This is that time of year where I exist in Limbo Land. Maybe you're familiar with this part of the world too? It's a place somewhere between last year and not fully into the new one, a place where I'm simultaneously trying to wrap up 2011-loose ends while charting fresh challenges for 2012. What's next? Will I launch an app or an enhanced e-book, or finally pitch networks that TV show I've forever been dreaming to do? Or maybe develop a custom cookie cutter line? But wait! I haven't yet tallied my books sold in November and December, or cleaned up my basement kitchen from the first leg of my tour. And what about all the thank-you notes I owe bookstores and other venues visited in the last few weeks? Yes, you could say I'm more than a bit distracted!
I share with you that preamble partly to vent :), but mostly to explain what you'll find here: far-flung content that reflects my state of mind! I've got everything from a Christmas retrospective (Holiday in a Hurry) to entertaining and gift ideas for two months from now (Cinnamon Heart Marshmallows and some very cool rubber stamps).
Hopefully by the time we next talk, I'll be firmly entrenched in 2012. 'Til then, here's to happy meandering!
Live life sweetly,
Feature: Cinnamon Heart Marshmallows
Photo by Julia M. Usher
I spun off this recipe from a citrus-y version used for marshmallow peeps in my first book Cookie Swap. Laced with cinnamon and packaged with a side-jar of cocoa powder, these sweet treats make a heartwarming Valentine's Day gift.
Click here for the recipe.
Favorites: Rubber-Stamping - Cookies!
Yes, you heard correctly. Rubber-stamping is my latest favorite cookie decorating technique. Why? Well, for one, it's snappy. And, two, it takes no artistic skill - and little decorating acumen for that matter. Just smoothly top-coat a cookie with royal icing and let the icing dry completely overnight. Then stamp on food coloring using rubber stamps that haven't touched anything but food coloring. You'll need to start with an ink-free ink pad, felt or foam as you fancy, both of which are easiest to find online.
I'm dying to try out these lovely stamps from Red Lead, a St. Louis-area crafts shop, whose wares are also available online, fortunately for y'all. Want to see the results of my cookie stamping adventure? Friend me on Facebook; I should be posting them there within a couple of weeks!
Holiday in a Hurry:
Making Collections Count
Photo by Julia M. Usher
My husband often questions my habit of collecting
throughout the year. In fact, my last antiques
mall-find elicited a frown and dismissive, "What is
that @#%*$?!!" Granted, I rarely return from my
foraging with anything of real monetary value or
legitimately deserving "antique" status. More often,
my "treasures" are dented, worn, or scratched.
And I no doubt confound hubby by shopping for
Christmas at seasonally inappropriate times...
Ultimate Cookies & Other News
Phew! The first half of my book tour is over, and I'm still standing! Thankfully, because I'm about to hit the road again. I kick-off phase two of the tour with the taping of several PBS cookie decorating segments in Portales, New Mexico in mid-February. (Thank you to Host Sheryl Borden
!) Then I move onto a series of classes in New Mexico and on the East Coast:
February 17: Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, Portales, NM
March 15: Annunciation Church, Newburyport, MA
March 17: Newburyport B&B, Newburyport, MA
Check out my site
for event details, and return often. I'll be adding more classes and talks in these markets, and also the Bay Area, in coming weeks!
Here's more cookie inspiration from my new book Ultimate Cookies - and just in time for Valentine's Day. I call this cookie project "Message in a Bottle," for hopefully obvious reasons.
Simply use heart- and letter-shaped cutters to cut out sweet messages from rolled cookie dough; then bake and top-coat, or outline and flood, with royal icing. I added a few dots and lines for embellishments, and that was it. For presents, tumble the dried cookies into inexpensive clear containers decked with ribbons and festive papers. No need to be too neat about it either - part of the fun is unscrambling the message!
I said it in my last newsletter, and I'll say it again: there's nothing more gratifying than meeting my readers when I'm on the road. I sure hope you'll join me at one of my upcoming events!
Happy New Year!