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New Exclusive Cookie Cutters! *Giveaway Closed*

4 Apr

I have wanted to design my own cutters for… well… pretty much forever. I have a hard time finding cutters that match the ideas in my head, so I’ve always wanted to make my own. I’ve kind of dragged my feet about doing it for one reason or another. Mike has encouraged me to do it for a long time, and a good cookie friend encouraged me recently, so guess what? I finally did it! It’s so exciting to see it go from an idea in my head to a cookie cutter and then on to the actual cookies that I had visualized for it.

Narrowing down the ideas was the hardest part. I have endless ideas, but I could only start out with a few, so I painstakingly narrowed it down to three. I’ve always thought there needed to be a cute baby cutter out there. Not just a baby head, not a crawling baby, not just a baby onesie, but an actual baby wearing the onesie (or whatever…). So my first design is….. (drum roll please!)

A baby! I wanted him/her to be easy to decorate, simple, but customizable. Here’s how I decorated it.

I wanted to be able to do some easy cute toes and NO HANDS. I’m not a fan of drawing hands. This is a super simple design.

You can add some clothes.

Awww, poor baby! What’s the matter? (Mike drew this one for me, and I translated it to cookie)

There, that’s better. Jammies and a binky and all is well in the world.

The second design is one that I’ve wanted for a long time. Wilton used to have a pretty decent one, but it was discontinued a while back, and it just seemed like there was a need for a plain old girl. Not a gingerbread girl, but a GIRL that you could decorate all different ways. So my second cutter is….

A girl! And along the same lines, my third cutter is….

A boy! I had basically the same requirements for the boy and the girl. I wanted them to be very customizable, and like the baby, I didn’t want to have to do hands. Also, I wanted to be able to have them hold things like soccer balls and bouquets. So here’s what you can do with these guys:

These guys are obviously soccer kids, but you could do any sport. Basketball would be very similar. Mike helped me figure out how to do hands without having to do hands. You make them hold something and just put some round circles for fingers. Easy! So it’s not a Rembrandt, but it’ll do for a cookie.

Football, ballet, Karate. Notice how you can just tuck their hands behind them if you don’t want them to hold anything?

Luau! I would just like to point out that that hula girl is a self portrait. ha ha!

And finally (for now!) a bride and groom. I’m going to work on more designs and do some decorating tutorials for these guys, but this will have to do for now. Oh, and sorry about the lack of cultural diversity in these kids. I was decorating late and was lazy so I used all the same color. Next time I’ll be more culturally diverse.

So do you want some of my new cutters?

I’m going to give away a set of all three to 10 lucky blog commenters. Just post a comment (maybe you could tell me what you would like me to do for my next batch of cutters!), and I’ll choose 10 at random using random.org and send you the cutters. Contest ends at midnight Friday, April 6, and I will announce the winners on April 7 (because that’s my Mom’s birthday). :)  OH– and if you are going to Spring Fling, you will be receiving a set there. You can still comment on the blog post, but please make a note that you will be at Spring Fling so that I can choose another winner. Good luck! And thanks for putting up with my long absence!

Twelve Shades of Pink- A Guest Post

14 Mar

Hey guess what? I’m still alive! I’m embarrassed by the huge lapse of time that has passed since I last wrote, and the longer it goes, the more embarrassing it is to get back to it. I was dreading this “Hey, remember me?” first post back, and then I got an email from Anne. First of all, can I just say that I love Anne? I think the first time I talked to her was maybe 3 years ago (ish?) and from the first time I talked to her, I loved her. She is such a sweet lady, and her cookies are ADORABLE!! If you haven’t seen her site yet, do yourself a favor and get on over there. We can wait for you to come back.

