It's the last week of school before Christmas vacation.
Our first big family Christmas gathering is this weekend.
Time is (pretty much) up!
I guess I've got most of the important things done. (Just need to get those cards adressed and mailed) But the season seems unusually rushed this year.
There's always so many more things I'd like to do…
Just wanted to wish you all a very very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Take care! Stay safe!
See you next year!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I bought a gun.
My shiny new gun is "trigger quick"
and my daughter and I are "trigger happy" .
I would advise you to SECURE YOUR DOUGH!
For years, I've had to borrow my mom's cookie press when I wanted to make spritz cookies. Not anymore! I found this vintage cookie gun at the antique store last weekend. It was only $4.00! Isn't it beautiful? It looks as if it were rarely used and it works great. My daughter and I had a lot of fun trying it out this week. She likes to operate the gun. I like to sprinkle on the sugar and put on the dragees.
I had fun with the packaging too. I put like colors in cupcake liners and tucked them in this pretty silver box that I bought from Fancy Flours then wrapped the box with some vintage ribbon that I had.
If only all the guns in the world were cookie guns…
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
As promised, here is my favorite holiday recipe. I shouldn't even make these 'cause they tend to get eaten up before they ever make it to any holiday gatherings
Peanut Butter Bon Bons
2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
16 oz. (4 1/2) c. powdered sugar
3 c. Rice Crispies
6 oz. milk chocolate chips
In saucepan melt peanut butter and butter. In large bowl, combine powdered sugar and cereal. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture. Mix together with your hands. Form into 1" balls. Chill until firm. Melt chocolate chips. Dip candies in them. Place on wax paper line cookie sheet. Chill.
If desired- drizzle with melted butterscotch chips.
They're not the prettiest things in the world (at least mine aren't) so… it's all about the packaging.
My favorite holiday memory?
My son was born (3 weeks early) on December 23. We were celebrating Christmas with my mom's side of the family that day. My water broke right after dinner (great way to get out of washing dishes, huh?) I was still in the hospital on Christmas day so my mom and dad brought my girls and all the presents to the hospital.
In my previous post I invited 4 people to share their recipe/memory but please don't feel you need an invitation. I'd love to hear about everyone's favorite recipe or memory. You can use my badge if you want or make your own. Whatever suits you. Leave me a comment or e-mail after you write your post so I can read what you wrote!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I have been a fan of Katie Runnels' artwork and blog for a long time so…
Imagine how unbelievably excited I was when she asked if she could write a blog post about ME! Holy Cow! Oh My Gosh! Wooohooo! Yippeee!
Katie's blog is not only filled with beautiful things but also great resources for those of us who dream of making a living creatively. I'm sure you've already visited her sight, but if not, you really must check it out.
What an incredible compliment. Thank you Katie!
I was also excited to be tagged by Happy to tell you 6 quirky things about myself (Here's my list of quirkiness) I'm sure I could come up with more than just 6 quirky things to tell you about myself, but with Happy's permission, I have decided to start a new tag. I'm not a big fan of rigid rules so here are the general guidlines:
Write a blog post about your favorite holiday recipe or favorite holiday memory or both.
Invite 1-1,000,000 friends to share their recipe/memory with a link back to the person who invited them and links to the people they are inviting.
I've got a recipe and a memory I'll share soon.
In the meantime I'm going to invite the 4 friends who most recently started following my blog. (Sidenote: I like knowing who's stopping by for a visit but I've got to change the terminology. Followers, following… sounds kinda creepy and cult like. Let's just be friends.)
Anyway my friends are:
Pretty in Pink
Happy Loves Rosie ( since I changed the tag, I can tag her back : ) )
Friday, November 14, 2008
Okay… I have a friend who owns a wonderful gallery in a nearby town. She asked me to make some cookies for an opening she's having soon. But, hey, just 'cause I'm not really the main attraction, doesn't mean I can't have a little fun being all hoity-toity, right?
This was my first order of the season. My mom came over and helped me work on these. She even decorated all the angel cookies for me…I've been making angels for the last 10 years, and I just can't stand to do it anymore!
Here's the little "muffin tin of cookie accessories" I put together for decorating day. I made all the sugar-paste holly leaves and things the night before. The multi-colored metallic dragees and the silver colored sugar next to them are brand-new. They just came (from Fancy Flours) in time to use on these cookies. I love the dragees but I was kinda disappointed in the silver sugar. I thought it would look much more metallic/glittery/sparkly. It was kind of a dull gray.
