Monday, December 28, 2009

Just Checking In

Hi,
Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here...my DH is on vacation this week so won't be able to get much if any stamping done. I will finish days 9-12 of the 12 Days of cookies beginning tomorrow. I'm starting to get stamping withdrawal symptoms!
Hope you all have a safe, happy and blessed New Year!
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! The Whole Story

Day 8 Gingerbread Stars
I nearly forgot I promised a peek at the filled tray! Here is one all wrapped up and ready to go. Each tray contained 17 different kinds of cookies plus peppermint bark and was topped off with a giant Gingerbread Snowflake ala Martha Stewart (just click the link for the recipe and directions) below.

This is a view of the tray before the addition of the Gingerbread Snowflake. Below the Snowflake, I've listed all the varieties of cookies I baked this year. You can click on the names in red to be taken to the recipes.
Lemon Sugar Cookie Stars, Chocolate Expresso Pinwheels, Cinnamon Twists, White Chocolate Macadamia, Mint Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut Crinkles, Princess Gems, Peppermint Bark, Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk, Russian Teacakes, White Chocolate Tropical Macaroons,
Date Nut Pinwheels, Apricot Pineapple Pinwheels, Lora's Ginger Cookies, Clear the Cupboard Cookies, Lemon Crinkles, and Chocolate Crinkles.

Hope your Christmas was filled with Happy Memories!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 7 - Princess Gems

12 Days of Cookies
A little over 20+ years ago, I tasted a cookie that was so amazing I just couldn't forget it. We moved away before I could track down the recipe but I never forgot the taste of that incredible cookie. Then we were transferred to Minnesota where there was a lovely little shop that carried all kinds of baking supplies and I found the recipe. It calls for a very unusual ingredient...Bakers' ammonia. Yes, it actually smells like ammonia, in the jar (do not take a big whiff of it!) and while it's baking, but after the ammonia cooks away...you're left with a cookie that's light and airy and that literally melts in your mouth! You can read about Ammomia powder and it's uses here.
Princess Gems

Makes approx. 10-1/2 dozen

1 c. butter
1/2 c. butter flavor shortening
2 t. Bakers' ammonia
2 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Cream butter and shortening. Add the Bakers' Ammonia and sugar and cream well. Add flur, a little at a time, mixing thoroughly. Fold in coconut.

For into 3/4" balls and place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet (Silpat or parchment lined).

Bake 18-20 min. or until light brown around the edges. Sift with confectioner's sugar when cool.

Note: If you plan to freeze these, do not sift on the the confectioner's sugar until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

I will post a completed cookie tray on Christmas Day and will resume the cookie recipes on the 26th.

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas!


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 6 - Russian Teacakes

12 Days of Cookies
These cookies go by lots of names but I have an old cookbook my step-Mom gave me that she used so much it's falling apart. (When I get my new camera..(tomorrow!!) I'll try to get a photo of it.

Enjoy these crunchy, sugared, nut-filled snowballs!

Russian Teacakes

1 c. soft butter
1/2 c. sifted (I don't) confectioner's sugar
1 t. vanilla
2-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 finely chopped nuts (I toast mine first)

Cream together the butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla with electric mixer. Gradually add flour and salt, mixing on low speed just until combined.

Stir in nuts.

Chill dough. Roll into 1" balls. Place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until set and very slightly browned.

While still warm, roll in confectioner's sugar. Place on wire rack to cool. Roll in confectioner's sugar again.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Enjoy!!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 5 - Chocolate Espresso Pinwheels

Day 5 -Chocolate Expresso Pinwheels

Remember how much fun pinwheel cookies were to eat when you were a kid? I used to eat around and around until I got to the middle. This cookie is punched up a notch with the addition of expresso powder...yum! You can keep these in the freezer and just slice some off when unexpected guests pop in.

Chocolate Espresso Pinwheels (Fine Cooking)
Makes about 10 doz. 2 inch cookies

3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1-1/4 c. unsalted butter, slightly softened
1-1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. instant espresso powder
2 T. boiling water
3 T. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (this is different than reg. cocoa powder)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and still warm

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Cream butter on mid-low speed with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar in a steady stream and mix for another 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined.

