poniedziałek, 30 września 2013

Some umbrellas

I wanted to use also at least one cookie cutter from my set of 101. I do use some of them a lot, but most were never used simply because they are badly designed. When I saw the umbrella cookie cutter, I thought it was such a nice, robust shape, that I certainly used it. But no. I have never made umbrella cookies. This mistake had to be corrected.

Is this a reindeer?

As soon as I read the challenge post, I knew what I would do. Of course I have meny cookie cutters thet have never been used, after all a few years back I got this 101 cookie cutters set.

But I also have a nice set of christmas cookie cutters, which were difficult to interpret. OK, I immediately got the santa, the gingerbread man and woman and some of the others, but I needed a year to figure out the sock and the present cookie cutter. In my part of the world there are no socks on chimneys. But Santa comes by more than once ;)

Anyway, after a year I figured out all of them but one. I suspected it was a reindeer, but it was a strange kind of reindeer. Like the person who designed it had never seen a reindeer, even in a picture. So I didn't know what to do with it and never used it. Now I decided to find some purpose for it.

I had a few ideas, but I loved best the final look of the slings. Just look at them, this cookie cutter was made for a sling, right?

Some other ideas included incense sticks:
And high-heeled shoes, thouh if I want to make them again I'll have to bend the cookie a bit:
Hazel catkins:
And finally, after some unbending, a reindeer:

wtorek, 27 sierpnia 2013

The Solar System

I don't paint. I am learning to draw, but even that comes very slowly. If you tell me to paint something, I might do an acceptable job, but I dread having to invent also the topic.

So I cheated.

Once upon a time I was looking for a job at a kindergarten. As a prop for my show lesson I pepared watercolour planets. That was not very difficult. I had a wikipedia picture to copy and the planets were mostly straight lines and dots, nothing fancy. It was (almost) a pleasure to paint.

So I did it again, but not on cardstock; this time on cookies.

There is the Sun, a mixture of yellow and orange:

 There is Venus - very pale, which took me by surprise. Just believe me it is not white. In reality it is very pretty, but my camera and my camera skills are not so pretty:

There is Jupiter, of which I am particularly proud:

There is Saturn, using a pumpkin cookie cutter, because I only have serrated ovals:

Well, there is the whole Solar System:

Yes, no Pluto. About 2006 scientist decided, that Pluto is not a planet. If it was, then Moon would also have to be a planet. And that would be pure madness.

środa, 31 lipca 2013

Sun will be eaten by caterpillars and then there will be no more summer!

I am lazy.

I had a nice idea for this challenge almost right away. I still have a list of things I want to try during this year of cookie-making. Today I even had an idea for December. I don't know what the challenge will be, but I know that in December I want to make my first cookies to be given away at my friends' cafe, which will be two years old. The owners don't know yet of my plan, but I still have time both to tell them and to produce cookies for them.

Anyway, back to me being lazy. I made cookies. A lot of cookies - bananas, watermelons, flowers, caterpillars, leaves... But then I procrastinated on actually decorating them, so by the time I got to making RI, they were mostly gone.

Lesson learned - better use regular size sugar (or even "gruba rafinada") than the fine kind. The suns and caterpillars mostly look like the surface was rough, but not sparkly. Possibly this is for the better, but it is not exactly the look I planned.

So beware of caterpillars! They will eat our sun and then there will be no more summer!

sobota, 29 czerwca 2013

I need better planning

Again, I am writing last minute.

I did make cookies. I took the first photo, the one with the necklace and recreated it in cookies. A practice in precision piping (the yellow swirls). But. Again - but. Before I made photos, I took them to my son's kindergarten party. I really need to focus more on planning.

I wanted to prepare those cookies once more, but. Another but. My son got a stomach bug. Today was the first thay of this week that he ate anything and not vomited it. Or that he wanted to eat at all. One evening we even went to ER, because he vomited so heavily, that I estimated he did not even take any fluids for a whole day and night. Not a good topic for a cookie contest post.

