Author: Kendra

How To Survive The Holidays

Seas & Greetings! The Holidays are fast approaching so I thought I would create this handy “survival guide” to help you cope with everything from dealing with toxic family, loss, or money problems.

Do you love the holiday season but not the stress that may come along with it? Does family drama seem to be the theme at every family gathering? If so then this article is for you.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

My Personal Experience

As a child who grew up in a dysfunctional family system, I dreaded the holidays. My mother suffered from depression that was never acknowledged. So every holiday began with stories about how she missed her mom, and how we were so lucky to have her as a mother.

Then she began to berate and control us by reminding us that we didn’t deserve anything, including her love or affection. We learned how to play loving family by showing fake affection when company would come over for the holidays. Yet there was always tension and anxiety underneath our fake smiles.

If we didn’t perform well, later on, she would scold us for the tension and sad looks on our faces noticed by other family members. I learned very early on not only to hide my true feelings but that there would be consequences if anyone found out just how unhappy we were.

How To Survive The Holidays With Toxic Family

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a child. As a kid, I often dreamed of what it would be like to spend the holidays as a loving family. I often wondered what it was like to have hugs filled with love, not a cold rehearsed hug that was scheduled once all of the family that didn’t live with us arrived.

As an adult, I made the decision that I would no longer be attending any family gatherings period. I decided that my peace of mind and sanity were more important. Besides, I just wanted to be happy and enjoy myself instead of dealing with someone else’s depression.

 

I have had no contact with my family for almost 5 years. The years of narcissistic control, fighting, and insults has taken it’s toll on my body. I now have to protect my health and sanity due to auto-immune disease. I have the right to remove their access to me, but they don’t think so.

Besides, holidays should be fun! The truth is that you don’t have to attend these dysfunctional family gatherings either. Now I am not telling you to go and cut off your entire family as I did. My reasons for doing so are much more than I can say. I simply choose to love myself and have peace. Something I NEVER had growing up.

No family is perfect, and this is article is not for those who have a loving family.

How To Survive The Holidays

Should you choose to spend the holidays with toxic family remember:

  1. Set boundaries.
  2. Practice mindfulness.
  3. People don’t change.
  4. Set realistic expectations.
  5. Limit your time together.
  6. Have an escape plan.

Should you choose not to attend the family gathering remember:

  1. Find your own meaning for the holiday.
  2. Do something that you really enjoy.
  3. You don’t need to give an explanation.
  4. You are allowed to set boundaries.
  5. You are allowed to walk away.
  6. Surround yourself with those who love you.

If you are hosting a family gathering, you can also uninvite toxic family members. Think of it this way. You spend your time and hard-earned money planning a wonderful holiday, and then someone miserable may come along to ruin it. This is unacceptable!

Life is too short to accept less than you deserve and the truth is, you deserve to have a happy and peaceful holiday celebration. Spend your time with those who really love you instead!

Are you an introvert? If so you may prefer to spend the holidays alone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I personally do not have children so If I don’t attend get-togethers with friends, I spend the holidays baking and watching my favorite movies.

You may have loved ones that live far away or could be dealing with loss. If so remember to allow yourself to grieve. Don’t cancel the holiday, surround yourself with loved ones and do something special to honor those who are gone.

If you are dealing with money problems, take a good hard look at your finances. You don’t need to impress everyone with expensive gifts if it’s going to hurt your wallet. Stick to your budget, and you’ll be happier plus you can start the new year off with peace of mind instead of debt.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts instead of how much your gift costs. Give your time instead, or do something helpful for someone. You can save tons of money by giving baked goods as gifts. Bake a cake or batch of cookies and give those as a gift instead. People love getting food gifts!

See my easy recipes for Peanut Butter Blossoms & Christmas Sugar Cookies.

I love to spend Christmas Eve baking for my friends and neighbors! I hope you find this article helpful. Thanks for stopping by and remember… You can always escape to the beach!

Happy Holidays!

 

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25 Beachy Christmas Ornaments

Happy Holidays! Create the most gorgeous coastal Christmas tree ever with this list of 25 Beachy Christmas Ornaments!

Not only are they the cutest, but they also make great gifts! There is something for everyone on this list, from mermaids to seahorses or starfish and sand dollars.

