Thursday, March 31, 2011

cookie graffiti

I kind of like things that are familiar. I have, umm, let's just say, A LOT of shirts in my closet and I probably wear 7 of them. (Can you guess how often I do laundry?)

When I go to one of those fancy juice and weird grass blender places I order the same thing. I'm scared that if I order one of the other delicious sounding drinks that it won't be delicious.

In college, I ate tortillas every day for nearly 2 months. And then...one day...I just stopped eating them. And I started eating cottage cheese and rice instead. (I just said I was a college student. These food choices should not be surprising to anyone. They required zero cooking and minimal refrigerator space and could easily be labeled with my own name to keep otherwise "innocent" roommates from eating them.)


I usually don't even realize when I've moved on to a new phase until its been weeks or months and someone asks me what I eat and I realize we've eaten the same thing for dinner 3 nights out of the week. For weeks. My poor family. (On yet another side note -- people are ALWAYS asking me what my family eats. Is this normal?)

Cookie designs seem to share the same fate. I'm sure you can tell. I had a little stint with the chicky cookies. I just couldn't focus on anything else. My palms would get all sweaty when I tried to tell myself to move on...okay, not really. But they thought about getting sweaty. Maybe. 

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I feel a change in the wind. 


P.S. How weird are these cookies? They are like cookie graffiti. I definitely made these late at night.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

bunny head things

Remember how I advised you against trying to make a bunny head with an egg cutter? I can't stop thinking about those bunnies. Because they were almost what I wanted. But not quite. I decided to try them again using an actual bunny head cutter. No sense trying to re-invent the wheel. Or, at least, that's what someone old once told me. And if they're old, you better listen. At least occasionally. You know, when it works out for you.

These certainly have less of a "pushed out a suction tube" look to them than my previous bunnies, but they are missing bowties. Okay, I can see that I am just going to have to show you the picture of my "other" bunnies. Just promise me you won't look too long at them, okay? (And no clicking on the picture so it gets really big while you catalog all the flaws.)

I love the bowties on these cuties. I just don't like how the ears look all weirdy. HEY! Stop staring. Seriously, you promised. I think that I either need to add a bowtie shaped chunk of cookie to the top bunnies, or maybe bring the pink part of the ear much lower on these ones. Unfortunately, after two tries, these are further down on my "interesting things I could do with a cookie" list. I don't know that there is going to be a sequel here. But if any of YOU try it...let me know. I will be anxiously waiting for a resolution. (As long as we can define "anxiously" as browsing through beautiful cookies on flickr while eating left over chocolate fudge frosting straight from the bowl.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

real eggs this time

Wow. I know its been a cookie eternity since I've posted. But I do have an explanation for myself. See, when my friends and family call me up, this is how the conversation goes--

THEM: So, what have you been up to lately?
ME: You know, making cookies.
THEM: Uh, huh...trailing off...losing all interest in further conversation with me...

I'm tired of the rejection, so I had to hold off on cookies and do something interesting this weekend so that I can still have friends. I ran 7 miles. I figure that will buy me at least 3-5 days. Now I have to quick make some cookies before my interestingness wears off.

And I do mean quick. Given that I already had some egg shaped cookies baked, these took less than 10 minutes! And maybe I shouldn't tell you that because now you are going to look at all my mistakes and say, "Yeah...maybe you should have taken your time on those little treasures."

But let me tell you something -- You are probably right.

In case you are wondering...stencils. They are your friends. They are certainly my friends. And not the kind of friends where you have to run 7 miles so they will still talk to you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This does NOT look like an egg.

I was going to make some Easter egg cookies. I meant to. I really did. I rolled out the cookie dough...I got out the egg cutter...and then...I couldn't stop thinking about those chicky cookies I made. I have a problem. My cookies did not come out looking like Easter eggs at all....





For the record...I would definitely NOT recommend trying to make rabbits out of the egg cutter.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

make your own adorable chickies

I am officially declaring the fuzzy chicky to be my favorite. And I will show you how I made them. But don't worry if its not your favorite. You can adapt these steps to every single one of the chicky cookies. And if you can't figure out how to adapt it...just tell me. I'll help you out. Because I have no life.

Let me first just say that I do a lot of wet-on-wet cookies. BECAUSE I AM A NON-WAITER. I have no patience. I want instant gratification. I am sure these cookies would be just as cute if you did the chicks first and filled in a background later. Or if you did them on top of an already dry background. Hmmm....maybe I'll have to try those later....

