All about CookieCon....psyche! It's all about Sonya!

I met Sonya last October at our North Carolina cookie class. She is tall and stunning with the sweetest southern drawl you ever heard. Sonya teaches school full time, is married, has 2 boys, and makes amazingly beautiful cookies. We asked her to tell us how she does it all. Here's what she had to say:

Teacher by Day – Cookier by Night and Weekends…and Holidays….and any break from school!

Hi Sweet Cookie Friends and fellow McGoobers!

I was beyond thrilled when I was asked to submit an article for Arty McGoo’s blog!  I was asked to describe how I am able to juggle being a teacher and running a successful part time cookie business.  I am currently a full time teacher at Palmetto High School in Williamston, SC, serving the special learning needs of students in grades 9-12.  These needs include learning and emotional disabilities, ADD, ADHD, autism and anxiety.  I am also our school’s ESL teacher, serving the needs of our English language learners.  I have been teaching for 18 years, and my passion is helping my students find success in school.  I am often referred to as Mama Pack!  

Sweet Treats by Sonya was created in March 2015 because of my love of baking and decorating!  I have always loved to bake for family and friends.  For years, I had always decorated sugar cookies with buttercream icing…until I stumbled across Sweet Sugarbelle’s blog and was introduced to the world of royal icing – game changer!  I spent many hours and late nights watching her video tutorials and reading all about the world of cookie decorating.    Callye Alvarado is officially my cookie mama – she taught me just about everything I know…and then I found Arty McGoo – through Sweet Sugarbelle’s blog- and here I am…constantly learning and loving every minute of it!

How do I juggle the world of teaching and the world of running a cookie business from my home?  I’m not sure – it is a miracle some weeks – and I am beyond blessed with an awesome family to help me.  Many afternoons include coming home from school, snacks and homework with my kids, and then I put on my apron and start rolling out cookie dough.  The decorating process lasts well into the night, so I have learned how to space out my orders throughout the week and weekend.  My oldest son Ethan is 12, and he is a great help with his younger brother Bryce, who is 4.  My husband, Andrew, has supported my vision of opening a small business from day one and he encourages me every step of the way.  He is also a master at cooking dinner, washing dishes, doing laundry and picking up items at the grocery store.  He practically has my recipes memorized and always knows what ingredients I need.  He supports my love of cookie toys and is not surprised when he sees purchases for cookie cutters, stencils and airbrush supplies.  He is also great at giving advice on cookie designs.  I value his input and opinion.

Andrew & Sonya

Andrew & Sonya

 

I had to miss a day of school to attend Arty’s Halloween Spooktacular workshop in October 2016, and it was well worth it!  Arty, please come back to the East Coast soon – I will be there!  Even my students support my love of all things cookie, and were thrilled to hear all about my trip when I returned.  In November 2016, we were able to enjoy some much-needed family time with a fabulous trip to Disney World.  I continue to have tremendous support from family, friends, co-workers and my fabulous customers!

In February, 2017 Sweet Treats by Sonya was renamed Sweet Sophia’s Custom Sugar Cookies in honor of our daughter, Sophia Grace.  Sophia was delivered into the hands of God in June 2011.  She was stillborn at birth.  I was 37 weeks pregnant.  Since her entire nursery was decorated in butterflies, we held a butterfly memorial service in her honor.  My new business name and logo are in honor of her, and she is able to be a special part of my cookie business.  I am thrilled for what the future has in store for Sweet Sophia’s and I am excited to continue learning all I can….and one day, I will make it to Cookie Con to meet all of you!  Thank you to all of the amazing cookie artists out there – you are such an inspiration to me!

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Here are a few of my favorite sets!  I love pretty fonts, wood planks, airbrushing and hand painting!

Be sure to visit my website www.sweetsophias.net to see all of my work.  You can also follow me on Instagram @sweetsophias or find me on Facebook at SweetSophiasCookies.  Thank you for the cookie love and for allowing me to share my story!

Sonya Pack
Sweet Sophia’s

 

 


 

 

Meet our Guest Author: Ann the Amazing!

Today I'd like to introduce you to my amazingly artistic cookie friend, Ann Doyle. I met Ann last year when she attended Party McGoo 2: Electric Boogaloo. (What? You didn't know I give my cookie retreats such "interesting" names?) Ann is a scientist by day, and an extremely talented cookier by night. I found Ann, and the touching story of how she came to be a cookier, inspiring. So without further ado, meet Ann!   

Ann and her husband, John, who encouraged her to become a cookier!

Ann and her husband, John, who encouraged her to become a cookier!

Hi fellow cookiers! I am Ann from Atlanta, and am excited about the opportunity to contribute a little something to Arty's blog.

