Painted Pastry

Every year my church hosts an event called Western Day, and one of the main attractions is the pie baking contest. As of this date, I have never won, but in all fairness there are some pretty amazing bakers to compete with!

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The pie baking contest is a great motivator to try something new though, and this year my mind went to painted pastry. A few years ago I experimented with a similar technique for painting sugar cookies prior to baking, but I didn’t like the result once the cookies had puffed up slightly and cracked that surface. My theory was the pastry would give a better finish since it technically doesn’t rise, and I was right.

Pastry paint happens in the egg wash stage, and involves only a egg, some water, and some food colour paste or spray. To make this pie, I used both; The leaves and flowers were all painted but the blue flowers were sprayed with an air brush food colour I picked up. I just loved how vibrant all of the colours were! Added to it, were sugared cranberries and pecans, because I love the rustic look of fruit and nut garnishes.

It’s important to remember that the painting happens before baking because we’re using egg – I laid my cut and painted pieces on a cookie sheet and assembled them afterwards onto my pumpkin pie. The “glue” and clear glaze that was used for finishing, was just a bit of icing sugar mixed with water. The glaze gives all of that extra pastry a nice flavour that you can enjoy on it’s own (if that much pastry on your pie seems like overkill).

Here’s how I put this particular pie together. Have fun with your own creations!


The Pastry Paint – Recipe

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • food colour
  • food safe paint brushes
  • small mixing cups for colours
  • toothpicks

Place the egg in a glass and whisk with the water for about half a minute. The water will break down the egg and make it less gluey. Divide your egg mixture between the mixing cups.

Using disposable toothpicks, add colour to your egg wash and mix pots of colour.

Paint your pastry! Be liberal with your egg wash, it will soak in. Bake the pieces until browned on the bottom and remove from the oven. The size of your pieces will make the cooking times vary, but these particular pieces were baked for 10 minutes at 350F.

Assemble your pie using a glaze mixed with icing sugar and water. Once it dries it will harden slightly and help hold everything in place. It also makes a nice all-over glaze for shine and flavour.

Post your creations online and use the hashtag #creativelybee so I can see your work! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Click here for my tutorial on making your own Pie Crust!

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Vacation for the Creative Type

Restaurants, shops, horse-drawn carriages, bicycle
Main Street, Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Mentally, I have always struggled with the very act of going on vacation. As a creative professional, my personal life and my professional life are happily interwoven. A day spent in the craft room working on projects does wonders for my emotional state, and there is nothing more relaxing than knitting outside by the fire pit, racing the sun with my ‘one more row’ mantra.

Even a day of running errands can also include moments of “look how gorgeous that field is, I have to take a picture” and “oh, Michaels is right here, i’ll just stop and grab some paint”.ย  My part time day job is creative too! I decorate cookies all day long and they actually give me money to do that. Unreal.

For a lot of people, a vacation is a time to break away from the work, but to a creative type, it can be hard to imagine something better or more relaxing than just making stuff. In all honesty, tomorrow when we head out on vacation, my husband will lead me to the car while I look longingly back at the house; But by the time we get to the highway I will have reminded myself of the following things.

So how do creative types get the most from a vacation? How do we tap into the vein of the experience, and really find the true experience of going away somewhere? Here are some cool lessons I’ve learned:

Experience Kairos

Creative or not, our linear minds are a jumble of past experiences and future anticipations. This chronological way of thinking is something that the ancient greeks called chronos. Life measured in time.

The other word, lesser known, was kairos. Kairos measured life not by time, but by the moments. To experience kairos was to stop and truly immerse yourself in your current experience. The scent of the air, the new sights, the temperature, and even your breathing.

While on vacation, permit yourself to experience kairos. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Take Photos of your Family

When I was 26, I travelled to Romania with a group of friends. When I came home, my camera was full of photos of castles and mountains, ruins and art. I took photos of the amazing things I had seen, because I wanted to show people what I had experienced, but in the end I was just that girl chasing people around, trying to make them watch my metaphorical slide show.

The photos that mattered, and the ones that still do, are the ones with my friends and I. There’s the photo of three of us standing in the doorway of an ancient ruin. And two of us in the forest with a stray dog who liked belly rubs. There’s the one with our group, standing on top of the largest dam in the world.

When you go on vacation, take photos of the people your experiencing it with. They are the anchors in your memory and when you look back on the photo you will have more of a connection to the experience.

