Ghost Hunting Cookies

 

Our local Historic Society invited some Paranormal investigators to our "Trails and Rails" museum which is a collection of old buildings including a church, school, train depot and some houses.

The investigators gave classes on ghost hunting and then lead investigations of all the buildings on the grounds as a fund-raiser for our historic society.

I'm not sure where I stand on ghosts and the paranormal. I have a very healthy dose of skepticism but I also think it's important to keep an open mind about things that can't easily be explained.

But - I LOVE a good ghost story!!

So - my daughter and a friend and I took the class and did the investigation. Seemed like an interesting way to spend a Friday night.

The night that we did our investigation had to be the hottest most humid evening of the whole year and in those old buildings there was no movement of any air at all. If spirits feed off the energy around them, there was none to be had. We didn't get a lot ghostly action. Our EMF detector went off a few times in the basement of the depot  - supposedly it was the ghost of Betty. And a glass cabinet rattled a tiny bit in the church. Weird but not convincing. I remain an open minded skeptic.

Skeptism aside - the one thing the investigators said they never mess with is Ouija Boards. I've never played with a Ouija Board and probably never will. I guess that "open minded" part of my brain would rather play it safe than sorry. (Have you seen Paranormal Activity??)

Anyway, I was trying to think of something kinda spooky and novel to make for Halloween cookies - I thought Ouija Boards would be just the thing.

I think maybe I need to invest in one of those Kopy Kake projectors. There are times when my designs are just too complicated to do completely free hand. It would have been very helpful to at least have some kind of guidelines when I was piping the letters on these cookies. Or is there another technique for getting a perfect arch on a cake/cookie?

I was reasonably happy with the background on these cookies. I just flooded the cookies with tan icing and then after the icing was completely set - I mixed some brown gel coloring with water and brushed it on very lightly (it took a little bit of trial and error).

Anyway - If you're planning any ghost hunting adventures this Halloween season - I wish you well.

Hahahahahaha (scary Vincent Price laugh)

 

 

Snacks for the Road - Amy's Pretzels

This weekend was Junk Jaunt weekend.

Probably my favorite weekend of the whole year.

All the little towns in my area pull out all their old junk and sell it.

It's fall. The weather's perfect. The trees are pretty. My best friend and I spend two whole days driving around the country side looking for the perfect things for our mid-century decor.

Of course - no road trip would be complete without some good snacks and Amy came through with the most simple but perfect thing. She made these cinnamon sugar pretzels. Here's the recipe:

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

1 bag of pretzels

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix oil, sugar and cinnamon and pour over pretzels. Spread coated pretzels on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes stiring every 10 minutes.

 

Glitter Cookies!

 

So much for having a blog post written by 9:00 pm every Sunday night! I spent my Sunday evening helping my son to prepare for his presentation on the state of New Jersey (due today). Turns out Jersey is a pretty cool place! I learned alot of interesting things about the state. Did you know M&Ms, Oreos and Skippy Peanut Butter all come from New Jersey?

Last weekend was my daughter's birthday so I mailed her a care package with these very glittery cookies. (She's alway been a bit of a glitter fanatic). I'm happy to report that all of the cookies arrived in Boston in one piece! I think this is the first time I've shipped cookies with 100% success! That's one of many small hurdles to starting my own cookie business that I'm happy to have figured out! (wish I'd taken pictures of how they were packed - they were wrapped in tons of tissue and put in the box on their sides)

I've always used my edible glitters / diso dusts very sparingly (they're kind of expensive). But for these cookies - I thought - the heck with it - and I dumped it on like it was goin' out of style. For these cookies I used American Silver Disco Dust and I followed Sweetopia's tutorial for working with Disco Dust. On some of the cookies, I made the zig-zags a little too tight and I couldn't get in there with my paint brush to clean up the excess glitter but now I know what I'm doing and I can't wait to play with glitter again!

Back to Baking - Fall Assignments

My mind has not really been on baking and blogging lately - too many other things going on.

But now my kids are all settled and life seems to be returning to a more regular routine. The weather has been a little cooler...

It's time to hit the books, find some new recipes, crank up the oven and

GET BACK TO BAKING!

I've got long lists of fall assignments for myself:

READING - Read Peggy Porschen's new book Peggy's Favourite Cakes & Cookies. Also, read my favorite blogs more often and look for new blogs to read.

