Mason Jar Gingerbread Cookies

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In my family, the day after Thanksgiving has always meant the first day of Christmas. It may seem a bit early to some, but with all of us living in different places it’s one of the last times we’ll be together before Christmas Day itself. So in the true holiday spirit, our house begins to resemble Santa’s workshop as we all get to work. My dad hangs the lights outside, my sister and I grab container after container of ornaments and stockings off the shelves in the garage to bring inside, and my mom whips up some homemade hot chocolate and cookies for us all – Noodles hovering close by, waiting for scraps of food to be dropped to the kitchen floor. With a full fire going and Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and other members of the Rat Pack playing in the background, we all gather around to decorate the Christmas tree.

It’s truly one of the most special days of the year in the Embury household, and something I wish I could share with everyone. While I can’t personally invite every person I know into my house, I did the next best thing. I found a way to bring our holiday festivities to you through some of my favorite gingerbread cookies!

These were very simple and affordable to make, which is always a plus on my college budget. They make the perfect gift for friends and family, and go a long way in spreading the holiday cheer. I made quite a few at home over Thanksgiving break, but saved one to enjoy with Kirby and our friends in Los Angeles.


Materials:

  • 1 quart-sized mason jar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • Small spoon or ladle
  • Twine
  • Gingerbread man cookie cutter
  • Fabric to cover mason jar lid
  • Card stock paper to write instructions
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch

Mix 2 cups of flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Layer the ingredients in the mason jar starting with the flour and baking powder mixture, then the brown sugar, and finally the flour and spice mixture. Pack firmly between layers. I used a small metal ladle to press down each layer as I went. Seal the mason jar tightly with the lid.

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Fold a piece of card stock paper over and write down the ingredients and directions on the inner section. I used white card stock so that you could clearly see the writing on the page. Feel free to decorate this card however you want. On another piece of card stock (I used brown to resemble a gingerbread man) I stenciled a gingerbread man using the cookie cutter to cut out and paste on the front section of the ingredients and directions card. Make sure to leave room at the top, inner corner to punch a hole.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • icing and candy to decorate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. Empty contents of jar into a large mixing bowl
  3. Stir to blend together
  4. Mix in butter, molasses, and egg
  5. Cover and refrigerate (1 hr)
  6. Roll dough to 1/4″ thick on a lightly floured surface
  7. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter
  8. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake (10-12 mins)
  9. Decorate and enjoy!

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Place enough fabric over the top of the mason jar to cover the metal lid – I chose red to match the holiday theme! Secure the fabric to the jar by wrapping twine around the lid. Make sure to loop in the ingredients and directions card as well as the gingerbread man cookie cutter before tying a bow.

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michelle-and-noodlesgoldleavesNow you’re ready to gift, bake some cookies, and relax!

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Happy holidays!

-Michelle

Candy Advent Calendar

_mg_8162goldleavesIt’s that wonderful time of year – December is finally here! We’ve been overwhelmingly busy with final exams and packing for winter break, but decided to take a day off to craft and embrace the holiday spirit together before we leave for home.

Advent calendars are the most exciting Christmas decoration thanks to the sweet surprise that hides behind each day. Usually we get the cardboard ones where you punch out the chocolate each day, but this year we decided to make it more interesting. We loaded up on our favorite candies (pretty much all of them to be honest) and wrapped them up like mini Christmas gifts. The end result is so festive and cute, plus the wooden structure is sturdy and reusable so we never have to go back to the plain old cardboard calendars again. Because we were a little late starting this one, we embraced the excuse to eat five candies in one night, and there’s no shame in you doing the same!


Materials:

  • A long piece of wood
  • White spray paint
  • 25 nails
  • Black acrylic paint
  • A thin paint brush
  • Wrapping paper (we mostly used tissue paper)
  • 25 small candies
  • Ribbon
  • String (we used the red & white twisted kind)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Command strips for hanging

Use a piece of wood that is long enough to hold all 25 candies. We found this scrap wood at the UCLA sculpture lab – it doesn’t need to be fancy. Set it down outside on paper or newspaper and coat the wood with white spray paint. We only did one layer for a more rustic look but feel free to do another for a cleaner style. Allow to dry completely.

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Carefully measure out where each number will go. It’s been a while since we took math and this took us a few tries, but it will look much better if it is evenly spaced apart. We marked each space with a small pencil mark. Then using whatever font you would like, paint the numbers over each dot. If you don’t have faith in your calligraphy skills, you could easily use number stickers from any craft store.

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Next, hammer the nails into the pencil dots. You want them to be secure, but still protruding quite a bit in order to hold the candies (Note: doing this in a Christmas sweater will add to the festive vibe).

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Pick out your 25 candy surprises. We opted for a large variety of things from chocolates to fruity chewy candies. Pick what you like, because you will be the one eating them! The goal is to find candy with small, easy-to-wrap packaging. Some things, like the starbursts, you can divide up into three separate days. We poured the skittles into little plastic baggies that would be wrapped into cute pouches.

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Wrap all of the candy. Warning, this is not a craft for those who hate gift wrapping. This is probably what it feels like to be Santa Claus for mice. We used tissue paper except for the plaid gift wrap, and we used variations of gold ribbon to create consistency.

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Cut different lengths of string (so that the mini presents will all hang at different heights) and tape them in a loop to the back of each candy gift.

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Using command strips, attach the wooden piece to the wall. Hang the gifts onto the advent calendar in a random order. We tried to arrange them based on wrapping color and the length at which they hang.

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Now relax, indulge your sweet tooth, and let the countdown begin!

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Happy December!

-Kirby and Michelle