Tuesday, February 26, 2013

St. Patrick's Day.... it's the new...umm, St. Patrick's Day.


I am nearing the end of my sojourn in South Korea, my friends. I have turned my oven on and off again for the last time. I have exploded my last bag of powdered sugar all over my kitchen while mixing icing at high speeds. I think it would be safe to say that I have eaten my last black bean pizza crust stuffed with sweet potato filling that also has mayo and corn drizzled on top. I have walked my last rice paddy and bought my last corner store cantaloupe ice cream on a stick. I have not, however, pushed my way through the last mob of ladies trying to simultaneously bundle up and pat my young children. I still have two Korean airports to get through. Nor have I said my last "annyeonghi gyeseyo"( goodbye) because secretly, I'm hoping to connect with some Koreans in America. And in this dream, I also speak much better Korean just by virtue of returning to my home country.

Yesterday, as I tore my grocery list off the pad of paper for my very last shopping trip, I noticed that it was also the very last sheet of paper on the pad. I took that as an omen that I don't have to be the one to run to the store on our second-to-last day to grab just one more carton of milk. My husband thought I was being a bit melodramatic considering the ease at which I could procure an additional note pad, should we need it. So I had to tell him all about the world-wide notepad epidemic. People all over the world have to write on their hands and arms. I've even heard of teenagers trying to turn themselves in because they didn't have any paper for their writing assignments. It's really quite tragic. I'm surprised he hadn't already heard of it. He's usually pretty on top of major world events.



The down side to not shopping again is that for dinner tonight we are going to have ramen noodles, garlic bread, and applesauce. And for dessert, my kids can just eat brown sugar straight out of the bag. They're flexible like that. Although, I suppose I could also just let them eat these guys. Would it be weird if they ate a leprechaun? Do you think that brings some kind of bad luck? Or do you get three wishes?


If you take away only one thing from this post it should be that cantaloupe ice cream on a stick is just as weird as it sounds. But if you were to take away two things, it should be to make these shamrocks. They couldn't be easier or faster. I've been eyeing Lisa's trick (See it HERE on the The Bearfoot Baker) for a few months now. I'm so glad I tried it out! And once it's completely dry, swirl some luster or disco dust around with a clean, dry brush and it gets caught in all the cracks. Perfect shimmer for St. Patrick's Day!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vanilla 2.0 -- A Sugar Cookie Recipe


Remember that one time I mentioned that I have updates to my "other" vanilla cookie recipe? And then I never posted them? And I am a bad friend? Apparently, I didn't remember that. Which is basically the blogging equivalent to this:



And by that, I mean... I'm so sorry I forgot to post the changes!! I am going to post the changes as a new recipe. You can see the original HERE... or just forget about it and use this one every day for the rest of your life. (What? You don't make cookies every day?)


Vanilla Sugar Cookies 2.0
printer version 
 
1 cup slightly softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 (or 4 1/2 cups) flour

Cream the butter and both sugars together. If you have any brown sugar lumps, you should crush them up or pull them out. They make weird dents in your baked cookies. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the salt and baking powder and again with the mixing of the dough.

Before you add the flour, let's have a little chat. Different altitudes need different amounts of flour. Differences in humidity will the change the amount of flour you should add. Is there a storm coming? That changes things. Add only 3 cups to begin with. Then add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and holds together. (This happens at about 4 cups of flour for me...except in the winter time when it happens at 3 1/2 cups flour.) That's when you should stop if you are going to chill the dough, or just wait for another day to bake it. If you are going to roll it out right away, add another half of a cup of flour so it will be thick enough to move from rolling out surface to your baking sheet.

Bake at 350F. If you roll to 3/16" thick, bake for about 7 minutes. If you roll to 1/4" thick, bake for about 10 minutes.


Also, I haven't tried it, but I think these cookies would be EXCELLENT with mini-chocolate chips mixed in!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A whole bunch of St. Patrick's Day

In case you haven't heard, there is a pretty big holiday coming up. It's full of magic and rainbows and tricky little tricking type people. Clothing and pancakes and elaborate household decorations just turn up green with no explanation. Regular old meals like mac and cheese are replaced with corned beef and cabbage. There is pinching. And hidden treasures. And shamrocks. And four leaf clovers. And also.... a jillion or so cookies.

As it turns out... I'm going to be a smidgeon busy in the upcoming weeks. You know, since I'm moving across the world and all with my 3 small children. And I might not have time for a jillion or so cookies. So I was thinking that maybe I could show you these for now and we can just see what happens tomorrow.

