I’m not perfect.
Oh, in some ways that statement really pains me to say.
I’m a perfectionist… it’s how I’m wired. I like things, life, and myself to be clean, organized, pretty, and perfect.
In some ways this blog has helped me control, or at least channel my perfectionism. My house is not always in order… ok, let’s be honest, it’s actually rarely in order! My life does not always go as planned, I say things I wish I didn’t say, and I don’t look exactly the way I wish I did.
This blog is the one place I get to have things just the way I want. I get to post pretty, edited photos that expose only a couple square feet of my house (and not the mess required to create the “pretty” thing). I get to sit at my computer and write nice little captions about pretty cupcakes and cookies… all the while sitting at my messy desk, un-showered and in my pajamas. I get to have one little place in my life, even if it’s a virtual place, that is perfect.
This next week I’ll be attending a big blogging conference in Texas. This is where my real life and my virtual life collide. It’s terrifying. Really, deeply, terrifying!
Next week I’ll be face to face with many people I have only “met” online. People who only know me for my Hydrangea Cupcakes or Pink Ombre Cake, or decorated cookies. Things that are pretty, staged, and as perfect as I can possibly create.
The problem is… I’m not much like any of those things.
I mean, I do feel like my site is a reflection of me in many ways… I do love pretty things, I love details, I love making things by hand. But this site is only a part of me, not the full picture.
I am not perfect.
I am overweight. I’m 35 and still have acne. I don’t know what to do with makeup, and rarely wear any. I don’t know what to do with my hair either… so it’s just there. Sometimes I talk too loud and say things before I think. I don’t own anything by Coach or Kate Spade, mostly because I can’t afford them. My house is 1450 square feet and has one bathroom… it’s the house we can afford, and I am rarely proud of it.
This week I was talking to my dad about my upcoming trip and told him that I was really intimidated by the (people at the) conference.
He asked why. I said… “Well, my site is so pretty and perfect, and I’m not.”
He said, ”You mean you’re afraid people will find out you’re not perfect?”
“Well… yes.” I replied.
He said, “Let me tell you something… all of the other people going to the conference are imperfect too.”
It was so simple, yet somehow it really hit me.
It’s true. Somehow I’ve forgotten that. All of the ladies wearing their colored skinny jeans and chevron print, and statement necklaces… looking like they just stepped out of Pinterest, they’re not perfect.
Now there is a lot to be said for taking good care of yourself, it’s important. I’m not suggesting we all stop showering and go everywhere in our pajamas.
But if a grown woman (me) with a quite successful blog, many good friends, a supportive and loving family and enough disposable income to fly from California to Texas for a blogging conference, is scared out of her wits to meet a few women… then something is a little off. I’ve been lying to myself and it needs to stop. I’ve bought into the idea that I need to be perfect to be beautiful, and that’s bologna. I’ve told myself that everyone else is more beautiful/successful/confident/cool/fashionable than me, and it’s simply not true.
Sure, we all have different strengths… some women do a beautiful job with their hair and make-up, others are great speakers, some are especially talented photographers, some have great presence in a crowd…
But you know what… I’m pretty awesome just as I am. I’m smart, hardworking, creative, talented, dependable, honest, kind, funny, and beautiful in my own way.
I’m not perfect, but I am beautiful!
So if you run into me next week (or anytime in the future) try to hide your surprise when you see I’m not perfect…and try to hide your shock that I’m nearly 6′ tall.
I wont be wearing skinny jeans… because I can’t. I won’t be carrying a designer bag.
But I do truly enjoy meeting new people, and sharing a bit of our lives. I love meeting people who are smart, funny, creative, and nice.
And hey, if you happen to look great in mint colored skinny jeans, and have a super pretty bag… awesome, go for it. Rock ‘em.
I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to write this post today.
I guess I’m hoping that my moment of enlightenment will be an encouragement to many of you who may feel the same. And if by some small chance you were ever intimidated to meet me… please don’t be, I’m not perfect and I’m secretly very glad that you’re not either!
I’d love to hear from you…. what are the qualities that make you beautiful and special?
Summer is the perfect time for easy, portable treats! These yummy Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes in a jar are a fun option for picnics and BBQ’s.
I started with my favorite Chocolate Cupcakes, and added a luscious mint frosting.
For the full post, head on over to Skip to My Lou where I’m guest posting today!
Skip to My Lou is a beautiful and fun site full of crafts, recipes, free printables and more!
Love chocolate and mint? Be sure to checkout my Fudge Mint Brownies, one of my all time favorite treats!
And for more fun ”in a jar” treats, check out all of my Cupcakes and Desserts in Jars.
