Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Favorite Season - FALL!

I love fall! I grew up in the midwest, and always adored when fall would come around. It wasn't bitterly cold winter yet, and the dreary hot summer was over - it was fall! The changing of the leaves was my favorite part. My sister and I would rake the leaves in our front and back yard - okay, we would rake them into piles so that we could play in them! Sometimes we would rake a pile so big and then dive into it, and cover each other with more leaves so that we were entirely covered. Good times!

One especially beautiful fall day was October 6, 2000. I remember the exact date because it was the day before my sister got married. The drive to our church was always beautiful during fall - there were numerous trees surrounding that back woods area, and the leaves on the trees were the most vibrant fall colors you can imagine. I remember driving to the church that night for the rehearsal dinner, and everything just seemed more colorful and gorgeous. I had my camera with me of course - so I made a few stops just to snap some photos of those amazing leaves.

I don't live in the midwest anymore, so fall is something that I miss a lot! I just made a trip home last week, and I had almost forgotten how beautiful those leaves get. Although, I'm not used to the cold anymore, so I think I would rather miss out on the changing of the leaves than be freezing! :-)

Here is my rendition of those beautiful fall leaves I remember so well:

Had to add some acorns and cute little squirrels to the mix.

When I traveled home last week, my sweet aunt bought me some new cookie cutters. I was like a little kid in a candy store, all new cutters!! I was finally able to make some Halloween cookies that I have been meaning to make for about a month now!

I got the inspiration for the pumpkin faces from none other than Martha Stewart. You can see the cute clip art project that she did with pumpkins here.

I have another set of Halloween cookies that I am so excited about, because they turned out even better than what I had imagined in my head - I love it when that happens because it's not very often! But that is going to have to wait until Halloween...

Until then, keep it sweet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hello Kitty Birthday

I can't believe my baby girl is 2! It was a bittersweet moment realizing that my baby is not so much a baby anymore. I thought back to the moment I first saw her when the nurse brought her all swaddled up to me.

It was a perfect moment; there we were, the four of us - my husband, me, my son, and my new baby girl.

I went all out for her 1st birthday last year, so this year I made it a little simpler.

First, we opened presents. Big brother was there to help.

She had to show Grandpa what she got.

Then it was time for cake!

I made a three-layer chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate custard and a layer of butterscotch custard.

The outside was covered in vanilla buttercream with a royal icing dots and a royal icing Hello Kitty. I just made a printout of a Hello Kitty, put it under wax paper and filled it in with royal icing. When it was dry, it peeled right off the paper.

I also made some cookies.

Then, it was time to play outside!

Kisses from Daddy are always good, too.

Keep it sweet,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Whooo Wants Cookies? I do!!!

Most of you have probably already seen these cookie owls that I made a few months ago.

A friend of mine had wrapped up a gift for my son in the most adorable owl wrapping paper, and when I saw it, I knew I had to make those owls into cookies!!

I used a tulip cookie cutter, and just cut the top middle part and the stem off before baking.

I added the brown icing first, doing the wings and ears. When those were dry, I did the head, and when the icing was still wet, applied the white for the eyes. When the brown was completely dry, I added the colored body.

You'll need to wait at least a couple of hours to finish the following steps. To be on the safe side, I usually wait overnight. 

I added the dots with a #1 tip, and finished the eyes with black and yellow edible marker.

Of course, you'll want to add a cute little yellow beak too!

For the minis at first, I used a mini round cutter. I needed guys and girl owls for the event, so I added a little bow to the girls :-)

Then I had a request for mini owls that looked the same as my original owls. That is how these little guys originated!

I love their personalities! I want to be the winking one ;-)

Keep it sweet,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dress Up At Grandma's

I am so honored to be a part of the wonderful things going on at Frosting for the Cause. Paula has taken so much of her time to help raise awareness and donations to finding a cure for cancers that affect women. When I found out about Frosting for the Cause, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it, and I knew that I wanted to write my post about my grandma. She has inspired me in so many ways, and it is to her that I lovingly dedicate this post. You can read more about her story here.

These are the cookies I made in her honor.

Keep it sweet,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1,000 Facebook Fan Giveaway!!!

Here it is... finally! I promised you all a big giveaway, and there are 5 amazing sponsors and 6 wonderful prizes to win!!! All you have to do is make sure you fill out the forms for each prize below (name, email, and the checkbox that you have "liked" the sponsor's page), and you will be submitted into the giveaway. Winners will be notified via email in one week. To see pictures of what the sponsors are offering, go here. Good luck!

PS.... I'm new to the google doc thing, so if you encounter a problem and are unable to enter, just send an email to and I'll enter you in that way. Make sure that you click on each document below, scroll down on each document, enter your information and click SUBMIT. The facebook and etsy links are there only to promote the sponsors, not to enter the giveaway.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Love America... from sea to shining sea...

I love my country! I really, really do. Despite some things that I do not agree with that goes on in our country, I have to say I would not want to live anywhere else. I might be able to live in another country - maybe for a few years (I have an adventurous spirit!), but I would always come back to my beautiful America.

