The Whole Halloween Gang...On Cookies

Can you guys keep a secret? Yeah, me either. Here's the thing. My husband is out of town. He has been for a few days...and I don't really know when he's going to come back. I'm not supposed to tell you that because that means you know that he won't be here at 3am if you wanted to break in and steal my good stuff. But I'm just going to tell you anyway because its an integral part of the story.

See, he's in Seoul. That's this great-big-HUGE city in South Korea. It's clear on the other side of the country. Which means that it's at least 3 1//2 hours from here. (That little fact has nothing to do with the story.) Do you want to know what he's doing tonight? HE'S AT THE BAKER'S MARKET!!! Markets here are kind of a big deal. Imagine 5 Walmarts right next to each other with no parking lots. They are like mini-towns. People literally eat and sleep at their stands. He was talking to me while walking through the box part of the market. He passed stand after stand after building of people making cookie and dessert boxes of all shapes, sizes, and colors. And after 15 minutes...he was still walking through boxes. And he got lost in the streets of boxes. (That part was not his fault. I distracted him by saying something incredibly witty like, "I'm so jealous.") He said he found an alley of cookie cutters, but hadn't hit the cookie cutter section of the market yet. And then... his phone cut out. I kid you not. I kept trying to call him back, but it wouldn't go through.

So now I'm here. (And I think we've pretty well established that I'm alone.)(Except for my children. And they are pretending to be asleep. So, it's kind of like I'm alone. But don't steal my good stuff.) I am not at the Baker's Market in Seoul. My husband is at the Baker's Market in Seoul. And just between you and me... of the two of us...I am a smidgeon more of a baker than he is. Not that he's a bad baker. I mean, he can make toast. That's kind of like baking. And he did make a cake one time. Do you want to know why he's at the Baker's Market in Seoul? Because he loves me. And he's planning a romantic the Baker's Market. Apparently, he really loves me. And I can assure you, the feeling is mutual.

You know what else is mutual? Cookies. We both love cookies. Especially Halloween cookies. I like to make them. He likes to eat them. We're a perfect match. Except he didn't get to eat these. The neighbor kids ate them while he was on the other side of the country. I did save him a pumpkin though. So...that's something.

Can you guess which cutter I used to make these cookies? I'll give you a hint. It starts with flip and ends in flop. Also...can you tell who discovered how to use fonts today? ME! It's me. Who knew fonts could be so fun?!

1. Bake a cookie. Use a flip-flop cutter.
2. Pipe some little feet with thick black icing.
3. Using a #233 tip and THICK purple icing, give your monster a body. The key is to squeeze the icing a quick squeeze while holding the top above the cookie. Push the tip towards the cookie until it makes contact and then pull up again real quick, breaking the strands. It sounds complicated, but it's actually just fun.
4. While the icing is still wet, drop on a pre-made eyeball.

1.  Using thick white icing and a #2 tip, outline the cookie starting with the head. Follow the blue line around and then the green line. Let it dry for 20 minutes.
2. Fill in the face with a dusty-green colored icing. Let it dry for 30 minutes...or just move right to step #3 if you are impatient. Just be careful not to smudge the wet icing.
3. Fill in the shirt and hair with flood consistency icing. Let dry for 2-3 hours.
4. Add some shoes, hands, ears, knobby things and a face.

1 Bake.
2. Outline.
3. Flood.
4. Face.

1. Using a #2 tip and thick black icing, outline the general shape of a mummy.
2. Splotch some face colored icing in the middle of the head area.
3. This is nearly impossible to see since I am the WORST white-white photo taker in the history of photo taking.... but grab a #46 tip (or any of the flat ones) and some thick white icing. Give the mummy a base layer by piping lines from one side to the other from bottom to top. Don't pipe over the face.
4. Add some diagonal lines to cover any gaps. For the final line, start your line on the cookie to the side of the mummy's face. Let it pile on itself a tiny bit and then move it across the face.

1. Outlining this guy is the hardest step. And it's really not that bad if you take it one piece at a time. Use thick black icing and a #2 tip. Start with the blue line...then the Let the outline dry for 30 minutes.
2. If you are careful you can actually fill in every color at the same time. I stopped after doing the white because I wanted it to sit under the fan of a dehydrator to make sure it wouldn't crater. You could also just use thicker icing or very thin icing to avoid the craters as well. (Consistency is so tricky, isn't it??!!)
3. Fill in the rest of the spaces and let it all dry for 2-3 hours.
4. Add tiny dots for eyes and buttons. Draw a little mouth and some fangs and then give the guy a cute little bow tie. That way he's not scary.

