Sunday, May 11, 2014

A "Two-fer"

We all know that "the holidays" refers to Thanksgiving through New Year's and most would consider that to be the busiest time of the year.  Until a few weeks ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly.  But May is the start of Communions, graduations, weddings (and anniversaries!), Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother's Day, to name just a few.  So I've been busy, busy, busy...  In order to combat some of the stress, for the bulk of Teacher Appreciation Day and Mother's Day, I combined the two and made the same sets for both.  A Two-fer!
I made a background with some clip-art, printed out a ton of them, painstakingly cut them out to fit treat bags, bagged them, and then stuck those into a second treat bag of the same size.  (I bagged the background separately so that the cookies would not sit directly on the paper.)  I mixed dough and icing, cut, baked, and decorated around 20 dozen cookies - daisies and leaves - and made these sets, changing the labels for each occasion.  (Instructions for the daisies can be found here.)

"Thanks for helping our kids grow!" - Teacher Appreciation

I know these weren't my most creative cookies ever, but time was not on my side this month and I was more than satisfied with the end results. 
Have you ever done any two-fers?
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the hard-working teachers that help our kids grow!
And Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law and to all of the other wonderful moms out there!  Have a beautiful day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Royal Slacker


It seems that every year around mid-April that my brother emails me to ask if my daughter still plays on Club Penguin.  He pays for her renewal every year, bless his heart, because I find it a little hard to justify the $60 yearly "dues" for an online world of penguin play!  Which reminds me that it's almost my birthday (this week : ) and that I had planned to do a post on my daughter's Club Penguin Puffle birthday cupcakes... her birthday was in January!  I've been a slacker, and I'm sorry!

Anyhoo, her birthday is the week after Christmas, so when she asked if I could make 3 dz Puffle cake pops I was like, no way am I going to have time for that!  How about some cupcakes?  I promise they will be cute...  Ok, mom, sounds good!  Thank goodness, 'cause cupcakes are way easier & quicker to do than cake pops or cookies : )

I decided to do royal icing transfers for the toppers.  They are a time-saver on all accounts - you can make them weeks, or even months ahead of time, and it makes decorating go so quick, whether it's cupcakes, cookies or cakes.  I found an image I liked on Google images, sized it on my PC, and copied rows and rows of them onto a single sheet to make a template.  I have started using page protectors for my transfers (the mid-thick ones - too thin and you are asking for trouble with wrinkling, and too thick you may have issues getting them off.).  Just print out your template, and slide it in the page protector.  I got a package of 250 page protectors at Costco for $11.50 and if you clean them well after (usually a good wipe down will do) you can reuse them.  But being the slacker that I can be, a lot of times I just toss them out... Call me a spendthrift, but I used one sheet to make more than 36 transfers, so that's around $.001 per transfer.

Tip: I always add a piece of card stock or two behind my templates to make them easier to move afterwards, or so that they don't blow around should I choose to dry them in my dehydrator.  I tape them together, making a little tape-handle that sticks out of the page protector so that I can slide the sheets out easily.  This also comes in handy when I need to pipe more than one sheet of the same transfers - just slide it out, and into a new page protector, rather than printing more than one sheet.

As with all royal icing transfers, I rub a very thin layer of Crisco shortening on before piping.  I do this before each row, so that my hand isn't laying in shortening beneath the row I'm piping.  I learned this the hard way...  Oh, and always, always make extras!

Day 1:
I piped the eyes - a whole sheet of them.  I used the wet-on-wet-on-wet technique for the pupils.

(If you made your eyes early enough in the day, they should be dry enough to do the second step by late afternoon, maybe even earlier.  You could even use your dehydrator on low to speed up dry time, or to make them shiny.  I just opted to wait til the next day to finish them.)


Day 2:
I removed the eyes, and using the same page protector sheet, flooded the Puffles, dropping the dry eyes on the wet Puffles with my handy-dandy offset tweezers (I bought them specifically for dropping transfers and other bling onto wet icing.). I like the offset ones so that you can hold your deco flat & you can better see where to drop it on.  After reaching the end of each row, the first Puffle was set just enough to pipe the smile on.  (If adding anything more than a simple detail like a smile I would wait for the base to dry more to avoid crushing the freshly iced base.). Repeat, repeat, repeat...


Day 3:
Bake cupcakes.
Ice cupcakes.
Drop Puffle onto icing, add sprinkles.
Put in cupcake containers & hope they make it to school ok after a trip on the bus.  Think better of your decision, and drive daughter to school with her precious cargo.  Curse yourself for making cupcakes (instead of sending in birthday pencils and stickers) after she drops them upside down before ever making it to her classroom not 5 minutes later!  Luckily, kids don't really mind a messy cupcake : )


Another tip:  if you want to save time, and are brave enough to pipe the eyes directly on your Puffles (or whatever details on whatever you are making), when you make your template, do one or two rows around the outside of the page instead of covering the whole sheet.  The bottom layer will need to dry a bit before adding the details (unless you want a wet-on-wet look) and if you cover the whole sheet you would just smoosh them with your hand when going back to add them.  (and yes, I learned this the hard way as well!)

Whew!  Anyway, after the transfers were done, I thought about putting them on cookies instead, but adding a day for making cookie dough, chilling, cutting, baking and yet an extra day for dry time didn't sound all  that appealing : ). After all, I was still recovering from Christmas!

Also, they look super cute in a candy dish - I mean, who doesn't eat their leftover royal icing transfers?

*Update:  It seems that my IT Guy (aka hubby, but not by trade : ) was able to fix my Blogger issues...knock on wood...).  If the format still looks weird to you, let me know - he's on call : )  Thanks honey!