For royal icing with a softer bite and a wonderful surface for painting, add about 1 heaping teaspoon of corn syrup to your (2 lbs of powdered sugar) icing recipe during the last few minutes of mixing. It makes an amazing difference!
Pardon me for quoting from The A-Team (child of the 80's), but "I love it when a plan comes together!"
My 11-year old son, Denver is full of helpful ideas. "You should buy this brand mom. It is less per ounce." he says at the grocery store. Or he will suggest, "We should get sushi and snuggle". His clever ideas also include inspiration about cookies. I was rolling out dough and he said, "What if we make cotton candy cookies using cotton candy sugar?" or "Can we put mini m&m's into the chocolate cookie dough?" I am always up for cookie experiments so I immediately comply with his every cookie wish. FYI: the cotton candy sugar didn't lend enough flavor but did result in a beautiful pink dough, and the m&m's were mmmmmazing!
So when he came up to me one day while I was decorating cookies and announced, "I have an idea for a cookie," I listened. "You should make one of a fortune teller with a crystal ball. You could cut out a part of it and put in... what is that stuff called? That clear stuff?" Me, "Isomalt? Here's a piece of paper. Draw what you have in mind."
Denver quickly drew a rough sketch of what he was imagining and how I could create the illusion of the crystal ball. He drew and explained and I sketched and clarified some details. We walked into my office and picked out the right rectangle and a small circle cutter for the crystal ball. I had a class to prepare for and cookies to decorate, but this was important... and I'm a procrastibaker.
We got the cookie baked and microplaned and ready to decorate. The background was originally going to be a galaxy design, but we soon discovered it competed with our turbaned soothsayer, who was the real star of the show and had to mute the colors by painting a layer of black food coloring over it. Denver advised and complimented me through the process. We made the big decisions together: hag or beauty? purples or blues? but I knew the part he was really looking forward to: the crystal ball!
With her tasseled throw and lacy tablecloth dry; her puffy sleeves and unruly hair painted, she was ready for her crystal ball! Denver and I decided how much isomalt to melt and put it in the microwave, laughing like the mad scientists that we were. "Mwah ha ha!" I think we literally rubbed our hands with glee. The microwave "dinged" and our laughter ramped up to maniacal. We brought the clear lava carefully to our cookie and poured it into the circle cut out. We filled it to the edge, creating a slight dome and we congratulated each other on how awesome we were. We quickly added several tiny sparkly star sprinkles to the setting globe and had to give each other a stern talking to about not touching the isomalt until it was completely dry. What self-respecting fortune teller had fingerprints on her crystal ball!?
She was everything we dreamed! Little did we know it was about to get even dreamier. The next morning Mr. John saw our creation and said, "That is so cool!" and he mysteriously disappeared. He returned with a nifty gadget that looked like a watch. He placed it behind the cookie and that's when the magic happened. Watch below to see it in action!
A collaboration with my favorite guys! Who knew they were such cookie geniuses!?
By Bailey Adams:
I always hear teenagers my age saying, "OMG, my mom is soooooooo lame! She's so embarrassing, and she never does anything fun." Everytime I am faced with this obnoxious statement, I have no idea how to respond. I can't relate to the individual at all, because my mom is absolutely wonderful. Putting the word "lame" by "my mom" is something so unfathomable to me that when I was younger, I thought all moms where this cool. Being a bit older now, i realize that my mother, Elizabeth Kessinger Adams, is basically the raddest person on the face of our planet.
