Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Harvest

Since I've had very few orders recently......I've been busy making all kinds of special harvest/fall cookies that have been swimming in my head. The only bad. thing about "playing" with cookies so much is when I have to go back to making what people ask me to make. ;)

Here's another of my harvest collections........









Happy Harvest to you all!

The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. Psalm 67:6

Friday, October 28, 2011

Caramel Apples (Tutorial)

I've always wanted to do some form of caramel apples in a cookie.....so last week was my chance. And along with the fun shape, I decided to do three different flavors of cookies/shapes. It was a much bigger undertaking than I imagined. I'll save the multi-flavorings information for another time soon, but for now.....I want to show you how I made the caramel apples.

Trying to save time, I decided to color my dough red. That way, I wouldn't have to decorate the bottom part of the cookie.....plus no worries about red bleeding. :)

I chose to flavor my caramel apples with caramel flavoring from Spices Etc. Yum! I put the flavoring in both the dough and the icing.



 To decorated, use a medium brown color.....as close to caramel color as you can get. I think it helped to add gold Americolor to the brown icing. Outline the top of the cookie with a drippy caramel look....and then fill it in. If you'd like to add nuts over the top of the caramel, now is the time to do it.

 Let the cookies dry a bit, before adding the sticks. The sticks are a little tricky.....especially when you have really thick cookies like mine. I put a line of icing down the bottom of the stick and set my apple cookie on top. The larger ones wanted to flop over on one side of the stick, so I used folded paper towels to prop them up while they dried. The smaller apples didn't give me this problem. Please excuse this dark photo.....it was evening by then. ;)

And there you have it....caramel apples on a stick. Yum!

Lots more harvest/autumn cookies to come. So much to show you.....so little time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hurry.....Fall is Passing By

I love fall.....but it just doesn't seem like it lasts long enough. And now with my half century of life.....it seems like things fly by even faster. DISLIKE! ;)

So October is almost over and I've got tons of fall cookies I need to share. I guess I need to push it up a notch, huh?


Trying out painting food coloring gel on top of dried icing. I love the effect!
 I especially love how it gave this pumpkin such dimension. This is probably my favorite pumpkin of the season.......but I'm planning to do a ton of pumpkins this week, so hopefully I can top it. =)

Not super happy with how this SCAREYcrow turned out, but I tried again this week and felt it came out better. That's how we learn and grow.....always challenging ourselves to do better.

I had lots of fun with this one. :))))

My second fall collection of 2011....

More coming.....so stayed tuned. :)))))))

Friday, October 21, 2011

Push Pops!

As promised......push pops.

We were challenged at cookie camp to design cookies (and decorate the outsides) to dress up push pops. Mind you......we did not have the push pop in hand, only the dimensions. Yes, it was challenging! We had to envision it, bake up the cookies and bring them to camp....and then try to create it in a hurry once we got to there.

I had brilliant ideas.....but when I implemented them, I was very disappointed.
Some how what I envisioned in my mind was far from what transpired. :(

I made some plaid narrow cookies to have a vertical look in the push pop.



Unfortunately, my thick cookie size didn't work with the dimensions of the push pop.....so I had to saw the back off of the cookies....which made them very fragile. Plus, they looked awful. AND.....my decorating skills are minimal.....so decorating the outside of my push pops was a bust.


I guess my second attempt was better......but I still felt like it was so lacking....especially when I saw the other entries.

I decorated these cookies on both sides (let first side dry overnight and then turned them over and decorated the other side). Since it was important that you see the decoration on these tiny cookies and no control over where they "landed" in the push pop, it was essential.

But some how.....the actual result was lacking. :(

Here's all the push pop entries lined up together. It was so fun to examine each one and see incredible creativity in the group!

There was a tie for 3rd place.....first this adorable ocean themed one from Tricia:

And the other 3rd place winner was Lisa's wonderful S'mores!

Second place went to Kim's adorable bride and groom set..........


And first place went to Johnna for her INCREDIBLE cheeseburger set. :)

Now next week I have to get busy and share a bunch of fall cookies with you.....I've made tons, but time has prevented me from showing them to you. Before you know it, it will be November and Thanksgiving will be fast approaching. How do we slow down this train! ;)

Many thanks go out to Daniela and Aileen for allowing me to use their photos. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest Minis

You know how much I love mini cookies......so just about every time I make seasonal cookies.....I make matching minis to go with them. It works well.....because I already have all the colors and designs......so I just do them on a smaller scale. And they are just so cute when they are small. ;)


And then of course I have to box them up and give them away.......