Embrace the Local Culture

Be you, but be you in a different place! I went to Nashville, and came home with spices from the most amazing spice shop. I went to New York State, and came home with wool from an Alpaca Farm. Don’t just do what everyone else does on vacation, experience the local culture your own way.

 

Most of all, remember to not put expectations or pressure on yourself while on vacation. Studies have shown that a break in your everyday routine is enough to get your creativity flowing, and new experiences force us to use parts of our brain that we otherwise dampen down. Journal any new ideas you have, and then leave them in the book so you can return to kairos and recharge.ย When you return home, you’ll be amazed with your increased focus, and the flow of fresh, new ideas.

Do you have more to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar Bush Walnut Cake II

I’m curious, how old is your oldest cookbook?

I don’t know exactly how old mine is, but I remember my aunt giving it to me when I was 18, and that was… well, a while ago. The book shows its age, with brownish paper, worn print and a zillion splatters and stains within its pages, but still – I love it.

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It’s April, and here in Southwestern Ontario (Canada), it’s near the end of Sugarbush season. Usually, my daughter and I take a day and head out to the local sugarbush to enjoy a walk through the woods, watch the sap boil on wood fires and eat some hearty breakfast with fresh syrup. Sometimes, my husband will take a day off from the office and come with us, but for some reason we didn’t get around to doing anything like that this year.

Maybe that’s why this cake caught my eye today, while I was looking up another recipe. Well, truthfully, the giant stain that wiped out a portion of the recipe caught my eye first, but THEN I noticed the name of the cake, and I was intrigued.

The only real problem with this cake (other than, you know.. the stain that took out part of the recipe), was that it was a chiffon cake. My husband hates any cake that has egg whites separated, beaten and then added back in. It’s a texture issue for him, so as a rule I just leave those recipes alone because I can just not eat a whole cake to myself.

Whatever. I totally can, I just try not to.

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I read through the recipe so I could understand the flavour profile, and then converted it to a traditional cake. I’m in love with the result, and I know I will be making this one again! The walnuts really give this cake something special, infusing the whole cake with their nutty flavour, and the simple syrup, made with real maple syrup, was a good way to add moisture and add flavour. I don’t know, I’m not always a fan of just using extract, when I can use the real thing. Right? Right.

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For the walnuts, you can use a sharp knife and just chop the walnuts down until they are small bits, but I like to use my pestle and mortar for anytime I need to break down nuts. They crush up nicely, with a varied texture and they don’t go all oily and buttery like they would in an electric chopper. Fold these into the batter just before pouring it into the pans, and while the cake is baking, their flavours will be release and will permeate throughout the entire cake.

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The cake is easy to put together and bakes up well, but the assembly was a little more involved than my usual cake. The end result is a really perfect, cake that you will need to take to a friends house, church potluck, or just make for yourself because you like nice things and just want to surround yourself with the best of everything, all the time.

Oh wait, that’s me. But I think if you’re still reading this and haven’t skipped all the way to the recipe by now, then you and I probably have a lot in common ;).

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I hope you enjoy my take on this old recipe and let me know how it turned out for you!


Sugar Bush Walnut Cake II

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup veg oil
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • Caramel Cream-cheese Frosting (recipe below)
  • Maple Simple Syrup (recipe below)

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Finely chop 1 cup of almonds, or use a stone pestle and mortar, crushing them down until about 1/3 of the mixture resembles cornmeal. You could use a blender for this, but the walnuts will get oily and buttery very quickly and that is not how you want them.

Sift together the first 3 ingredients, and set aside. In the bowl of stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, add the eggs, sugar and oil. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Alternate the milk and flour mixture until both are incorporated, and then add the extracts. Continue mixing for another minute on medium speed.

Stir in 2/3 cup of walnuts, setting the remainder aside for garnish.

Grease and line (3) 9″ round pans, and divide the batter evenly between all 3 pans. You really should line the pans with parchment, this will create a porous bottom that you’ll find useful, later.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn the cakes out onto racks and let them cool before assembling.


Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 225g package of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 8oz can of dulche de leche (Eagle brand, near the condensed milk)
  • 6 cups icing sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add all of the ingredients. Beginning on low speed, fully mix all of the ingredients and then increase to medium speed. Allow the frosting to mix for about 2 minutes, becoming thicker.

