How to Bake the Perfect Sugar Cookie

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Welcome back! Today we are going to discuss a topic that every baker should have in their arsenal: Cut out sugar cookies!

The cut out sugar cookie is very versatile. It can be cut into any shape and decorated with any theme. Kids and adults love them. Cookies are easier and sometimes, more impressive than a cake. I even use this dough recipe for my tart and pie shells!

A sugar cookie at its most pure is sugar, butter, flour and eggs. Thats it!

Below is the recipe i’ve used for about 15 years. It’s THAT good.

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar and blend until smooth. Slowly add eggs, beating after the addition of each egg, until well combined. On low, mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Allow dough to chill 30 minutes up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out cookies to about 1/4 thickness. Cut out in desired shape. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just starting to be lightly brown.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Decorate as desired.

See? Super easy! If you need ideas, tips and tricks on how to decorate, click here to be taken to my post about cookie decorating techniques.

One of my earliest memories of making sugar cookies was baking them with my mom when i was a child. Always at Christmas time. We would make a whole day of it. Bake about 6 dozen cookies together. It always seemed like so many, until i became a professional and have baked 200 dozen in a day. My mother is no longer with us, but i make this recipe in her honor. Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of her passing.

Happy Baking!

Christopher

Event planning…or as I like to call it, preparing for battle.

Welcome back everyone! It’s been about a month since the blog launched and I hope you are learning a lot! I know I sure am.

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Right now, we are going to discuss something that I think we all struggle with a little bit and that is planning an event as a non professional. There is a huge list of details you need to remember. Today, we will start with just a few. This will be an ongoing series here.

*Location
*Food
*Decor
*Entertainment

Location

Location is probably your biggest deciding factor. Are you going to have the party in your garage? Or a hotel conference room? Maybe at a barn? The design style of the location is going to determine a lot of your decor choices. There are a few factors to consider when choosing a venue.

Price:
Is it within your budget? If it’s not your style, how much will it cost to create the look you are going for?

Capacity:
How many people can comfortably fit in the venue? Is there enough room for a dance floor?

Kitchen Facilities:
Is there an onsite kitchen? Do you need to use their caterer or can you bring in your own food? Is there a fee to do so? These are all factors you need to take into account. If you have it in your garage at home, you make your own rules ;).

Parking:
Is there on street parking for 100 cars? How far will your guests need to walk? Is there a high school nearby you could park in their parking lot and shuttle guests?

Bathrooms:
I cannot stress this enough. As a former employee in event spaces, nothing is worse than plumbing that cant handle the amount of guests you have or long waits for the restroom.

Permits:
Check with your local municipality to see if you need a permit. If you want to shut down the block to have a block party? Yep, you’ll need a permit for that.

Food:
You want your event to reflect you and your personal tastes and the food really is the vehicle for that. If you are hosting a small party, milling about the kitchen can be fun and interactive. Put that number at 50 guests and I’d highly suggest you get someone you trust to manage the food and act as a planner between yourself and the food. You as the host cannot do everything yourself. Nope. Not allowed.

Decor:
Decor is really what conveys your theme to your guests. It can be as simple as pink and blue streamers and balloons for a baby shower, to as lavish as personalized menu cards and linen napkins for a fancier affair. We will delve into this more in an upcoming blog post.

Entertainment:
Last but not least is entertainment. Do you want to play games to pass the time? Do you need a DJ to play the music and set the mood? String quartet to set the air of sophistication? Frankly, entertainment can make or break your event. If you think its a good idea to have your little brother use his iPod to play music at your wedding, i’d suggest you at the very least test it out and make sure it’s something he can focus on for an extended period of time. If not, you may want to hire someone or create a playlist that you know will last for hours so no one has to fuss with it when they are having a good time.

Lots to think about! And we haven’t even started discussing the fun stuff! Over the next few months I would like to revisit and delve into each one of these in more detail. In the meantime, if you have questions, please post them in the comments below so I can be sure to answer them!

Until next time,

Christopher

Color Scheme of the Month: May

Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day and I would like to take a moment to remember those who have given their lives so we can be free. We salute and support you.

Today is the last day of May: School ends for my daughter this week and the weather is getting warmer. Wedding season is in full swing as graduation season closes.

May’s color scheme of the month is Coral and Mint. This is a beautiful, soft pairing that is very classic and also contemporary.

If you happen to be planning a wedding or even looking for design inspiration for your home, Coral and Mint pair very well with gray.

Hope this opens your eyes to a combo you may never have thought of.

Christopher

Behind the scenes!

Welcome back! Today I’m going to lift the veil as it were, and show you how I set up for photos!

Photography, as any blog writer/Etsy shop owner/webpage user will tell you, is the most important part of your business! As humans, we “eat with our eyes first” if you will. First impressions are everything. You want your page to be clean, well organized and beautiful. Easier said than done 🙂

photo setup

Pictured above is a rig I designed for aerial shots as well as frontal shots. It is made of angle iron, available at any hardware store. It is held together with thumb screws, so you can take it apart and transport it if you’d like. It is also equipped with led strip lights to shine a bright light on the subject, so it photographs clearer. Led strips tend to give off a more blue light, which requires a little bit of tweaking in the editing process for the photos.