There are actually 26 items on this list! I kept finding so many gorgeous ornaments it was hard to choose, but I hope you love them all! Just click the link or image to find the item on Amazon.

Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornament , A Day at The Beach Sea Shell Wreath

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

I just can’t believe how fast the Holidays are approaching. I created this handy list because I’m all about saving time and money by shopping online. Every year, I get new ornaments for my Christmas trees to add to my coastal collection.

You can find the perfect last minute gift for your favorite beach lover that will remind them of their best beach day or summer vacation!

25 Beachy Christmas Ornaments

 

  1. C&F Home Coastal Blue Seahorse

     

2. Have A Very Beachy Christmas Tree Ornament

3. December Diamonds Blue Mermaid Holding a Pearl

4. Old World Christmas Sand Dollar Glass Blown Ornament

5. Beacon Design Coastal Lantern Ornament with Starfish Shell

6. Delton Beach Set of 3 Starfish, Clam Shell, Seahorse Ornaments

7. Old World Christmas House Ornament

8. Kurt Adler Mermaid with Blue Glitter Tail Christmas Ornament

 

9. Santa Sea Life Coastal Tropical Beach Glass Holiday Christmas Ornament

10. Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornament 2022 Sunshiny Smiles Beach Vacation Picture Frame

11. Country Marketplaces Starfish On Disc Ornament

25 Beachy Christmas Ornaments

 

12. Midwest Sand Beach Christmas Tree Hanging Resin Christmas Ornament

13. Kurt Adler Starfish Couple Decorative Holiday Christmas Tree Ornament Set

14. Jellyfish Seashell Set of 4 Coastal Ornaments for Christmas Tree

15. Rengöra Blue Sea Turtle, Hand-Painted Ceramic Sea Turtle Christmas Ornament

16. Kurt Adler Set of 2 Blue Starfish and Sand Dollar Shells Christmas Holiday Ornaments

 


17. Kurt Adler Beach Snowman Ornament Pair

18. Old World Christmas Scallop Shell Glass Blown Ornament

19. Old World Christmas Golden Seashell Glass Blown Ornament

20. Midwest Beach Pail with Shells and Shovel Christmas Ornament

21. Cape Shore Tropical Beach Lifeguard Santa Claus Ornament

22. I Love The Beach Sandals Sunglasses Shells Christmas Ornament

23. Mermaid Christmas Ornament, Silver Tone Glitter Holiday Decoration

24. Old World Christmas Beach Bag Glass Blown Ornament

25. Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornament 2022, Beach Bliss Adirondack Chair 

These are just some of my favorites but you can see all coastal style ornaments and decorations from Amazon here.

I hope you enjoyed this list! Happy Holidays & Have a very Beachy Christmas!

Also see: The 2022 Holiday Gift Guide for Beach Lovers

Cake Mix Peanut Butter Blossoms

Easy Peanut Butter Blossoms

Everyone loves chocolate and peanut butter together! So here is another deliciously easy cookie recipe using a box of yellow cake mix. The cake mix is used for the cookie dough base, so you don’t have to make them from scratch!

What I love about this recipe is that it’s quick and easy, and there is hardly no measuring which means anyone can make them. Best of all these cookies will be ready to eat in 20 minutes.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Peanut Butter Blossoms are a holiday cookie staple. I can remember having these along with Sugar Cookies every year at Christmastime. Why not whip up a batch and give them as a gift?

If you prefer to make these from scratch instead you can use this Classic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe instead.

Easy Peanut Butter Blossoms Recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup softened Butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup creamy Peanut butter
  • 1 bag of Hershey kisses

 

Directions:

  • Add 1 box yellow cake mix to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add eggs, peanut butter and the softened butter.
  • Beat the ingredients together until completely mixed.
  • Scoop and shape the cookie dough into 1 inch balls.
  • Roll each dough ball into the granulated sugar.
  • Place the dough balls onto a an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately insert Hershey’s Kiss into the center.
  • Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then place on a cooling rack to finish.
  • Enjoy!

 

This recipe yields about 30 cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about one week to remain fresh. You can also freeze cookies for up to 3 months and they will taste delicious once thawed.

I love to play around in the kitchen with boxed cake mix recipes. I’m not a professional baker, but every recipe in this blog is something that I have learned to perfect over the years so they will always taste amazing!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, thanks for stopping by! Peanut butter lovers also see: Classic Peanut Butter Cookies & Peanut Butter Brownies.