I also listed a few fun new things in my etsy shop. I'm gonna try to get a few more things listed in the next few days so keep checking back.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Catherine Slye of She's Sew Slye was kind enough to introduce me to Connie Martin owner of The Constant Baker. Connie allowed me to interview her via e-mail. I think her answers to my questions are very interesting. She left a good job to follow her passion and live her dream. I hope you are as inspired by her courage as I am!
"Connie's passion for baking began as a young girl when she first entered her butterscotch brownie recipe in her Girl Scout troop bake off and won first prize. Throughout her teens she continued to bake tortes, yeast breads, cookies and cakes. While attending Miss Porter’s School, she taught a month long course on making various dessert mousses. She continued to bake while at college and her passion culminated with a dream to attend pastry school. That dream came true in 2006 when she graduated from the in San Francisco with a degree in Pastry Arts. After a stint with a patisserie, she now owns The Constant Baker and has been delighting dessert lovers throughout the Bay Area and beyond."
• It sounds like you started baking at a very young age. Who taught you to bake? Do you have any favorite "baking" memories you'd like to share?
Connie: I can “blame” it on my paternal grandmother, whom I adored. She was of German heritage and I remember helping her make her kuchen recipe. I must have been 4 or 5 at the time, when I got started. She would put me on a step stool next to her kitchen counter and let me pour the ingredients into the bowl as she worked her magic. She made the best kuchen. I remember eating it with her warm right out of the oven….it was heaven. Unfortunately, the recipe was in her head and it died with her. Words of advice, if you have family recipes that are in someone’s head, get them to write them down. Even if you don’t cook or bake yourself, they are precious bits of family history to be treasured for future generations. My family still talks about that recipe.
• Miss Porter's is a boarding school for grades 9-12 right? I don't know much about life in a boarding school. Did you have access to a kitchen there? Were you allowed to bake when you had free time? How did you end up teaching the course on making dessert mousses?
Connie: Yes, Miss Porter’s (MPS) is a boarding school for grades 9-12. I did have access to a kitchen there but I don’t remember exactly where it was. It was not the main kitchen so it must have been in a dorm. I didn’t bake at MPS, only during the holidays when I went home. At the time I attended MPS, the school had a January term where the girls could study anything they wanted to for the month. I asked my advisor if I could not only study, but teach a class in making dessert mousses. Mousse, at the time fascinated me. They agreed and, at age 17, I had about 10 students who were making mousses with me. We made at least 8-10 different mousses and had a blast doing it.
• Where did you go to college and what was your major? Did you work in any other fields before deciding to go to the California Culinary Academy? If so, what made you decide to go back to school to get your degree in Pastry Arts?
Connie: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. I majored in Political Science and Economics! Before I went to CCA, I was in the hospitality industry. I worked in catering sales and as a meeting planner in a fine dining restaurant and then in a conference center. In the late 90’s, I also owned my own event planning company, Corporate Events. When I first graduated from college, I worked in New York on Wall Street as a commercial loan officer in a commercial bank; Bankers Trust Company, which is now owned by Deutsch Bank. I attained the position of Assistant Vice President while there.
What made me decide to get a degree in Pastry Arts? I have always loved to bake. As I have grown older, I realized that my soul was crying out to me to follow my passion. It was very scary to answer this call as I left a very good job to attend CCA. But I knew, that on the last day of my life, if I had not attended Pastry School I would have regretted it.
• I have a daughter who is a senior in high school this year. She dreams of owning her own coffee shop someday. She will probably get her bachelor's degree in business, but she is also considering attending a Culinary Arts school. Can you tell us a little bit about Culinary Arts School? What advice would you give her?
Connie: If you have a passion for baking, especially the science and creativity of it, you are in for a treat if you attend culinary school. I literally had to pinch myself everyday I was in school because I could not believe I was so lucky to have such a wonderful opportunity to learn so much about a subject I love. My chef instructors were very patient given their awesome backgrounds. We were such neophytes but they loved us for both our good times and bad. And there were some ugly moments. But that is how you learn. My worst moments were my best teachers. My advice; be open to the experience and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s better to make them there than on the job!
•After culinary arts school, you worked at a patisserie before deciding to start your own business. I'd like to know more about your decision to go out on your own. What led to that decision? Was it scary? Were there any difficulties in the beginning?
