Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Beginnings...

It's hard for me to say this, but I guess I'm not so good at this whole blog thing. I have always fancied myself as a fairly good writer, but the fact that I am in competition with the whole world has kind of taken it's toll! There are some of the most awesomely interesting bloggers out there and with so little time in a day, you have to be particular with your choices ;)

I never quite found a style, either. I wanted to make it a business blog...to share my creations with friends. But I kept finding myself wanting to be "me" as well. I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings on my family and friends. In truth, this whole blog thing has a way of mirroring my present state of mind. For the past few years, since my children have grown older, I have felt a loss of personal purpose. And it shows.

With the New Year just a few hours away, I have decided to make a resolution for the first time in many, many years. I know that in order to feel purpose, you need to find purpose. And in order to find purpose you need to give purpose.

I invite you to join me in my journey. I will be finding clarity along the way. Of that, I am certain. And I promise. You will be able to experience it with me if that is your goal as well. Please check back and I will be more specific.

Have a wonderful New Year and it feels wonderful to be back. I do love to write.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Do You Think?

Well, things have certainly changed quite a bit in my life in the past month and a half. My husband, who has worked from home for 4 years was forced to go back to work at a corporation. He leaves before I get up and returns between 8:30 and 10:00. My oldest went back to college and my youngest began high school. He plays football and comes home around 6:00.

There was a time when that sounded like a dream - oh to have time to myself... But having too much time puts a pit in my stomach. Hubby just went on a business trip across the country and he was gone for 4 days. I have had too much quiet time. Being an eternal thinker, quiet time can be dangerous for me. I have been contemplating "what to do with the rest of my life" for too long, now, and it is getting the better of me. I have felt happy, but "unwhole" for such a long time. It is all I ever think of. I know what I wish for, and I believe in dreams. I believe in making your dreams come true... I just don't know how to make that happen. I am not a go getter, but I have talents that I know have value. I just don't know how to sell myself. I'm not sure if I even have that desire. That is scary. My comfort level is in doing my craft, but not in the selling of it. I find amazing enthusiasm in being around others who share my passions. I'm just no good at being a one woman team.

One of the decisions that I have come to terms with is that I would love to work with other creative people. My energy swells. But with no degrees in anything that I ended up liking to do, I can't even send in my resume to the lowest level jobs. That is taking away my empowerment. I would love to work as a baker's assistant. A baker would be lucky to have me assist, but all of the help wanteds require years of experience as well as degrees. I don't even have retail experience. I could not even land a counter help job! What do I do?

If anyone knows of someone who is looking for a business partner for a home based baking business, jewelry business, knitting business, or any kind of crafting, please send them my way. I just want a partner. I need someone who I can bounce ideas and energy off of, and someone who is able to sell and create buzz. I'll create product 24 hours a day.

And another thing. I can't seem to decide if it is alright to be myself on my blog, or keep it strictly business. I'm a talker and a worrier, and I tend to write when I am upset. I just don't want to give the wrong impression.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Too Much Thinking...

I needed some time away. I had some thinking to do. I'm that kind of gal. Some things happened with my customers that put me in a spin. I know that I am supposed to be tougher. Believe me. My husband has told me that a time or two. He tells me that having a business is not an emotional journey. I don't know if I'll ever be totally there, but I am learning...one situation at a time.

It all began with an exciting order for 6 dozen cookies. They were for a party on the upcoming weekend. I am always honored when someone decides to choose my baking for their event. And when you are starting out, each event is an opportunity for others to experience your work. My customer paid for her order and told me that Paypal incorrectly put it through as a check. I was disappointed because that left me having to choose between waiting for her check to go through, which would put the order arriving too late, or trusting and coming through for her in a pinch. I made my decision, knowing the chances. I wanted to believe that no one would steal baked goods. Someone stole baked goods.

I won't bore you with all of the details, but it got more tangled as the days wore on and I shipped the order in a panic to please a customer. The next day, her check came through as bounced and I had to have USPS return the box to me. The cookies were all stale because it took so long. Oh- She closed up her account and ran.