So anyway, back to Anne saving my blog— She sent me an email and was gracious enough to offer to share her fun new findings with my readers.  I was so happy and relieved that she could take the burden of my first post back.  Thank you Anne!  You truly saved my sanity and my blog.  I am honored to have you be my very first guest post ever. And so without further ado…. I give you Anne:

Hi, my name is Anne Yorks and I love decorating cookies. So much so, that I have a little cookie shop online called Flour Box Bakery. I do cookie stuff every day…and even if I’m not decorating, I’m still thinking about COOKIES!

But as much as I love to decorate, I hate to clean up icing bags. AND, I really don’t like mixing all those colors. It’s super time consuming. Thankfully, Karen has a solution to the messy piping bag problem. And, I think I have finally found a solution to making color mixing a little easier.

For a long time, I have used Wilton food colors. They are easily accessible and they have a nice selection of color choices. However, I have recently discovered the wonders of AmeriColor gel pastes. I think I will continue to use a few of my favorite Wilton colors, but I am starting to phase my stock to AmeriColor. Here’s why…no toothpicks! Just squeeze and voila! I don’t know that using a toothpick is so unbearable, but squeezing is just so much easier (for me). Plus, I like the quality of the AmeriColor gel pastes.

In order to take them for a test drive I made these…

A dozen flowers in TWELVE different shades of pink. For someone who does not enjoy mixing colors…this was actually a fun experiment. (By the way, I should mention these are chocolate roll-out cookies. I used the amazing and delicious recipe from Georganne of LilaLoa. It is the best. Ever!)

Here is my messy counter from mixing colors. I started with white royal icing (and it was 20-second consistency – an icing consistency I learned from Sugarbelle). I squeezed one little drop of pink food coloring into the white. I then made my first icing bag.

Then, I added a second drop of food coloring. I mixed it up and made my second shade of pink icing.

After that, I added a third drop of pink. I mixed it. I made my third bag of pink icing.

And so on until I had 12 shades of pink. Using the AmeriColor bottle made this process pain free.

The first pink was so pale it almost looked white.

But by the end…the pink was dramatic. I loved this little experiment and I was so thankful to have my AmeriColor gel paste to help me.

I should mention that I wrote this blog post on my own…without any prodding or bribing from Karen or AmeriColor. The opinions expressed here are mine and I think each cookie decorator does things a little differently. This is just my little experiment and my experience.

Happy decorating to you and I hope you’ll visit me next time on my blog at Flour Box Bakery online.

Thank you again Anne!! Your cookies are gorgeous! It makes me want to get in the kitchen and get baking. Hmmm…. I just may do that.

Just a quickie… and a giveaway *GIVEAWAY CLOSED*

16 Nov

I told you I’d show you really quickly how I pieced together my Indians. It’s super easy, and even easier if you have a plain tombstone cookie cutter, which I didn’t have. I need to get one of those…

But since I don’t have one, I used these three sets of cutters:

The rectangle set, oval set, and the medium aspic cutter set. I have recently seen the light about the awesome versatility of the basic cutter shapes. Sometimes there just isn’t the “perfect” cutter shape, and you have to do a little doctoring.

So for for each pair of Indians, I cut one oval, one rectangle, and two teardrops.

Cut the oval and the rectangle in half.

Cut a little bit from the teardrop using the oval cutter.

Then put all your pieces together like a puzzle.

Then bake and decorate. I didn’t do a step-by-step tutorial on the decorating, but it was similar to the pilgrims. I used a 1 1/2″ circle cutter as a template for their heads, then drew on the hair, neck, shoulders and feather. I did the faces just like I did on the pilgrims.

I left the feather off of the girl, so if you have a plain tombstone cutter, she would be easy as can be. You could always add more than one feather too. Be creative. :)

I’ve showed you recently the fun things that you can do with plain rectangles and ovals. And I’m working on a top-secret project right now that I’ll post after Christmas that shows even more versatility with one of the basic shapes (can you guess which one?). It’s turning out to be lots of fun! So stay tuned for that…

But in the meantime, you need your own super-duper set of basic shapes. Comment on this post, and one lucky winner (chosen at random) will get the aspic cutters:

and the rectangle cutters:

And the oval cutters:

And the nylon circle cutters:

and the triangle cutters:

And the hexagon cutters:

and the square cutters:

And the blossom cutters:

AND a cool set of heart cutters that I don’t have a picture of because they’re not even in my store yet. But you’ll like them.

