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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!!

Anne











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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!!

Anne

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A Cookie in the Oven

posted Friday May 20, 2011 at 07:03 PM by Anne Yorks — 11 comments



Someone has a secret ...



And that someone is me!

I have been dying to spill the beans, so I won't delay any longer ...

I have a little cookie in the oven!



I'm due the end of the summer.



Everything with the pregnancy is healthy and great : )



My little 3-year-old is so excited to be a big sister!



Especially since she is getting a little sister. Yep, we're having another little girl. Yay!


We are working on getting everything ready for the new addition. We are cleaning, organizing, working on house projects, and of course getting all the baby gear ready.



Plus, we are working on picking out the perfect name. There are so many beautiful names to choose from! I told Topher I was going to let you, the blog readers, select the baby's name. Just kidding! These preggo hormones are making me crazy, but not that crazy!! 



As a result, I will be taking some time off from cookie orders to focus on my family. My motto has always been family before cookies...and I really want my time devoted to our new baby.


I am not currently accepting new orders. My baking schedule is booked through June. I am not planning to do cookie orders in July and August since I’m due the end of the summer. I was surprised at how quickly my schedule filled up. At this point I'll be updating my website so that it is clear that I'm taking time off.  

I do have several personal cookie projects for the coming weeks and months, so I will continue to update my blog regularly with those few projects. I hope you'll continue to follow my cookie adventures until I'm back to work! I definitely plan to offer more tutorials, since hopefully I'll have some time to pause and take more photos during the cookie making process!

Thank you to all my wonderful customers - I look forward to baking for you when I return from my 'cookie-in-the-oven' leave!!

Have a sweet day,

Anne

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The Making of the Peacocks

posted Sunday May 15, 2011 at 09:14 AM by Anne Yorks — 47 comments

If you've ever read the label on a Flour Box cookie, you'll notice that the first ingredient is LOVE. I admit, it's a little cliche, but nothing could be closer to the truth. Of course, after this peacock order, I might want to add 'a dash of stress' to the label too :)

If you would like to order peacock cookies...CLICK HERE to view the order info! 

I worked on the design of this cookie on and off for a few days. I think I looked at a thousand peacock photos. I tinkered with the cookie design and the colors, trying to come up with the combination that I thought would best represent a peacock. I really wanted these cookies to be extra special since they were for an event for my friends at Secret Keeper Girl and Grace Prep High School. (and the event, Living Letters, was amazing. So many great stories and good reasons to support their activities!! The story behind the peacock theme is a long one...so maybe if I have another free afternoon I can post it. Or better yet, you can just friend Tut the Peacock on facebook and follow along.)

 

The trick to this order was designing a cookie that could be made over and over and over. 


If I was just making a dozen peacock cookies, I don't think I would have had so much trouble with the design. But since this order was for 200 cookies (100 feathers and 100 peacocks), I really wanted to feel committed to the design so that I could make them each look the same. 


This is how the decorating process went down...

First I started with a sketch. No photo of that because I spilled water on it. Sorry. I wish I took a picture of the seven tester cookies I made - the designs and color combos that did not make the cut. Oh well, I'll do that next time, too. Good thing I baked an extra 20 cookies of each shape. This allowed me to test my ideas, have room for errors, and still have a few extras for the customer. 

I started with the feather cookie, I used a #3 tip to outline the solid portion of the feather. I wanted a thicker line so that the blue would be visible after the cookie was flooded. 


Next I added the green feather detail using a #1 tip. Each side had six little lines. This part took longer than I budgeted for. But then, most projects usually end up taking a little longer than planned. 


I filled in the solid area of the feather with a turquoise blue color. I used my squeeze bottle for this part.


I let the cookie completely dry. Then using a #3 tip I piped the purple area. While this icing was still wet, I pressed the cookie into a plate of purple sugar crystals. 


I didn't shake the sprinkles onto the cookies. I found it was faster and easier and I got better coverage if I flipped the cookie upside down and just pressed gently into the sugar.


Next up was the peacock. This was the image suggestion from www.ecrandal.com - the cookie cutter manufacturer. They are a wonderful company and I am throughly pleased with their products and exceptional service!


Using their image as a guide, I sketched my design. I experimented with several color combinations, a purple body with green fan, a blue body with green fan, and on and on. I finally decided on these colors with the blue body and turquoise blue fan. Once those colors were selected, I needed to select the dot colors. I experimented with green, yellow, blue, and purple combinations. I decided on the large yellow dot, medium blue dot, and small purple dot. 


