Hello, this is your blog calling

My poor blog… it has been so neglected. Trying to start a new business while taking care of a 4 yo, 3 yo & 18 mo old is close to impossible. Woefully sleep neglected (as I write this I only had 2 hours sleep last night), I have said to my husband on more than one occasion, “am I crazy?” (I really should know better than to open the door like that). But as I sit here at the vendor fair and watch the people as they look at the cookies it is worth it. A little six year girl just stood staring at each cookie, taking them all in, for at least 10 minutes. I love hearing “wow!” and “oh my gosh look at these cookies!” and my favorite, “they’re almost too PRETTY to eat!”. Almost. ; ). Yes, it is hard and my kids ask me to play with them enough that it tugs at my heartstrings, but I love making these cookies! I’m sure there is some perfect cliche for this moment in time but for now I am just harried, tired and perfectly happy!

New Cookies

Since the hard drive crashed on my Apple a couple of weeks ago I have felt a little lost.  I was used to the Apple and we were comfortable working together.  I am now using an old HP that has been resurrected to step in while we figure out what to do with the Apple.  It’s just not the same.  This poor blog has suffered from lack of attention while I get over my pre-occupation with change (to a different computer).

At any rate, I have been making cookies and wanted to share some of the ones I made for a Spiderman-themed birthday for a 3 year old.  I plan to start having my blog posts be more interactive and informative but I didn’t come to this conclusion until I was almost finished with these cookies.  The next ones will have more information. 

Rolled sugar cookies prior to being iced are frankly really boring.  While they may have their chosen shape they are just plain and blah.  Here is a picture of the rectangles and the 3’s prior to being iced.  DSC04709DSC04710

 

 

 

 

Icing the cookies requires several different steps depending on the colors you’re using.  Generally you need two different consistencies of royal icing – regular for piping and thinned for flooding – for each color you are using.  “Flooding the cookie” is when you use the thinned icing to fill inside the piped lines.  I like to use a squeeze bottle for large flood areas which I smooth out with a small angled spatula.  For smaller flood projects, like the dots on the threes or the webbing on the rectangles, I just put the thinned icing in a piping bag with a #2 or #3 tip.  DSC04711Make sure you have a glass with a wet paper towel in the bottom close by to hold the bags that aren’t in use.  Royal icing dries very quickly and your tips will crust over and become clogged.  As an aside, I like to use bag ties (the purple ties at the top) so I don’t have to worry about them coming open.  I don’t believe this is common practice and, in fact, I think most people do not use them.  Just a preference of mine. 

Even when I have drawn out the design ahead of time, I am rarely happy with the cookie until it is completely done.  I can’t say enough about how much sanding sugar changes the look of the cookie.  The spider webs are an exception – just the sheer nature of their design is enough. 

Here is the finished project.   DSC04718DSC04722The Spiderman head was a first attempt.  I am not completely happy with it and will make a couple adjustments next time.  I didn’t include it in the final box.

 

Boxed and ready to go.  DSC04726

Website Update

We have our new website – but it dosen’t yet have content.  At least now when people go to theprettycookie.com our logo will appear.    Over the next few weeks I will be working on adding pictures and informtion and  would welcome any input you may have.  Even things that seem small like color choice are important and I would love to hear your opinions.  The website is for you and I want it to be user friendly.  Thank you!

Website – Please Note

It was thankfully brought to my attention that there may be some confusion as to my website.   Our official website is http://www.theprettycookie.com.  Unfortunately, it is not currently working.  We have the domain name reserved but because we haven’t yet started the site you will get an “unable to locate server” error message.  We hope to have it working in the next month or so.

Not to be confused, there is a website http://www.prettycookie.com  – without the “the”.   Please  realize these are NOT my cookies.  I will post some more pictures of my cookies here on this blog and also on the facebook page.  I’m confident you will be able to see the difference.  Thank you for your patience with the website…. it’s coming.

