Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hockey Puck Cookie Tutorial and a New Blog Background

I did it! I finally made my own blog background! I've been trying for a couple weeks now and it just wasn't working. I tried on several different programs and found several different tutorials, but the sizing was always off. Dimensions of the blog background, sizes of the clipart, size of the middle text section, the decorative elements, all of it was askew once it was uploaded to the blog and it was making me crazy that I couldn't figure it out.

Well tonight I taught myself how to use Photoshop Elements for this specific purpose. Thankfully my son put up with my really silly questions like "hey honey, any idea where I'd find the rectangle tool?" and he didn't know either, but you know teenagers, they aren't afraid to click on every item and the possibility of completely wrecking how far you've already gotten on your project! Long after he went to bed, I kept working on it. There's one part I still haven't figured out (even with reading the help section... yes I'm one of those that reads directions and manuals), but I worked around it and will continue to learn. I'm SO excited (and relieved) to finally figure out how to make my own blog background and excited for the possibilities. So leave a comment and let me know if it works on your screen. I have a large monitor, so I'm curious how it looks on others.

Okay, ready for some cookies? I made hockey puck cookies and made it into a tutorial for you. Are you excited? Well then lets get started...

Step 1 - make the cookie dough, let it chill for several hours or even better, over night and then roll and bake. I generally also like to outline the cookies after they've cooled, but my friend's son is allergic to eggs so I couldn't use Royal Icing (meringue powder = egg whites) so these babies are ALL glaze icing. Let them sit over night to cool completely and smell up your house super yummy. Since glaze icing doesn't stand up as pretty as Royal Icing does, I didn't want the outline to show on these. So I outlined one cookie and let it sit for just a moment while I filled the other cookie and then came back to the first cookie. This way the outline acted as a slight dam to hold the icing in, but smoothed over as soon as it was filled. Does that make sense?
 Step 2 - After step 1 was completely dry, I then used the image that I wanted for my hockey puck cookies and I projected the image onto each cookie and made the shield. This is completely unnecessary unless you have a crazy perfectionist part of you that insists on it so that each shield is exactly the same size. Be glad you aren't in my head ;-)
 Step 3 - Fill each shield and let them dry completely.
 Step 4 - Draw the cross lines on the shields. Let them dry completely.
 Step 5 - By now it's a couple days into this project and you're fighting your kids to stay away from the yummy smelling cookies... then use your white icing to draw the hockey sticks. I used a #1 tip for these. I know most people despise #1 tips because they get clogged and are hard to work with, but glaze is more runny than royal icing and using a #2 tip made the hockey sticks too thick. So yes, I dealt with clogged tips to get the look I wanted. 
Step 6- When the red and black are COMPLETELY dry (keep in mind these are the worst colors for bleeding!), then you can add the letter detail to the shield. This is a W for Will's birthday :-)
 Step 7 - When the white on the sticks is completely dry, add the detail to the hockey sticks. I started by using icing and a #1 tip, but again it was too runny for the teeny tiny lines that I wanted, so I decided on a black food coloring marker for this detail.
 Here are some of the completed cookies on a platter before bagging.
 Bag and tag the cookies with a heat sealed bag for freshness.
 And package up the cookies to ship to your friend using more bubble wrap and other packing materials than you could possibly imagine. The last step and by far the most important step, is to PRAY and then pray some more. Hope that the mail carrier isn't having a bad day and is gentle and kind to your cookie boxes :-)
We've had a lot going on in our little house. We had a house guest for just over a month and he just left last weekend. For a short bit I had the opportunity to play guardian angel to another 18-year old boy and it was such a joy and a blessing. My heart was very sad to see him go and for me to let go, but it worked out to be the best solution for him, so I'm very happy for him. I was incredibly proud of my son for sharing his room and all his belongings with our guest while he was here. My heart was so incredibly full!

In addition to that, yesterday would have been my dad's 73rd birthday if we hadn't lost him to Cancer a couple years ago. I miss him terribly, but I'm beyond thankful and truly blessed for the time we had together. Today I met my fundraising goal for the 100-mile LiveStrong Challenge coming up in June for the fight against Cancer. Thank you so much to all my supporters and becoming a part of Eddie's Angels!

And we have one more thing coming up in our little family tomorrow. It's a huge big deal and I don't even want to say it for fear of jinxing it. Please just say a prayer for my son, Nick!

Make it a GREAT day everyone! Oh and please let me know how the blog background looks on your monitor. Hockey background for these hockey cookies. Thanks!


and for those that missed the fun background of these hockey cookies

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ever Had A Bad Day?