Also, I use one consistency of icing. Its right down the line between outlining thick and flood icing thick. I go for a count of 12, if you know what I mean. But again...you can do these however you want to.

Okay, so start out with a cookie shape of your choice. I love squares, but these would be just as cute on circles or egg shapes or...you know...any other shape. Outline the edges, and roughly outline where you want your chicky to go.  If you are doing this with 2 thicknesses of icing, do the outer edge with outline thick icing and the roughed out chicky part with flood consistency icing.

Immediately fill in the background color.

Grab the yellow and make wavy line circles for the head and the body. Make shallow wavy lines for a softer looking chicky and deeper waves for that "fresh out of the dryer" look.

Quickly fill in the yellow. All of this should take about 30 seconds. Or so. No pressure here if you're not exactly "quick" at the whole cookie decorating thing. Just don't take a break and read the newspaper in the middle of it all.

Dip a toothpick in some orange icing and draw on some little legs. Or longer legs if that's what you want. Dip the toothpick in the orange before each line. Dip a different toothpick in some black icing and make two tiny dots for eyes. (I like to put the eyes just lower than the center of the head.) Then using the orange toothpick again, make a tiny "v" shape for the beak.

Done and done. 

Wait -- I forgot to tell you about the cheeks. Pink luster dust on a dry cookie would be ideal. I don't have that. So I mix a tiny bit of pink food coloring with a bit of water. I dip a food paintbrush into it and dab it off on a paper towel. Then I lightly paint little pink cheeks. Easy peasy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicky Cookies

I wanted to make some little chicky cookies for Easter. I thought about them for a long time. And then I thought a lot about how little chickens are actually kind of gross and not cute at all. And they make an awful noise. But chicky cookies are WAY better than that. And I thought about so many different kind of chicky cookies, that I just couldn't narrow it down to ONE design. I couldn't do it. I couldn't choose ONE and throw all the other adorable faces out the literal window to fend for themselves in the barely-still-winter-and-not-yet-spring cold. Nope. Couldn't do it.

So I made them all. Even the weirdy ones. (You'll see.)

I made these fuzzy little things. And almost stopped right there. 

But then these guys would have been so sad. And no one wants to see a sad Easter chicky. (I can't decide if I like the outlined chicky or the non-outlined one better.)

These are my shell guys.

My husband calls these the House of Mirror chickies. Except, he obviously doesn't use the word "chicky." Because he's a man. And he doesn't use "cute" words. He uses words like "circular saw" and "pushups." (I told you I made "weirdy" ones.)

And I had to make a little lady just to round things out a bit.

And after all was said and done...I ended up with a favorite. And I won't tell you which one. But I will tell you this -- If you come back later ... tomorrow...  umm, sometime in the near future, I will not only tell you which one it is....I will show you how to make it yourself. 

Which one is YOUR favorite?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Someone outlined something...

Guess what?! I outlined something! I had big plans to play this one cool and nonchalant, and pretend like I do it all the time...but I can't. Mostly because I'm not a cool and nonchalant kind of person. I'd like to be. I pretend to be. But I'm not.

Come on, you know what I'm talking about. You Some girl gets all dressed up and spends WAY MORE time than necessary trying to look good and then when she meets the person she got all dressed up for she waits exactly 2 seconds before her insides are screaming:

"Didn't you NOTICE? I'm not ugly today. And it was all for you. Which means I LIKE you. But now maybe I don't because you didn't notice. Which means that YOU don't like ME as much as I like YOU. And if that's the way you feel, then maybe I won't give you these cookies that I spent all day baking and decorating and obsessing over before spending hours trying to feel good about myself in a very superficial way. And it was working for a minute before you I saw you and you didn't say anything. You've ruined it. You've ruined EVERYTHING!!"

And then she runs away crying. And said person looks up from the mail wondering why she is hysterically throwing clothes at the door while changing into a sweatshirt and jeans.

(Not his fault.)

So to avoid that scene altogether, I'm just going to tell you once more -- I outlined these cookies. Its not something I've really been capable of in the past. It was a little touch and go...I wasn't sure how it would all work out. But in the end -- I love them! And I'm totally going to do it again. As soon as I can find my sweatshirt.

a sparkling good idea

I have a problem. When I get some "great" idea in my head...I make it. Right then. I don't stop to think about the fact that it will take 3 hours and I only have 12 minutes. I am embarrassed to admit that more than once, I have started making cookie dough, blended the sugar and butter, and then realized that I only have 1 egg. Or no eggs. Or no eggs and no salt and only 1/2 cup of flour. And its the middle of the night and I have two sleeping children and no car and my husband is gone, so there is no way I can go to the store for more. But that doesn't stop me. (I think maybe that's the real problem.) I end up trying to figure out how to reconstitute dried egg whites and grind my own wheat and sort out all the pretzel bits from the salt at the bottom of the bag....ummm...hypothetically of course.

