cupcake Cake pan. I printed it on cardstock and glittered it up. Then I covered an empty tiolet paper roll with holiday scrapbook paper and glued the photo onto it length-wise. Then popped it onto the tree!
I also made these darling cake ornaments. I cut-out illustrations from a vintage cookbook I had laying around and glued the image to cardstock. I covered the back of the cardstock in the recipe page. I glittered the frosting on the cakes and then hung the ornaments using baking twine. I love how three dimensional they look!

I'm off to bake some pink champagne cupcakes for tonight! Happy New Year!

P.S. If you want to see more cupcake goodies, visit my friend Kara's new blog!