(this photo was not from today)
Warning no cookies today - just cycling stuff this time

Bad days. We all have them, right? I think the key is how we use them or what we learn from them. Did you take a day filled with lemons and make lemonade? Did you turn that frown upside-down? I try to be positive. I try to always improve myself. Well today was NOT one of those days. Basically God gave me a character building day and I FAILED miserably. Today I was cranky and frustrated and acted like a 4-year old. Not the cute 4-year old that is skipping and smiling, but the 4-year old that is having a temper tantrum. Yep, that was me today. Don't believe me? Well let me paint a picture for you.... imagine this pink-haired gal that often has a big smile and now imagine that gal holding up her pink bike in the middle of a hill and throwing it as far as her tired body will allow. Got the picture? 

A couple miles into a climb up a hill today, I felt that my back tire felt odd. I knew I had a flat. I got off my bike and one of the guys I was riding with went to fix my tire and I said no, that I could do it. Now keep in mind that I had a rather difficult weekend thus far and I really needed a "win". Feeling independent and capable was pretty necessary for me at that point to salvage the weekend. So I got out my tools and a new tube and started in. I loosened the skewer, released the break and got my back wheel off. Now at this point it's important to point out that my tires are Michellin Pro 3 race tires. They are not easy to get off and on, even for a man, let alone a weakling gal. I used my tire levers and all my might and I got the tire off. I then felt inside the tire and found where there was a pointy weed thingy (technical term) that had punctured my tube and I cleaned it out.

Well that's when the fun started. I blew into the tire a little bit as I was taught and then I put it back around the wheel under the tire making sure it wasn't twisted and seated correctly. Then I attempted to put the super tight tire back on my wheel. It was really difficult and with a whole lot of groans and upper body strength that I don't have, I finally got the darn thing back on my wheel. I could see that part of the tube was not far enough under the tire and I tried everything, but it would not budge under the super tight tire, so I asked my friends what I should do. One of them suggested that I pump up the tube a little bit and it would probably seat itself. I attached my little pump on and gave it all I had and again and again, but no air was going into the tube. No, the valve wasn't closed - don't even go there and yes, I've made that mistake. 

Well then I started worrying that I might have ripped the tube with how much work it was to get the tire back on the wheel, so I again maneuvered the tire off and low and behold there was a small tear in the new tube. My strength was gone from climbing the hill, getting the stupid tire off twice and the stress of holding up the ride. We had a debate over whether I ripped the tube or not. It's certainly possible, but I thought it was interesting that there were about 15 small holes in the bag that the tube was in, probably from rubbing up against the tools in my bike bag. My friend got out another tube and changed the flat while I tried not to cry. He gave me the wheel when it was all back together and I tried to get the wheel back on which I've had pretty good luck with lately, but not today. Confidence was shot, frustration was high and tears were burning behind my eyes. That's when I hurled my bike that I was holding. Yes, it only went about half a foot onto a grassy area, but it still was an insanely childish act. 

That was it for me. I was done. I didn't even climb the rest of the hill. We headed back. I can give a bunch of excuses of why I behaved badly on this difficult weekend, but it doesn't matter because my actions and behavior were still unacceptable. I hope to do better next time that God gives me a test. Thankfully the wind was howling and pushing us back really hard and I went up front and worked out my aggression by pulling against the wind. It was a rough day. We finished with 57 miles and lessons learned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Circus/Carnival Cookies

These cookies were just for fun. I had a friend ask me to make him 50 cookies for no specific reason other than the fact that he loves my cookies! How fun is that?! So I got to make lots of different themes and lots of different colors and just PLAY :-)

I made these out of a rolled mini chocolate chip cookie dough and I doubt I would do that again. This specific recipe had LOTS of mini chocolate chips in it and it made the cookies very fragile and rather difficult to decorate and keep in one piece. I should have added my elephant and a tiger, but I ran out of cookie dough, so this was it for my circus cookies for now.

Clowns
 Circus Tents. I wish I had added some stars to the circus tents.
 Popcorn
 Caramel Apples, but I didn't put them on a stick this time since I was shipping them to my friend.
 Snow cones
 and what circus is complete without some peanuts
 I'm out of cookies now. I have some to roll and bake today. I hope you all have a fantastic day and get to bake some cookies too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Castle Cookies

So I made a really cute background for my castle cookie blog today, but I can't seem to get the darn thing to load correctly. Instead it just shows you a whole bunch of HTML coding. I'm sure you'd rather see cookie pictures than boring code. I'll have to figure that out for another time. Frustrating. Anyway, I made some castle cookies to show you today. I love this theme as you can probably imagine. Yes, I'm such a girly-girl!
 Princess theme for Valentines Day
 and of course for the Knight in Shining Armour too
 Castles
 Carriages
 Princesses
Crowns 
Princess Hats
 and Frog Prince
I finally got out of my office and went for a long bike ride yesterday. Ever since we took almost a week off to go to Disneyland for my son's birthday and then getting back to Valentines Day cookies, I've been working in my office trying to get caught up. It felt great to finally get outside and get some exercise. We rode 73 miles. It was "easy" miles because there were no big hills, but we faced headwind both directions that was pretty tiring. At about mile 48, there were about 7 miles that I could feel the lactic acid in my legs after not working out for so long and everything hurt til about mile 55. We stopped and had a hot cocoa to warm up and I ate a power bar and felt much better for the last 18 miles home.

