Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Almost Turkey Day!!

Thanksgiving Feast

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy 
have nary a lump,
May your yams be delicious 
and your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!  

Author Unknown

Thanksgiving has always been one of my most favorite holidays of the year.  I try to be very grateful all year long for the blessings that God has provided for me, but it is always nice to spend some time thinking about the highlights of the previous year.

Here is my Top Ten list of things I am thankful for this year.

1. I am thankful that I have minimal joint damage in my hands.  Although my feet, ankle, knee, and hip joints are all jacked which make working in a traditional bakery impossible, I am blessed that I can sit and decorate cookies.

2.  I am extremely thankful for my medical team that helps me wade through this maze of figuring out what is causing my joint degeneration and other health issues.

3.  I am thankful for Wilton Squeeze bottles.  I never thought I would say that.  Ever.  I must admit though that basing a lot of cookies is SO much easier with them.

4.  I am thankful for Smithfield Ham from Smithfield, Virginia.  It's where I will be traveling to tomorrow to imbibe on as much pig as I can stand.

5.  I am thankful for fuzzy, warm socks and Ugg boots.

6.  I am very thankful for my all my kids, both by birth and the ones my heart adopted.

7.  I am thankful for all my wonderful friends.  God has blessed me with the most amazing people in my life and I appreciate each one of you!

8.  I am thankful to God for never allowing me to have a hardened heart.

9.  I am thankful for my Mentor Mothers who help guide me through life, impart their wisdom on me, and never let me have a full fledged temper tantrum.

10.  I am thankful for the Cookie Community to which I belong.  I can not imagine a nicer group of people on this Earth.

I am also thankful for repaired, long lost bridges to the ones you love the most.  

This is Home Girl and I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday and a wonderful Hanukkah.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Meet and Greet: The Sugared Apron

This is where Home Girl gets to interrogate all these amazing cookie artists that have wrapped their arms around her and into the fold of Cookie Artistry.

Cookiers are the nicest people in the world.  I know this because none of them make me feel homicidal the way Cake Decorators do.

Seriously, those girls are cutthroat and I don't play that shiz....

Anywho, I want to introduce to you, my first victim:  The Sugared Apron.

She agreed (did not have a choice) to answer all my questions.  Let me tell you, I just adore this girl.

1- How did you fall in love with baking? When I was very young, I lived with my Grandma for awhile & she always took the time to show us how to crochet, sew, cook, and bake. I'm no good at the 1st two, but the way my Grandma showed me how to cook & baked always kept my interest.
How old were you? I was about 6-7 when I started to make cupcakes on my own, with my Grandma's guidance of course.
2- Just for my own survey, did you ever have an Easy Bake Oven as a child? Ha ha! No I didn't own one as a kid. I guess I didn't need one since I was using a real oven when I was young. Where were my parents?!
3- Name your top five Cookie Artists that you swoon over in no particular order and do not feel obligated to name me (I'm joking, you can't name me. I'm the host. It can't always be about me. Wait, can it?): Ugh, top 5?! No fair! Okay, well there's the usual suspects like Sugarbelle's, Lilaloa, Jill FCS, Cristin's Cookies, Ali's Sweet Tooth & She Bakes! Hee hee! I snuck you in but totally serious! I think I can name 20 more. So many inspire me!
4- I see your handy with some buttercream and your Dimensional cookie cake work is this a direction you want to continue to grow in? I thought it was but nooooo! At this time, with my regular work schedule, I barely have enough time to do a cookie order for family & friends. As for cakes, they will always scare me. I tried my hand at fondant but I like working with buttercream better. And I only make cakes for family because they're very forgiving & they like cake, especially with cookies on them! I always tell people when they want a fondant cake, "I dabble in fondant, but I dive into buttercream"!
5- Thanksgiving is this week, what kinds of dishes will be on your table? Turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, scalloped potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, rolls and of course pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert. We're a very traditional family.
6- What is your most favorite thing about cookie art? I have never thought of myself as a artist but when I create a cookie, whether I pipe, draw or paint on it...the look on the person's face when they recieve it is priceless and I think...hmmm I actually created something that somebody likes! Besides the creative aspect of "cookie art", I am constantly learning from my cookie peers and the above "cookie artists" that were mentioned before. You can only strive to do better & be happy with what you create! And the friendships I've made during this whole "cookie art" process is priceless!