Connie: I decided to go out on my own because no one was doing what I was doing in my area and I wanted some flexibility in my life. It is very scary to go out on your own because you have no idea how your business will be received. It was very difficult to get started. I had to design a menu, cost it out, and write a business plan. Then I had to find a commercial kitchen, get all of my permits…and Santa Clara County has very strict requirements. After that there was the administrative side of setting everything up; bank accounts, bookkeeping system, business identity, logo, website….the list of “things to do” is endless! I am still working on it and expect I will be for awhile!
• How is your business set up? If I remember right, you rent a shared commercial kitchen space and you don't have a store front. (right?) Can you discuss the pros and cons of this type of set-up?
Connie: Yes, I work out of a shared commercial kitchen and it is the best way to get started in my opinion. The costs of leasing and running a kitchen on your own are exorbitant and the permit process is very extensive. Plus I have flexibility. I signed a one year lease. If you lease and build out your own space, you don’t have that flexibility. My shared kitchen works fine. Everyone is pretty accommodating and, when a few of us are in there together, we work things out regarding use of equipment.
•When you first established your own business, how did you get the word out/market your business/find new customers?
Connie: I am a member of a few networking groups and that is how I started getting my name out there. As people gave my products as gifts, those people then called me for cookies. I am still building my business, of course, and am looking into some other venues such as one of the Farmer’s Markets here.
• What is a typical day like for you? How do you manage your time? How much of your time is spent actually baking vs. time spent on "business" things?
Connie: I don’t think I have a typical day. If I have baking to do, which I do most days, I go to the kitchen early and complete those tasks. I spend about 3-4 hours per day baking right now. I hope to increase that. The rest is spent on doing other things such as buying product, networking, and admin..
• I think pricing is one of the most difficult parts of selling baked goods. How did you decide on your prices?
Connie: Pricing is difficult. I priced all of my products last March and the cost of everything I use has gone up considerably. I decided on my current pricing based on the cost plus a mark-up for making the product. I expect I will need to increase my prices in January to cover the increased food costs. I also am using more expensive chocolate now so that has changed my pricing structure too.
• Just for fun… What is your favorite dessert to make? Is there a certain special tool or supply you could not live without? Can you recommend any fun supply sources?
Connie: I love lemons and we have a gorgeous Meyer Lemon tree in our backyard. I love to make anything lemon with the fruits from our tree; tarts, breads, marmalade, cookies, you name it. They all taste delicious because of our yummy lemons.
I love my offset spatulas. I use them all of the time. Fun supply source? NY Cake and Baking. I wish I lived closer to it; although that would be dangerous for my bank account.
Thank you Connie! The crazy busy holiday baking season is fast approaching (if not already here). I really appreciate that you took the time to do this!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Next week– Probably the Worst Pies in Kearney – BEWARE … these pies are not for the squimish
Mid-November- I'll start my holiday baking. I can't wait to share pics of my holiday cookies with you and I can't wait to see what you're baking. I'm thinking of doing another "cookie" blog/flickr exchange thing like I did for national sugar cookie day. I'll post details later and I'm open to suggestions.
December- We'll see what there's time for!
January– The long awaited interviews will begin. I've already sent some interview questions off to a very nice baker in California. She's too busy to respond right now but promises that she will after the holidays. I can't wait to hear how she got her baking business off the ground.
For now… here's what I'm planning to order sometime soon for my holiday baking. Silver Stick Dragees, Multicolor Dragees and Sparkling Silver Metallic Sugar from Fancy Flours.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Okay… I guess stirring up some candy corn and peanuts isn't exactly baking, but it is a fun treat for a kid to put together and package up for their friends.
Really… I just wanted to try out my new Xyron sticker maker. I thought my son might get a kick out of making some stickers, but honestly…he wasn't the least bit interested. (Guess he had better things to do!) So I made stickers and packaged up the candy corn myself. Surely there are other kids out there who would find it fun to punch out some cute paper and run it through the sticker maker machine!?
Monday, September 29, 2008
When I was born my parents rented an apartment in the basement of Mrs. Chism's house. Mrs. Chism didn't have any grandchildren so she sort of adopted me and I called her Grandma Mary. This is her Pumpkin Cake recipe.
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. soda
2 cups unseasoned canned pumpkin
Beat eggs, add sugar and salad oil. Sift dry ingredients and add to egg mixture. Add pumpkin. Blend well. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350º F for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let stand 10 min., then remove from pan to cool. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Note: I made these into cupcakes because I couldn't find my bundt pan. It's buried somewhere in my messy storeroom. Sorry! I didn't keep track of how long they took to bake, but I would guess about 15 min. They were done pretty fast.
