Sugar Cookies

Baking and decorating sugar cookies can be very daunting, and in my opinion it’s definitely an art! If you ask my mom and I, a sugar cookie is really only as good as it tastes. We’ve baked lots of sugar cookies, both for taste and for cuteness…and finding a balance between the two is definitely a challenge. The recipe included here yields delicious cookies! They don’t fully hold their shape, so we re-cut the shapes after baking and cooling for a clean and crisp shape. Honestly, it’s the best way to accomplish the perfect cookie shape. Below is the recipe and all of my mom’s tips for baking the perfect sugar cookie. A huge Thanks to her mom for sharing all she has learned over the years!

Cookie Recipe:

2 cups salted butter

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp vanilla (we used a vanilla bean paste)

5 cups flour

Directions:

Beat butter with a paddle attachment, adding sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat just until incorporated. Add salt and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Add flour in 3 different batches and mix until just incorporated.

Split cookie dough into two evenly distributed batches. Place each batch of dough between two pieces of parchment paper and slightly roll into a flat circle before refrigerating. Chill for a minimum of one hour. After chilling, roll dough (we did about 1/4 inch thick cookies) and cut into shapes. Re-chill shaped cookies. Bake at 375 for approximately 10-12 minutes–don’t overbake! Allow cookies to cool and then store in an airtight container until decorating.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Handle the dough as little as possible and add as little of additional flour as possible
  • When rolling out the dough after chilling, leave it between the two pieces of parchment to prevent sticking to rolling pin, counter, etc (this makes the process SO MUCH cleaner!!)
  • Keep dough as cold as possible. The warmer it gets, the stickier the dough will be and the less they will hold their shape
  • After cutting dough into shapes, re-chill on a parchment lined cookie sheet before baking
  • Bake cookies of similar sizes in each batch
  • Freeze cookies either undecorated or fully decorated (or both) if you’re not serving right away. This will allow you to serve the freshest cookie possible!
  • We personally only re-work the dough once for re-rolling. After the second rolling/cutting, we bake the scraps for snacking, practice decorating, etc. if you re-work dough too many times, the texture of the cookie will change

Buttercream Icing Recipe:

2 cups butter

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoon milk

Directions:

Beat butter with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and milk. Split icing into the desired number of batches for coloring. Add gel coloring (These and these are our favorites) until desired color is achieved. Place icing in piping bags and have fun decorating!! I used icing in piping bags to outline and fill the cookies and then used a small spatula to spread the icing to get a cleaner look.

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DIY Pumpkins

I had way too much fun crafting these pumpkins to add to my pumpkin collection. I love the variations of color and texture and that they are uniquely mine! The great thing about this project is that the possibilities are truly endless!

Decorating craft pumpkins is something that offers a wide variety of options. I opted to do a scrapbook paper mod-podge with different patterns and then added a yarn scroll for a variation of texture. For the paper, I looked for the 12×12 paper that was fairly thin so that it could be molded to the pumpkin shape. I purchased the smaller white pumpkins from the floral section at Joanne Fabrics (instead of the big crafting pumpkins they sell in mass) simply because I like the shape and size better…but the more drastic the humps are, the more tedious the mod-podge process is! You’ve been warned ☺️.

Here’s a quick step by step process I did for the mod-podge pumpkins:

    Cut the paper into strips, approximately 1″ wide and as long as the pumpkin from top to bottom
    Strip by strip, apply mod-podge to the back of the paper and apply to the pumpkin from just under the stem to the bottom center of the pumpkin. Use extra mod-podge to gently work the paper down to the pumpkin. I did add small slits into the paper where it was lumpy and far from laying flat. It takes a lot of patience and time just working the paper strip to fully lay down. By the end of it, the paper will likely be fully coated in its first layer of mod-podge
    After the entire pumpkin is covered in paper, add a 2nd coat of mod-podge for securing it all down
    After 2nd coat is dry, apply 3rd and final coat
    Paint your stem your color of choice (I went with a gold)

Have fun choosing papers that work for you but be sure to go bold and choose a fun pattern that might not be your norm. It’s fun to blend the simple with the interesting!