In the week following, I had a few other shipping nightmares. My customers left honest, but not so positive feedback. I began to doubt what I am doing. Shipping these baked goods is very expensive and very difficult to pull off successfully. USPS really has no understanding for FRAGILE. Let me tell you. One of my mistakes was that I was wrapping my cookies so they looked nice. I am going to have to wrap them to stay in one piece. That means that baskets or platters cannot be setup and shipped. I have worked on other techniques and I can assure you that I have tried my best to fix the problem. I don't want to let the difficulties stop me from doing what I love. And I DO love baking for my customers.

So I have decided to crank the oven back up, take out the cookie sheets, and get baking again. I am trying to think of some fun ways to promote my shop :) I am going to think of it as a brick and mortar shop. I'll be having specials on certain days and flavor specials on other days. If you can think of a fun way to celebrate sweets, let me know! You just might find a few goodies on their way to you!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I Made Cinnamon Buns!

I have to be honest, I haven't felt like writing this past week. I usually LOVE to write. I could write all day, but with Josh leaving, Jake getting ready to go to high school and Ira off to a new job, I have felt kind of melancholy. I write when I need to get things out and my mood was to keep things in.

I baked. I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something. My goal, now that I am home alone, is to start getting out and finding customers, but I need to add some new Autumn flavored choices to my shop, so I took the time to research and try some new recipes. That is my favorite part! It takes longer than you think to come up with the perfect combinations of ingredients, techniques, cooking times, and packaging!

Sin-A-Buns
Sin-A-Buns

I have a potential customer who wants to stock her sweet shop with some of my goods {YEAH!} and so I am working on Fall type items that travel well and will keep well. Oh - they have to taste amazing!

For some reason, I kept thinking that cinnamon buns would be a good product, so never having made them before, I began my research. I tried quite a few recipes and techniques until I had, what I consider, the perfect product. I wouldn't stop until I had a light, fluffy, cinnamony, gooey bun. I present you with Sin-A-Buns!

Sin-A-Buns

Don't forget that you can have your own with a click of a button at The Cookie Jar. I dare you to stop at one!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Bought Myself a Gift

I love organic, handmade jewelry. There is something about the unique style that makes me feel like it was made just for me. It seems to have a soul. And I am always all about soul.

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Jewelry By Natsuko

I don't buy very much for myself, but once a year, for my birthday, I buy myself a piece of jewelry that I absolutely love. This year, I bought the prettiest little poppy charm from Jewelry By Natsuko on Etsy. Her work is so beautiful that I just had to have a piece! I am loving the depth of glass enamel and the variations of color that she achieves as she carefully applies layer after layer of crushed powdered glass to hand sawn copper discs. The coated metal is then fired to melt the powder into a smooth sheet of glass. It is an amazing process.

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Please stop by her shop to view her beautiful work. You won't be sorry!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I just wrote this comment on a friend's blog. She is facing her fears and adjustments regarding becoming a full time stay at home mom. I find myself on the other end of that stage and I just needed to write a little about how right it was for me to be home.

"There is nothing so wonderful as the peace you feel when being fully present in your childrens' lives. And there is no more amazing feeling as knowing you made the right choice.

All this is said as I just watched my Joshua drive off to return to college, 7 hours away. It was soothing to have him home for the past few months, but saying good bye is never easy. And knowing that his return is never the same as it once was is even harder. This is what the love of a child is all about."

Summer 2009
Joshua's summer was spent coaching, playing, umpiring, and prepping fields.

There are many changes that are going on in my family at the moment. I don't do well with change. I've learned to try and I've learned to have a little patience, but that same feeling in my stomach is still there. No Matter What. As an adult, I am trying to find the positive in change. But as a person, I want to kick my feet and clench my fists and cry. I know to turn inward and keep a stiff upper lip.

My son just drove off to return to college. I know he is incredibly happy at school, so in that, I take solace. It is about him, not me. We let Wilton free last night. It was much harder to do than I thought. I still caught a glimmer of Jake as a little boy. Those moments are very few and far between these days. I hang on to every moment I can get, because that has been my most favorite part of raising my children. Ira scooped up the rabbit, we each took a turn saying goodbye and he put him on the grass. We thought he would hit the ground running, but he poignantly turned to us, nibbled on some grass, and slowly made his way behind the hydrangea bush.