This batch should give you enough frosting for 2 8″ cakes.


Maple Simple Syrup

  • 1/8 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup spring water

Place the syrup and the water in a small mason jar and close the lid tightly. Vigorously shake the jar for 30 seconds, and then add the syrup to your squeeze bottle! Alternatively, you can baste the layers of the cake with a basting brush, I just prefer the squeeze bottle. I divide this amount between the 3 layers with no leftovers, but you may prefer to use less.


Assembly

  1. Place a layer of cake onto your serving board upside down. This will expose the porous surface of the cake. Squeeze some Maple Simple Syrup onto the layer, and then add some Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.
  2. Repeat for each layer.
  3. It is a personal preference for me to keep the sides of my cake semi-naked, but you can fully cover them if you like! I just find the icing to cake ratio changes drastically on the edges, and I don’t like that.
  4. Garnish liberally with the remaining chopped walnuts.

 

 

 

Plant Stand – Refinished

I have a lot of hobbies, and somewhere along the way I turned that into a blog, facebook page, and a few fairly decent how-to videos… but they are not all equal, all the time.

Right now, I’m in a furniture phase.

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For the past few years I’ve become braver when it comes to furniture, and I think it’s largely due to the fact that I just feel like this world has enough “stuff”. It’s also partly because I’m tired of paying money for things that fall apart after a few years, while the pieces I refinish sit as solid and new as the day I completed them.

I’m always stopping by thrift shops and junk stores, keeping my eyes open for something that could not only be refinished, but become a desirable item once again. Last month, my eyes caught a sad, old plant stand that had some water rot on the shelves, but the spindles and brass knobs were perfect. It was also $4.

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Maybe I could have saved the shelves, but the water had caused some warping and it was easy enough to have new shelves made since my FIL is a top notch wood worker. He actually made me 3 shelves, to replace the 3 I had, but I made the decision to keep the stand at 2 shelves and kept the third pieces for another project.

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While I usually refinish pieces in creams and ivory, I really wanted to use this vintage pear shade that I had, and I love how it came together with the vintage papers I used for the decoupage.

If you’ve never added paper into your refinishing techniques, you are missing out!

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It’s a delicate process, but by using some modge-podge glue and good quality prints, you can layer the paper onto the wood, and once dry, sand it down to bring out the wood grain and give the paper a distressed look, much like you would with paint.

Here is another project I did, but using a paper napkin. You can see how the wood has almost absorbed the print!

I finished this piece with some brown antique wax, and a few clear coats to keep it water resistant.

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So what do you think? Did I get my $4 worth?

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Focus Concept: Future Me

I am by nature a very unfocussed person.

The kind of person who will go to the grocery store because I suddenly need one thing, pick up a bunch of other things while I’m there (to be efficient), and then come home and realize I forgot that one thing I actually went there for.

The kind of person who packs a lunch for work, the night before, and even gets my morning smoothie all ready in the cup for the blender – but leaves for work the next morning forgetting both things, and has to stop at the coffee shop for supplies.

I’m the girl who makes verbal plans with people, forgets about them, and then takes a spontaneous trip out of town because I have a *free* day.

It’s horrible, isn’t it?

My husband, my daughter and our friends… they think it’s part of my charm. They laugh, and forgive, and shake their heads, and sometimes it really is funny.

And then usually, when the situation is passed, I mentally berate myself for not being more focussed, more attentive, and I hate to say it…. a better person.

Over the past year, I had resolved to become more efficient, so I increased my personal studies on productivity and organization. I started with books that were bestsellers and recommended by Audible, but as I listened to each book I paid attention to the books the authors themselves referenced, or recommended. Now, almost a year later, my book choices are widely varied, and somehow I’ve gone from researching “skills and habits” to actually learning about how the mind works.

I know, I know. This is a craft blog. Trust me, I’m getting to the useful part.

There is a lot of info out there that can really help you understand how your mind works, but one of my favourite concepts was the truth about how we tend to view current responsibilities as aversion tasks. We also tend to put things off until tomorrow or next week, because we subconsciously view our future selves as the stronger, healthier, more put-together version of ourselves.

The problem is, our future self will never be better than the version we see today, not if we keep dumping on them. We can put off things all we like, but the aversion feelings are still locked into our mind. So we will continue to feel overwhelmed, overworked… and nothing gets done. Or we leave something so long that just as we finish, we are suddenly faced with 3 or 4 more things that need to be done right away. It’s like the longer life goes on, the harder it seems to get.