Kitchen

This morning, I met with the people who I am going to be leasing the commercial kitchen from.   I was so incredibly surprised when I walked in I could hardly contain myself.   In talking with my insurance agent I was afraid I was going to walk into a kitchen that resembled my home kitchen but in a public building.  She said it happens all the time where people say they have a “commercial kitchen” and then you show up to find a single Kenmore stove.   She explained to me that just because the kitchen is not in your home does not mean it is commerical grade.

This kitchen is amazing.  It is about 1350 square feet with every accoutrement I could want.  Two giant ovens with emergency shut off valve, all stainless steel workstations, large basin sinks – everything you would find in a busy working restaurant.  Except this isn’t a restaurant – it’s a community center!  It is vacant a lot of the time so I will be able to work with hopefully few to no interruptions.  I think my insurance agent is going to be pleasantly surprised too.  I can’t wait to get started!

The right tools

I am amazed at how the right equipment can really make the biggest difference in the finished product.  

I was using an old rolling pin that I have probably had since I moved out of my parent’s house.  No doubt it was a hand-me down (I can’t see myself buying a rolling pin 20 years ago).  This poor rolling pin was of the handle variety – handles on each end that make the pin look like corn-on-the-cob with corn picks.  The handles were loose and wobbly and actually not very good at rolling anymore.  I have been doing so much “dough rolling” that I decided it was finally time to buy a new one.   There are so many different types!  There is wood, marble, steel, French, tapered… and each one does something a little different.  I went with a pretty traditional maple wood, straight pin, 20 inches long.   I love this rolling pin!   It rolls the dough beautifully and, since it doesn’t have handles, is actually easier to work with since I can control the pressure.  Also, my old rolling pin was on about 10″ – this one is 20″.   Huge difference!  No more struggling with dough size and cutting into the dough with the guides.  Why did I wait so long to buy a new rolling pin? There are numerous wonderful baking supply websites but I actually bought this one at Amazon. They have a large selection and it was easy to compare the different ones.  

The other item that makes a significant difference is the parchment paper. I have been using parchment paper from the grocery store.  I have tried a few different types and brands but they all seem to “act” about the same.  I finally decided to order some nice parchment paper from King Arthur Flour and wow, what a difference.  These sheets are non-stick and reusable and pre-cut to fit inside my large jelly roll pans.  They work beautifully!  I roll out my dough between two pieces of parchment before chilling it because I find it is easier to work with and I get more precise cut-outs that way.  This new parchment doesn’t slide around on the counter and it transfers to the jelly roll pan so nice and easy.   What a treat!

My lesson learned is that you shouldn’t try to paint the Mona Lisa with finger-paint.   Buy the best tools you can afford for the job you’re doing.  The results will be the better for it.

Labyrinth…

I would describe starting a new business from scratch as being stuck in some kind of labyrinth.  The Wikipedia definition describes labyrinth as “a maze of sorts with an unambiguous through-route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate”.    That pretty much nails it right on the head.  

Starting a new business should not be “difficult to navigate” but it is certainly maze-like.  It is like every item has another arm and another route to follow.  If I am being a little cryptic what I am trying to say is that it seems as if there is a never-ending litany of things to do.  Just when I feel as if one stage has been completed, I realize that I have to actually do something additional or new.   Before I started this endeavor, I never realized the amount of effort that goes into running a small business.  You have to think of everything in order to have the proper presentation, comply with all laws and make sure your business (and yourself and customers) is protected.  There is so much more to starting a business than generating a great business name and registering it with your prospective state.  There is insurance, logo design, Trademark application, wholesale contacts, web design, blah, blah, blah…  I even discovered (much to my husband’s disbelief and dismay – he still thinks it’s a rouse) that I need a new cell phone.   My poor old pretty pink Motorola just can’t handle the rigors of business life (welcome new iPhone).   I am lucky that my husband and I are both attorneys in the sense that we can a lot of the work ourselves.  I filed for my own LLC and EIN number and my husband did the trademark application.  But, also not lucky, because we are doing the work ourselves.  Next on the list, business cards.

I am ready to start making cookies! Sanding sugar here I come…