And to add insult to injury, the evening we spent at the ER was my birthday. I am exhausted and in huuuge need of comfort food. So here is my take on comfort food (chocolate chip cupcakes with whipped cream) and, at the same time, my second idea for Lilaloa's challenge. Yes, that whipped cream is grey. My very first coloured food was in fact grey whipped cream. A friend of mine said that it looks like plaster, but since I made it, he will try it (because all things food that I make are great). Here it gives a steampunky look. and the  open star tip made it look almost like spiderwebs. The blue flowers were actually made from leftover royal icing after the "inspired" batch of cookies and nicely disturb otherwise boring decoration. Not my best, but good enough given my level of energy.

But you know what? My old camera, the one I hate, apparently can do customized white balance! The photo was taken in the evening, with a bit of sun from left and a bit of lamplight from right and it still is better than most my photos!

niedziela, 26 maja 2013

Bugs for mothers' day

My parents are fixing their garden and they asked us to come on Saturday and help. The thing is, in my funny country Mother's day is immobile, always on 26th May, so I couldn't go bare-handed. And I remembered that on Friday morning.

My point is - I had little time to plan, little time to make and even less to take photos, because what was left on Saturday, today went to my MIL. To make up for the poor quality of photos, here you are the prettiest cookie decorator in the world, right in the middle of decorating and eating. Finally mommy is not angry about eating pens!

Recently I got a couple of fun tools: a rolling pin with adjustable rings (you can't buy just the rings in Poland), serrated round and oval cookie cutters, and wedding and bugs Wilton's cookie cutters. Did you know those are NOT stainless steel? I know now...

For the mothers I wanted to make some bugs, but last moment decided against spiders. Kids love spiders, my mother hates them even more than I do. So here we are, dragonflies, bees, ladybugs with too many dots, some leaves and my son's new favourite: caterpillars. There were also butterflies, but those didn't work well.

sobota, 27 kwietnia 2013

Winter ball cookie

 Again, I didn't have the cookie cutter and forgot to check the proportions. From what I see on the site, somebody already had the same idea, but really, I did it independently.
 My other ideas are also one way or another in the submissions... I thought about making a boy's face with a scarf and a flower-pot with orchids (because I have mad orchids that bloom continuously). But here you have my take on a ball with snow. In order to make the snowflakes more visible, I placed them on a second layer of icing, so at least one significant difference from my predecessor. On, and my technique is sooooo bad here...

Puzzleball cookie

 I don't have the dimond ring cookie cutter, so I decided to imitate it with a circle ans a triangle. But I forgot to check how it should look. I remembered the diamond was disproportionally large, but didn't really think to check it before I made cookies. And last month I had so much to do, that I didn't have time to make new cookies. Or even check what other people invented for this challenge. Well, if I did visit the site to see ofher people's ideas, I definately would have seen the real proportions of the cookie cutter.
 I had a few ideas, but too little time to really make them into cookies, so in fact I made just the two of them, which required the same color palette.

 The first one is, partly to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, a Puzzleball. They are relatively new here, and I used to have one with the globe. My son was suspected to have autism. His story is long and heartbreaking, I'll try to make it as short as possible.
 Until he was 8 months old, he was a normal baby. Then he had some unknown infection, was hospitalized, but doctors discharged him to home while he was still ill. Two weeks later he went back to the hospital, this time with life-threatening encephalitis. He survived it and slowly regained eyesight, feeling in his body and control over the limbs. Finally, wbout 6 months later, his hearing returned. In the meantime he was diagnosed with Krabbe disease and is his genetician's first Krabbe patient to survive more than 3 months from diagnosis.
 He could hear, but he didn't understand the sounds, that he heard. He had no means of comunication other than crying and no children around to relate to, so psycologists said he is likely autistic. However, after half a year of therapy with another child, he begun imitating the other boy and then started communicating using gestures. Now he uses a mixture of PECS and Makaton and seems normal for all people, who don't see him regularly enough to notice him being suspiciously reticent.