I don't know if you guys have noticed, but my mom is flipping hilarious. I can't think of anyone else who makes me laugh harder than she does. A few months ago, my siblings and I where on the couch with my mom. She decided she would see what this "Snapchat" thing was all about. she had downloaded it onto her phone around 7:30, and we were on the couch till 2:00am laughing hysterically at the ridiculous face swaps we made. We laughed till tears streamed down our faces and our stomachs hurt from laughing so much. Oh, and by the way, my mom's laugh is more contagious than a yawn. Once she gets going, there is no turning back. my mom and I are similar in many ways, and one of those similarities is that when we are tired, we get really hyper. When we go to Disneyland, we always try to stay till 12:00am. Nothing compares to that feeling at midnight as you stand there in the park, your tired sore feet are still damp from splash mountain 6 hours ago and your clothes smell like bubbles and churros, and you can't help but smile a delirious smile, and do some weird dance that has not yet been discovered in our universe. At least, thats what my mom and I do. We will do these weird dances and faces and it is hilarious. it could be 3:00am or 12:00pm and it will always be hysterical to me.
I always love to sit next to my mom, whether it be in the pews at church or strapped in by her side on a roller coaster, I always feel better sitting by my mom and having her by my side. Evidently, my siblings feel the same way. This has been a real conflict in our household recently. Back when Denver, my 11 year old brother, was a baby, my mom had three sides. Sage and I would sit next to her on either side, and Denver would be in her lap. well, Denver is now a growing young man of 90 pounds, and he can't quite sit on her lap like he used to. My siblings and I will often argue over who's "turn" it is to sit next to mom every Sunday. At Disneyland, we alternate the rides we go on so we can all sit next to her equally. Ridiculous? Sometimes it certainly is. My siblings and I, we are pretty good kids. I would say we are not too terrible a trio, but I know we are definitely a handful sometimes. My mom always shows an incredible amount of patience with us, whether we are pushing each other over to sit by her or arguing over trivial little things, she is always patient with us, not to mention her keeping a calm countenance as i learn how to operate our two-ton vehicle.
My mom is definitely a mom, but she's also my best friend. Sometimes I feel like a lot of people's relationships with their moms are either one or the other, a mom, or best friend. I think that's one of the reasons why my mom and i's relationship is so unique is because we have both. My mom is my confidant, and I tell her ligit everything. Everyday, since I was about 5, I come home from school and tell her everything that went on during the time I was out of her sight. I think it is both a blessing and a curse for my mom. A blessing because I am such a chatter box that I would never be able to hide anything from her, and a curse because I literally never shut up. Nevertheless, my mom always sits and attentively listens to every weird, pointless thing I have to say. Thats another one of my moms many talents: listening. She is an incredible listener. She also gives the best advice. Sometimes I have a hard time believing my mom has problems because she is so good at solving mine with me. :)
Oh, did I ever mention that my mother, Elizabeth Adams, is a freakin superhero? Yeah, she has her alter ego, Arty McGoo, but she is also a Superhero. She possesses this special power known to man as Mothers Intuition. I don't know if I will ever be able to fully comprehend how she does it, but she can always tell when one of us kids is fibbing or hiding something. (of course, its never me...pfft. course not.) Not only is she able to tell when there is mischief about; she is also able to win every game we ever play as a family. I'm dead serious, I don know how she does it, but every time she beats us all by a mile. i know what your thinking, she cheated. Nope. I have already investigated the possibility numerous times and it is proven to be untrue. She does not cheat, but she always wins. We could be playing any game, and she will win, whether that game be Scrabble, Catan, Tetris, Blockus, it could be a flipping dice game; a game of chance, and she still wins. I'm telling you, its a special power she possesses. I hope it's hereditary...
I will be 100% honest, it's sometimes hard to share her with her thousands of followers and Cookier pals when she leaves for cookie con, or to teach classes that are away from our home, or when she has to leave to film in Kansas City. It is definitely hard to share her with the world, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I know my mom has blessed so many lives by doing what she does, and I know that she definitely has a very special light about her. I remember one time while my mom was gone on one of her many cookie-ing adventures, I happened to have a particularly rough day. I remember wanting to have my mom back home so I could talk with her and feel her hugs and ask her for advice and just to have my mom at home with me. I remember these words entered my head: "Why the crap does everyone have to love her so much?" I laughed out loud at my own selfishness, because who could blame them?! My mom is such an amazing person, how could I expect other people to ignore such a radiant and beautiful person? My mom is not perfect, but she is the closest person to perfect that I have ever witnessed in this life. My mother is the perfect example of the mother I strive to be in my future. She is the perfect example of a friend, a teacher, a peacemaker, a chef, a follower of Jesus Christ, and she is the perfect example of the person I want to become. I am so grateful that I was blessed with such an amazing woman I get to call my mom. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I will always love you.
