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“My blog is a collection of tidbits about the things I love... sugar cookies, baking, great food, cute stuff, and life in Happy Valley. Check back often for updates!!”

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Graduation and Summer Reading Lists

posted Monday Jun 20, 2011 at 08:10 AM by Anne Yorks — 3 comments

Graduation season is always busy with both college and high school projects. I did several, including a few for Penn State. The only set I had time to take photos of are the following. They were a custom order that included cheerleaders in addition to the regular cookie set.


The friends that were graduating were two brunettes and one blonde. :)

Now that many of us are in summer vacation mode, are you building your summer reading list yet? I love to read when I have free time and recently asked for book suggestions on the Flour Box Facebook page. I just received a new Color NOOK as a gift and I'm looking to fill it up with lots of great book ideas! Anyone out there use the LendMe feature? I'm dying to try it out.

Here are the suggestions that were submitted on the Facebook page:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (I just borrowed this from the library)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (recommended by several people - just bought this from the B&N Nook store)
The Romantics by Galt Neiderhoffer
Books by mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark 
Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo (recommended by two people)
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabledon
Author Beverly Lewis (Amish Series)

Some books I have recently read and recommend are: 
A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez
Baking in Kigali by Gail Parkin
The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
Devil's Food Cake Murder by JoAnne Fluke
The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
    A Voice in the Wind
    An Echo in the Darkness   
    As Sure as the Dawn
Heat Wave by Richard Castle (these are the books from the Castle TV show)
Naked Heat by Richard Castle (these are the books from the Castle TV show)
My Life in France by Julia Child
Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy (I would recommend anything by Maeve!) 

Has anyone read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series? I haven't checked it out, but it looks very interesting - feedback welcome!

So what are you reading this summer? Let me know! I'm always looking for new ideas. Please leave a comment below with your favorite book ideas.

Happy Reading!!


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Star Wars Redux

posted Monday Jun 13, 2011 at 08:50 AM by Anne Yorks — 6 comments

FLOUR BOX BAKERY UPDATE: The stork is visiting Flour Box Bakery this summer. As a result, I am not currently accepting new orders. My baking schedule is booked through the summer until my due date. At this point I'll be updating my website so that it is clear that I'm taking time off.  I will continue to update my blog with my summer cookie projects. I hope you'll continue to follow my cookie adventures until I'm back to work! Thank you to all my wonderful customers - I look forward to baking for you when I return from my 'cookie-in-the-oven' leave!!

A few months ago I had a flurry of Star Wars orders.

I did storm troopers,

and Boba Fett.

I also did a Jedi Training themed party with Yoda cookies and light sabers.

But until a few weeks ago, nobody ordered any Darth Vader cookies. I was so excited to try a new character! 

His helmet is a little intimidating, isn't it? I should have made a big smilie Darth cookie. Of course, that might have upset the diehard Star Wars fans in the world. I don't think Darth is a smilie kind of guy. I think it is best I left him as is. 

May the sweet be with you,



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Mommy Summer School

posted Thursday Jun 09, 2011 at 03:31 PM by Anne Yorks — 1 comments

I know this blog is mostly about COOKIES, but my primary career is MOM. So, this post is for the stay-at-home moms that are looking to enjoy (and survive) the summer schedule.

I hope after reading this brief blog post you'll share YOUR ideas in the comment section below. I'm always looking for fun new ideas to try with my little girl. What do you do at home with your kids during the summer????

Toward the end of the preschool year, I started to realize that I would no longer have my two mornings a week to do 'my stuff'. Not only that, I'd be back on the front line of providing excitement and entertainment all day long, every day of the week. I'm not complaining. That's my job as a mom and I love it. I just do it best when I have a plan.

After some thinking, I decided to launch Mommy Summer School. This idea is based very loosely on some of the ideas that my little girl was doing at her preschool.

Here is how it works...

1. We do Mommy Summer School every day in the morning. It lasts an hour to 75 minutes. We get dressed first, make our beds, and straighten up before we start our school day. I have found the time length to be perfect. After an hour of concentrating, my daughter is ready to get outside and play for the day.

2. I have picked one topic for each week. Last week we studied how our bodies work. This week we are learning about our town and state. Next week we will be learning about the ocean.