Now if I could just figure out the coding on the blog background. See this is the blog background I created. Wouldn't this have been fun for these castle cookies?
Oh well... tomorrow Circus cookies.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My New Cookie Cutter

So I gave you a hint yesterday of what my new cookie cutter is.... this variety doesn't actually swing from trees or eat bananas, but he gets lots of hugs and the girls love him. What is my new cookie cutter?

My friend, Melissa at Simply Sweets by Honeybee got it right. My new cookie cutter is a SOCK MONKEY! I have the head sock monkey that Callye from SugarBelle's beautifully designed for eCrandal.com and I LOVE it, so then I was hooked and I wanted more. For Christmas I got a bunch of new awesome cookie cutters from my family and the day after Christmas, I bought myself the full-body sock monkey from CopperGifts.com! I've been so excited to try it out.

 Full body sock monkeys - cutter from CopperGifts.com
 Head of sock monkey - cutter from eCrandal.com

Pretty fun huh. I used the wet on wet technique to make the "stitching" of his body and face. After I filled with brown, I drew lines of white icing and then ran a toothpick downward through them.

Tomorrow - CASTLE theme cookies.


Thank you to everyone that has donated to the LiveStrong Challenge for those battling Cancer. I have $135 raised so far toward my goal of $250. On June 24th I will ride my bicycle 100 miles in Davis at the LiveStrong Challenge to raise awareness and fundraising in memory of my father and others that have lost their battle with Cancer. I've done this every year since my father was diagnosed with Cancer in 2007 and 7 1/2 months later lost his battle against this terrible disease. If you'd like to participate in the challenge or make a donation, please click on the picture below of me and my buddy Lance Armstrong :-)
My daughter and I completing the LiveStrong Challenge together last year
I absolutely adore that kid and cry every time I see this picture. She is beyond AMAZING!


I miss you every single day Dad

Friday, February 17, 2012

Frog Prince Tutorial and Heart Swirls Tutorial

Since I have lots of cookies to show you still, we're going to do TWO tutorials in this post so we can get onto something fun for tomorrow. I got a new cookie cutter for tomorrow's post that I've wanted for quite a while so I'm pretty excited to share the pictures with you. I know... you can hardly wait ;-) 

First we have some frog prince cookies. If you've been a Cristin's Cookies fan for awhile, then you've probably seen these. They are one of my favorites. The cookie cutter is from eCrandal.com and I just love it. I made these frog prince cookies for Valentines Day using LilaLoa's chocolate cookie recipe.
 I started by outlining my frog prince cookies in the design that I wanted
 Then I iced his crown and added sanding sugar immediately to it. I use a paper plate that is very easy to fold up and put the excess sugar back in the jar.
 I give the back of the frog a little tap to get excess sugar off and then I also use a new paintbrush to get the extra sugar off so it doesn't look messy in my cookie bag
 Fill the head with icing - I used electric green since it's one of my favorites
 add big eyes. I switched them so they looked a little googly :-)
 fill the rest of his body leaving the tummy blank for now
 I like to give him a pink tummy, but you can give him a darker green tummy. I've also used yellow and lavender. While the icing is wet, add on a decorative heart candy or draw a heart with icing
 add dot to his legs using the wet on wet technique or wait til he dries, either way is fine depending on the look you want. I usually like to make these dots pink, but I decided on a darker green this time.
 Wait until he is all dry and then add a smile and write Kiss Me or something cute on his tummy and he's all done. Pretty cute huh! Before you eat him up, make sure to give him a kiss so that your hubby will magically turn into Prince Charming for the evening. It works. Honest. Well you might have to bribe him with the cookie, but it will work :-)

Okay for our next tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make swirl hearts. I outlined my candy shaped cookie.
 Then I filled both sections with the icing color I chose
 While the middle is still wet, add dots using a 3rd color
 Then use a toothpick to swirl the dots in a pattern.
 I started from the middle dot and swirled in a circular pattern
 and wa-la. You have a cute swirly heart pattern! After it dries, you can add some detail to the white edges or sparkly sugar. 
Okay so tomorrow a new cookie cutter to share. I'm excited. Should I give you a hint? This variety doesn't actually hang from trees or eat bananas, but he gets lots of hugs and all the girls like him. What is my new cookie cutter that I will show you tomorrow?