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Thinking Inside the Box *GIVEAWAY CLOSED”

10 Oct

I’ve been talking a lot about my desire to learn to think outside the box a little more. I am always completely blown away by Callye (Sweet SugarBelle) and her ability to make anything out of nothing. In fact, I really need her to be my buyer because I’ll pass right over certain products (like the Wilton Fangs cookie cutter, for example) and then she’ll do something totally crazy awesome with it.

So I’m trying to learn. And after meeting Callye last week, and learning some of her methods for thinking outside the box, I came home totally stoked to try some new things.

I love the rectangle set of cookie cutters.

I actually resisted liking them for quite some time. Because really, you can do without them in a pinch. You can use a ruler and a pizza cutter and get all the rectangles you could ever want. But once I bought this Fox Run Set, I wondered why it took me so long to get them! They have come in handy for so many things, and are so infinitely easier to use than a ruler and pizza cutter.

I have been wanting to feature them for a while, but didn’t really know what to do with them.

Well, I came home from Cookie Camp all fired up to be creative. I knew I wanted more Halloween cookies on the blog. I knew I wanted to feature the rectangle set. So I decided to think outside the box by thinking inside the box. Get it? Inside? The box… because it’s a rectangle….

Yeah.

So the first cookies I came up with were these guys:

I’m quite sure Frankenstein has been done on a rectangle before, since his head is a giant rectangle and all. But I was proud of myself for thinking of the other ones! :D

Then I thought just some spider webs would be cute and simple.

Easy, simple.  Anyone can do it. Outline, flood, let dry, then add a spider web and spider. Easy peasy.

Then I got crazy ambitious. I had just seen the most adorable cookie done by Haniela, that was just a silhouette of a child blowing a dandelion. And then I saw a Halloween card that had the silhouettes of trick-or-treaters. I figured it was a sign, so I tried it.

I think it has potential! It isn’t perfect, but it’s kind of a cool effect. I want to try it again soon.

So then I got off my ambitious kick and went back to simple and less creative.

I don’t have a Kopycake (obviously! Ha ha), and I really didn’t feel like spending a ton of time getting the font just right, so I didn’t. I just looked at a picture of fun-size Hershey bars online and went for it. These are pretty small– about the actual size of a fun-size candy bar. So I kept them super simple. Although it doesn’t look too impressive up close like this, when they were mixed into a platter of cookies, it totally worked. I’ll show you that in a minute.

The next two were thoughts along the same lines. I wanted a haunted house, but a rectangle is kind of limiting. So first I did another silhouette-type design:

And then I got an idea. How about just a haunted door?

Does it work? I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll do it again, but it was worth a shot.

I recently got to see a Cookie Artisan (Maryann) platter of cookies in real life. They were amazing. I loved her sign, and so I got the idea to do a scary “KEEP OUT!” sign.

I tried to make the lettering look rough and scary. I piped it on and then scraped at the edges a little with my boo-boo stick. I think next time I could do it better. But not bad for a first shot.

This next one is a simple idea that wasn’t executed as well as I’d hoped, but again, it has potential. I think that’s what I’m learning about “thinking outside the box”– sometimes you have to try it a few times to make it work, but you know if you’re on the right track.

Next time I’ll do the background a different color. But it’s cute in its own way.

I really liked this next one. It was fun to do, super simple, and it turned out cute.

I know what you’re thinking. That this isn’t a true rectangle. Which is true. But all I did was trim the tiniest bits of the top left and bottom right corners off before baking so that the bag would have some dimension. Easy easy easy.

I thought it needed some depth, so I painted on some charcoal black petal dust in the corners where the bag would be folding inward.

Here’s how it looked afterward:

Just like the fun size candy bars earlier, I went super simple with the candy in the bag. You just want the overall look to be there.

So those are my thinking outside-yet-inside-the-box cookies.

And I tried some Glorious Treats tricks for photographing my cookies. You know, like actually putting them on a plate and stuff. :D I hope she’ll be proud of my attempts at taking some prettier photos.

Here’s one:

And another:

Look Glory! Props! :D I’ll get the hang of this yet.