3. I try to mix up school time into three parts: a lesson, reading a book, and workbook time (abc,123, and logic/puzzle stuff)

4. Activities - not every day, but at least once a lesson I plan an activity or craft to get my daughter doing hands-on fun stuff. For example, last week when we were learning about our bodies I put a huge roll of paper on the floor. I traced my daughter and then she got to draw and color the different parts of her body ... she even remembered to include a skull and a brain. That made me laugh! 

5. Field Trips - a field trip may not be possible for every lesson, but I have planned a few excursions to help reinforce what we are learning. For example, this week we are learning about our town. We have made trips to the Library (we borrowed books), Post Office (we mailed two Pen Pal letters), Grocery Store, and Park. We also drove by the Fire Company and Police Station. Although not a field trip, we discussed the garbage collector and how important he is in keeping our neighborhood clean. We are planning to give him a special 'thank you' treat on trash day. 

6. Quizzes - No, we don't do a traditional paper quiz and keep score. But, we do bring a book to the dinner table and review what we learned that day. I ask questions and my daughter answers them and tells Topher the different things she learned about. It's really informal, but we have definitely gotten into the dinnertime quiz routine because it's fun (not work). 

Here is how week one 'Our Bodies' worked out (it was a 4-day week due to Memorial Day):

Day One: muscles, bones and blood

Day Two: the brain and nervous system

Day Three: sight, hearing, and touch

Day Five:  taste and smell, and emotions

We used the QEB Super Science book "The Human Body" by Richard Robinson from the most recent Scholastic Book Order Form as the source of the main lesson each day. It provided a great overview of each topic. 

We borrowed the following books from the library to read together:

You can't taste a pickle with your ear : a book about your 5 senses / Harriet Ziefert ; pictures by Amanda Haley.
Bend and stretch : learning about your bones and muscles / written by Pamela Hill Nettleton ; illustrated by Becky Shipe.
Think, think, think : learning about your brain / written by Pamela Hill Nettleton ; illustrated by Becky Shipe.

The non-fiction section of the library is a really fun space to explore. I have found it helpful in planning topics for the future weeks.

Each day we practice our letters (writing, sounds and basic words) and numbers. There are tons of great workbooks out there. We find them at Barnes & Noble, Ollies, Sam's Club, etc. The workbook we are using right now is a jumbo Scholastic workbook that covers writing letters and numbers, puzzles and activities, and setting the foundation for reading. We usually spend 20-30 minutes on the workbook each day. Some days the work is very easy for my daughter and other days prove to be a challenge. There is a lot of repetition - which makes it very fun to see progress in the different subject areas.

Then on the last day of Body Week we traced my daughter on paper and she added some of her features that we learned about. It was tons of fun.

Once our school day is done we head outside ... 

to the playground ...

or to our Olympic-sized pool ...

or the driveway ...

And if it's raining ... we stay inside and play games, do puzzles, color, play-doh, play with the babies, etc.

Rainy days (or super freaking hot days) are also great for visiting the library, book store, or coffee shop..

Here are a few of the topics that we'll be exploring in the coming weeks:

The Ocean
Outer space
Food Groups and Healthy Eating
Music Genres
Babies and Being a Big Sister (we'll do this lesson closer to my due date)
And much more...we have a whole summer to fill up!!

That is Mommy Summer School in a nutshell. The days already seem to fly by and I find I don't watch the clock (as much) if I have a mommy plan. I'll try to post a few school updates from time to time in case you're interested to know how and what we are doing!

So, I'll ask again...What do you do to make the most of summer with your kids???? I'd love to hear all your fun ideas. If you have a moment, leave a comment below and share.

Have a sweet day,


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Bright, Sunny Sunflowers

posted Saturday Jun 04, 2011 at 09:15 AM by Anne Yorks — 3 comments

Last week, I had the pleasure of making a set of graduation cookies for a special group of 8th grade girls. 

Sunflowers are traditionally yellow and brown, but I tinkered with the design a little bit and used the sunflower design from the school's website. I made three different colors: sunny yellow, bright orange, and creamsicle.

