Friday, December 30, 2011

2011.....It was a very good year for cookies!

It's that time when you reminisce about the past year.....and then start looking ahead to the future. On this blog, of course, we'll do it in COOKIES. :)


I feel like I've grown a TON as a cookie decorator over these last twelve months. I have a bunch of really talented friends of like-mind surrounding me.....and it seems that we challenge each other on a regular basis. When you see someone else create a fabulous cookie......all you want to do is improve yourself and try to achieve the next level too.

I've found myself experimenting a lot this year.....and have found several techniques that really work well. I've done more with giving cookies a 3D look (with glaze!), using a paint brush to enhance my cookies, and finding more and more ways to add that extra special touch to certain designs.

I've also gained a bunch of tools throughout the year.....a KopyKake, a new camera, an airbrush & a heat gun. It's amazing how the right tools in your hands can make a HUGE difference in the outcome.....and make it easier too (LOVE that part!). 

It's been a wonderful year for CookieCrazie. And I'm so very very blessed to have all of YOU surrounding me to help me reach new heights. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

This year I've been able to raise over $4500 for Cookies With A Mission. I'm in awe of how God can use a little cookie decorating hobby to make an impact in people's lives all the way on the other side of the world. AMAZING!

It is exciting to think what the new year holds......

I did a little montage of some of my favorite 2011 cookie collections.


I can only imagine that things will continue to grow and improve.
I pray that CookieCrazie will.....but more importantly, that my HEART will. 

I wish you a very very Happy New Year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December Birthdays......Need Special Cookies

Being a December baby, I'm kind of sensitive to those that share this month for their birthday. Christmas is usually the ultimate holiday with more celebrating, food, get-togethers, gifts, singing, partying, etc etc etc than any other time of the year. So when your birthday falls around Christmas, it is often not quite as celebrated and made over as birthdays at other times of the year.

My son's birthday (Neil's) is December 16.....and ever since he was born.....I've done my best to make sure his birthday is as special as all the other birthdays in our family NOT in December. Nothing resembles Christmas.....whether in the gift wrap or the decorations.....and CERTAINLY not on the cookies I make for him. =)

In January of this year, I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip roll out cookies for my son, Keith's, birthday. Neil was in Africa for the winter/spring 2011 semester.....and requested I send him some. Since it was very, very hot where he was, I hesitated to send him chocolate cookies because they probably wouldn't have arrived in their original form. ;) So I promised to make him some when he came home. But you know how that goes.....he came home the day before I left for Ukraine in June.....and then the summer got away from me, and then, and then. Fast forward to December....... Great idea! Make the CC cookies for his birthday. :)

I used the terrific recipe that Callye recommends on her blog HERE.




Neil was in Africa for 4 1/2 months at the beginning of this year. He has a huge heart for Africa and the needs there. TIA stands for "This Is Africa". That's the line everyone uses when someone complains or points out something strange while you are there. :)

My amazing photographer son gets a camera almost every time I make cookies for him. :)




I also made some more "girly" birthday cookies for Keith's girlfriend, Kayle......with another December birthday. I'll show those to you soon.

2011 is winding down. Isn't it interesting how you start thinking about all the things the last year has held.....and how to make the next year even more fulfilling and purposeful?
I love this time of year....

Monday, December 26, 2011

From Christmas to Winter Hat/Mitten Collection :)

We had a wonderful Christmas. We celebrated as a family early so we could make a trip to Memphis to spend time with my in-laws yesterday. It ended up a whirlwind weekend.....but very fun and memorable. And I'm glad to be HOME......and excited about sleeping in my own bed tonight. :)

I saved a bunch of the Christmas cookies I did last week.....to share with you after the holiday, because they were as many winter-related cookies as Christmas-related. And I needed a stash of photos to show you since I plan to completely CHILL from cookie decorating this week.....remember?? The last couple of weeks have been kind of stressful, and I needed a break to recharge for the new year.
Plus.....tomorrow I'm turning one year older.....and this is my way of celebrating. :)

I LOVE winter......love snow, love SNOWMEN!, love wintery hot drinks, love snuggling up in a warm house, etc, etc, etc. So expect to see all things winter related in these next few weeks (after my little "vacation" from cookies, of course!).

On to my winter hat and mitten collection............ I went a little CRAZIE, as usual. lol






Fun, fun, fun! My favorite is the red and white striped set. What about you.....do you have a favorite set?

I've got lots more wintery cookies to show you soon, so check back often.
Now it's time to CHILL.
(ha ha.....that's pretty funny when the whole theme of this post is wintery caps and mittens to keep WARM!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Very Merry Christmas Cookies to You!

After I work at the hospital tomorrow......my family and I are headed to my in-laws for the holiday....so this is my final chance to post on the blog before Christmas.

Here's my last group of Christmas cookies....saved especially for wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

My good friend, Callye, suggested I do a button snowman......so here it is, Callye. :)

My centerpiece cookie......with a very special message.

Love how this one turned out.....