I was asked to explain how I combine being a biotech scientist by day, and an insomniac cookie artist by night, so here goes!  In February of 2016, I was not in a good place. My younger sister and my mom had died within weeks of each other and I was really sinking.  Although I had a wonderful husband, a happy home, and a great career (more on that later), I was still just so darned depressed.  While going through my FB feed, curled up in bed one day (eating cookies), I happened to see a cookie designed by Arty McGoo. I became fixated on it. My fantastic husband, who was trying hard to help me climb out from that dark place, said "you could do that".  So, after watching a few videos, and a trip (or 5) to Michael's, I had completed some cute wet-on-wet heart Valentine's Day cookies. The next thing you know, I'm outta the funk, and into the kitchen. Daily. Nightly. All weekend. I was hooked.  God had thrown me a life preserver in the form of powdered sugar, Sugar Veil, a great teacher, and a bunch of other sweet stuff.

Ok, so onto the aforementioned assignment: By day I work for a biotech pharmaceutical company that focuses on new treatments for rare genetic diseases. After college, my graduate school work was in biochemistry, working with storage centers within our cells, and how enzymes can help clear out some of the gunk our cells accumulate, especially in genetically impaired children. So part of being a "curious cookier" (hey, that could be a catchy name for a cookie blog!) involves adjusting ingredients in recipes and concocting new cookie ideas...just the way a biochemist might do in the lab: maybe 1/2 of an extra egg might stabilize volume and leavening while decreasing fluidity. Or, if I use potassium chloride (fake salt) vs sodium chloride (salt), will there be a change in texture/flavor/outcome (NERD!)?  And, for me, being an insomniac simply allows me to cookie constructively into the quiet, peaceful wee hours INSTEAD of lying in bed, counting Sweet Sugarbelle or Lilaloa sheep cookies.  So, there you go. Biotechie by day, insomniac cookie artist by night.

I'm grateful for my husband, my career, the cookie community (and learning from all of you), and my new passion for creating tasty, creative (sometimes kind of weird) treats for family and friends. I don't market/sell my creations: I do look for people who might need an emotional lift, and ship them cookies in hopes of helping them come out of their dark places as well-it's my ministry (hey! another idea for a cookie blog title: "The Compassionate Cookier!).

Thank you for reading my story.  If you'd like, please follow me @cookiewenches. Here are a few examples of my late night happy scientist cookie lab creations (the cookies in the bottom photo were influenced by Arty):

It's a brand new year! Meet a brand new McGoober!

Happy New Year! I love the beginning of a new year because it gives me a chance to reflect on the past and gear up for the future. I like to choose a Word of the Year. This year my word is "outside". I hope to spend 2017 doing more things "outside": outside my comfort zone, outside my house, outside of myself. I hope you've chosen some great things to accomplish this year.

Speaking of newness, this month I want you to meet my friend Colleen Cole. She is a BRAND new McGoober! I met Colleen last October when I went to North Carolina. She was kind enough to host my east coast cookie retreat in her home. She is fun, funny, and talented, but had never tried her hand at cookie decorating until the weekend I met her.  I know her cookie journey is going to be epic because she is already an excellent artist. So...in her own words...Colleen's entry into the cookie community!

Arty, Colleen & Kim in Topsail, NC

Arty, Colleen & Kim in Topsail, NC

My name is Colleen and I am new to this whole cookie decorating world (as of 4 months ago I didn't know it even existed).  

I am a painter (acrylics on canvas) and a former grade school art teacher, which you would think would give me a "leg-up" when it comes to decorating cookies.... sadly, that is not the case.  My first experience  decorating cookies was at a girls weekend at the beach last October.  We forced our good friend Kim Holmes to give us a class. She did a GREAT job showing us how to make tombstone cookies... we (the beach girls) did a great job at laughing at our attempts to reproduce the sample cookies.  A few days later Liz taught a class in my home for her East Coast McGoobers.  Once again my teacher was AMAZING (come on... it was Liz herself how could she NOT be amazing live and in person).  I would like to say my second attempt was..... “perfection”...”stunning”...”two thumbs up”..."atta-girl"! Yep, I would like to say that.  Sadly I have to admit my cookies were.... "acceptable for a newbie" (a solid B-... maybe C+).

Since that class I've made the Thanksgiving Turkey cookies (kind of the Dim-witted version of Liz’s), wet on wet heart cookies, whale tails, and chili pepper cookies.  Each time I get more comfortable with my skills. Believe me...painting on canvas is A LOT different than painting with food coloring on royal icing!  I love that this is a different venue for expressing art - Who knew!?!  My guess is that I will get better and better with every attempt (or at least that's what I'm telling myself).  It was so fun getting to know Liz and finding out about this cookie world.  I’m Colleen. I’m a new McGoober. And this is going to be a fun adventure!

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Liz here again...  Colleen is being very modest and her first cookie attempts were both strong A's (after the tombstones she made the paper doll set!).  Her natural artistry definitely shines through even though she is brand new at this.  And those peppers?  Seriously?  I would be proud of those beauties!  I'd even say A+  

 

 

Cookie Spotlight

I love how as soon as January 2nd arrives, my social media feed is FLOODED with Valentine's Day cookie ideas. As you probably already know, I love a good pun, and Valentine's Day is by far the punniest of all holidays. So I'd like to share these phenomenally punny cookies that graced social media with their presence. They are by the VERY talented Claudia at Sugar Happy Cookies, they are adorable, and I love them! 

