Saturday, December 1, 2012

postheadericon Anatomy of a cookie

I'm learning to think creatively with my cookie designs!  I've learned this by reading blogs like Sweet Sugar Belle.

I had a request for a "Minnie Mouse" cookie but I did not have a Minnie Mouse cookie cutter.  I sat looking at all my cutters trying to think, how can I do this without buying another "one use" cookie cutter?

The obvious part was tyat the "mouse" would be two different sized circle cutters, 2-1/2 and 1-1/2 inches each.  I settled on a 2-inch mini butterfly to use for the bow.



I then "patched" them together before putting them in the oven.














After they baked and were decorated, you could not tell it was a patchwork cookie!




Bring it on folks!  Keep challenging me to create a cookie without buying another cutter!  I loved the challenge!
Photobucket
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

postheadericon Rent Party!

I have always considered myself to be a strong woman, but I am learning that real strength is needed to ask for help.  So I'm digging down deep to find the strength to ask for help to keep my family in our home.


This is not a cry for hand outs, I am asking for folks to buy cookies so I can pay my rent.  You can help and show your support by purchasing cookies and passing along the link to others.


As an incentive, I am offering a 15% discount on orders made and paid for today through Friday (10/17 to 10/19/2012) for our hand decorated cookies. 

Our goal is to sell 300 cookies and we will be able to make the rent!  YAY!  

Click here to help or learn more!

Photobucket
Thursday, June 28, 2012

postheadericon Photo Cookies 101

Photo Cookies 101

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out photo cookies and a lot of time being totally frustrated!  I am here to help you avoid the frustration and get straight to fabulous photo cookies! 

Some of the problems I encountered in my learning process were 
  • If the edible paper (EP) got too wet it would rip or the edible image (EI) would smear.
  • If I didn't wait long enough for the EI to dry they would stick to the cello bag when packaged and rip off the cookie, very frustrating! 
  • Or the opposite, not sticking to the cookie once it was dried. 
These are just some of the problems I am hoping to help you avoid. 

Step 1

There are a lot of suppliers out there.  I buy my supplies from Kopy Kake.  They are always so helpful when I have questions about the product or settings for my printer.  I use the 8" x 10.5" frosting sheets and MSWord.  I also occasionally use Kopy Kake's Decorator program, but I prefer Word, which gives me more creative freedom. 

Step 2

I cut my Edible Images (EIs) by hand.  I use to use a Cricut Trimmer, but the blades dulled quickly and replacement blades always seemed to be out of stock at Michael's.  

Sometimes I didn't line up my images exactly right in Word and when using the trimmer I would accidentally slice off a needed edge of my image....DOH! 

Hand cutting works much better.  After cutting them I put them in a sandwich bag to keep them from drying out. 

Step 3

After I have cut out all my EIs, by the way, I leave the backing sheets on them if possible when I have cut them out, keeps them from sticking to each other in the sandwich bag, I take my corner rounder that I bought with my 40% coupon at Micheal's (NEVER shop without it!).





I round all the corners on my EI.  This helps keep the edges down on the cookie and gives it a clean, professional look when finished. 

Step 4

(Personal Note:  In the next pictures you will notice my hands, I have vitiligo.  Harmless, noncontagious autoimmune disease, but I HATE IT!)

I remove my EI from the backing before I prepare the cookie for the image.  

I then take my spray bottle, purchased in the $1 section at Target.  It is filled with plain ole H2O.  

I take my iced (dry) cookie, and mist it over the sink.  

Notice the sheen on the wet cookie?  I use my finger and run it across the entire surface of royal icing, edges too, to make sure it is completely wet.  

Step 5

I place the EI on the cookie and run my finger across the top and around the edges to make sure it is securely on the cookie.


Ta Da!

The finished product!  I let the cookies dry overnight at the very least, but preferably 24 hours.

Feedback

I would love to hear from others how they put their images on cookies.  I know there are many different ways.  I hope you learned something you didn't already know! 

Tracy - The Queen Bee @


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

postheadericon Photo Cookies

USAgain  by Sugar Beez
USAgain , a photo by Sugar Beez on Flickr.