My mom makes this cake just about every year for fall family get-togethers. She makes it in a bundt pan and prefers to leave it unfrosted. It's a very sturdy cake and has earned the title "indestructable" due to the many mishaps it has survived. Apart from many acts of clumsiness resulting in the cake being dropped (while contained in its carrier) this cake has even survived a couple minor car wrecks.
Monday, September 22, 2008
A delectable flavor and a welcome aroma that helps you "get going" on even the darkest morning?…a leisurely after-dinner cup that is the perfect accompanimment to good conversation?…the bracing beverage that gives real meaning to your mid-morning coffee break? –from Fun with Coffee, copyright 1956 by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau
ahhhhh…coffee…my drug of choice. My parents didn't drink a lot of coffee, but every time my grandparents came to visit they'd brew up a pot. I remember loving the smell and wishing I was old enough to drink it. I remember the first time I tried coffee. I was probably about 10 and I was at a friends house. Her parents were gone and she decided to make a pot of coffee. I was totally amazed that she knew how to make coffee and I was a little afraid that we'd get in trouble! She dumped a ton of cream and sugar in each of our cups and it was sooooo good. I became a full blown addict when my daughters were babies and I relied on it to stay awake after nights of no sleep. My son and I still have "milk and coffee snuggle-ups". When he was two, we were visiting some friends and he got tired so he came to me and said "I need milk and coffee and rock-a-bye" . My friend was apalled until I explained the coffee was for me.
My teenage daughters both celebrated their birthdays last week. For the big family get-together, I made German Chocolate cupcakes and frosted half with German Chocolate Buttercream and the other half with Mocha Buttercream. Here's the recipe (from The Cake Doctor):
(Note: for the German Chocolate Buttercream) just omit the coffee granules from the following recipe)
1/4 cup milk
1 heaping tsp. instant coffee
8 T. (1 stick) butter
2 oz. (1/2 bar) German's sweet chocolate, grated
3 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 T. water, if needed
1. Place the milk and instant coffee in a small glass measuring cup. Place in the microwave oven on high power until the milk is ot enough to dissolve the instant coffee, 30-40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
2. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee and grated chocolate. Blend on low until the mixture has softened, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioner's sugar. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed ot medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 T. water is the frosting seems too stiff.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
• I would paint my honey oak 1990s cupboards a nice creamy white. This would appall most of my family. They all still believe oak is the be all and end all of woods and painting it is a terrible sin. But someday, I may just whip out the paint brush anyway.
• I would install a dark stained hard-wood floor
•get new counter tops (not sure what kind) with a (what's it called?) "rimless"/sunk-in sink
• I would buy these appliances and such…
I did get something I've been wanting for a while the other day. Heather (from Merry Moon) & I traded cupcakes! Here's is the one she designed for me. It looks very sweet in my kitchen.
Janice, from Pug Yoga has tagged me to tell you about some of my (many) quirks. Here's the rules:
1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Mention the rules
3) Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself
4) Tag six other bloggers by linking to them
5) Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that lets them know they’ve been tagged
1. I am ALWAYS cold! I cannot drink anything with ice in it or I'll start shivering. I earned the nickname "Super Emily" at my last job because I would walk around with a blanket tied around my neck (over my three layers of clothing).
2. I love learning about plagues and epidemics. I research these things for fun. My favorite books are the Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer. So scary, but so fun to read. I dream about writing a book set in a tuberculosis hospital in the early 1900s or about the 1918 influenza epidemic. (I'm not a novelist. It's never gonna happen, but its fun to think about). I used to think maybe I wanted to be an epidemiologist or virologist, but I don't really want to get my hands dirty I just want to learn about these things from afar. Maybe the CDC needs a graphic designer?
3. I DESPISE matching up socks. Matched pairs never seem to get put in the same load of laundry. So when I'm folding clothes I throw the unmatched pairs in "the sock basket". We have a huge laundry basket of unmatched socks. When someone needs a pair, they have to go dig for two that are at least the same color.