These cookies were no exception. Great idea? Check. Middle of the night? Check. Missing some important and vital aspect without which my great idea will be barren of all hope and success? Check again.

They NEEDED to be sparkly. I NEEDED edible glitter for this to work. And I had ZERO edible glitter. 

You want to know what I did? I took some regular old granulated white sugar and mixed a bit of silver food coloring in it. And it turned grey. And it was not at all sparkly. And there was some sadness, and a little bit of disappointment, but no giving up.  And then I mixed some silver luster dust in with the sugar -- AND IT WORKED!! I had the most perfect sparkly sugar in the middle of the night to finish my great idea.

And now I have kind of A LOT of sparkly edible glitter. So...you're going to be seeing it again soon. You can be sure of that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winner, winner, cookie cutter dinner....

I can't believe how many of you wanted that weirdy shape cutter! You know, the one I used for the "thank you" cookies and the leprechauns. Okay, from here on out, I am officially going to call it a....wait for it......

BRACKET SQUARE.

There. Now we don't have to make up random terms to describe it. We can just love it. And make things with it. And...well...probably we should avoid squishing it because then it would be mutilated and not at all cute and lovable anymore. I was all prepared to make another one of those, or at least a peeps bunny since those seemed to be the most popular requests. WHAT WILL OUR WINNER CHOOSE? It's up to YOU my friend number 28 --

-- who said, "the cutter I'd like is kind of hard to explain, it is sort of a plaque type of thing, like ornamental mirror or frame shape. I have a picture."
 
CONGRATULATIONS  HANIELA !! 

I'm sending you an email. But if you don't get it, email me back at LilaLoa@ymail.com And try to avoid asking to transfer large sums of money into my account for the King of Liberia. I feel for the guy, I really do, but I'm afraid I can't help him out this time.

I just want to keep drawing numbers and giving away cutters -- this is SO fun! But I also have some cookies to make, cookies that I should be making right this very second...I'll tell you what. I'll do this again. Real soon. Like super soon. SO soon you won't even believe it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

a little LUCK

I think it is safe to say that I run with the perfectionist crowd. Maybe run is too strong of a word. Let's go with-  walk quickly with the perfectionist crowd.  (As long as your definition of perfectionism is similar to freaking out over every -single -detail in a cookie and spending 10 minutes on that one last thing that you just can't get right but should be right and then letting it consume your mind for the next 4 days while worrying that everyone will notice how you left that one little bit of flour dust stay on your cookie...  But I'm definitely not a perfectionist if your definition includes a clean house and no dishes in the sink.)

I wanted these cookies to be kind of wonky. I tried really hard to make the squares...not squares. It started out great (see the "u"?) But I was fighting a losing battle with the inside part of me that says "These are not squares. You are doing something wrong. FIX IT." And with each tile, they got square-er and square-er.

And then after they were all done, I looked at my letters and realized that it would have been a bajillion times easier to have just drawn them on there with food color markers instead of trying to pipe them. WHY do I not think of these things BEFORE making the cookies? (Probably because I'm still obsessing over that bit of flour from last week....no time for productive thinking...)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

a bit about couplers

My Wilton couplers drive me crazy! I am constantly twisting them and pulling them off and readjusting and twisting again until I can get them to thread just right so I can twist them tight enough that the icing doesn't secretly squeeze out the side on its own while I'm not watching and then fall into my most perfect and adorable cookie at some unsuspecting moment and ruin everything. Because I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. (A lot of times, in case you are wondering.)

On the advice of Pam over at Cookie Crazie I got some Ateco couplers from Karen's Cookies. (And as much as I would love all of you to think that Pam and I are close, personal friends, and that she divulged this advice over a quiet lunch together while we laughed and chatted about life, love and cookies... The truth is that she put it on her blog in January. And I read it. And I followed it. And I am SO glad I did.)