Here is how the cookie came together. First I piped the peacock body. I used my kopykake projector for this portion of the cookie. It's a little more time consuming, but I like the consistent results. I think I the consistent body shape contributed to the success of the whole order. 


Next I piped the feather fan. This was a little faster because I could pipe the cookies without moving them off of the cookie sheet.


Once all cookies were piped I started the flooding process. First I filled in the background fan color. 


Then I added the dots. I did the cookies three at a time. By the time I flooded the third cookie, the first cookie was ready for the dots to be added. 


If the yellow dots are added immediately after the blue is flooded, they will spread and bleed and not look as crisp. The three at a time pace seemed to be great. 


I did all the yellow dots on all three cookies. Then I went back and added the blue dots on all three cookies. Then the purple. The dots were off-set, not centered on top of each other, to help create the peacock feather look. 


Finally, since peacock feathers have an iridescent look, I sprinkled rainbow disco dust on the cookie. I used a cool little shaker I found on Karen's Cookies website. I picked up several of these shakers for each color of disco dust I use. 


This little shaker really kept the glitter in a focused area.


I let the feather fan area completely dry and then went back and flooded the main body. This kept that area free of disco dust. 


Again, I let that area completely dry (I like to wait 6-8 hours), and added the details...the eye area, the crest ... 


and I added four ruffles for a feathered texture on the body. I used a #1 tip for all the details. 


I let the detailed areas dry...(I don't have a bakery rack ... yet. Topher built me drying shelves to use until I can get one.)

   

Once dry, the cookies are packaged in cello bags. Since this was a local delivery, I used my resuable plastic tubs...saves a lot of waste than if I used my white bakery boxes. 

   

I attended the event, Living Letters. Normally, I'm not at the event WITH my cookies. I was so happy to be there. Not only did I enjoy the entire program. It was so much fun watching people enjoy the cookies. 


Plus, there was a REAL peacock at the party!! It was stunning. What an exquisite bird. I don't know that any cookie can legitimately capture the beauty of the peacock. It is majestic!


Special thanks to Topher for taking all the fun pictures. He is so great. I took the step-by-step ones with my cell phone camera. We dream about having a real camera for blog photos. Until then our little sony camera and cell phone pictures will have to do the job. 


If you made it all the way to the end of this post, you are awesome!!  Thanks for reading!! And have a very sweet day!!

Anne




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Cleaning up the Crumbs

posted Thursday May 05, 2011 at 07:44 AM by Anne Yorks — 27 comments

It came to my attention last night that people don't like to leave crumbs of tasty treats on their plates. They will scrape a fork to get the last bit of icing. Or they will dab a finger across their plate picking up the few remaining crumbs. Of course, usually they think no one is watching. At least I don't. I try to be as incognito as possible. Unless you're 3. Then you do what you want and hope you're mom doesn't spy you.

Today's post are a few delicious cookie crumbs that haven't been posted yet. I thought I'd just put them all in one post.

We made some special pencil cookies for my little one's preschool teacher. My little girl told me what to write on the card and then she signed her name:

"Dear {teacher}, School is the best. You are the best teacher."

I think she summed things up pretty well.

Here's another photo I forgot to follow up on. Do you remember the 'guess that cookie cutter' game? It was an xbox controller.


Here are the finished controllers. The bright round cookies are the letter buttons the customer requested for cupcake topper cookies. Cute and fun. 


The controller is basically the same size as a real controller. So I'm sure a few kids had fun playing their cookie before eating!


Remember these nautical cookies I made recently?

I got a request for the same anchor cookies, with a white, yellow, navy blue, and black theme for a wedding favor. I love making wedding and baby favors. I just think about the wonderful day that awaits and pray that they have a very blessed marriage. It's just so exciting.


Finally, a friend needed some special cookies for a new big sister. She is a girly girl and so we decided to modify the princess birthday collection and add in a 'World's Greatest Big Sister' cookie'. It's hard to tell since the cookies are wrapped, but the big sister cookie is totally blinged with disco dust. I hear the cookies were a big hit!


The princess dress just happens to be one of my favorites to make.


That's all for now. I think I have cleaned the crumbs off my plate!! Enjoy your weekend and I'll be posting some more fun beach cookies soon!

Have a sweet day,

Anne


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