Friday, 29 December 2017

This year I...

♡ Went to the snow, built a snowman, and went tobogganing.
♡ Bought a stand mixer and upped my baking game.

♡ Booked and paid for our first out-of-state, travelling-via-plane holiday!
♡ Went inside a sauna for the first time.

♡ Visited the Healesville Sanctuary for mine and Daniel's fourth Valentine's Day together.
♡ Hiked up to the top of a waterfall.
♡ Turned 21.
♡ Celebrated four years with Daniel.
♡ Baked cupcakes, brownies, sugar cookies, a vanilla cake, cake pops, and a sponge cake from scratch for the first time.
♡ Read 33 books.
♡ Started getting an average of 10, 000 blog views per month.
♡ Joined - and quit - the gym.
♡ Won a bunch of mermaid-themed pins in an Instagram giveaway.

♡ Published 153 blog posts (not including this one), bringing my overall total up to 202.
♡ Created a Facebook page for my blog (blogging goal), and reached over 100 likes on it.
♡ Started setting myself monthly goals.

♡ Got really good at planning and writing my blog posts far in advance.
♡ Celebrated two of my oldest and closest friends' 21st birthdays.
♡ Posted my first OOTD post.





♡ Renewed our annual passes to the Melbourne Aquarium.
♡ Saw six movies in the cinemas with Daniel (quite a drop from last year's 17, but we saw all the ones we wanted to, guess it was just a slow year).

♡ Received a gorgeous watch from an awesome company.
♡ Finally tried a pumpkin spice frappuccino from Starbucks.
♡ Donated multiple bags of belongings to charity stores, and made better use of the space we have.
♡ Posted five of my own recipes.
♡ Saw Arj Barker perform live at the International Melbourne Comedy Festival.
♡ Started pitching to brands and businesses that I would like to work with.
♡ Started making piΓ±atas - and couldn't stop.
♡ Worked with a company on my first sponsored blog post (21st goal/blogging goal), and continued to work with more companies as the year went on.
♡ Received my first affiliate link from a company.
♡ Visited the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie for their Hot Chocolate Festival for the third year in a row.
♡ Cooked dinner for Daniel and I. (21st goal).
♡ Celebrated Christmas with Daniel for the fifth time!

                                                                                                              ~

Despite all the freak-outs and setbacks that every year brings, I really did enjoy 2017. It was the first year that began completely free of negativity, and ended the same way. 

I fell in love with baking, I re-fell in love with creating and making things, and I honestly felt that I grew a lot as a person over the last 12 months (I didn't even freak out that much about turning 21 πŸ˜‰). How was your 2017?

Until next time,
Indya xx

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

2017 was an incredible year for me. I grew so much as a person and a blogger. I realised what things in my life made me happy, and what didn't, and I altered how I spent my time accordingly. I fell head first in love with the world of blogging and creating, and now I feel more confident and excited about The Small Adventurer's future than ever.

I also made a lot of great memories this year. Daniel and I celebrated our fourth anniversary, went on our first holiday, booked our second one for early next year, and are already planning our third one - which will hopefully be overseas!



I feel so much more in control and calm about the future now that I know what the next few years have in store for us. Plus, I feel more motivated than ever to work hard and achieve my goals so that we can live truly fulfilled lives and know that we never settled for less.


                                                                                                              ~

I created a lot of content this year that I love, and a lot that I know I could have done better, but it's those posts that I will have learnt the most from in the end. I have already made so many plans with myself on how I want my blog to be in the future, and how I would like to come across to the world, but for this post I am just going to focus on the parts that I am already happy with. So, here are 10 posts from 2017 that I put a lot of love and work into, and that were met with great feedback as a result.

1. Little Known Side Effects of Anxiety. 

This is my most popular post - and pin on Pinterest - to date. This post has been in my top five most viewed posts of the week every single week since it went up. It felt really good to open up about some of the issues I struggle with, and I hope to do more of that in the new year.