Can you see that in your own life? I immediately saw it in mine.

While many books promise the secret to becoming organized and productive, we creative types would just be wasting our money to try and apply them all. We are too scattered and wild to be channeled into a singular focus, and that’s okay because it’s what makes us, US.

The world needs more scattered and wild people, don’t you agree?

But there is a fantastic trick to having a good, productive day and guys… it involves time travel.

The technique is simple. In the morning, take a moment to visualize your future self.

My future self is amazing, fyi.

Think, you have to be good to your future self. What do you have to do today, to help that person? Be careful with your money today? Make some stock for your marketplace store today? Give your house a good cleaning today?

As you think about your tasks from the point of view of your future self, you’ll actually get a fast forward feeling of accomplishment. It’s exhilarating.

Now think of your future self at the end of today. Doing something relaxing and indulgent. What 3 things do you want to accomplish today, that will make that scene happen tonight?

Clean the house? Make 3 meals for the freezer? Help your daughter get her newspapers done so they’re off of your front porch (that might be mine).

Write them down, and do them. The limbic system of your brain will send out rebellious feelings of procrastination and will tempt you to shift your focus to something more rewarding, like watching videos of dogs being rescued from a dog meat farm in Korea (also mine). Call it out for what it is, and just do the three things.

I promise you, they won’t take as long, or be as difficult as your brain wants you to believe.

I’ve been using this method for a while now, and while I’m still forgetful and scattered (more on that another day, if I remember – haha), I’m actually ending each day so much better, and it’s helping me sleep better, which has made my mornings so much better!

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m actually becoming my future me. Here’s an example of how this concept has changed my life so far:

6 months ago, I couldn’t wake up before 7am without being all kinds of cranky and needing a pot of coffee. It would take me at least an hour to be mentally alert enough for conversation. Not joking. I’m also 40, so I really thought there was no changing things at this point, except that it did.

Yesterday, I woke up at 4am, which is something I’ve been doing for a while and loving it. By 5:30am, I was at the gym and by 5:45am I was swimming laps. By 7am I was at work and feeling like 110%, and I had still barely had 1/2 of a cup of coffee.

Instead of being at work all day and thinking about how I’m going to be too tired to go to the gym afterward, I was on an emotional and mental high that lasted all day and it fed into every other task that followed. I am excited to see how where my life will be in a year, and I feel like I know myself so much better, already.

So if you have a craft business or are trying to start one but can’t seem to get all the things you think you need to get done, finished and moving forward… try this method! Your future-you, the more successful, healthier, happier YOU… will thank you.

Handmade Business 101 – Pricing

There isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t take it personally when someone overlooks what we have made. It’s okay, we work hard. We imagine things, and give life to them with our hands. I own a handmade business and I’m a cake decorator, so when someone admires something I’ve put my heart and soul into, checks the price, and then immediately walks away – I feel your pain.

More on “Don’t look Rejected at a Show” another day ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was in business for 6 years, and I hadn’t made a penny. Lot’s of sales, for sure, but no profits. In fact, there were some orders where I ended up paying out of pocket. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that, as ridiculous as it sounds.

In fact, it was a really long time before I began to ask myself if I cared more about the sale, then I did about making money.

I had this idea in my head that the more sales I made, the more people would tell their friends, and my business would grow. It was true in a sense, but eventually I realized that while people did tell their friends about what I made, it was the deal they talked about; And those referrals wanted the same.

A handmade business, even from home, is like any other. You have to have a little time and money to invest in your start up and stock. There needs to be product, enough that you can “fill” a store, and you need, really need, to be patient.

Patience might seem like a strange word, but the advantage to working from home is that your overhead isn’t going to kill you (I’m assuming you already had a home you were paying for, some other way). Use that to your advantage and don’t play the price-war with online and local retail shops. Patience is the thing I had to learn that finally helped me get my act together. I once waited 2 years for a particular wreath to sell. 2 years… I had online inquiries, but no follow ups. You can’t imagine how badly I wanted to pursue the sale, even if it meant a sale price… but the day an order for it came in online, I made a profit, and the woman who bought it loved it so much, she left me a lovely review.

