Red Moonrise Red Moonrise

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Direction Cookies

I've said it before, I'll say it again: the human capacity for creativity and inventiveness never ceases to amaze me. And I'm so very grateful to live in a time where ideas can be exchanged instantly, and inspiration is just a click away. Like it was in the case of these cookies.

One Direction Cookie Set
This set was requested by a friend for her niece, who is a huge fan of the band. My immediate response when she asked me was pure bafflement: how on earth do you convert real people into cookies? She assured me that she'd checked online and it had been done. I then looked up 'One Direction cookies' and one of the first image hits was this incredibly cute set by Sweet Sugarbelle.

Now I stumbled across Sugarbelle's blog a couple of years ago when I first began decorating, and since then I've been in awe of her work. She possesses a unique knack of creating dramatic designs out of the simplest cutters, and sometimes combination of cutters. See, there's that relentless creativity at work. So she designed this brilliant template of the band members and very generously shared it for free on her blog, along with a tutorial.

One Direction Band Cookies

Sugarbelle uses something called a Kopykake projector, which is designed for use on cakes and other sweets. It projects the design to be piped directly onto the sweet, which makes it very easy to pipe complex patterns. Again, there's that inventiveness: a projector to simplify decorating. Who thinks of all these things?! Sadly, I don't own such a projector so I did it the old-fashioned way: cut out the easier part of the template (which was the face and ears), traced around them with an edible ink marker, and freehanded all those fussy hairstyles in. 

One Direction Cookies with Template

I did not want to replicate Sugarbelle's platter in its entirety, so I added some different designs with the music notes and stars. I took a quick shot of the stars as I worked on them. Cookie decorating doesn't have to be difficult; something as simple as piping dots along the border can also make a big difference.

1D Stars Hearts Music Notes

This set was a first for me in a couple of ways. It's the first set of my cookies to travel; they went from Sydney to Bangalore and survived intact, thank you God! The other 'first' is making cookies based on real people. And of all the people in the world to cookiefy, I'd have never gone in this direction (yes, I absolutely had to say that :D), except for being asked. So a big thank you to my friend for trusting me with this, and a big thank you to Sugarbelle for sharing that super-creative template! I've got to say, despite my personal feelings (or lack thereof!) for the band, I love these little guys :D

One Direction Cookies
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Milestones and a Macaron-Covered Cake

I think '30' started getting hyped up a few years ago. Or is it that I only started paying attention to the hype the closer I got to 30? Anyway, the closer I got, the more I started thinking about it and I guess I was mostly neutral; I never flipped out, but neither did I go, yaaay I'm going to be 30. Till some tragedies occurred close to home and shocked me into thinking straight: every day you're here, is a day to be glad for.

Chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream filling, fudge frosting and macaron shells

So I thought turning 30 deserved a special effort, when usually I just buy a couple of slices from my favourite bakery. And I hoped that if it turned out alright, I might be able to share recipes and ideas here. The cake itself came out great, though my macarons, while tasty enough, have a long way to go before they're technically proper.

The cake is the same Devil's Food Cake I made for my daughter's birthday last year, and the recipe is at the end of this post. This time, I used a third of the measurements to make three 6" layers each, that were sandwiched with buttercream (recipe over here). I used half this buttercream recipe and flavoured it with peppermint extract instead of vanilla. I divided the buttercream into two batches, dyed to match the two macaron colours. The frosting is a dark chocolate fudge, that I tried for the first time, and came out superbly. I had wanted to put a big flower on top, but honestly was a bit intimidated by them, till I found this easy technique.

I wanted to use macarons somehow, as they are my daughter's favourite dessert at the moment. However, they are notoriously tricky to get just right, and even on my fourth attempt I am far from getting the perfect texture. Should you want to give them a shot, here's a good video to get you started. I placed some unfilled macaron shells on the cake, and later kept some filled macarons around it. For the filling, I used the same peppermint buttercream as in the cake.

Chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream filling, fudge frosting and peppermint macarons

Now on a personal note, I had wondered if I should share some .... thoughts, on turning 30, but then I er, thought about it, and didn't feel like I had many :), except that sense of inexpressible gratitude. Even after reading this touching post by my friend Neelu, I didn't feel like I had much to say, as I thought she said it all, and said it brilliantly.

