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