Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Goodbye November

 I LOVE autumn!  I love the colors, I love the smells, I love running through the leaves every morning.  It's still officially autumn, and since I live on the central coast of California, I won't even really see much of a change in the weather as it turns to "winter" here.  But our front yard and house are now covered with Christmas lights, our Christmas tree is standing in all its glory in the living room, and the autumn decorations are disappearing.  Denver wore a Santa hat to school today... with a skeleton shirt so it was a bit like sending Jack Skellington off to school.  Maybe he's a little torn on the season change as well?

Don't get me wrong:  I LOVE Christmas and I'm super excited as we pull out all of our decorations.  Bailey is playing Winter Wonderland on the piano right now.  I'm just a little sad to see autumn go.  So here is my farewell post to autumn.

I made the above chocolate autumn leaves for my friend, the carefree Cari.  Carefree, because she visited family for Thanksgiving and her assignment was cookies.  These were a change of pace for me and I really liked how they came out.  And the chocolate?  mmmm I made a couple extra entirely for quality control purposes.  I'm committed like that.  It took about 5 cookies to get a definite conclusion because I am dedicated to culinary perfection.  ummm, did I mention that 4 of those cookies were in cookie dough?  Ahhhh, sometimes life as a cookier is hard.

Speaking of Thanksgiving... we had a fabulous time with friends and family.  All told we had 20 people here who shared delicious food and conversation.  The one snag in our day:  Mr. John is my turkey man and he woke up early to stuff the bird and get it roasting.  Well, he found it half frozen still... after 6 DAYS of thawing!  He made a run to the grocery store and luckily they had a fresh 24 lb bird and everything turned out beautifully.

So, you ask, "What happened to that other ginormous turkey that has probably thawed by now?"  So glad you asked.  We made that turkey last night and plan to be eating turkey the rest of our lives.  Actually, we invited some friends over and we made a good dent in it, but guess what is for dinner tonight for the 6th day in a row?  Surprisingly I'm not tired of it yet, but the turkey fatigue is setting in for the kids.

And here is the latest contribution to the Dessert of the Month gift that I have been giving to my father in law this year.  I would post a link to the pecan pie recipe, but I really guessed here while making these.  I roughly cut down the recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and then added melted chocolate chips to the filling.  Sadly, one mini pie did not survive the evacuation of the muffin tin and I HAD to eat the crushed pie.  Once again... challenging times for me, but I do what I have to.  If you love pecan pie, try adding some melted chocolate to the filling.  You will not be sad.

I will post the recipe for the pie crust because I love it so much and it is all I ever use because it is awesome for everything from pies to quiches and it makes a ton!

MaryJo's Pie Crust
I don't know Mary Jo, but this is the recipe my mom has used since forever and when she shares the recipe she always calls it MaryJo's Pie Crust.  I bet my mom has made it more than MaryJo by now and it should be called Daphne's Pie Crust, but I digress... 

With electric mixer, mix:
6 C flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 C shortening 

In a 2 cup glass measuring cup:
1 C water
3 eggs
1 TBSP vinegar

Buzz briefly with handmixer to blend liquids, then add to the above flour/shortening mix, stirring together.
Separate into balls of dough about softball size.  Keep out what you need to use and freeze the rest in a ziplock bag.  Freezes nicely.  Makes about 5-6 balls of dough.  Roll out for pie shell.  Bake about 350* for 15-20 minutes.

These are all my mom's terms by the way.  I love how unfussy this recipe is.  No chilling, no fancy ingredients.  One thing to keep in mind:  I once tried butter flavored shortening, thinking that would be a yummy idea.  DO NOT DO THIS!  I don't know what is different in the butter flavored shortening than regular shortening, but it was a complete disaster!

Now that I've said goodbye to autumn, I'm ready... bring on winter!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cart Before the Christmas

I'm making some Thanksgiving cookies today, but I made some Christmas cookies last week for the completely charismatic and captivating Cari.  She is doing amazing things for the growing Jewel Kade company.  I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but these are so charming and artistic and I just adore them.

All of the cookies below are based on Jewel Kade charms and are available from my bestie Cari Ham.  Go here to see all the gorgeousness!

I always have so much fun cookieying things.  (Yes that IS a word.  You know why it's a word?  Because I use it all the time :D)  This is my third set of Jewel Kade cookies and since they're always coming out with new pieces, I'm always excited to cookie a new charm.  Here are the other JK sets:

A little bit about the cookies:  All the cookies start with a royal icing base.  Once that is set, I hand-paint each cookie with food coloring and a paintbrush.  With this collection I made little droplets of melted sugar to use as "rhinestones" on the peace cookie, the D monogram, and the candy cane cookie.
I've done so many fun cookies sets lately that I need to catch up!  Maybe I'll have 2 posts this week?!  gasp or 3???

Have a charming day! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That's What Blogs Are For

I find myself editing parts of myself a bit on my blog.  The parts I tend to edit (besides the normal "I'm only going to show you the clean part of the room" pictures) are usually about religion/spirituality etc.  I always told myself I kept my blog religion-less because this blog was about my creative and artistic pursuits; but I know it was also because I was protecting something that is precious to me.  