But then my birthday arrived. Start to finish it was beautiful, by God's grace. I received some wonderful, unexpected surprises. Wishes flowed in from friends and most of my family .... except for one person. My daughter :). She refused to wish me all day, right up to when we were about to cut the cake later that night, at which point her dad said enough was enough: wish mum now! She did, with a sheepish grin, and sang happy birthday as well.

The reason for all the drama? She's anti-birthdays at the moment. All you folks out there freaking about turning 30, 40, whatever, my little girl's got you beat. She's worried about turning five! Why? Because she doesn't want to leave preschool and the teachers she loves, doesn't want to go to 'big school' and doesn't want to grow up :) So for her right now, birthdays (mum's and her own included) are silly.

Then, the next day I received this incredible gift from my family. All my dad had told me before, was to expect a couple of DVDs in the mail. I sat to watch the first without a clue as to the contents. Words can't express the sheer joy I felt when I saw what it was: the recordings of mine and my sister's first birthdays!

Video recording had just taken off in India when I was a baby, and my first birthday was the first recorded event in my family. We had these on the old VHS tapes (remember those?), and over time they started gathering mildew and couldn't be viewed properly. So with a great deal of sadness, we all wrote them off as lost causes. I don't think any of us watched them in at least a decade. But on a recent trip back to our house in India, my dad found the tapes and got the salvageable portions converted to DVD format.

It's a priceless gift for all of us, something we thought we'd never see again, carefully restored. Even more priceless, because they include people we loved, like my grandfathers, who are not with us anymore. Precious memories in a tangible form that I can now share with my child, and show her at least some part of her history, and where she comes from. And yes, also help her to understand that she is not the only one who's had to deal with growing up; I too was a child like she is now, and I too had to grow up and go to big school and so on :)

All of these things made me realise that I actually do have a few thoughts that I'd like to share, so here goes:

  • Embrace your age wholeheartedly, and be thankful for it. If you ever start feeling otherwise, spare a thought for all those who weren't lucky to make it to whatever age you are now.
  • No matter where you reach, never forget where you've come from and the people who've been a part of your journey; more importantly, those that have helped you on that journey.
  • Change is inevitable, and seldom easy. But you do your best to deal and go on trusting He knows your way forward.
  • This is an echo of what Neelu said in her post, that I feel more strongly about now, having seen those DVDs again: document your life story! I am so grateful to my parents for choosing to record our birthdays; and so grateful to God for every moment from those first milestones to this one.
Chocolate cake and a glass of red!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Inspired by Turquoise: Pirate-themed Cookie Tutorial

 Pirate Girl and Ship Cookies

Ahoy me hearties! I'm very excited to share this 'tutorial' for pirate cookies that I made a couple of days ago. But before we get into the how-tos, a bit of background.

Last week, I made a big batch of turquoise icing for this set of christening cookies below. Working on this set, I realised that I'm a lot more comfortable piping patterns, than I am creating people and faces. I rarely do character cookies, and can't remember if I ever tried making any people-type cookies, prior to these angels.

Turquoise Christening Cookies

I had some leftover turquoise and white icing from this project, plus extra cookies, and I wanted to put it all to use. I started thinking of designs, and whenever I think turquoise, the first image that pops to mind is the ocean. The first time I saw this gorgeous colour in nature, was as a young girl at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach. I clearly recall feeling awestruck that water could be this mesmerising shade, and it's a fascination that still endures. From there, it was an easy leap to do something pirate-related, also because the little person in my house is pirate-mad at the moment.

Supplies Needed:
Sugar cookies - round or square.
Edible food pens (or toothpick, to mark out the design).
Royal icing, in turquoise, black, brown, flesh tone, white and pink. Consistency should be between flood and piping.
Piping bags & tips (I used Wilton tips #1 and #2).
Thin paintbrush (that is reserved for decorating purposes).
Food colour in red, orange or gold.
Gold and silver lustre dust (optional).

I began this project by sketching out some ideas. I don't normally do this, but when the design has several parts, it's better to have a guide. I then marked out the design onto the cookies with edible ink pens. If you don't have these, you could still gently mark out the sections with a toothpick or a scribe tool. It would be harder to see, but it'll do the job.  

To get your icing colours and bags ready, I recommend watching this terrific video that, pardon the drama, changed my life :) Honestly, it saves me loads of time. So for this project, I just turned some turquoise icing into brown, and then turned some of that into black. I tinted some of the white icing into the flesh toned icing, and a bit of that into the pink.