2. Three Ways I Brought Happiness Into My Life. 

This post marked quite a personal development for myself. Writing it made me really reflect on how my life had changed over time, and to take note of what decisions that I made had the biggest impact on my overall happiness - whether I realised it at the time or not.

3. Sushi Cupcakes for International Sushi Day. 
Unlike my multi-talented boyfriend, I am not someone who can look at something and instantly recreate it, and that's something that gets me down quite a lot. I hate putting time and effort into something - and having a very specific end result in mind - and being left with someone really disappointing, but this recipe was not one of those moments. 

Whilst it may not be the most difficult recipe out there, it really marked the beginning of me trying completely new things in the kitchen, and gave me a passion for creating that I never knew I had.

4. It's Okay, You Still Have Time.
I haven't had many life-altering revelations in my life, but this post was inspired by one of those moments that I had this year. I was born a worrier and that's never going to go away, but I did manage to stop and realise at one point this year that I still have so much time to achieve all of my dreams. 

I have my entire life to travel the world, read a million books, get married, buy a house, have my own pets, and anything else I decide I want to do. Once I realised this, my life - and my mind- calmed down, and I was able to live in the moment a whole lot more.



5. Pink Sugar Heart Attack: Fairy Floss-Filled Cupcakes.
These gorgeous and delicious treats were my very first original recipe that I posted on this blog, and I was overwhelmed by the response they got. They instantly became one of my most popular posts of all time, and that really motivated me to come up with more recipes of my own. 

It also helped me realise that the things I loved throughout my childhood - such as Sailor Moon and Pokemon - are some of the things I am most passionate about, so I should embrace my still child-like heart and let myself be inspired by those things. Whilst I promise you that this won't become a geek or pop culture blog, I can guarantee that a few of my favourite cartoons will pop up from time to time.

6. DIY Donut Christmas Tree Skirt.
This post was an instant life-changer for me. It challenged me, it inspired me, and it made me realise that I actually can do anything I put my mind to. Aside from being my second most popular post of all time and one of my favourite things in my entire house, it also motivated me to go bigger and do better in all my future blog content, particularly in the DIY section. I can picture myself in the future with a successful blog that I am immensely proud of, and I know I'll be able to look back at this project and know that it was the fuel that sparked my creative fire.

7. I'm The Happiest I've Ever Been - And I Want To Talk About It!
This post was inspired by another revelation that I had, although this one wasn't as positive as it was inspired by the fact that other people aren't always happy that you're happy. I will always see the best in people, that's just who I am, so it really took me by surprise when I realised there were people out there who could look at someone that's happy, and try to take that away, or prove that it wasn't real. While that was kind of a sad moment, it made me appreciate the fact that I no longer saw another person's happiness as a threat or competition. All I can do is live the best life I can, and not let anyone else's bitterness affect my happiness.

8. SpongeBob SquarePants Quote Sugar Cookies.
I had to include this post as I just had so much fun making these cookies. Plain sugar cookies are one of my favourite treats as they are so good dipped in tea, but I also loved the fact that I could watch endless episode of SpongeBob and say that I was doing research for a post πŸ˜‚ As it says in my Instagram bio, I am a child at heart, and although I was made to grow up quickly in many ways, there's some things from my childhood that I refuse to let go of - and light-hearted cartoons are one of those things! I have a job, do my own washing, and read classic literature novels so I think I'm enough of an adult for my age, now let me watch my cartoons!

9. To Those Without Mothers on Mother's Day.
Moving out of home and cutting my mother out of my life was the best decision I have ever made. Every single aspect of my life - and my mental health - has improved every day since then, and I am extremely content knowing that she will never be a part of my life again. But, as happy as I am with that decision, Mother's Day makes me feel a lot of emotions. 