When I got my couplers, I could see that the base was quite different....but the ring part thing (Is there some kind of technical term for this?) looked almost identical to the Wilton ring part things. I was horrified. I'm not exactly what people call "organized" or "neat." What if I mixed them up? Then all of the ordering and waiting and thinking magical thoughts for my new couplers would be worthless. I would be stuck in a Wilton-Ateco coupler limbo with parts to both of them floating around and none of them twisting smoothly and tightly. At the same time...I have a lot of Wilton couplers. And I can't justify the complete waste of tossing them all. (Not that I wouldn't LOVE to. It would make me SO happy to have all Ateco couplers all the time.)

As I was pondering this near certain disaster, I was also washing my couplers. (I'm GREAT at multi-tasking, especially if it involves worrying.) And then I saw something that made me so very relieved. The Ateco couplers FLOAT. Ahh, they really are a dream come true. They work so well, and are easily distinguished from their frustrating counterparts. I'm thinking of having one bronzed and made into a statue so I can look at it every day and remember how great they are. And then I will buy more of them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

shamrock flowers

There is a reason I do not have a membership to a bulk-club-warehouse type store. I have no self control when I see candy in mass quantity. It is SO easy for me to walk past the little bags of M&Ms that they put on the shelf next to the cashier at a regular grocery store. I just stand there watching that little bag thinking, " I am SO better than you. Look at me. I don't have to eat you. I am happy as a person without you." But I don't say it out loud because that would be....wait, is that still judgemental even if I only say it in my head?

Ahh, you're always distracting me. My point is that in the past, I DID have a membership. And whenever I walked down the candy aisle and stood staring up at a 50 gallon barrel of gumballs, I couldn't move. I would will myself to keep going. I even tried threats. But nothing mattered because the only thing I could focus on was large amounts of candy staring me in the face. I'm powerless, I tell you. My husband would always ask, "Why? You don't even LIKE this candy!" And it was true. But it was a pointless argument because I was staring at absolute beauty in sugar form. Pour large amounts of ANY candy in a glass jar, and people will dig right in, completely against their own will. (And by "people," I mean "me.")

Sometimes I think I'm stronger now that I'm not in my twenties anymore but when I tossed all these little flowers in a glass bowl....I knew there would be no hope for me. Bulk-club-warehouse type stores -- good bye forever.

And hello large amounts of cookies and cakes! Thank goodness I have incredible amounts of cookies and cakes around my house to keep me from being...umm.... without cookies and cakes. And thank goodness that spring will come to this planet at some time in the future! Maybe I will spread these cookies out on my floor and lie on top of them and pretend that they smell like a smell that is beautiful and very spring-ish. But then I would also have to pretend that they weren't stuck to my clothing for the rest of the day. I guess I don't really mind pretending.


P.S. Does anyone know if shamrocks have flowers? Clovers do though, right? I have a vague memory of an odd little rabbit eating clover flowers and not the stems and some deer in a forest that starts on fire...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

free peeps cutter?

~~~GIVEAWAY CLOSED~~~


I am just going to come right out and say this. I don't understand the buzz about the elusive peeps cutter. Probably because I don't really like peeps. By all means, I should -- they are marshmallow and have an interesting texture and they come in all sorts of colors and they have weirdy eyes. What's not to love about weirdy eyes? But I don't love peeps. Like, at all. I do, however, feel bad for all of you trying to find the cutter. Every time I read about another fruitless search, I think to myself, "I could make you a cutter and it would probably take less time than your search" And then I thought --

I COULD MAKE YOU A CUTTER.

But, not all of you. Just one person. What I'm trying to say is that I am going to give away a custom cutter.  It doesn't have to be a peeps cutter. It could be anything you want. But not too big because my sheet metal is only so long. And...not a scalloped circle cutter because I'm not THAT good at making cutters. All YOU have to do to enter this giveaway is leave me a comment saying what shape you'd want. (Don't worry. You can totally change your mind.)

And since I know that giveaways are bittersweet because you want to share them with everyone and keep them to yourselves so you have a better chance of winning, I'll give you an extra entry for sharing this giveaway. You can share it however you like -- facebook, twitter, email to your Aunt Sarah....whatever. Then come back and leave me another comment letting me know. 

I will accept entries until midnight in Hawaii on March 15th. And then I'll pick one lucky person and continue to feel bad for the rest of you. Deal?

And I just watched a depressing movie. I thought you should know.

~~~GIVEAWAY CLOSED~~~

Monday, March 7, 2011

a leprechaun promise

There are two types of cookies that I never wanted to make --leprechauns and cupids. I promised myself I wouldn't. It went kind of like this:

Myself: I don't want to make leprechaun cookies.
Me: Okay, then don't. 
Myself: No, I'm serious. I'm never going to make them.
Me: Okay, fine.
Myself: Promise me I never have to make them.
Me: Uhh, you know I'm not good at that promise thing...