That’s a lot of cookie cutters!

Just comment on this post by Friday, November 18 at midnight (wherever you are!), and I’ll choose one winner using Random.org to win all 9 sets of cutters. Please enter only once. Good luck!

Pilgrim Tutorial

14 Nov

Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and I have a few more cookies to show you so that you can get decorating! What would Thanksgiving be without Pilgrims and Indians?

I’m going to show you how to do the pilgrims. For a great Indian tutorial, go check out Sugarbelle’s blog today!

It’s hard to find cute people cookie cutters. I wanted to do some pilgrims, but couldn’t find a cutter that would work. I had an idea of how to piece together a pilgrim boy (I’ll show you that in a minute), but I had no idea how to do a pilgrim girl.

So I was baking some cookies for my Leaves and Acorns post, and I used the Wilton Leaves and Acorns cutter set. I was cutting out the cookies, and I got to the largest acorn. I thought, “Who needs an acorn this big?? Acorns are small!” But I baked one anyway because I wanted one of each size. As I was pulling the tray of cookies out of the oven, the large acorn was up-side down, and I had an Oprah “aha” moment. I thought it might just make a cute girl pilgrim.

On one of these, I cut off the “stem” of the acorn, and the other I left it on. You can decide which way you like it best when you’re doing it. Here’s how you make her.

Bake some large acorn cookies. Let ‘em cool.

Unless you’re awesome at free-handing circles, find a circle template to trace around. I used the smallest circle from the Nylon Circle set, which happens to be 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Use a boo-boo stick (or some other sharp object) to trace around it on your cookie.

Brush off the crumbs, and you’ll be left with a nice outline to follow.

Trace around the outline with black frosting (I used a 1.5 PME tip)

Next, draw two lines out from your circle towards the outside edges.

Connect the two lines with a swooping arch.

Then finish the hat.

Draw in some hair:

And then draw a collar.

There’s your pilgrim girl outline. Now I’m going to show you how to do the boy, and after that, I’ll show you what to do next.

For the boy, I had a small pilgrim hat cutter that I wanted to use to piece a guy together. So I used that and the second-smallest circle from the nylon circle set (1 7/8″, but a 2″ cutter would do!). Cut one hat, and two circles, and then cut one of the circles in half.

Cut a chunk off one of the circles using the same size cutter you used to cut your circles.

Fit one of the half-circles into the first circle.

Then trim off the top of the circle with the pilgrim hat.

And fit the hat into place.

If you happen to have a large snowman cookie cutter with a top hat, you could chop him in half and it would be the same effect. I just didn’t have one large enough.

Bake him up and let him cool. Use the 1 1/2″ circle template (same one you used on the girl), to mark where is face is.

Outline the hat. It’s super easy to do because you’ll see the lines from where you pieced him together. Go ahead and fill in the hat band while you’re at it.

Then outline the head:

Add some ears:

And some hair. Notice I went outside the lines a little. I wanted his hair to be a little wider than his face. No problem. Nothing a boo boo stick won’t fix.

Scrape out the outlines from inside the hair area. Add a collar.

Now you’re ready to add some color. There is definitely no right or wrong way to fill these sections in. This is just how I did it. First I filled in their faces.

By the way, this is all Meringue Powder Buttercream that has been thinned to the point that it will smooth out at the count of about 8 seconds. Royal Icing would also work. This flesh color was Copper Americolor with the tiniest drop of Warm Brown.

Next, fill in their hair. I did these two different shades of brown, just because I happened to have it, but no need to make two different colors. They’ll look cute all matchy-matchy, too.

Next fill in the girl’s hat, and their collars.