4. I hate green vegetables
5. Every night, before I get into bed, I have to lift up the sheets and check for spiders.
5. The smell of cantaloupe makes me want to puke! I think it smells like a garbage dump. GROSS!
Okay, I'm passing this on to…
She's Sew Slye
Elfie and Me
Potty Mouth Mama
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Since starting my own cupcake/cookie business was not something I could do immediately, I decided that I (at least) had to find a job that offered a little (actually A LOT) more flexibility than my job at the cookbook publishing company. So, that's what I did! I'm working for a much smaller, much more flexible and family friendly company and I think I'm going to be much happier. I'm now a graphic designer for a small lighting company. Not only will I be working on their catalogs, fliers, brochures and other publications, but I will also be drawing up some lighting plans and sending out quotes (using a bleepin' PC). So…I've got a lot to learn and man-o-man my brain is fried. I've been so mentally exhausted lately that all I want to do when I get home is some mindless veging.
Excuses aside, I'm starting to feel likes one of those people who talks about doing a lot of things and never really does them! I'm referring to this earlier post in which I talked about structure and all the things I planned on posting about starting in September.
I will share:
•cupcake and cookie recipes and decorating ideas
•treats I've made with my boy
•random stuff (business planning, etsy, fun products, etc.)
I will not:
•podcast interviews…yet… the learning curve is just too big and I don't have time to do the research right now… unless… there's a podcaster out there (who's conducted interviews over the phone) that would like to be my mentor. : )
So…I guess this is the "random stuff" post.
No matter how busy, exhausted, (whatever) I am, I can always find time to go junking. That's what I did last weekend and I found some great new things to put in my etsy store. Since Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, I decided to load up on Fall things. (see photo above) I'm working hard to get all those things (and more!) listed, a little at a time.
Labor Day also marks the beginning of total chaos in our household. It starts with my daughter's birthdays this month and doesn't end until after Christmas. My dad asked me if we had a weekend open for a family get-away. I checked my calendar. Nope… NO available weekends 'til after Christmas. (Huge sigh) Woe is me…
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Just a quick note to tell you that Damaris at Within the Corners of My Kitchen is hosting a giveaway that includes my cupcake toppers and some other great paper goods for your kitchen. I'm a little slow to let you know about this but just leave a comment on her site by Tuesday, Sept. 2. She gives away lots of great things so definitely check out her blog!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Catherine of She's Sew Slye has given me the Tree of Happiness Award.
I'm supposed to list 6 things that make me happy.
Just 6? Lots of things make me happy, especially kind people like Catherine. (By the way…thanks for the award).
Since it's hard to decide on just 6 things that make me happy I'm going to cheat a little.
My six things are very broad categories with some specific examples given of each.
1. My family (of course)
I love it when I have all three of my kids trapped in the car with me for about a 20 minute drive. (any longer and they'll be plugged into their iPods and off in their own little world) Conversation seems to flow easily and I learn all kinds of things.
2. All things warm and cozy
fuzzy slippers, a dog sleeping on my feet, a hand-knit scarf, chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate, a campfire and a toasted marshmallow, a comfy old sweatshirt, flannel sheets…
3. Early mornings
I get up at 5:00 am. I love the peace and solitude of that time of day. I love the excitement of a new day. I love feeling like I'm ahead of the game by beating everyone else out of bed. I love seeing the sunrise.
Yes, it's a crazy, busy month, but I love it! The decorating, the shopping, the baking, the crafting, the wrapping, the get-togethers, my birthday, my son's birthday, and especially Christmas day. Nobody messes with Christmas day.
5. Severe Weather
Okay… I don't wish for any injuries, property damage, or ruined plans. But I love the excitement of a good thunderstorm. I love watching the dark clouds roll in. I love flashes of lightening and loud cracks of thunder. I love it when the power goes off for a while and I love the feeling in the air outside when it's all over. I also love a good blizzard. There's nothing better than waking up to white-out conditions and knowing that no one will be going anywhere that day.
6. A great idea
I also love orders and etsy! I had fun making those cupcakes in the picture for a bridal shower yesterday and I thought I'd show you this cookbook I just listed on etsy. It's so cute!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Cupcakes are cute. Cupcakes look adorable on vintage dishes and display pieces. Cupcakes lend a bit of color, sweetness and nostalgia to a room.
Cupcakes, are messy, mushy and perishable.
I wanted some fake cupcakes to display in my kitchen and to use as non-perishable samples of my work. So, after some research, trial and error this is what I've come up with.
See my directions here: how to fake cupcakes
If you don't feel like making them yourself I'm going to sell them in my etsy store. (I'm still working on getting all the different varieties listed so please be patient with me.)