It's always been fun to be Elizabeth's mother. I admit that hers was the most difficult delivery out of our 6 but our cute, curly-haired baby was also welcomed by 3 older sisters and a brother that loved, doted on and helped the new baby. All 4 of our daughters were born in the 1970's.
At Elizabeth's birth, her dad agreed to the name Elizabeth, as long as no one ever called her 'Lizzy' or 'Liz'....dream on papa (altho I have always called her Elizabeth). Her own gentle, mild-mannered & happy disposition certainly made up for that tough delivery.Four years later, Elizabeth was 'dethroned' from her baby position, when her little brother was born.
Elizabeth was always curious, quite shy, a quick learner and wanted to do everything her 3 older sisters did. As their mom I had a great time sewing 4 matching smocked Easter dresses, 4 stretchy-striped swim suits, nities, panties, slips , Halloween costumes & tons of pant & dress outfits.
She was forever a most avid reader and I would find a flashlight and 5 or more books in her bed. Our family enjoyed singing together around the piano and her natural musical talents were evident. In Jr. High it was fun to watch her play in the girls basketball games. She and her siblings would sit around the dining table with their dad giving each one a blank paper, paints, pencils etc. for an art lesson together. Through high school she continued developing her musical & artistic abilities.
Upon meeting her dear John in college and then marrying, his own encouragement & cheer-leading certainly furthered Elizabeth's creative juices. (We also adore the 3 amazing grandchildren they produced). Her dad and I continue to be amazed and delighted at her really innovative creations as a cookier as well as all she & John's great business acumen. Elizabeth is one great wife, mother, woman, friend and daughter and we cherish her.
Elizabeth, er Liz, I mean Arty here to add:
I recently found my Easter basket from this picture and had to "recreate" the look. Each of the baskets were made with a different fabric and yep, you guessed it... my mom sewed them. How did she get our hairbows so straight?!
I thought I would introduce you to my mom today. Her name is Daphne and she is rad. I met her when she was 34 years old... and I was zero... because I was born. She had a houseful of kids already but she was still excited about me! I liked her immediately because she rocked me to sleep, changed me, and I can tell that she fed me a lot because I was chunky!
Our friendship progressed through the years. She still fed and clothed me, but the diaper thing eventually went away. For lack of a better term, my mom was the original hipster. She sewed all our clothes (everything from undies to prom dresses), made tons of loaves of whole wheat bread every week (milling the wheat herself) to keep her brood in PB&js, and kept the cookie jar full (seriously, we ALWAYS had cookies). As kids we would complain about our breakfasts. What horrible things would she feed us? Oh... eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cocoa, whole-wheat toast with loganberry jam... that she of course canned from berries grown in our backyard... gross right? We just wanted a bowl of Lucky Charms, ungrateful little miscreants that we were. I didn't know you could buy maple syrup or cinnamon rolls at the store.
Don't get me started on our Twinkie-less lunches or our homemade pizza dinners... made from, yep you guessed it... tomato sauce that she canned from tomatoes we grew in our backyard.
So with all this baking and sewing and cleaning (can you imagine the laundry 8 people produce?), she probably didn't do much else, right? Wrong! She was constantly serving others through church or as the PTA president and would you believe she taught piano lessons every day?! I think her oven had a constant rotation of brownies going through it for bake sales. She sacrificed so much for us kids; it boggles my mind. She is the kind of mom that could totally rub it in your face that she is so amazing, but she doesn't because on top of her unbelievable awesomeness she is the most loving & humble, down-to-earth person ever. When she talks to someone for 5 minutes, the next time she sees them she gives them a ginormous hug like they were her best friend. She's just like that. I'm so lucky to call her Mom and to have her just 20 minutes away to bug her whenever I want to. Hopefully I can be half the mother she is... maybe that's why I had 3 kids! ha.
