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4th Bloggy Birthday

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Today is my 4th bloggy birthday. I can’t even believe it’s been that long!

Unfortunately I have been too busy making other things to make a blog birthday treat, so nothing to share today. But lots of new stuff coming soon!

As always, thanks for following, thanks for reading, thanks for everything!

Facebook - facebook.com/cookiecarrie

Instagram - cookiecarrie

Twitter - cookiecarrie

Pinterest - icookiecarrie

 

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I am Cookie Carrie

After some thought, I have decided to change my blog name from “Carrie’s Creations” to just Cookie Carrie.

I realized it was a tad bit confusing having 2 different names that people know me under, so hopefully this will simplify things.

As always, you can find me on :

Facebook – facebook.com/cookiecarrie

Instagram – cookiecarrie

Twitter – cookiecarrie

Pinterest – icookiecarrie

Thank you all for hanging around through me absence! I promise a new treat is coming your way this week. :)

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Baby Franklin is Here!

Apologies for my short absence, but my little one has arrived!

Introducing:

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Carter Ray Davis Franklin

He was born on Saturday September 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm.

He weighed 9 lbs and was 20 inches long.

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The labor went very well. Start to finish it was about 13 hours, only 6 of which were really rough. We ended up having an all natural water birth, just as I was hoping. :)

So far he’s a very laid back little guy. Doesn’t cry much and likes to sleep in good 3-4 hour chunks. And MAN can he eat!

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I’m home from work for a while, but haven’t felt up to making anything yet. The urge is coming soon though, I can tell!

Thanks for being patient with me friends. :)

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2 Years!

Today is my 2 year Blog Birthday!

Unfortunately I have been too busy to make anything special, even for myself. This photo I found on google will have to do. :)

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Thank you everyone who stays with me and reads about my creations. I appreciate you all!

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Sharing My Sketches

As promised, I would like to show my sketches, mock-ups, and how I tend to plan when I’m working on a set of cookies. (Most of the images will open bigger if you click on them.)

Sometimes when I know the shapes and designs I am doing but I just need to work out the number of each and the colors, my mock-up/planning looks like this: (correlating cookies are here, here, and here)

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In the 2 mock-ups below, I listed out the shapes on the left and the colors of buttercream and icing necessary for each design on the right. I try to limit the colors of buttercream as much as possible. (correlating cookies are here, here, and here.)

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If all the cookies are the same, I might just trace the cookie cutter a few times and sketch out designs until I’m happy with it. I did that for these bird cookies:

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For this sea creatures set, I traced each of the animals once and did a lot of erasing until I was happy with each animal. I wanted the whole set to have the same “feel” of simple and cartoon-ish, and I knew I wanted them all to have the same eyes. One couldn’t be too much more detailed than the rest so it helped me to have them all together on one page like this.

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Other times I trace the cutter over and over and do something different in each one. Then I decide which I like best if they’re all going to be the same… (correlating cookies here)

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…or if I want a variety in my set, it helps me brainstorm ideas and make sure none of them are too similar. (correlating cookies here)

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Once I have my design I am happy with, I trace the lines in marker to make them stand out. This way I can see it without the actual cookie shape, just in case there is extra cookie that can distract me, like in this one:

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As you can see in a few of the pictures above, I sometimes label the parts with the colors or ideas so I remember later. In the picture below, I labeled it so that the person I made them for could see the design and help me decide which color from their theme should go on which part. (correlating cookies here)

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Each set of cookies calls for a different planning process, and most of the time I just make it up as I go. But this is what has been working for me!

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Snickers Cupcakes with Chocolate Rose Frosting

These cupcakes are life changing.

Life changing. Seriously.

I’m going to just get right into it.

Snickers Cupcakes with Chocolate Rose Frosting

cupcake ingredients:

1 box white cake + water, oil, and eggs called for

1/4 cup brown sugar

3-4 snickers bars

frosting ingredients:

1 stick of butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3 tbsp + 1tsp milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 lb (16 oz) powdered sugar

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Directions:

1. Cut snickers into small pieces, spread out on a glass plate, and put into the freezer for 30 minutes. This will keep them from melting when you bake the cupcakes.