A few days ago I was looking through my cutters to see which St. Patrick's Day cutters I have (and the sum total is a clover) and I saw this cutter. And I heard a little leprechaun calling to me.

So I HAD to make him. And he was happy. And then he realized he was all alone. And he was not happy anymore.

So I HAD to make him some friends. And they were all very happy together. So happy that they started being mischievous and pouring gold into people's gas tanks while they weren't looking. But they didn't tell them so when they took their cars to the mechanics, the mechanics took all the gold and then charged them a lot of money for fixing their cars.

So I HAD to make them some parental figures to keep them in line. And talk some sense it to them. And to show them that they were pouring the gold all wrong. Because when they were little leprechauns they really knew how to be mischievous.

And even though his parental figure stopped him from lighting fires on people's porches and totally embarrassed him in front of his friends by saying completely uncool things, that little leprechaun sure adored his parental figure and they skipped happily home.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

sweet little king of the jungle

I LOVE things that coordinate. I have avoided this truth for years. But its time to finally own it.    It's true.    Coordinating things make me happy. And for this reason, I love nothing more than to make cakes and cookies that match each other AND that match party decorations or invites. Okay, that's not entirely true. I mean, there are quite a few things I love more (my husband, melted cheese, whitewater rafting...) but none of them involve cookies. Or cakes.

So you could imagine how happy I was to see these baby shower decorations. If you can't imagine it, that's okay. I'll tell you -- I was very happy to see them and even happier to know that I got to make cookies and a cake to match.

And then I looked closer. And closer. And realized that there were kind of A LOT of colors to match. 8 colors to be exact. (Although that is counting white and I didn't have to do anything about that. But it DID have to have its own bowl. So I have to add that in or I wouldn't have enough bowls. And if I don't have enough bowls -- I get sad. And I like to be happy.)

I made the cookies first. And I felt pretty good about the color matching. And then I realized I had totally set myself up for failure. Or at least one really long night. Now I had to match the invitation colors AND the cookie colors. Why did I do this to myself? Why was I so happy to see coordinating cookies and cake and plates and napkins dancing in my head to the soundtrack of  "The Jungle Book?" WHY was I letting them frolic in happiness while I was doomed to sleep deprivation? And then from the back of my mind, a little idea bug came running forward screaming -- "I LIKE doing this!" And I was happy again. The End.

But actually, it wasn't the end because I still had to make the cake. And since I gave fondant the weekend off to go visit relatives in Pittsburgh, I made an ALL butter cream cake. With dots and stripes and some cookies on top. And then I pretended like I was going to clean my kitchen before going to sleep. And then I laughed at my own joke and went straight to bed.

The End. (For real this time.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Leprechaun Loot

FINALLY. I have new St Patrick's Day cookies. And I love them. I want to squish them in my arms and take them with me wherever I go.

I originally wanted to make these larger than they are. But for all my wanting, I only have one circle cutter with a fluted edge. And it isn't big. And in the end, I love them for their smallness. Because you know what they are perfect for?

LEPRECHAUN LOOT!

Wouldn't these be adorable to hide in piles around your house on St. Patrick's Day? You know, in addition to dying the toilet water green and forcing everyone to eat very unappealing green pancakes for breakfast. (Not that I would ever do that. I mean... my green pancakes are SO appealing.) These are pretty simple to make, too. And, maybe its because they are small, but they took much less time than other cookies I've been doing lately. Want to make some?

First, flood a white circle on a cookie. Leave a little room for the green edge. Immediately pipe green dots for the shamrock leaves.

Grab a toothpick, and pull through the dots towards the center. Do the sides first, and slightly pull them up toward the middle one.

When you pull through the top dots, slightly lift at the bottom of the leaf and continue pulling down to create a light stem. Or you can dip your toothpick in some green icing and draw through the icing to make a darker stem.

Let your circles dry for awhile. Clean up your mess. Try to get the green coloring off your fingers...and then come back when the white icing is dry. Pipe large circles around the edge. 

Take your toothpick (or another one if you dropped that one on the floor while you were cleaning) and wiggle the dots back and forth so they touch. It sounds complicated, but its super quick. Just one quick back and forth at the inside edge of each dot and your done.

I think these would look just as good on regular old circles as it does on a fluted circle. So don't let that stop you. Get to making your loot.

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