Fill in the guy’s hat with gray (mostly Bright White, with a little drop of Super Black), and the bitty parts of their shirts black.

After it dries for a bit, go back and add some outlining to their hair to give it some texture. I just used the same color, and small tip (#1).

This next step is totally optional. I actually really hated it after I did it, and wished I hadn’t. But then it started to grow on me. So it’s up to you! If desired, add some pleat marks to the girl’s hat. Or not.

  Also add some white buttons to their shirts.  And a yellow buckle to the boy’s hat.

Then the faces. OHHHHH the faces! I really hate doing faces. This is how I did it the first time, and I really, truly hated how they looked. I think maybe it was the nose. I don’t know.  Noses are hard. So before you put a face on your pilgrims, practice a little, and also maybe check out how Sugarbelle does faces, because they’re totally cute.

On the next ones I did, I stole the Sugarbelle nose, and they were much cuter:

The way I make eyelashes is really easy (but I didn’t get a picture). Pipe on some black ovals in pretty thin frosting. Then, working quickly while the frosting is still wet,  use the tip of a sharp boo boo stick to pull the eyelashes outward (sometimes boo boo sticks can get a little dull with use. Keep one sharp for jobs like this).  It might take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.

After you’re done, add a little dot of white frosting to the eye to give it some sparkle. And you’re done!

The girls:

The boys:

And here they are with their Indian friends:

Coming up, I’ll show you how I pieced my Indian together. But don’t forget that Sugarbelle has an Indian tutorial TODAY if you want to get decorating.

Happy week-before-Thanksgiving!

Leaves, Acorns…. And a Squirrel.

10 Nov

Have I mentioned that I love fall? I do.  I love the leaves, the crisp air, apples, pumpkin pie… I think Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. I love Christmas too, and I can’t wait to start doing some fun Christmas cookies. But I have to tell you, I get a little cranky when I’m in the stores and they’re already playing Christmas music, and have all their Christmas stuff up as if Thanksgiving is already passed and gone. It’s not! It’s still 2 weeks away people!

Thanksgiving gets no respect.

I’m going to give Thanksgiving its due, by golly.

With leaves! And acorns! And a squirrel!

I’m proud of this squirrel. I’ve tried decorating him several times, and never could get him right. The best I could do before this was this guy:

Ha ha! He’s pretty rough!  I wanted something a little more stylized with clean lines. Mike told me I should ignore the tail shape and do my own thing.  That Mike, he’s (almost) always right!

Speaking of that…  I have a new toy.

It’s an airbrush!

This is kind of a funny story. Mike has been telling me for probably 2 years or more that we should get an airbrush and try airbrushing cookies.  I kept saying “I don’t know… not crazy about the idea.” Because when I thought of airbrushing on food, I thought of the kind of cakes that end up on Cake Wrecks.  And I actually hadn’t seen very many cookies done with the airbrush, but the ones I had seen were… um… aesthetically challenged. It was a tough sell for poor Mike.

And then I went to cookie camp! There was a demo there on airbrushing cookies, and I was instantly sold. I came home and said “Hey Mike! We need to get an airbrush!” And he said “yep.”

So I just got it recently, and I’m still not a pro– at all. But it’s fun! I am loving it, and I’m seeing the potential. I started with some fall leaves– because it’s fall, and leaves are pretty forgiving. And they’re colorful.

I made a few, and made them very basic, solid colors.

I used Meringue Powder Buttercream, and let them dry overnight. Notice I left a few of them white, with no outline. I wanted to see what I could do with only airbrush color.

Here’s what they looked like when they were done:

Yes that middle one has a big gouge out of it. I’m such a klutz!! But I had to leave it in the picture, because I wanted all of them in the same spot as they were in the pre-airbrushed picture, so you could see the comparison. So there you have it.