1. Using thick black icing and a #2 tip, give your skeleton friend an oddly shaped head. You could also give him a regular shaped head if you like. I will leave that choice entirely up to you. Let it dry for 30 minutes.
2. Fill in the head with thin white icing that you intend to let dry for 2-3 hours.
3. While you are waiting for that to dry, you can give him a body. Use thick white icing for this and a #1.5 tip if you've got it. I started by making sideways "Cs" for the spinal cord. Then a heart for the pelvis. The leg and arm bones are made by piping hearts on either side of a straight line.
4. When the head is dry, use your thick black icing and give him some eyes. And a mouth. And maybe some eyebrows....although technically skeletons don't have those. You can do what you want though.


Standing and Hanging Cookies -- How To

I made these cookies for The Cookie Cutter Company. And also for myself. And apparently the neighborhood children.  And then, I posted them all over the place during the month of October. And got all sorts of questions about them. Soooooo.... I decided to do a quick post and answer some of the most asked questions. You can totally ignore this post if you don't care about these cookies. I won't tell them. (Because I ate them. And everyone knows that once you eat cookies, you can't say mean things to them. It's a rule or something.)


1. Decorate your cookies and let the icing dry.
2. Bake some sort of shape for it to stand on. I kind of like scalloped shapes, but I also used plain ol' rectangles for the tombstones.
3. Drop some thick-ish icing on to your bottom cookie.
4. Put your base cookie under a cooling rack, and prop the decorated cookie between two of the rungs. Let it stand there until completely dry. Please, please, please, make sure that the icing on the top half of the cookie is not thicker than the icing on the bottom half. Or the cookie will be stuck. (Not that I did that.) (I lied. I totally did.) (Also...This cooling-rack-prop-up-method-of-fantastic-geniusness is 100% Callye's idea. Not at all mine.)


I'm so glad someone asked about this, because this turned out to be one of the best things that happened to our house this October. And happily, it's not complicated. I tied clear acrylic craft string (It's the same thing as fishing line, but doesn't sound as gross when you are talking about cookies.) to individual "beads" from an edible candy necklace. Pipe some thick icing on to the back of a decorated and dried cookie and push the candy bead into the icing. Let it dry for 30 minutes and you are DONE!! 

You can use these as decorations (Christmas anyone?) or for my children's favorite Halloween game. I don't have actual pictures of this because I can't hold a broom and take a picture of myself holding the broom at the same time. But, basically it looks just like this. (I guess I need to work on those muscles. And also I should grow eyebrows.) Tie the cookie to a broomstick and let your kids try to eat it without using their hands. It's hilarious. And fun. And everyone likes it because you get to eat cookies. Or hold a broom. And who doesn't want to hold a broom? Or...wait a minute...I actually just like hearing my kids laugh. I'm not so hung up on the whole "holding the broom" thing. 

If you are interested, you can find the decorating tutorials for these cookies here --

Show Me Your Pumpkins!!

If you were a guessing person, how many PUMPKIN COOKIE CUTTERS would you guess that I have? I'll give you a hint, it is more than 1. (It is also more than 10.) The very first cookie cutter that I ever bought was a pumpkin cutter. And I have loved it and squished it and used it every year of my life for the last two years.

I know that people say that Christmas is the season of cookie decorating...but I don't buy that. Everyone wants to decorate cookies in December, but let's be honest with ourselves. We are all a smidgeon too busy in December to pick up any new hobby, regardless of the amount of desire in our little loving hearts. So...let me put forth the suggestion that October become the new season of cookie decorating. Halloween cookies are WAY more fun. They are all bright and shiny and scary and creepy and if you totally mess up and your Frankenstein cookie looks like an alien -- no one ever has to know.

Also, I'm pretty sure that everyone in the world has these three cutters : A star, a heart, and a pumpkin. If I had a dog, I bet that puppy would have those three cutters too. But I don't have a dog. And that makes me wonder if maybe one of you doesn't have a pumpkin cutter. And I was thinking that if you don't have a pumpkin cutter, you can't join in on the season of loving and decorating cookies that look like pumpkins and other assorted monstery-type things. And you really should join in. so very often happens at my house...I went on a little experiment-journey-test-thing. (For the record, this wasn't one of those things where I had to go into the mountains and live for a week with only a stick and a button as a test of my manhood.) (But, also, for the record, I totally would have passed if it were.) I made a bunch of pumpkins....and didn't use a SINGLE pumpkin cutter. Not even one.

