Thursday, February 26, 2015
A few weeks ago on my Facebook page, I asked where everyone ordered their cookie bags from. The most common answers were Nashville Wraps and Gifts International. Christine from Bakerloo Station mentioned that she uses the compostable and biodegradable bags from Nashville Wraps. SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH COOKIES??!! I pretty much had to try them.
The first thing that I noticed is that they take up A LOT more space than the other bags I use. Do you see that stack in the back left corner? That's only 100 bags.
I was concerned with how well they would seal with an impulse sealer. I was a little worried that they would turn into a melted mess all over the place. But, you know, science and all...
And as it turns out, they were actually easier to seal and cut than my regular cello bags. Not that cello bags are difficult to seal. But you know how they kind of stick to the impulse sealer just a little bit sometimes? These bags didn't do that. And they cut really well too.
So I sealed up a piece of my favorite bread. I sealed one half in a compostable bag and the other in one of my regular cello bags. My favorite bread. I made that sacrifice for you. I let it sit on the counter for a week. And I pinched it regularly. I noticed that the compostable bag seemed to breathe a little bit. Not like in and out on it's own...just...let me explain. I sealed the bags with air inside of them. And when I squished it hard and just held it as if I were trying to pop the bag, it seemed to deflate just the tiniest amount. I wasn't sure if it was in my head or not. After a week, I opened both bags and the bread was still soft in both of them. And then in the name of science, I decided to eat those pieces of my favorite bread. The one sealed in a regular cello bag tasted 100% fresh. The slice of bread in the compostable bag, while still soft, tasted only about 80% fresh. And then I started to worry that maybe I shouldn't be eating bread that has been sitting on the counter for an entire week.
Bread goes stale in minutes. After a week in the compostable bag, the bread was still soft. I couldn't tell that it was drier than the other piece until I put it in my mouth. (Thank goodness I'm willing to take that risk for you and science!) Cookies take much longer to get dry or stale. I would guess that these bags keep the cookies as fresh as the lidded containers from the dollar store that I use for my cookie jar. (Great. Now I'm going to have to put a piece of bread in one of those for a week!) So if you wanted to save the environment and only needed to keep your cookies fresh for 7-10 days, these would be your bags. I will probably use them for cookies that will be eaten within the week. They would not, however, be ideal for longer term cookies or for shipping.
Any good experiment needs to be replicated. I've got a package of 100 compostable bags for two of you! Just leave me a comment on my blog or Facebook page telling me your favorite outdoor place in the world. You can get more entries by visiting me on Facebook or following me on Feedly. Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, March 4.
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Do you have a Fantastic Find you want me to try out?! Send me a message and let me know!
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I know that pretty much the entire world is trying to dig themselves out of the "worst winter storm ever" and that it's "freezing-er than it ever has been in the history of ever" where you live. But where I live, which just happens to be minutes from 4 different snow skiing resorts in the MOUNTAINS in Utah...we're having a bit of a heat wave. We haven't seen snow since December. Not in the air, not on the ground, not even that little pile my son moved into the shadows so it would last until summer. My kids are going to school in their jackets, and I'm not even giving them the judgmental "I don't approve of your decision, but you're old enough to make it and reap the consequences" look. And by that I really mean the "Oh my goodness, I am not going to fight you over your jacket and make everyone late one more time" look. I even saw a rational, sane adult wearing shorts. At night. I happened to be married to him, so again...no look. Personally, I'm not about to put on shorts. I mean...shorts? What?! I thought I still had 6 more weeks before I had to feel all awkward about the shape of those things. And also because I've been fighting off a life-sucking demon all week. And by that I mean "the common cold."
But on the plus side, I've decided to embrace spring and stop looking over my shoulder for winter to come back. Yes, I know that means it will probably snow again next weekend and I'll regret this entire thought process. But if it's here, I am just going to ENJOY it. Do you hear that winter?! I don't want you back! You had your chance. I'm planning my garden and making spring cookies. So there.
Luckily, my decision came just in time for my Cookies and Cards day where I get to snag some fabulous design off my cousin's paper crafting blog -- Simply Pam -- and turn it into a cookie. And since I've already decreed it spring and I was making fairy cookies, I figured I might as well make those mushroom cookies from a bell cutter that I've been dying to make since Christmas.
1. Use the bottom of a heart cutter to make a triangle shape for the stem. And then cut that same shape out of the bell cutter and mush them together before baking.
2. Outline the top of the mushroom with thick pink icing and a #3 tip.
3. Fill it in with thin pink icing and then immediately make an oval with dark pink icing and some dots with white icing. Let it dry for 20 minutes.