Anyway, my puzzleball cookie:

Birthdays and cookies go hand in hand

 Apparently I had a very busy month. I forgot to post the other animal cookies I made trying to learn wet-on-wet. So here are two more examples: butterflies and some patterns (because, obviously, the birds use a different approach):

 But the real reason that April was very busy was my son's fourth birthday. I made him some Owl cookies for Kindergarten and learned, that somehow my icing is too thick for a no. 1 tip. And here I was so happy, that I found a shop that carried more baking supplies (in the meantime I decided to leave my former favourite shop, because two times in a row they sent me an incomplete order and didn't bother telling me, that they ran out of something I wanted. If you own a shop remember: you loose clients when you think for them. If there is something wrong with the order, you call and ask them BEFORE you send anything. Not wait until they get the package and are angry with you).
 J's sign in kindergarten is Owl, so I had to make Owl cookies. In the beginning I wanted to make Dumbo cookies, because he could watch Dumbo trhree times in a row (he has auditory verbal agnosia, so he likes only films with little dialogue, like Dumbo or Wall-E) and throw a tantrum if I stopped the film for any reason whatsoever. However, a week before his birthday he got bored with Dumbo.
 I made these similarly to the geographical hearts, but this time I cut the template to trace the shape on the cookies, making them more consistent.

Then we had not one, but two parties (ok, not real parties, more like family&friends gatherings), so I had to make two cakes and last minute decided to throw in a big bowl full of cookies, so the children would have something more to eat while throwing all the toys around the house. There were some spiders covered by leaves, flowers and canaries (J got a canary for his birthday), but the minute the boys discovered the spiders, everybody wanted these cookies. 

 All in all, I did prepare some diamond-ring-shaped cookies, but had time to decorate them only two days ago. And even then I did it with my baby-girl running around and crying for a cookie. Just four months ago she didn't like the taste and now she would eat them whole day long... So off I go to write a few words about my ideas for the dimond ring cookie cutter.

środa, 20 marca 2013

Animal cookies and digital correction of photographs

My personal goal for these cookies was to try wet-on-wet technique. I had fun. Lots of fun, I love wet-on-wet!


Almost all of my cookies were not good for photographig and posting. The brown icing had air bubbles. And every cookie with brown icing has holes.

I was thinking about developing my photography in a different way, but then it occured to me: I can make these cookies work. I can take normal pictures, but correct them digitally. And so I did, on the way discovering how to do that in a simple way. Of course, the cookies still have holes and of course, they are still delicious. But if this happens to me again (and my homework is to find out how not to let it happen), I know at least how to deal with photos. No photoshop required.

First of all, I always correct the colours. My photos are always greyish and pale.

This is an example of how I enhance colours, a photo you have already seen, the geographical heart and how I make it happen. I use IrfanView, one of the smallest yet very powerful image programs:

I re-did this photo for this post, so it may look a bit different than the one in last month's post. Irfan is great for cropping, size changes, colour correction (or special colour effects). It can do drawing, but I never tried that and the toolbar doesn't look encouraging.

Let's move on to my poor brown icing. I made all kinds of animals, but will shouw you only snakes, butterflies and birds. I am not satisfied with others.

Here is an example of my snakes-with-holes:

You see how I made that pretty zig-zag pattern? I just drew orange lines perpendicular to the snake's body and carefully pulled a toothpick through all of them. All of my snakes have holes... The one on the right has one hole close to its head, the one on the left has two holes, one close to its head and one in posterior part of its body.

I opened the photo (with colours corrected, but I shouldn't have resized it, would be easier using a larger version) in... PAINT. Yes. Paint. It has the perfect tools to help this photo AND everybody has it. So let's see a close-up of poor left snake:

Now I pick a colour for a spot close to the hole and the "crayon" paintbrush. Crayon is perfect, because it paints with rough edges, like this:

so when I paint over the black hole, I will not get a huge blob of one colour. First stroke:

Second stroke:

If you didn't know, you would not see it!

Let's move to the tail, a bit more difficult:

Here also the toothpick line is in a hole. I first had to repair the brown part of the hole:

Now it looks unnatural, because the orange line is missing. So let's draw a new line, the same way:

And here we have, a better version of snakes:

You know what? This is already ridiculously long, so no more animals for you today. Maybe tomorrow I'll post the birds or the butterflies.