I feel sad that I wasn't granted the angelic, best friend kind of mother that others were. I feel angry that she still thinks I'm the one in the wrong because I stopped giving her all my money to support her alcohol dependency so that I could pay her bills instead (????). I feel annoyed at all the people who say things like "but she's your mum!", knowing that they didn't have to live through what I lived through. This post was about me accepting all those feelings for what they were, and knowing that I would take them over her any day of the year. Since then, I have found that simply acknowledging your feelings really helps to lessen them and move on. I have now come to terms that I will never have what so many others have, but I still have plenty of amazing women in my life, and I am extremely lucky to know them.



10. First Blogging Birthday: What I've Learned So Far.
My blog officially turned one back in August! Despite wanting to have my own blog or website since I first saw The Perfect Man back in 2005, I didn't get the courage to start it until last year (that was probably a good thing though, considering I was only nine when I saw that movie, so my blog would have been pretty bad πŸ˜‚). Whilst I wish I had started sooner when the industry wasn't so over-saturated, I also know that I chose a really good time to start. 


I was in the best head space I had ever been in, and I was living a life that I had complete control over, which meant I could have complete control over my blog too. I learned a lot in my first year of blogging - and I've already learned a lot more since my blog turned one, which I have noted down for next year's birthday post - and I am so happy that I finally took the leap and started this blog. It is one of the best things to ever happen to me.

                                                                                                              ~

2017 has been quite a year, but I have much, much, much higher expectations for 2018. I want to continue growing as a person and a blogger so much so that I can barely remember what it felt like to be the person I am now. 

I want to prove myself, to to challenge myself, and to surprise myself as much as possible - but, most importantly, I want to fill 2018 with even more love and laughter than all the years before it. Here's to a wonderful new year.

Until next time,
Indya xx

Friday, 22 December 2017

There's no denying the fact that letter boards are EVERYWHERE right now. I've been really good at not breaking down and purchasing one since I own a light box and they do pretty much the same thing (ie: they're both rectangular items with phrases on them), but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to get a letter board now that I am trying to bring more colour into my home decor.



I was playing around in the kitchen the other day, and testing out different ways to decorate sugar cookies, when I thought of making them look like pink letter boards! Truth be told, I initially rolled the pink fondant flat, then carved little slits into it, but then Daniel said they'd look better if I rolled the fondant into individual cylinder shapes instead. 

I've got to admit sometimes I hate the way he's always got better ideas than me πŸ˜‚  but I really do admire Daniel's mind. He ALWAYS thinks of a better way to do things, even when it's something relating to baking or crafting, which are two things that he has never been interested in. 

The way that I was doing it first was so much easier - and I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to do things in the most simple way - but Daniel's way looked far better, so he stayed in the kitchen with me all day to help me roll out all the fondant I needed for the cookies. I'm not going to lie, these cookies took forever - and I pulled a muscle in my hand - but it was so worth it in the end. I loved how they came out! 

Although, if I ever make these again, I'd like to add a white boarder around the edges, as all the pink letter boards that I've seen have them. My favourite thing about these cookies is that you could make them go with any occasion, just change up the phrasing to suit what you're celebrating and you're good to go!



Ingredients/Tools:

♡ Sugar cookies
♡ Pink fondant
♡ Fondant rolling pin
♡ Royal icing in piping consistency
♡ Paper and pencil

♡ Piping bag
♡ Baking paper

Directions:

1. Roll out your fondant into thin cylinder shapes, then cut them to be as long as your cookies are wide. We found it easier to roll out one long cylinder shape, then cut it into slits as wide as your cookies, so that most of the cylinders would be the same thickness.

If you're baking your sugar cookies on the same day, I would recommend starting this step as soon as you put the cookies in the oven as it is very time-consuming, with the cookie cutter that you used as a guide to how long each cylinder should be.

2. Once your cookies are done and completely cool, start placing the fondant cylinders on them. You will need to press down slightly the part of the fondant that is touching the cookies goes flat, which will prevent the cylinders from rolling off your cookies when you pick them up.



3. If you're happy free-handing your letters then go you, but if not, write down the words on a piece of paper in the size and style that you wish, making sure to leave a little more space in between each letter than you normally would. 

4. Once you've written the phrases you wish to go on your letter boards, lay a sheet of baking paper on top of that paper, then fill your piping bag with royal icing and pipe over the letters. 