These days, I focus on profits and not sales. I may sell less, but I am making more personal income. Yes, I still have the occasional friend of a friend, or family member ask me for something, but I have a new rule I live by. I price everything the same, and the price is the price, no deals. But if I can give this item as a gift, then I count the personal investment as a pay out to myself, that I then log as money I spent on a gift.

Below is a list of 4 really important points, a list that I personally review with every.single.product. I make to sell. It requires some organization, but the payoff is… literal, actually.

  1. Remember you deserve to get paid for the work you do! Keep a Project-Log for every piece you work on. For me, that is a post-it note, stuck on each thing. I keep track of my time, and the cost of my materials. If I use half a bottle of glue and 1/4 bottle of white paint, I do the math.
  2. Set an hourly rate for yourself. Do it. This is your job, and you have a valuable skill. When you price your item, adding your hours is key. If you want to get this cost down for your customer, then you will just need to learn how to multi-task and and produce more per hour. I find that making 2 or 3 of the same thing at once helps with that – once you’re on a role and you already have the materials out, it doesn’t take that much longer on the clock, a savings that is passed to your customer.

    Setting the hourly rate is up to you, but this is the formula I follow. If I am hands on and working diligently, I charge a standard hourly rate and log it. If I am spending 5 minutes working, and 55 minutes waiting (therefore working on something else), I apply a reduced hourly rate to it. I don’t go so far though as to charge per minute… generally, the hour is the hour unless I really was only at it for about 5 or 10 minutes.

  3. Staple your receipts for materials to your project-log. I save on materials by using Amazon, downloading 50% off coupons at Michaels, and buying seasonal supplies on clearance, to be used for the following year. Example: Christmas supplies are 75% off in January, and can be stored for the following year.
  4. Be PATIENT. This is the hardest one. As consumers, we are conditioned to slash prices if something doesn’t sell within a few months, or once a season has passed. This is price game that no one actually wins. Competing on price will force you to lose money, never making it, and it will also teach your customer that if they wait, they can get a better deal.

    I’m not going to lie, sometimes that sale will take a long time to come if you don’t play the price game, but when it does come, you will make the money you earned.

Have anything to add to this list? Leave a comment! For more tips and shared ideas for having a Handmade Business, join my Facebook Group!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Brownies

Day in and day out, I watch food videos online and from the day I saw my first “Tasty” video, up until a few weeks ago, the evolution of my thoughts were as follows:

I want to eat that.

I think I can make that.

I think I can make that video.

It took me a few days of planning, and literally 11 hours to shoot and edit this one little video, but I can’t tell you how fun it was, or tiring, or the seriously weird things that happened behind the scenes. Let’s just say that Google help is life saver, and even I won’t be able to sew the tear that I got in my skirt while scaling the kitchen cupboards.

Since this was my first video tutorial, I wanted to show you something really cool and unique, and I think I nailed it with these Gluten and Dairy free brownies. I’m going to tell you (again and again and again) that it’s not always about wheat flour! There are really just some things you can make better with a different flour, and in this case, brown rice and corn flour take centre stage.

I use a standard cookie sheet for my brownies, always. They come out just the right thickness, and are so easy to remove and cut. You’ll see in the video that I discarded some side pieces – don’t you worry. I ate them.

Obviously, eating healthier was not in my list of new years resolutions for 2018.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this tutorial and will feel inspired to make these brownies! Trust me, they are unbelievably delicious, and I’m not just saying that… I eat gluten all the time, this is just really a baking preference for quality and superior texture on these ones.ย  Enjoy!

To see the actual video, visit this link here:ย https://www.facebook.com/zebradot/videos/1201062043361008/ย 


Gluten and Dairy Free Brownies

  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 cups White Sugar
  • 1 cup Veg Oil
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Corn Flour
  • 5 tbsp Potato Starch
  • 3 tbsp Tapioca Starch
  • 3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 cup Dairy Free / Gluten Free Chocolate Chips

Blend all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray a standard cookie sheet with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray again.

Carefully spread the very sticky, thick batter over the parchment. You may need to hold the parchment a little. Go slow, it will be tricky but you’ll get the hang of it. Make sure it is spread evenly.

Sprinkle 1 cup of gluten and dairy free chocolate chips or chunks, over the top.

Bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. The brownies will appear very puffy, they’ll settle back down as they cool.

Once cooled, slide the brownies from the pan and cut into squares. They will keep very well, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Since this recipe makes so many, I recommend freezing half the batch.

