Friday, September 30, 2011

Royal Icing...check!

You may remember earlier this month I created a list of 12 things I wanted to do before I turned I 30.  I would cross one thing off a month.  Well, this month folks, we tackled Royal Icing.

I don't know what my deal was.  I had tried and tried in the passed but apparently was just not patient enough.  It was always way too runny and would run off the cookie or soak the cookie in icing and then it would fall apart. blah. So now, I dare say I have "mastered" it but I'm certainly not scared of it in the least now for future cookie projects.  The mission...star cookies.  This was my inspiration...


and here is what I came up with...



here's how I did it...


certainly got me in the Christmas spirit to be making and icing sugar cookies!  I did refrain from playing music...but it was hard :)


I'm not sure I could ever be a great food photographer because I do so much cooking and baking at night...and so the light hates me...but the cookies were delicious!  I made them at night so I could focus on only icing them the next day.


I set out all the cookies and counted out exactly how many I would need for each color and each section...

then it was time work on the icing.  AH! I was a bit nervous...I had done my research and decided to go with the powdered sugar and milk combo...plus some vanilla exact for flavoring.

The base:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I used my kitchen aid standing mixer.  I'm not sure I'd been using a mixer in the past...which may have been leading to my previous downfalls as well.  To be honest, I can't remember if it came out too thick or too runny...but in either case, I know every time I had to tweak it.  **Please note, when tweaking, a lot goes a long way.** so I'd add more sugar to make my border or add just a touch of milk to make my "filling."

First up...the blue stars!

I did make the mistake of mixing in the food coloring INTO the mixing bowl.  Which meant I had to completely wash out the bowl when I was ready to move on to the other colors.  So, next time, I will always transfer the icing to a smaller bowl to mix the colors.


I first went and made the border for all the blue stars (a the few white ones w/ the blue border).  The border icing is the thicker consistency.  A few times it was still too runny, but for the most part, it did it's job and stood in place!  Once the border lost it's shiny lustre I could then fill it in...


(again...I in no way mastered it...but I was pleased with my improvement)

 I repeated the same border and fill process for the plain white icing...


and for the red...


A lot of people use squeeze bottles (like the restaurant style ketchup and mustard bottles but clear) for the icing.  I think this would have been great and helpful...however I didn't really look for them, so I didn't really find them :)  They would just give you more control of the flow of the icing then my rockin' awesome Ziploc bag method ...don't be jealous!


after letting all the cookies dry I could finally arrange them in the flag format...



Besides being an easy shape and design to start with, I actually had a reason for making an American flag cookie spread!


my friend Noah leaves this weekend to head to boot camp.  He will be joining the army to be a trombone player in the army band!  It's such an exciting opportunity for Noah and Anna.  Naturally, we had to have an all American send off party...Thus the star cookies...AND pico's fashion choice!


stay tuned for more highlights from Noah's party next week...
AND see what list item I cross off for October coming soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DIY fall wreath tutorial

Happy Fall Y'all!!!

last friday was the first official day of fall...so naturally...it was "put up a new wreath" day in my house!  Thanks to Pinterest we all now have access to every holiday craft/project ever imaginable.  I looked there for inspiration and here is what I came up with...

a fun fall burlap wreath!

this wreath, which was super easy will also be easy to just switch out bows and ribbon and keep it going all year long - that's my kind of wreath :)  here's how I did it:


I got a straw wreath (I kept it with the plastic wrap on it b/c I didn't have time to clean up a huge mess AND i was going to be covering it up anyway), burlap garland, and floral pins (left over from the wedding!):

I started pinning the burlap on the wreath with no real structure or plan. I just made loops and pinned on one side...then the other side...


then the middle... and slowly but surely...

however, after multiple attempts to make it stretch all the way around I finally gave up and embraced that I would have one section without burlap.  It ended up working out perfectly and made a great spot for the bow!


So I added a big fun ribbon bow. 


it looked a little "all the same color" even though I felt like it was perfect for fall...so I found some oragne ribbon and just wrapped it around in between the burlap for some POP! ...and to make josh love it even more (GO VOLS!)

and here you have it...an easy fall burlap wreath! 



happy fall yall! isn't it the best?!

Monday, September 19, 2011

wrap it up!


tis the season for gift giving.  ahhh...there is just something fun about getting someone a little something..."just a little happy" as my friend Ryan says.  whether it's a surprise little treat, for their birthday, or now as we move on to Christmas...it's just nice to give fun gifts.

a lot of the fun for me comes with wrapping the gift.  my love for wrapping paper runs deep.  it just makes it special.  I recently found a tutorial for how to tie a bow on a package that just takes one pull and it unravels.  no scissors, no stretching it around the edges...just pull the end and you are ready to tear it open!