A note about the icing consistency: normally, you'd have a piping consistency for outlining and details, and a flood consistency that's runnier for filling in. To make life easier, I just stuck to the one consistency somewhere in between the two - the best way I can describe it is as between toothpaste and shampoo. It also works because each part of the design is quite small. So you outline and fill with the same piping bag, and run a toothpick along after you've filled in the areas, to even out the icing. 

These cookies require a bit more patience than usual as you can't pipe all the icing in one go. Couple of reasons for this: one, is to avoid dark colours bleeding into the light ones; so I piped the dark areas first and let them dry for 30-40 minutes before adding the lighter colours. The second reason is to create dimension ... or is it definition? Or maybe both :) This is a technique I've picked up from the top cookiers around, and that I've applied here to the pirate hats and the ocean. It's just a matter of piping in sections and letting each section dry before piping the adjoining areas. You'll see what I mean as we go along.

Girl Pirate Photo Tutorial:

Girl Pirates Cookie Tutorial
1. Outline and immediately fill in the pirate hat. Leave to dry about half an hour.
2. Pipe in the brim of the hat.
3. Add the t-shirt. (See, now it occurs to me that I could've done this the same time as step 1. Hopefully, I've saved you some time :D)
4. Once the hat has had at least one hour drying time, add the face icing, leaving gaps for the eye and mouth. Leave to dry for 30 min.
5. Add the neck and the white icing. There are a couple of ways of doing the eye: one is to pipe a dot of black icing as soon as you've piped the white icing; the black dot will sink into the white. This is what I did, and thankfully it didn't bleed much. Alternatively, you could wait for the white eye to dry before painting on the black part with food colour or drawing it with an edible ink pen. Optional: If you've piped the black dot on, immediately add a tiny white dot over that.
6. Pipe the hair. I gave one girl curly hair, and the other straight. The only problem with using a thinner consistency of icing is that you can't pipe the hair in one go; if you try to do this, the icing just melds into one blob. So pipe alternate strands, and once they've dried a bit, fill in the gaps.
7. Final details: you can either pipe or paint the eye-patch on. Use the thin paintbrush dipped in black food colour to do eyelashes (optional), and the smiley face on the hat. I used edible food pens in orange and gold for the other facial details: mouth, nose and freckles. Alternatively, use the thin paintbrush and paint these details on. The scarf is also optional: I piped it on with the pink icing and added the white dots immediately.

 Pirate Ship Photo Tutorial:

Pirate Ship Cookie Tutorial
1. Pipe the body of the ship and the lines for the masts. Leave to dry for half an hour.
2. Pipe alternate sections of the water. Leave to dry.
3. Fill in the remaining sections. You can see that you've got the effect of waves now. We wouldn't have that definition if it had been piped in one go.
4. Pipe the sails. Once the waves are dry, you could add a touch of white icing randomly to look like whitecaps. I used the paintbrush to drag it along the bottom of the ship to resemble spray.
5. Final details: Pipe the black flag; once it's dry you could paint on the X with a bit of silver dust mixed with a few drops of water. Mix gold dust and a few drops of water, and paint on the portholes and some random lines.


Pirate Girl and Ship Cookies

Comparing the cookies to the sketches, I think the ships turned out way better, especially after adding the details with gold. I'm going to need more practice to get the faces to turn out exactly as I picture them. But this project got me out of my decorating comfort zone, so it was a good learning experience. It was also great to take the simplest of cookie shapes and come up with a creative design. It takes patience, but it's really rewarding to make your vision materialise bit by bit. Please note that this tutorial is how I went about making these cookies and is just a guideline; if you've got a better way, go for it (and let me know too!)

Pirate Girl and Ship Cookies

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

French-inspired Valentine's Day Eiffel Cookies

I've had France on my mind recently, for a couple of very good reasons. The first is a French film called The Intouchables. I had wanted to write a bit about this incredible movie in this post, but as I began, I felt that a movie as fine as this was, and that I enjoyed so very much, merited its own post. So I will come back to The Intouchables later, and move on to the second reason I've been thinking of France.

Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp

My husband picked up this enchanting book for our daughter from the library. It was the illustrations that caught his eye and had him bringing it home. It is a very recent book by an Aussie author, and is about a young hare, Ruby Red Shoes, who lives with her grandma and is going on holiday to Paris with her.

I sat down to read it to my daughter Kris one bedtime. She was a bit skeptical as she is with any new book that she hasn't chosen herself. But on the first page itself was something that captured her attention immediately: the grandma hare's name - Babushka Galina Galushka! The moment I read that aloud, Kris went into a fit of giggles and couldn't wait to hear more.