 

2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Image credit: Pottery Barn

 

Season’s Greetings! Are you looking for the perfect gift for beach lovers? Finding the perfect present is never easy no matter who you are shopping for. Year after year, you’re shopping for the same people and it get’s harder but it doesn’t have to be. Use this hand gift guide before you start your holiday shopping.

While making this list, I only chose the best items from Amazon. Everything is either a best seller, a five star item, or some of my personal favorites. There are thoughtful, yet affordable and unique gifts for everyone on this list. Just click on the image to find the item.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Find unique gifts for beach lovers that will impress everyone on your list!

  1. This beautiful handmade sea glass earrings and necklace set is the perfect gift for jewelry lovers! Check out the Sea Stamped Store to see all beach glass designs. You can also create your own gift set.

 

2. These set of 2 stemless wine glasses are hand painted and the perfect unique gift for both wine and mermaid lovers!

 

3. This hand blown glass conch sea shell figurine is the perfect gift for your loved ones that collect seashells.

 

4. Here is a great gift for those that love sea turtles! This cute collectible statue has a beautiful crushed glass mosaic shell.

 

5. This set of 3 nautical aromatherapy candle set is the perfect gift for candle and beach lovers alike. Once the candles are burned, the jars can be re-used and home decor.

 

6. This beautiful mother of pearl photo frame also comes in pink and natural white. Present this gift with your favorite beach photo memories.

 

7. Seahorse candle holders are a great gift for beach lovers! This set o 2 beautiful pillar candle holders also comes in gold.

 

8. Lanterns are the perfect gift for beach lovers! This gorgeous set of 2 silver lantern set can also be filled with candles or seashells for the perfect beachy look!

2022 Holiday Gift Guide

9. Yankee candles are always a great gift idea! Give this Christmas at The Beach scented candle as a reminder of your favorite beach vacation! See all scents from the Yankee Candle Store here.

 

10.  Another great gift idea for mermaid lovers! This warm and cozy mermaids tail crochet blanket comes in 4 colors, perfect for teens!

 

11. Nautical iron anchor candle holders are the perfect rustic decor gift. It comes as a set of 2 for pillar candles.

 

12. Here is another great nautical anchor gift idea. Give this warm cozy beach style throw to anyone who loves a nautical theme!

 

13. These set of 4 coastal mugs are the perfect beachy gift for coffee lovers!

 

14. Here is a gorgeous starfish serving platter for your favorite hostess who enjoys the finer things in life.

 

15. Everyone loves beach Gnomes! These set of 3 cuties are a perfect year around decoration for beach lovers!

 

16. Bella Wind Chimes are the Boho-Beachy gift! They are made of sea glass and come in several colors.

 

17. This beautiful resin starfish bowl comes in 2 beachy blue colors and is the perfect accent piece for any room in the home.

 

18. Remind your favorite beach lover to take a moment and just Breathe with this beautiful framed ocean art print!

 

I hope you found something you love on this list. Why not get a little something for yourself while you’re browsing. You can get any of these items shipped within 2 days if you have a Prime Membership!

Give this membership as a gift or try it free for 30 days, plus you can cancel at anytime. I have been a Prime Member for 3 years and I absolutely love the convenience!

Thank you for stopping by, Happy Holidays! Also see Buttery Soft Christmas Cookies

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Savory Cabbage Soup With Rosemary & Red Potatoes

 This savory vegetable soup recipe is perfect for chilly fall nights and so delicious.

Fall is just a few short days away here in New England and we are starting to get those cold nights in September. Last night I was craving vegetable soup so I whipped up a big pot for dinner. It’s so yummy and it will make your house smell amazing, so I thought I would share this recipe.

Nothing beats a pot of fresh homemade soup served with warm bread or croutons. It warms you up and it’s a good way to get those veggies in. This soup is easy to make and very filling. The fresh rosemary adds lovely flavor to the red potatoes.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Savory Cabbage Soup

Ingredients:

  • One Head Of Cabbage chopped
  • 2 Cups cut Red Potatoes
  • 1 Cup Baby Carrots
  • 1 cup of Corn
  • 1/2 Small Red or Purple Onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup Celery chopped
  • 1/2 sprig of Fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup of Red Pepper sliced
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Herbs

 

Cooking Directions:

  • In a large pot add olive oil, chopped onions, celery, garlic cloves and sauté on medium heat.
  • Next add carrots, corn, red pepper, cabbage and potatoes then stir.
  • Next add 4 cups of vegetable broth, Italian herbs, salt and a sprig of fresh rosemary.
  • Simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally until potatoes are done.
  • This recipe serves 4.
  • Enjoy!