I came away from this little exercise realizing the the possibilities for the Rectangle Set of cookie cutters is seriously endless. What would YOU do with them?

Comment on this post by Thursday October 13th at midnight (wherever you are!) and I’ll enter you to win a set all your own. Please enter only once. I’ll choose THREE winners using Random.org.

Another fun (similar, yet different) project coming up soon!

Cookie Camp!

6 Oct

I’m back from Cookie Camp! I’ve actually been back for a few days, but when a mom goes out of town for five days, it seems like there’s a lot of catch-up, plus I’ve just been trying to get my head back on straight. Sometimes that takes me a while. So anyway, sorry for the delay.

Cookie Camp was great! I met lots of wonderful people– many of whom I knew a little bit before from emailing and blog-stalking, but it was great fun to meet them in person and talk cookies (and other stuff, too).

I told you I would take lots of pictures, and I did take some, but they are TERRIBLE.  So I had to pick out the best of the bad to share with you. I’m so sorry. Someday I’ll learn to be a better photographer.

For our first challenge, we were given 5 cookies– a cupcake, teacup, butterfly, car, and a (somewhat funky) Easter chick. We could decorate them however we wanted. I was blown away by the talent and creativity. I hope you can see enough detail in these pictures.

Here are the teacups:

Crazy, right? I mean, the creativity was astounding. I loved the jellyfish, done by Cancun Cookies (Bea). Can you guess which one is mine?

(butterfly- top right corner)

Here are the cupcakes:

It’s a cupcake, people! We were supposed to vote on our favorite and the winner got a prize. How do you pick just one of these?  Can you guess which one is mine?

Beaver- top right, second row. I started doing the beaver and then glanced over and saw Callye (Sweet Sugarbelle) doing an animal of some sort too. I almost changed what I was doing because I knew she would do it so much better. Hers was the gray cat, and it won. :D I knew it!!

Here are the cars:

You have to remember that we were in the sticks– no cell coverage, no internet– so no referencing any kind of pictures or clipart or anything. Amazing!!   Can you guess which one is mine?

The Cookie Police.  I stared and stared at that cookie, trying to come up with something besides a car, and just couldn’t. And then look what the other ladies came up with!

The funky Easter chick:

There are no words. Seriously, the cuteness!  The flowers in the basket were so pretty, and done by one of my favorite cookie bloggers, Cookie Crazie (Pam). She is the only one that uses glaze for her cookies, and what she does with it is AMAZING. It was fun to watch her work.  Any idea which one is mine?

The elf. Not my favorite work. But the shape fit pretty well! I LOVED what people came up with for these.

And last but not least, the butterfly.

I told you before I went that I was nervous about being around these amazing decorators, and I was serious. Once I got there, I was even more nervous because they are SO talented. I could have sat and watched them decorate for days. Any guesses on which one is mine?

The trees with the bears. Did you know there were bears up there at camp?? We even saw one of them. I guess there’s a daddy bear and a baby bear. We just saw the baby bear and we made a lot of noise so we wouldn’t have a run-in with Daddy.  So they were the inspiration of my poorly executed bears! :D

You know when you see awesome food blogs and you wish that you could taste the beautiful delicacies that they showcase? Well guess what? I got to taste a Glorious Treats cupcake! Glory has been an inspiration to me since I found her blog several months ago. I love her style and her beautiful photography. She made some cupcakes just for me!

Ok, fine. It wasn’t just for me. It was for everybody at camp. But that included me, right? :D The cupcake was just as delicious as I imagined it to be, and now when I read her blog, I will just drool even more. Here she is baking the cupcakes, while chatting with Pam.

Two of my favorite bloggers in one spot. Callye was actually right there, too, but the picture was not flattering and I didn’t want her to kill me, so I cut her out of the shot. You’re just going to have to believe me that she was there. Really! I met her!

It was great to learn from the best. I learned more about how to think outside the box, and I came home re-energized to try new things with cookies. I’m in the middle of a project right now that I’m excited to share with you. It is thinking outside the box and inside the box, all at the same time!