I did some traveling in my early 20's, from Europe to Africa, and I loved it. I loved all the different, rich cultures, and I enjoyed being able to see how other people live. That said, I cannot describe what came over me while entering customs and seeing the signs "Welcome to the United States". I guess it was knowing that I was home.

For the 4th of July this year, I wanted to depict something that would show my love for America. My love for those who have served and who currently serve, and for those who have sacrificed everything.

Using red, white, and blue, I decided to use a heart shaped cookie and put hearts on top of that!

Then I made some medium hearts and tiny hearts.

Happy 4th!

Keep it sweet,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Who's Got the Control? A Father's Day Cookie Gift

Just for the record, this was not my original idea. I got my inspiration here.

I thought this was a cute idea for a Father's Day gift! I was so excited about all the little details and writing the numbers on the icing. My son, 4, was equally excited. He questioned me as I put the real remote on top of the cookie dough to trace the shape out, "Mommy, you're making a remote cookie?!" with such excitement. He watched me throughout the entire process; the first layer of icing, the icing details, and then writing the details on the icing. I told him that the cookies were for Daddy, and we could not eat them yet. He was okay with that but didn't understand that Father's Day was a few days away! He kept asking me when we were going to surprise Daddy.

We have a TV remote and a DVD remote, so I thought it appropriate to make both kinds since my husband usually likes to be in control of them both. :-)

Can you tell which is which?

My son helped me gift wrap the cookies for Daddy.

Be prepared to have a little bit of a black mouth however, since the icing is black. As soon as my son handed the gift to his daddy, he was ready to eat them. And as I type, he is sporting a little black mouth.

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers!!!

Keep it sweet,

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Heart Coffee

When I was a little girl, I would ask my mom to tell me stories of when she was a little girl. My favorite one was when she told me that she would stand beside her dad as he drank his coffee. When he was just about done, he would save the very last sip for my mom.

She also used to tell me that if coffee were a purfume, she would wear it. I have to agree. I absolutely love the smell of coffee, whether it's brewing, or just smelling the coffee beans.

So this is where my love for coffee must have originated.

I have been wanting to make coffee cookies. I've been working on a chocolate espresso cookie recipe, and I wanted to add that recipe into this post for you. I thought it would be the perfect thing. . . biting into a decorated coffee cookie that actually tastes like coffee!! I have not perfected the recipe yet; but when I do, you will surely hear about it!

Some friends of mine gave me a coffee pot holder when they found out I was redoing my kitchen in a coffee theme. That little pot holder inspired these designs.

Wouldn't these cookies go great with a cup of coffee?

Enjoy your coffee and keep it sweet!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beautiful Butterflies

I love butterflies in all forms. I did my daughter's room in butterflies, painted a series for her bedroom wall, and did her first birthday in butterflies. Here is the dress I made for her party. I just think butterflies are so beautiful.

The first cookies I ever did were... butterflies! I had stumbled upon one of *the* most incredible cookie decorators, Marian of Sweetopia. My love for decorated cookies had already begun but when I saw her butterfly cookies, I was smitten. It was then that I started experimenting and did these cookies, my very first decorated cookies, for my daughter's first birthday party.

Then when Amanda of I am baker asked for volunteers to send cookies to families who needed cheering up, it was these bright butterflies that I decided upon.

So as I was trying to decide on another butterfly cookie to do, I stumbled on a fabric design online. I knew right away that I would be using that design as inspiration for my cookies. I had previously been thinking of something along the lines of pastels with brown details, but that quickly went out the window when I saw these sweet little monarchs.

Now, I really really wished at that moment that I had a different butterfly cookie cutter. I only have the one with the rounded edges so I was a little disappointed that I didn't have the shape above, because I put SO MUCH time into these cookies. I'm a little embarassed to say how long it took me to decorate 6 butterfly cookies. So I'm not going to. I'll just let you wonder.

I guess I'll have to order the other cutter online now. Because I'm definitely making these again! They were so fun to make.

Keep it sweet,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sun-Tanned Toes Ticklin' the Sand

My favorite country musician is Kenny Chesney.

A friend of mine has been to his concerts and says he's so down to earth. I guess he even chats and has drinks with his audience before the show!

Anyway, many of my favorite memories of when I first moved to Florida are of my husband (then boyfriend) and I going to the beach almost every day after work, and always on the weekends. We would crank up the Kenny Chesney music, drive on the beach, and relax in the sand and the water. So when I hear his music, I think of those amazing memories.

Makes me want to slip into a pair of these . . .

and go have some fun on the beach.

Keep it sweet,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I wish I could truly tell you how yummy these cookies are!

Just taking them out of the oven my mouth was watering. Now, I've tasted lots of cookies; I used to work in a bakery and we even used to eat the frozen cookie dough! It was delicious. And of course, once they came out of the oven, we had to sample every type of cookie just to make sure that the customer was getting a quality product.