7- Tell us why you want to send cookies to James Earl Jones....Hmmm??? LOL! Oh you had to bring him up didn't ya?! Growing up, my brother, sister & I have always loved Star Wars...especially Darth Vadar!! I love James Earl Jones & his infamous voice. Seeing him in that darn Sprint Facebook commerical made me think, hey, if I sent him a batch of "Star Wars" cookies he would want to be my FB friend & would announce to the world, "Cheryl & I ARE NOW FRIENDS"! Then we would become real friends & I would introduce him to even more cookie friends & they become friends with them, he would do more announcing.....& at the end we would all end up at his house watching the first 3 Star Wars movies reciting all the lines from the movie & eat cookies! Hey you asked! And yes, I need help!
8- Approximately how many cookie cutters do you have in your stash? Too many but I think I stopped counting at about 500+ cookie cutters! I have a lot of cookie cutter enablers in my life, it's hard to stop buying cookie cutters. Again, I need help!
9=Are you going to Cookie Con this year? YES!! I had planned to go last year but life happened, so I held on to some of my Cookie Con money & stashed more away so I could go in March 2014! I am beyond excited!!
10- Outside of cookies name 5 passions in your life. 1. My Son Shawn is my everything! 2. My husband & the rest of my family! 3. My home, I'm constantly trying to spruce up the old joint! 4. My collection of cake stands! I think I have close to 50 at this time! 5. My collection of tea pots, cups & tea linens. This collection is relatively new but it's growing!

I adore all her work!!!

Make sure you run over to her Facebook Page and show her some LOVE because that's what we do.

I just love my Suga' Sista's....

This is Home Girl.

Photos Used With Permission from The Sugared Apron

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Might Be A Cookie Blog

You know that old saying, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it might be a duck."

I have been battling with the direction of my little blog for quite some time because there are a gazillion billion things that need to come out of my brain and writing them here has always been therapeutic for me.

My artistic mentor recently told me to just create things that make you and others happy, to not get caught up in all the "gobbledeegook" and then write about those experiences.

I decided to take her advice.

So, here I am admitting this truth: I am a Cookie Artist.

There, I said it.

Whew, that is a huge burden off my shoulders.

I do not plan on doing tutorials or videos on You Tube.  I will not be breaking designs down step by step for you to use.  I do plan to feature other "Cookie Crushes" that inspire me.  I might share recipes I love occasionally.  I will share with you my stories, my experiences, and the random crap that somehow becomes stuck in my brain.

If you know me then you know the random crap issue looms large in my world.

I need an outlet.

I need someone to listen without interrupting me.

Also, I need a place where I could pin my work to my Pinterest boards because that is where I keep my brain organized.

I want to be able to tell the story of a designed set of cookies that I have made, more so for my preservation, but to also convey the fact that my cookies go much deeper than what the eye can see in a photo.

I adore the fact that each cookie set I design becomes a story...each one engraving a spot on my heart.

That is the awesome thing about Custom Sugar Cookies.  From concept to completion, this type of sugar art can take anywhere from 6 hours to 3 days to complete depending upon design intensity.  This does not include time spent baking.

It also explains why hand designed sugar cookies do not come cheap.

The average price in the United States, from a top notch "cookier", runs anywhere in the range of $3-$5 per cookie..I have seen them as high as $15 each.

I do not sell to the public.  I do not classify myself as a top notch cookier. I am still a "wanna be", but I enjoy the learning process.  I am studying this craft intensely.  I am completely addicted to the art of cookies and through my disease I am able to put a smile on someone's face.

In case your wondering though...I'm still pretty Paleo (see previous posts).  It has become habit to me and although I am not as strict as I once was, I still make every effort to eat quality food and not GMO filled crap.  I have been steady at having lost more than 100 pounds since last May.

Has it influenced my baking?  Most definitely.  I make sure I am using organic ingredients and when needed, flour alternatives.

I have a regular cookie here and there though.  You know, in the name of quality control.

I'm still "Home Girl" and this is still "In the Heart of Happy"(look at the URL) which was born from "Living on The Spit"'s just that it was time that I got right with my blog and call a spade a spade.

It definitely looks like a duck.

Welcome to She Bakes and I AM a Cookie Blog.

This is Home Girl and I want to welcome all your Sugar Faces to my words.

Disclaimer: All these photos are of my own work.  Steal them and you will have to deal with me and my Cookie Sisters.  Go do your own cookies!!