TIP: I wrote the same things down multiple times in case I didn't pipe them correctly the first time, and this turned out to be a huge help.

5. Put the sheet of baking paper in the fridge until the royal icing sets, then very carefully peel off each letter and play them on the cookies. If your letters are thick enough, you may be able to spread a little royal icing on the back of them to ensure they stick to the fondant, but mine very thin and brittle so I didn't want to take any chances in case I snapped them.

                                                                                                              ~

Since this was a very spur-of-the-moment idea, I didn't have as much fondant - or time - as I would have liked. If I'd had more of both, I would have covered a lot more cookies in the fondant, and tried out more phrases, but since I had already wasted so much time doing them the way I had originally was, I was only able to do three before the lighting was completely gone. πŸ˜…



For those of you who adore felt letter boards, here's a pink letter board cake by Best Friends for Frosting, and mini letter board invitations from Handmade Charlotte that definitely deserve your attention - as do the rest of their blogs while you're there!

Until next time,

Indya xx

Wednesday, 20 December 2017



Wrapping presents is one of my favourite things about Christmas! I mean, I could write an entire blog post about all the reasons why I love Christmas, but wrapping presents would definitely be in the top ten.

Last year Daniel and I colour-coded our presents - pink for me and purple for him, as they're our favourite colours - to go with our pink and purple decorations, but this year I wanted to do something different, so I decided to wrap his presents to make them look like other things he likes. 

Some of his presents that aren't mentioned here I wrapped to look like a slice of watermelon and his favourite animals, and one I covered in drawings of pretzels, but they didn't fit in with the 'geeky' theme so they didn't make it into this post. 


                                                                                                              ~


Mario Question Box:

I really wasn't kidding when I said these gift wrapping ideas were super easy! For this one all you need to do is wrap your present in yellow paper, then cut out a question mark from white paper and stick it on. 

I measured the question mark from a photo of the question box that I got off the internet, and just enlarged it until I was happy with the size and how it would fit inside the square. 




Lego Brick:

Even though Lego bricks come in a range of sizes, the rectangular ones with six dots always seem like the main ones in my eyes. Whenever I think of Lego, I picture those blocks, so I would recommend using a rectangular presents for this one, such as some DVDs or books. 

Cover your chosen gift in wrapping paper (once again, red seems like such a staple Lego colour, but you could go with nearly any colour) and then figure out what you're going to use for the dots. I used cardboard for mine, but I wouldn't recommend that unless you have some really thin cardboard, as anything thick would be difficult to cut - hence the very jagged edges on mine. 


 You could also use foam, felt, stacks of paper, pretty much anything that you can easily cut into a circle. Once you've got your circles, cover them in the same wrapping paper as the present, then glue them on. SO easy!




Back to the Future Speed Limit Sign: 
Back to the Future is Daniel's most favourite movies in the world. He honestly doesn't like many things (which makes me even more special πŸ˜‰), but BTTF is something he genuinely loves, so of course I had to wrap one of his presents with a reference to the movies on it. 

Whilst this speed sign isn't actually in the movies, it's still something that any die-hard Back to the Future fan will understand. Of course, you could totally wrap a present to look like the hoverboard or something, but that seemed much more difficult.


For this present, I just chose another rectangular item and covered it in white paper. Then I traced the present onto a black piece of paper to see where I wanted everything to sit, and drew the outline, words, and numbers with thick lines. I cut everything out and stuck them onto the present. Ta-da! I told you these were super easy.




Rubik's Cube:

This one takes a little longer than the others, but it is still super easy. I chose a square-shaped present for this design for obvious reasons. First, cover your present in black paper, then get six sheets of different coloured paper. I used the same colours as a Rubik's cube has, but I substituted one of them for purple since it's Daniel's favourite colour. 

Measure one of the faces of your present and figure out how big you'll need each small square to be in order to fit closely together, but with enough gap so that you can see the black paper in between. 