To add to the change, my neighbor moved out and a new one moved in, Jacob made the football team (YEAH!) and he is starting high school in a new HUGE school with a very early start time. No biggie, but still... And biggest of all, my husband, who has been working from home and then was eventually out of a job, for 5 years, has finally found a new job. That is wonderful and I am so so so happy and relieved, but in the same time, bittersweet in some respects. It has been a long time that he was home and an integral part of our family's life. It is going to be hard to give that up. And if I am being honest, I am going to miss him. That sounds needy and strange because most dads are always at work. We had a different arrangement than most families, and although temporary, not planned and not financially sound, it was wonderful for our children. Now I have to face the music and reality and adjust and prosper. I know I will, but all this at once?

To tie this all together, I am just remembering how grateful I am to have been able to be at home with my children. It ripped my heart in half when I had to go into work for the first 5 years. Although I am not always very confident with my decisions, I knew with out a doubt that I wanted to be home with them. And I would not have changed a thing.

I love you Josh, with all of my heart. Have a wonderful semester.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jakey's Going to High School

Jake's New BIG School

I started the day with an orientation to Jake's new school. I've been through this with Josh, so I am already comfortable with the High School...it's my baby going to High School that I am NOT comfortable with ;[

I guess you really can't stop the clock from ticking.

As far as baking, I'm a little confused. I spent some time baking a delicious Pumpkin Spice cake, crumbling it (felt weird!) and combining it with cream cheese, pumpkin frosting. I dipped them in white chocolate and was soooo excited to taste these amazing treats that everyone raves about. I thought that the combination was great.

Ehhh. I don't get all of the hype! They were ok, but nothing to write home about. Is it me? Or is it everyone else? To be honest, I love the cake and the frosting that I made from scratch. It is the "chocolate" melts that I don't like the flavor of. And the cake/frosting mixture is weird to me. Any comments to change my mind?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wilton Update

Wilton The Bunny

Wilton the bunny has grown! I just wanted to show how much 4 weeks can mean for a baby bunny. Although he has been "in captivity" since he was so tiny, his natural insticts are to be in nature. He won't even let us pet him! It seems like he would be used to us, but alas, he must return to the wild... :[

Jacob, on the other hand, does not agree. We will cal the vet and see what he thinks. I know what I think. I'll let you know what the verdict is.

Friday, August 21, 2009

25% Off Discount

Not to toot my own horn, but I just wanted to share another customer's note about my cookies. I've been happily filling a bunch of orders these past few weeks and this particular customer from Australia was sending a basket of cookies as a birthday surprise to her friend in the States. What a nice, cheerful woman! Thanks for your good wishes, Donna.

Picnik collage

Hi Lisa,
I just wanted to let you the cookies arrived to my friend and she was thrilled! She said they were packed beautifully and tasted even better! I'm sooo envious :P She has kept your card/details for future purchases.

Thanks so much for helping me spoil a friend on her birthday.

happy days,
donna


She also wrote,


"Fabulous! It was a great birthday surprise for my friend. They arrived on time and she said they were presented beautifully. Were they delicious? Oh yes, nom nom nomnom! Thank you so much!"


I wanted to let you know that I will begin a series of giveaways leading in to the holidays. I don't know how many "regular" readers I actually have, but it would be really fun if I could start having more of a following! Hint Hint! So what better way to attract some friends than with some cookies?!

Right now, I am offering a 25% discount to be applied to your next order when you refer a new customer to The Cookie Jar. Just have your new customer mention the you, the referring customer's name, when they place their order. I will be having this promotion for a few weeks, so if you are thinking of ordering, make sure to take advantage of my offer and help me build a customer base at the same time! It's a yummy win/win!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Band Aids!

I have been studying every bit of info and technique that I can get my hands on. Truly, I've been obsessed! My poor husband has been cookied to death! And although my children don't mind all of the taste tests, they can't stand hearing about cookies anymore! And I can't get enough of it!

I am at the point in this learning curve, that I think I kind of know what I am doing. I have not mastered the techniques, by any means, but I feel comfortable with the products, recipes and storage/wrapping. I can go from beginning to end without having to think - which shows me that I am confident with what I am doing. I like to describe hand crafting as "it flows from my fingertips". I feel as if it is a part of my fingers when I am creating something comfortably. It is a freeing feeling when you don't have to think and you just do.

