For the month of December I’ve taken a break from my painting, although I am eager to dive back in come January. Lots of exciting stuff coming your way with the new year! It’s been so cool watching my art transform and grow under Bill’s tutelage, and a lot of concepts I struggled to understand have clicked for me recently.
So. It was kind of lame taking a leave from the studio now, but life suddenly got CRAZY and well, I didn’t really have a choice. Unless I was willing to give up my average four hours of sleep each night.
This image aptly describes my current emotional and mental state.
It’s getting better though. A little. I like to make a to-do list and check things off of the list as I complete them. With each check a little burden lifts from my shoulders and I can erase that stress bit from my brain. I have noticed though, the more stuff I need to complete, and the more stressed I am, the greater my desire to create more work for myself.
So. Even though Bryan and I just bought a house and we spent all last week painting and decorating from 6 AM to 2 AM (shout out to my incredible Mom and her mad decorating skills!), we still had to go to school and teach, freak out about the conclusion of the semester, get grades in on time, plan for the following school year, buy Christmas presents, and watch our credit card escalate to…well, let’s just say it’s like, really high. And then my Mom and I were in a near plane crash. I think she handled it better than I did, but my thoughts have dwindled on death and other morbid things for the past couple weeks.
So what do I do with all of this festering stress and lack of sleep?
I bake cookies.
And let me start off by saying, these are not the cookies you bake to eat your feelings away. These cookies are an art form. It’s another Richardson trait, I think. If we Richardsons do anything, we go all out. And that’s putting it modestly (On the Go All Out You Crazy Awesome Richardson and Blow Everyone’s Minds Totem Pole, I’m near the bottom!).
Back to cookies. Here’s a quick demo of the action.
For this type of decorating you want a sturdy cookie. I use an almond vanilla shortbread. I really like using a marble rolling pin too. The marble stays cool and the dough doesn’t stick to it as much.
When the dough is rolled smooth and even, dip your cookie cutter in a little flour to prevent it from sticking. I then use a metal cookie spatula to gently push the cookie out of the cookie cutter (how many times can I say “cookie” in a sentence?).
Once the cookies are baked and cooled I outline the edges with a stiff royal icing. I’m very particular about making treats not only look good, but taste good too. Most royal icing recipes call for Meringue Powder. I’ve never cared for the taste and prefer to use egg whites and lemon juice instead. Add in a drop of Almond Extract and it’s divine.
To flood the cookies, add a few drops of water to the royal icing mix, along with food coloring (gels are best). This year I’m going for a pink Christmas.
Once the flooded icing has hardened the decorating can begin!
And voila! I used the stiff icing in a piping bag to create the lines, and tweezers to carefully set the pearls. I gave the cookies the night to fully harden, then added edible glitter, bagged them, and added pink tulle bows to the bags.
You might not think stress and cookies go together in a post. But they do. Oh yes. They do.
Now go and eat your feelings away and blame it on holiday stress. You’ll do better next year, right?
Merry Christmas and God bless!