As for the yarn pumpkin, just use hot glue to create a mixture of patterns on the pumpkin itself. Fill in holes at the end to make sure no white is peeking through.

Halloween Season Surprise

Okay, I swear not everything I share will be Disney related, but as I mentioned before, we have an upcoming trip so that’s currently the theme around here :).

These treat baskets actually have a dual purpose for me. I love getting the kids seasonal jammies and goodies to celebrate the upcoming holidays….But instead of them just showing up in their drawers and not really appreciating it, I like to make the delivery of the gifts special as well. And on top of that, I wanted to surprise them with a little something when we leave for our trip. I plan to have these waiting in their car seats when we pick Grady up from school and hit the road! It will be an amazing tangible indicator to him about where we are going and what he can expect. I just feel like these add a touch of magic from a little kids perspective.

I packed the buckets with some snacks and goodies for the ride and a pair of the CUTEST pajamas from Gap. Our little man is donut and sprinkle-obsessed, so these are literally everything right now. And of course, I know the Mickey bucket and light-up necklaces will be huge hits the entire camping trip. The great thing about these gifts is, we probably would have ended up getting these things for the kids at the park anyhow…why not make it a little more personal and special with the way we give it to them?

One of the other things that inspired this was Disney’s own Surprise Gift arrival program. I stumbled across this while planning one of our trips and I thought the idea and gesture was adorable for families. The pricing is a little high and I feel like your money goes so much further by doing it yourself. So why not plan ahead and bring a surprise goodie bag for the kids for arrival? Pack it with all the things you know you’ll probably get or need or want anyway, and make it a magical moment of the trip. Disney’s online shop sells a lot of the park goodies and seasonal items….and they often run promotions with discounts and free shipping. So, just an idea to add a little thoughtfulness to your next Disney (or non-Disney, for that matter) adventure!

Disney (or any vacation) Rocks

So I know that painting rocks is not a groundbreaking idea, BUT we did this little project to get ready for our upcoming Disney trip and I’d thought I’d share! To get the kids excited about our camping trip to Fort Wilderness in Disney World, we spent a day painting these rocks that we would be able to share with other kiddos. I love that it helped to build the excitement for our vacation and that we were able to talk about doing special things for others. Grady was excited to hear that we would be hiding these for other kids to find, knowing how happy it would make them. I mean, how simple and cool of a concept to pass on to our little ones?! I just love it. Since our vacation is Disney, we chose some of our favorite characters and gathered lots of inspiration from Pinterest. But this could totally be tailored to any vacation destination. I think it will become a new tradition of ours!

For the rock project, we used a bag of white rocks from Home Depot. Make sure to wipe the dust off (or wash them prior to painting and let them fully dry). To paint them, we used an assortment of acrylic paint from the craft store. And then we just sprayed a thin coat of clear sealer after all of the painted designs were dry. Pretty easy!

The kids can’t stop playing with them and looking at them, which is always a good sign for a project. Hope this inspires a new tradition for some of you! Here’s a closer look at some of our cute rocks. Thanks for stopping by!

Hello (Again) World!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since my last post! If I’m being honest, there are many reasons for why that’s the case–a mix of finding our new groove as a family of four and feeling uncertainty as to the direction I want this blog to take.  But I have recently felt a huge urge for a creative outlet and the timing just feels right to me.  So, I have decided to buckle down and give this a chance in a more serious and structured way than before.

I’ve been wanting to start this process for quite some time but I wasn’t sure how to blend my personal social media accounts with this new adventure.  After careful consideration, I believe that keeping my personal social media private is the best interest for my family and my children.  It’s funny, I often read that many people stumbled on blogging ‘by chance’ and just happened to create an audience.  At one point in time, I would have told you that I wished for something like that; but after observing the pros and cons that scenario creates, I would much prefer to have a deliberate community with whom I can share curated content.  I truly love following along to both types of Bloggers, but I think this works best for me.

My dream of starting a business is still alive, but at this point there are so many other things that take priority over my own aspirations.  What I love about this Instagram and Blogging world is that it allows me to still focus on what matters most to me (my children, my family, celebrating big and little moments, creating lasting memories, photography, etc), while also diving into a challenge for myself.  I have no idea if it will stick, but if I don’t try, I’ll never know, right?