My favorite fake cupcake is the one with the vintage ballerina topper on it. I got it from The Plastic Hut along with some really cute vintage Halloween and Christmas toppers.
What I really want for that glass dome thing shown in the picture is one of these needle felted cupcakes from Merry Moon. (hint hint family…this would be a good birthday present)
As far as "real" cupcake business matters go…
The Kearney Area Artist Guild (organizers of Art in the Park) had their monthly meeting last week and I was told by a co-worker/member that my cookies and cupcakes were talked about quite a bit and that they were very impressed with them. PLUS… I have an order for some bridal shower cupcakes as a result of my booth at Art in the Park. : )
Have a great week!
NOTE: 8/17/08- I'm having trouble publishing the Fake Cupcake Directions. The text below the photos doesn't show up right (and it's just helvitica!). I'm working on it. For now… when I click on a photo it takes me to the slide show view and the text appears correctly there. Hope that works for you!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
9 days… that's it. That's all that is left of summer break. In just 9 days our school year starts. Some school-related practices have already begun. Once school starts it seems life is just one huge flurry of nonstop activity until Christmas.
I'm not ready to let go of the slower paced, long, warm and sunny days of summer. I'm setting aside my baking projects until the first crisp days of fall and finding some no-bake SUMMER treats in my vintage cookbooks.
This week I made Royal Hot Chocolate Sauce from Hershey's Index Recipe Book, copywright 1934. It was pretty good but I think I cooked it a little too long as it got pretty hard and chewy the minute I poured it over the icecream. Oh well… next time I'll try cooking it a little less than the recipe says. I bought fat free ice cream thinking it would taste okay with a little hot fudge sauce poured on top. It was gross. So the good news… I did not devour the Hot Fudge Sundae shown in the picture. With chewy fudge sauce and the crappy ice cream, it just wasn't worth the calories.
Any way here's the recipe in case you want to try it. What I sampled from the spoon tasted pretty good. I think if you're careful not to overcook, this is probably a very good chocolate sauce. I'm definitely going to try the recipe again. (if you click on the image, then click "all sizes" in flickr, you should get a version that is large enough to be read easily)
And now… the awards!!!
My friend Heather of Merry Moon Designs has given me the Brilliant Weblog Award and Michelle of Faerie Dust Dreams gave me some awards a couple of weeks ago.
my family for putting up with all of my baking endeavors,
my parents for instilling in me a love of baking and
allowing me to play in the kitchen as a child,
our family friend, Ron, for being a great taste tester…
Obsessed with Cupcakes
& 3 others to be named soon
Keep cool, and enjoy the rest of your summer!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've been meaning to try Bakerella's recipe for Cupcake Bites for a long time and this weekend my son and I finally got some made. I had some plain leftover red velvet cupcakes and some cream cheese frosting and this was the perfect way to use them up. My son had fun helping. This is a really "kid friendly recipe." He crumbled the cupcakes, mixed in the frosting, made the balls, squirted the melted chocolate in the candy molds and placed the cake/frosting balls on top of the chocolate. He could have done the spinkles too but he had all ready gone off to do something else by the time we got to that step.
They are delicious!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I have some bowls. I like them. I piled them up and took a picture. I made some cupcakes. They turned out ok.
Well, it's summer and it's hot, and I just can't seem to think right now (let alone write) but for the sake of all my adoring fans I'll try. : ) ( yes, I'm being sarcastic)
As far as the business planning goes, I'm in "wait and see what happens" mode for right now. The kitchen space I was interested in is not yet available and as discussed in my last post the response to my things at Art in the Park was mixed. I think everyone liked both the taste and appearance of my cookies and cupcakes, but I'm not sure they're willing to pay what I have to charge. On top of that, our Starbucks is closing (yes, we only have one, unless you count the one in Target). I've always said that people would pay more for my cookies and cupcakes (verses the Walmart bakery) for the same reason they would buy coffee at Starbucks instead of McDonalds. –They're just fancier/better. And I've reasoned that if my town could support a Starbucks then it could probably support a business like mine. Well, now I'm not sure what to think! I know budgets are pretty tight these days. Anyway, I'm not giving up, just cooling my jets a bit. I'm still trying to make some connections in the community and get the word out about what I do.