On to the background. If you look at my photos, it looks like a kitchen backsplash. I fooled you! Its two pieces of foam core taped together. One piece is covered with marble contact paper and the other is covered with peel and stick backsplash tile. This tile was actually on sale when I went to purchase it, about $1.50/sheet and i used 3 sheets. That totaled about $10 for a background. Pretty cheap if I do say so myself!

backdrop

As far as the camera I use, I invested in a Lumix FZ40 camera. It is point and shoot but it’s also a DSLR, meaning I can adjust the settings to get better capture if I want to. Learning this camera was a pretty big challenge. The last SLR camera I learned how to use was in high school and it was film based. My how things have changed!

Thats it for my basic setup. I hope this gives you a tiny glimpse into how I created the photos you see on my site as well as my Etsy shop!



Until next time,

Christopher

“I guess I don’t get fashion”

Welcome! Today on the blog we are discussing fashion as inspiration!

Many cake designers, myself included, look to fashion to dictate the direction we go with the designs we create. This is nothing new, i promise. A bride may be getting a cake and want the beading recreated on their cake. A girl purchasing a sweet 16 cake may want a crocodile texture. The list really is endless.

As a cake designer it is then up to us to “Make it work” in the famous words of Tim Gunn. Shoutout to my Project Runway fans!

The reason that I bring this up today is because last week was the infamous Met Gala in New York City. If you are unfamiliar, it is the fundraiser held the first Monday of May every year to fund the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. There’s a great documentary that covers the event called “The First Monday in May”. I caught it on Netflix. Its very interesting to see behind the scenes of such a large scale event.

Every year they choose a designer to honor and 2017 Honoree was Comme des Garcons, a Japanese label that has been making waves since 1969. Per Wikipedia, The label was started in Tokyo by Rei Kawakubo in 1969 and established as a company Comme des Garçons Co. Ltd in 1973. It is written in Japanese as コム・デ・ギャルソン (Komu de Gyaruson).[3] It became successful in Japan in the 1970s; a menswear line was added in 1978. The year 1981 saw Comme des Garçons’s debut show in Paris. It created a splash for its predominant use of black and distressed fabrics.[4] Throughout the 1980s, Comme des Garçons’s clothes often were associated with a ‘distressed’ and ‘punk’ oriented style.
Comme des Garçons’s designer fashion lines are designed and produced in Japan. Lines including Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Noir, Comme des Garçons Homme, Comme des Garçons Plus, Comme des Garçons Man, Comme des Garçons Deux and Comme des Garçons Shirt, are all handmade. This is because Comme des Garçons adamantly values the quality of hand-made garments, reflected in the more expensive price and longevity of their products. Play, the company’s luxury casual streetwear line, is mainly produced in Japan, Spain, and Turkey, with France’s Play factory still utilizing many hand-made procedures as opposed to Japan, Spain, and Turkey’s production line factory. This is because France’s factory also produces hand-made only lines, including Tricot Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Evergreen, and Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garçons. It is believed that all fabrics are produced in Japan, but some China and Australia sold pieces are hand-finished in France for quality control purposes (distinguishable by the hand stitched heart emblem). In an article for Business of Fashion in April 2017, Tim Blanks reported generated revenue for CDG and its affiliates as “over $280 million a year”.[5]

$280 million per year from one company. Impressive! The fashion industry drives a lot of what we do, whether we realize it or not. Per Elite Daily, FIT professor John Mincarelli tells ABC News, “In rough economic times, people shop for replacement clothes,” adding “basics” prevail during an economic downturn.
Economist George Taylor was the first to notice the correlation between fashion and the economy; he developed the “Hemline Theory” to describe his findings. In the 1920s, he noticed hemlines became shorter as a way for women to show off their silk stockings.
Once the market crashed, longer skirts became de rigueur. Why? Because longer skirts allowed women to hide that they weren’t wearing— and couldn’t afford — stockings.
Skirt length isn’t the only indicator, though. Some, like Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder, believe sales of cheaper thrills best indicate the state of the economy.
Small splurges, like lipstick, increase in sales during economic downturns because more expensive indulgences become unrealistic.”

Generally when there is an awards show or a gala, Hollywood weighs in. You may even have weighed in online yourself. There’s even a show dedicated to it on the E! Network, Fashion Police, where they discuss the choices and the designers. I was perusing message boards this morning and I found a common comment: “Maybe I don’t get fashion”. Its not that you don’t understand an event like the Met Gala, its just that the person wearing the design is using art as fashion, which is not ready to wear, the term used for fashion off the rack. Below are some examples of some of the more out there items worn to the Met Gala this year:

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You would probably never wear any of these on the street but I’m hoping you can see how they are works of art. The details, the embellishments, they are all inspirational and better yet, aspirational. Thats what fashion is: Something to aspire to.

I hope I’ve been able to shed a little light onto the way designers are inspired by one another.

Until next time,

Christopher