Items Of The Week: Southwestern

Contributor post by Mairi from mairidesign 


Getting Ready for the Holidays


Contributor post by Sheila of BeadyEyedBird

Happy Upcoming Holidays from Us to You – we hope you have happy days, little stress, many sales, lovely creative & quiet time, and hopefully – some rest. We appreciate our Christmas in July & other Etsy friends and followers so very much, and look forward to hearing about your interests, your work, and YOU!

In the meantime, here at The Bead (& family) we’re sorting out who will ‘Do’ Thanksgiving & ‘Where’, while looking forward to a little free time to do simple stuff like bake cookies and walk the dogs. I’ll share a little thing I found on Pinterest* that makes our holidays extra special, in case you’d like to do it. I have cooked this stuff up three times so far and I think I will do it many more times before the holidays are over – the house smells heavenly.

Here’s what you’ll need…

a medium-sized pot or crock pot
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups apple cider
sliced oranges
sliced lemon
fresh cranberries (the grocery store didn’t have fresh cranberries when I wanted to do this, so I used dried ones and they worked just fine)
whole cloves
cinnamon sticks
fresh rosemary

Once you have all of your ingredients in the pot, fill it up with water all the way leaving about an inch from the top. Then pop it on your stove and let it simmer away. Within MINUTES, your entire home will be perfumed with the scent!

You can do this about 20 minutes before you have guests over. I do it when I’m all alone or just with the animals – it just makes the house smell lovely and puts me in the holiday mood.

I hope you enjoyed this little tip on how you too can make your home smell like the holidays. I’d love to know if you’ve done this before, or if your recipe is a little different from mine. Leave me a comment below or on The Bead’s Facebook page, letting me know what you do to make your house smell like holidays (and/or about your latest projects, sales events, new items, etc.!)

Until Next Time,


*Here’s the link to the original recipe:

#CIJParty – Making Locket Sugar Cookies

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Good afternoon! Thank you for joining us for the fourth class today. You met Kim from peachesandpebbles this morning! Now it is time for an afternoon cookie break – these locket sugar cookies look amazing! I can only imagine how good they taste! Kim shares with us how to make locket sugar cookies.