Smiling Shamrocks Rainbow Shamrocks Fancy St. Patrick's Day Cookies Piping Shamrocks Leprechaun Loot Leprechaun Promise Shamrock Flowers A Little Luck Image Map

Also, I was totally going to play this off all nonchal


Also... I'm kind of, a little bit pleased to tell you that this picture is completely CLICKABLE! Click on any picture and it will take you to the appropriate post! It's like having ice cream AND grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. It just doesn't get better than that.

It's Your Day, Mr. President Cookie


Today started out just like any other day... with a child crying. And then multiple children crying. And then me pretending like I can't hear them crying. And then one of them climbed onto my bed from the end all the way to the top. And took all the pillows. And half of the blanket. And if this day was like every other day that would have been the end of struggle for sleep.

But today wasn't just like any other day. Today is a HOLIDAY. My husband doesn't have to work. And my child doesn't have to go to school. And breakfast doesn't have to be made and coerced into anyone's tiny little tummy. And I don't have to run around searching for matching socks and collecting library books. And best of all... my husband has an even lower tolerance level for children in the bed than I do. And that means... I totally pretended like I was still sleeping and he got up and found teddy bears and blankets and glasses of milk for my darling young children. And I got to sleep for another 40 minutes. FORTY MINUTES. That's like 3 weeks of sleeping in mom years. Best day ever.

Also, today is President's Day. And that means that I get to show you all the cookies I made for this day. And even better, I get to show you an entire COLLECTION of cookies made by some seriously talented cookie decorating friends. Are you ready? Because, I'll be honest. I was simply stunned by the incredible cookies that came from this project. (Which was the complete brainchild of Anne from Flour Box Bakery. And if you don't know her, you should know that she has the sweetest family ever, she decorates the cutest cookies, and honestly comes up with the best project ideas in the whole wide world.)

This is James Madison. He was a good guy. And smart. And he basically wrote the Bill of Rights. And then became the fourth president of the United States.

This is Gerald Ford. He was never elected. Crazy, huh? Richard Nixon's Vice President resigned in 1973. As per the 25th Amendment, Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as the new Vice President. And then when Nixon himself resigned in 1974 he became president of The United States of America.


And these are the rest of the most amazing set of cookies I've ever seen. Go visit as many as you can possibly handle. Then maybe take a nap before going to see the rest of them!



1) George Washington by Sarah of Sweet Surrender Cookie Co.,    
2)  John Adams  by Nicole of Life’s a Batch
3)  Thomas Jefferson by Sarah of Songbird Sweets
4)  James Madison by Georganne of LilaLoa
5)  James Monroe by Anne of Flour Box Bakery
6)  John Quincy Adams by Liz of Arty McGoo
7)  Andrew Jackson by Tiffany of TheRedCooky
8) Martin Van Buren by Jill of Jill FCS – Funky Cookie Studio
9)  William Henry Harrison by Christina of Sweet C’s Bake Shop
10)  John Tyler by Kim of The Cookie Puzzle
11) James K. Polk  by Debbie of D&T Designs
12) Zachery Taylor by Stephanie of Ellies Bites
13) Millard Fillmore by Melissa of Simply Sweets by Honeybee
14) Franklin Pierce by Kris of So Cute Cookies
15)  James Buchanan by Lene of Not Your Everyday Cookie
16) Abraham Lincoln by Debbie of Sweet Creations by Debbie
17) Andrew Johnson by Liz of CookiesToGo
18) Ulysses S. Grant  by Rebekah of Love at First Bite
19) Rutherford B. Hayes  by Heather of Twins Plus One Goodies
20) James A. Garfield by Teresa of Sugar T's Cookies
21)  Chester Arthur by Alyse of B.E. Sweet Treats
22) Grover Cleveland  by Kimberly of Barefoot N Baking
23)  Benjamin Harrison by Laurie of Cookie Bliss
24) Grover Cleveland  by Kimberly of Barefoot N Baking
25)  William McKinley by Susan of Sweet Williams Cookies
26)  Theodore Roosevelt by Heather of SugarNosh Treats
27) William Howard Taft by Sarah of Sarah’s Sweet Shoppe
28)  Woodrow Wilson by Cheryl of The Sugared Apron
29)  Warren G. Harding  by Shannon of Artfully Delicious Cookies
30) Calvin Coolidge by Stephanie of Ice My Biscuit
31)  Herbert Hoover by Fumie of A+Kake sweets 
32) Franklin D. Roosevelt by Christine of Chris’ Creative Confections
33)  Harry S Truman by Kim of Sugar Rush Custom Cookies
34)  Dwight Eisenhower  by Monica of Cookie Cowgirl
35)  John F. Kennedy by CeCe of The Tactical Bakery
36) Lyndon B. Johnson by Jennifer of One Kookie Cookie
37)  Richard Nixon by Jackie of iBakery
38)  Gerald Ford by Georganne of LilaLoa,
39)  Jimmy Carter by Jennifer of One Kookie Cookie
40)  Ronald Reagan by Melissa of The Baked Equation
41) George Bush Sr. by Penny of Lucky Penny Cookies
42)  Bill Clinton by Laurie of Cookie Bliss 
43)  George W. Bush by Sarah of Sarah’s Sweet Shoppe
44)  Barack Obama by Teresa of Sugar T's Cookies


Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple Brush Embroidery Hearts


I don't hate technology. I'm just not any good at it. My phone can take pictures and call people. It cannot give me directions to the nearest hotel or sling unhappy canaries into little green things that might also be pigs and do not have any legs.  I cannot use it as an alarm clock or a video camera. I just barely figured out how to use the speed dial. Also, it flips open. It's that kind of phone.

And until just a few weeks ago, I had a computer that I had to prop open because the back hinge was falling off.  At least five keys were missing. It had exactly one USB port and I couldn't open more than two windows at the same time or it would crash.

And then I got a new super-lightning-fast computer. It's too fast actually, I'm never sure if it's really saving something or just pretending to listen to me.  And it's so quiet that it makes me uncomfortable. Shouldn't there be some kind of rattling, wheezing sound coming from the back? Is it even ON? But the very worst part about this new-fangled mess of technology is the fantastic built-in webcam.

I'm terrified of it. What if the webcam has a mind of it's own? Or what if some computery-type spying guy in Sweden uploaded covert surveillance software onto my computer before it was shipped to me? What if he's secretly judging the unfolded laundry behind me as I type this? Do you think he'll say anything about the number of times I've given my children Cheerios instead of lunch? What about last week when I didn't actually put real clothes on them for two days? Did he catch that? Is he cackling to himself while he rubs his hands together in glee just considering all the money he will someday make off me when he chooses to use this footage as blackmail? Because, I'll be honest, that would be worth a good 73 cents to me.


I get all creeped out if I walk into the living room in the morning and see that my laptop is open. How dare he gawk at my Christmas pajamas and my wild hair that somehow manages to stick straight up out of a ponytail! Where was he last night when I stayed up until the wee hours cleaning the house and making healthy lunches for my young child while simultaneously sorting clothing for the orphans? Or yesterday afternoon when I purposefully brought the laptop to the table while I patiently interacted with my children and taught them meaningful life lessons? I'm pretty sure he was there when I checked my bank account online so I tried to scare him away by singing the same seven off-key notes repeatedly while blowing my nose. But since I wasn't sure that worked, I had to type my password with one hand while covering the webcam with the other hand. I'm taking no chances here.

I've started working out in front of my computer. I lift really big weights a few times and do some push ups and stuff. Then I close the computer and still make lifting type sounds while eating popcorn and watching a movie. It's for my own safety, really. I don't want him thinking he can just come buy and steal my cookie cutters without a fight. Some of them are completely irreplaceable. Like this heart cutter. It's not like I can just walk into a store and buy another ... umm... hmm...okay, I guess hypothetically that might be possible. But that's not the point. The whole point here is that if creeper spying guying wants to learn how I make brush embroidery cookies, there is a MUCH easier way. And as an added bonus, it also includes less screaming from a 2 year old.
 


1. These hearts are a great last minute filler for a Valentine's Day platter. Ice some cookies and let the base layer dry over night. Then grab a square brush (that you only use with food,) some water and a paper towel.
2. Start at the top center and pipe 4 or 5 scallops around the outside edge.
3. Dip your brush in the water, blot it off on the paper towel and draw through the scallops. Push the brush down in the icing on the outside edge and drag it toward the center. Repeat about a hundred times until you make your way back to the top and then...
4. Just stare in amazement that something so simple can look so cool.


Visit the design section at The Cookie Cutter Company to see how I made the rest of the cookies in this set!

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 reasons why I don't work for Hallmark












As it turns out, I'm not so good with the "words of love" or the "professing of affection." I don't really "say things people want to hear" or "take showers daily."

But I do have a cousin who makes fantastic cards and once a month she lets me steal one of her designs and turn it into a cookie. And then she makes one of my cookies into a card. It's pretty much the highlight of my month. Click over to Simply Pam's Creations if you want to see which design she used.