So, anyway, here we are!  I am SO SUPER excited to re-brand my blog as Thoughtfully Curated and really give try to create something meaningful and fun. Hopefully I can create, capture and share some good stuff along the way!

North Pole Breakfast

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Today our Elf came to help us officially welcome the Holiday Season!  He brought us a beautiful and festive breakfast, some Christmas jammies for the season, and some awesome new Christmas books to read.

Excited to continue watching Christmas through Grady’s eyes this season.  Everything is so much brighter and more beautiful!  I can’t wait for Evelyn to experience it in the same way one day.

Pastries

Backdrop Fans and Banner

Elf Letter Printable

Christmas Tree Cake Toppers 

Letterboard

Red Suitcase

Santa Cups, Santa Plates, Furry Bench – Target

Halloween Moana-Style

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I wanted to do a blog post for this because my super talented mom HAND-MADE most of our costumes for Halloween this year and it’s just too good not to share the details.  Grady has been pretty obsessed with the movie Moana the past several months so we decided early on that we would do a family theme based on the movie.  So, we thought it was fitting for John and I to be Moana’s mom and dad, Evelyn to be Baby Moana, and Grady to be Maui.  Of course, it’s impossible to find a Maui costume anywhere since Disney discontinued it…and the mom and dad are semi-obscure characters, so we pretty much had to compile the costumes from scratch!  I wanted to do some side-by-sides for fun…so here goes!

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Maui – My little man made the cutest Maui, if I do say so myself!  That tattoo shirt is hand-drawn with permanent marker free-hand by my mother…yes, you read that correctly!  Do yourself a favor and zoom in.  They are ridiculously accurate and it’s super cool to look at each ‘story’ on his sleeve.  I purchased a tan leotard online and she drew everything with a thin black permanent marker.  Then, we made the skirt by using rattan string and a collection of silk leaves from Hobby Lobby.  We added additional string and shells to the front to mimic Maui’s and give depth.  I also, glued a bunch of leaves to a pair of green gym shorts of Grady’s as an underneath/back-up option.  I’m super glad I did that because as cute as the skirt is, it just wasn’t super realistic to withstand the wear and tear of a toddler for hours and hours.  Lastly, my mom hand-sculpted the teeth and necklace pieces to create an over-sized version fit for a toddler. I LOVE the way it turned out…too darn cute!

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Baby Moana – I don’t think there is anything cuter than a bald baby Moana, hahaha. I actually bought her outfit on Etsy here. Then we made the shell necklace small enough for her to replicate the one from the movie. And lastly, I bought a realistic Plumeria on Etsy and then bought some nylon headbands.  My mom sewed the plumeria onto the headband so it would stay in place.  This was a perfect costume for little Evie because it was simple and comfortable.

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Sina and Tui – It just made sense to be Moana’s mom and dad since Evelyn was dressing as her.  This was truly challenging though since all of it had to be created from the ground up.  My mom set out on the challenge to find the right fabric, sew it all together, and layer the pieces to look EXACTLY like the real thing.  She hand-drew the tattoos for John’s tight shirt as well. His necklace is also hand-sculpted from clay.  And then, of course, we had to include Tui’s ceremonial Chief’s headwear for John…..all of which my mom also painted, sewed and glued from scratch (some pretty ingenious stuff she did to get it all to work and fit appropriately!!). My headpiece was purchased on Etsy and added the perfect final touch.

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Accessories – Lastly,  we incorporated some of our favorite accessories to complete the look.  I purchased a Hei-Hei doll and a light-up Maui Hook from Target.  Then I made these Kakamora Treat Buckets by spray-painting pumpkins.  My husband painted the faces on and I think they came out so cute!

To say we had fun as the Moana family is an understatement.  The best part is that it’s something Grady has been watching for months in our house, so it was fun to make that come to life for him.  The things we do for our kiddos (and grand-kiddos in my mom’s case :))!

Here are some other favorite pics from the night we spent at Magic Kingdom in our costumes:

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