środa, 13 marca 2013


Dzisiaj upiekłam nowe ciasteczka (wcześniej bawiłam się projektowaniem) i zaczęłam je lukrować.
Mam jakieś 15 całkiem gotowych, 12 prawie i resztę napoczętą (obrysy). Piszę, bo po prostu muszę się pochwalić.
Te, które od razu dzisiaj skończyłam sprawiły mi kupę frajdy. Więcej niż normalnie. Na razie nie powiem, dlaczego, zdradzę jak już pokażę całość.

A przedwczoraj, w ramach powtarzania sobie materiału z LTP1 wykasowałam wszystkie propozycje zadań i postawiłam sobie jedno: napisać dadagenerator. Skończyłam wczoraj. Nie jest to piękny program, ale działa bez pudła (czego nie da się powiedzieć o pierwowzorze) i w ogóle. Napisałam prawdziwy program. Co prawda później Tadek w 10 minut i 10x mniej linijek napisał to samo, ale w końcu on ma blisko połowę życia praktyki więcej ode mnie.

W każdym razie ostatnie dwa-trzy dni miały jak na moje możliwości ogromną ilość pracy: ciekawej, dającej satysfakcję, frajdę i jeszcze w dodatku zakończonej pełnymi sukcesami. I tym dokładniej chciałam się podzielić.

Jeszcze co do dadageneratora. Dadagenerator to był pierwszy program, jaki Tadek napisał dla mnie. W ogóle jeden z pierwszych w jego życiu (przy czym on pisał w C a ja w Pythonie). To już są doskonałe powody, aby go wybrać na swój pierwszy samodzielny program. W tamtych dawnych czasach, kiedy znaliśmy się niedługo a jeszcze krócej byliśmy parą, Tadek miał fazę dadaistyczną a ja uważałam siebie za Herbertowskiego "Kamyka". Dadagenerator Tadka brał tekst wiersza (w tym przypadku i dla moich prób właśnie "Kamyk") i mieszał słowa wiersza. Nie do końca mu to wychodziło. Niektóre słowa pomijał, inne powtarzał, nie pamiętam szczegółów. W każdym razie dostałam ze trzy wersje programu i chyba nawet ostatnia nie działała całkiem poprawnie. A mój program działa.

Przykładowa wersja:


spokojnym niczego nie
patrzeć jasnym o

jest zapał
nie swych

w do kiedy nie chłód bardzo
i oswoić dłoni sobie niczego stworzeniem

czuję Kamyk słuszne i
są trzymam nie równym nas

ciało samemu pełne
przenika na wyrzut kamiennym wypełniony
pożądania ciężki doskonałym granic
końca i dają

się zapachu budzi Kamyki - jego
jego go będą fałszywe przypomina płoszy
okiem szlachetne ciepło który

No i wyszedł długi post a chciałam tylko się podzielić tym, jak się cieszę z dzisiejszego dnia.

środa, 13 lutego 2013

The Baltic Sea Heart-shaped Cookies

About a week ago my MIL proposed, that somebody in her favourite dating site take her to the Gdynia Aquarium for a date. She's been a widow over half her life and loves having online firends (but begins every relationship with a clear statement, that she is not interested in any sexual activities, which dramatically reduces the number of men willing to talk to her).

Now, since most people reading this are in the USA, let me tell you a little bit about Gdynia. Gdynia is a part of so-called TriCity (altoghether about 1mln pople). It was built in the 1920s, when Poland regained access to the Baltic Sea, but without the port town - Gdańsk (Gdańsk was turned into The Free City of Gdańsk). Between Gdańsk and Gdynia is a small health resort Sopot. A common stereotype says that Gdańsk is the town where you go sightseeing and shopping (it's over 1000 years old and used to be a Hanseatic town), in Sopot you can rest or have fun (somehow all the clubs are there - Gdańsk and Gdynia are practically deserted at night) and the only reason to go to Gdynia is to work. Gdynia has a technology park. And a shipyard. And a port (well, Gdańsk has them too), but Gdynia has no monuments. Zero shopping malls. Zero clubs. Ok, almost zero. Basic economy says, that if there really were no clubs or shopping malls, somebody would build some. And there is only one place worth seeing in Gdynia: the Aquarium.