That was cookie camp in a (big, long) nutshell! I’m glad I got to go! I hope you can catch some of the inspiration by looking at all of their cookies.

(P.S. We also did a group project where we decorated a cookie “neighborhood” together. My pictures of those cookies turned out way too bad to share, so I’m going to have to ask permission to use somebody’s pictures. I’ll post or link to another blog soon, because those turned out really cute, too!)

Off to Cookie Camp! But before I go….

27 Sep

I’m heading off to Cookie Camp! I’m going to Tennessee tomorrow to meet with some awesome cookie decorators and see if I can be a better one.  I’m very nervous and feel quite inadequate.  I’m trying to conquer my nervousness.  I’m not sure if there is internet available at Cookie Camp, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to give you updates, but I’ll be sure to catch you up when I get back.  I promise I’ll take lots of pictures! :)  In the meantime…

I told you when I came back after my summer hiatus that I wanted to fill the blog up with fall cookies… and so far I haven’t delivered. Until now!

One of my favorite new Wilton sets is this cute Witch-Themed Cookie Cutter Set. I love the boot, especially. I think it could pass for a Victorian boot, which I’ve tried to do before by hand cutting around a stencil. I was going to try one and show it to you, but my 3-year-old ate it. I’ll still try it sometime.

I wish I could say it was my 3-year-old that stuck her finger in that swirly purple boot.  It was me. I do that a lot. Meringue Powder Buttercream is really pretty sturdy, but if you nick it in the first couple of hours, it’ll leave a mark. As demonstrated.

The brooms made me chuckle.

I try not to look at examples of decorated cookies when I’m thinking up my own designs– I don’t want to be influenced by other cookies.  So I didn’t look at the example pics that came with these cutters before I started decorating. When I got to the brooms, I was  like “What in the heck kind of design is this?” I could NOT figure out why it had such a large ring-thingy between the handle and the main part of the broom. I did the best I could, and after I was done, I went and looked at the packaging.

Ohhhhhhhh…….   Right.

Hmm. I guess I’ll know for next time.

There’s also a cute witch’s hat.

(Insert apology for bad photography here).  I’m hoping the cookie ladies at cookie camp can help me with photography. I need it!

And lastly, the cauldron.

I was really lacking in the creativity department when I did these, and it shows. Sometimes cauldrons are uninspiring for me. The one on the right was a bad idea that seemed good at the time. I wondered if I made purple swirls in the black, and then sprinkled the whole thing with black disco dust, if the purple would be very subtle and look cool.

Not really. Just made it look blotchy. But that’s ok. I like to show you the failures as well as the successes because if I only showed you the successes, it would be a pretty short blog.  Ha ha… oh, and also because I don’t want you to make the same mistakes. Let’s just go with that one.

All together now…


It’s a fun set.

I’m going to give a set to three of you. Just comment on this blog and you’ll be entered. I’ll go ahead and run it till I’m back from Cookie Camp– comment by midnight Sunday October 2nd. I’ll use our friend Random.org to choose 3 of you at random to win. Please enter only once. Good luck!

Hello Kitty!

22 Sep


I had the best idea. I had two sets of cookie cutters that I wanted to showcase– One was the Summer Set, and one was the new Hello Kitty set from Wilton. So I thought “Hey! Goodbye Summer…. Hello Kitty! I’m a genius!” So I planned on doing one post right after the other so you could catch the cute play-on words…

Fast forward two weeks. I’m finally getting this post up, and I have to point it out to you. Goodbye Summer… Hello Kitty. Get it? Cute, right?  Sigh. My life is full of good intentions. :D


But hey– Wilton has a new set of Hello Kitty cookie cutters! I was SO excited to get these, because we used to get asked ALL THE TIME about Hello Kitty cookie cutters, and there just weren’t any available. Till now.


We had 48 of them in our first order and they were gone in no time. But we have more now.


These were fun. It was like playing with paper dolls, choosing different outfits for Kitty to wear.  And they were simple and easy, too, which is always a plus! If you do a quick google image search for “Hello Kitty”, you’ll find all kinds of cute outfit ideas. I liked substituting flowers for the bow, too. Fun.

