Sunday, October 30, 2016

I, cookie elf

Sometimes I'm asked "How's the cookie business?" and I inevitably throw in the reminder that it's only a hobby, and that technically, I shouldn't be selling food out of my home kitchen at all.
But really, my orders are modestly sized and well spaced, so it's not like I have a full scale operation.  I follow all health department guidelines, and I'm under the line for declaring taxes. The business dynamic is more like you guys are just cool distant friends spotting me for gas and supplies because I was cool and made some cookies for your mom's birthday, or some other neighborly scenario. You get cookies, I run some errands on the way home. Meanwhile, this blog/portfolio grows.
But people ask, so here's a look at a few tools of my trade.  Pictures included here are: my wee hobbit stove.  For scale, that plate is 12 inches wide. My cookie sheets slide in deepways, not lenthways, so everything is baked one sheet at a time.
Also my drawer of sprinkles, which is 2 layers deep, and doesn't include a small bin of sanding sugar tubs and all my food coloring.  And all my several hundred cookie cutters, and the 3 drawers all this fits in.  All that, a toolbox of tools, a briefcase of stencils, and an 8 foot kitchen island counter, is my cookie empire, and the magic factory where I can actually still make a wedding's worth of cookies.
Imagine me in a commercial size kitchen. I could make cookies for one of Oprah's parties, or the inaugural ball. Now imagine me back in my tiny kitchen, taking your 2 dozen cookie order just as seriously.
[Spock eyebrow]
Because I do.
More magic is on the way, stay tuned!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Summer of my discontent

So about that stupid summer I previously mentioned:
Just when my bill filled life was getting a little easier, I took on a new morning baker position. Even better. Then hubby quit his job. Not better. Then they asked me to work afternoons. Shrug. Then hubby got a job, but his training hours interfered with mine, so better, then worse again. When everything was back to normal, they didn't need me in the morning, and I couldn't do afternoons. So it goes.
While I was there, I made foxes for the "Fox Trot" race day, squares of beach sand for summer, and apples for the farmers market, though I seem not to have that picure.
I'm currently in foodless seasonal retail, but don't be shy about dropping my name in foodie circles. And don't be shy about getting me to bake you cookies--once the gas got turned back on, it was like riding a bike. Yep that kind of summer ;)
I've since been baking, but not posting, bear with me. On the way are sweaters, baptism crosses, cancer fighting dresses and lots of Halloween. Till then, have a swell weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Brittany got married!

Niece Brittany and her Scotty got married in May, (Jeez Katie, where ya been? Having a summer that made me want to punch a kitten, but back to cookies) and since no one in my family is allowed to have a joyful life event without my cookies (like it even takes any arm twisting tho) i made her some lovely wedding favors.
Her decor was reminiscent of a lady's vanity table--flowers, feminine fabrics, a sprinkling of sparkles and gems like casually placed jewelry, gem studded picture frames with the couple in cute moments.
All that was missing was a make-up compact.  I tried making the cookies look something like that, and a bit like a miniature throw pillow, or the lid to a porcelain candy dish. Or the hardcover of an old romance novel. Or a box of chocolate. The back of a hand mirror... So many ideas.
The final product was tone-on-tone pink or green airbrushed stencils, with a brush of pearl dust, and either a fleur-de-lis, a monogram, or a tiny ensemble of pearl dragees and molded fondant flowers and gems. I even managed to match the pink and green really really close to the bridesmaid dresses.
But even lovelier was the bride... Wedding day highlights included veil vs wind humor, footage of my kiddo line dancing, and mother-of-bride Libby tearing up during the father daughter dance with Brit and step (up) dad, my brother John. It was a really sweet day; kisses and well wishes for you two!
Upcoming: i did make cookies this summer (and punched no actual kittens, nor would i, c'mon) and i'll get 'em posted in between my chores this week, as my "adulting" is finally getting some traction (saving all those poor kittens from my frustration) so hang tight, cookies are coming, have a fabulous week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

S+B and bbl, xo!

back soon--working on cookie favors for a wedding...

narrowing down fonts. fancy!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

six feet underground, or 20,000 leagues under the sea... cookies!