I get requests all the time for photo cookies. They are a great way to make a very big impact on the recipient. I struggled for a long time trying to find the right way to put the paper on the cookie without ruining it. Finally, after about 3 years, I got it right (yep, I can be a slow learner sometimes! LOL).

I want to share with you what I have learned to help you cut down your learning curve! So today I will be making some photo cookies and photo documenting the process so that I can post it here tomorrow. Watch for it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

postheadericon Memorial Day 2012

Mem Day 2 by Sugar Beez
Mem Day 2, a photo by Sugar Beez on Flickr.

I wanted to do cookies as a way to say Thank You to those who have served our Country in the Armed Forces. I found an Armed Forces Service Medal and used that as the inspiration for this set.

I really had fun making these!

Friday, May 18, 2012

postheadericon What do you see?

These cookies were being decorated as logos for a car dealership, but the order was cancelled.  There are 24 mini white ovals.


2012-05-18_10-51-32_979 by Sugar Beez
2012-05-18_10-51-32_979, a photo by Sugar Beez on Flickr.
Here is your opportunity to get creative!  Post your comment with a suggestion for these cookies. The best idea picked by Sugar Beez's staff will win the cookies!

Photobucket
Thursday, May 10, 2012

postheadericon Why is cookie dough like a man?

Why is cookie dough like a man?  It's gonna make a mess you're gonna have to clean up...because it certainly isn't going to clean up after itself!  Baaahhhhaaaa!  Oh so true..

It took me a lot of trial and error (and really bad cookies) before I learned how to make cookie dough well. I think this process is worth sharing.   Now I'm not saying I'm any kind of expert, there are probably as many ways to make roll out cookie dough as there are recipes on the web.  This is just the way I do, but I would love to see/hear from others on how they do theirs.  I will post my recipe down at the bottom.

Step 1 - Butter

  • 1 pound at room temperature


If I forget to take it out of the fridge and I don't have time to wait for it to come to room temperature I soften it in the microwave.  Remove it from its wrapper, place it on a microwave safe dish, and heat it for 10 seconds.  Then turn it on it's side, (I always rotate it in towards the center of the microwave so I don't keep microwaving the same sides over and over.) and microwave it again for 10 seconds, rotating each time.  I usually use 1-pound blocks of butter so if you are using a quarter stick microwave for 5 seconds instead of 10.

Once the butter is nice and soft, dump it into the mixer bowl. 


I usually beat it a little so that it is ready for the sugar.

This is what light and fluffy should look like.
















Step 2 - Sugar 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Here is a trick I learned years ago, and I wish I could remember who to give the credit to, but alas my memory has failed me...sigh.  I take a kitchen towel and wrap it over the mixer and bowl like so....


This will keep the sugar (or flour) from "poofing" all over the counter, the coffee maker, the mixer, the baker...

Step 3 - Flavor / Eggs

  • 4 tsp any flavor
  • 2 eggs at room temperature. 


Add the flavor and eggs.  And if you forgot to take the eggs out of the fridge too, no worries I have a link below with great instructions on how to bring them to room temperature quickly.  These are the remainder of the "wet" ingredients...mix them until they are totally incorporated.

Not like this
The mixture should not look like scrambled eggs.
















But like this


Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl before adding the dry ingredients so that you don't end up with butter at the bottom of the bowl that didn't get integrated into the dough.

Step 4 - Dry Ingredients

  • 5-1/2 cups flour.
  • 2 tsp baking soda.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.

Add all the dry ingredients at one time.  Don't forget to use your kitchen towel to cover the mixer and bowl so you won't have flour everywhere!  Take a peek under the towel to see when it is safe to remove it and check the dough.  The finished dough should look like this. 




Then scrape the dough into a bowl, or some folks flatten it into disks, do what ever works for you, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.  If I'm going to roll dough right away I let it rest on the counter covered.  If I'm not going to roll cookies until the next day I let it rest in the fridge. 





Step 5 - Baking Instructions

First off, I highly recommend an oven thermometer, because let me tell you from experience, that oven dial LIES!  It says it's at 350, but it never really is, sometimes it's closer to 375...so invest in one of the inexpensive oven thermometers that hangs off the rack...one of the best baking investments I have bought!