This post is the first part of a little Mother's Day series. Tomorrow, for the second maternally-minded post, we'll hear from my mom and maybe see a couple of embarrassing pictures. Mother's Day we'll finish with the third generation with a post by my daughter Bailey. Hope you enjoy.
This is a picture from the first CookieCon in 2012. I was about to teach a roomful of cookiers how I painted on cookies... and I felt a little like throwing up. It might sound cheesy, but that experience ended up being one of the most rewarding of my life, complete with spontaneous standing ovation from the crowd and a lot of that crowd in tears, the good kind! I don't consider myself superstitious, but I have worn this dress to every CookieCon since... with the same shoes... and glasses! and fake bangs... wait, WHAT?! more on those later.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I get asked about my clothes a lot. Do I sew my outfits? Where do I find my clothes? Do I ever wear jeans and a t-shirt? so I thought I would answer those questions.
First off, I WISH I had the talent of sewing! I pretend to sew every once in a while and it turns out ok, but it's usually a banner or a pillow or other super simple, non-scary thing that I won't sew my fingers together over. Second, I find lots of my clothes from thrift stores and etsy. So I thought I'd give credit where it is due and share all the details on my CookieCon fashion this year.
I have a couple of aprons from Tracie of Mama & Madison and let me just say they are brilliant! I love to teach in them because I can wear a simple dress or comfy leggings and the apron does all the work of dressing it up. It is like a chef's coat but with femininity and character. She makes them in the cutest fabrics and they are such great quality! This girl can sew! and every detail is perfect. I wore this adorable retro baking apron during my Pre-CookieCon classes. Comfy and cute? this apron is both and I love it!
This scarf is hilarious and cute, again win/win! I wore this the first evening out in Salt Lake City because it was colder than I expected. What was all that cold, white stuff?! I found this awesome baking themed scarf in a boutique while roaming Morro Bay. Good news is you don't have to drive to Morro Bay to get one as they are available online,(but that's a great excuse to go to Morro Bay because it is beautiful and we could meet for fish and chips and buy scarves). You can find this one from "Primitives by Kathy" and there are lots of different themes that would make great gifts for that special gardener or dog lover in your life. They are large and have small tassels running down the short sides. The illustrations are charming and hilarious and don't get me started on the color, not to mention it's a great price and I'm a total bargain hunter.
The day after my two Pre-CookieCon classes I decided to throw a party, and not just any party. It was a sock hop to thank my McGoo U subscribers, complete with poodle skirts and a soda stand with special flavors like an "Arty" (mint julep), "Mr. John" (chocolate Pepsi, "Kim" (dirty Diet Coke), and a "CC17" (cookie dough flavored milk). I had a vision of wearing a poodle skirt, but instead of the leashed dog, I wanted a mixer with a cord. I had barely vocalized my dream skirt idea to my sister Andrea when the next thing I knew she texted me and told me it was finished... wha? how? She had made my dream come true and even sewed me a coordinating scarf. Can you handle the cuteness?! Andrea is an amazing seamstress who creates incredible costumes for her local high school's drama productions and sews adorable aprons as well for a local boutique. She needs an etsy shop STAT because look at this makeup bag and brush roll that I take on every trip!
This dream skirt called for dream shoes and I got to work on a pair of heels I got from a thrift store. I played around with some gesso, a dollar store car sponge, Mod Podge Collage Clay, some paint, fake cherries, acrylic paint, and some rice and ended up with these babies. The finishing touch for an outfit this epic could only be a Wilma Flinstone-esque thrifted necklace. The sock hop was fabulous and we had a very special guest serenade us.
