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VALENTINE'S DAY COOKIES/ Pay It Forward



February is just around the corner. It's the month to express our love and affection for those special ones in our lives. I do not believe Valentine’s Day should be reserved only for romantic love but for our significant others as well as parents, children, friends and strangers. Yes, I said strangers. Let’s make February the month of extending a gentle word, kind gesture or helping hand to those anonymous people who we interact with each and every day. Those who are part of our world who we take for granted.

Grab a cart at the grocery store and hand it off to the person next to you and watch their pleasant surprise. Shovel the snow on your neighbor’s stoop. Extend a friendly greeting and address the grocery checker by name, then watch 'em perk up and smile. Give up your seat on the subway to another and stand instead.

Feel the joy in a simple act of kindness for having brightened someone’s day. I believe too in the power of suggestion and one good deed leads to another. Why not continue this trend beyond February and let’s start an epidemic of kindness. Pay it forward at every opportunity.

February is also the time to decorate heart-shaped cookies. Just to get you started, here are a few designs to inspire you to bake and decorate Valentine’s Day cookies for those you love.
 





SPRINKLED HEART COOKIES

MONOGRAM HEART COOKIES

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DECORATED COOKIES/ First Anniversary


Last week was my first anniversary in the blogosphere. In recent years my husband, Tom encouraged me to start a blog – a political one. I knew that topic would get me into trouble and instead started a cookie blog. (Here are a few of my favorite cookies)


It’s been an enjoyable and challenging experience. I’ve spent countless hours as baker, photographer, writer, editor, marketer and movie-maker. Who knew blogging was so time-consuming? It’s been rewarding although frustrating at times. I’ve learned quite a bit during this past year but computer code is still Greek to me. Thank goodness Tom knows computers and possesses lots of patience. The baking and decorating is the easy part. I often struggle with writer’s block so I'm grateful for Mr. Grob’s Creative Writing class in sophomore year of high school. The photography is a challenge and is my biggest weakness, if you hadn’t noticed. Tom has helped me navigate around Photoshop Elements and explained layers, levels and masks. Marketing through social media was new to me as well and I’m beginning to get the hang of it. I have a YouTube channel of cookie decorating demonstrations which can also be viewed on my Video Tutorials page. And I now take orders locally in the Washington DC Metro area. (See Cookie Orders).


My Cookie Clinic originally started out as a way to show friends and family sweet creations and demonstrate cookie decorating. Here was my very first post. It turned into something more after only a few weeks when I posted the Shirley Temple cookies of the famous red & white polka dot dress. I received a very touching note from one of my loyal and early subscribers who is the mother of a good friend. When she saw the decorated cookie it rekindled a tender childhood memory from the 1930’s. Her mother was an amazing seamstress and she made Jane the same dress as Shirley Temple, without a sewing pattern! It was one of those moments when I realized my blog was not just about baking cookies but about bringing joy to my readers. I admit at times I’ve fallen into a common blogging trap … an obsession with numbers … subscribers, followers, pins, clicks, etc. In the realm of things does it really matter? I have decided it is time to regain the proper perspective, the one I had after posting the Shirley Temple cookies.


During this past year, I met dozens of bloggers and they are the nicest and most generous people ever. A few blogging buddies have given their encouragement and support during the last year and taken the time to comment on nearly every post. It means more to this newby than you know. Anne at From My Sweetheart, who makes beautiful cakes and desserts has been like a sorority sister across the Potomac; Paula from Canada at Vanilla Bean Baker, a cookie artisan who gets my obsession with cookies; Cindy, a hop, skip and jump up Route 95 at Little Miss Celebration, an amazing, crafty talent who’s sunny disposition is infectious. 

Stay tuned and follow me into my second year. I have oodles of cookie ideas and will be mixing it up with traditional cookies too. My goal is to inspire and awaken your inner baker and decorator. I extend my heartfelt thanks to all my readers, subscribers, followers, pinners and occasional visitors … you know who you are. 


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ABSTRACT COOKIES/ Dad at 90



It’s a dad kind of thing to protect you and see that the world treats you right,
To offer his willing assistance any hour of the day or the night,
It’s a dad kind of thing to stand by you if one of your bubbles should burst,
To make sure you know you’re important and know that with him you come first,
To give you his all but still wonder if there’s something more he could do,
It’s a dad kind of thing to keep showing that he’ll always be there for you.
                                                                                                                                 Author Unknown

My first love … the man who gave me piggyback rides at bedtime as a little girl, taught me how to change a flat tire at 16 and walked me down the aisle … my Dad would have turned 90 today. He was a good, honest and kind man and his wallet reflected what he valued most in his life – his family. It was stuffed with photographs of his grandsons, elementary and high school photos of my brothers and me and my parents' wedding photo. I see those same family values carried on in my brothers and my nephews who now are young fathers. Although not here to blow out birthday candles, Dad will be remembered today by those who love him and miss him. Still a celebratory day, Dad’s niece, my cousin share the same birthday.