Merry Christmas everyone!
It is such a joy to have you following CookieCrazie and supporting Cookies With A Mission!
I appreciate you all and hope your Christmas is blessed beyond measure. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas is Upon Us.....Cookies Are Complete

I finished my final Christmas cookies for the season. Sigh.....It's was a relief. I nearly burned myself out last week......but doing these cookies made me realize that it will always be something I love to do. Especially when I can do whatever designs I want. :)

And I'm so happy with how these latest ones came out. I'd been wanting to do some special Christmas designs for weeks now.....and didn't think I'd have time. But I pushed myself on Tuesday.......and here are some of them.

I've done Christmas bulbs before.....but am always trying to improve.


Here's my heavily repeated designs this season.....with minis to accent. ;)

I wanted to do a Christmas word art cookie.....similar to the one I did for Thanksgiving. Yeah....can check that one off my list.

And one of my favorite new ones.....

I pray we keep ever before our eyes the real reason for Christmas. The greatest gift of all! Immanuel.....God WITH us.

Only a couple more days. I hope you are enjoying the time and not too stressed. 

Tonight we celebrate Christmas Eve. I can already feel the anticipation in the house! Even though all my kids are grown.....everyone becomes a child at this time of year. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies Galore......

Last week was my marathon week......but I did it! I had small goals all throughout the week, and as long as I kept to them, I was on track.

Here's some of the Christmas cookies I did last week......





We are celebrating Christmas early (Thursday evening and Friday morning) since we have to go to my in-laws for Christmas. So it is only ONE day away for me. Lots to cook, bake, wrap, & clean between now and tomorrow. :)

Savor every moment. It's such a special time.....and who knows what things will be like in 2012.
I pray you have many Christmas blessings.......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heat Gun....Part 2.....And Christmas Cookies!

I just realized I had taken some additional cookie photos specifically to share about details on the heat gun....thus Part 2.

One thing I learned pretty quickly this last week about the heat gun.....you need to dry the cookie right after adding the icing.......BUT.....don't move the heat gun in sweeping motion too quickly over the cookie. The wet icing can be moved in waves, and it is NOT pretty.

Gasp......gingerbread men with wrinkles. :(


 Here's a pic to show you how you can do the same to all cookies and still a get a different result. I dried all of these holly berries equally. Most had no craters, but a few did. Go figure!

Here's one of the main reasons I love the heat gun......those snowmen squares would have been full of craters had I no dried them with the gun.


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One of my dream cookie orders this month......make a bunch of quilted squares heavy in red. Yippee......I equated that to a patchwork Christmas quilt!!!

I loved how those little squares looked in the box all piled together. :)

And finally......one of my most favorite Christmas tree cutters.....from Ecrandal HERE.  These cookies are over 7" tall. (Oh....and note to self......extra large cookies take lots of extra large time to decorate. ha ha)

I'm sure you all are busy busy busy getting ready for Christmas. Me too. I have a pile of cookies to decorate today.....and then I will done decorating for 2011. I've decided to make next week completely free of cookie decorating. I have to admit, these last few weeks have taken their toll. I'm a bit burned out. But next week is my birthday week.....so I plan to do lots of other fun things to rejuvenate and get ready for 2012. :)

Happy baking, preparing, and planning for such a wonderful time of year.....

Heat Gun: Part 1

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Heat Gun.....Perfect Christmas Gift for A Cookie Decorator

I've got a great idea for a Christmas gift for anyone who decorates cookies. Maybe you could send this link to someone that needs an idea for your gift. ;)



About two months ago, I read about using a heat gun for drying cookies on a blog post from Anne at Flour Box Bakery HERE. I immediately went out and bought a Wagner Heat Gun HT 1000 at Home Depot. (By the way.....it was in the paint department, because it's used to strip wall paper, etc.) I looked at my local Walmart as Anne suggested, but they didn't carry them. But you can find them online here.

The heat gun is now an indispensable tool at my side when I'm decorating cookies. It has decreased the amount of time it takes me to decorate......AND the problem of the crater holes forming in small areas is solved! That alone is worth the $20+ for the gun. :)

Every cookie decorator knows about those pesky craters we get when we fill in a small area with icing. Within a few minutes.....the icing sinks and makes a super ugly hole. :(

I've circled in white some of those ugly holes in these next two photos.

 
Using the heat gun right after piping the icing seems to "flash dry" it.

Here's a pumpkin I did just for demonstration......I left small holes that needed to be filled, just so you could see how using the heat gun dried the small circles with no craters.



Here's a cluster of grapes I did for my Thanksgiving cornucopia. I outlined all the grapes first and then dried it with the heat gun. I filled all the small areas in.....and then dried it a second time.



I only had a few small indentations.....abut no craters. YEAH!


The second reason I LOVE this tool is that it speeds up my decorating. Since I can dry each layer as I go.....I don't have to wait near as long to add more details. I was amazed how I could zip through many of my Christmas cookies this year. Hip Hip Hooray!

I'm not sure, but I think this method also decreases bleeding problems.....but the jury is still out there. I still encounter some problems.....so I"m still working on a complete solution.