Anyway, I played with all kinds of colors– red, orange, green, yellow, brown. Even the plain white ones got nice and colorful. It actually made them very shiny, too! Which is kind of fun, if you’re looking for shine. And it dries very touch-able. Once the airbrush color dries on there, there is no danger of smudging the color. (Unless you drop something on the cookie. But that’s a whole different situation.)

Here they are all pretty on a plate.

I was going to pipe veins on them, but decided to try airbrushing the veins. It took some getting used to! It’s funny– it’s kind of like an Etch-a-Sketch, where you don’t really know where you’re aiming for a while. I would do the main vein down the center of the leaf, and then want to come back and have a vein coming off of that one, and I had no idea where to aim and how to match it up with the existing line! So you’ll see LOTS of mistakes up there in those cookies. But by the time I was done, I had a pretty good handle on it. Not perfect, but the learning curve isn’t huge.

After I did these, I thought they looked a little bit muddy. I wanted to try doing a batch where I glazed them one solid color, and only used one airbrush color on each. So I did these:

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of them before airbrushing, but it was pretty much the same as the first picture up there– minus the white ones. This  is what they looked like before piping some veins on them.

Here they are finished:

I can’t decide which ones I like better. I like the simplicity of these, but the multi-color ones are growing on me.

Here they are all together.

I like them all together like that.

So what do you think about airbrushing on cookies? Have you done it before? Do you want to see more? I will keep practicing and pass along what I learn. I’m going to be selling the airbrushes in my shop, and as soon as I get them, I’ll do a how-to post and maybe a video, and most likely a giveaway. So stay tuned for that.

In the meantime…. Enjoy the fall!!

Easy Jack-o-Lanterns

28 Oct

Sometimes I think decorated cookies are so much a part of my kids’ lives that they are no longer impressed and/or interested in them. But every once in a while, they will surprise me. Like the other day when I was at the school volunteering and one of my sixth-grader’s classmates came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you Casey’s mom?” I said, “Yes, I am”, to which she replied “Oh, cool! Casey said you’re the best cookie decorator in the WORLD and you’re going to make cookies for the whole sixth grade for Halloween!”  Reaaaaallllly….

Sure enough, after checking with Casey, I find it is true that I have been volunteered to supply cookies to the 6th grade. So I needed a “cool” (6th grade cool) idea that would be easy and fast since I had a whole lot of ‘em to do. Very soon afterward, I saw this post by Sweet Sugarbelle. It was an answer to prayer. Ok, maybe not really. But it did save my bacon. Here’s what I made:

I did it a little bit differently than she did, so check out her post, too, and choose which way you want to do it. Her way is a little bit neater, but I think my way is a teensy bit faster, which is what I was aiming for for this project. Here’s how I did it.

First bake a ton of pumpkin cookies. I used the basic pumpkin cutter that comes in a lot of Wilton sets. This one happened to be from the Spooky Shapes set, but it is also in several other sets.

Next, I stenciled on some faces using the Jack-o-Lantern stencil from the Wilton Halloween Stencils. (This method would also be cool on plain circles or squares using some of the other stencil shapes.)

To stencil, I use an offset spatula, and squeeze a little frosting onto it.

I’m using Royal Icing here, which is unusual for me. But Meringue Powder Buttercream would also work.

Then anchor the stencil to the cookie using two fingers, and swipe the frosting-ed spatula over the stencil.

Then carefully lift off the stencil.

Ok, now if you want your stencils to look nice and perfect, you’ll want to wash off the stencil in between each use. But if you’re in a hurry, and it doesn’t really matter how they look, then by all means, continue on without washing.

Like so.

Ha ha… I actually had some friends come over when I was at this point. I just kept praying that they wouldn’t walk into my kitchen. You don’t exactly want anyone to see them when they look like this.

I did some in black and some in yellow, and they looked equally horrible.

It looks like they have milk mustaches. But the good news is, that it doesn’t matter in the least. Yay!

Next, outline in orange. I used a PME 1.5 for outlining. It’s my favorite outliner!