I hope you love this recipe! Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Simple Coastal Fall Decorating Ideas

 

Happy Fall beach lovers! Keep the relaxed beach feeling all year by incorporating neutral fall colors into your coastal themed home. Beachy colors such as blues, greens, creams and tan are timeless and will never go out of style.

When it comes to fall decorating, it doesn’t have to be all about traditional crimson, yellow, orange and brown. It’s easy to stick to a beachy color scheme by using natural colors such as pastel blues, light aquas, beige, turquoise, sage green and cream. These colors also work beautifully with orange and warm browns.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

I love the beach, but Fall is my favorite time of year, simply because it’s the start of the holiday season. This season, I decided to add keep it simple by adding some new pumpkins to my collection in aqua and white. What’s great about this color scheme, is that it also works for Thanksgiving decor as well. As for Halloween, I just fill the orange pumpkin pictured above with candy.

I also tried to DIY and paint pumpkins and I must admit…(it was a total disaster!) The colors did not match once the paint dried and I ended up with hideous bright teal instead of pale aqua. So naturally I threw them away and headed straight to TjMaxx!

Luckily they had just stocked a fresh collection of beautiful ceramic pumpkins! I grabbed five and happily headed to checkout knowing that my Fall decor would be saved from my DIY disaster.

I have noticed that some stores are not able to keep up with the demand for Fall and Halloween decor. People are starting to decorate earlier or months before the season begins.

I’m including some pics from my home and also some of my favorite DIY ideas from around the web for those who are good at this sort of thing. Then, there is me who is just better at shopping! Haha!

 

Simple Coastal Fall Decorating Ideas

 

Decorate With Beachy Colors

Keep the beach theme by adding Fall neutrals and pastels to your home decor.

 

Style Your Kitchen Island

The island is the center of your kitchen. Make it the focal point of your Fall decor too. Add a colorful table runner and a couple of decorative pumpkins and candleholders to the center of the island to keep if beautiful, yet functional.

 

Create A Cozy Display

Add fall candles, a cozy blanket and some cute pumpkins to you tray table decor.

 

Create A Unique Mantle

Here I added some Eucalyptus Garland that I purchased on Amazon. Then added the aqua and white ceramic pumpkins that I found at TjMaxx.

 

Use What You Have

I keep this display all year around and change out the candles and photo decor with each season.

 

Keep It Simple

 

Create a Festive DIY

I love this gorgeous Mermaid Corn idea From Breezy Designs!

DIY Painted Pumpkins

These chalk painted pumpkins are absolutely beautiful, from ANDERSON+GRANT.

 

I hope you enjoyed these Coastal Fall Ideas! Thanks for stopping by. Also see Coastal Fall Ideas & Inspiration 2022

Easy Cinnamon Apple Crisp

This easy apple crisp or apple crumble recipe (depending on what part of the country you live in) Is perfect for chilly fall mornings! It can be made sweet or tart depending on the type of apples used.

It’s near the end of a long hot summer here in New England, but I am yearning for an early fall. Lately I have been craving one of my favorite fall dishes: Apple Crisp!

I love the beach, but there is nothing like fall in Connecticut! We get the best of both worlds with endless views of beautiful fall foliage along the coastline.

One of my favorite breakfast recipes is apple crisp! The smell of warm apples and cinnamon baking in the morning while I have my morning coffee is heavenly. Fresh sliced apples are topped with a buttery cinnamon oat crumble topping that slightly crisps while baking.

 

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

Easy Cinnamon Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Topping:

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 stick salted butter cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick or all purpose baking flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 *Use any apple variety that you like, just remember to adjust the sugar depending on the sweetness or tart of the apples. I like to use Bisquick because it gives the crumbled topping a richer flavor. You can make many variations by adding your favorite berries, raisins, or chopped nuts into the topping.