Now I am searching for a personal style. I find this to be the hardest part of being a creator. And also the most frustrating. With the ability to connect with so many other artists, it is so easy to be influenced by their work. The real test is to come up with your own look. With my jewelry, it took me a few years to know what my own style was. And then, your style morphs with the trends. It can all be very intimidating. As an artist, you don't want to be imitating another's work, but sometimes, I find myself thinking, "There are just so many ways to ice a cookie! Or twist a wire!" So that is my quest. What kind of cookie style am I after? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I know what I am thinking. I tend to love elegant styles. I just gravitate towards that. I love simple, but elegant. But bright and cheerful and fun sounds great too! And with those thoughts, I present to you my second cookie! It's a BIG one!

Band Aid Cookie

bandaid cookie

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cherries All Around

I made some really yummy flavored cookies today and I wanted to put up some pictures. Get your napkin so that you can wipe your drool! I was in a cherry kind of mood. I even made the beginning of Cherry Extract.

Everything's Better With Cherry01
Everything's Better With Cherries

Chocolate and Cherries - Enough Said!04
Chocolate and Cherries - Enough Said!

Get these while fresh cherries are still available.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Customer Appreciation

I just wanted to share a nice note that one of my customers sent my way today. It is special to know that people appreciate what I love to do! She is referring to an order of blueberry and of peach hand pies.

"I got them on Thursday - they were beautiful! Too pretty to eat - but then I ate one and thought they should be outlawed!!! WOW! I have one left - of the entire order!! I had a family gathering on Saturday (perfect timing by the way) and all but one was inhaled! I wanted so badly to take credit for them, but I didn't...you are a wonderful cook!! You can rest assured I will be ordering from you again! Sincerely, Susan"

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Since pie season is on it's way, I have been playing around with some ideas for delicious flavors. We always go apple picking, so apples will be aplenty! I, personally, love to mix fruits. Are there any combinations that you particularly like? I'm always open to suggestions! As a matter of fact, I just filled an order for pumpkin pie - bite sized! They are delish as delish can be! And so cute as well!

Anyway, as the holiday season approaches, make sure to get your orders in so that I can bake you your favorite flavors! Keep in mind that you can order a variety of flavors and that is a unique and tasty gift to bring with you as a guest. Just saying!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Continuing With My Reflective Mood!

I was just over at Apples For Poppy Anne, a most beautiful blog written straight from Erin's heart, and I find myself in the same reflective mood. Her most current entry is written about her dear grandmother who has passed away and how she sees signs of her presence through nature.

When I met my husband, 28 years ago, I was blessed to meet a wonderful woman who quickly became a very special grandma to me. We instantly bonded and I was fortunate to have her as an intricate part of my life. She was everything family should be and my children were her world. She and I had very similar souls, something that I desperately needed in my life. I knew that I could count on her for anything and she knew that I was there for her. I was, and am, so very grateful that my children were such an integral part of her life and she in theirs'. The love just poured forth.

When we lost her, we lost ourselves. It's been three years and we take her memories wherever we go. Yesterday, I spoke of our amazing trip to Israel. It was more than we ever dreamed. My youngest, Jacob, was Bar Mitzvah at Masada. This was a dream of my mothers'. I had no real connection to the event as we had already had his Bar Mitzvah at home with family and friends. But as usual, mothers know best, and I was blown away with the emotions and importance of the event. In fact, I could barely contain my emotions. Masada turned out to be a barren, desolate plateau, high atop a mountain. There wasn't a plant or tree to be seen. The temperature was 113 degrees. It felt like we were so close to G-d.

new folder 009

Since Momma had been at my older son's Bar Mitzvah and she had just passed away, we were feeling the lack of her presence especially hard at the time. As Jacob read from the Torah, 2 beautiful iridescent black birds perched themselves on the wall behind him and sang a beautiful song. It was like a mirage! They stayed there for the entire ceremony. I knew that Momma was there and it gave me the most wonderful, soothing feeling.