Remove 2 cups less 2 Tablespoons of the dough and set aside.

Dissolve the expresso powder and cocoa powder in th boiling water and set aside to briefly cool.
Then, mix into the remaining dough. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the warm melted chocolate and mix just until thoroughly combined.

Portion each flavor of dough into 3 equal pieces. (I use a kitchen scale for this) Shape each piece into a 5 x 5 inch square on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap well. (The chocolate will be thicker than the vanilla. Refrigerate for 30 min.

While dough is chilling, tear off 12 (12") squares of waxed paper. Roll each piece of dough into a 7" x 7" square between two sheets of the waxed paper. Without removing the waxed paper, layer the squares of dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10-15 min.

To shape the cookies, remove one swuare of the vanilla and one square of the chocolate dough from the refrigerator, peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from each then invert the chocolate square over the vanilla square (or vice versa!) Keep the layers as even as possible.
Use a rolling pin to gently roll the two layers to seal them together. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper. Starting with the edge closest to you, carefully curl the edge of the dough up and over with your fingertips, so no space is visible in the center of the pinwheel.

Use the waxed paper to continue rolling the dought into a tight cylinder. After the cylinder is formed, roll it back and forth to slightly elongate and compact it. It should be about 9 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide. Roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with remaining dough.

Refrigerate about 3 hours or freeze for up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a sharp bladed knife to slight the dough into 3/16" rounds (I use that plastic ruler again!). Bake 12-14 minutes until the tops of the cookies feel set. Don't let them brown too much on the edges. Let stand on the pan for 1 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool. When cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. or freeze for up to 3 months.

Enjoy!


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 4 - Cinnamon Twists

12 Days of Cookies - Day 4
This is another of my all time favorites and a staple on the Christmas tray. My mom always took the leftover pie crust and made us cinnamon twists out of it by rolling the dough and then sprinkling with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. She'd give them a twist or two before baking. This cookie uses the same technique and reminds me of those highly anticipated little treats.

It's a tender, not too sweet cream cheese dough that's brushed with an egg wash, then embedded with cinnamon, sugar and finely shopped walnuts...delish!...especially with a fresh, steaming cup of coffee or tea...or a cold glass of milk...or all by themselves!! :-)

Cinnamon Twists
1 pkg. (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 c. butter, softened

2-1/2 c. all purpose flour

3/4 cup walnuts

1 c. sugar

2 t. ground cinnamon

1 large egg, beaten

In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat cream cheese and butter until blended. Scrape bowl.

Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, gradually add 1 c. flour and mix until blended. Mix or stir in remaining 1-1/2 c. flour until smooth.

On lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap, pat dough into a 9" x 9" square. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hurs or until dough is firm enough to roll.

Fit food processor with knife blade. Finely grind walnuts with 1/4 c. sugar. In small bowl, stir cinnamon and remaining 3/4 c. sugar into walnut mixture until well blended; set aside.

Preheat overn to 400 degrees. On lightly floured sheet of waxed paper, place dough square. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Roll with rolling pin into 11" x 11" square. With pastry brush, brush some beaten eggover the top of the dough, making sure to coat the edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the walnut mixture. Gently press the mixture into the dough.

Carefully invert the dough onto another sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, nut side down. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with remaining walnut mixture and gently press nut mixture into dough.

Cut dough lengthwise into three 3-1/2" pieces (I keep a plastic ruler in my kitchen tool drawer just for baking), then cut the pieces crosswise into (66) 3-1/2" x 1/2" strips in all.

Twist each strip twice then place about 1" apart on parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets. Bake twists 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned. Gently loosen twists (if using Silpat liners, they will lift right up). Cool on wire racks. Makes 5-1/2 dozen.

Enjoy!!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 3 - Date Nut Pinwheels

12 Days of Cookies - Day 3

I've been making these Date Pinwheels for years. They're a family favorite and a favorite on the cookie trays we give away every Christmas.

Before you say you don't like dates, give this recipe a try. It's fruity, chewy and crisp all at the same time. They're delicious and the flavor improves the next day. This recipe breaks my butter rule. Butter would make the cookies brown too much and dough too soft.