Next I'll show you how I made minis for the Cookie Camp push pop contest. Fun!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Sweet Pea Baby Shower

I had fun assignment last month......to create cookies for a sweet pea baby shower. :) I got license to do whatever I wanted in the colors provided. I LOVE those kind of orders. :)))))









Here's the flowers I did for the game prizes.....

I attempted to paint a "sweet pea" flower......a total failure, but I took a pic of it anyway.....to remind myself that I can NOT paint on cookies. ;)

The entire collection.....

I'm doing lots of fun fall cookies lately......so I need to get those posted soon since it is most certainly fall all around us. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cookie Camp 2011

Finally......I'm sitting at my PC writing a blog post about Cookie Camp 2011. I've been trying to do this since I got home on Tuesday.....and so many other things have been vying for my attention.

I'm happy to be home.....and glad to be back to my cookie internet world. I've missed it....and you. But boy, was it fun to be face to face with many of my cookie heroes. :)

We had a blast at camp! It was a lot of work to plan.....and we didn't get much sleep while there.....but it was worth it ALL to have time with other very like-minded friends doing what we love. Many of us talked so much for those 4-5 days that we had lost our voices by the end of it. That says a lot... right there. ;)

Before I go any further, I want to address the questions I already know I'm going to be asked over and over again. "How did you find out about cookie camp?" "Why didn't the general "cookie decorating public" know about the event?" "How can I sigh up for next year?" "Why is it so exclusive?" etc etc

Cookie Camp was born last year when a few cookie decorators decided it would be so much fun to get together and share our experience and tips with one another. One of the decorators happens to run a Christian camp up in the Smoky Mountains....and she offered to arrange for us to go there to meet. We put together some ideas for an agenda....and away we went. Last year we had 14 participants.

Upon planning for our 2nd annual Cookie Camp this year, we realized the potential of an overwhelming number of decorators wanting to come, but we were not ready to accommodate a large gathering. Those of us planning it have very busy lives and this is just one more thing we've chosen to sacrifice time for. We decided to limit it to no more than 50 decorators....and since this is the only cookie decorating event we know about, we also decided to limit it to advanced decorators only. We believe those who have gained expertise in the art of decorating cookies should have a chance to be with others of like caliber......most of whom are all self taught. Since we already had a Flickr group of advanced decorators called "Cookie Queens", and there are more than 50 members in it.....we limited it to that group only. (Flickr is a site dedicated to sharing photos.)

We have hopes of expanding camp to a larger group in the future and maybe even doing a Cookie "Boot Camp" for beginning decorators......but for now, we are small and are limited to our own resources and the generous offers from some amazing sponsors.

This year's camp grew to 23 participants, and from this year's experience, we hope to assess what does and doesn't work and find the best schedule and agenda for future camps. We're still not sure when we'll be ready for a positive experience with a larger number. The desire is for it to be a well run and organized event. The last thing we want is to have people spend their hard earned money and vacation time to come to Cookie Camp and not have a terrific experience. Those organizing Cookie Camp are not trying to be exclusive or discriminating......just trying to create a special event carefully, without growing too quickly and ruining the quality and potential of the best that cookie decorators have to offer.

So.....on to the 2011 experience.

Here are our amazing hosts......Lisa (BearFootBaker) & Alan.
They put up with so much to have us invade their camp. We are grateful to them. :)



The first glimpse of camp.......



 It is so beautiful there in the Smoky Mountains!



We even got a glimpse of the bear that is visiting the camp these days for some treats out of the dumpster. Boy....he must of gotten quite the SWEET smorgasbord after camp with all the icing, etc that was thrown out!


As we arrived for camp....the Cookie Queens found a Royal Welcome.



With beautiful name tags to match (thanks Maryann & your awesome friend!)....




There was a "Royal Treasures" prize table. We had some FABULOUS sponsors give us a ridiculously wonderful amount of prizes for our special weekend. Our sponsors included:

Thanks to all of you for making camp so very very special!