To my pleasant surprise, what followed was a charming and humorous tale of young Ruby's escapades in Paris. You can feel the author's love for Paris in every page with her vivid descriptions of Parisian life and the gorgeous illustrations (she's also the illustrator). I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did Kris, but at four, she is too young to fully understand and appreciate the depth and charm of this lovely book. But at least we got to introduce her to a new country, a new city and bits of its fascinating culture.

The next morning, Kris was bubbling over about the book. Hubby decided he'd draw her a picture from the book. Both of them love to draw and that's one of their usual father-daughter activities - him teaching her how to draw different things. He started drawing the Eiffel Tower, and as he began, I remembered an old purchase, and immediately dashed off to the kitchen .... to return triumphantly with this: an Eiffel cookie cutter!

Eiffel cookie cutter

Kris was suitably impressed.
In awed tones, she asked: "Did you get it in Paris?"
My disillusioning response: "Ummm, actually I got it at Sydney Fish Market."

Crazy, but true! We had been to the main fish market a couple of years ago when my family was visiting. Among assorted varieties of seafood, you also have the odd stall selling knick-knacks at the fish market. So while the fish-lovers went nuts buying seafood, I went nuts buying cookie cutters! Anyway, the Eiffel cutter had been buried and forgotten in my cutter collection since then, but digging it out a few days ago triggered some ideas. I had been wanting to bake something 'love'ly with Valentine's Day around the corner, so I thought with all this talk of France and Paris in the house, why not do some French-inspired cookies?

Hand-painted French-inspired Valentine's Day Cookies

You can use any rolled cookie recipe for this. I used the basic sugar cookie from Glorious Treats. My Eiffel cutter being fairly small and slim, it doesn't leave a lot of cookie surface area to comfortably replicate the details of the real Tower. And in all honesty, even if I did have the room I probably wouldn't have gone with the actual lines, I just wanted to have fun! I thought of outlining the tower in roses. The hitch here was that piping roses that tiny would be next to impossible. So I thought, why not try painting? I remembered a post read long ago, again on Glorious Treats, that I felt would work perfectly here.

Hand-painted Eiffel cookie

It was great fun, hand-painting these cookies. I used regular supermarket liquid food colours for this project, and a paintbrush and palette that are expressly reserved for decorating purposes. I found painting a lot easier than piping, though you do need to be mindful of how much colour you get onto the brush; too much and you get blobs.

I also wanted to include some sentiment cookies, and I thought since they're French-inspired after all, I should convey those sentiments in French. Now this is one of those areas in decorating that gets me really nervous - text! I hate having to pipe out names and messages. But I have to say again, painting was a lot easier than piping.

Hand-painted French-inspired Valentine's Day cookies

This was the first time that I've tried painting on cookies. You do need a bit of patience to get it done, but I think it's well worth the effort. It took me about 15-20 minutes to complete each painted Eiffel cookie, and half that time per sentiment cookie. For the other Eiffel cookies, I just outlined them in bead piping and tried out this incredibly easy technique for tiny royal icing roses from Sweet Sugarbelle.

Valentine's Day Eiffel rose cookies

A couple of weeks ago while I was first considering ideas for Valentine's Day sweets, I was headed in a completely different direction. It was only reading that darling little book and the following events that sent me down this hand-painted path :) It's funny where you find your inspiration sometimes. Hopefully I've inspired at least one other person to try this out!

French-inspired Valentine's Day Eiffel cookies

Friday, January 17, 2014

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies for Young Bakers

I've sort of been on a chocolate-chip cookie baking spree lately, ever since my daughter told me that of all the things I bake, those are her absolute favourite. She likes knowing what's cooking in the kitchen, and loves watching especially when I bake. Even more so when I bake her favourite.

It makes my husband and I very happy that she's interested in food, so we try to involve her whenever she comes to the kitchen. Sometimes it's something as simple as fetching a ziploc, but it gives her a sense that she's contributed. Given the nature of some types of cooking, it's not always safe for a four-year old to participate, but she's good about watching from afar. I want to sustain her interest in food, which is why I love this recipe I'm sharing now, because she was able to do most of the work herself. And that look of mingled joy / wonder / pride on her face as she realised she had done it made the whole process that much more precious :)
Most cookie recipes begin with creaming butter and sugar, for which I normally use either electric beaters or my bench mixer. But while I was researching chocolate chip cookies, I came across these fantastic posts (here and here). Prior to reading them, it had never occurred to me that you can use melted butter as well.