See? Not a single one.Can you match them up? (Do you honestly have time to do that? I think not.) Here are the answers --
1. Ladybug (J)
2. Apple (O)
3. Tulip (E)
4. Bell (G)
5. Easter Egg (F)
6. I don't actually know what this one is. But I think it is a gift tag. (C)
8. Heart (A)
12. Balloon (M)
13. Present (D)
14. Pear (L)
15. Whale (Okay, this one was a bit of a stretch.) (I)
16. Fancy Square (J)

How many pumpkin cutters do YOU have? Do you have a favorite? I have TWO favorites. An old favorite and a new favorite. And even though I have an inordinate amount of pumpkin cutters, and non-pumpkin cutters...and still usually use one of my two favorites...I'm always looking for more of them. Why? Because I have a disease where if I don't buy new pumpkin cutters, I will cry. Because all pumpkins are different. Anyway....back to my original question -- Do you have a favorite pumpkin cutter or project or giant orange thing you grew in your backyard and hand carved into an exact likeness of the Taj Mahal? Will you show me?

The Artist and The Canvas -- Sarah Trefny

Yeay! It's time for another installment of...

I don't actually know how many different cookie cutters there are in the world. If I had to guess though, I would say at least 37. Probably more. But even with all those different cutters, there just isn't a cutter for every design in your head. Unless of course you are Sarah Trefny.

Sarah Trefny is the creative genius behind Klickitat Street. Well, not the actual street. Just the amazing little cookie gems that go by that name.

Sarah started making cookies just under a year ago in November and within a few weeks was already creating these darling little angels using a snowman cutter.. Now, I know what you are thinking.... And you are right. Sarah DID study Biology and Chemistry in college. (You're so smart.) She also took some art classes and does some oil painting on actual canvas. (I bet you didn't see that one coming.)

 Sarah grew up near Denver, Colorado and currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. She discovered the world of cookies while looking for inspiration for cake pops she was making for a family event. (As a side note, this proves my theory that cake pops are a polarizing force in our world today. Society is quickly being divided between those who CAN and those who CAN'T make cake pops. I was happy to find Sarah safely on my side of the line. And for the record...that would be the "cannot-make-pretty-cake-pops-if-my-life-depended-on-it side.")

Sarah has an incredible eye for design. Her colors are as deep and distinctive as her shapes are unexpected and perfect. For example... these cookies. The rocket is a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree that is a rocket. And I want to frame them and hang them on my child's bedroom wall. I asked Sarah about her creative process and this is what she said: 

I think it’s a lot like starting at the clouds and seeing shapes, you know?  I’m a bit of a day dreamer so things just wander in and out.  Since I don’t usually take cookie orders and this is just a hobby for me I often plan whole sets of cookies around some random thing I saw in a cookie cutter shape.  I actually like playing with the shapes more than just buying a given cutter.  Solving that little creative challenge is half the fun of cookies.

I don’t have a set process at all.  Sometimes I sit and play with my cutters twisting them this and that way and tracing and doodling in them and then just as often an idea will hit me out of the blue.  I’ll be walking through a store and see something and immediately think, “That bug would totally fit on an owl cutter!”  When I actually get down to business though I think of what I want in terms of large shapes.  Like I say, okay there’s a bump here and a point there, etc and then I go find a cutter that has a bump and a point.  I don’t worry about what the cutters are “supposed” to be. 

Sarah goes to garage sales. And finds inspiration in paper crafts. And hates making icing. (Her favorite part? ...definitely designing them.  I love to scour the internet looking for inspiration and then dig through all my cutters to find something that will work and draw them out and pick the color scheme and all that.And she spends New Year's Eve waiting for the firecrackers to end so she can sleep. We're practically the same person. Except, you know, I live on the other side of the world. And I have a different name. And I'm short. But DID live in Colorado for a few years. 

Sarah was super nice and sent along some fun tutorials for Halloween using her super-power skill of alternative cookie cutter use.                   