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Birds continue to play a role in my "staying connected". Whether it is with nature or with memories, they just give me such pleasure. In fact, the other day, as I was deep in contemplation and sitting at a large, busy intersection at a red light, a bird suddenly perched itself on my sideview mirror! I have never seen a bird fly up to a car, in traffic, and sit down! I couldn't believe my eyes!. There it was, 1 foot away from my face! The light changed to green and I had no choice but to proceed. The bird stayed there for 5 minutes, until I could pull into a parking lot. Then it gently flew away. How's that for a signal?! :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm In A Reflective Mood

I have been on the go recently and haven't had so much time for thinking {this is a very good thing for me!} other than to strategize about my baking. Last night, I came across a travel journal that I kept on my last few trips and I sat quietly to remember the wonderful, amazing moments that I have experienced with my family. It has been loud lately, with boys galore, and I found this to be quite calming. I have been blessed in so many ways and this journal brought me back to center.

I tend to be a very concise person. I plan. And if my plan gets changed around, I can get a bit flustered. I married a man who does not believe in making a plan. I do love that about him, because I grew up with the strictest of plans laid and it{usually} feels good to throw that to the wind. Reading back through these journals, I was able to recapture the magic of discovery and spontaneity that my husband has brought to our experiences. We have had the most wonderful times and my children have be gifted with his need to explore and experience. I am the careful one and he is the fun one and I am so very grateful that we have balanced out our childrens' upbringing in such a special way.

In the past 6 years, we have been first to Spain, then to Israel, and then to Hawaii. Who could ask for more? We have my parents to thank for the first two. It was their gifts to my children for their Bar Mitzvahs. Our memories are beyond the stars. And Hawaii {click for post} was a last minute decision of my husband's to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. We were forever changed by these trips. Each and every one of them. Thank you my honey, for all of you that you have shared with us!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another Treasury on Etsy!

I am so excited to say that I have been featured on my second treasury on Etsy, by someone that I don't even know! It is such a wonderful feeling to be acknowledged. I'm sending a big "Thank you" to Paula from City Candle Company for her generosity and enthusiasm!

Make sure you take a peak here to see which one of my goodies is showcased!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Few Successes!

I have been on a quest to make the "right" chocolate icing for my Black & Whites. Nothing was going to stop me. I went to 6 grocery stores yesterday, trying to find Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder. I was convinced that this ingredient was going to solve my bitterness problem. I don't know why, but no one carries this product anymore. At my wits end, I ran in to a local bakery and tried to persuade the baker to tell me what I was doing wrong. He wouldn't help ;< I just wanted him to tell me what ingredient I needed to use ;) Oh well, I guess I understand.

He did give me a hint, though, and I took it and ran. I sent darling hubby out to bring home the chocolate bars and premium baking chocolate. The first one I tried was a hit! YEAH!!! I am so satisfied! The icing dries hard and it tastes wonderful, just like it should. The vanilla side came out perfect, too. I will let you all in on a little secret that I tried. I wanted the white to be nice and white, so I added a little of the food coloring from Wilton that whitens the icing. It looks awesome.

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I had another order for Rugelah and for hand pies that I was working on as well. I am thrilled with the pies! The crust is sometimes hard to make just right and I am very happy with how it turned out. I like the round hand pies that I made this time. I might still go back to the crescent shape, but the round gives a bit more fruit to crust proportion... and it looks cute!

handpie collage

These hand pies have such great potential! I think they would look adorable at an outside wedding as a favor or on a platter. I'll take some pictures of them individually wrapped. I think that it would be wonderful to take to a friends for the holidays. You can order them in different flavors - an assortment pack!

And the rugelah taste better than you can imagine. Look how fluffy the dough puffed up. Thanks for looking!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Here Is my Packaging and My First Ever Cupcake

packaging02

For those of you who place an order and are wondering what your package will look like, I wanted to show you a few pictures. This is an example and I do have a few different styles according to the size and type of order. The style is always similar, with the color being consistent. I hope you like! I do ;)

packaging

I also made my first cupcakes the other day. I gave Clementine's Cupcakes, recipe that was published in Better Homes and Gardens recently. Supposedly, she won a contest with this recipe, so I figured I had nothing to lose by starting here! They were delicious and the cupcakes came out perfectly!