  • Introduction
    LSC1These locket sugar cookies make amazing gifts for anyone you love, any time of the year! Play around with shapes to suit the occasion! Snowmen filled with white chocolate chips would work wonders at Christmas!
  • Materials Used
    For the biscuits:
    100g softened butter
    100g sugar
    1 small egg
    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or other flavouring
    175g plain flour
    1 teaspoon of baking powderFor the locketyness:
    100g isomalt
    2 different sized heart shaped cookie cutters
    Chocolate or sweets to fill them with (I used mini Smarties)
    Buttercream or royal icing
    Royal icing as glue
    Icing nozzle and piping bag
    Heat-proof silicone mat or similar, make sure it’s smooth on both sides to prevent it from lifting up.
  • Tutorial Directions
    1) Cream together the softened butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla, and then add the flour and baking powder a little at a time. If the mixture becomes too thick, knead it by hand. Add more flour if the mixture seems too wet.
  • Step 2
    2) Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180 C/350 F and roll out dough onto a floured surface. Cut out large hearts in multiples of three. Cut a smaller heart out of the middle of two from of every three cookies so that you have one full heart and two hollow hearts (this will make one biscuit). Continue until you use up all your dough. You can either reroll the smaller hearts or keep them as little heart cookies.
  • Step 3
    3) Transfer the cookies onto a floured baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Step 4
    4) When baked, remove from oven and allow to cool and harden before removing from the tray, then transfer to baking sheet.
  • Step 5
    LSC25) When the cookies are fully cooled, stack them up – full heart on the bottom, then two hollow hearts on top. Take the top heart and put it on the silicone mat. You can use a bit of royal icing to keep the cookie fixed down in place if you’re concerned, but out of the six cookies I made, none of them slipped at all. Make sure that the flattest side of the cookie is facing downwards, but note that the flattest side is likely to be facing upwards when your biscuits have been put together.
  • Step 6
    LSC36) I only used about 50g of isomalt, so I had 50g left over just in case. Melt your isomalt in a heat-proof jug, following the instructions on the packet. Do not underestimate the temperature of the isomalt. It is seriously hot. I melted it for a total of 1 minute (30 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds) in a pryex jug. The jug was barely warm when the isomalt had completely melted, but I got the tiniest splash of it on my hand when removing the toothpick I used to stir it and it hurt like hell. Unlike hard candy mixtures, the sugar doesn’t harden too quickly, so you have about 5 minutes to work with it in the jug. If you want to add colour or flavour, do it now. Adding it before the mixture has fully melted will cause the flavour to dissipate in the heat, so it’s best to add both of them once it’s been fully melted as it will begin to cool and the heat will dissipate itself instead.
    Pour the melted isomalt into the centre of the heart cookies. There’s no need to fill it to the brim – the less you put in, the thinner the layer will be, and then the more room you’ll have inside the cookies. Use a toothpick or cocktail stick or something similar to stir the isomalt gently once poured and remove any bubbles – I didn’t do this with my first four and I wish I had. Use the cocktail stick to also push the mixture to the edge of the cookie. The stuff pours more like syrup than like water and it doesn’t necessarily completely fill the area given. On my last cookie, I didn’t do this and there are a few gaps down one side of the heart. Do as I say, not as I do.
  • Step 7
    LSC47) The isomalt can take about 10 minutes to fully set, so while they’re drying, move over to the remaining cookies. Mix up some thick royal icing while you wait and spread it onto the back of the remaining hollow hearts which will be your middle pieces, then stick them down onto their full hearts. These will dry quickly, but that’s not much to worry about anyway. Once they’re all fixed together, add your lockets’ contents. I used mini Smarties, but I didn’t expect to be able to fit in as much as I could. By the time you’ve filled all of your cookies the isomalt will probably be dry. Tap it with a toothpick or cocktail stick to see if it’s hardened, then carefully peel part of the silicone mat away. If it’s not set yet, you’ll know, and you should give it 5 more minutes. If it has set, position the cookies over the top of the candy-filled cookies. Play about with it. Try it upside down (flattest side facing upwards) where the isomalt is also smoothest – it’ll give you more room inside the locket to add a few more pieces of chocolate or sweets – or flip it the other way over so that the isomalt is a little less even, and possibly less tidy, but the cookie may also be smoother and more attractive. It doesn’t really matter, but I chose to put mine on upside down to give a flatter surface and greater interior size.
    Optional: if your isomalt isn’t that clear, add a small drop of vegetable oil, olive oil or whatever you have and rub it over the isomalt’s surface. It’ll clear it up.
  • Step 8
    LSC58) Once you’re satisfied that your isomalt is as clear as it’s going to be, and you’ve figured out which way up your cookies are going and you’ve adequately filled the cookies, use the remaining royal icing to ‘glue’ the glassed pieces down. Unfortunately a few of mine had air bubbles because of the heat, but I’ve found that mixing it once it’s been poured can get rid of them while they’re still wet, but you have to act fast!
  • Step 9
    LSC69) Now it’s time for the decoration. I’m utterly useless at this, I tell you. I’ve only used piping bags a couple of times in the past and I’ve never gotten on well with nozzles or anything. I’m absolutely hopeless with this sort of thing, so you can understand my sheer surprise when I finally finished. By my personal standards, I did an awesome job. I used a Wilton No. 3 nozzle if anyone is interested.
    I used buttercream but didn’t colour it. I had wanted to colour it gold but for some reason I didn’t do it, but I like the lacy filigree effect I’ve got from the vanilla colour, so I’m happy. Royal icing would work just as well, if not better because it will completely harden.
    You can either practise designs on paper, or just wing it. I did the latter, so none of my lockets match, and some are a bit of a mess, but overall I’m happy with it. Be patient and just try it. If you’re not used to doing such a thing, choose the less attractive of your cookies (ones that don’t line up that well or are a little cracked, or have bubbly isomalt and so on) to do first until you get the feel for it.
  • Step 10
    10) You can add more frosting and fill in the gaps between the cookies unless they all have completely straight sides, or you can leave them be. I decided not to push my luck and left it alone.LSC7LSC8
  • I’m so pleased with how these came out, so, so pleased! I’m hopeless at cookies, I swear, so this project had a lot of room to go wrong. First the cookies (half of my first batch broke, but by the end of it I had 6 full cookies), then the isomalt (some still have bubbles in them because I didn’t think to stir them slowly once poured), then the piping (I made some mistakes when I tried to paint buttercream before it had hardened as completely as buttercream can). As you can see, something did go wrong in each stage, but fortunately the problems were either easily fixed, or easily overlooked. It could have gone so much worse, and I’m so pleased with their outcome.
  • If you post my pictures to your own blog or website, please give credit where it’s due. I’m really, really proud of this and I deserve a pat on the back! ABlackBird’sEphiany

Thanks for stopping by for Kim’s locket sugar cookie class! Be sure to check out our full class schedule for today’s Craft Party on our main party post.