So, I wanted to try my hand at chocolate chunk cookies. I try to put a little gift inside each order that I fill as a thank you for ordering my product. I thought a nice chocolate chunk cookie (or two) would be perfect. I had tried many times to make my own chocolate chunk cookie recipe, but they were always too flat and spread out so much during baking. So, I tried a few different things this time.

Instead of butter or margarine, I used butter-flavored shortening! Who knew?! I did this only because I had no butter or margarine in my house (this is a SIN by the way, if you are a baker!) and I thought maybe the shortening would make the cookies hold their shape better.

Well, when I excitedly told my aunt (who is a fabulous taste-tester of my cookies) that I had come up with this idea, well, sadly... she told me that she and my uncle make chocolate chip cookies the same way. So, I guess I didn't invent the idea. But, whoever did is a GENIUS!!!

Here is the recipe I came up with:

2 cups butter-flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. clear vanilla extract (not imitation)
3 or 4 cups small chocolate chunks, depending on how much of a chocoholic you are (I used Nestle chocolate chunks)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together shortening and sugars with the paddle attachment of your mixer (a hand-held mixer should work fine too, although you might have to mix a little longer) until light and fluffy, using medium speed. Turn on low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the extract and mix a little more. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, stir in the chocolate chunks. Take a few bites of dough to make sure it's good. Roll into large balls of dough (a little bigger than golf ball size) and flatten just a little bit. Place on cookie sheets covered in parchment paper. Stick the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes before baking. This helps the cookie keep it's shape. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden on top, depending on the size of the cookie.

This recipe will make 2 1/2 dozen large cookies. These are BIG cookies, around 4" across! You can divide this recipe in half if you don't want this many cookies. It does not change the consistency of the dough; I have tried it both ways.

You could also substitute the chocolate chunks with half peanut butter chips

and half chocolate chips.  


I have not tried it yet, but I have both kinds of chips in my pantry and I'll be testing it very soon!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wipe the drool chocolate off my mouth.

Keep it sweet!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Sweet Treat for Mom

When I saw this little container, I knew I would be making cookies to fill it. And I knew I wanted the cookies to match.

I thought it would be a perfect little container for Mother's Day cookies.
After experimenting, I made some "MOM" cookies that matched the background of the container. I made the two different shades of blue that were on the container for the background on the "M" cookies.

Then I piped some abstract flowers to match the flowers that were on the container.

I think any mom would love this gift. Don't you?

Happy Mother's Day!
Keep it sweet,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ladybugs and flowers and pretty little things. . .

I love ladybugs.

I don't like them inside my house, however.

These are the only ladybugs that are allowed inside.

Although they might not survive for very long. My son has a sweet tooth. And so does his mom.

The rest of the designs seemed so "summer-y" to me. I'm not sure if "summer-y" is a word. But if it is, it sure is summer-y here. The high is like 94 today!

Designs inspired by the amazing Sweet Sugarbelle.

Be careful, or these ladybugs will be running all over the place!

Hope your day is summer-y!
Keep it sweet,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Easter

Easter Sunday is usually crazy busy for us, so this year we decided to do our Easter celebration today, the day before Easter. I made an unconventional meal this year, since my mother-in-law has been asking for a particular dish from me for awhile now ~ lasagna. After experimenting a few times, I was able to come up with "crockpot lasagna" - which I actually think is better than when it's cooked in the oven. But I'll save that for another post. Now, onto. . . DESSERT!

I made a spring cake trifle for dessert this year. Since I have been making Easter cookies for about a month now, I wanted to make something with spring colors, but something other than cookies. I have to admit that the best baking ideas I get come to me when I'm sleeping! That's where this idea was born!

You'll need about 10 strawberries, 2 small cans of mandarin oranges, 2 or 3 bananas, and at least 5 kiwi. (Yes, I know that there are only 4 kiwi in this picture; that is because I sent my sweet hubby to the grocery store and he forgot how many I said to get. I still love him though.) Instead of the kiwi, you could also use white (green) grapes, although I absolutely LOVED the kiwi in this. Also, instead of the bananas, you could use pineapple, but I don't know if I would like the taste as much. The bananas made it so YUM!

I doubled a silver white cake recipe. Before baking, I divided the batter into fourths, and colored each fourth with pink, orange, yellow, and green food gel coloring.

Then I baked the cakes. Once they were completely cool, I put them in a ziploc bag overnight. They became incredibly moist!

For the pudding, I used 2 - 5.8oz french vanilla pudding boxes. After letting it set up for about 15 minutes, I divided the pudding into fourths and colored it pink, orange, and green. You don't need to color the yellow, because the french vanilla already has a yellowish tint to it! Yay! Remember, when coloring, a little goes a LONG way.

Cut up all your fruit. You're going to want them in bite size pieces, but not so small that they become mush.

Crumble your cake into small pieces.

Now, you're ready to layer!
Start with your cake . . .

Then pudding, then fruit. I started with green, then yellow, then orange and pink.

And the finished product.


Happy Easter everyone!
Keep it sweet,