Friday, September 16, 2016

Cookies Shortcut

Have you ever seen break apart cookie dough and wondered if you can do it from scratch?

I did and am so glad I didn't have to pull out my rolling pin for all the cookies I made!

What you need:
a square or rectangle pan that is smaller than your freezer bags
parchment or wax paper
your favorite cookie dough**

I made my friend's mom's spicy molasses cookie dough. I picked this one b/c the recipe is for A LOT of cookies! I always forget to half it until I get to the flour and go "that's a lot of flour...oh yeah - this is their Christmas Plate cookie recipe and it makes 12 dozen (albeit small, thin) cookies." I made this recipe so that I could try out a few options. The one thing that I did not try out is cutting and cooking them immediately - the spices need to meld with the dough.

So anyway, I lined my small aluminum baking pan with waxed paper (I'm out of parchment) and pressed 1/8 (by weight) of the dough evenly into the pan which gave me about a 1/4" sheet of dough.

Then I experimented a bit:

Option 1: the dough sheet

I pulled out the waxed paper and dough, wrapped it up and put it in the gallon sized freezer bag. When I took them out to bake, cutting the cold dough cracked it a little bit. It is a dry dough though - same thing happens when I roll out the cookies.

Option 2:  pre-scoring the cookies

I pulled the dough sheet and waxed paper out of the pan, cut about 3/4 thru the dough, wrapped it up and put it in my gallon sized freezer bag. This way actually worked out better - the squares pretty much broke apart without much chipping and cracking or crumbs.

Storage Option A: Fridge

The store bought ones come refrigerated and my rolled dough recipes all include chilling 4+ hours in the fridge. This option went as expected.

Storage Option B: Freezer (cook straight from freezer)

This also went as expected - longer cooking time, a bit undercooked in the center.

Storage Option C: Freezer (thaw and cook)

The only problem with this option is that I did this in the humid summer of Virginia - I set it out to thaw and there was a lot of condensation so the dough was a bit soggy... oh well... It will be fine to do in the winter when it'd dryer or maybe put in a towel into the freezer bag to collect the dampness - I'm up for other suggestions!

**Note - this works better for a dryer cookie dough. I did try it with the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe and it was more difficult to push into the paper-lined pan, broke when I cut it and stuck to the paper. However, I have now looked up how to make shaped chocolate chip cookies and will be trying these recipes:

1.  use less or no leavener (baking soda or baking powder) so it won't spread as much. They will rise a bit anyway because of the egg. I'm not sure that's helpful here as it still has a wet dough.

2. cut down on the liquids (1.5 sticks butter instead of 2, 1 egg instead of 2) and reduce the leavener (3/4 tsp baking soda instead of 1 tsp, no baking powder) (

3. experiment with your own recipe!

My Funny Square Cookies!

Friday, April 22, 2016

April Bulletin Board

I had so much fun with this bulletin board! I decided to set it up like one of those fabric memo boards with the ribbons pulled across and held in place by buttons. It turned out great!

The events that we were advertising were:
Earth Day
Field Day
Library Night
Author visit
5th grade program
Kindergarten Registration Day
Special Olympics Little Feet Meet (not pictured - they had some tee shirts that we stapled up a few days later)

The (mostly) finished product

It started from here - measurements, planning and placement! I love that I have these grid sheets left over from teaching!

I forgot to photograph the homemade stencil (a poster board frame with clear contact paper cut out in damask stencil) but here's the work it did - I let it dry over the break and put up the rest when school was back in session.

Field Day sunglasses and pennants and the "buttons" for the memo board - old Earth Day poster themes!

Kindergarten registration - what's more fun than crayons?

Library Night theme was a campout!
I have been working on my Etsy shop too! I created 2 new bonnets of my own pattern (one was to match a pair of booties someone had received and has been sent out and the other hasn't been photographed yet - my craft room is a mess so I haven't had room yet!), made some custom requests for various customers (sloth scarf, anybody?) and this bonnet and booties set!

Monday, February 29, 2016

New Bulletin Board

I did not plan any of these events so I don't have a break down of how-tos but I did design the bulletin board this month (our PTA bulletin board coordinator has left the school).

So March is a busy month - sort of... there's basically 10 days of being busy in the middle of the month! I'm already planning next month's to go up before Spring Break. I think I'm going to do like one of those fabric covered cork boards with the ribbons...

So, here are the events represented:

March Madness Boys Night Out at SkyZone (Mar 10)
Lucky Clover 5K and Fun Run (Mar 12)
Scholastic Book Fair (kicking off at the 5K - Mar 12 to Mar 18)
Yard & Bake Sale benefiting our SPED team (Mar 19)

The bulletin board that the PTA decorates is 8'x8' - that's a lot of space to cover and it needs to be eye catching and informative.

Out of all of this board, the one piece that has the best story (and has already gotten the more compliments) is the RAINBOW! When I was in the beginning planning stages of the board, I woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea - and woke my husband up to tell him about it talking a mile a minute! Here's my directions:

1. Cut 3 inch strips of bulletin board paper.
2. Fold just the short edge into 3rds and glue to a strip of cardstock or poster board. I put a weight over the edges (ok, a rectangular trivet upside down) to hold into place while it dries.*
3. When the glue is set, twist the paper into a tube, fold the edge into 3rds and glue onto another strip of cardstock or poster board remembering to make an arc (the bottom color - blue/purple - will be shorter than the top color - red). Place a weight on that side until the glue is set.
4. Cut 2 clouds to hide the glued edges.
5. To hang it up, staple the cardstock down and then adjust the twists in the tubes so they are even. Open up one of the twists in the center of the rainbow and staple the back side, readjusting the twists to hide the staple. Repeat for each color. Depending on how big the rainbow is, you may need to staple in several places to make it secure.

*You can always substitute staples for glue

The shoes are kind of a hit as well! I knew I wanted shoes on the 5K part so I searched for a "sneaker template". I found this template on an LDS crafting blog but it was highly applicable once I got rid of the religious part. Actually, the whole blog has fantastic simple crafting ideas that can be applied to a variety of events!

I'm looking at this board and realizing how I could have done it better - isn't that always the way? Anyway, doing it again, I'd put "March Madness" across the top on one line and bring the SZ logo behind the brackets. I would have then had room to move the yard sale sign up a bit and for it to be more of a square (we decided book fair needed a bit more room than originally planned so squashed the yard sale square a bit intentionally). This would give me a little bit more room to have the yard sale sign. I had originally planned to have the other side of the brackets be the teachers names (they're written on smaller cardstock) but it didn't look right when I got there - better to over plan than under plan...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Revisit the Bulletin Board

see my previous post about movie night here

Two years later and I'm still using the same bulletin board materials!  I got some film boarder and changed the movie but it's still the same foam projector and curtains!

Here's a problem I had and the solution I came up with - how do you hold on the foamboard projector? It kept falling down. We tried staples, pushpins and last year (don't tell the office manager) duct tape... This year, I brought florist greening pins and a pair of wire cutters with me. I cut about 1/2 of the length of the pins off which made them about double the length of a staple but the gauge is not much thicker than a pushpin. I tapped them in with the wire clippers and the projector is really stable! What are your tips and tricks for bulletin boards?