Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Card Cookie Inspiration

Inspiration can be found everywhere!  And I can't think of a season that evokes more inspiration and beautiful visuals than Christmastime.  Call me crazy, but I love it when the shelves begin to fill with all the sparkly Christmas decorations and cards.  I know a lot of people complain and say how commercial Christmas has become, but I believe Christmas is what you make it.  I don't mind the early release of Christmas stock... it just means I get to enjoy the holiday that much longer; and bring on the Christmas music!  One month is not nearly long enough for me.

So, when my friend Hani {of the beautiful Haniela's} asked if I would like to take part in a cookie collaboration inspired by Christmas cards I was super excited.  Such a perfect pairing!  Nothing says Christmas like cards and cookies.  I had all kinds of ideas, but when I saw this card in the store, I knew it was the one I would cookie.  Lately I've been enchanted with the texture and colors of birch, so this card charmed me.

Here is my cookie interpretation of the cardinal card:

With the abundance of inspiration out there right now, I hope you take the time to look around you and soak it all in: the music, the scenery, the smells, and sounds of Christmas.  Before you know it the shelves will be full of conversation hearts asking you to "Be mine".  Enjoy every season and make the focus of your holidays what you want them to be about.

I wish I could have cookie'd 50 cards, there are so many gorgeous ones.  Thank goodness for these amazingly talented cookiers who were inspired by all different style and themed cards.  They are absolutely beautiful and it is such a treat to peek into their creative process.  Links to all these breathtaking beauties are below.

1.Stephanie, Ellie' s Bites Decorated Cookies
2. Anne, Flour Box Bakery
3. Georganne, LilaLoa
4. Lorraine, Lorraine's Cookies
5. Kim, The Partiologist  
6. Pam, Cookie Crazie
7.Cathy, Cathy's Cookies
8. Mariëlle, De Koekenbakkers 
9.  Nadia, My Little Bakery
10. Liz, Arty Mc Goo
11. Callye, Sweet Sugarbelle
12. Marlyn, Montreal Confections
13. Lisa, The Bearfoot Baker
14. Meaghan, The Decorated Cookie
15. Paula, Vanilla Bean Baker
16. Miriam & Estíbaliz, Message in a Cookie 
17. Ali, Ali Bee's Bakeshop
18. Myriam, Chapix Cookies
19. Jennifer, Not Your Momma's Cookie
20. Jill, Funky Cookie Studio
21. Maryann, Cookie Artisan
22. Hani, Haniela's

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

Friday, November 9, 2012

CookieCon and on and on

Photo credit:  Laurie Anglen (Cookie Bliss)
Hey...  Arty McGoo here.  Exactly a week ago right now I was hyperventilating.  Was I running a marathon?  Was I fighting an epic battle with a dragon?  No, I was enjoying Callye's awesome CookieCon presentation when I suddenly realized she was winding down and my presentation was next.  I was so lost in "cookie think" that I forgot I was about to go in front of this ginormous room filled with insanely talented cookiers and with a steady hand, paint on cookies.  HA!  steady hands?!  I looked down at my hands and found them shaking like crazy.  WHAT was I thinking?

Some artwork Bailey made for me just before I left for SLC.  
Her vision of how my presentation would be received at CookieCon.
 Do you see that I'm crossing my fingers behind my back?  ha ha!  She knows me too well!

Let me start at the beginning.  CookieCon is an international cookie decorating convention that was created and hosted by the amazing Karen and Mike Summers of Karen's Cookies.  They organized a huge gathering of crazy cookiers all around the world and it took place in Salt Lake City last weekend on November 1-3.  It was all cookies, all the time, and it couldn't have been more incredible.  The amount of work and organization that it must have taken to pull this event together is mind boggling!  The sponsors were very generous, the giveaways were phenomenal, and no one left empty handed.  No one could do it better than Karen and Mike!

This gathering was so packed with information and inspiration!  The cookiers who attended were all so eager to share and to try new things.  I wish I could bottle the energy and emotions that were felt by this crowd of cookiers as they met face to face for the first time; when they perused the insanely gorgeous cookies in the Sugar Show; the complete silence as they were soaking in every word of the presentations.  I WISH I could bottle it, because words can never express the feeling and excitement that was all around during those very special 3 cookie-immersed days.