The exact size of your squares will depend on how big your present is. Do this for each coloured piece of paper you have, then start glueing them on! You could totally decorate this as an unfinished Rubik's cube, but I feel like that would get to me since I wouldn't be able to complete it!


                                                                                                              ~


I had so much fun wrapping these presents! I love the idea of customising the gift wrap to the person you're giving the present too, I think it makes the whole thing even more special. 


Do you enjoy wrapping presents at Christmastime? Is there anything special you like to do for certain presents? Let me know in the comments!


Until next time,

Indya xx

Monday, 18 December 2017

This post contains affiliate links. For more information on what this means, visit my disclaimer.

One of the worst parts about buying presents is that it feels like a competition, and that if you don't make someone's jaw drop and eyes widen as soon as they open your present, you've failed. That's a lot of pressure. It takes the fun out of buying presents because you're thinking too much on how to blow their minds that you forget that useful presents can be just as appreciated, even if it's not straight away.




I'm sure we've all received presents that have made us think, What on Earth am I going to do with this? or even, Oh, okay. I have a lot of things like this already, and you know what? It's always those presents that have a lasting affect on me in the long run. It's the useful, practical presents that will come in handy when you least expect it.


I've never gotten a present that I haven't used before. When I was younger I didn't understand why people could possible want to own a plethora of containers, but now that I have family members who work for Tupperware and always give them to me as presents during the holidays, I totally get it.


In fact, I love receiving more bowls and containers! I am always in the kitchen so they all get used eventually. Plus, they're not something that I would buy myself, which is another good thing to think about when gift-giving. 
You don't have to win the present-giving competition, you just have to think about something that the person probably wouldn't get for themselves, but would get a lot of use out of nonetheless. 

The gifts on this list aren't going to make someone tear up, and they're probably not going to share photos of them all over their social media anytime soon, but they will get used and they will be appreciated in the long run. Do someone a favour - even without them realising - by getting them something on this list!




1. Gift cards.

I know people worry that money and gift cards are impersonal, but I have never once thought that. Money and gift cards are super useful gifts that can benefit someone in so many ways. Whether there's something that they want but feel guilty spending money on, or something that they actually need and are disappointed that they have to spend their own money on it, the gift of money or a gift card will solve their problem. 

I used the gift cards that I got for my birthday on household items and it helped me enhance my way of living immensely. Little things like a recycling bin or some storage for a tiny bathroom can make the biggest change in someone's life. Don't fear the gift card.

2. Toasted sandwich maker.
Toasted sandwiches are the best, there's no denying that. They're a great snack to have in Winter as they warm you up, and there's so many different things you can have on them. Perhaps I was just a little hungry when I decided to add this item to the list, but I've never met someone who didn't enjoy a good toasted sandwich, so I still think this is a pretty great gift.


3. Towels.
Everybody needs towels. Even if they don't get used right away, you can bet that the recipient will be grateful in a few months time when all their current towels are due for a trade-in, and they've already got some brand new ones waiting in the cupboard for them. Plus it's always good to have extras for when guests stay over!


4. Lifestyle/self improvement books.
Lifestyle books are all the rage right now, so they must be doing something right. I'm sure you've all heard of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck; I haven't even read it but I feel like it's a great gift idea considering how many people love it. It's definitely on my to-read list! If your recipient isn't into self improvement books, there's always a heap of biographies about some of the world's most interesting people - or, if you really want to play it safe, get them a cute book about dogs. It's fool-proof.


5. Socks.
Much like towels, socks are something everyone needs, but no one is jumping up and down in excitement for when they need to buy some. Maybe this is just the millennial in us who would rather spend money on takeout food, but seemingly mundane things like socks are the best kind of presents as it means we don't have to get them ourselves. I filled Daniel's stocking with socks and underwear this year and he was more than grateful that he didn't have to buy them for himself πŸ˜‚


6. Storage containers.

I LOVE storage containers. As I mentioned before, I have family members who work for Tupperware, so I get given a ton of containers for my birthday and Christmas, and I love it. They always come in handy, and I could never have too much. Plus they are easy to store away for when you don't need them! You can bet that you'll be silently thanked whenever your recipient needs to store some craft items or decides to pre-pack their lunch for the first time in their life and they remember that they have the storage containers that you gave them to use. 