4. Add a stem with medium thick gray icing.
5. You could just leave it at that, or you can outline the top with dark pink icing and a #3 tip.
Go see what cookie my cousin made into a card HERE.
Grab the tutorial for these fun SPRING cookies HERE.
Or go see some more sweet and simple mushroom cookies at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle HERE.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
I'm kind of loving this whole "Fantastic Find Friday" thing. I get to totally justify trying out all the new products with no guilt attached. And then I get to share them with YOU! Today's Fantastic Find are these mini turntables from Webb Wood Design. It's a double-sided red cedar turn table with the most amazing ball bearings I've ever seen. My turntable has a 6" round side and underneath is a 3.5" square side. You can also get one with a 7" square side instead of the small square.
The top of the turntable is about 1.75 inches above the table or counter. Which turns out to be pretty much the most comfortable height ever for decorating. Who knew, right? This little gem is pretty self-explanatory. You put the cookie on it and you can spin or rotate it any way you want to. I haven't tried it, but part of me wants to fill a cookie with icing and then just spin it as fast as I can. Just to see what happens. You know, science and all that. The ball bearings have the perfect amount of give so you can put your finger on the edge and gently bounce the turntable to settle out flood icing. Without risking putting your finger in the fresh icing. Or dropping the cookie. Or smooshing it. I like that. Not the smooshing part, but the NON smooshing part.
I thought I would be in love with these for making circles cookies. I thought I would just put the cooking on the turntable and spin it and it would be a perfect circle. And umm... that didn't happen. I am way too set in my ways to be able to make that work. But I love it for tracing around cutters and for all the detail work and as mentioned above...tapping my icing after flooding my cookie.
You can also use it for stenciling. The stencil genie fits on the round side just fine, but the 7" square turntable was made to work with the genie.
So in a nutshell:
PROS: It's the perfect size for cookies. It spins like a dream. You can bounce the edges to gently tap the surface of your icing smooth. You can easily rotate a cookie without picking it up.
CONS: It's made of wood. So you actually have to take care of it. But it comes with food grade wood balm, so it's definitely not complicated.
You can see a video of it in action HERE or go to their site HERE.
Do YOU want to try one out? One person will win their own mini turntable gem of happiness. Leave a comment on my blog or Facebook page (because apparently comments aren't loading if you use IE8) telling me one thing you don't NEED for decorating, but LOVE to use anyway. You can earn more entries by visiting Webb Wood Design and me on Facebook and by following me on Feedly. (It's a blog reader. The best way ever to keep up with your favorite blogs!) Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, February 11th.
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Do you have a Fantastic Find you want me to try out?! Send me a message and let me know!
I think my couplers are staging a coup. At first I just thought that I had just lost a few of them. And then more disappeared and I realized that they must be gathering in the dark corners of my cookie cabinet. I wasn't too worried to begin with. I mean, they're couplers, right? I'll just replace them. But they must have spies amongst the piping bags because as soon as I ordered new ones, some of my piping bags ran off to join them. And everyone knows that it's only a matter of time until my PME tips get called out and have to make a choice between me and standing up with their friends. And I love my PME tips. I take such good care of them. They would never make it in the wild. They have no survival skills. They wouldn't last one day without being patted dry and carefully placed in an airtight box. I'm starting to panic.
I've tried calling a truce and asking the couplers to come out and settle this dispute woman to coupler. But I think they are lying in wait, making plans for their upcoming siege. I know my cutters have my back, so I've definitely got the numbers on my side, but I don't want to risk hurting my PME tips. I'm thinking about sending in some sugar pearls to see if they can mitigate this friction. I'm not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are upset about my tipless bags. I just wish I had the chance to explain to them that my heart is big enough for ALL cookie decorating supplies. It will never be full. Unlike my cutter bin. Especially since I keep seeing more fun cutters every day. Sigh... maybe couplers staging a coup isn't my biggest problem after all.
1. Start by drawing an X across the rectangle part of the envelope with a food color marker. Pipe the top part of a heart where the lines cross. Let it dry for for 20-30 minutes.
2. Flood around the top of the heart, leaving space for the final heart. Outline and fill the bottom triangle. Give that another 20-30 minutes to dry or more if any of your heart colors are saturated.
3. Outline and fill the side triangles with white icing. Pipe a second heart next to the first one.
4. Add a third heart in that big gaping heart shaped hole.
5. Outline the envelope and the heart and pipe a little bow on there. I think these cookies would be so pretty with some antiquing too!
Get the cutter HERE.
Tutorial for Kissing Lips HERE.
A Cutie Cupid from a Santa cutter? Tutorial HERE.