Date Nut Pinwheels
4 dozen

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon


Filling
1 (8 ounce) pkg. chopped pitted dates
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 c. finely chopped pecans

Combine dates, sugar, and water in a med. saucepan. Cook over med. heat 3-5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove filling from heat; stir in pecans. Let cool.

Cream shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well at med. speed of an electric mixer. Add egg, and beat well. Combine flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Shape dough into a ball.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface; rollin to a 16" x 8" rectangle. Spread filling over dough, leaving a 1/2" margin on all sides. Starting at long side, carefully roll dough, jellyroll fashion; pinch seam and ends of roll to seal. Wrap dough in wax paper, and chill at least 1 hour.


Unwrap roll, and cut into 1/4" slices. Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let sit on cookie tray for a minute then remove to wire rack.


Enjoy!


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Day 2 - Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

12 Days of Cookies - Day Two
Edited to add: It's important to note that your cookies will only be as good as your ingredients. If your cranberries are stale...dried and sugary, you won't get good flavor from them. Additionally, if you sub out margarine or shortening for the butter, your cookie may spread too much.

Mmmm....this is a good any time of year cookie. The drizzle of white chocolate takes them over the top. Enjoy!
Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen.
Total time: about an hour

2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. table salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
3 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. dried cranberries (or dried cherries, chopped)
6 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped or white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli)

Extra white chocolate for drizzling or dipping.

Whisk together:

flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture; stir with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended. (I use the lowest speed on my Kitchenaid mixer, mixing just until the mixture is almost completely combined.)

Fold the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.

Drop in mounds (see previous post for scoop info) about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (note: do not grease your baking sheets..this adds extra fat which may cause your cookies to spread too much. Use parchment or a Silpat liner)

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 11-13 minutes or until golden but a little moist. (All cookies continue to cook a bit after removal from the oven so always slightly under bake for a soft cookie.) Let cookies cool on the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

If desired, drizzle or dip into white chocolate. (Oh, yes! :-)

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Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Time for the 12 Days of Cookies! White Chocolate Tropical Macaroons

12 Days of Cookies - Day 1
Christmas at our house means it's time for marathon cookie baking. My husband's employees start asking sometime in October if I'm going to be baking. It's my favorite way to bless our friends and neighbors during the holiday season. I make about 15 different kinds. Some chocolate, some minty, some spicy, some crunchy, some nutty, and some fruity and some chocolate. My cookie doughs are all in the refrigerator awaiting the start of the oven.
These cookies all freeze well so if you're giving cookie trays as gifts, like I do, then keep them in the freezer in air tight containers until you're ready to make the trays. That way, you trap that just baked flavor.
Before I show you the Day 1 cookie, I thought I'd show you my favorite cookie tools. These 3 scoops are my secret to cookies that are similar in size and shape. I use the tiny one when I'm making cookies at Christmas or when I prepare any kind of cookie tray with a variety of choices. That way, people can sample a few instead of having to choose just one. Who wants just one cookie at Christmas time anyway?
I use the middle one for basic cookie baking and the large one for cupcakes or really big cookies.
Now onto the main event..one of my very favorite cookies! When I made this cookie for the first time, my reaction was "Oh, my...awesome!" I was so smitten, I wrote that quote in my cookbook.

This recipe came from a magazine type cookbook from Southern Living called "Our Best Recipes". It's easy and truly delicious. If you love tropical flavors and ease of preparation, this recipe is for you...Be prepared for compliments, um, that is if you don't eat them all yourself!

White Chocolate Tropical Macaroons

Makes 4 dozen
Prep: 30 min.

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I simplify and use Ghiradelli white chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon gr. ginger
1/4 teaspoon gr. cinnamon
4 egg whites (at room temperature)
2 c. flaked coconut
1 c. finely chopped dried pineapple
1/2 c. finely chopped macadamia nuts (you may substitute pecans although I haven't tried them)

Microwave chocolate in a small glass bowl at High 45 second to 1-1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring one. Set aside.

Stir together sugar, ginger, and cinnamon.
Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2-4 minutes).