MIL somehow managed not to see it yet. And after she invented that date, she told me to make her some heart-shaped cookies. She didn't know what she was going to get. Really. She just thought "Asia likes baking, she has some cookie cutters, so she probably will be happy to bake me some plain vanilla or chocolate cookies".

The emblematic exibit is a 3D model of the Baltic Sea. So I just had to make the Baltic Sea into my biggest heart-shaped-cookies. How did I make the Baltic Sea fit so perfectly? First of all, I outlined the cookie cutter, drew some lines showing where I wanted the sea and measured the cookie.Then I found a nice, simple map, which I resized to fit my measurement, printed and copied to my sketch. In a very DIY way and completely forgetting about the single #3 tip that I have (really, here in Poland, if you try, you might find #2 tips, but nothing smaller, so no detail work until my birthday). Transfering the design to cookie was then as easy as outlining a stencil.

And If I ever turn maps into cookies again, I think I will use this technique, after all, the lands are above the seas.

sobota, 26 stycznia 2013

Polska wersja - Wyzwanie Styczniowe.

Mniej więcej tłumaczenie tekstu z poprzedniego wpisu:

Generalnie nie należę do działaczy, jestem czytaczem. 

Zdarzy mi się od czasu do czasu coś zrobić, przygotować, nawet upiec tort w kształcie larwy biedronki, ale to wyjątki od reguły. Podobnie z ciasteczkami. Trochę sprzętu posiadam, ale nigdy nie robiłam ciasteczek lukrowanych inaczej niż takie "wylej łyżkę najprostszego lukru z cukru i wody na ciastko i módl się aby nie spłynęło całkiem". 

A potem zobaczyłam LilaLoa's January Challenge. Myśl "fajnie by było zrobić, ale nie wiem co" trwała jakiś tydzień. Myśl "ha! już wiem, jakie zrobię!" trwała dwa tygodnie. I by tak mogła trwać w nieskończoność, gdyby nie jeszcze jedna myśl. Tu nie chodzi o ciasteczka lukrowane czarno-biało, ale o opuszczenie comfort zone. Zrobienie czegoś inaczej niż zwykle. Czyli w moim przypadku - zrobienie.

I tak powstały. Pieczone 24 stycznia, zrobione 25 stycznia, obfotografowane i pokazane światu 26 stycznia, moje pierwsze w życiu ciasteczka. W kratkę. Pyszne. Długa droga przede mną zanim będę miała się czym popisywać przed światem. Tymczasem planuję zrobić coś do każdego wyzwania. Za 12 zestawów będą prawie profesjonalne, prawda?

My Very First Cookies - Black and White

I am a reader, not a doer. 

Every now and then I might produce something with my own hands, even something as extravagant as a ladybug-larva-shaped-cake (my daughter's first birthday, no good photos, but I assure you it was wonderful), but those are just exeptions. I never decorated cookies, but I read a lot about it. 

And then I saw LilaLoa's January Challenge. For a week I thought "yeah, it would be fun to make some cookies, but I don't know what shape or pattern". Then two weeks of "I know! I know! I have a good beginner-friendly idea!". And it could be left at that if not for one more thought. 

The challenge is not just about black-and-white cookies. It's more about leaving your comfort zone. And that for me means actually making the cookies. 

I never prepared or used Royal Icing. And I don't have meringue powder, so I had to improvise with regular egg-whites. My kids (14mo and 3,5y) tried to help me each step of the way, so the results are far from what I imagined. And, of course, I have a long way before my cookies are any good, but here they are. My Very First Cookies. 

See the triangle, where the checkerboard is oblique? Actually, there are three of them and I love them.

Pantagon cookies were most shapely, but when finished, none deserved a spot on the top layer... Maybe next time. And a new year resolution: complete every 2013 challenge. And of course, about an hour after I finished Icing I found out how to remove those peaks. Really, a long way ahead of me...