I bake my cookies at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Meaning I set the timer for 12 minutes and check on them every minute after that point until they are lightly golden.


I hope you found this post helpful, I sure wish someone would have done something like this when I was first starting out.


Recipe

1 pound butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp flavor
5-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Helpful Links


Photobucket
Thursday, March 29, 2012

postheadericon Baby Buggy Cookie


I had a request for baby carriage cookies.  I have done some in the past, you can see them on my website.  I wanted to do something different and I came across a baby carriage on a site and I used it as my inspiration for this cookie.

I added the ruffles with a 101 tip (boy, my hand hurts from squeezing that extra stiff icing).  I learned to put less in the piping bag so I didn't have to squeeze so hard.

Also, a trick I used starting with these cookies that I learned from Lisa The Bearfoot Baker is o use a fondant smoother (click here) to smooth the cookies flat when they came out of the oven.  This gave them a very flat surface to lay my base icing down and really helped to add a professional look to the finished cookie.



Thanks for letting me share!

Photobucket
Monday, March 26, 2012

postheadericon Spring Bouquet


I have set some goals for the business...1.  I will make $1000 in sale in April, then today I got an order for $770...wow...big jump on the $1000 goal!

2.  I will post photos at least 3 times a week of cookies.  So, here is the one I did today.

Spring flowers are popping up in my yard...love the burst of color and the wonderful scent of flowers in the air.

I used a seashell cookie cutter as the base for this cookie.  My goal also is to grow my creative side by trying to see multiple uses for each cookie cutter.  I like the way Alton Brown thinks about kitchen tools/gadgets, they should all be multi-taskers...well my cookie cutters should be too, right?













Photobucket
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

postheadericon My Weakness

My weakness, I'll admit it, is being a thinker...yep, I think too much.  In other words, I tend to spend way too much time analyzing.  One manager I worked for called this "paralysis by analysis."  Yep...that's me.  I have been trying to come up with a topic to blog about, so what did I do?  I would come up with an idea, then analyze it's worthiness or interest appeal...then I would chuck the idea.  I'm sure I probably had some really good ideas, but just overthought them.

This imperfection in my persona causes me much grief.

  • I have times when someone will ask me to do a custom cookie design and I think about the best way to do the design, but have trouble shifting from the thought process to the "doing" processes.  
  • I want to lose weight, and have a great treadmill in the basement, and I will think about going down and getting on to run a mile, but then I begin to think about what I have to get done to complete the goal...shower, 
UPDATE:  I started writing this blog post 2 days ago...guess what I did...thought maybe it wasn't interesting enough, so I walked away from it.  

I went back and read it this morning, and laughed...because last night while at Target, I split the seat of my jeans open...okay, so they were old jean, but I have been gaining weight and I knew I needed to do something about it...that was the last "thread." 

I went back on Weight Watchers this morning and walked a mile on the treadmill.  Whose with me on losing some weight?  Feel free to join in the misery!  

I will be brave and put it all out there for ya...I'm 5'4", weight this morning was 181.4 pounds...squeezing in to my size 12 jeans...so my goal is to drop 2 pant sizes and stay there!  


Photobucket
Friday, February 24, 2012

postheadericon Snowy day!

We have been talking (okay, somewhat complaining) about the very mild winter here in Illinois. 

Today I need to go hit Sam's Club to stock up on flour, sugar, butter, all the cookie necessities, and this is what it looks like outside.

Going to Sam's with my 2-year-old grandson in tow is going to be an adventure!  I need a shower already just from shoveling my driveway to get to my car!




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

postheadericon Dream Job

I love decorating cookies.  I have so many "heros" that I follow on Facebook and Flickr who I adore their work, to name a few (in no particular order), there is My Little Bakery, Sweet Sugar Belle, Polka Dot Zebra, Cookie Crazy, Ali Bee's Bake Shop, so many more I could go on and on.  I learn from these ladies all the time, new techniques, designs, and even what it means to be supportive in a virtual environment.