Does someone you know love Hello Kitty?

You should make them some cookies!

Comment on this post and I’ll choose 5 at random (using random.org) to win a set of Hello Kitty cutters.

Contest closes Sunday, Sept. 25 at midnight (wherever you are!). Please only enter one time. Good luck!

Goodbye Summer

9 Sep

It’s no secret to those who know me, or those who have been getting my newsletters for a while, that I love fall! I can’t wait to fill this blog up with fun fall cookies because they’re definitely my favorite.  But since I’ve kinda sorta been missing in action all summer, I figured I’d better at least nod towards summer. Briefly. And then we’re moving on to pumpkins and leaves, ok?

Apparently I forgot how to take pictures over the summer. Sorry these are so dark and shadowy.  I think I need a refresher course. Miiiiike!?

Wilton came out with this fun new set of cutters over the summer.

I didn’t get them until summer was almost over, but they were still fun to decorate.

I love the sunglasses.

I’ve really been wanting some larger sunglasses. The ones we have are teeny tiny, and the company who makes them disappeared off the face of the earth this summer, so we really needed a replacement.

The margarita glass is a cute size and shape.

Can you see the “Heat Green” disco dust on that margarita glass? It’s so hard to photograph. And along with that pesky fact that I forgot how to take pictures over the summer… I didn’t get a very good picture.  Maybe this angle is better?


Hmm. Not really. It’s so pretty in real life.  Guess you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

The flip flop is cute. I like it’s round-y-ness. (Yeah, that’s a word alright).

Here’s a pink set. Because pink is fun.


I liked how the sunglasses turned out in this one. I used some white non pareils from the Jumbo Rainbow Non Pareils as accents on the glasses. I pulled a bunch out of the jar with my accent tweezers, and then looked for two big ones and four smaller ones. They all vary in size slightly, but it works out well for stuff like this. The jumbo non pareils come in handy for so many things.

These were fun cookies to decorate. I’ll be excited to decorate more next summer– or maybe during the winter if I need a little summer back in my life!

So anyway, I feel bad that I totally neglected the blog this summer. I hope I still have some readers out there! I have 3 school-age kids and one preschooler, so I decided to take some time off and enjoy them this summer. We enjoyed swimming lessons, camping trips, family reunions, and lazy days reading books. It was a good summer and flew by.

How did you spend your summer months? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll randomly pick 5 of you to win a set of the Wilton Summer cookie cutters. Contest ends Monday night (Sept. 12) at midnight– wherever you are.  Thanks for sticking with me!! Hope you had a great summer! (Or winter if you’re in Australia…)

Patriotic Stars!

21 Jun

Here’s a fun little tutorial on decorating some simple patriotic stars.  Just in time for Independence Day coming up!  Enjoy…

 

Patriotic Stars Decorated Cookies

Bake a batch of star cookies using one of our recipes or your own. For every 24 large star cookies, make a batch of frosting using one of our frosting recipes.

Divide frosting into thirds. Color one third white using white coloring. Color the second third red, and color the final third blue.

Prepare 3 disposable bags, inserting a coupler into one bag, and #2 tips into the others. Fill the coupler bag with half of the red frosting. Fill the #2 bags with about a third of the blue and white frostings. Place a #2 tip on the coupler and secure with ring. Close all bags with rubber bands.

Turn remaining frosting into glaze by adding water, a few drops at a time, until it is a thin consistency. A few drops of glaze should disappear into the mass by the count of 6 or 7. The amount of glaze you need will depend on how thin you make it. If you run out of glaze, you can squeeze some of the frosting from your bags to make more.

These instructions include steps for two styles of star cookies, each having 5 steps.

STYLE 1


Pipe a wavy line across the middle of the star with blue frosting. This will make a dam for the glaze.


Glaze the cookie blue above the piped line. Allow to dry briefly, then glaze the remainder of cookie white.


Using tip #2, pipe a series of evenly-spaced vertical red lines on the bottom of the cookie. Switch to a #4 tip and fill in between every other set of lines to create broad stripes.


On the blue section of the cookie make several staggered blue dots. While the dots are still wet, use accent tweezers to place a white accent star on each dot.