First, I outlined each icing area with a thick (piping) royal icing. Next I filled in each icing area with a thinner flood of royal icing.  I did centers of the flower first, then went back and flooded the petal areas. I allowed a little dry time for the centers (about an hour) so that the colors wouldn't bleed together.

Next I added the petal outline with pipe icing.

Then the petal detail...

When I added a ring of seeds around the center of the flower, I first added them as individual dots.

I know the above photo is a little fuzzy, but do you see the 'kisses' - the points on each dot that stick up?  It looks messy to me. I could have taken my time and released each dot with just the right amount of pressure and a little swirl to avoid the kiss effect. But, I wanted to get the outline done a little quicker and I still wanted smooth dots around the circle, So instead of making them individually, I decided to make them in a bead border. 

Holding my icing bag at a 45 degree angle, I made a continuous line of icing beads. I made a dot of icing and then dragged the bead of icing to the side. Each bead overlaps the next one, making a continuous line instead of individual dots. This saved me a lot of time and eliminated the kisses on each dot. 

Here is a great visual/tutorial from the Wilton website if you want to learn or practice more bead borders!! http://www.wilton.com/technique/Bead

The finishing touch on the cookies were the polka dots in the middle. 

I wrapped the cookies and finished each package with a pretty yellow satin ribbon.

Here are the two practice designs that did not make the cut. I changed the petal outline in the final design.

The final petal design matched the school's sunflower. I also liked it better than the tester cookie design. So there you have it, an in-depth look at the making of the sunflower cookies. 

In other news, I'm working on an update about my Mommy Summer School that I'm doing with my little 3-year-old. I am putting together a list of the resources we are using and will share it with you soon. I hope you'll have some ideas to share with me too. I have lots of topic ideas, but would love to know what you do with your little ones at home. : )

Have a sweet day!!


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School's Out, Time for Summer

posted Tuesday May 31, 2011 at 07:55 PM by Anne Yorks — 3 comments

Even preschoolers get summer vacation!! Yay for us! We are so excited for summer. Mommy school actually started today. I'll have to post progress reports so you can follow along with the fun. Each week is a different theme. This week, we are learning about our bodies. Next week, we are learning about our town and county. 

Mommy summer school is fun, but we are really looking forward to our beach vacation. We're heading back to Avalon, NJ for some fun in the sun!

I made these cookies for a beach-loving birthday girl. 

The colors for the party were creamy beige and light rosy pink. 

Even though there is an official sand dollar cookie cutter in this world, I just used my round cutter and then make the exterior outline a little wonky like a real sand dollar. After adding the sand dollar detail in the center, I gently pressed each cookie into a fine, pale yellow sugar crystal. I actually did a tester cookie with a pink sugar version. But I preferred the pale yellow over the pink.

The starfish cookie also had a rim of pale yellow sugar on the cookie outline. Then I added edible pearls to the body of the starfish for detail. 

How did you (or will you) celebrate the last day of school at your house?

We took our little munchkin out to our favorite little cafe in Bellefonte, The Cafe on the Park. 

Topher met us there and surprised our little girl with a beautiful bouquet of flowers!

We ordered lunch, and then just before it arrived, the train came whistling through town - this is always a highlight! We stand at the railing and watch until the very last car passes.

As always, the lunch was fantastic. Simple food, prepared perfectly and always super fresh!

Cute pic of Topher, but the real star of the photo is the 'Cafe Sandwich'!

I get the same thing almost every time, the chopped salad with homemade ranch dressing on the side. 

And for the little one, a half sandwich with applesauce on a monkey plate.

Since the cafe does not use their loaf butts (the end of the bread), they offered us a huge bag of bread to feed to the ducks at Talleyrand Park. Talk about full service!!

After lunch, we enjoyed a sunny trip to the park with our big bag of bread.

There are lots of duck babies at the park this time of year! We always make sure they get a few nibbles. 

Here's a little youtube video of our trek through the park feeding the ducks. 

I love my little girl so much! I hope she had a special last day of school. I'm so thankful to her preschool teacher for giving her the best first year ever. I know the most important thing she learned this year was having a love for learning. We are already looking forward to next year when my little scholar will be in with the 4-year class .... where is the time going??

Have a sweet, sweet summer!!


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