I was so excited when Georganne asked me to do a guest post here at LilaLoa because it just seems like she’s always having so much fun over here!  I could never be as funny as her but I can make funny cookies so that will have to do.  Georganne shares my love of googly eyes too so of course I had to make something with a silly face!  When I was digging through my cutter collection I immediately saw both candy corn and Frankenstein’s monster in the skull cutter from this Wiltoncookie cutter set and I knew I’d found the perfect thing.   The skull cutter is a little fat on one end and skinner on the other so it seemed just right for candy corn.  Plus the cheekbones on the skull are the prefect space for Frankenstein’s neck bolts. 

All you need to decorate these cookies is 15-20 count icing in black, white, dark green and light green.  If you want to do other characters than just Frankenstein you’ll need 2 more colors for each character.  Or you could make them all the basic candy corn yellow and orange it’s totally up to you!
1.  Since the perimeter of the skull cookie cutter is not exactly a candy corn shape it can help to cut out a cardstock template to keep all the sections straight and even.
2.  Draw around the template with a non-toxic food color marker.
3.  Outline and fill the wide top section in light green royal icing and the point section in white icing.
4.  Let the sections dry for a little while and then fill in the middle section with the darker color. Allow the cookies to dry overnight.
5.  When the base is nice and dry, outline the hair in black royal icing and fill immediately making sure the base around the head is nice and full.  If you wait for the outline to dry you’ll get puckering between the outline and the head.  I like to add hair to characters this way because I think it’s more natural for the hair to sit around and on top of the head.  Plus you can change up the hairstyles anyway you like.  
6.  Finally, add the details to the face.  This is the fun part because you can add lots of personality to the cookies just by changing the faces up a bit.  Georganne has a great tutorial here on how to make googly eyes for your cookies in advance.

That’s all there is too it!  They are very easy and super cute.   Of course I had to have more than just Frankenstein guys so I added a couple others but the process is just the same.  

For the witches I pieced a hat shape together with the skull cutter.  For the mummy I trimmed the cheekbones off the skull.  After that it’s just a matter of filling alternating sections, letting them dry and then adding the fun details. 

 Thank you Georganne for letting me post here today, I had so much fun with these little guys!


Thank YOU Sarah!! And now.... POP QUIZ!!! Please close your books and do not scroll back up.

Who designed and decorated each set of cookies?

And while I am waiting for you to answer....and so you don't cheat and say it was an accident.... let me just share with you Sarah's advice to new cookie decorators --

 Take your time.  Often when beginners watch more experienced artists in a video or a class they try to copy the way they see the artist working and go way too fast.    Speed will come with practice.  If you need to cut templates to draw yourself a guide for piping then do it.  Take the time to count your icing consistency until it becomes second nature (I’m assuming it does eventually, I still have to count it every time!)  Icing color can make or break a set of cookies so take the time to mix it right.  


Time's up!

Did you get them right?



Social Media Ettiquette Lessons From Kindergarten

A few days ago, I was talking with my husband about an online injustice that I found particularly disturbing. (What? You guys ARE my social life. Don't judge) An online friend had posted a gorgeous picture. And someone else had taken the photo and put their own watermark across it (and to add insult to injury... was accusing my friend of trying to "steal" her own photo back. It was crazy-weird.)

My kindergartner overheard the conversation and got a bit worked up over it. "But, WHY did they take it if it wasn't theirs??!!" My 5-year-old knows right and wrong because I tell him every day. And his teacher tells him every day. And his friends tell on him if he forgets. He's going to miss that when he gets older. At least, I'm pretty sure he will miss the snacks. So I'm just going to go ahead and print this out and mail it to his future self along with a bag of goldfish crackers.

1. If it's not NICE...don't say it. 
  I know this may come as a bit of a shock, but, I like when people are nice to me. And I like when they say nice things to me. And it makes me feel kind of bad inside when they are mean. And I don't want to play with them anymore. So...don't be mean. Even if other people are mean. Even if you're having a super bad day because your child spilled red fingernail polish on the white leather couch at the doctor's office while you were waiting for 3 jillion hours to be seen by a medical professional that didn't even listen to what you had to say and told you to bring that child back in a week if  "things get worse." Even on those days...don't make someone else sad.