The great advantage of using melted butter, especially when you've got eager beavers ready to assist, is that you don't need heavy-duty mixing equipment. A whisk, or even a simple fork, will suffice to combine the butter with the sugar and egg.

Then, as I further browsed through this great site by Baker Bettie, I found an easy recipe for 5 ingredient chocolate chip cookies. I had never seen such a no-frills version of this hugely popular cookie before. It runs on my husband's favourite cooking principle: minimum effort, maximum results :). Again, it's perfect when you're baking with young kids as there's hardly any prep work involved and you have the payoff ready in minutes!

I tweaked Baker Bettie's recipe by using melted butter, adding vanilla, and using the standard two types of sugar - white and dark brown. Because of the melted butter, my four-year old was easily able to do most of the mixing herself. I gave her a spatula to mix the flour and chips in, and showed her how to fold them in gently without them flying out the bowl :)

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: approx 3 dozen (with a tablespoon-sized scoop)

1/2 cup or 113 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 to 1 cup chocolate chips (milk, dark, white .... whatever you prefer)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
2. I melted the butter in a glass mixing bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts (or melt over the stove in a saucepan if that's easier for you). Once mostly cooled, add both sugars and whisk till smooth.
3. Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
4. Use a spatula to gently mix in the flour and chocolate chips.
5. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough a couple of inches apart onto the lined baking trays. Bake for 10-12 minutes, just till the edges of the cookies have browned.
6. Take out of the oven and leave on the tray to cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully. Store in an airtight container when completely cooled. 


Does this make the most decadent chocolate chip cookie in the world? No. But despite its humble beginnings, it's a delicious cookie, perfect for a quick teatime treat, or for initiating first-time bakers of all ages. 

One final note: most sites tell you to use a scoop to drop the dough; I tend to use the tablespoon from my measuring spoon set which is the same thing, except there's no release mechanism so I have to use a butter knife to plop the dough from spoon to tray. The reason I do this is to make smaller cookies. My daughter and I have a two-cookie deal at snack time; when the cookies are smaller, I don't mind so much if she can't resist an extra cookie :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cookie Tealight Stands

I made these saffron cookie tealight stands for Diwali earlier this year, and I'd promised a post on how to make them, so here goes.

The idea for these cookies comes from a book called Decorating Cookies by Joanna Farrow. You can use the rolled cookie recipe of your choice to make these stands. For this project, I've used a gingerbread cookie recipe as I'll be using these stands during Christmas.

One important point that I'll highlight in the beginning, and that isn't mentioned in the book, is to get simple glass tealight holders. You put the tealights in the glass holders and place the holders on the cookie base. This way, the cookie doesn't get direct heat from the tealight and stays fresh longer.

What you need:
Cookie dough (recipe of your choice, I'll link to some suggestions at the end)
Small glass tealight holders (check your dollar stores or Ikea)
Cutters - sharp knives / steel piping tips / straws
Template of your design (optional)
Decorations - cachous / dragees / sprinkles
Royal Icing - stiff consistency (piping consistency for decorating, optional)

You begin by rolling out your cookie dough and cutting out shapes for the front and the base of the stand. For the front, I've simply cut rectangle shapes, but you can use any shape you like. Just make sure it's big enough to cover the glass tealight holder. Cut circles, or squares for the base, and again, ensure it corresponds to the size of the front piece and is big enough for the tealight holder.

Note: If using fancy shapes for the front piece, you have to cut a straight line across the bottom of the cookie so that it'll rest evenly on the base. For the saffron cookies in the first picture, I used a round fluted cutter for the front cookie, and I had to trim the end off so that it would sit straight on the base.

Cut out your design on the front. I've just used a piping tip to cut circles out in the shape of a Christmas tree. A piece of drinking straw will also work well to cut out circles. If you have a more elaborate design, make a paper template. Place the template onto the cookie and cut out the design with a sharp knife.

If you want to use sprinkles, I feel it's easier to put them on before baking. I've used silver dragees / cachous here. Be gentle when you put these on; don't push them through the cookie.

Then bake the cookies as per recipe instructions. I bake mine a tad longer as I like my cookies crisper.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can decorate the front pieces with royal icing if you like, and let it dry for a few hours. I'm not sure how the warmth of the tealights would affect a cookie that's fully covered with royal icing, so both times I've made these tealight stands, I've kept the royal icing to a minimum and it's been perfectly fine.