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2. Mix together the water, oil, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Slowly add the cake mix until fully combined, then add the eggs.

*For the record, I forgot the last part. Yup, I forgot eggs. They still came out great, but they kind of crumble apart as you try to eat it. Tells me that if you are vegan, you can make these without eggs and they’re still amazing!!**

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3. Use a cookie scoop or a 1/4 cup to scoop batter into your cupcake liners.

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4. Remove the snickers pieces from the freezer and shove a few into each cupcake.

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5. Bake at 350* for 18-20 minutes.

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Mine came out puffy but sank in a bit after cooling. I don’t know if this is because I forgot the eggs or if they will do that anyway, but I thought I would mention it just in case it happens to anyone else.

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6. To make the frosting, mix together the butter and cocoa powder, adding the milk slowly to make a fudgy paste. Add the vanilla, then slowly mix in the powdered sugar.

This frosting is not too chocolaty, because the cupcake is really sweet and rich already.

I took a couple photos to show how I made the frosting roses. You basically start in the center and go around in a circle while squeezing out frosting. When you get to the outside, stop squeezing and pull to stretch the end of the rose.

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The insides are gooey and rich, and absolutely perfect!

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Tools I Couldn’t Live Without

There are a number of tools that I use when I bake and create that I couldn’t live without.

I thought I would just share a few of them today for a couple reasons. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re doing something the hard way until you see someone else doing it their way. Or you don’t even know that certain tools exist until you hear about it from someone else. I’m sure there are easier ways of doing some of the things I do.. if you have any ideas for me please feel free to share!

A lot of my items are Pampered Chef. I am spoiled when it comes to kitchen gadgets and I just LOVE my Pampered Chef items. Speaking of, I am having a party next week so if you are interested in ordering anything let me know and I can direct you to my wonderful consultant’s site!

These are in no particular order…

Mini Spatula (Pampered Chef).  I have 2 of these. They’re the perfect size to lift my rolled cutout cookies to place on my cookie sheet to bake. The second one I use to move the cookies from the sheet to the drying rack without cross contaminating my cooked vs. uncooked.

Toothpicks and Boo Boo Sticks. Toothpicks are a bakers #1 tool. You test your cake with them, use them to add gel food coloring to cakes and frostings, to poke, push, swirl, pop, and scrape your cookie icing… the uses are endless. I recently purchased a few boo boo sticks from Karen’s Cookies. The sharp end I use in every way I use my toothpicks, except it never gets dull or splinters into my icing. The other end is a perfect icing scraper for when you make mistakes or need to start over.

   

Squeeze Bottles (some Pampered Chef). A few years ago I went to a Pampered Chef party and saw these little accordian squeeze bottles. The consultant said they are great but a pain to clean… but she had put buttercream in hers. Somehow it hit me to use them for my cookie icing. See before that, I used to have my icing in a small bowl and spread the icing on with a cheese spreader or small knife. Turning to these bottles made the whole process faster and more fun! Back then I also didn’t flood my cookies. I would just squeeze the icing on, then spread it around with a little knife. After I learned about flooding, I realized that everyone uses squeeze bottles. And I thought I was a genuis for thinking of it. Oh well… Michael’s also sells squeeze bottles. I like their big bottles, but their small bottle have these teeeeny necks and it’s impossible to fill them without making a mess.

 

In case you don’t know what flooding is, it’s when you outline a cookie first with a thicker icing (I actually use buttercream for this part) then you “flood” or fill-in the cookie with the thinner icing. Gravity is your friend here, and the icing dries smooth and perfect. Everyone will ask HOW did you get it so smooth?!

Marble Rolling Pin. I LOVE my rolling pin. Most cookie bakers use wood or plastic pins because the weight of the pin can make it hard to get an even width of dough. Lots of bakers also use tools to ensure the dough is even. Some use bands (think rubber bands) that you slip on the pin, other use wood slats on the sides (like those paint stirrers you get at Home Depot), and others use special boards to roll on. I think I just know my width from so much practice, but I never feel the need for any of these things. Maybe someone wants to try to change my mind? What do YOU use?