I spent most of my twenties working in flower shops. I began by spending a summer cleaning flower buckets and delivering flowers, and after several design courses and lots of in-shop experience I was able to enjoy several years making arrangements for elaborate weddings and events, professional basketball players and a past President’s daughter. I will always have a deep love for flowers, and quietly take pride in naming off (in my head) any flowers I see at the grocery store, or in an arrangement I pass.
Although I do still play with real flowers from time to time (mostly in my own garden)… now I “play” with different kinds of flowers… edible ones!
Flower cookies are fun to make because the color and design options are endless! These bright Summer Flower Decorated Cookies are what I like to call “fantasy flowers”… meaning they don’t really represent any flowers in nature.
How to make flower decorated cookies -
Start with a batch of cookies using my Sugar Cookie Recipe.
Prepare a batch of Royal Icing, and color as desired (I use Americolor gels).
For these Summer Flower Cookies I pre-made some royal icing flower centers (pictured above). Preparing these little guys ahead of time saves lots of time when decorating, and create instant texture.
To make the flower centers, simply pipe a large dot of royal icing onto a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. The icing should be a medium consistency, I would say just a bit thicker than the consistency of shampoo. It should be thick enough to not flow all over the place, but just thin enough that it does not leave (much of) a peak in the center (when you lift up the piping tip). For these colorful flower centers, you can chose to let them dry as is (just as a simple dot), or sprinkle the (still wet) dots with sanding sugar (as shown) or nonpareils (sprinkles). Allow the flower centers to dry at least 8 hours before removing from the parchment paper. These flower centers can be made far in advance, and stored in a small tupperware type container (away from excess heat and light).
Once you’re ready to decorate, outline and fill in each cookie with the color of your choice. Allow the icing to set up (at least 1 hour), then use a small dot of icing to attach the pre-made flower center. Once you’ve added the flower center, chose a accent color to outline the shape of flower petals (as shown above). If desired, you can let the detail icing dry a bit, then add additional details such as extra dots around the flower center, or another row of flower petals (as shown below).
Love flowers and cookies? Here are a few more flower decorated cookies…
Hydrangea Flower Cookies
Simple Tulip Cookies
Hibiscus Flower Cookies
Morning Glory Flower Cookies
Sunflower Cookies (from Sweet Sugar Belle)
Potted Violet Cookies (from Sweet Sugar Belle)
Pink Roses (from Bake at 350)
My maternal grandmother was a Home Economics teacher in the 1960′s, and was a wonderful cook. I remember many delicious holiday meals at her home, and to this day, I still associate several specific holiday dishes with her. My mother is an amazing cook as well, and most of my basic baking and cooking skills were taught to me by my mom. It’s hard to even guess the number of delicious meals these two women have made over the years. In addition to preparing countless healthy, balanced meals, both my mom and grandma have (and had) incredible baking skills. From bread to pies to cookies, each woman had a library of delicious recipes they prepared for holidays, pot-lucks, and just for our family to enjoy. One of those memorable treats were these Lemon Coconut Bars.
I have never had any other dessert similar to this recipe. These Lemon Coconut Bars have a delicate, crumbly crust, a rich chewy coconut and walnut layer and a tart lemon icing on top. This recipe came to me from my grandmother, but I would guess it’s actually originally from her mother. There is something about these bars that seems quite old fashioned (in the best possible way). These sweet and tart bars are perfect for a pot-luck, ladies luncheon, or tea party.
Dispite the name of these bars, they are not at all similar to traditional lemon bars, they are a different treat all together.
Lemon Coconut Bars
These delicious bars have a delicate crust, rich and chewy coconut and walnut filling, and a tart lemon glaze.
Yield: One 9"x9" pan, about 36 (1 1/2 inch) squares
1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) Challenge butter, room temperature.
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon (about 1 teaspoon zest)
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Prepare a 9"x9" baking pan by lining it with parchment paper (along the bottom and up two sides). Grease the unlined sides with butter.
Prepare the crust by beating the butter (with an electic mixer) until smooth. Add flour and powdered sugar (slowly) and cream together just until well combined. Press mixture into the prepared pan. It may be helpful to occasionally wet your fingers with a bit of water so the mixture doesn't stick to them.
Bake crust at 325*F. for 12-15 minutes.
Prepare the filling by mixing all of the dry filling ingredients (coconut, brown sugar, walnuts, flour, baking powder, salt) together in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, the pour eggs into the bowl of dry ingredients. Add vanilla and still all ingredients until combined (can easily be done by hand).
Spread filling onto the pre-baked crust, and bake an additional 20-25 minutes.