Take a look at this wonderful assortment everyone brought for the swap table. We all got LOTS of wonderful treasures to take home.......everyone brought some "I don't want this anymore/ I can't use this after all" goodies. (The gifts on the left were for our White Elephant Gift exchange.)


Here's the wonderful facilities we had the privilege of using.....where we decorated to our hearts content and learned so much from so many great presentations and demos. :)



You can just see how excited Maryann (CookieArtisan -on right) and I (left) are at the beginning of camp when we did the introductions. We had to hold our own hands down just to keep from jumping up and down from excitement. :)


This is when we all introduced ourselves.....what a treat to meet so many of my cookie heroes. :)



Yum.....we got to taste a small sample of every ones' cookies.
They were so delicious....and all amazingly unique in their own right.
(Boy..... did this put me in a miserable sugar coma. I hadn't had sweets like that in six months. What was I thinking?? Taking a small bite from 20 cookies....not real smart....but I couldn't pass up the opportunity!)


The next day we got up bright and early and made our icing.....then colored and bagged it before the big decorating session.

Here I am making my glaze. I was the only glaze user this year.
(Dawn and Susan-GeminiRJ......I NEED you to come next year to be my glaze buddies!).


Here I am decorating my set of five cookies. I see great tension in my face and neck. :)



I wasn't super creative when it came down to these cookies. All my creativity was used up on the cookies I brought to camp. (I'll show you those in a future post.)



We all decorated the same five shapes. It was fascinating to see what each Cookie Queen came up with. 



We also had some great presentations......everything from stenciling to airbrush.....and decorative packaging to photography. My brain is so full......I think I'll pop. I tried to write down the "ah hah" moments. Hopefully my decorating will transform in the coming weeks.

We all gathered around the presenter to soak in everything they had to say. Sometimes it looked like the Paparazzi with all the cameras going at one time. hee hee


We broke up into teams to design some unique house cookies. We were building a cookie neighborhood.

Here's my awesome dream team.....Myri (Chapix Cookies), Jen (Posh Pastries), Ali (Ali Bee's Bake Shop), Andrea (Sugar Envy)......and not pictured......Callye (SweetSugarBelle) and me (Cookie Crazie).  We were deep in the planning stages at this moment.



Here's everyone together with our cookie:



And of course......our design was the BEST! We did a Ba Yo Ca Barn with all the fall trimmings (including those fabulous RI animal transfers from Myri!). What an amazing effort.



The Queens got together and made a flower "bouquet" for Lisa as a thank you note. What we all wouldn't give for a platter of cookies from a host of wonderful decorators! (Mine is the cone flower near the top left with the plaid and stitches......I know you couldn't have figured that out by yourself. ha ha)


Maryann (Cookie Artisan) made a Camp Ba Yo Ca platter to beat all platters. Wow! We were all gathered around it taking in all the details. :)


One evening we got to enjoy a huge bonfire complete with S'mores (that I wouldn't touch after the cookie smorgasbord!). What fun we had. :)



The last night we had the awards night.....everyone received an award AND we got to pick prizes from the prize table AND we got big gift bags brimming full with the sponsors' treasures!



And if that wasn't amazing enough......the life long friendships we made were priceless. This is one BEAUTIFUL group of ladies......on the inside and the outside.

Precious Lisa (BearFootBaker) and I sharing a famous Glorious Treats cupcake!



What a blessing to finally meet my good friend, Callye (SweetSugarBelle) and spend some time with her. :)



Three very special friends...... Bea (Cancun Cookies), Maryann (CookieArtisan), & Myri (Chapix Cookies). What a joy they are to my heart.



My first time meeting Laura (ADozenEggs), Marlyn (Montreal Confections.....Flickr!), and Daniela (SugarRushTreats)........a bunch of talented right here....and super fun to be with. :)



Another precious friend....Susan (AndoverCookieMama).....



and Glory (GloriousTreats).....what a talented and amazing woman....such a pleasure to meet her. :)


My beloved Cookie Friends......friends for life!


Precious memories at the 2011 Cookie Camp held at Camp Ba Yo Ca in the Smoky Mountains, TN....


Special thanks goes to Daniela (SugarRushTreats), Maryann (CookieArtisan), Denyse (DenyseAL), and Marlyn (MontrealConfections) for giving me permission to use their photos from camp.

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