Friday, November 29, 2013

Martha by Mail Victorian Ornament Cutters and a Oui, Sugar! Discount Code!

I've been waiting all year to work with this set of Victorian Glass
Ornament cookie cutters from the Martha by Mail catalog collection!
I cherish all of my Martha by Mail cookie cutter
sets but I cannot lie... This is one of my most favorites!
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it's time for Christmas cookies! But how?!
Who has the time?! I hear you... There's all this cooking, shopping and traveling
to do! Well, I'll tell you how... The greatest thing about decorated sugar cookies
is that you can cut your shapes in advance and freeze them to decorate later! To
learn more about how to successfully freeze sugar cookie shapes, pick up my
Cookie Recipe and Decorating Tips Guide here. I promise the time you will save
is well worth the price and there's also an e-version to help put it in your hands
today! Now... I do feel a little bad showing you these ornament cookies knowing
these cutters are no longer available... So before we talk about decorating them, I
want to let you know that my sweet friend Dani Fiori has designed a charming
set of ornament cutters for I know you'll love just as much!
The design possibilities for decorating ornament cookies is truly unlimited!
I decorated this collection for a friend who asked if I could match some of the
ornaments on her family Christmas tree! They'll make the perfect favors for her
party guests to take home too. I've also created some with holes in the tops so
they will hang on the arrangement of branches my friend is using as a centerpiece!
These cookies were decorated using my royal icing recipe tinted in
festive holiday colors and embellished with both decorative dragees and
edible white nonpareils! I've put these things together for you in my decorating
kit... But more about that and the promo code to save you money a bit later!
These mini snowflake cookies are the perfect compliment to my ornament cookie
collection and were created using this mini snowflake copper cookie cutter!
Snowflakes took me to sorting through the rest of my holiday cutter
collection and I couldn't resist creating a few of these ice skates! I have
such fond memories of ice skating as a kid... In fact, I recently saw a pair
of skates just like the ones my parents gave me, in a local antique shop!
But that does not make me old... No it doesn't!
As I said, everything you need to decorate cookies this holiday season
is in my 24-piece decorating kit... But don't take my word for it,
my friend David recently put it to the test and wrote about it here!
In addition to my starter set, I'm also offering a new sanding sugars
set complete with a decorating card that outlines the flocking and
sugaring techniques I use in most of my decorating with colored sugars!
I loved putting these kits together and hope you enjoy using them!
Now, about that promo code... Between now and December 13th, use
promo code FRIENDDISCOUNT to save 15% off your total order
through my Oui, Sugar! on-line marketplace! Plus, everyone that
places an order for both decorating kits will receive the e-version of my
Recipes and Decorating Tips Guide FREE via an e-mail from me!
While you're shopping, don't miss this set of mini accent cutters. I
have just a few sets left! They're perfect for message banners like these...
What are you waiting for? Get to your baking!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Failed Attempt at Ignoring Thanksgiving...

It's been two years since we've celebrated a holiday together...
Which is why I decided to ignore Thanksgiving this year. In fact, when I
placed my Lowe's-to-Go order on Wednesday, I ordered only what I needed
to make turkey panini sandwiches! And, in instead of the usual pumpkin pie
dessert, I whipped up cupcakes last night that look nothing like Thanksgiving!
But a funny thing happened while I was busy ignoring Thanksgiving...
I was reminded of how much there is to be thankful for... Because while we
are not together today, my parents are in great health and I can pick up the
phone anytime and hear their voice. There's a lot to be thankful for in that,
since several of my friends and relatives lost a parent this year. Also, while
our Ranger is still deployed and we miss him, there is a homecoming that
is literally just around the corner! For this fact I am the most grateful today,
as I know that for too many other Army moms missing their son has become
permanent. I am also thankful for the dream-job, my soon to be 28-year old
marriage, our little family and the promise of what's next. I am also grateful
for my friends, both new and old... Which also includes you, my dear reader!
So... While I didn't pull out the fine china or polish any silver and my formal
dining table won't be set this year either, my heart is full of Thanksgiving. And,
to honor the day, I've prepared this modified version of our meal to be served
buffet-style from the kitchen island... In serving pieces that don't match at all!
As for dessert... I'm afraid it's still cupcakes!
Wishing you and those who love you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mixing Flavors and Colors with McCormick!