Fold in white chocolate, coconut, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts. Drop mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. (I use Silpat liners but if you don't have them be sure to use the parchment)

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let sit on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. It's ok if the tops crack a little. They are light and airy and this is natural.

Store in an airtight container or freeze if you're making lots of different cookies for gift giving.


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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally! I Got My Blog Back!

You never know how much you miss something until it's gone...if you haven't been able to access my blog, don't feel too badly, I couldn't get here either.  Somehow it got redirected to Google Apps.  Not sure how but all I know is that I'm nearly bald from days of trying understand how to figure it out using Google helps.  To be fair, they dd help but simple language for not so techy cookiebakers is a good thing.
 
I will be back with the promised 12 days of cookies....I know, we don't have 12 days until Christmas but a good cookie is good anytime, right?
 
Thanks for hanging in there with me...Now, I've got to add back all the stuff I deleted trying to figure out what happened!
 
Merry Christmas!
 
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blog Candy Winner

We have a winner!

True Random Number Service

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
2

Timestamp: 2009-12-10 00:45:34 UTC
Hang on a second while I see who it is.....
Sabrina aka okimom2girlz said...
Charlene, my friend, I am sorry to hear about your neighbor!!! You are right she and all of the angels are doing a dance now. I think I was one of the first ones following you and I have not looked back since. You are talented beyond what I could ever be. I love visiting you my friend!!! Hugs and blessing, Sabrina
December 4, 2009 2:31 PM
Thanks so much, Sabrina! I will get your box to you asap.
Blessings,Thanks and Merry Christmas to everyone who took time to play.
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Today's Blog Candy Day and Eye Candy, too

Sorry I haven't had time to post daily but it's that time of year. I've lost so much time and now scrambling to "catch up"...is that possible?

Thank you so much to those of you who expressed condolences upon the passing of my dear friend, Mary Edith. If any of you have passed up the opportunity to befriend someone much older than you are, I would encourage you to try it. Older people (um, that would be me (eek!) but I'm thinking of those in their 70's -80's) have so much wisdom to share and are so in need of younger company.

My next posts will be Christmas cookies and recipes. Hmmm...maybe the 12 days of cookies?

At any rate, don't forget TODAY IS BLOG CANDY DAY!! I've added some things to the list...wink, wink. Click here to see just a few of them. It is Christmas, right? If you follow me, thank you! You have until 7:00 this evening to play.


Now onto my project. I saw a simpler version of these online somewhere. I was thinking a shabby look would compliment the clothespins since some them aren't perfect.

I painted them with white acrylic, decoupaged the paper on both sides (I printed the words directly onto my paper first using a computer generated font), sprayed them with sealer and then sanded each one.

After they were sanded, I glued on buttons and those cute metal thingys...actually, they began life as push pins but the pin back broke off. Now I'm trying figure out how to break the rest of them!!

I used a pre-fab vellum tag and just punched out a circle for the center, stamped my sentiment and glued it on with Mono-multi.

What do you think?

Merry Christmas and don't forget to play for the candy!


Supplies:
Paper - Papertrey Ink
Sentiments - computer generated
Accessories - wooden spring clothespins, metal tin, vellum tag, ribbon, buttons, found items, MonoMulti, twine, Mod Podge,
Acrylic sealer, sandpaper, white acrylic paint

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Esther's Beauty Framed - Psalm 90:17

Don't forget to sign up for the blog candy in the previous post...I've added a few surprises!

"And let the beauty of the Lord
Our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our
hands for us;
Yes, establish the work
of our hands."

Psalm 90:17

Is this not the perfect verse for stampers?

I was asked to frame this verse for gifts by our pastor's wife. It is one of the verses from the Beth Moore Bible study on Esther and she wanted it framed in these beautiful frames from Michael's to give to her leaders.

I couldn't find the verse anywhere, and since I wanted to emboss it, I had a stamp made at a local rubber stamp company. I wanted the swirl to have some texture, so I got some Stampendous swirl stickers in gold (same one in the blog candy!) and toned them down with Stazon Timber Brown ink. (both papers are the color in the first...that darn camera!)