These cookies were to be poinsettia cookies but I didn’t have the time to decorate them before Christmas. So, this abstract design came to mind.


Abstract Cookies
Blossom Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Medium Bluegreen with AmeriColor Turquoise and AmeriColor Avocado
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Dark Bluegreen with AmeriColor Turquoise and AmerColor Leaf Green
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #3
Paintbrush
Gold Luster Dust

 Pipe curvy line and outline half of cookie with #3 tip in medium bluegreen icing.

Flood section with medium bluegreen icing.

Leave a small gap and pipe another curvy line and outline other half of cookie with #3 tip in dark bluegreen icing.

Flood section with dark bluegreen icing. Let dry overnight.

Apply gold luster dust onto cookie with paintbrush. Let dry 30 minutes.

Closer image of the gold sheen.



MORE COOKIE DESIGNS



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BRUSH EMBROIDERY COOKIES/ Afternoon Tea



Several years ago when my husband and I were dating he took me on a surprise date one Sunday afternoon. I didn't know where we were going until we arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. No, it's not what you're thinking! He surprised me with Afternoon Tea. We enjoyed champagne and tea while we feasted on scones and jam, tea sandwiches, petits-fours and fresh strawberries in whipped cream. We spent two hours sipping and nibbling before we waddled out of the beautiful tea room at the Ritz.

These cookies were made for a girl's 10th birthday party. Her mother requested cookies to compliment a Tea Party theme. I envisioned girly ruffled dresses and Mary Jane shoes. So, I baked square shortbread cookies iced in blush pink and white using the brush embroidery technique. Can't you just picture these dainty cookies at this dressy affair?


Pink Brush Embroidery Cookies
Square Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Light Pink with AmeriColor Super Red
Royal Icing for outlining tinted White with AmeriColor Super White
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Paintbrush
Hint: Just a smidge of red on a toothpick creates Light Pink.

Outline cookie with #2 tip in pink icing.

Flood cookie with pink icing. Let dry overnight.

Pipe zig-zag line with #2 tip in white icing.

Use paintbrush to pull icing to create design.

Repeat zig-zag line and paintbrush design. Let dry overnight.



MORE COOKIE DESIGNS

PAINTED COOKIE SQUARES

GLITTERY SQUARE COOKIES

FLORAL PLAQUE COOKIES

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COOKIES AND MORE COOKIES



Today is my final post in the six-part series of guest posts at The Best Blog Recipes. I would like to express my gratitude to Shauna for being a pleasant host and for sharing her blog space and readers with me. In case you missed any, here is a summary of my five previous guest posts at The Best Blog Recipes.






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CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE/ Caricatures

  

Another holiday season has come and gone as we carry our Christmas memories into the New Year. Besides all the excitement of Santa, gift exchanges, delicious eats, family and friends, the holidays were a wonderful time to gather for some fun and cheer. Every year between Christmas and New Year’s our friends Nadine & Joe have a holiday party. Their home is decked to the nines inside and outside. There are a slew of colorful, lighted Christmas decorations on their front lawn; everything from snowmen to Santa, trees to trains and my favorites - the Eiffel Tower and North Pole. Atop their porch roof a lighted sign reads Happy Holidays. They really go all out serving delicious food, pina coladas, daiquiris and as a special gift to their guests this year, a caricature created by a talented artist. I’ve seen them in the malls and country fairs but never considered having my caricature done. Even as the artist greeted us and invited us to sit for a sketch, I thought ‘no thanks, I don’t want to be drawn with big ears or big hair.’  It was a popular draw (don’t mind the pun) at the party, so along with the other party guests Tom and I decided to have our caricatures done. Dana, also a courtroom sketch artist, draws caricatures of couples and families too but we decided to do separate drawings…. more room for big hair! She drew Tom on a bicycle to depict one of his favorite pastimes and me with what else? cookies! We loved the completed sketches and I was delighted Dana skipped the big ears and big hair (well, maybe not the big hair) and drew me with an extra skinny waistline!

Pretty good likenesses, don't you think?

Dana’s artwork is incredible and besides caricatures she draws charcoal portrait sketches. She is a local artist in the Washington DC metro area. Visit Dana's website and consider her for your next event or personal portrait.

This pound cake recipe was posted early last year but it deserves another look. This creamy cake is one of my favorites.


Cream Cheese Pound Cake
3/4 cup Butter (1½ sticks), softened
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1½ cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1½ cups Flour
1/16 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla 

Grease and flour loaf pan
Blend Butter and Cream Cheese.
Gradually add Sugar. Add Eggs one at a time.
In separate bowl mix Flour and Salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add Vanilla. Mix well.
Bake at 300 for 1 hour, 40 minutes.
[This Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe is from Southern Living Magazine]


MORE CAKE

PECAN COFFEE CAKE

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE

LEMON BLUEBERRY CAKE

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