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl add apples, then pour lemon juice over and mix
  • Add butter, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and flour, then mix
  • Place sliced apple mixture into a 8×8 inch baking dish and set aside
  • In a smaller bowl add butter, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, baking soda and Bisquick or flour
  • Mix together with a fork until all ingredients are combined or appears crumbled
  • Spread topping all over apples
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees

 

*This recipe serves 6 people and takes less than 1 hour to prepare. Apple crisp is best served warm and fresh out of the oven. Top with your favorite vanilla ice-cream for a delicious fall dessert.

For another great fall recipe see: Buttery Soft Halloween Sugar Cookies

Shop Your Favorite Beach Cottage Quotes On Etsy!

Welcome to The Aqua Cottage where we dream in colors borrowed from the sea! I’m so excited to share my new Etsy Shop! Here you can find your favorite beach cottage quotes and printable wall art in all shades of aqua.

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links; should you choose to make a purchase using said link, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

These prints make a great gift for beach lovers. Just click the images or quotes link to find the items on Etsy!

Beach Quotes

For Baby Nursery

My Heart Will Always Be In A Little Cottage By The Sea

Sweet Dreams Little One

Make A Wish Upon A Starfish

My favorite beach quote has always been “My heart will always be in a little cottage by the sea! These cute beach quotes will surely brighten your day and remind you of your dreams of living by the sea.

Thanks for reading, Enjoy!

 

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Beautiful Beachy Bathroom Decor

Soothe your soul and create a spa like atmosphere with these beautiful beachy bathroom decor ideas! Browse these coastal style bathroom ideas.

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. Please, see my affiliate disclaimer for more details.***

It’s no secret that I love coastal decor. Growing up in New England surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches is probably why. When I started renovating my home, I knew that I wanted coastal themed decor. I want to feel as if I wake up at the beach everyday! The colors of the sky, sea and sand make me so happy.

Adding beach themed or coastal style decor to your home is a wonderful way to express your love for the ocean and nature itself. Bring a little beach into your home with this list of ten of my favorite bathroom decor items from Amazon. These classic styles, colors and natural elements never go out of style.

 10 Beautiful Beachy Bathroom Decor Ideas

  1. Haus and Hues Framed Ocean Wall Art
  2. Safavieh Quatrefoil Ceramic Decorative Garden Stool
  3. Costa Farms Cat Palm 3-Feet Tall, Live Indoor Plant
  4. Sand + Fog California Beach House Scented Candle
  5. Bekmore Large Apothecary Jar with Airtight Lid
  6. Household Essentials Large Wicker Floor Storage Basket
  7. Aqua Bath Towels Set
  8. Avanti Linens Farmhouse Shell Toothbrush Holder 
  9. Bamboo Shower Bath Mat for Spa Relaxation
  10. Premium Bamboo Cotton Bath Towels

Thank you for reading! I hope you are inspired by to create a cozy home you love. Just click on the links above to find the items in the photo. Also see: Coastal Fall Ideas & Inspiration 2022

 

 

 

 

Buttery Soft Halloween Sugar Cookies

Have a spooky sweet Halloween with these fun and festive sugar cookies! They are my all time favorite holiday recipe for buttery soft and delicious cut out cookies.

I love to bake Sugar Cookies! The possibilities are endless especially for spooky season. These cookies are sure to be a hit at any Halloween party. This recipe yields about 4 dozen cookies.

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links; should you choose to make a purchase using said link, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup softened butter (not melted)
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions: 

  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough, and chill for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters. You can find all kinds of cute and funny Halloween cookie cutters here.

Time To Bake!

  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are barely brown. Allow cookies to cool for on the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. Then move from cookie sheets onto wire racks to finish cooling. Once cooled decorate using your favorite royal icing colors and flavors. You can also use buttercream frosting for an fun and easy decorating idea for children.

These cookies will keep their shape nicely and remain soft and chewy long after being cooled. They will be a big hit at parties! They remain fresh for 2-3 weeks if kept in an airtight container.

Bake ahead and store in the freezer. They will remain fresh for 3-6 months as long as they are wrapped tightly in plastic and kept in an airtight container. I honestly don’t know who would wait that long to eat them.  Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy making this recipe, if so share it and also see my classic recipe for Easy Royal Icing!

Also see: 2022 Holiday Gift Guide