Eddie Ross, used to work for Martha Stewart and was on the Bravo designer reality contest show a few years ago.  I've tried to keep up with his blog because he does some fun stuff...especially for the holidays!  It was his ornament wreath that lead me to make this wreath 2 years ago!  Thanks Eddie!

back to gift wrapping...I recently found this tutorial on wrapping a gift package bow... and here is my work of art :)

paper and ribbon are from The Paper Source

I think maybe a thicker ribbon looks prettier, but I liked my navy! The back is so smooth! (pardon the rolled under tape...look away, look away)

I added a little lip gloss to the package and i think it makes a fun final touch!



do you like wrapping gifts? do you have a favorite kind of bow you like to use? please share!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

birthday...final recap

I shared a few of the recipes I used for my dessert party here and here with you.  I wanted to go ahead and post the rest.  They were all fabulous and big hits!  I've since made the chocolate cake again and it's still the winner hands down!  so good!

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

This recipe was fun!  I love me some good old fashioned lemon bars (dontcha know) and so this pink lemonade addition was a fun idea to me.  It would super cute for baby girl showers or pink parties!

Chocolate Chip Layer Cookie Cake

cookies and icing...what's not to love!  I made a layer cookie cake a few years ago for a friend and loved the cookie layers...but the icing was not my favorite.  This year...I think I reversed it.  I think the cookie layers were too think, but the icing was great.  The original recipe calls for ice cream between the cookie layers which I think would help soften the layers up a bit...but this was a come and go kind of party and I didn't want ice cream everywhere...

Creamsicle Trifle

mmmm...orange sherbet is one of my most favorite things in life.  It used to always be my ice cream flavor of choice.  It's so refreshing and cool and light and wonderful...and I could go on.  When I saw this recipe...I knew I needed to try it.  I don't think I realized at first that it used a liqueur...but I went with it...and I did NOT like it.  maybe I should have used less...but I think angel food cake would have been just as yummy as the soaked lady fingers.

Brownie Pops

pops...they are all the rage.  turns out, i'm horrible at them.  I think I need to stick to just making a normal cake...or normal brownies.  I'm just not great at the "pop" making.  Needless to say, the recipe looked simple and fun and way to change up your typical brownie. 

all these recipes I found on Pinterest.  Do you pin?! I love it...it's kind of like my google reader addiction on steroids.  but I love it!  just because i'm in the recipe sharing mood....I made THIS for my sunday school class a few weeks ago! I kind of want to make it every weekend!

it was delicious.
oh...and I doubled the recipe!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

bark park

the weather is slowly getting milder and milder.  winter is still months away but there's less humidity and recently there's been a nice crispness to the air...all things pointing towards fall being close around the corner.  One morning it was just too nice to not be outside...including Dylan! so we thought about taking him to the dog park (such a great invention, by the way!).  Now, let's just say Dylan doesn't always "behave" himself at the dog park and gets a little "too friendly" with some of the dogs...if you know what I mean.  So we have to keep a close eye on him.  but he was excited nonetheless...


it didn't take him too long to find a friend...



and then quickly find himself in timeout...


he played a bit more with some more new friends and worked up a sweat...



and found himself in time out again...


good thing he got out just in time for bauer, his "brother" to come along...


soon after, Dylan found himself amongst the big dogs and ended up limping on two legs and having a bloody mouth...I went in to "mom mode" and sadly did not take any pictures of that.  All in all, a good day at the dog park!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

in a year from now...

well...a year from now I will be 30.  I'm not a huge "oh my gosh my world is ending at 30" kind of person.  I do think it's a big deal...but not one I am freaking out about it.  However, I do want to take this time to make goals for myself and cross some things off my list before I am 30.

At first I was going to make a list of 30 things to do before I'm 30...that seemed a bit long and I couldn't really think enough of stuff...so I liked my friend's molly plan...do 12 things (1 a month) before I turn 30.  If I start with September I think I can get everything done.

so here we go...in random order...

1.  Sale our House!  wait...that is in order, we would LOVE for this to happen TODAY if possible :)
2.  Loose some weight (I know, I know, that's not creative, but it's true.)
3.  make a painting for our home
4.  learn to sew something
5.  get better at making royal icing...oh you are the thorn in my side! I will concur you!
6.  photograph a wedding
7.  see a new broadway musical
8.  take a vacation (preferablly disney world! but I'd go wherever)
9.  run another 1/2 marathon
10. make a pound cake
11. host a dinner a party
12. print and frame our wedding pictures