Well, my spirituality and my artistic side merged when I created a little video for my daughter Sage, who was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Saturday.  I made one of these for Bailey a couple of years ago when she turned 8 and got baptized, and I know in 2 more years I'll be making one for Denver when he turns 8.  Sifting through all the baby pictures, first day of school pictures, and pictures of Christmases past always makes me feel so blessed and amazed at how much my babies have grown physically, mentally and spiritually!

I stayed up all night, looking through pictures while the sun came up.  I got completely lost in those moments that were frozen on film  in pixels.  Mr. John woke up and padded downstairs and shook his head at me, smiling and said in a knowing voice, "Baby." and nodded at the computer screen to see what I'd created. 

He watched and then very quietly left the room and came back with a tissue wiping his eyes and shaking his head in apology for his tears.  I debated posting this because it's quite personal and beliefs can be a scary thing to share.  Then I realized that's what blogs are for!  Sharing ideas, your thoughts, your beliefs and hopefully a little part of yourself.  So I hope whether you watched it because it sounded cute, you accidentally hit play, or because you were curious:  I hope you feel the love we have for our children and the love we have for the Lord.

If you have any questions about the LDS faith, a great place to go is mormon.org or just ask me :D

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Frogponds and Gingerbread

I don't know about you, but I've been loving this autumn weather!   It gets downright brisk and those silly furry boots I found at the thrift store are looking mighty cozy right about now.  The other day I was finishing up a project and the littles came in asking if I could take them down to the "frog pond".  The frog pond is just a gross, muddy little bog that is in a greenbelt a couple of blocks away from our house where the kids occasionally will find a frog or two.  I told them that an autumn walk sounded like a fabulous idea and asked them to be patient little critters and I'd be out momentarily for our jaunt.

I made my way outside and a million kids were sitting on our front steps and I kid you not; in unison they yell, "Hello Mrs. Adams!"  They were prepared to go with bucket in hand to hold all those little slimy guys they were planning to catch.  They had even labeled it with electrical tape spelling out "frogs".  We live in a cul-de-sac and apparently not much is secret in our neighborhood, so my newly acquired 10 charges and myself marched down to the frog pond.

We ended up not catching any frogs, but we did spot a couple of tadpoles and a football.
The point of this story is:  nothing.  I don't have a point!  It's just one of those simple stories that I know I will forget about if I didn't write it down or snap a picture.  That is the beauty of photo-journaling.  I'll always look at this picture and remember the pure surprise I felt looking at all those expectant faces, excited to go to the frog pond.

On another note, last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next... no that is not what I meant to say!  Last Christmas, I gave my father-in-law a gift of a dessert a month.  I somehow got off track and need to catch up before the year is out.  This month I think will be dessert of the week and I'll be back on schedule.  Lucky devil!  So I got back in the groove with this Pumpkin Gingerbread.  The lovely walnuts came from a neighbor's tree.  No walnuts were poached in the making of this gingerbread.  They were very graciously donated. 

Here is a link to the Pumpkin Gingerbread recipe I used.  It was a very different recipe (almost fudgy rather than cakey) with a crust.  I prefer my gingerbread a little cakier, but this was still quite delish!
That is all for now.  I hope you're enjoying this beautiful season!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween Goodness

I know it's been a couple of days, but I'm just now getting over my sugar hangover.  I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of how the Adams family does Halloween before it's Christmas.  That is all!

Never mind!  That is not all:  Also tomorrow I get to randomly pick a winner for the giveaway.  Sooo excited, you'd think I was going to win something :D
Good luck all!

Now for reals... that is all!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1000 Facebook Friends Giveaway

My facebook page reached 1000 "likes" a couple of weeks ago and it is so amazing to get that kind of support and encouragement!  I am always so touched by the kind words and comments that I get from people.  I have been welcomed to the cookie community by so many friends, foodies, and fellow cookie artists.  THANK YOU!

Now, I am a firm believer that food speaks louder than words... so I thought I would finally get my cookie-making butt in gear and do a cookie giveaway.  I will randomly pick the winner and make them a dozen of the most outrageously awesome cookies.  I don't know what they will be... but they're gonna be rad!

All you have to do is like Arty McGoo on facebook (if you're super awesome you already have :D) and then leave me a comment here on this post.  I love comments on facebook and if you feel so inclined, I always appreciate it; but THIS is where I will be randomly picking from, so make sure your comment for the giveaway is here!  Your comment can be anything, you can suggest an awesome cookie idea or you can philosophize on the social ramifications of dodgeball, just make sure it's awesome and that you comment only ONCE.  So I'm gonna break it down:

1.  "Like" Arty McGoo on Facebook.
2.  Leave ONE awesome comment below.
3.  Wait impatiently for me to announce the winner on Saturday, November 5th.
4.  Feel the love and thanks radiating from Arty McGoo

Using random.org the number picked was #117 which was from Sharon:

"Arty the comment does not have to be awesome you are, I am in awe of your work, and to top it all the cookes are in my favourite color yay xxx"
Sharon xoxox

Congratulations Sharon!  I will be emailing you shortly to get all your details.  Thank you everybody who participated.  I wish I could send you all cookies!

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