Cling Wrap and Parchment Paper. I use cling wrap when I roll my cookies. I lay it over my dough and then roll roll roll. It keeps the dough from sticking to my pin and helps make it smooth. Parchment paper goes down on the cookie sheets and then the cookies are baked on it. Without it, the cookies stick (just a little bit) to the pan. I have never broken a single cookie since I started using parchment paper. And it makes clean-up easier!

   

Flour Shaker (Pampered Chef). When I first saw this little shaker, I thought it was silly. Then one day I realized that the way I was flouring my surface was silly! (Hand in flour bag not so pretty.) It shakes lightly or heavy, depending on how hard I shake it and what I need. And my hands stay clean(er).

My Sheila. My KitchenAid is the best investment I could have ever made. I would forsake all other items on this list for my beloved mixer. If you love to bake, save up and do everything you have to do to get yourself one. It will change your life!

There are of course many other tools that I use, but these are the most important items and those items that probably set me apart. If you use something unique, I’d love to hear about it!

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Popcorn Cookies

Here are some more popcorn cookies I did.

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These were for a 15 year old girl’s Movie Birthday Party.

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Carrie’s Creations Turns 1!

1 year ago today I started this little blog. It’s my blog “birthday” if you will.

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(My aunt made this cake for Easter. Nothing too fancy, just perfect funfetti. Nothing says birthday like funfetti!)

When I started blogging, I didn’t know much about it or what was even out there.

I realized how much I loved baking and creating treats and decided that I wanted a place to post and show the things I was making. I didn’t even really know what to say at first. I’ve been just learning as I go.

I had no idea that I would find so many amazing people online who do and love creating treats like I do. Especially cookies! It’s an entire blogging world all on it’s own. I have found so many lovely places to go for inspiration, creativity, and fun. (If you’d like to see my favorite sites, check out the link above.)

One of the amazing ladies I have met is Kendra of The Royal Cookie. She did the sweetest thing imaginable for me. She made me a cake for my first birthday!

Here is a sneak peak:

Go check it out here! How sweet is she?! I only wish I could have a slice, but unfortunately we’re on opposite ends of the country. :)

If you are a reader or a follower, I want to extend my deepest thanks. If you haven’t popped up and said hi, please do! I’d love to say hello or if you create as well I would love to check out your stuff! If you get my posts through email, click on the post title to go to the actual webpage. There you can easily leave a comment if you’d like!

If you make something you’ve found on my page, I would love to see it. Post a picture to my facebook wall, tweet me, or find me on intragram (CookieCarrie).

Many, many more treats to come… stay tuned!

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My 100th Post!

This is my 100th post!

I want to share  a few things I learned along this journey so far… and I am still learning, that’s for sure…

The first few relate just to cookies, because that is where I have evolved the most.

1. Flooding. When I started decorating cookies (like when I was a kid doing it with my mom), we used paint brushes to paint on the icing. Then I discovered these cool little squeeze bottles that Pampered Chef sold (I am a Pampered Chef snob btw) and it made my life so much easier! I would squeeze the icing onto the cookie, then spread it around with a little cheese spreader knife. After covering the cookie, I would add details and outline the cookie with buttercream in a piping bag. Then one day I discovered this post. Pretty much by accident. It changed my life. The Easter cookies above are from the first time I tried outlining then flooding with icing. I have done it on every cookie ever since.

2. Cookies and Cookie Dough can be frozen. This changed my life too. I now make double batches of cookie dough, and when I know I won’t be using it all right away, it goes straight into the freezer. If I have a lot of cookies, or if I need to make them far in advance, I bake them and then freeze them. They don’t even need to thaw before I start decorating, they’re just good to go right away.

