From Elle Decor, April 2009 (Photography by Simon Upton)
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From Elle Decor, April 2009 (Photography by Simon Upton)
Follow Style Sleuth on Twitter!
Subscribe to Style Sleuth!
Use gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic.
Nothing tastes like Christmas more than a batch of your best cookies! Gift them, eat them or leave some for Santa, we've got enough recipes to treat everyone this holiday.
Is it just us or does the scent of cookies baking in the oven smell even better during the holiday season? Whether you're whipping up your best batch for a cookie exchange party or for gifts, we've rounded up our favourite recipes to ensure everyone can enjoy a sweet treat this Christmas!
Get in the festive spirit with one of our favourite gingerbread cookie recipes! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
We think it’s about time the classic gingerbread man (and lady!) got a whole new wardrobe. Click here for seven super-sweet outfits made from bulk-food store candy that look almost too good to eat.
For years you’ve been overlooked and underestimated, relegated to the realm of basic, boring baked goods. We’re here to change all that, with a sophisticated makeover courtesy of a layer of fondant and a simple monogram. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Using just three household ingredients you can whip up a batch of traditional Scottish shortbread cookies for the holiday season. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These adorable gingerbread guys are great for a cookie exchange or kid-friendly holiday party. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Nothing reminds us of England more than a hot cup of steeped tea on a blustery winters day. Except, perhaps, if that cuppa is enjoyed with a melt-in-your-mouth cookie delicately laced with the distinctive bergamot orange flavour of Earl Grey. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Recipe developer and food stylist Tanya Eng uses gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
French desserts are synonymous with elegance: And, although they won't be prepared in a Parisian patisserie, these mini madeleines are no exception. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
This 21st-century twist on a classic afternoon tea treat incorporates a quality sea salt into the caramel, a flavour combination much loved by chocolate makers the world over. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Embrace the flavours of the autumn season with molasses, ginger and cinnamon cookies. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
A light, buttery cookie with the perfect touch of raspberry preserve. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Try this decadent twist on traditional shortbread for an incredibly sweet treat. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Prepare to be bathed in the sweet comfort of vanilla-chocolate overload that goes beyond the basics of cookie making. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These crisps are cinnamon graham crackers all grown up, great for snacking or dunking! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These wondrously crispy and chewy cookies are not only beautiful, but they pack a powerful chocolate punch, as well. Get the cookie recipe here.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without frosted cookies. Ornaments of all shapes are especially fun to make, either as edible treats for the tree or simply for the cookie plate. Click here to get the recipe.
What if you asked your brain what would happen if you had the foresight to roll a butter-taste-based batter around in a cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking? Click here for the recipe.
You'll love these tasty gingersnap cookies, perfect for dipping into a tall glass of milk! Click here for the recipe.
Enjoy these decadent chocolate cookies with a chocolate gnache filling. Click here for the recipe.
Originally a spicy chocolate Mexican cookie, this recipe has been changed to have a more contemporary flair with the addition of sea salt. Click here for the recipe.
How to clean your oven
Everything you need to know about getting this in-demand appliance clean – and keeping it that way.
The holidays are a busy time for your oven, whether you’re making a turkey, gingerbread cookies, salt-dough ornaments or all of the above. Winning results require a clean appliance, as built-up grime can affect foods’ flavour or, worse, lead to fires. Repeated heat will burn spills and splatters in place, so make a habit of wiping them after each use, once the oven has totally cooled (a sprinkle of salt will loosen the mess while the appliance is cooling). For a deep clean , make a paste by adding water to baking soda, and apply it generously to the oven’s interior using a clean cloth; leave overnight. Wipe the surface using a damp cloth and scrape off large stuck-on bits with a spatula. If any grime remains, generously spray on white vinegar – it will react with the baking soda to work the dirt off – and wipe clean.
KNOW YOUR OVEN
Get to know your oven’s built-in cleaning function (or lack thereof) before getting started.