Feel free to leave me a comment! We’ll chat over brownies.

The Giving Plate – a Sharpie Craft

For as much as I love to shop in craft stores, they’re also a great source of inspiration for me. I find that a good hour of wandering through the aisles, with latte in hand, can do wonders for my creativity so I try to plan those times and make them happen.

Let’s call them R & D (Research and Development) sessions. It just sounds more professional. Haha.

On a recent wander, I saw the most adorable idea. It was a plate, called The Sharing Plate, and it had this little poem on it about the plate having no owner, and that if you received this plate you should enjoy what’s on it, and then refill it and pass it along. I loved the idea and the feeling of hospitality and love it conveyed, but I did NOT love the $40 price tag.

I’ve been meaning to try Sharpie art for a while, so this seemed a good time to try it out. I bought a plate from Dollar Tree for $1.25 and began experimenting until I had some real, personal success.

So, before you start… I find the Internet is full of tutorials for how to do things, but let’s be honest, following someone else’s instructions doesn’t always work out. If they did, we wouldn’t have those entertaining Pinterest “fail” boards, right? So when I say this is what worked for me, remember that you shouldn’t buy the most expensive platter you can find and dive in head first. I really suggest you do a “trial” plate first, and subject it to whatever test you can think of. Then buy the plate you like, and have at it.

For myself, I hand washed my plate twice, and then put it through my dishwasher on the express cycle. This tutorial is based on the outcome of all of that.

Tips & Suggestions:

  1. Use Sharpie oil based markers for the best finish. You can purchase these at Michaels, and they’ll actually say Oil-Based right on the front. The regular generic Sharpies at Walmart seem to do okay, but the oil based is better.
  2. Use cheap, dollar store plates for your test (as mentioned).
  3. Make sure you try your designs and hand lettering on paper first, and let your hand build a little “memory” before you attempt the real thing.
  4. I went over my big letters “the Giving Plate” and “Family and Friends” twice, to make them extra bold.
  5. Let the plate sit for about 12 hours.
  6. Place your plate on a tray and place in the oven. Turn the oven to 350 F and once it’s at temp, bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off but don’t remove the tray, just let it come back down to room temperature and then remove it from the oven. This is probably best done overnight.
  7. I found that the black was the best to use, but some colours faded. Out of the colours used, I found red, silver, and gold to be the worst, green was okay but not great, and the bronze Sharpie held up fairly well. When I made my “for real” plate, I just skipped the colours and bought a plate that had a pattern I loved.
  8. When washing, I did experience some running of the ink but only the first two times… but this was when I used a cheaper Sharpie as well. By the 3rd wash it had stopped and only one of the words in black seemed partially faded.
  9. I used the term “The Giving Plate” because I liked it better than the word “sharing”, and in the end I went with a more chaotic, in the round, style of typography. If you choose a horizontal text, you can mark your straight lines with thin washi tape and peel it off after. That washi tape is handy stuff!
  10. Lastly, use your Sharpie to mark a little note on the back for washing instructions ๐Ÿ™‚

If you make one, I’d love to see it! Share it with me on my Facebook page or add a photo in the comments here. Have fun!

The Giving Plate (poem)

This plate shall have no owner

It’s journey never ends.

It travels in the circle

Of our family and friends.

It carries love from home to home

For everyone to share

The food that sits upon it

Was made with love and care.

So enjoy this now

But fill it up again

Then pass along the love this holds

To our family and friends.

Construction Cookie Template

I was asked this week to make some construction themed cookies for a little mans birthday party, so as usual, I made doe-eyes at my graphic designer husband so he would agree to make me a template.

I’m willing to share, so you can download your free copy here: Cookie Shapes – Construction. To make the cookies the size I did, I printed the template at 129%.

I’m going to promote my husband a little bit here, because I don’t think anyone realizes valuable a good graphic designer and print broker really is. I’m not talking about knowing someone who is good with photoshop (ya, that would be be), but a real, legit, college graduate graphic designer. There have been SO many times over the years that I’ve had an idea, and he just made it happen. Stencils for cakes, signs, logos. I can make a sketch and have it on a t-shirt a few days later. He designs and prints my banners for shows, and in this case, he drew me a template for this construction cookie order.

Pretty much anything you can envision for your business, he’s able to design and print. You can check out his website here – if you don’t already have your own person!

