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Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Holiday Baking Ideas! Christmas Star Bread & Easy Homemade Gifts

Hello, friends.  It is good to be back here with new ideas for you!   I had intended to make all of these projects last month... but, here we are the 1st of December : )  It was oh so nice to be back in the kitchen today baking and creating after a super busy month with the store.  I hope these recipes and ideas find you with plenty of time to make some beautiful and yummy homemade gifts for your friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers and family. 

Now, onto my latest obsession...

Christmas Star Bread

Oh my goodness!  I have been itching to make the for months.  I came across it on pinterest from Taste of Home and just had to know how to make it.  Isn't it just beautiful?  I am completely stunned by it.  Turns out - it is the simplest thing in the world.  Not kidding.  As in, I'm hoping to do it as a project with Emma's class soon, so simple.   It is just circles of dough, layered with filling (I used cinnamon, but raspberry jam or Nutella are also great), then cut and twisted.  OMG I am so excited about this!  The step-by-step details are below.  

I also put together some more super simple ideas for easy Homemade Hostess Gifts.  Aren't these lovely?   I used a new product added to the store today - Horizontal Print Tea TowelsAs most of you know, this was my first time designing and ordering hand block printed linens.  Well, I've learned a lot!  One of the "mistakes" was when half of the tea towels showed up with the pattern going horizontal instead of vertical.  Not a big deal, but different.  However, like all great mistakes, they actually make great wraps for gifts.  I just love how they add to these gifts, and then can be used by the recipient.  

Both Options are available, traditional vertical, $8 and horizontal, $6... since they were a mistake : ) 
More details for making these are at the end of the post.  

Now, back to the Christmas Star Bread!

Christmas Star Bread

The original recipe can be found here, Taste Of Home.

makes 2 - 8" stars

1 packaged active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3/4 cup warm milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast in the warm water.  In another bowl, mix together milk egg, butter, sugar, and salt.  Add yeast and water mix, then add flour.

Kneed in the mixer (or by hand) for 6-8  minutes until smooth dough forms.  Place in a greased bowl, covered with damp warm towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled.  About 1 hour.

It starts with a sweet bread dough recipe.  It is very easy to stir together, kneeds in the kitchen aid, then let rise for an hour.  (The full recipe is below, later in the post)

This is the dough after rising an hour.   

Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface.  

I divided the dough into 2 portions, put 1 half in the fridge to use for another batch, then cut the 2nd half into 4 sections.  Was that too confusing?  Basically, this recipe makes enough for 2 of Stars.  I put 1/2 away to make one later with Emma, and am using the other 1/2 to make one here.

The 4 sections need to be rolled out into circles about 7-8 inches in diameter.  I planned to put mine in the 9" Square Cookie Box, so I made sure it would fit in there.

Start by placing the first round on a Parchment lined Baking Sheet.

Each layer gets brushed with melted butter, then sprinkled with Cinnamon and Sugar.

Sorry for the blurry pic.

This is the pastry brush that comes in the Baker's Gift Tin.  I've never had a round pastry brush, but I really liked it.

I used a measuring cup to make an impression of a circle in the center, so guide my cuts.

Make 12 slits in the dough all the way around.

Twist each section once, turning two pieces together, so they point in to each other.  

See how turning two strips into each other, they create the star?

Repeat again and pinch the points together.

So pretty!

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Look at all of those yummy layers!

This is the Large Cookie Box, lined with parchment paper.

I mean... so, so cute.

I wrapped mine with Copper Ribbon (sorry, no longer available), a Red Laurel Wreath Tag and a sprig of cedar.  

Products Pictured : 

-Large Cookie Boxes, 5 for $8

-Parchment Paper

-Red Laurel Wreath Tags

-Leaf Tea Towel (I included this with my gift, bundled underneath the box)


-Brown LePens

This is super simple and you don't have to actually make anything - but isn't it charming?

I used got two baguettes (these are from target!!!) and had a jar of my Dad's Blackberry Jam. 

To wrap, I used on the of the new Horizontal Tea Towels, Cream Ribbon, Wheat Laurel Wreath Tags (recently restocked), and a sprig of cedar from our tree outside.