 

3. Have a plan before getting started. (Which also goes along with the next one.) This is important when it comes to a couple things. One is color. Reds, whites, and blacks tend to bleed. You have to plan out which colors you do in which order and be able to let certain things set up so that your colors don’t bleed together. The second thing planning helps with is “background.” Like in the lingerie cookies above. I had to decide what kind of design I was going to do before I knew if I could add wet-on-wet dots to the cookies first or not.

4. Stick to just a few designs. I used to do each and every cookie different. Spontaneous. (Like the Easter ones above.) Now I usually plan every detail out and have all the same design, or just a few simple designs. Like the cars above that I made 300 of. It saves time and frustration. I always tease one of my best friends because we were decorating cookies one night and we got so tired she finally threw everything aside and said “That’s it! I can’t decorate another cookie!” Granted, I had baked WAY too many, but it was just hilarious to me. Point is, it’s exhausting trying to think of that many different designs and ideas one right after another. A few simple designs all planned out, and it goes faster and is more relaxing.

        

5. You don’t need a special cookie cutter for everything. Although it can be fun, cookie cutters can add up! Not to mention the space they take up. The best cutter I ever purchased was my 4″ comfort grip Wilton circle. I use that baby for everything. Above are just a few examples. I always have a dozen circles in my freezer ready to go in case of an emergency.

6. You don’t have to be a great photographer to get great photos. Want to know the secret to a great photo? Light! Okay so it’s not really a secret.. but it took me a while to get there. I work a full-time day job, so most of what I do is done in the evenings after work… which means no natural light. My old house had terrible light in the kitchen. My new place has better light in the kitchen, but the dining room is kind of dark. I take most of my photos in my kitchen if it’s night time. I try to take photos during the day (like on weekends) whenever I can. Above is what I consider one of my best photos. Oh and no need to buy a fancy camera either – I take all of my photos with my iPhone 4S. It has a great camera.

7. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Okay so I am still working on this one. Most people never see the flaws that I do on my cookies and other treats. A cookie decorator would, but that’s okay because they know what it’s like to start from nothing and learn as you go, and they know what it’s like to be self-conscious about a cookie flaw. The people that don’t decorate cookies, which is most of the population, only see perfection. So sometimes you just have to let the little stuff go. It’s going to just be eaten anyway.

8. Google is your friend. When someone tells me their theme or event and I don’t know what that is or I can’t think of any ideas, I go to google. Even if I have an idea but am just unsure, google is there for you. That’s not to say that I copy what other have done, but I can see where their minds were and what they were going for, and it usually gives me my own ideas. A perfect example are the over-the-hill cookies above. I had no idea what kind of cookie to do, but when I did a google search I saw all kinds of tombstones. Perfect! I came up with my design and a couple funny sayings and voila! Perfect over-the-hill cookies.

9. It’s okay to say “no.” I am still having a hard time with this one. Someone asks me to make something, and I have a hard time saying no, so I take on way too much. I have learned that I need to pace myself and not take on too much at one time. I get caught up thinking that they’re all the same, or it’s an easy design so I can handle it… Along with that I am learning to take my time. I have jillions of ideas, but only so much time to try them out. One day at a time…

10. It’s okay to do things your own way! This one is especially true for me. Most decorators use Royal Icing. The minority uses Glaze. I don’t use either one. I break the rules of icing and frosting and I do what works for me. I get inspired by other decorators’ skills, but at the end of the day, I simply go my own route with my own way of decorating. Very soon I will be doing a step-by-step of how I like to do things. Mostly because I know I’m weird. But also because it is delicious and I wish you all could try my cookies! What I do works for me and I don’t plan on changing!

My little blog is just that – little. I’m just getting started and am nowhere near any of the “big dogs,” but I am still proud of where I am nonetheless.

By far my most popular post is Unicorn Poop. Maybe it’s the name, maybe it’s the bright colors.. I don’t know, but I like it!

Thanks to everyone who follows and keeps me motivated to keep on going and learning and creating!

If you’re a new follower, I would love to hear from you! I recently updated my facebook page, so if you aren’t with me on there, check it out! I am also on Instagram (cookiecarrie) and Twitter (@cookiecarrie). <3

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