Tips for using a heat gun:

  • Be sure the cookies are on a surface that you don't mind getting hot. In other words.....the best place for them when you dry them is on the cookie sheet (without wax paper or parchment paper!).

  • Hold the gun about 6-8" away from the cookie.......no closer. And don't hold the gun in one spot.....move it back and forth like when you're use a hair blow dryer. (One time I held it a little too close for too long.....and I got ugly splotching in my icing.) So be conservative at first and find what distance and motion works best for you.

  • USE MUCH CAUTION WHEN USING A HEAT GUN! Keep in mind that it is a heat source.....and could start a fire if you aim it at the wrong thing.

Hopefully some of you will get a heat gun under the Christmas tree this year.....and if not, maybe you could buy a gift for yourself. lol

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It's hard to believe Christmas is just one week from today. I've been so busy the last two weeks....that December leaped forward. But thankfully I'm done with all my big cookie orders, and now I can concentrate on celebrating with the family.

Enjoy the week of anticipation. It's the best part, you know. :)

Heat Gun: Part 2


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Country Stitchin' Christmas

If you've been around here long enough.....you know how much I love that country/primitive look......plus my love for quilts, stitching, plaid, buttons, etc.

So naturally.....I'm going to pair that theme with Christmas. Lovin' it! I had so much fun doing these cookies......wish I had time to do more. 







I'm buried in cookies.....decorated ones that need to be bagged, finished ones that need to be photographed, naked ones that need to be dressed up (ha ha)......and more that need to be made. PLUS....I'm having a Christmas party at my house Saturday and I haven't even begun to prep for it. : / Yikes! And here I sit.....bloggin'. Hence the name........cookie CRAZIE. 

Do your best to savor ever moment of the holiday season. Even in the busyness.....it's such a precious time of year. With the passing of my sister just three months ago......I find myself often stopping and relishing all that I have. No guarantees for tomorrow.......so certainly enjoy TODAY.

Thanks for comin' around my tiny little cookie world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas House/Tree Tour

I guess this is a little "off the cookie subject"......but I wanted to invite you to my house for a little Christmas gathering.......at least an online version. 

Not only am I cookie CRAZIE......I'm also Christmas tree CRAZIE. lol I have nine of them this year. I added two new ones. Oh my! My daughter thinks I'm totally nuts and drags me out of the Christmas tree section of Hobby Lobby every time we go together. =)

I grew up with a dad that loved to buy live Christmas trees (I can still smell them in my memories....). And since we had a nice A frame tall ceiling in the middle of our living room.....he always made sure the tree nearly went to the ceiling. Great memories. We had lots of funky, eclectic ornaments to add to the tree each year.

And when I got married at 18......I naturally started collecting ornaments and making my tree as special as the ones when we grew up.  As my five children started coming.......I would buy them each at least one ornament each year.....building a collection for them to take with them when they go out on their own. 

About ten years ago.....I bought a second tree.....gasp! I put it in our small entry. And since I'm super crazie about snowmen (!!!!!), I made it my snowman tree. Wellllllll..........................it snowballed from there. lol Then I bought a set of three small woodland trees..............candy cane tree, purple tree, and kitchen tree. And then when we moved into our new house three years ago.....with our very own tall ceiling......we just had to get a 12 foot tree to fill up that big wall. :)

Last year......I bought a tree specifically to hang cookies on to share with our guests when they came to visit around Christmas tree.

And this year.......I now have a nativity/Bethlehem tree.......and not only a kitchen tree, but a tree dedicated to baking and cookies.

So there you have it......my Christmas tree obsession history line. :)

So come join me at my house. Enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds.............stay for a cup of coffee or tea. And take home a cookie from the cookie tree when you leave.
I'd love to meet every last one of you. :))))))))

(And please excuse the photos......I am getting better about photographing my cookies.....but not so much anything else!)


Welcome to our home......





Beloved cookie tree ready to greet my visitors. :)



Turn to the left to see my Bethlehem/Nativity tree.....along with a ton of snowmen down in the stairway. :)


And yes.....it includes a peek at my cookie cutter collection. ;)

Purple (my fave color) tree in the front room.....with my desk....where I sit even right now, writing to you. =)


Back towards the entry......my snowman tree.... I LOVE snowmen and snow. :)

Towards the kitchen and great room......



The twelve foot tree holds all our family ornaments. God has RICHLY blessed us. :)

You can barely see my tiny kitchen tree to the right of the stove.....


 Try to ignore the piles of cookies on the dining room table that I need to decorate right now.......hmmmm. lol

Candy Cane tree...........never could get a decent photo of it. : /

Gingerbread tree.....also hard to get a good photo. The windows bring in too much light. : /


Stepping back toward the front door......the baking/cookie tree is to the right.


 Be sure to stop at the cookie tree on your way out and take one home.
(Boy.....I'd have to do a LOT more decorating if you all really came!)





Thanks for coming on this virtual tour/visit of my house. I love having visitors this time of year.....and I would love to see you all and enjoy the season together. :)

I guess it is time for me to get crackin' on all those cookies waiting for me on the table..................sigh
 
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