Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Out and About: Deep Eddy Cabaret

This past weekend was full of Christmas parties- Friday, Saturday and Sunday! I was exhausted come Monday morning, but it was a really fun weekend. On Friday we headed to my parent's house for their annual get together with friends. It's amazing the kind-of spread that my mom can put together at the last minute. Not only was there great food, but there was enough alcohol for the entire neighborhood. Two different wine stations, a vodka/martini bar, and even some festive beer. It's unfortunate we had to run early the next morning.

On Saturday night we went to the Gazelle Christmas Party. This is our running group, and this year we were in a new, bigger location. There was a great turnout with plenty of good food, but a shortage of wine. Who knew that runners could drink so much?! The party ended early, as most people had other places to go to next. But we headed down the street to one of my favorite dive bars, Deep Eddy Cabaret, with two other couples. Hank had never been before, and I knew he would love its special charm.

Now that you can't smoke inside any restaurant or bar in Austin (it's actually been this way for awhile, which is awesome), it's much easier to tolerate the dark, cozy quarters of Deep Eddy. The ceilings are low, the bathrooms are small, and there are two pool tables and a juke box in the back. Throw in some cheap beer, and you've got yourself the classic dive bar. We snagged a pool table and rotated couples for at least 3 games. A few pitchers in and we ended up having a really fun night with some great friends.

The Holland House: Amy and Hank

The Holland House: Deep Eddy Cabaret
Random bar decorations- got to love a shout out to the Saints!!
The Holland House: Pool Score
Mature behavior while keeping score. 

In my twenties, there used to be a group who put together Dive Bar Night, where we would crawl between 3 or 4 dive bars. I used to be able to hang back then, but now we're doing good to make it to midnight at just one location. But there's something to be said about a good dive bar, and Austin certainly has plenty to choose from. There's Lala's, where it's Christmas all year long. And then there's Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, with Chicken Shit Bingo on Sunday afternoons (need I say more). If you haven't taken the time to scout out a dive bar in your own town, I highly recommend it. You never know what kind-of fun you'll run into.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Will You Be My Bridesmaid" Cookies

I have tried on several occasions to document my cookie making process. But once I get in the cookie zone, I always forget to stop and take a picture or two. So here is my first attempt at showing you how I work.

A client contacted me recently about bridesmaid dress cookies for her daughter (the bride) to put in a little gift box she was giving to each of her friends, asking them to be in her wedding. Other than telling me the wedding colors (robins egg blue and coral), she wasn't exactly sure how she wanted them to look. I'll admit that creativity is not my strong suit, so it's always stressful to me when I don't have a lot of guidance for design. However, after asking a few questions and getting more information about the event in general, I was able to formulate a few ideas.

Since the request was made fairly last minute, I wasn't able to get a cutter that looked exactly like what I had in mind. So I drew my own template to use for the cookies. I usually don't accept last minute requests, but I already had extra dough and royal icing left over from a recent project, so I was able to accommodate the request.

Step 1: Roll out the dough and cut the cookies. It helps to freeze the dough for a few minutes after rolling it out so that it's firm when cutting, especially if you aren't using a cutter. I roll my dough about 1 cm thick. If hand cutting, just run your finger along the edges to smooth out any rough spots.

The Holland House: Hand Cut Cookies

Step 2: Color the icing. This was day 2 of this particular order, so the cookies are fully cooled. I started off with just a toothpick tip each of Sky Blue and Turquoise (I prefer the Americolor brand), and continued to add dots of color at a time to reach the shade I wanted. I use the spray bottle to thin out the consistency of the icing. This was a life saving tip that I learned from The Sweet Adventures of Sugar Belle, as it helps you avoid adding too much water at a time. If you are interested in trying cookie decorating, her blog is full of amazing tips.

The Holland House: Coloring Royal Icing

Step 3: Planning the design of the cookie. I already had a few ideas in my head, but wanted to draw out what I was thinking so that I could ice the cookies correctly. Sometimes a design involves icing sections at a time, and obviously figuring that out after the fact is never a good thing. I like to trace my cookie cutter a few times and draw out my ideas before I actually start decorating.

The Holland House: Cookie Drawing

Step 4: Outline and flood the icing. For these, I didn't want the outline to be obvious, so I used the same consistency to outline and flood. I just used a smaller tip (#2) to outline, and a #3 to flood. After flooding the cookies, I swirled a clean toothpick around to pop out any bubbles, and merge the flooding and outline.

The Holland House: Outlining Cookies

The Holland House: Flooding Cookies
I played around with two different necklines on these to determine which one I liked better. 

Step 5: Adding detail. After the cookies dried, I added the next layer of detail. I always make extra cookies to finalize the design, and I love that it gives me the chance to play around a little (like the cookie in the top left corner where I used sanding sugar). When they were all finished (and I took a little vote via Instagram), it was decided that the bottom left cookie was just perfect for a June ranch wedding.

I typically place each cookie in a cellophane bag and tie with coordinating ribbons, but the bride wanted to do that herself and add a "Will you be my bridesmaid" tag on them. I think this is such a fun and special idea, and I so enjoyed playing a part of it.

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