Arty's 12 Days After Christmas: Day 12!

IT'S THE FINAL DAY!  This is the big finale of my 12 Days AFTER Christmas Giveaway and today's UNBELIEVABLE prize is from Karen's Cookies.  Mike and Karen are the sweetest duo.  It seems like everything they do is with the cookier in mind.  Their online shop is full of supplies and cutters and tools that super serve the cookier community and cater to our every need.  And we all love getting their packages wrapped in that happy yellow tissue paper!  

Not only do they supply us with all the tools and toys to make us dangerous, they have created THE BEST Cookie Family Reunion EVER!  I hesitate to call it a "conference" because it is the most personal, in depth, specifically cookie experience on the planet.  When you want to really learn a new language, you immerse yourself in the language and culture and that is exactly what CookieCon does.  You leave with amazing friendships and inspiration, speaking fluent cookie!  No matter what level you consider yourself as a cookie decorator, whether it is beginner, advanced, or "I just LOVE to look at cookies", you will LOVE the experience and people.  This is your tribe!

I am so excited to announce that today's winner gets a ticket to CookieCon... the SOLD OUT CookieCon.  As if that wasn't enough, the winner also gets a hotel room at the beautiful Hilton in Salt Lake City where the conference is held!  If you have a ticket, then be prepared to become the BEST COOKIE FRIEND EVER and bring someone with you.  If you thought you couldn't go to CookieCon, this can make it possible!  This prize is a dream come true.  

Ah, what the heck?!  Since we're giving away the farm, I am throwing into this unbelievable experience and giving the winner a seat in one of my sold out Pre-CookieCon classes.  You can choose from my Steampunk or my Fabulous 50's hands-on decorating classes to kick off the whole party.  All you have to do is get there!  So here is the lucky #12 prize:

  • a ticket to the SOLD OUT CookieCon in Salt Lake City  March 9 - 11
  • a hotel room for the duration of the conference at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center
  • a ticket to one of Arty McGoo's SOLD OUT Pre-CookieCon classes

So, cross your fingers, make a wish and enter to win below!   Of course, along with this AMAZING prize from Mike and Karen, you will ALSO win prizes from Day 1 - 11:

  1.  Semi Sweet ~ "Baking Buddies" pin set 
  2. Mannheim Steamroller Blu-ray, 2 CDs, & Chai Tea
  3. Arty McGoo cutters and tools prize pack
  4. Sweet SugarBelle's Valentine's Day cookie cutters
  5. DoughEZ rolling system
  6. How Sweet is That? $50 gift certificate
  7. Global Sugar Art $60 gift certificate
  8. 2Ts Stencils huge prize pack + $30 gift certificate
  9. Christine's Molds $80 gift certificate
  10. SugarVeil Vacuum Pick-up Tool
  11. KitchenAid mixer

Good luck!  I can't wait to see who wins the unbelievable prize this year!

Arty's 12 Days After Christmas: Day 11!

This isn't even the final day of my giveaway and I am giving away a KitchenAid mixer???!  What the WHAT?  This pile of gifts is ridiculously unbelievable!  KitchenAid is hands down the most beautiful mixer.  It is the one appliance I don't put away after I use it as it has a permanent place of honor in my kitchen.  I've had my KitchenAid mixer for 18 years and it is the best gift I've ever been given.  Mine has made countless batches of cookies, mixed tons of royal icing, kneaded hundreds of loaves of bread, grated and sliced loads of vegetables and cheese... and it is still going strong without one hiccup.  

I'm about to wax poetic and write my KitchenAid a sonnet because I love her so much, but later.  Right now we're talking about YOUR KitchenAid mixer!  This beautiful white 4.5 quart capacity thing of beauty is waiting to be shipped to your house and ready to be named (FYI: mine is named Grizelda) and I couldn't be happier to send it so you and your mixer can become BMFs (Best Mixer Forever).  

Enter to win below and of course, along with this AMAZING prize from KitchenAid you will also win prizes from Day 1 - 10:

  1.  Semi Sweet ~ "Baking Buddies" pin set 
  2. Mannheim Steamroller Blu-ray, 2 CDs, & Chai Tea
  3. Arty McGoo cutters and tools prize pack
  4. Sweet SugarBelle's Valentine's Day cookie cutters
  5. DoughEZ rolling system
  6. How Sweet is That? $50 gift certificate
  7. Global Sugar Art $60 gift certificate
  8. 2Ts Stencils huge prize pack + $30 gift certificate
  9. Christine's Molds $80 gift certificate
  10. SugarVeil Vacuum Pick-up Tool

Good luck!... and WHAT is the FINAL prize going to be tomorrow?????