Finish the cookie by adding a small blue bead border along the line where the blue and striped areas meet.

STYLE 2


Use red frosting with #2 tip to pipe a straight horizontal line across top 3rd of the cookie. Glaze top portion red down to that line. Allow to dry for a few minutes.


Glaze the next third of the cookie white. Push the glaze up neatly against the red line. Don’t worry about your precision at the bottom, as it will be covered in the next step.


After white glaze has dried, pipe a blue line over the white glaze, approximately 3/4 of an inch below the red line. Glaze below this line blue.


Pipe five evenly-spaced white dots across white section. Alternating colors, use accent tweezers to place red and blue accent stars on wet dots.


Outline star with white frosting. Finish by piping white bead borders on top and bottom of white section.


That’s all there is to it! Try out other fun patterns and designs. These are perfect for the 4th of July, a soldier’s care package or home coming, or any other patriotic occasion. Swap out colors to decorate for other countries. Have fun!

Using Stencils as Templates

18 Apr

A couple of months ago, we got a whole bunch of new stencils in our shop. I got to work right away playing around with them (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!)  Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you what I learned.

I probably shouldn’t start with my favorite– I should probably save it till last– but I can’t help it. I love these. They are done with the Mini Spring Garden stencils.  Which really aren’t all that “mini”, by the way. They are made by a company who is used to doing large cake stencils, so they call most of the cookie stencils “mini”. They are a great cookie size.

There are a few ways to use stencils. One is the traditional way that they were probably made for. You can see Mike show you how to do that here. (It was his video debut. I think he should do the rest from now on… :D)

Another way to use stencils is to use them as a template. I really like using them this way because it’s easier to get lots of colors on there. Sometimes it’s pretty tricky to get multiple colors using the traditional stencil method.

I made the four rectangle cookies without taking any step-by-step pictures, because I’m forgetful like that. So I had to go back and do the tutorial on an egg cookie that I had sitting around. But you’ll get the idea.

First you’ll need to bake and glaze (or outline and fill in) your cookies. I used the largest rectangle from the rectangle cutter set. Let them dry completely.

You’ll need some edible markers. I like the Americolor Gourmet Writer 10-color set. Choose marker colors that match the color of frosting you’re going to use. For this one, I was making red tulips with green leaves, so I used the red and green markers.

Use the template to outline each section.

Finish all of your outlining during this step. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the first part dries before you can replace the stencil to outline the next section. I know that’s just common sense, but I think it bears mentioning since I may or may not have forgotten to do that on one of these cookies.

So here’s what your outlined design will look like:

You’ll probably notice that there are some little blotchy spots. Sometimes that happens. Not all the time, but sometimes. Why? I don’t know. But don’t worry about it if it happens to you. You’ll be piping over it anyway.

Next, you’ll want to have some runny-consistency frosting. Meringue Powder Buttercream is what I used here (watered down a little bit so that it is pretty soft), but you could also use Royal Icing or Corn Syrup Glaze. Just use what you’re comfortable with.

Outline each little section with your frosting using a small tip. I used a #1 here.

You’ll want to stay just barely inside your marker guidelines, because when you fill in there will be a tiny bit of spreading.

While outlines are still wet, go back and fill in using the same frosting and tip. After I fill in, I use a boo-boo stick to even out the frosting and to pull out sharper corners and tips.

Continue on with all colors.

Try to get your frosting colors the same consistency. My green was a little bit thicker than my red, which is why the tulips look more smooth than the leaves. But hey, it adds texture. Yeah. That’s it.

Then you can add a cute border to the cookie.

They actually make pretty cute Easter eggs.

Here they are on the original rectangles that I did:

These were really fast and easy, and I loved how they turned out. It makes me think of spring… which is still pretty elusive here in Idaho.

So today I’m giving away a set of the Mini Spring Garden Stencils

and the 10-color pack of Americolor Gourmet Writers

To THREE winners. I’m tired of only having one winner. So just comment on this post by midnight on Wednesday, April 20th, and I’ll choose three winners using random.org. Good luck!

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