So dear friends and new visitors, as you prepare for this season, "let the beauty of the Lord.....establish the work of your hands..." as you create beautiful things for those you love.

P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment for the blog candy Here.

My work was accepted for a juried art show! Since I didn't think it would be accepted, I am woefully unprepared!! I will try to post a few things as I'm able. Thanks for being patient.

Merry Christmas!!

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Blog Candy Time!!

Edited to add...this blog candy is no closed but stay tuned...you never know when another may pop up. Thank you to all who played.
My goodness, I am so humbled and so appreciative of all you who regularly visit my blog. Thank you so much.! I totally missed the fact that I passed 25,000 hits and we're on the way to 27,000!

I haven't been posting regularly as I've been grieving over the passing of a dear, beloved friend and neighbor. She was 88 years young, feisty and beautiful. She lost her battle with a severe stroke and congestive heart failure on the 2nd. Today, she dances in the company of The Most High King and His angels.


For those of you who are followers, I have a gift.
If you would like to be included in this blog candy drawing, just leave me a comment with your contact information. I will be adding items including some stamped images for you to play with.


Included in this blog candy is:


Pearlescent Watercolor Paints (love these!)
A Sizzix leaf die
Stamping Bella Doc a Bella stamp
Two sets of Stampendous Swirl Stickers
Fiskars Heart Pop-up Punch
Flower Soft Christmas Tree card fronts
American Crafts foil chipboard shapes
foof-a-La epoxy stickers
SU butterfly stamp
Stamped images
adding...
assortment of paper and silk flowers
small round tin
acrylic paint can
Cutting Cafe planner
chipboard letters and foam mounted frames


Don't forget your contact info if you don't have an online account. Be sure to scroll down as I will posting some projects you might be interested in. And if you want a chance at even More candy head on over to Sue's blog. She's an awesome stamper and a really sweet person as well.

Blessings and Merry Christmas!









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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Inside Story and How to Make Your Own Light Box

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments on my "clean" room...you should see it now!! And NO, I'm not going to show you. By request, here is the inside of my cabinet. The top and bottom shelves are original to the unit. My DH made the 2nd and 3rd shelves.



On the top shelf, right side, I added a small wire shelf unit. On it are my Fabriano cards/envelopes. Underneath the wire shelf are boxes of linen stationary for making personalized notes. To the left are my bead boxes, books and candy for gifts, and Zip Loc bags.



The second shelf hold a small organizer with "stuff" in it... dimensionals, rubber bands, hand held punches, etc. Another of those wire shelves holds mediums like Gamsol, shaving cream, Gesso, etc. Under the shelf are two plastic bins of Scor-Tape and various supplies. To the right are stackers that hold manila file folders & chipboard.



The third shelf holds the heavy machinery....A Rollabind, a couple of Xyrons, a Bind-it-All and the accessories for them.



Bottom shelf are some baskets I got on clearance from Michaels that hold my alterables. On the left are notepads, of all sizes and shapes that I pick up whenever I see a good deal, the center one holds pails, glass vases, etc. and the one on the right has all the rest...candles, coffee mugs...anything I might need for a quick or not so quick, gift.



How is this for a light box? I purchased one of those 16" light boxes (no lights as I read an Ott light does just as well).

It's ok but just not big enough and it's a bit lopsided. I didn't want to spend $50 right now for another box so went on the hunt for an alternative. I found a great DIY here. (just click the red area for instructions)


The guy is funny and gives step by step instructions along with photos for how to make your own. Mine is probably a bit bigger than I really need but it works great. I have two small Ott lights that I set up on the sides, but you could use daylight as well. A great way to save money and recycle at the same time. I sew so I had a roll of tracing paper from a pattern making class but you could use white tissue paper on the sides and top just as easily. I taped it down with my tape gun. I got the poster board at Dollar Tree 2/$1.



I promise to get back to stamping....I had several big projects get done...One down, two to go! Whew!! My posts may be a big irregular as baking time gets closer....but I promise to post recipes and photos of the cookies if you'd like.


Thanks for popping in and do give the photo box a try...it's really easy and a great money saver.

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