February 13, 2013

behind the scenes of galentine's 2013

As mentioned earlier today, Galentine's Day has quickly become one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. What's not to like about taking a moment to tell your best girlfriends you think they are awesome?

To start off the day, I sent a picture message of myself and my lady cat, Jane, to my closest friends and family. The message read something like, "Happy Galentine's!" or in the case of my mom and sister, "Happy Galentine's from these two bitches!" (We have a fun family.)

Jane is not always the most pleasant of kittens (understatement of the year), but she handled this photo op like a champ, meaning she didn't bite me or hiss. See, even she knew today was a special day about empowering women.

Next, I brought a tray of goodies to work for my co-workers. This included a rainbow of heart-shaped cookies, using the recipe my mom always made for us growing up, and some heart-shaped "message suckers."

Want to know why I opted for a rainbow of cookies instead of picking one or two signature colors? Because friends come in all different packages, but deep down, the best ones are the same: supportive and sweet.

At lunch, I met a group of my friends for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. There, I gave them swag bags. Each bag included six cookies (one of each color), red and pink peanut butter M&Ms, four of those message suckers and a card.

Check out how cute those bags are. I found them on sale at Walgreens and knew they would be the perfect vessel for spreading Galentine's Day cheer.

I also gave each of my girlfriends a Galentine's Day card. Using some red and pink cards from Target's dollar aisle, I spruced them up with Valentine's Day stickers from Michaels and a quote. I selected quotes about friendship said by notable women, because it seemed like the best approach to spread empowerment and sisterhood.

The quotes included:
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
- Oprah Winfrey

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
- Helen Keller

"Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love."
- Jane Austen

"Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends."
- Virginia Woolf

"Love is friendship that has caught fire."
- Ann Landers

"Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"The fact is, with every friendship you make, and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world."
- Michelle Obama

"Our experiences will be yours alone. But truth and best friendship will rarely if ever disappoint you."
- Anne Lamott

"If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own."
- Charlotte Bronte

"Love is like the wild rose-briar; Friendship like the holly-tree. The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms, but which will bloom most constantly?"
- Emily Bronte

"The ideal friendship is to feel as one while remaining two."
- Sophie Swetchine

"I think the way to keep a friendship is to respect that everybody is different."
- Emma Bunton
Yes. I totally included something from Baby Spice for my empowering women quotes of Galentine's Day. My first lessons in Girl Power came from the Spice Girls, after all.

I also sealed each envelope with a kiss sticker. During elementary/middle school I went through a phase writing, "Sealed with a lick, cuz a kiss won't stick" on all of my envelopes. Thanks to modern science, and these stickers, I could actually seal them with a kiss!

I'm pleased with how these turned out and even more happy about only having to call my mom three times during the baking process. Once to ask for the recipe, a second time to ask if I could use baking powder instead of cream of tarter and baking soda (the answer is no, unless you want your cookies to taste a little bitter) and a third time to find out if the five hour chilling process was necessary (another yes if you want your cookies to keep their shape).

A special shout-out to my dad for being the go-between communicator on that third call, because my mom was driving. He translated like a champ.
Mom's Sugar Cookie Recipe
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
granulated sugar (optional)
*Do not use self-rising flour in this recipe
Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into halves. Roll each half 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Cut into desired shapes with 2 to 2 1/2 inch cookie cutters; sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until edges are light brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
Decorated Sugar Cookies: Omit granulated sugar. Frost and decorate cooled cookies with Vanilla Glaze tinted with food color if desired. Decorate with colored sugar, small candies, candied fruit or nuts if desired.

Vanilla Glaze
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 4 tablespoons hot water
Heat butter until melted. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and of desired consistency.
I also, add a bit of almond extract to the glaze, sometimes. I dip the cookies in to the glaze for a smooth finish and let them sit on a rack to set up.
In addition the ingredients included on my mother's shopping list, I added a dash of empowerment, a sprinkle of confidence and a desire for equal rights. :)

The timing for all of this even worked out to make for a lovely evening. While I chilled the cookie dough (I only did three and a half hours, because I split the dough into fourths rather than halves), I was able to run to the store to find heart-shaped cookie cutters (which there were none, so I used fondant cutters instead), made my cards and assembled the bags minus the cookies.

In addition to chilling the cookies for less time, I also baked them for about five minutes each set. These cookies were about half the size of the suggested cookies, which meant they baked faster. I also ended up with 116 cookies instead of 60.

Total with shopping, prep and production, this year's Galentine's swag bags took about six hours to complete, which isn't bad! As an added bonus, I calculated the calories in each of these little guys and it comes out to 40 per cookie. Granted, it all comes from sugar, but 40 calories is 40 calories.

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  1. What an awesome gal-pal you are! I bet your friends loved their swag bags! Happy Galentine's Day!

    1. I think they went over well. It's so much fun to have a day to celebrate your girls!

  2. Aw, I love that you did this for your girlfriends. You're so creative and innovative, Laura!

    P.S. I have no idea what Cream of Tartar is and I watch tons of cooking shows!

    1. See, I thought COT was a bogus substance, but it doesn't something to equalize baking soda to create the chemical compound to bake. It seems to be flavor free, which eliminates the... powdery taste that comes from baking powder.