I started my cookie business with the goal of it becoming my Dream Job, one day being able to give up my regular job of medical transcription to work my own custom cookie business.  I follow Marie Forelo and through her emails I learned about Ramit Sethi and his Dream Job system.    I signed up for it, thinking I would find a way to grow my cookie business into the vision of a Dream Job I had in my mind.  LOL...too funny looking back now.  After 3 weeks in the Dream Job program I realized I was not the target market Ramit was looking for when he designed the program.  He was looking to help those in high level positions to earn more money and position themselves to advance their careers.  And while I do want to increase my earning potential, I do not have a high level position, nor do I feel that a high level position at any medical transcription company would be my dream job.

Through the research Ramit has you do in the Dream Job program, I realized that I already have my Dream Job, the cookie business, and after researching what bakers earn, and small business bakery owners I realized that I'm not going to make a substantially large amount of money as a cookie decorator.  The research I did showed most bakers make between $8 and $14 (with 20 years' experience) working for large bakeries or grocery store chains, that independent bakery owners actually make less because of the amount of hours they put in to keep their businesses going.

That information actually knocked me back on my seat.  I literally felt depressed for about a day.  Then I thought about it, this is my Dream Job, no one ever said your dream job would make your rich, just that it would make you happy.  And it does make me happy to decorate cookies and be at home with my daughters. I also make pretty decent money as a medical transcriptionist, between $15 and $22 an hour when I focus like I should.  I realized I have nothing to be depressed about, and I actually found myself happier than before I entered that Dream Job program.

I have set an intention for my business...this is the year that I'm really going to grow it and enjoy it to the fullest.  Like I heard on the radio this morning (Sheryl Crow - Soak up the Sun) "It's not having what you want, It's wanting what you've got."  I've got my dream job!

Going forward, I'm going to share my dream - post all the things I have learned and just enjoy living the dream!   
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

postheadericon Motivation

Yesterday and today I was trying to find something to blog about...which is why I go so long without blogging at all...I just don't know what to talk about.

I follow Marie Forleo and watch her Q&A Tuesday videos religiously.  Today's video was about motivation.

What I know about motivation is nothing...do nothing, nothing happens.  Then it dawned on me...I was doing nothing.  I was not blogging at all because I could not find my motivation.  Marie says to take action, so that it EXACTLY what I'm doing, taking action.

There is no reason that I have to wait for some big idea to hit me to blog, the little ideas will lead to the bigger ideas.  I just have to take some action.


Did you see the cookies I did last week?




I had made them as samples to share at Girls Lunch Out on Saturday, but then I had to cancel, so they are free to new followers if our blog. Email me to let me know you are following, don't forget to provide and address, and 6 cookies will be yours!

Tracy@sugarbeez.com




Photobucket

Sunday, February 19, 2012

postheadericon Ready...Set....RE-go!

So, I have obviously not posted in a year (yikes!) mainly because I am new to blogging and don't know exactly what would interest most people...but I have decided I'm going to just blog what ever enlightens me from day to day.

I'm a divorced mother to 5 daughters (yep, 5), 3 grand babies and trying to keep all my spinning plates in the air.


I work from home as a medical transcriptionist.  Doesn't really make me a lot of money, but I do have some great benefits, like being at home...I can work in my PJs, and I literally roll out of bed and into my desk chair to work.  I have raised my daughters while working this job and can help with taking care of the grandbabies while their mothers work.

I also have my cookie business, Sugar Beez, which my daughers and my sister (and even my son-in-law) all help with at one point or another, some more than others.  Gina (my oldest daughter) helps me most with the cookie business.  She is great for me to bounce ideas off of, okay maybe more like she throws my ideas back at me and I have to dodge to keep from being wounded, but we compliment each other very well, because I'm creative and she's down to business.  The ying and yang necessary to make this operation function. 

I've decided I'm going to blog about both my job and my business, share what I have learned about both throughout the years, and maybe throw in some parenting pearls once in a while.

Here is to re-launching my blog! 

ps...e-mail me an address to ship cookies on Tuesday when you let me know you are following the blog - tracy@sugarbeez.com 


Photobucket

Followers