                                                                                                              ~

If you take away on thing from this post, let it be this: don't stress about presents. If you don't know what to get someone that will make them jump and down with joy, then just get them something that you know they'll use at some point. There's nothing wrong with being the practical friend!

Until next time,
Indya xx

Friday, 15 December 2017

I had SO MUCH FUN making my donut skirt for our big Christmas tree (and apparently you guys had so much fun reading it as it is my second most-read post of all time! πŸ˜± ) that I knew I had to make some for our mini trees, too.

I adore mini Christmas trees. Daniel and I bought our first one back in 2013 (our first year of dating, aww!) because I apparently wanted one to keep in his room πŸ˜‚  I don't even remember that, but it definitely sounds like something I'd say! 



Since then, I have acquired four more including these two, a purple one that I got from Typo last year, and a white one that I bought from eBay that is currently on my Sailor Moon shelf. I decided to give these two trees themes of things that I love: junk food, and fruit! 

Since I had already made a donut skirt for the bigger tree, I didn't want to do the same thing for junk food themed tree, so I went with my second favourite treat - cookies! I love all kinds of cookies, but there's something so familiar about a good ol' choc chip cookie, so I decided to go with that.

For the fruit tree, I went back and forth between a few options before finally deciding to go with watermelon. Daniel and I both love watermelon - it's one of the most commonly eaten fruits in our household - so it made sense to have one on display amongst our decorations.

One problem that I ran into was that I could only find one fruit-themed tree ornament: a pineapple. I bought two of them, then made lemon, lime, grape, and cherry ornaments from felt. They're perfectly cute, but I hope to track down more real ornaments for next year.

Now, enough of me yammering on (as usual), and onto the tutorials!



Choc Chip Cookie Skirt

MATERIALS:
πŸͺ Dark brown felt
πŸͺ Light tan felt
πŸͺ Scissors
πŸͺ Fabric glue

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place your mini Christmas tree on top of your light tan felt and trace a circle that is 1-2 cm wider than the tree stand.

2. Cut out your circle in a wavy manner to more accurately mimic the shape of a cookie, then cut out a very small hole in the middle for your tree trunk to go through.

3. Cut out multiple "choc chips" from your dark brown felt and play around with where you want them placed on your cookie. When you're happy with their placement, glue them on with a tiny dot of fabric, making sure that you hold them down for a little while until the glue sets.


SIDE NOTE: 
I was able to take my tree's trunk out of its stand, which means I could simply stick the trunk through the hole in the middle of my skirt. If you can't detach your tree from its stand, cut a line from the outside of your tree skirt to the hole in the middle, then glue or stitch the two sides together again, then face the glue/stitching side at the back of the tree.



Watermelon Skirt

MATERIALS:
πŸͺ Green felt
πŸͺ Red felt
πŸͺ Black felt or paper
πŸͺ Scissors
πŸͺ Fabric glue

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place your mini Christmas tree on top of your green felt and trace a circle that is 1-2 cm wider than the stand for the tree.

2. Cut out your circle, then cut out a very small hole in the middle for your tree trunk to go through.

3. Trace your green circle onto your red felt and cut out a circle that is 1-2 cm SMALLER than that one, then glue the red circle onto the green one.


4. Cut multiple seed shapes from your black felt or paper. Play with their placement on the red circle and glue them down once you're happy.



How EASY are these skirts?! I could have made 100 different types and, believe me, next year I just might! I already have quite an extensive list of Christmas projects and recipes to do next year and you better believe that tree skirts will be making a few appearances once again πŸ˜œ

Do you guys like to theme your tree's when you're decorating them? I've seen a lot of people position their ornaments in a gradient effect on their trees this year and I am SO doing that next year! Imagine how nice it would look with all the colours of the rainbow πŸ˜ Hope you're all having a lovely December!