Thank you to Jef for his order of Dia de los Muertos skulls and mermaids!
The mermaid shape is actually a Disney Pocahontas in a kind of heroine stance with her hair blowing, I just bent her a little so she'd have a dolphin-like swoop.  and of course the Ariel palette, but with Ginger Grant make-up, and some pearl bling.  (are we still saying "bling"?) stay tuned, I have Halloween/baby/barista cuteness on the way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

spring pretties

A recent Sunday found the family and I at the in-laws celebrating 3 occasions at once—the co-birthday party of nephew Andrew and niece Grace (that Sunday being about the midpoint between their birthdays) and the 45th wedding anniversary of Jeff’s Ps, Bobbi and Wayne.  Andrew picked blue, Grace picked teal, and I made airbrushed lizards and butterflies for the kids.  For the happy couple, I made blossoms in their wedding colors, peach and white.  I added a few in coral for fun, and some yellow sugar “pollen” for sparkle.  Happy birthday/birthday/anniversary to you, may there be many more years!
The lizard to the right has a smooshy tail, because it was humid.  Commercial kitchens, which I intend to utilize more, are more climate controlled than my home, where I bake for my family.  I will be more into the business of selling cookies for real—licensed, insured, business-carded, advertised, vending to your local businesses, teaching(?), and stocking your parties with awesome treats—in the coming weeks.  So tell your friends! (striking a superhero stance)
These hearts were to welcome a baby girl.  I have no other details, but “welcome!” to the little one.  The little-kid-like scribble flowers were a similar technique to the purple flowers on…
…these cakes, for a bridal shower in Milwaukee.  Cousin-in-law Kati ordered them, and took delivery of them after I elected to take care of 2 tasks at once: to get the cookies delivered to her, and to give myself 2 hours off.  I accomplished this by driving to Milwaukee.  I love and miss driving—all I do in the suburbs is short trips to the same places.  Driving on 94 through that rolling, half-green (it was march), nowhere of space between Chicagoland and when you start seeing outlet malls after the WI border, is like driving across the steppes of Russia, dotted with business parks and RV dealerships and the like.  I imagined that I wasn’t headed for a Starbucks at a busy intersection, but a hut in Ulaanbaatar.  But Starbucks it was, and we all had somewhere to be, so we agreed to get a real family gathering going at some point.  And then I was on my way east across Russia again.
Finally, here are some bits o’beach I did for my kiddo’s school’s Daddy-Daughter dance, the theme of which was “under the sea.”  Fondant shells and pearl dragees, and 3 kinds of sand colored sugar made little seaside circles sparkle.   
Thanks for stopping by; coming soon, Shakespeare…

Thursday, February 26, 2015


And the other pile of pictures I’m sitting on was from Elgin’s first annual Fringe Fest.  I took part because if I look at everything as a no, I won’t do anything, right?  So here was a never before art show for artist who were not quite mainstream and I thought, yes, let’s see what can happen here.  I inquired, was (enthusiastically, I might add) encouraged to join in the fun, and after much daydreaming, I narrowed it down to my five favorite (that week) shapes.
I participated on a Saturday, first at the Family Fringe Fest, in a wee park in the middle of town.  Here’s my table…
I chose shapes and techniques based on what I thought would demonstrate my skills as an artist.  I don’t usually use that word self-reflectively, as art is usually in the eye of the beholder, but if I were to attempt to convince you that lovely things can happen on a cookie, as well as a on canvas or stage, I’d have to bring the good stuff.  So I brought:

Rockets—a composite shape, and the airbrushed water-color spots make the moons look nice and cratered.

Asters--A mini fondant cutter added extra petals to a sun shape, with multiple shades of yellow to accentuate the wavy contours of the petals.

Grapes—each grape was a piped dot, sugared in 2 shades of purple, or brushed with purple pearl dust.  They were gorgeous up close.  It’s also a composite shape that I made with a mini maple leaf and an upside-down Christmas tree.

Geckos—aqua blue, like a gecko isn’t, with little arabesque gold dots.  Scales are so unevolved, right?  These were the hot seller—they might be my favorite too.

And the fest was selling stenciled t-shirts with the twitter hashtag #EFFit.  So I made a few myself with a homemade stencil and some “paint splatters” with my airbrush.

When the Family portion ended, I packed up and finished up the afternoon and evening outside the Side Street Studio Arts, so incoming ticket buyers would see my wares.  I did well, but probably could have gotten away with simpler designs for less.  The kids wanted cookies no matter what they looked like.  But I wasn’t there to “sell” my baking skills, though I always bring them of course, I really did want to make this hard on myself as an illustrator—making them in volume, and making them awesome.  And I did it.  And if I have the space and time this summer, I expect I’ll be signing up again.  So see you on the fringe ;)