WRITING - Write one blog post every week - due by 9:00 pm every Sunday.

ARITHMETIC - Work on fractions to develop some new sugar cookie recipes.

ART -  Tweek/update the look of Sugar and Meringue

SOCIAL STUDIES - Spend more time writing comments and posting to Facebook in order to get to know other bakers better.

SCIENCE - Experiment with new ingredients, tools and techniques

So - that's what I hope to accomplish this fall. What do you have planned? Any new cookbooks you're reading or recipes you want to try?

Chevron Cupcakes

 

It's been a few weeks since my last post and so much has happened I'm not even sure where to start. I'll just give you a brief recap of some of the main events:

  • I joined the board of our city's Arts Council and helped with a benefit for them. I'm excited to get more involved with the arts in our community and to work to support the programs the Arts Council provides but I'm also feeling totally uninformed and unqualified to be on the board. Oh well - guess I'll just have to wing it for a while.
  • I made cupcakes and a little cake for a friend's wedding. 12 dozen. I've only done 1 other wedding so I was super nervous and stressed but with my mom's help everything turned out fine. I even managed to deliver them to the hotel, about 40 miles away, with out ruining any of them. The bride was happy! Phew! (unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to get any good photos)
  • We took our daughter to college in Boston. The logistics, the emotions... It was kind of tough. But she's there now and I think she chose the right school. She's going to have so many great experiences. I'm really excited for her. But, she won't be able to come home until Christmas and I'm going to miss her.

Anyway...

Chevron Cupcakes

I've had a thing for chevron patterns lately and after seeing some chevron cake designs on Pinterest, I've been dying to try some chevron cupcakes or cookies. So, that's what I did with some of the extra cupcakes and fondant that I had from the wedding. The first attempts don't look that great and by the time I'd gotten the technique figured out, I ran out of fondant and cupcakes but it was a fun little project anyway.

Boston Terrier Birthday Cookies

We have a slightly crazy Boston Terrier that we love to death and, whenever there's a birthday, we usually find a cute/funny Boston card for the birthday person. (It's just a goofy thing we do.)

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday and I didn't get a Boston card so I thought I'd just make Boston cookies. They ended up looking kind of girly and really not right for my dad at all. But - I think he'll be okay with them. He's always supportive of my ideas and endeavors even when they're a little off.

 

Happy National Sugar Cookie Day

I didn't think I would ever get this done but FINALLY...

I am very excited to share this year's National Sugar Cookie Day online booklet!!

 

 

Thank you to Layer Cake Shop, The Decorated Cookie, The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle and Katie's Something Sweet for your contributions!

I had more things planned for our big day - but at this rate - I don't think I will get it all done today. Check back tomorrow for a new tutorial (or maybe 2?)!

 

 

In with a bang, out with a wimper

Anniversaries, Tornadoes, adorable-abandoned kittens...

What a crazy week!

Monday was our anniversary so we celebrated by going out for supper. It's a good thing I still had a husband to eat dinner with! He was on the road during some severe weather and spotted a tornado. So - did he seek shelter? NO! He just snapped a couple of pictures and kept going...

Later the severe weather moved on to Omaha where my daughter was attending a concert. She ended up spending a portion of her evening sheltering in a little basement with a bunch of Jack's Mannequin fans.

The tornadoes did some damage to homes in our area but thankfully, no one was hurt.

Friday night, my other daughter and some of her friends were walking through one of the schoolyards from one house to another when they found a box with two very adorable (clearly abandoned) kittens inside. They rescued them and one friend was able to convince her parents to keep one of them. The other one wound up at our house. She's very very sweet but we've got two dogs, cat allergies and a husband/dad who does not like cats so she can't stay here. We're still looking for a good home for her...

Anyway - Time to announce the winner of the Fashion to Figure Giveaway!

It is Orella! Orella won by "liking" my Facebook page. I used random.org to choose the winner.

Thanks to everyone who left comments, or subscribed to my newsletter or liked my Facebook page!

 

 

The Best Junk

With National Sugar Cookie Day right around the corner - seems like I should be talking about sugar cookies. But honestly, I've got nothing cookie related for you this week. I didn't bake at all over the weekend. Instead I went to my favorite "antique" store - Tiede's in Overton NE. I also downloaded Instagram and had tons of fun playing with it - so - thought I'd just show you the pictures I took at Tiedes.