First ever piping of frosting02

First ever piping of frosting01

I used a frosting that I got from the Culinary Institute of America. I filled a bag and began piping and I have to say, I was pretty happy with the results! I am so excited to learn more and to perfect the techniques available. Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Found Me Some CakeLove!

bookJacket

The other day, as I watched tv, I caught a view of a baker in his kitchen. What was so unusual about this moment was that I usually have the tv on, but I never watch the commercials...ever. They just annoy me. For some reason, I hadn't looked away yet, and I caught sight of a man named Warren Brown. The message was about small businesses and the support that American Express is going to give them in rebuilding our economic future. I was glued to the commercial.

Quite a few years ago, in the beginning of my quest to "find my passion", I saw a biography about this wonderful, energetic young man. He was a successful lawyer, but was feeling the need to follow a different path. He was seeking what he called "a third dimension" to be added to his life's work. That dimension turned out to be the same yearning that I had. Connecting to others through the act of creativity is a powerful feeling, and one that I was slowly discovering myself.

I felt connected to this man. Finally, I found someone who knew what I felt inside. It validated my quest while all everyone around me kept telling me to do was to stop thinking so much. Easy for them to say. I still had this gnawing feeling that would not go away.

Mr. Brown baked because it felt right. He baked because his mind, his body, and his soul told him to. And he was smart enough to follow his instincts. Even his company's name exudes his attitude for life and baking...CakeLove. I fell in love with one of his quotes: "...that’s the whole idea with baking: finding harmony between the ingredients, the equipment and the baker." Having had a great background in music, I totally get what he means. It really is my motto of life!

He has a new book out that I will be purchasing immediately. I promise that you will love his story. Look for him on his commercial and then go back on line and read more about him. You won't be sorry. He is what "feel good stories" are all about.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nectarine and Plum Hand Pie Critique

Hand Pies01

I know it sounds a little unconventional, but I only had nectarines and plums. I even squeezed a bit of orange in the mix and added a smidge of nutmeg. I love the idea of these hand pies, but my first try, although I'm pleased with how they look, are a little on the dry side. I need to add a bit less flour next time. I know why I did that. I am notorious for making reeeaaaalllyyy juicy apple pies. No matter what kind of apple I use, it turns out like soup, so it is natural that I would want to try to avoid that. I guess that nectarines don't yield as much liquid.

The process of making these is a bit time consuming. You have to let the crust chill for 30 minutes 3 different times, but I used the freezer for a shorter amount of time and they seemed fine. I might make the pies a little larger next time and rolled a little thinner as well. The amount of fruit to crust was too small. I want to figure out how to make them hold a bit more fruit. Maybe I'll try a different shape.

Hand Pies02

I am really happy with how they look, after all, presentation is important! I am very pleased with how the leaf looks and I sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon. With just a little tweaking, these will be delicious!

I also tried my hand at making marshmallow fondant today. I was determined to find a way around buying it from the store. I just like being able to create my own and I plan on only using it sparingly, so I can make it only when I need it. This recipe was recommended by some Flickr bakers and I just had the best experience with it! It took hardly any time and costs next to nothing. It took 2 seconds to clean up and made great tasting fondant! I have nothing to compare it to, and I am only cutting out flowers, not covering a whole cake, but I think that I can safely say that it is a great product. There was no cracking and as long as you keep your surface lightly sugared, there is no sticking either. The recipe calls for mini marshmallows, but I used the regular sized - 16 for a half batch.

The third thing I tried today is this recipe for sugar cookies. I added orange zest and the juice from a piece of orange and they taste delicious. I really like the flavor and they were just moist enough. This is a 5 star recipe from AllRecipes and everyone raves about it. I will continue to use it.

I remember seeing Martha make a wedding favor of stacked sugar cookies in graded sizes. I want to try my hand at these. I think that they would make a pretty "wedding cake" shape. I'll post the results tomorrow after I ice them. I can't wait! I'll get to use my fondant flowers, too! Oh the possibilities... a tree out of stars, a square cake, maybe a snowman!