Self-cleaning: In an isolated cycle, extreme heat turns grime into ash to be wiped off with a damp cloth. Racks must be removed (and cleaned separately); commercial cleaners are prohibited.
Continuous cleaning: A chemical coating on the walls dissolves splatters during cooking. Avoid commercial cleaners (they may strip off the coating).
None: It can handle both homemade and commercial cleaning solutions.
Your oven racks work hard and, every so often, they could use a bubble bath – literally. Start by lining your bathtub with old towels to protect it. Place the racks on top and submerge them in hot water; mix in several generous squirts of dish soap. Let stand overnight to loosen dirt before wiping clean with a soft sponge.
Behind closed doors
Grease-carrying steam can get in between the door’s interior and exterior glass panes. Cleaning this requires taking the door apart, so check your warranty to see if this service is covered or call in a pro.
Expert tip: “Keep a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven to catch spillage. Then simply remove, clean and replace it.” -Natalia Bronstein, Team Leader, Aspenclean.
Dos and Don'ts:
Do: Be patient. Allowing cleaning solutions to sit for the full recommended length of time will minimize your scrubbing effort.
Don't: Get any water or cleaning solution on the door gasket, as it damages easily.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
DIY project: Winter wreath
Add this festive winter wreath to your holiday decor.
1 Secure one end of the yarn to the back of the wreath form with one of the straight pins.
2 Wrap the yarn tightly around the wreath form, keeping the yarn taut as you work your way around the form until its entire surface is covered. Every inch or so, secure the yarn at the back with a straight pin. Cut the yarn at the back of the wreath and tie it off; secure the yarn tail with 2 or 3 remaining straight pins.
3 Cluster the felt flowers at the bottom of the wreath, arranging them slightly off centre; secure with the quilting pins. Hang the wreath with the ribbon (you can prevent the wreath from slipping by pinning the ribbon in place).
1 Using scissors or a fabric circle cutter on a cutting mat, cut one 2” circle out of one of the sheets of felt.
2 Cut the other piece of felt lengthwise into 6 equal strips (about 1 1/2” each). Fold each strip in half lengthwise and glue together the cut edge.
3 Using scissors, make 1/2” snips into the folded side of the felt strips every 1/4” or so, depending on how big you want your loops. Larger intervals will create bigger loops.
4 Working with the felt circle on a flat surface in front of you, carefully begin gluing one of the looped strips around the perimeter, allowing the looped side to hang over the edge of the circle. Work your way to the centre of the circle with the remaining strips, making sure the loops overlap. Cut off any excess.
Makes: 1 2” flower
1 Using scissors or a fabric circle cutter on a cutting mat, cut out one 4” circle from the felt. Working from the outside in, cut into the circle in a spiral motion, gradually moving from a thin to a thicker width as you reach the centre. Carefully trim the outer edge of the spiral, creating a scalloped effect.
2 Beginning at the thin outside edge of the circle, roll up the felt into a small rosette. The centre of the circle of felt will create a tab that will cover the bottom of the rosette. Secure the bottom of the rosette to the tab with glue.
Makes: 1 1” flower
1 Using scissors or a fabric circle cutter on a cutting mat, cut out eight 2” circles from the fabric sheets.
2 Fold one of the circles in half and make a tiny snip to cut off the corner of the crease on each end. Unfold the circle and fold it again along the other axis, lining up the small snips. Make a small snip to cut off the corner of the crease at either end of the new fold. When you unfold the felt circle, you’ll have four sections. Cut a small V shape in the middle of the edge of each section so you end up with eight sections. Use scissors to round the top of each section around your circle of felt, creating a scalloped flower effect.
3 Place a small bead of hot glue in the centre of the flower and fold in half; press firmly and hold in place until the glue is set. Place another bead of hot glue in the middle of the crease of the half flower and fold in half again; press firmly and hold in place until the glue is set. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with all but one of the remaining circles.
4 Glue four of the folded petals onto the flat flower; glue the remaining three petals on top to create a full flower effect. When the glue is dry, gently open the petals slightly to fluff.
Makes: 1 2” flower