 

I didn't bake any cookies this weekend but I have been gathering some great recipes and decorating ideas from other bloggers on my Facebook page so, if you haven't stopped by lately, go check it out!

Scrabble Cookies for Dad

Just wanted to stop by real quick to show you the cookies I made for my dad for Father's day. He LOVES Scrabble. In fact my mom was not at all happy with me when I bought him the Scrabble app for his iPhone because it turned into a bit of an addiction for a while! : )

Wish I could take credit for the Scrabble cookie idea but actually I stumbled upon them on "When Adobo Met Feijoda" while doing a google images search for Mario Kart cookies (oddly enough). I was thinking about making my husband the Mario Kart cookies since that's his addiction.

Men and they're games...

 

 

PS- Don't Forget about the National Sugar Cookie Day giveaway!! It's anything you want from Fashion to Figure up to a $30 value!!  Like maybe this bracelet? 

To enter just leave a comment on my last post or "Like" my Facebook page.

Also visit my Facebook page to see what the next Sugar Cookie of the Day will be!

A Giveaway for National Sugar Cookie Day!

It's time to start the countdown to National Sugar Cookie Day!!

National Sugar Cookie Day is July 9 - meaning we've got less than a month to get ready for the celebration.

To start things off, I have a giveaway for you!

Fashion to Figure has offered to give 1 lucky reader an item from their store valued up to $30!

They have lots of cute plus-size clothing and also lots of fun accessories! I'm really loving this clutch...


To enter, do one (or all) of the following (you'll get one entry for each):

1. Comment on this post with a link to the most beautifully decorated / fun / interesting sugar cookies you've seen on the web. (1 entry)  - I'll make it easy - just comment on this post

2. Subscribe to my newsletter. (1 entry)

3. Like Sugar and Meringue on Facebook (1 entry)

4. Post a National Sugar Cookie Day Badge to your blog (badges are below) (1 entry) (comment on this post to let me know)

5. Tweet (1 entry) about this giveaway and then let me know about it by leaving another comment (telling me where to find it)

I will use random.org to select a winner and announce the results on Sunday night, June 26, 2010.

Badges:

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House Warming

Spent the last couple of weekends getting daughter #1 moved into her new apartment. She's only 2 hours away and I'm proud of her and excited for her but kind of missing her right now. And - I just bought plane tickets to take daughter #2 to college in Boston in August - that's 26 hours from home!

Anyway - that's my excuse for not getting much posting done lately. Hope you'll bear with me while I spend my time getting my girls all settled.

National Sugar Cookie day is just 1 month away and I'd really like to put together another little on-line flip book. If you have any ideas or anything that you'd like to submit (ie recipes, tutorials, stories related to sugar cookies) - let me know!

Thanks!

 

Graduation Dessert Table

Sooo-

This is what I've been up to since my last post.  I've been getting ready for my daughter's graduation, making some last minute college visits, going to banquets, apartment hunting for my other daughter and all of the things that go along with having 18 and 20 year old daughters.

A while back, I posted some illustrations of the robot themed party that we were planning. It was going to be all "moderny" with lots of metallic silver. Don't ask me to explain how that evolved in to this flowery rainbow colored scheme. It just did. My daughter has always said "You can't go wrong with bright colors. If you just choose lots of bright colors everything will always match." I think she's right. I like all the bright happy colors.

After working on this dessert table for her graduation. I have lots of questions about dessert table design but I think I'll save that for another post. I still have lots of party clean-up to get done!

 

 

How important are organic ingredients?

 

Thanks for all of the comments about cake mixes. It was fun reading them and you made a lot of good points on both sides.

One thing I want to make clear is that I have no intention of starting an actual "Cupcakery". I realize that in a cupcakery the expectation is that all the cupcakes are made from scratch. And secondly I'd like you to know that I would never try to pass cupcakes made from a mix off as homemade.

So - I'm still kind of on the fence about this one.

I agree -

"If it tastes good, does it really matter?"

"DH and BC have been doing this a LOT longer than I have....."

"If you wanna eat healthy, have a birthday apple!"

But I also agree -

"I'm a from scratch girl...at least then you know what is in them"

"The box mixes are full of preservatives"

 Which brings me to the next issue I'm wrestling with.

Organic ingredients.

My attitude towards organic ingredients has always kind of been this: They're nice and all but they're so dang expensive.  I'm sure they're probably a little healthier but really - is "normal" food that unsafe?