He’s just the perfect partner for a crafty girl like me, and not bad to look at either ;).

For the sugar cookies, I’d love to give you my own recipe, but the truth is, I’m completely in love with this one.

For a gluten free sugar cookie recipe, check out my sisters blog here.

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Some tips for these cookies; Purchase some good cutting tools. I bought mine at Michael’s with one of their occasional 40% off coupons. The brand I have here is Sweet Shop, and I really like them a lot!

I cut my batch of dough into 6 parts, and used a small fondant roller for each piece. I found that working with smaller sections helped me to keep an even thickness and it was easier to cut the shapes.

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When cutting out the shapes, I didn’t cut out every little part. You’ll see that while I decorated a wrench to look like a wrench, I left the part in the middle of the opening. Same with the handles on the saw, or the dividing piece with the truck. The template is also a handy guide for your icing though, so you can see where you want to pipe your lines.

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Chill your shapes before baking, to reduce spreading. Some spreading will still occur, but you don’t need to decorate all the way to the edges.

I think that’s it! If you have any questions about putting these together, feel free to message me via my facebook page. I had so much fun decorating these cookies, I kind of wish they’d ordered a few more ๐Ÿ™‚

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Easiest Pasta Recipe, Ever

This homemade pasta is so hearty, takes on other flavors very well, and is really quick and simple to make! No resting time required, just throw it all in a mixer, roll it out very thin and boil.

This recipe also happens to be 100% gluten free; Not because I was converting it, but simply because I found these ingredients the easiest to work with. The dough held up to the rigorous, repetitive thinning through my pasta roller, better than any wheat pasta recipe I’ve made, and the cooked texture is perfect.

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Even the boiling process is very easy and quick! Have you ever boiled store bought gluten free noodles? Talk about sticky and falling apart. These noodles however, do neither. Just 3 minutes in the pot, and then onto the plate.

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There seems to be a popular feeling that eating something gluten free, is to eat the lesser, weaker version of the food. Anyone who has ever eaten authentic mexican would know how wrong that thought process is, and it’s the same with these noodles. Sometimes, the better flour to use is Rice. Or Corn. Or Oat.

Sometimes, wheat flour is just the weaker, lesser version.

Two things you should know about this recipe; One, a mixer or food processor is going to be really handy. This dough comes together tough and thick. Second, because this dough is so tough, it will be difficult to roll out. I use my heavy marble rolling pin to get it down to 1/4″, and then the rest of it is through my pasta roller. Remember to keep your surface, pasta roller and hands well dusted with rice flour.

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When it comes to flavoring this pasta, it’s easiest to add the flavor via the oil. Personally, I like using coconut oil, but you can also use sun-dried tomato oil, sesame oil, or a fancy flavored olive oil. We actually like the Wild Mushroom and Sage infused olive oil for just about everything.


Homemade Pasta Recipe
Naturally Gluten Free
Approx. time: 30 minutes

  • 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/3 cup Potato Starch
  • 2 tablespoons Xanthan Gum
  • 1 tablespoon Oil (Olive or Coconut, or Flavored)
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Add all ingredients except for the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend thoroughly, and then add the eggs, one at a time. Increase the speed to medium, and let it all come together, about a minute.

There is no resting required with this dough. Roll it out to about 1/4″ thick and trim it into a rectangle. Dust both sides with flour and dust your pasta roller.

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I used the #7 setting for the first run through. Lay it out and dust both sides again. I repeated this process on settings #6 and then #4.

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There is no drying time required either. Bring a pot of water to a boil, liberally salted and a splash of oil added. Boil the pasta for 3 minutes, drain and rinse.

The thin sheets can be used for ravioli like I did, or cut into strips for a lasagna casserole. I also used half of the pasta to make broad noodles, which I ate for lunch. They were delicious.

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Gluten Free Cookies & Feelings

I’ve been homeschooling since my daughter was in grade 3, but we always knew that the day would come when she’d be ready to go back to a classroom. This past August, we were presented with the opportunity for her to attend a private school in the fall, and she could hardly contain her excitement to attend 8th grade at a school.

She was excited, I was not.

Mornings. Pre-made lunches. Getting into the car while the sun is barely making an appearance. These are things that bleed into other areas of life, creating the need for organization (ew), a schedule (yuck) and the worst… a bedtime for myself.