One more thing. I also gave another idea a try and I am pretty happy with the results. No pictures yet, but I'll describe. I thought, "What if I use cookie dough like clay and decorate a base cookie with ornaments?" I took a base cookie (unbaked) and placed another small flat flower cut out in the middle. I topped it off with a tiny ball in the center. I used the handle of a paintbrush to push in on the center. It attached everything together. Then I textured with dots. The patterns stayed well when it baked... better than I thought! I'll have to play some more!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Random Act of Kindness

It is amazing to me how the kindness of another person can make you feel so wonderful. Today, I was the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness! And I must admit that I feel giddy like a little girl! And better yet, it came on my birthday!

C. Gail Designs
Tiny Shinies hand forged by C. Gail Designs

A few years ago, I decided to introduce myself to a woman who seemed to have so much in common with me. Through her pictures, I could tell that we had so many of the same interests. We both create jewelry, we love flowers and family and knitting. We were both trying to grow our businesses and we both seemed to have the same insecurities as well! We became fast friends and have followed each other ever since. I am so grateful for her friendship and although I don't always leave messages on her blog, I always stay close to her writings about her experiences.

Thank you so much Candace, for thinking of me. I promise that I will pass this act on to someone who will appreciate it as much as I do! I have always been a great fan of Random Acts of Kindness and I wish more people would think this way. In fact, I challenge you all to participate. Think of someone who is in need of a smile and give them a reason. Come back and tell me what you did!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Must Have Icing Tool

I am the kind of person who LOVES to find tips and tricks to make being creative even more fun! I am always challenging myself to find the best way to accomplish a task.

icing tool
ICING TOOL!!!

Even though I am very new at this sugar cookie decorating, I came up with a tool that is fantastic! It is great to scoop out gel food coloring with. It is great to delicately spread icing with. And it has a little pointy fork on the other end that is perfect to coax tiny amounts of icing into those tiny spaces with! And I even used the fork end to slip under the little flowers that I was picking up! It is not disposable so you will always have it on hand. You'll use it all of the time - I promise!

I found this on line at the following link, but I saw it in my local supermarket, so be sure to check for it.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000DE7OZ/ref=asc_df_B0000DE7OZ863170?smid=AGRO36SJYWHFN&tag=shopzilla_rev_1203-20&linkCode=asn

Are there any tools that you suggest? I'd love to hear about your ideas.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wilton The Rabbit!

Wilton 7-22-09

My kids named him Wilton. There is a significance to that name. It wasn't just pulled out of the air. A long time ago, when my 18 year old was in elementary school, he wrote a story about a raindrop. He named him Wilton. Since then, there has been Wilton the inchworm and now Wilton the bunny. And so it goes... I thought he looked like an Abbey! I guess I was wrong!

Wilton was in the street and couldn't hop up on the curb to join his sibling. We don't know where mommy is. The boys left Wilton for a few hours and came back to check on him, but he was alone and lonely.

They were supposed to be umpiring a baseball game, but I wasn't surprised when they came bounding in the door, full of glee, like little third grade boys. They had the cutest little bundle I have ever seen. I have to say. Pictures can't even capture the cute factor!

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Everyone kicked in getting a cage and water and rabbit food and hay. We made him a little home and called the vet to find out the details. Baby rabbits are very fragile, but if they make it, they are fine to keep. If we want, we can let him go in a few weeks and he'll be fine to adjust back into nature. There are no diseases to worry about and the boys saved his life by bringing him home. The vet doesn't think the mom was coming back. Whew!

We have spent countless hours staring and checking on him. He ate all of his carrot shavings and spilled his water twice. It is priceless the amount of joy this experience has brought us. I hope he makes it. We are already in love...

Wilton 7-22-09 - 07

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black and White Cookies

Black and Whites

Black and Whites

I am so excited! I made Black and Whites! I grew up enjoying these deliciously spongy cookies. The big question is always how to enjoy them. Do you eat the vanilla and then the chocolate? Or do you eat your way down the center, enjoying the taste of both flavors at once? Me. I enjoy the vanilla the most, so I eat the chocolate first and save the best for last!

This recipe is almost the one. I need to tweak the icing a bit. I am not too thrilled with the chocolate yet. Does anyone have any suggestions? There are so many versions out there. I'll work until I find it. It is that important!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Should I Have A Giveaway?