I found this sweet dress on etsy. The looped detail on the neckline and sleeves reminded me of piped royal icing and the color was just dreamy! Do yourself a favor; go to etsy and do a search for vintage 1950's. Whether you buy anything or not, it is so fun to time travel by looking at real 1950's fashion! I lose track of time swooning over the cut and colors of dresses and coats. Buy all the vintage dresses you fall in love with, but don't snag any from me! I had to choose which ones made the cut for CookieCon and it was tough. I wore this one on Friday, paired with these mint shoes I had kicking around from another favorite online shop ModCloth (which are not available anymore).
The last day of the conference I taught a breakout session on "Flexing Your Creative Muscles". This class was a lot more casual than being a presenter, but the occasion still called for my "go to" red ruffled dress I've been wearing since the first CookieCon. This combination was also an etsy find and as soon as I saw the white dress with the ruffles (and that collar!) and the perfectly coordinated coat (look at those sleeves!) I knew it was meant for me. Vintage sizing can be misleading so really pay attention to the measurements the sellers give of each garment. Paired with a pair of Payless shoes (I was told I'm not supposed to let people know that) and a pair of glasses that I don't need... oh and a pair of clip-on bangs that I trimmed Bettie Page style (I'm probably not supposed to reveal that either) and my look is complete.
I know... breathe. Clip-on bangs. Here's the deal: I would cut real bangs, but they wouldn't look like that. I have curly hair and bangs are no bueno on me. I know because I've made that mistake several times. Also, it looks like I have bangs sometimes, but they are faked, not to be mistaken for fake bangs. Huh?! "Faked bangs" are when I roll my own hair into bangs or sweep my hair to the side to create a bang look. The only fake bangs are in the picture with the red outfit. So yeah. Fake bangs. The chestnut is practically a perfect match for me. What color would you get? You know you wanna!
My mom made this dress for me for the 2014 CookieCon when I was the keynote speaker. The fabric is the cutest and she made a matching bowtie for Mr. John of course! My mom used to sew most of my clothes as a kid, so the whole picking out fabric, measuring, getting poked by pins process reminded me of my childhood. The big difference is that I appreciate it a whole heckuva lot more now. Thank you mom! I wore this to the banquet on the final night of the conference.
"Do you wear jeans?"
Yes, yes I do! I love jeans and t-shirts. I especially love this awesome Sweet Sugarbelle t shirt my friend Callye gave me that I wore as we headed out of Salt Lake City, leaving Cookie Town behind. I'm actually wearing it right now as I type this. It's so soft. I also have been loving my new tote bag that I got from Studios on the Park, the coolest art studio where I have begun teaching local cookie decorating classes. There were several prints there by an artist that were so fabulous and then I saw her bags made out of fabric with her art on it and I fell in love. The artist Kelly Gilleran digitizes her original artwork, makes it into fabric and then sews it into these awesome totes. If I was lame I would say, "Totes adorbs!" But I'm not lame so I won't, but how rad is that?! I can't tell you how many compliments I have gotten on this bag in the few short weeks that I've had it. Just for having great taste! It's the perfect size and is super sturdy. It was hard to choose!
OY! I know that was a lot of ME, and I promise to post about CookieCon "The Adventure", but I really wanted to dispel the myth that I have any skills with a sewing machine and introduce you to some awesome people who DO posses those ninja needle skills and some fun places I go to find fun styles.
Disclaimer: I don't pretend to know anything about fashion. I just know what I like.
I never imagined I'd have a daughter with pink hair, let alone an eleven year old one. Then why? WHY would I let her do this?! Well, let me tell you my random musings on the subject of pink haired children.
Sage has always had opinions on fashion. always. When we went to the library for story time as a 2 year old she would sit quietly on the floor at Ms. Anette's feet, and at the end she would say quietly, "Miz Amet... I lika you shoes." As a toddler she noticed things, she appreciated colors and fabrics and textures. It was fascinating to me! She would suggest I add a certain scarf to my outfit or switch shoes and she loved to pick out Mr. John's ties on Sunday.