Until next time,

Indya xx

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

This post contains affiliate links. For more information on what this means, visit my disclaimer.


Baking tools and ingredients are some of my most favourite things to buy. I have a plethora of cake pans and moulds that has gotten so big that I've had to put the more eccentric ones in storage in order to fit the ones that I actually use on my shelves, plus my sprinkle and food colour/flavour collection is growing so quickly that they're going to need their own set of shelves soon!

Despite already owning a heap of awesome baking tools and ingredients, I still have plenty more that I would love to try out, so today's baking gift guide is a mixture of things that I'd love to have, and things that I do have and therefore know how great they are. If you know someone who enjoys whipping up a treat in the kitchen, these items would be perfect for them!





Some other must-have items for every baker:

🍰  You can never have too many angled spatulas when you're experimenting in the kitchen.
🍰  Candy Melts are some of the most fun ingredients to play with. Stock up on some cute moulds and the possibilities are endless! 
🍰  Show off your love of baking at Christmastime with these rolling pincupcake, and stand mixer ornaments. If I could have just one thing off this list, it would definitely be the stand mixer ornament! It's too cute πŸ˜­
🍰  Not exaggerating at all, these letter biscuit stamps are the BEST things I have EVER bought! I've only used them for my SpongeBob quote cookies so far, but I have lots of plans for them in the future.
🍰  Most of you are probably very competent when it comes to using liquid food colours, but I am not and always end up spilling it and/or using way too much, so I bought a pipette to see if it would help at all, and it has honestly made my life so much easier. Definitely another one of my favourite purchases.
🍰  I'm a sucker for anything heart-shaped, and these measuring spoons are certainly no exception.

Until next time,

Indya xx

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Nothing beats a classic sugar cookie in my eyes. They're delicious, not too difficult to make once you've done it a few times, and there's an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to decorating. Whilst I'll always have a soft spot for plain sugar cookies to dip in my tea, I can't deny my love of royal icing and fondant, and their ability to make any baked good even better.

I knew I wanted to make some Christmas-themed cookies as cookie decorating is something I really want to improve on. The designs I have seen people create on cookies is amazing, and I know the only way I am ever going to be half as good as them is with practice. 



My biggest obstacle when decorating cookies is the thickness of the royal icing; I always make it far too thin and it ends up running and ruining the picture I am trying to make - but not this time! 

I added so much icing mixture so that my piping icing wouldn't run and ruin the outlines, and it actually worked! I had a little trouble making my flooding icing the exact same colour as the outlines, but I am still super happy with these cookies in general. 

I had never actually tried the piping and flooding method (I know, I know!), but I am so glad that I took that extra time because it made all the difference. So, if you'd like to find out how I decorated these cookies into five different Christmas-themed designs, keep on reading!

To make all five designs, you'll need:
πŸŽ„  An abundance of royal icing
πŸŽ„ Yellow and black fondant

πŸŽ„ Toothpicks or cake tester
πŸŽ„ Pink, black, yellow, and green food colour

πŸŽ„ Red, pink, and yellow gumballs
πŸŽ„ Orange candies
πŸŽ„ Candy Cane sprinkles
πŸŽ„ Silver cachous
πŸŽ„ Eight disposable piping bags



Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Starting with a super simple one, the reindeer is bound to be a crowd pleaser and can be made by someone with little to no decorating skills (AKA, me). Pipe a small amount of royal icing on the cookie and stick a red gumball on top to be Rudolph's nose; I put mine in the middle, but if you put it lower down there will be more room for your antlers, which I didn't think about until after!

Once you're happy with your nose placement, get a small amount of the royal icing and dye it black. You may want to add more icing mixture to it to ensure that it stays stiff once piped. 

Put icing into a piping bag that has been cut right at the very tip so that it has a tiny hole. Pipe the mouth, eyes, and antlers for Rudolph as soon in the picture, then put aside or in the fridge to set. Keep the black icing for the snowman design later on.