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Dani I am now the happy owner
of this Martha-like canister set from JCP! Last week, Dani blogged
about using one of these jars as a giftable cookie jar and included
the on-line ordering link so that I could buy them too! If you want to
add them to your home you better hurry because the promo code I
found on-line (FALLAIR) to receive 15% off our order expires today!
Today's been a long day; however, after filling my new canisters and poking
through the box of goodies McCormick sent as part of the swag I received
at MIXED last weekend, I was suddenly inspired to bake something!
I love McCormick spices and extracts! I once worked for Household
Credit Services on Schilling Place in Salinas, CA. The road is so named
because it's where the McCormick-Schilling plant is located! As soon as
the plant came into view, I'd roll down my window to take in the aroma
of the day... Always rolling by a bit slower on cinnamon and garlic days!
Needless to say, I was very happy to see McCormick listed as a sponsor
of MIXED - Especially since they were there to share their message of
mixing color with flavor to make already great baked goods even better!
As soon as the incredible Karen Tack of Hello, Cupcake!
fame demonstrated her use of McCormick food coloring to
create sweet and fun surprises inside of cakes and cupcakes...
I knew I wanted to do the same!
So while the rest of America is busy in the kitchen preparing for
Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'm busy creating secret-snowflake cupcakes!
This mini snowflake copper cookie cutter from CopperGifts is perfect!
To honor the McCormick reps who told us More is More, I
decided to add my favorite extract to my cake batter!
Then, to create icy blue snowflakes I added McCormick's blue
food coloring to approximately two cups of the batter and baked it!
If you haven't already, you must check out
McCormick's Food and Color Guide posted here!
While my cupcakes baked, I enhanced the flavor of two tubs
of white frosting by adding 1 teaspoon of raspberry extract...
Because I love raspberry flavored anything!
I can't lie. I was a little nervous about whether or not I
could duplicate Karen's technique of hiding shapes in cake...
But I did!
In fact, after I discovered the first snowflake I wanted to see them all!
Fortunately, my taste-tester stopped me before all I had left were halves!
This was so much fun I think I'll do it again!
Wishing you Happy Holiday Baking with McCormick!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Greetings from MIXED!

Hello from MIXED, happening again this year on the top of a
mountain at the beautiful Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia!
Just like last year, Susan and Paula outdid themselves to inspire, pamper and
spoil us with the accommodations, premier brand sponsors, celebrity speakers
give-aways and plain old fun! Last night, the ladies from Dixie Crystals invited
us to their sweet-suite to create custom formulated lip and body sugar scrubs!
Dixie Crystals has a variety of sugar scrub recipes for you to try. See
them here! You already know how much I love scrubs and bath bombs
so being shown how to create my own at home using the best sugar on the
planet is an especially sweet treat! And by the way... What a great gift idea!
The treats continued this morning with McCormick and Karen Tack
and Alan Richardson, the authors of the wildly creative and popular
decorating books, Hello, Cupcake! What's New Cupcake and
Cupcakes, Cookies and Pie, Oh my! I was on the edge of my seat!
Just look at these beautiful decorated cookie cups!
Karen and Alan have a way of making McCormick colors and flavoring sing!
The good folks at McCormick reminded us how important it is to combine
icing colors with extracts to ensure our goodies taste as great as they look!
Reading Karen and Alan's books is one thing...
But getting to see them create in person is quite another!
After Alan's demonstration, it was time for us to meet Karen...
Here, Karen demonstrated how to tint cake batter to ensure
the inside of our rainbow cake is as colorful as the outside!
Guess what? Karen and Alan are working on a new cake book!
If this is any indication of what they have in store for us, we're in for a real treat!
Look! McCormick and Karen wanted us to practice our own icing skills!
SpaBoy and our friend Michele had a private lesson with Karen!
I ask you.. Where but at MIXED does this kind of wonderful happen?
You might remember that in July I decorated the birthday
cake I created for my boss with some of my dog cookies...
But you might also remember that last year, I attempted the
Dog Pound Cake for my boss from Karen and Alan's third book...
And, while my Dog Pound Cake didn't quite come out the way I hoped,
being able to share it with Karen this morning was a dream come true! 
Now, it's off to the barn for give-aways and a party sponsored
by Captain Morgan! Speaking of give-aways, I hope you will forgive me
for not announcing this last night as I promised... However, the winner
of my Ocean Spray Cranberry and Bread Mix giveaway is Marietta!

Congratulations! Please send your full name and address to me at and I'll make sure Ocean Spray ships your cranberries, bread mix and new Calphalon loaf pan right to you.
Thank you to everyone who entered!