PS -- Which cookie do you like better? Outlined or not outlined?

Monday, February 4, 2013

No Color Challenge Winner

I love you all! Thank you so so much for joining me in the first challenge!!

I was just going to post the winner for the challenge on the original post. But then I couldn't stop talking about how incredible and unbelievable all those cookies were. So... I decided to share some of my favorites here.

 
Some famous works of art expertly imitated in monochrome by Cookie Bliss. 

Cookies don't have to be intricate and overly time consuming to be beautiful. This fun set by Sugarbee Goodies just makes me happy.

This one is clearly not a cookie. (Entries of all kinds are welcome) The white piping over this fondant cake by Em's Cakes is AMAZING!

  I honestly had to look at these cookies 4 times before I understood that they were, in fact, cookies. I thought that Love at First Bite was tricking my mind and not just my eyes!

I'm a sucker for patterns. And these gorgeous pattern cookies by Sweet Creations by Debbie are as pretty as they come!

And last, but not least, these beautiful birdhouses by WensKoekje's show that colorless cookies don't have to be boring. They are so sweet and lovely!

And because you probably can't wait any longer...

THE WINNER IS....

Random.org has chosen Cindy of Cookie Parade as our first challenge winner. Cindy-- send me a message with your mailing address and I will get the prizes headed your way as soon as possible. 

Visit the rest of the challenge entries HERE.
Or CLICK HERE to go to this month's challenge.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Challenge Yourself -- Sketch It!


First, can we just talk about how AMAZING that no-color challenge collection is?!

This would be the point where you would talk.


If you were here, I bet you would say, "I KNOW!! Totally unbelievable." And then *I* would say, "I seriously had no idea how incredible you all are." And then there would be an awkward pause because maybe you thought I was saying that I thought you all had the cookie decorating skills of a chipmunk. But nothing would be further from the truth because I already think you guys are fantastic and then you went and made those... gems of black and whiteness and now I'm all numb in my head because I can't quite understand how that much cookie decorating talent exists in a world where you can still find stale chocolate chip cookies on your grocer's shelves. But I would probably forget to tell you that part because of the aforementioned mind numbness.

And then since I don't actually want you to hate me, I would probably make you strawberry ice cream. It's pink and all. And I've got it on pretty good 2-year-old authority that only pink ice cream tastes like deliciousness. So... for you... I would make deliciousness.


And then I would abruptly change the subject because we have GOT to get talking about February's challenge. (Goodness, don't you know I've got a jillion things to do before I move? I can't just stand around talking about chipmunks and the color pink all day.)


This month's challenge is to SKETCH YOUR DESIGN before you cookie it. Sketch it any way you want to. Use a pen or a pencil or some super fancy, high-tech graphic art program (I'm looking at you Jill.) Trace around the cutter and then fill it with your design. Here's a hint -- if you are going to do lettering on your cookie, use a sharpie, not a pencil. The sharpie is about the width of a #1.5 tip. It will give you a better idea of letter spacing.


I also find it helpful to add some color. I like to see different ways to put my colors together, so I actually scan my drawings to my computer and then open them in my favorite paint program. I mix and match and play around with my designs and colors until I'm completely satisfied. And then I finish that laundry I've been avoiding all week because someone just rubbed the remains of their banana all over my pants. And I don't do laundry until I'm out of pants.


Really quick, before I show you the prizes for this month... While I was making these cookies, I was thinking that if I just added a plum colored icing to the mix, this would be the PERFECT gender neutral color palette for baby cookies. Don't you think? 

Okay... prizes!!


This is one of my favorite sketch books. (Yes, I have more than one.) So whoever wins is going to get one of these. And a eraser stick. Because I want one. Because you really can't ever have too much eraser when you are designing cookies.


 AND... Karen and Mike from Karen's Cookies have donated a $30 gift card for the winner as well!



FEBRUARY CHALLENGE GUIDELINES

1. You must sketch your design before making the cookies. This is kind of on the honor system here. You don't *have* to post your sketches unless you want to. (I'm kind of insanely curious about these things though and would love to see them if you can find a way to make it work.)
2. Please make a new set of cookies for this challenge instead of linking to a set you made previously. You have an entire month. There's no rush here.
3. Post a link to your photo down below before midnight on February 28th.
4. You may enter as many sets as you like, as long as you sketched them before creating them.
5. Not actually required -- but if at all possible, please make time this month to blend strawberries and vanilla ice cream together and eat it while no one is watching.
6. Winner will be drawn via random.org. 

I can't wait to see what you make this month!!

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