 2. If it's not YOURS... don't take it.
  Do your own work. Don't use the ol' "copy and paste" option on someone else's posts. Don't take their brilliant idea and pretend that it is yours. Take your own pictures or get actual permission to use a picture someone else has taken. Send an email or a message or purchase a copyright license to use it. A picture without a watermark is NOT an invitation to steal it for yourself and put your own name on it.You wouldn't (at least you shouldn't) go into someone's home and take their couch just because they didn't etch their name into the back of it.

 (While we are on this subject... let me just say that every single one of you are welcome to copy any of the cookie designs on my blog to make your own cookies. Permission granted.)

 3. Say "Please." Say "Thank-you."
 Flattery will get you everywhere. Or at least, it will get you cookies at my house. (What? I look fantastic? Sure, you can have another cookie... or three.) If you need or want something, you are much more likely to get it if you use the "please" word. And if you ever hope to communicate with that person again...saying "thank-you" will go a long way. People love to be appreciated. It makes them happy. It makes me happy. And as we have already established...I like to be happy.

A few months ago, a very sweet and talented lady started a blog and the very first comment on her second post looked like this --

"where's the recipe????"

I am not kidding you. Just like that. With all those question marks. Let me put it in perspective -- she isn't even a food blogger, she was demonstrating a technique.

4. Read the directions.
 And to make it even worse...she HAD posted the recipe. Give the post or message a quick look to see if your question is answered. Don't CLICK HERE without reading where it will take you. (In this case that link will take you to the new quatrefoil cutter from Copper Gifts that I used for these cookies. It's totally legit.) Also, on Facebook, when you see your brother's name and a picture of a doesn't necessarily mean that he is in the picture, or that it is even his picture. Read the words. Because maybe your brother's best friend just got engaged there and your brother "liked" it so it is showing up in your feed and if you assume your brother posted the picture and you leave some comment with an inside joke about the summer you both worked on the farm... things are going to get pretty awkward for everyone real fast.

(And on a personal note -- I love to answer your questions. If you ask it nicely, I'll answer it a hundred times even if the answer is a glance away.)

5. Check your work.
Before you hit "send" or "publish," take half a second and read what you just typed. Is it nice? Is it accurate? Did you use real words? Would you be embarrassed if your mother saw it?

6. Praise in public and correct in private. 
Even with all that checking...we all make mistakes. Maybe you spelled some words wrong. Maybe someone saved your gorgeous picture on their hard drive to use an inspiration and then named their own picture something very similar and accidentally uploaded YOUR picture instead of THEIR picture and it's an honest-to-goodness mistake. (It could happen.) If you feel someone has made a mistake, send them a private message or email. Give them a chance to correct their mistakes without embarrassment.

7. Don't whine. 
 Everyone has bad days. Sometimes you even have the worst day that could have ever possibly happened. Times 12. But not every day is that day. Please don't complain over and over again. Okay, look, I'm just going to put this out there -- If your product is misery, you are going to have very few customers. I'm not saying the world needs to be made of cotton candy and rainbows. (Although, the cotton candy would be nice. I love that stuff.) If you're having a hard time, definitely let it out among people you trust and mutually care about. But if people start asking you to autograph the dictionary page containing the word querulous, please skip directly to #10.

8. Don't steal friends.
I get it. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to be popular and successful. I am not ashamed to admit it. (Please love me.) But you need to make your own friends. Don't use the comment section of successful blogs or the walls of popular Facebook pages to promote yourself, your page, your blog or your business. Go ahead and post AS your page. Comment AS your blog. But please -- if you remember nothing else -- don't tell me I have to "like" your page because you liked mine. I am headstrong. And I will not listen to you. And also, I will be a tiny bit annoyed.

9. SHARE (With permission.)
Okay, so now that I've told you that you need to come up with your own stuff and make your own friends...let's talk about sharing. Sharing with permission is a GOOD THING. Remember? Everyone wants to be loved. When sharing on Facebook, go ahead and use the "share" button so it links directly back to them. OR... link back to them by typing "@" before the name of their page. If you are sharing someone's idea or product or fantastic solution to end world hunger on your blog, link back to the original source and make sure to get permission if using their photo. And...just to be clear... Pinterest is not an original source.

10. At the end of the day... GO HOME.
Social media is an excellent tool. It needs to stay a tool and not become your life. As amazing as I want you to think that I am...I will never be more amazing than your family or the other people in your "real" life. Talk to them. Be with them. Love them more than Facebook and blogs and Instagram and whatever else they think up next.

(It's okay if you think I'm a little bit amazing though, okay? I don't mind that.)