Ages ago I asked some very nice bakers if they would be willing to let me interview them. That was so long ago that I'm sure by now they've given up on me. In an earlier post, I said that I would try to get those interviews done this month. YIKES! This month is almost over. Here's my dilema… If I just e-mail some questions to these ladies and they e-mail me back with their answers… well…there's no back and forth…it might seem kinda cheesy and boring. I want this to be more conversational. So…I've drug my feet, trying to come up with the best format for this (it's harder than I thought!). Maybe, I should try calling them on Skype, record the call, turn it into a podcast and post it somewhere. Huh…I'm not a journalist, I don't really know how to conduct an interview and I know even less about podcasting, plus I really don't have the time or money required. But… it might be fun! Having a podcast that gives me an excuse to call up bakery owners and cupcake bloggers and just chat sounds great. Plus, I haven't been able to find any podcasts like this on iTunes or anywhere so I might be able to fill my own little niche. Hmmmm… me and my big ideas. Anybody know anything about podcasting? What do you think?
I haven't promoted my etsy shop for a while, so I thought I would show you some of the "cool" things I have listed now. I keep adding new things and I'm working on some new cupcake toppers so stop by from time to time to see what I've got.
I function best when things are structured and organized. (Although, I am getting better at flying by the seat of my pants!) Anyway, I think I can improve the content of this blog by adding a bit of structure and planning. By September, this is the structure I hope to follow each month (altough I may change the order):
Week 1 – I'll share a cookie or cupcake recipe, probably from one of my vintage cookbooks, along with ideas about decorating and presentation.
Week 2 – the interviews or podcasts or whatever I decide to do
Week 3 – I'd like to start a feature called "Baking with My Boy" . I'll drag my son into the kitchen and we'll bake/make something together and share it with you. You know… fun, simple stuff.
Week 4 – Kinda random. I might talk about my business planning or my etsy shop or some fun products I've found. Whatever…
I didn't think I had much to say and look how much I've rambled on! I have to say, it feels good to get all those things that have been piling up in my brain all typed out. I just hope it doesn't sound completely senseless!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Damaris from Within the Corners of My Kitchen shared her favorite sugar cookie recipe. They look delicious! And, Jennifer Conway celebrated by showing us her vintage cookie cutters and buying some cookies from a local bakery.
Caitlin of Carmel Turtle asked if I made any cookies for Sugar Cookie Day…
Yes! I did! Actually, I made about 9 dozen cookies for "Art in the Park". Here's some photos of my cookies…
"Art in the Park" was my big community debut. Honestly, I'm not yet sure what to think about how it went. First of all, without really thinking, I bought the cheapest canopy that they had at Wal-mart and (of course) it was a piece of junk. My booth looked and felt like one of those forts you rig up with blankets and stuff when you're a kid. Tall people had to duck to get in. Then, having set up much earlier than the boothes around me, I guess I got the schematics wrong because the Indian Taco stand set up in front of me at the last minute so I ended up being kind of blocked off and hidden. Also, keeping the food out of the sun and keeping the wind from blowing everything over was an issue (which I expected).
Enough whining…it wasn't all bad.
I offered a variety of cupcake flavors and frosting flavors. Customers ordered their choice of flavors and I swirled the frosting on with a pastry bag right there in my booth (I kept the bags of frosting on ice). Then I let them choose what color of sprinkles they wanted and let them pick out a sugarpaste shape for the top. I had a big chalk board with all the flavors and instructions on it but I'm not sure everyone understood what I was doing. Those who did "get it" seemed to really enjoy having a cupcake custom made for them while they watched, especially kids. I heard one super sweet little girl tell her mom she loved me! That totally made my day.
The cookies I brought did not sell well at all. Lots of people looked at them but very few bought them. I had them individually priced at $3 - $3.25 ea. and the boxes (shown above) had 5 cookies in them for $7.00 with one "fancy" cookie on top and 4 more simple cookies underneath. I overheard one person say they were too expensive. My guess is that that person has never made decorated cookies before. Given the price of ingredients and the time involved in making my really fancy cookies I've got them priced as low as I possibly can.
I guess, when it was all said and done, I covered my costs and handed out lots of business cards so we'll see what happens next.
Michelle of Faerie Dust Dreams must have somehow known I needed a little confidence boost. She gave my blog some awards!
In accepting this award,
I agree to:
1. Display logo and link to who gave it.
2. Nominate at least 7 blogs.
3. Add links to those 7 blogs.
4. Leave the nominees a message that they received the award.
So, I'll link to my nominees in my next post. Right now it's time to get my boy to bed.