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.

new folder 013

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.