How is everyone? I've been busily baking away! I've been enjoying trying new recipes and perfecting others to my liking. It's a difficult task, but someone's got to lick the spoon! I have also begun seeing a tiny bit of interest in my Etsy shop. I am so excited about the prospects! If you haven't, please stop by and check out my bakery! Tell me what you think!

I sure hope that people have followed me over from my other blog. I am giving it a little time. I realize that the summer is sporadic in blogland. I want to have a giveaway so that you can taste my cookies and not just look at them! Hmmm. What kind should I give? Why don't you give me some suggestions and I'll get an idea what your mouths are watering for!

Will it be these?

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
White Chocolate Macadamian Nut

Or these?

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Chocolate Cutout Sandwiches

Or maybe these?

PBchocswirl bar07
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bars

You tell me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some Piping Practice Today

Every time I get these feelings off my chest, I feel really stupid the next day. But I am going to chock it up to the hormones...and good ole stress.

I made sure to have a resourceful day today. I found a recipe for candy clay posted by Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie and played around with it. The clay is supposed to be a substitute for fondant so I gave it a try. The results weren't perfect. It dried out very quickly on me and tended to crack, but I am a beginner and I'm sure that with practice, it would be better. I cut out some flowers to start. Pardon the picture.

candy clay

I also began working on piping. I am just getting used to achieving the right consistency of icing. My black was too thick and I adjusted the other colors as I mixed them. I figure out a lot today so I feel good. I'll post pictures, but being the perfectionist that I am, it is difficult! Actually, I feel like there is hope. I need to practice my details though ;)

What do You think for the second time ever?!?

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767 - Copy (2)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Warning...My Head Is Spinning!

I have been feeling really happy and content lately, but that hasn't been the case for the past few days. I am struggling with my direction and I am a person who needs a definite plan. I have always followed my intuition, but lately, it took a vacation.

The problem is that I have tried so many different venues, so many paths. I am so feeling the need to be successful with something. Don't worry. I feel accomplished at my art, but until people actually want them, I don't feel successful. That is the truth. You can't be a successful business unless you share your wares with others.

I am having so much turmoil inside, because I know that I can't keep trying new things anymore. It has driven my family crazy. I think that they don't take anything seriously anymore. How can they when I don't know which way to go either? I am serious about my baking. I have worked so hard to hone my products. I am just dragging my feet because I don't really know the next step. When you don't have a shop, how do you get your name out there?

And now, I am obsessed with making decorated cookies. My husband doesn't think it is the way to go. He says to do what I know. He is usually right, but I so strongly feel that decorated cookies draw attention and I need something to draw attention. Desperately. I have a whole idea in my head and have only made one batch of very silly looking cookies. I have spent so much time in the past few weeks reading and reading and reading, that I feel like I know I can learn quickly. I already have the baking part down pat and I felt very comfortable with the icing. I just have to design properly for it all to look right. Is my head in the clouds again? Am I just ridiculous for trying yet another "idea"? Or do I follow my instincts? One part of me says that success only comes when you try enough, but another part is getting ashamed. I need to work. I need to contribute.

PBchocswirl bar05

PBchocswirl bar07

So much for my rant. On a brighter note, I baked these delicious Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl bars. They can be found, along with many other amazing varieties at my etsy shop. Take a look!

PBchocswirl bar09

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I've Moved Back!!!!!

Over time, I have branched out from creating jewelry to bridal jewelry, to knitting, to baking. Actually, I've always been very involved with all of these activities {passions}. But as my concentrations changed, so did the names of my shops and blog names. I've been aware of the need to simplify all of this. I hope that my friends and customers will update their links so that you will all pop in and say "hello". I know it is a bit unusual, but I am picking up with my original blog because the address is simply

lstonedesigns

Presently, I am concentrating on rebuilding my baking business. As I've said before, I have been baking and selling my cookies for 15 years. I put it on the back burner (pardon the pun!) to make a go with my jewelry. I am still very much selling my jewelry, but I am also very excited to be baking once again! My children are in celebration mode as well ;)

Please check out my shop on Etsy and I have one at 1000 Markets as well. Spread the word and check back for some free giveaways. I have my tried and true recipies, but am always adding to that list. As I experiment I will be asking for opinions and I am looking forward to sending out some goodies!