Once the bars have baked, prepare lemon glaze.
In a medium bowl combine the powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice and zest. Stir with a whisk until smooth and well combined. Pour glaze on top of baked bars. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes.
Recipe Source - Glorious Treats
If you are not a fan of nuts, feel free to omit the walnuts and increase the coconut. I have not made the recipe this way, so you may need to watch the baking time a bit more closely.
I know it makes (made) my mom and grandma proud to see me making recipes that have been in our family a long time. I get a special joy from preparing recipes that have a history in our family.
Is there a special recipe you remember from your mom or grandma?
Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. Granted, I have lots of “favorites” when it comes to flowers, but hydrangeas are certainly high on that list! I find I’m drawn the most to the blue and bluish-purple hydrangea varieties.
A couple of years ago I made some Hydrangea Cupcakes and I’ve been wanting to make a set of pretty Hydrangea Cookies to match ever since! I’ve actually made hydrangea decorated cookies a few times, but was never really happy with them. I just couldn’t quite settle on a design I loved.
Last week, my incredibly talented friend Maryann (aka Cookie Artisan) shared a beautiful set of hydrangea cookies on her Flickr page. As soon as I saw them, I instantly knew they were the exact inspiration I’d been needing! Maryann graciously gave me the go-ahead to make a set of hydrangea cookies inspired by hers.
I got right to work, and I’m very happy with how this set of hydrangea cookies turned out. I think these could be perfect for Mother’s Day or a special gift anytime!
How to make Hydrangea Cookies -
Begin with a batch of cookies using my Sugar Cookie Recipe.
While the cookies bake you can prepare the icing using my Royal Icing Recipe.
As you can see below, I cut out the hydrangea flower shape using two different techniques (and cutters). I have a nice copper cutter (from Copper Gifts), and I also experimented with using a large flower cutter along with a leaf cutter.
I prepared my royal icing in shades of blue and purple (I used Americolor gels and used regal purple with electric purple, and sky blue with royal blue, then added a bit of the purple icing to the blue, and vice versa, so the shades work well together).
I outlined and flooded the flowers (as shown below). I experimented with blending the colors a bit and I really liked the two tone ones best. To create the two tone effect, outline and beginning filling in your cookie with one color (such as blue), then add sections of the other color (purple), and use a toothpick to blend the two colors just a bit.
Once the flowers are outlined and flooded, allow to set up a bit (at least 30 minutes), then add the leaves (I mixed Americolor avocado and mint).
Once the flowers and leaves are filled in, allow the icing to dry well, until the surface is dry to the touch (at least 4 hours).
Once the base icing is dry, prepare to add the final texture, using a technique called brush embroidery. I have done a bit of brush embroidery before (including on these spring cookies), but sometimes I forget how beautiful it can be! My friend Ali of Ali Bee’s Bakeshop is a master at brush embroidery and shares her tips on it HERE, and HERE.
To get started, you’ll need a small paintbrush (shown above), a moist dish cloth, and a small dish of water. Brush embroidery is much like any art in that each artist has a little different way of doing it. Once you get started, you’ll be able to experiment with the look you like best. In general, I actually like using a brush slightly wider than the one shown, but I couldn’t find it, so I used what I had!
You want to use icing that is a thick consistency (about the consistency of toothpaste), and you’ll want to keep your brush moist (but not wet), using either the dish of water (then wipe the excess on the dish cloth, or by just wiping the brush on the moist cloth.
How to do brush embroidery on hydrangea cookies - (pictured above)
1. Pipe a four petal flower (very simply, it does not need to be perfect).
2. Use the moist (but not wet) brush to brush the icing from the edge of the flower, toward the middle (as shown). Do not completely eliminate that outside edge of the loose flower shape.
3. Continue brushing from the outside, toward the center, working on one petal at a time. Wipe off your brush onto the moist towel, as needed.
4. Continue the same technique with the other 3 flower petals.
5. Add 1 or more small dots of icing to the center of the flower (this can be done now, or after you have created all the small flowers on the hydrangea).
6. Continue filing in the hydrangea with small flowers, using the same steps as above. As you fill in the hydrangea you will need to make some full and some partial flowers.
A few notes on brush embroidery….
If you can not see the (desired) brush marks, you are likely either using too much moisture (on your brush), or your icing it not thick enough.
Brush embroidery takes some time, especially on a large cookie (such as these). I would not recommend trying to make a hundred cookies like these (unless you have help).
Below you can see some of the variations of color on the different cookies. Feel free to play around with colors you like.
Do you love hydrangeas too? Which colors are your favorite?