I assumed my loss of spontaneity was the reason for my feelings, and that I’d adjust as the days went on, but by the end of the second week I was even more miserable. I felt awful, my daughter kept telling me about her days, and she was so enthusiastic, but her stories made me feel worse and worse until the real problem was obvious.

I missed my girl.

We were a team. For years, it was she and I. We had breakfast together, and then we had school. I helped her with the more complicated work, and on a rough day, I was there to give her hugs and tell her I was proud of her. She had music studies and field trips and competitions, but I was with her for every moment of them. Now all of the sudden, she was gone 8 hours of the day and I felt the loss of her.

Acknowledging this helped, a lot. Suddenly the mornings and the lunches and the schedules didn’t seem so jarring. I miss her, but I’m also happy for her, and it makes me appreciate my time with her in the evenings, that much more. Home-schooling was always in her best interest, and she flourished in those years – but it was also time for us to let her spread her wings a little and see where she could go with it.

I suppose it’s also the beginning of a new time for me as well. There are now eight hours a day where no one requires me, for anything. I’ve been able to volunteer more with the ministries at my church, but it’s also giving me time to think about who I’ve become in these past few years. I was so busy focusing on her, I’m kind of viewing my own ambitions, wants and goals with a sense of shyness.

For now I’m also filling my days with things that help make our new routine a little easier. Since my daughter has a hard time with gluten and dairy, I’ve been breaking the bank by buying lunch items from the health food aisle. I’ve started working on this by converting some “lunch box” recipes and that’s how I ended up with this cookie recipe. I never would have guessed they would turn out so well, and you really don’t know they’re gluten free!

So, I shared my feelings, now I share the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚


Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
>> Dairy and Gluten Free <<

  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1.5 cups Gluten Free Oats
  • 2.5 tablespoons Potato Starch
  • 1.5 tablespoons Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or Becel Vegan Margarine)
  • 1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 3/4 cups Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Steps:

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a cookie tray with parchment and set aside.

Blend the first 7 ingredients into a bowl and set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), add the rest of the ingredients and blend on medium speed for about a minute. Slowly add the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

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Using a cookie scoop, drop the cookie dough onto your tray, giving about 2″ per cookie. Do not press down on the dough.

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Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes until slightly browned. Let them rest on the tray for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a cooling rack.

Pairs oh so nicely with some almond milk :).

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Edible Cookie Paint

I love those cookies on Pinterest, with their perfectly smooth icing, crisp lines, and almost unreal piping. They look amazing. But they’re not me. Not a bit.

Polished. Smooth. Crisp. These aren’t words usually applied to my stuff. My decorating is best described as either “Wow! That worked out!” or “Well, I tried”. No in between, my head just doesn’t work that way.

Maybe you work that way too, and we’d have that in common! And if we share that trait, then maybe we can share this recipe… that I kinda, sorta, accidentally came up with one day, while trying to make flood icing.

I called it Edible Cookie Paint, because it had the look and texture of acrylic paint, and because that was a much better name than “Oops”.

When I used mine this week, I coloured 5 bowls from an autumn pallet and kept some food colour paste nearby for adding detail. I used disposable sandwich bags with the corners clipped off, for the initial piping, and then soaked some brushes in water for the actual blending.

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The brushes I use aren’t anything fancy. They’re just good quality, natural fiber brushes that have never, EVER been used for anything other than food. They’re kept in the kitchen with my other cake decorating tools and are frequently hand washed. You can however buy brushes in the cake decorating aisle of a craft store, if this is your preference. Either way, keep them tucked away so that you know they will never be used for anything other than food.

This cookie paint goes great on sugar cookies and can be used to paint on top of a fondant covered cake. It stores in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week, and your finished product should be allowed to air dry for about 24 hours before you move it.

Best of all, there are no mistakes. It’s a completely forgiving, and entirely creative way of frosting a cookie ๐Ÿ˜˜

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Edible Cookie Paint
Approximately 10 minutes to make.

  • 4 cups Icing Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup warm tap water

Add everything into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beginning on low speed, gently mix all of the ingredients together. Increase to medium speed, and then medium high speed. Cover the mixer loosely with a large kitchen towel, and set the timer for 7 minutes.

After 7 minutes, you’ll have a frosting that resembles acrylic paint, almost exact. Separate and colour, and keep covered with plastic wrap.

Have some fun with this one and post your pics on the facebook page!

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