Snowman
Get the same black piping icing that you used for the Rudolph cookies and pipe two eyes and a mouth for the snowman. Using a toothpick or cake tester, put a dab of royal icing in the middle of the cookie and place your orange candy on top. I only had tiny candies that were shaped like fish, so I had to cut the tails off, but at least they ended up looking somewhat like a carrot nose... πŸ˜…




Holly

These ones seem super simple, but since I had never used a leaf piping tip before, I found them quite difficult to do. First, get a spoonful of plain royal icing that is stiff enough not to run and put it into a new piping bag. Snip the very tip off before piping the edges of the cookie. If you're planning on making the snowman cookies as well, use the same icing to pipe the outlines for them too.

Get a small batch of plain royal icing that is thinner than the piping icing and flood both the holly and snowman cupcakes. Little tip: If you can't get the royal icing to completely fill the outline you made, try using some toothpicks or a cake tester to smooth it around! Before the icing sets, put three red gumballs onto the white icing, then set them aside. Flood the rest of the white-outlined cookies for your snowman design.

When you think your cookies are close enough to being set, get a new small batch of royal icing and dye it green; this should be piping consistency. Fit a new piping bag with a leaf tip; the one I used didn't have a number on it, but it looked similar to tip #67 in this picture

Pipe two small leaves in the direction away from the gumballs, then use a toothpick or cake tester to "cut off" the icing so that the ends of your leaves look more like the top holly cookie, and not like the bottom one.



Santa Belt
These guys are my favourite to eat out the entire batch since they have the most fondant on them. Get a spoonful of the royal icing and dye it red; once again, you may want to add more icing mixture to it if the food colour has thinned it out to much. Put your royal icing into a new piping bag and cut the very tip off. 

Pipe a circle around the edge of the cookie and wait for it to set before getting a more royal icing, dying it red, and filling a new piping bag with it before flooding the rest of the cookie. You shouldn't need to add more icing mixture to the flooding icing as the outline should ensure that it doesn't run over the side of the cookie.

Put the cookies into the fridge to set and roll out some black fondant. Cut thick lines out of the fondant to be the belt, then roll out your yellow fondant before cutting out a square with a hole in the middle for the buckle. Once your royal icing is set on the cookies, gently place the black belts across the middle of the cookies, then add the buckles.



Pink baubles
This is definitely the most fun design as you can do whatever you want! Baubles come in an unlimited range of colours and designs, so it really doesn't matter what you do to these cookies, but I think the top part - the bit that the string goes into in real baubles - really helps people understand what these cookies are supposed to be. 

I do realise that my choice of the yellow fondant makes it look more like little cubes of cheese, but the only other option was black and I didn't think that would look nice with pink, red, and yellow decorations.

For the outlines, I once again got some royal icing, dyed it pink and made sure that it was piping consistency before piping the edges. Once the outline had set, I added pink colour to the rest of the royal icing and flooded the middle of the cookies. I recommend adding your sprinkles, fondant, and gumballs before the icing is completely dry so they sit nicely on it, rather than giving them the chance to roll around once the icing is dry.

                                                                                                              ~

You might be thinking that it's quite high maintenance to do so many different designs at once, and I completely agree. If you don't want to overwhelm yourself, I recommend choosing just one or two designs to do for one batch of cookies. If you like a challenge though, I will say that I worked on all the designs simultaneously. 



Once I had piped the outline for one design, I would set those cookies to the side and outline some others. By the time the last cookies were outlined, the first were dry and ready to be flooded. 

Then, once I had flooded some cookies, I moved onto the other designs will those ones set - just remember that for some cookies you need the royal icing to set before you decorate (ie: the Santa belt ones), and some you need to add the decorations on whilst the icing is still wet (like the baubles). 

The most important thing to remember is to have fun and that decorating cookies - especially for Christmas - shouldn't be a stressful task, but rather a great way to spend some time creating in the kitchen! Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season.

Until next time,
Indya xx