Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun New Kids Hat

If you like owls and you have a little one around that does too, this hat is for you!  Is it not just the cutest thing you've seen in a long time?   I don't usually like character hats, but this one was just too darling to pass up.  The original pattern is by .  She has graciously allowed me to sell these hats made from her design.  Stop on over and meet her.  She has a lot of other gorgeous patterns available.

Here's my little owl.  Just click on the picture for more info.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Hats

The snow has been flying here at Forbes Farm and so have the hooks.   Click on the pictures for more details.

Here is a darling little hat for you princess.   Soft pink and sage green topped off with an oversized white flower.  Open stitch for warmer days ahead.  Just too cute!

This one is for Mom.  It's a big, slouch hat to throw on when you are having a bad hair day.  Stretchy, and comfy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shifting Gears

   This Winter I have spent a lot of time thinking.   There's not much else to do on a farm when the snow is 3 feet deep.  I've put a lot of thought into my business, where it was, where it is, and where it is headed.  Two things stand out. One, the jewelry I love to make just doesn't sell, and two, the cookie cutters I never intended to sell, do.

   We just stumbled into selling cookie cutters the first year I set up shop at Cross Roads to sell my jewelry.  People seem to love them.  Men even buy them although I suspect about half of them or more expect their wives or mothers to do the actual baking.  With a bit of effort and some creative financing to buy more, sales on cutters has kept me afloat while my jewelry tries to drag me under.   So, cookie cutters it is!

   I haven't given up completely on making jewelry.  I couldn't.  I love it too much.  I just decided not to list so much of it online.  It seems a total waste of time and money.  I still have 3 cases and quite a few shelves dedicated to jewelry in our shop, so I do have an outlet, even if sales are at a snails pace.

    A opportunity arose to make crocheted items to share a space with another vendor at Cross Roads.  After checking all the "stupid" government rules and regulations, I determined that although it was going to cost me some money up front for labels, I could manage to meet their requirements.  I can see large manufacturers having to have some regulation, but really, making the grannies who want to knit baby sweaters do flips and summersalts to meet government rules is simply ridiculous. They want more small businesses, but they're doing everything they can to discourage them.

   Rant over.   With all the rules read, and hopefully understood, and labels ordered, I put my beads away  and started making some crocheted hats to fill the booth.  While I was at that, I figured I might as well put some online too.  They're fun to make and my decades of crochet experience makes most of them easy for me to make.
I've pictured some of them below so you can see what has kept me busy day after day as the snow continues to fall!

Click on the picture if you would like more information on each hat.

There are more on the way!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making Perfect Cut Out Cookies

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cookie

Tips and Tricks for  Perfect Cut Out Cookies

A major complaint regarding cut out cookies is they lose their shape in baking.   I’ve had quite a few customers refuse to buy detailed cutters because they are afraid the design will be lost when baked.   The problem lies in the recipe used, not the cutter.  Find a recipe that results in a cookie that does not “puff” when baked.  One of my favorites is Swedish Pepparkakor, a thin spicy cookie that holds it’s shape very well.

The type and amount of fats in a recipe effects the amount of spread when baked.  Recipes with butter or shortening will work much better than those using oil.  The more fat in a cookie, the more it will spread out as the fats melt in the oven.  

The flour  and sugar used also effects the outcome.  While most recipes call for  all purpose flower, bread and cake flour tend to produce cookies that spread less.  White sugar makes a crispier cookie than brown sugar does.  You may have to experiment to find a recipe that works for you.

One of the best investments I ever made was in a set of insulated baking sheets.  They allow air movement that helps the cookies bake evenly.  I’ve never had to grease mine and clean up is as easy as taking a wet rag to the sheet.  Jelly roll pans work well too.  Thin cookie sheets are the cheapest, but the hardest to bake on.  Parchment paper is another way to get great results when baking.  It not only helps bake an evenly browned cookie,  there’s no messy pans to wash afterwards!  Just throw it away.

Cold dough is another must for a good cut out cookie.  Separate your dough into manageable sections. Roll dough out between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes.  You can also chill the dough before rolling it out but only take out a small amount of dough at a time to roll.  

For the actual cutting use metal cutters for a sharper, cleaner cut.  Dip the cutters in flour between cuts and pull the salvage dough away from the cut cookies.  Use a thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies to your sheets.  If you prefer, you can cut the cookies right on the parchment paper , pull the excess dough off and place to parchment paper, cookies and all on a sheet to bake.

Wash metal cutters by hand. Never put them in the dishwasher.  The harsh chemicals used in dishwashers can corrode the metal.  Dry thoroughly and store in an air tight container.  Hand wash cookie sheet also, especially if you have a lot invested in them.   Dishwashers are nice, but they are hard on your metal bake ware.

Now, decorate your cookies in what ever way you like and enjoy!

You might just find the cookie cutter you've been looking for in our Art Fire shop.  We carry over 300 styles and counting.  If you can't find what you want ask about a custom cutter.  We might be able to make it for you.