I can only tell you how it was through my perspective, but it makes me happy to think that everyone there had a slightly different experience and I can't wait to hear all of them.  I had the fun experience of rooming with Callye (The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle) and Karen (SugarDeaux Cookies & Cakes).  I counted up my total hours of sleep for 4 days and came up with 15 hours... I enjoyed the heck out of those two!

Photo credit: Karen Anderson
Watching each presentation was awe inspiring.
*To not only be able to sit and watch Alison of Ali Bee's Bakeshop effortlessly pipe beautiful flowers, but then to be able to give her a hug and tease her about her height was priceless.  (She is the cutest little thing!)
*I got to say, "Morning Glory!" to Glory (of Glorious Treats) and watch her create with fondant.  I can honestly say Glory taught me everything I know about fondant and I can't wait to try!  Her photography session was invaluable.
*Pam (CookieCrazie) worked her magic with glaze and then later wowed me again with her creativity with packaging.  She thinks inside the box in ways I'd never imagined.
*Next up was Callye (Sugarbelle) who doesn't let a cutter stifle her creativity.  I wish I could think like that! but she definitely inspired me to try.
*Next up was me; painting on cookies.
*Lisa of The Bearfoot Baker taught airbrushing and it completely blew me away.  Somehow I talked myself into needing one and I blame her for that!
*Julia Usher gave a truly inspiring demonstration on stenciling.  It was downright therapeutic to watch her work.
*and last but definitely not least!  The one and only Maryann (Cookie Artisan) wowed me with her breathtaking platter session.  Such creative cookie sets and so beautifully thought out.

Not only were their presentations amazing, but after spending some time with them, I am so honored to call them friends.  What incredible women!

photo credit:  Maryann Rollins (cookie artisan on flickr)

I was able to sit and talk with so many amazing cookiers.  There were so many conversations and memories that I will hold in my heart forever.  I laughed with many, even cried with a few, schemed with some, and was my usual dorky self with everyone!

So... my presentation.
Where were we?  ah yes, I was busy hyperventilating!
I would make a horrible mess up there if I let my nerves get the better of me.  I knew everyone there was sweet and supportive and just there to have a fun, cookie saturated weekend, but telling myself that didn't help the feeling that lunch was about to reappear.  {ewwwww!  Sorry, that was nasty.}  I took some deep breaths and remembered a pep talk Mr. John had given me before I left.  I chanted in my head "I am awesome.  I am awesome.  I am awesome."  I KNOW that sounds ridiculous... but IT WORKED!  I literally felt the nerves drain from my body and was replaced by excitement.  It was a cookie miracle!  I not only "got through" my presentation, but I had so much fun up there.  I can't guarantee I made sense the entire time, but it felt good.  I started out my demo showing some painting techniques anyone could use, and stepped up the difficulty a bit with each cookie.  I really hope it took the fear out of holding a paintbrush and trying something new.

There were such great questions asked!  I was surprised by the things people were curious about and I loved hearing their perspective.  I finished my presentation with a movie I had made specifically for CookieCon.  It not only showed my process from start to finish, but it was my little love note to the sweet cookie community.

The moment the video finished was one I will NEVER forget.  The whole room got to their feet and I can't explain the complete feeling of love and support coming from the audience that {only an hour before} I was so scared to get in front of!  I think some were crying, I couldn't quite tell because things were looking a bit blurry for me too.  It was absolutely humbling!

The weekend was a whirlwind.  The creative energy flowing through the open decorating workshop was incredible!  I just walked around soaking it all in and looked at the amazing cookies people were working on.  The creativity was inspiring!

me having a hard time deciding which cookie to vote for 

If you were there:  THANK YOU!  Thank you for sharing your creativity, your stories, your energy, your support, your cookies, your hugs!  I appreciate every cookier that I had a chance to meet.  I was so caught up in the moment that I barely took any pictures, so I appreciate seeing everyone's pictures.  (I would LOVE to see more)  Thank you for an unforgettable weekend!

photo credit: Lindsey Agee (Tickled Pink Cookie Boutique)
For those cookiers that couldn't be there:  You were missed.  You were talked about.  You inspired us.  You WILL be there next CookieCon!

That was a glimpse at my experience at CookieCon.  It couldn't have been more fun or exciting.  I could go on and on and on... Can we do it again?!
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