Where did she get this keen sense of style? Mr. John and I are no fashionistas. Mr. John thinks it is painful to clothes shop for longer than 15 minutes every year or two and while I like to thrift shop and find vintage clothes, I am pretty hopeless in the fashion department. As Sage got older, she would continue to surprise me with her ensembles and what she would go to school wearing. She would get an idea to dress a certain way and go with it. In contrast, I remember a particular day in my childhood when I was in fourth grade and I took a big risk and wore striped pants to school. I was uncomfortable and uneasy the entire day even calling my mom to see if she would bring me different pants. She wouldn't. I considered peeing my pants. I didn't. The funny thing was nobody even said anything about my pants! My insecure feelings were completely due to my lack of confidence to pull off, in what my mind, was a daring look. To see this quiet confidence in my middle child surprised me.
I worried as she got closer to middle school. The influx of new students at a new school who might not "get" Sage's green corduroy bellbottoms or her red cowboy boots had my mama senses tingling. Along with her unique fashion sense, Sage is what one would describe as "diminutive" or what we like to call "fun size". Extremely petite. Her 9 year old brother, Denver is several inches taller than her much to his glee. How would she stand up to these larger, judgmental, and fictional kids of my imagination?
I'm not sure about you, but in my day, middle school was a place where kids took every opportunity to identify uniqueness and deem it as "greater or less than" on the spot and worthy of ridicule. Had things changed? Were 11- 14 year olds kinder and gentler these days? Sadly, I knew they weren't. My oldest daughter Bailey was going into her third and final year of middle school and I was sad to see some of her quirks had been squelched by the middle school grind. No more fun hairstyles because her friends had informed her they didn't look cool or that her hair looked better straightened. Certain articles of clothing instantly pushed out of the usual rotation because of a comment from a classmate. Nothing serious, and Bailey is an amazing artistic soul herself who marches to the beat of her own drum, but I was sad to see some things she enjoyed left behind because of other's opinions.
The time has come for Sage to walk the halls of middle school schlepping a backpack that she could probably fit inside, and wearing whatever strikes her fancy on any given morning. Some days she's a little bit country, some days a little rock n' roll with a leather jacket she curated from a thrift store, and some days she looks like a perky miniature news anchor with a pencil skirt, her hair in a high bun and some pumps. The school year is starting to wind down and completion of her first year of middle school is less than 2 months away. How did it all go over? How do the kids react to our little fashion plate?
As you can imagine, she gets a lot of comments and the negative ones are always the loudest. She gets picked on about both her clothes and her size regularly. Sometimes it gets her a little down, but she has good friends who stand up for her when she needs it and most importantly, she stands up for others and herself and doesn't let other's opinions change her. If she gets a feeling to wear fake glasses and suspenders one day, she is going to rock that look without changing her mind halfway through the day or ask me to come bring her new clothes. Sage's style is a part of who she is, and she knows what that is at eleven? I applaud that.
So... the hair. Yes, her hair is now a gorgeous pink ombre as of yesterday. I don't know how she will accessorize and coordinate with the new shade, but I know that how she does it will undoubtably surprise me. I see her pink hair as a celebration. I want to encourage her creativity and her sense of style. If that means she has pink hair for awhile, I think that is okay. Does that mean no rules? Of course not. Sage knows what is expected of her. She knows clothes and hair color is a fun way to express herself, but they are temporary and aren't what is most important.
Some might see pink hair as no big deal. Some might see it as a bad mothering decision. I guess my old insecurities are showing because I felt the need to blog about it. Defend my decision? Yeah, I think so. Unlike Sage, I worry a little too much about what people think. Today I randomly decided to torture myself and look at the insights and statistics on my Instagram profile and I saw I lost 80 followers after I posted that pink-haired picture yesterday evening. I'm putting on my big-girl striped pants and not going to let it bother me... but I might change my mind and need to call my mom.
I guess what I want to say is: whether you think pink hair is horrendous or ridiculous or gorgeous... I hope you will be nice to the pink-haired. The green-haired. The people who look different or act differently than you. No matter how old, a lot of us are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. I can't help but wonder how Sage's first pink-haired day at school went...