Possibly the best and easiest Christmas cookie ever: YiaYia's Greek Koulourakia Recipe With Printable

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a late bloomer when it comes to cooking. It wasn't until getting married that I really got my hands dirty in the kitchen (pun intended). I love to cook now, and love to experiment with desserts in particular.

But in our family, there is one thing you don't mess with: YiaYia's Koulourakia cookies. They're pronounced "Kew-doo-la-kia," but we call them Koodles for short. They are easy to make and have a universal appeal because of their plain, shortbread-like flavor.

I feel it's my duty to add this koulourakia recipe to the Interwebz, because it's straight from my grandmother's mouth. Not an exaggeration-- I got this recipe from my YiaYia over the phone in 2006 when the 2nd grade class I was teaching purchased a page in a cookbook for me and I had nothing but "how to make a bowl of cereal" in my cooking arsenal.

What you see below is pretty much what YiaYia told me, verbatim, on how to make these cookies, and what ended up in the cookbook. 

These cookies are legendary to my family.  We fight over them in our house; we devour them for breakfast, and dunk them in coffee as a midday snack. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Feel free to share this with anyone you please, as it's not top-secret... but it is much-loved. Printable 5x7 recipe card at the bottom of the post.


  • 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • sesame seeds (optional)


Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter (make sure it's room temperature, this is very important for consistency!) and flour in a bowl until completely mixed.
Knead in baking powder. Form a donut shape with the dough in the bowl (leaving a concave hole in the middle).
In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla to make an egg mixture.
Pour egg mixture into the hold in the dough. (Leave a little to use as a wash at the end). Knead together until well-blended.

The dough shouldn't be sticking to your hands once all this is blended. If it does, simply add more flour until you get a consistency that is pliable but not sticky.

Take heaping tablespoons of dough and shape in "S," "O," and "X" to form cookies. You could also roll them up and give them a little twist. Get creative!
Place on a prepared greased sheet. Wash with egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds or sugar, as desired.
Bake at 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off heat, transfer cookies to baking pan, and cool inside oven on wire rack.

Enjoy! This batch passed the ultimate taste test in our house:

The cookbook page

Click here for recipe card

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DIY Baby Door Hanger (Not Your Traditional Wreath)

Here's a fun little DIY that evolved from yet another Pinterest-inspired project. One of my dear friends recently had a little boy, and for her shower I was in charge of the decor-- including the door hanger. Originally, I had thought we'd do a wreath. But that quickly changed after I started playing around.

I was at Hobby Lobby looking for ideas and came across a pretty white shadowbox (it was also 50% off at the time) which came with beautiful pearl pushpins.  I loved the idea of mama being able to customize it, change it out, and display whatever she wanted... because we all know that babies grow fast and there's a lot we want to showcase about them!

Since baby boy wasn't born yet, I asked my friend for his sonogram picture. That would be the top portion of the box until he was born, then she could switch it out to his newborn picture. The bottom portion would be for "info," in this case his full name.*

*There are several places you'll see what looks like blanks under baby Maddox's name; I blurred it out for the sake of this post.

What you need:

1. 8.5" x 11" (approximately) shadowbox with pretty pushpins included
2. 5" x 7" picture
3. Fabric to customize backing
4. Hot glue 
5. Any embellishments you want to include-- for me, it was a "frame" made out of cardstock, and cardstock cut 6" x 8"
6. Scrapbook paper
7. Modge Podge (optional)
8. Home printer (optional)

Making the door hanger:

1. The first step was to customize the blank background. I chose a gender-neutral green chevron on printed duck. This is a permanent feature of the shadowbox, so make sure whatever fabric you choose doesn't overpower the items you'll be pinning onto the Styrofoam backing. Hot glue this to the backing.
2.  You can make this as simple or as fancy as you want. For example, I added a "frame" to serve as a border for the cardstock. To make the cardstock more durable, I used Modge Podge on it.

3.  Now it's time to create what you'll be pinning onto the background. For the purposes of the shower, I did a "welcome" sign. I gave my friend a few other things for her to use once the baby arrived: a "baby stats" page, a baby sleeping sign, and a welcome to baby's room sign (the last two interchangeable in the frame. This is a little hard to describe... check the pictures, they should explain it better than I'm doing!

I liked the idea of mom being able to change out the signs with ease, depending on what was going on at the moment.

Here's the final result. I put it next to a lamp for size reference.

I hope it gives you some inspiration on getting creative with door hangings!

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How-To: Super Simple Painted Polka Dot Pumpkins

I debated whether or not to even make a "how to" post for this, it was so easy. But I liked the end result and thought I would share. I wanted something other than the traditional orange pumpkin on the porch, but didn't want to pay the $30+ the local garden shop was charging for blue and sage Cinderella pumpkins. This is what I did.

What you'll need:

1. Spray paint in whatever colors/finish you choose
2. Pumpkin carving utensils
3. A drill (with various bit sizes if you want variety in your design)

Our Wal-Mart has massive orange pumkpins for $3 (and white pumpkins for $5... I snagged some of those two and am leaving them white). I bought two regular old orange pumpkins, and a bag of cutie little pumpkins for $3.59. Then came home and raided my paint aresnal.