And, frankly, I've just been buying the same old ingredients I've always bought - the same stuff my mom always bought.

Then I watched Food Inc.

That documentary made we aware of some issues involving our food choices that I never really thought about. I won't try to delve into all of them here. I'll just say that I was upset by the unnecessary cruelty to animals and humans that some of our eating habits help to foster.

So- old habits die hard. My life is crazy busy and it's just easier sometimes to run to the nearest supermarket and buy the same old ingredients. Plus, my budget is limited and organic is expensive. But - I'm at least starting to think more about what I buy. I've started doing a little research into where I can find organic ingredients in my area and when the difference in price between "regular" and organic is small - I'll choose organic. I've also found a farmer who sells eggs from free range chickens (though I don't know if they're technically organic).

As I think about my future baking business - Yes - of course - I'd like need to make money (enough to live comfortably on). I can't sell my cookies for a biliion dollars each and I can't use ingredients that eat all my profits. But I'd also like to be a more concientious baker.

Ugh! It's all so complicated!

Is it a Crime to Make Cupcakes from a Mix?

When it comes to cookies - I know what I'm doing. I have favorite recipes and certain ingredients I use. I know when the dough is just the right consistency. Cookies are my thing.

Cupcakes on the other hand...

I grew up on cake from a mix. I like cake from a mix. Put a good homemade buttercream on it and I think it's delicious.

So, since entering the "cupcake craze" a couple of years ago, I've made my cupcakes from a mix. That's right - you read it. I make my cupcakes from a mix. Then I have fun experimenting with different frostings and different decorating ideas.

I make cupcakes for fun! It's never been a real serious undertaking. At least not until recently.

Now I'm getting a little closer to starting my own little baking business. A friend has talked to me about making some cupcakes for her wedding. The friend's mom wants a tasting. And I'm suddenly feeling very self conscious about my cupcakes from a mix.

I've tried several recipes for cupcakes from scratch and they're really good. But I'm not sure they're better. The made-from-scratch cupcakes I've had at gourmet cupcake shops have been really good, but not I'm not sure  they were better either.

So - at work this week - I conducted a little experiment. I made a batch of red velvet cupcakes from scratch and a batch from a mix. I put the same frosting on them. Then, without saying which was which, I asked everyone to tell me which one they liked best.

The results:

About 50/50! The "Food Snobs" could (of course) tell which ones were made from scratch and claimed to like those better. The "Regular People" came down on the side of the mix.

Since the experiment was inconclusive - I made a list of the pros and cons of each:

Cake from a Mix:

Easier to make

More economical

Lighter texture

More familiar taste/what most people are used to?

Cake from a Scratch:

Classier?

More Flavorful

???

What do you think? Is it a crime to make cupcakes from a mix as long has they're topped with good frosting and decorated really cutely???

Graduation Party Ideas

I had the day off today so I spent some time working on ideas for my daughter's graduation party.

She plans to major in computer hardware engineering and robotics so we thought that might be a fun theme.

I'm never sure I should share my ideas while they are still in progress - they aren't quite "there" yet - but you'll a least get the gist of what we're cooking up. I'll show you pictures from the actual day too so you can see how it all (hopefully) turns out.

By the way...

I can't take credit for the Circuit Board Cookie idea. That came from Not So Humble Pie.

Happy...

Guess it's a little late to say "Happy Valentine's Day!"

Oh well...

Some weeks are like that.

It was actually kind of a fun and interesting week at my day job.

I'm kind of a "Jack of all Trades/Master of None" for the company I work for. I'm honestly not sure what my title actually is. I guess my mail says "Graphic Artist" and "Marketing Manager" and "Webmaster"  - I know enough about all of these things to get by but I'm certainly not an expert at any of them.

Anyway - my company manufactures lighting. Some new constructions and remodels in the area feature our lighting. So last week, we had some professional videographers/photographers come and I spent 2 full days going with them from house to house helping with photo shoots. (mostly just watching and getting in the way).

My boss got wine and restaurant gift cards for all of the homeowners and then I made little boxes of Valentines day cookies to put with them.

So with one late night staying up to make cookies and two long days of photography - it was kind of an exhausting week. But, I spent two full days going through some beautiful homes. Not gonna complain about that!

In other news...

One of my favorite readers, my Aunt Claudia, celebrated her birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Claudia!