One of my best child hood memories was sitting around my grandmother's table, playing crazy 8s and nibbling on my favorite cookies, Cinnamon Creams. Like a cross between a sponge cake and a snickerdoodle. The cookies should soft and spongy in texture and are they are the ultimate cookie jar cookie. The sour cream is wonderful for both flavor and the moisture it imparts but it can have a negative effect if left in an airtight container for more than a day or two.
I joke about the cookies being low fat because the fat comes from Sour cream.... and that's not so bad. However, there is a fair amount of sugar. But it IS the holidays so who's counting? This is a family recipe and therefor open to a little bit of interpretation. Meaning, you might have to do a bit of trial and error to get it to come out right. But I have every confidence that you will think it's worth is.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. Almond Flavoring
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
Cream sugar, sour cream, egg and almond flavoring the add in dry ingredients. Drop by spoonful into cinnamon sugar and coat ball completely. Place on greased sheet pans (or use parchment paper) and bake for about 8 minutes or until top of cookie springs back to touch. Cookie should not brown at edges.
Hello friends! This year marks the 15th year that I have hosted an Ornament making party for friends and family. However, this year is unique as we all know and gathering with my near and dear is not going to be possible in the traditional sense. I thought about taking a year off as I did the year I lived in Kansas City, but this year has been filled with so many disappointments and unfulfilled traditions that I didn't want to miss out on this too.
Check out some of the ornaments we've made in previous years.
So, here we are. It's almost December and I'm forging ahead with the ornament party. The 15th Annual! But because it's the 15th and this year is ... weird ... I thought it would be fun to invite lots more people than usual and make a lot more things than usual. I mean, we're doing this virtually. So as many people as we want can join us, right? RIGHT?
How this thing usually works is I invite 20-25 people to my house (somewhere between 10 and 15 can actually make it. We eat, we drink, we chat and we CRAFT. I usually have 2 ornaments planned for us to make but since I pretty much upend my craft closet, people tend to make whatever variation they can imagine of those ornaments.
Some years were, without a doubt, better than others. In fact, when I polled the group and asked them what ornament from years past would they like to make again, they almost unanimously chose the Gnomes.
Thank you for joining us for the first ever Virtual Ornament Party! And since this is my first year doing everything virtually, I, of course, went over the top. Instead of doing our normal 2 ornaments, we're doing 4 AND a garland!
Calendar invites have been sent or posted to the Facebook Page. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly here.
Please see the supply list below.
Classy clay ornaments
Back in September, I decided to make jam. I had a bunch of berries in my freezer and I wanted to make room for other things so a jam seemed like an ideal solution. I'll be the first to state that I tend to take a Swedish chef approach to the kitchen which is great for throwing things together for dinner and making a roast. It's not so good for baking and, apparently, canning. Which I DO know... I pickle every year but have largely been unsuccessful with jelly and jam making.
Not this year, I thought! This year, I was going to do it.
I've been pickling for years successfully but there is something about the sugar/pectin thing that I constantly get wrong. So I was extra careful this time, determined that I would not mess it up.
But I did.
I know I could have reprocessed them, but honestly, I was so over it at this point, that I didn't want to deal with it. So I'm going to take a different approach. For the next several weeks, I will be chronicling what you can do with many, MANY (like 14 half pints) jars of failed mixed berry jam.
I've done some quick google searching and some more in depth ones as well and the majority of failed jam solutions involve adding it to other sweet things as a supplement. That doesn't really cut it for me. I don't eat a ton of sweets and I certainly don't need an excuse to try, so my mission is going to be finding solutions of a more savory persuasion. I am VERY open to suggestion if you have any!
I'm not a chef. I have no idea what I'm really doing, and I suspect I will have more failures than successes. What I do have is a lot of failed jam and persistence.
I feel like this is a 2-for-1 post, making a batch of jam and canning it, both are things I’m doing on my own for the first time. I made a small batch of raspberry jam and canned it using the water bath method so I can store the extra jars in the pantry.
I’m not a stranger to the canning process. I’ve only helped with steps here and there but never had responsibility for the whole process. Making the jam seems easy enough, just need to get the ratios right (this is what I’m telling myself). I understand the concepts behind the different methods of canning with and without a water bath. As I said, I’ve helped but never done it all on my own and that’s about to change. What better time to become self-sufficient in an essential apocalypse skill than 2020?