I used Krylon spray paint in Ocean Breeze (which is more a Tiffany blue than aqua) left over from painting our outside furniture.  I also had some metallic gold, which I ended up loving on the pumpkins. You can of course paint whatever color you like... I think a glossy red would be gorgeous, or metallic black.

Full disclosure, I did this project on a whim without any planning and it's not the neatest job in the world. I also didn't prime my pumpkins with anything; just covered the stems with painter's tape and went to town. I'll make sure and amend this post if paint starts flaking or anything else tells me I should have primed.

1. Paint your pumpkins: The dry time for this is about an hour. I let them dry overnight since I would be handling them a lot. It's important not to spray too much, so the paint won't drip down the sides (unless that's the look you're going for, which could be pretty!).

Dry paint... and baby legs
I thought the itty bitty pumkpins turned out particularly cute in the gold.
The pups liked them too.

2. Clean out the pumpkins

The next part is just traditional pumpkin carving; slice open the top, pull out all the seeds and strings, and hollow out your pumpkin. It's really important to get all the strings, since you're going to want your polka-dots to be nice and round, without any obstruction from the inside.


3. Plan your design

I had an idea of what I wanted in my head after seeing this picture on Pinterest:

There's lots of great ideas online for design inspiration, some of which I'll add at the end of this post.

4. Get your drill on

Try to go straight in, don't let your hand wobble or you will have texture on the edges of your polka dots. I learned this the hard way.

Once you've completed your design, you are done! I wish the dots on the pumpkin on the right were a little more uniform, but that's what I get for drilling with out drafting.

Easy peasy!

More drilled pumpkin inspiration:

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Beyond the Jack-O-Lantern: 13 Unique Ways to Make Halloween Chic

It's Halloween Time!

Pinterest never disappoints. Halloween is something I've had a hard time decorating for in the past; what I see in stores seem to be less "autumnal lovely" and more "Death Comes to Honey Boo Boo's Front Yard."
The Incredible Hulk has a brother?
But that's all changed now, thanks to the ideas I've seen on Pinterest. Most of these I've modified (read: simplified) to make them a reality in our house. And some are not Halloween-specific, so they will last through Thanksgiving. Be warned, most do involve a pumpkin (or five). Here are a few of my favorites:

 1. Pretty fall tablescapes
A lovely tablescape from LaurenConrad.com. Gather some fall foliage from outside (magnolia leaves, pinecones, willowy sticks), and add some interesting pumpkins, candles, even berries and apples. This is the first year I've heard of blue pumpkins, and I'm on a mission to find at least one for our table.

2.  Old photos with captions
Find some vintage photos from an antique store, caption them with Halloween-theme scrapbooking stickers, and you've got some spooky wall art!

3. Candelabras
I've had candelabras on the brain since seeing a pair of sterling silver ones at an estate sale a few weeks ago. I love how this table has minimal decoration, yet the dripping wax gives it a spooky vibe.
 4. Washi tape pumpkins
This has been pinned all over Pinterest and I can see why. Easy-peasy to do, and super-cute! Sometimes Target has washi tape in their "1 Spot" (one dollar items), by the way.

5. Twinkle light-wrapped pumpkins
Light 'em up! What a great alternative to having a candle burning in your pumpkin for weeks. And, you've already untangled those pesky light strings for Christmas.

6. Or stack 'em up
White, blue, and sage green pumpkins grouped together on the front porch, in front of an boxwood urn. Simple perfection.

7. Fancy lacy pumpkin towers
This is a great twist to the typical pumpkin tower. Wrap them in lace for extra drama. (I've always wondered how to do this; apparently all you need is some hot glue! Or you can get more involved and use a garden stake.) There are all kinds of varieties of this, with gourds or Cinderella pumpkins.

8. The "Easy Yet Charming" Effect 
Line the stairs with the same color and size pumpkin... the white ones on black stairs makes a particularly pretty statement.

9. Pumpkin centerpieces
Via (site is in French, by the way)
I absolutely love white pumpkins, and use them all over the place in our house. In fact, all our pumpkins are white, save for the two that we spray painted... and they weren't orange for long! Make a centerpiece from hollowing out a white pumpkin and letting it serve as your vase.

10. Vinyl letters are your friend
Vinyl letters are everywhere. They're great because they stay put once they are stuck on, but can be peeled off without much of a mess. What a cute way to add some Halloween to your front porch, by flanking the front door with "Trick or Treat."

11. Easy way to spruce up a pumpkin...
Use thumbtacks! Done.

12. Spray paint is your pumpkin's friend.
I used some gold "foil" Kryolon spray paint I had for another project on a $4 bag of mini-pumpkins I bought from Publix... too cute! And they are so happy and
shiny now. Stud them for some extra sass.
 13.  Mums, mums, and more mums!
Because really, can you ever have too many flowers?

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