Actually on the bottom three, I forgot to switch my tip, and outlined with a 2. Then I remembered and switched it back to the 1.5 for the rest. Can you see the difference? The 1.5 is just a little more defined. I like it better.

After outlining, you’ll want to wait a bit and let your outline dry. But if you’re doing a ton of them like I was, by the time you get to the last one, your first ones will be ready to fill in.

Fill in with a larger tip. I used a #2, but a #3 would also work. This is a cool trick I learned from Callye–

Fill in every-other section and let it dry for about a half hour. (Or, like the outlining, if you have several dozen to do, by the time you get to the last ones the first ones will be ready.) Doing it this way helps SO MUCH with keeping definition in your design. Best tip EVER. Thanks Sugarbelle!

Then fill in the remaining sections.

Then add a stem.

I usually do green stems on my pumpkins, but I had seen some pumpkins done by Laura at A Dozen Eggs that had brown stems, and I loved it!  So I had to try that this year.

You could add some green vines at this point, but I was in simplify mode, so I left them off. It’s cute either way.

Cute, easy, and you don’t have to have any artistic ability to do these.  You could try this method with all kinds of stencils.  I’m definitely going to keep it in mind for Christmas cookies this year. Give it a try!

Halloween Ovals *GIVEAWAY CLOSED*

22 Oct

So I said was going to get another post up last Friday. Not the one that just passed yesterday— the one a full week before that.  Then I had sick kids, I was sick, and you combine that with time flying at break-neck speed, and here we are.  Life happens. Sorry about that.

But hey, let’s not look back. Let’s look forward! I have some Halloween ovals to show you! I really should have shown you the ovals first and then ended with the rectangles, because I really liked the rectangles better, which sorta makes this anti-climatic, but such is life.

So we have a set of oval cookie cutters.

Half are plain-edge, and half are crimped edge. I used the plain edge for these cookies.

First are some Halloween treat buckets.

Had a little bleeding on the handle on the one on the left, because I was lacking patience. If you don’t want bleeding, you must wait. Don’t put a dark color on a wet lighter color. Wait. Patience! (Yoda voice)

Next, some plain pumpkins.

These are easy. Just draw an oval in the center that is about three-quarters of the height of the pumpkin. Then add ridges heading outward and slightly upward. Does that make sense? Then add a stem and maybe a leaf. You can have pumpkins in all kinds of sizes. Who needs pumpkin cookie cutters?

Next, I tried just a bunch of candy.

It looks too stark to me. Maybe more candy?

Remember in my rectangle post, I made some monster faces? Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula, and a Skull and Crossbones. Here are their oval counterparts:

Here are the rectangles and ovals together, just for comparison’s sake.

Definitely like the rectangles better, but the ovals are cute in their own way.

These next guys were my favorite, and they were also the most simple. I wanted something really easy for the smallest ovals, so I decided on spiders.

I loved doing them. They took about 10 seconds and added a lot to the plate of cookies.

And my other favorites were equally easy. Candy corn!

What? You say these aren’t ovals? Well, you would be right. But all I did was cut a sliver off of each side of the oval (at an angle) to make cone shapes. I loved that it worked, because now I can make any size of candy corn. The smallest were almost the same size as real candy corn. Cute.

Here’s a platter of the ovals:

Fun stuff.

I have a handful of sets of oval cookie cutters to give away. I’m probably not going to get them to the winners by Halloween, but the good news is that the uses for oval cutters is ENDLESS.  You can use them all year long, and then when next Halloween gets here (in the approximately 2 seconds that will take), you’ll have them to make all the pumpkins, candy corns, spiders, or monster faces you want.

Comment on this post by Wednesday, October 26, midnight, and you’ll be entered to win a set of your own. I’ll choose 5 winners using Random.org. Please enter only once.

Thanks for reading! Good luck this week getting all of your Halloween preparations together. I have 4 little costumes to figure out this week. Do you have a lot to do before Halloween?

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