Assembling the Tealight Stands:

1. Put the stiff consistency royal icing into a piping bag or ziploc bag with the end snipped off. Pipe a couple of thick lines onto the base cookie, about 1 cm away from the edge.

2. Place the front piece onto the thick icing, making sure it's standing straight, and then push down very gently.

Ensure that the front cookie isn't tilting forwards or backwards. If it starts to tilt, take it off and pipe more icing onto the base and place it again.

3. Once the front is securely standing on the base, fill in any gaps between the two cookies with more icing. You can see in the third picture how thin the icing looks on the left once the front cookie is placed on the base. So for more support, pipe one more line of icing on the back of the cookie. The book says you can prop up the front cookie with a small glass if need be. Let them dry for a few hours, and your edible tealight stands are ready to use!

You can store these cookies in a container deep enough to hold them, or if you don't have one, the book says you can leave them on a board or baking tray and wrap around loosely with cling film.

This is a fun project, and I hope you try it out and that it lights up your celebrations as well. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

Links to rolled cookie recipes:
Rolled Sugar Cookies - Glorious Treats
Chocolate Sugar Cookies - Glorious Treats
Eggless Saffron Cookies - Divine Taste
Gingerbread Cookies (recipe used for this project) - Craftsy

Monday, December 09, 2013

DIY Crepe Rose Wreath

There is a section on this blog I grandly titled 'Food & Craft', with some food-related posts and zero craft-related ones. I am pleased to say that I am finally able to notch one for craft, with this my debut crafty post.

Having a craft-loving daughter, we're pretty much cutting / gluing all year through. But for me personally, this is the one time in the year that I go into craft overdrive. I absolutely love decorating for Christmas, and while I love buying knick-knacks for my home, it gives me far greater pleasure when I look around and see things that we've made ourselves. 

Like this wreath, for example. The idea for this sparked at my daughter's playgroup a couple of months ago, when the craft activity organized by one of the mums involved simple crepe streamers. As I supervised my daughter, I was idly twisting a piece of crepe round and round, and I thought, well that makes a really pretty rose. Voila!

If you've ever made a ribbon rose, this is the same thing. But I was so charmed by this, I got all fired up and made a, ahem, tutorial, so here goes. Pardon the photography :).

What you'll need:

1. A frame (I used a cane one, about 8" wide, but you could use a thermocol one, or wire etc.)
2. Crepe streamers / ribbons in the colours of your choice.
3. Green garland (or shiny tinsel) 2 metres long, to luxuriously cover a frame this size.
4. Floral wire (not pictured).
5. Any additional decorations (like the glittery bow I used).

Crepe Rose How-to:

1. Cut a strip of the crepe, about 20" long (less for a smaller rose, more for a bigger one). Fold the top left corner down; it makes for a neater center.

2. Take the bottom left corner and start rolling it inwards, towards the top.

3. Once the center is formed, hold the flower steady and begin draping the strip around it, pleating it occasionally (I've got a picture to illustrate this in the next set, bear with me :)).

4. Make sure you scrunch the bottom half of the rose tightly, this helps the 'petals' poof out more.

5. When you reach the end, fold the top corner of the strip down and bring it down round the base.

6. Secure the rose together by twisting floral wire around the base. I've used extra wire so that it can be inserted through and tied to the wreath frame.

Two-Colour Rose:

Being Christmas, I used white as my second colour. Place the inner crepe strip slightly lower than the outer one, to show off both colours. Make the rose as above. I find that, as you're draping the strip, slightly pleating it backwards every now and then gives the rose a more ruffled look, which I feel makes the rose prettier.

Assembling the Wreath:

1. Insert the rose's wire through the frame and secure it lightly. Don't get fussy about this, as the roses will be firmly fixed when you loop the garland on.

2. Finish attaching all your roses.

3. Pick a spot and start looping the garland around the frame, making sure you cover the starting point once. Pull the garland tight around the roses to hold them in place.

4. For a wreath of these dimensions, I looped the garland thrice between each of the roses for a nice, healthy wreath. Tuck the end point neatly away; I assume this garland must also have some floral wire in it as it stays in place, and doesn't need anything else to secure it.

You can finish the wreath with bows, or other decorations of your choice. This baby now graces our front door :) If you can't get a hold of a wreath frame, the roses also work beautifully on Christmas trees, like so:

I hope this inspires you to get crafting this Christmas too!