This is an idea that I made for Emma's teacher for Thanksgiving.  Here, I've made another version with a more Christmasy look.  It contains Pumpkin Bread and Honey Butter.  You could totally buy the bread to make life easier.

Products Used : 

Horizontal Tea Towel (Slate Wreath)
Large Baking Basket
Parchment Paper
Medium Kraft Loaf Pan
Ribbon & Tags (Burnt Caramel Tags)

Yum - that honey butter!

For the more Christmasy version, I used the Slate Wreath Tea Towel, Gold Ribbon & Caramel Tags.

Happy Hostess Gifting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Our (In-Progress) Holiday Home Tour + 30% Off Pillows & Throws Today

Today I'm going to take you on a little tour of our in-progress decorating in our home.  I'm making an effort to not be a decorated-in-a-day person for Christmas this year, as I like to keep adding layers each week/day as we get closer to Christmas.   We'll display Emma's "artwork" as she creates it, add more fresh greens in a week or two, string more lights when the mood strikes, and just take our time enjoying the process. This year I'm in the mood to do lots of old fashioned homemade crafty projects with Emma (popcorn stringing, gingerbread ornaments, cranberries & oranges, pinecone garlands...) and we'll look forward to working on those little by little each week. 

In this little tour, you'll notice a lot of pillows and throws : )   In fact, it might feel like the entire house is decked out - but really, it is just to the credit of pillows.   They are the first thing I do each season (along with the tree) and they add instant warmth and coziness.  So, in celebration of our first layer of holiday decorating, I'm offering 30% off all Pillows & Throws today.  The pillows are perfect for your own home and the throws make great gifts.

We put the lights up right before Thanksgiving (so we could switch them on that night after the feast!) which is why you still see a giant pumpkin and "signs" welcoming everyone to Thanksgiving...

I'm in the mood for big and full greens this year - the more wild, unruly and natural the better.   Our tree follows suit, as well.

I love how this 30" frasier fir wreath has taken over the entire door.

Ignore the string of light from the tree straight to the outlet... still rounding up extension cords.

Pillows :  Clay Velvet, Large Snowflake Hooked & Leaf Block Print Rectangle

Pillows :  Clay VelvetLarge Snowflake Hooked & Leaf Block Print Rectangle

I love this cozy view.  This year I have lots of layers of color, not just red.  I love the deep green of the "Family Tree" Hooked Pillow, the warm Amber Velvet and the colorful hooked stockings.

Pillows & Throws (Left to Right) :  Heathered Grey & Cream Throw, Amber Velvet Pillow, Family Tree Hooked Pillow.

This is my absolute favorite cozy corner in the house.  I picked up that tree top at the florists and strung some darling star wire lights on it.  It took 3 minutes and makes this little corner sparkle - my kind of christmas decorating.

Pillow : Classic Navajo Embroidered Pillow ($48, $60),  Amber Velvet Pillow, Chocolate Cable Knit Throw ($120 $140)

I picked up those red stockings at our favorite local antique store.  I'm not sure they are actually old, but I love the long simple lines and old fashioned feel it gives the mantle.  I'm sure they would be so simple to make.

Pillows : Hooked Snowflake Lumbar, Clay Velvet, Slate Wreath Block Print 

Pillows : Hooked Snowflake LumbarClay VelvetSlate Wreath Block Print 

Paperwhites time!

Again, the power of pillows.  Just adding these two Navajo Embroidered Pillows has transformed our room into a cozy Christmasy feeling space.

I love how this little pillow made a very pink girly room into a festive spot.  

These gold stars are up all year long, but they feel especially festive this time of year.

Notice, no photos of the floor... covered in toys : )

My office/mudroom gets the a tiny little Starflake Pillow and the whole room feels festive.

Can't wait to make these Nativity cookie cutters.  For now, I love that they are my kitchen Nativity set.

Love these twins on our french doors!

(photo from last year)

If you are new here, you can visit this link to see my Christmas Kitchen Tour from last year to see more of our kitchen.  It looks similar this year... but just not as clean so I didn't photograph : )

Love these star twinklers.

The tiny tree has moved to the kitchen corner... just love it so much that I move to wherever I am.

Happy Decking the Halls and taking your time to enjoy making your home sparkle with your loves : )

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