Below are the ingredient measurements I ended up with. I will probably reduce the sugar next time since like my raspberry jams a little more on the tart side.
31/2-4 C. Raspberries, smashed
11/2 C. Sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 T. Pectin
I combined all the ingredients into a pot and cooked over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring frequently. While waiting for the jam to cook, I set up a water bath to warm the jars up to avoid breaking when filling with the hot jam. I also set up a pot to warm the jar lids. Talk about a busy stove!
The next steps happened in rather quick succession: removing the empty jars from the water bath, filling the jars using a funnel making sure not to overfill the jars, wiping the rims to remove an food to make sure the seal is good, placing lids and rings on the jars and placing them back into the water bath. Once in the water bath bring the water up to a rolling boil and process the jars for about 5-10 minutes.
Turn off the burner and let the jars sit in the water for another 5 minutes before removing and placing on the counter. Now comes the fun part! Waiting for the jars to seal and hear “ping!” as they do. Allow the jars to cool for 12-24 hours and then store.
Did it work? I’d say yes! All the jars sealed within about 15-20 minutes after removing them from the water bath. While the jam didn’t completely set, it did set.
I noticed that it did become thicker during the 12-24 hour “wait time”. The flavor is good. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste as sweet as when it was cooking, though I’d probably still lower the sugar in the next batch. I guess the point of all this is if you’ve been hesitant to try something because you don’t know how or have never done it start to finish, do it anyway. You may find a new hobby that you didn’t realize you enjoyed or like me, have something tasty to savor later.
It's week one of NaNoWriMo! For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month also known as Nano to those familiar. The goals is to write 50k words by the end of the month. I've participated several times and, honestly, it's a rough journey. 50k in a month is a disciplined and intense goal for many people, me included. Let's talk details though....
What am I writing?
Book 2 of the Sophie Stearns Adventure Series. It's called The Case of Too Many Albins and it's the conclusion to events that happened in Book 1, Sophie & the G-man, which came out this fall, I can't wait to get Too Many Albins out there. It's going to be a wild ride!
What tools am I using?
You may be able to see from my messy desk picture that I am using a tool called Write or Die. I love this because it forces me to just write. And if I stop, there are consequences! Sometimes it's a screen full of creepy crawlies, sometimes it's loud noises ... your screen turns red ... these are all vaguely unpleasant thing that you want to avoid. It also celebrates your wins. When you reach your goal (say 500 words in 15 minutes) you get trumpet fanfare!
I also use Novlr for the actual story writing/construction. For those who have heard of Scrivener, this is like a light, easier to use version that is cloud based. Novlr allows me to move my chapters around as I see fit which works well for my writing style.
The last tool I use is Pacemaker Press which is essentially a project tracker. During November, I can use the NaNoWriMo site to track novel progress but the rest of the time, I use Pacemaker. I like it because it has a few more bells and whistles than the basic Nano tracker and I can build a couple of plans so I know whats coming up next. I included my plan for Too Many Albins below for those who want to keep track with me.
Lastly. Let's talk about this desk.
I work in a little corner of my living room area on a vintage drop leaf table. It's a cute little red table I picked up from a friend some years back and I don't mind if it gets paint splattered or a little dirty. Every Saturday I clean my desk off and by Tuesday it already looks like this. I paint here, I work here, I write here. I even sometimes eat dinner here.
Current contents: Several to-do lists, my favorite mug half-full with cold coffee (darn it), 2 very dirty cups of water, a couple of paintings, a 2" hole punch, a bottle of my favorite fountain pen ink and pen, my pan set paints, some lip balm, my favorite notebook and my Let's Make Art painting towel. You can also spot the arm I use when filming time-lapse paintings and the ring light that gives the videos that lovely warm glow.
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list.
November marks our very first art challenge! Join Stephanie, Summer and me as we art our way through the month of November. While our primary medium is watercolor, we encourage you to take each day and create in whatever way moves you whether that's painting, writing, sketching, quilting or more.
We can't wait to see what you create!