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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Clayton's Beach Bar and Other Week-end Activities

I don't get out at night a lot.  My husband is on-call 50% of every month which means he has to be within 30 minutes of the hospital...which is 28 minutes from our house...and if we do fun things on the island...well, we have a 50-50 opportunity.  We have become empty nesters and tend to stay home more and more.

This week-end was a change for me.  A childhood friend re-connected with me a few months ago and she made a trip down to the island, with her adult son, for a little summer time fun and catching up!

They arrived Friday evening and their request was "someplace fun" for dinner.  So, remembering the days of vacationing here, I automatically thought of the Louie's Backyard sunset view, huge buffet, and fireworks on the bay.  They seemed to enjoy it and it wasn't soooo loud that we couldn't talk and begin our catching up.  Fireworks were great, they enjoyed the food (especially piles of crab and shrimp) so I felt it had met the "first day criteria"!

On Saturday they wanted to shop a little and go to a beach bar for lunch, dinner someplace, and then live music and fireworks again.  I drove them around to a couple of the huge (and numerous) souvenir/resort wear shops where they got the things they wanted.  We headed to Wanna Wanna because it was fairly early and I figured it wouldn't be too crowded yet...and still pretty shady and cool.  We enjoyed eating and talking for two hours there - glorious view, nice shady table...everyone seemed content.

We next made our way down to LaQuinta, where they were staying so they could change, and I went in search of parking so we could beach it in front of Clayton's.  Holy smokes - that was a disaster.  Poor parking by space hogs (no striped parking - one hopes people will be reasonable - but no) left zero parking despite 15 minutes of my circling.  I ended up across the highway in over-flow parking.  I'd brought some bottled water with me, and couldn't enter Clayton's with that in hand - so we walked around the side and another 'holy smokes' moment!  The crowds looked so thick I couldn't see a path to the water.  We wanted to see the Sand Castle contest so we finally made our way down to the beach area in front of LaQuinta and saw Sandy Feet and Emerson at the conclusion of another fun contest morning.  I was so hot from slogging through extremely hot loose sand that I didn't even pull out my camera.  I regret that now.

We ended up finding a path to the water enough to just rinse and cool our feet and then decided the deck, under the palapa-style umbrellas was the better solution on this crowded day.  We enjoyed the glorious view of the water and sort of skimmed the top of umbrellas and the hoards.  Good plan.

My guests decided Clayton's had it all, so they didn't want to venture away for dinner and would happily eat bar food, listen to music, and watch fireworks where they didn't have to move and could walk right back up to their room at the end of the evening.  I left to go home and shower/change before the evening and we reconnected around 7:30.  Zack was playing sand volleyball and Lisa was enjoying the view and the music.  It was cool and breezy and Pelican West was doing Beatles covers when I arrived...I was one happy camper.  Fireworks promptly at 9:15 and then the final hour of Pelican West music had the dance floor hopping.

The most fun part of the evening was watching the people around us.  A group next to us was having a rip roaring good time with their parents and in-laws...the grandma on oxygen was up dancing with her portable oxygen machine...and everyone was happy to be spending the evening at "the place that had everything"...something I heard repeatedly about Clayton's Saturday night.  The group next to us were on their last night of vacation and had just found Clayton's.  They really ended their vacation with a party!  I sure hope they got home safely because those folks were partying hardy!



Pelican West is a great band - they cover a huge variety of favorites and the crowd was up and dancing...young ones, old ones, fat ones, skinny ones, break dancing, getting funky, couple dancing...it was goin' on!  I so enjoy watching people having a good time.  I was a bit bummed that my husband was on-call and unable to be with me...'cause my feet wanted to boogie!  I don't think my feet or hands stopped doing a chair boogie the entire time I listened.  My son would have noted that my head was bobbing...which it always does when I listen to music.  I have plans for Mr. Flip Flop and dancing soon...he just doesn't know it yet :-)

I liked that Clayton's had some non-alcoholic choices and the grill was hopping (we had basic nachos with jalapenos and virgin pina coladas - I was driving).  I can't say I liked the daytime crowds at Clayton's but I did enjoy watching the banana boat off the beach, the sky diver's making perfect landings in front of Clayton's and the best, visiting with my friend of 54 years!


Photo by Zack Turner - at Louie's Backyard

I had intended to swing by Wanna Wanna and listen to the Bongodogs...but I was so tired I just pointed my car home.  The downside of all of this was it took me 45 minutes to make a 15 minute drive home!  The trail of tail lights across the causeway was long and slow.

Overall...Good times, good times.  Bay front or beach front...there's lots to do on South Padre Island at night in the Summer!!!

The video above is of the fireworks display - sorry for the jittery sound - I just did the point and record thing and it is what it is.  Enjoy!!!
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Where to Buy Fresh Seafood in SPI Area



I often get asked "where do you go to buy fish or shrimp to cook at home?"  I struggled with this when I first moved here because I was used to a fish department in our local grocery store in Austin.  When the one place I knew about down here closed, I was frustrated and at a loss.  I was then referred to a replacement vendor and all was well.  Over the past six years, though, I have found more places!  I'm going to summarize my experience with each and have them all on one blog post.  Hopefully, that will help folks in search of fish or shrimp to have while on vacation or to take home!

Quik Stop: One of my favorite locations to buy shrimp and the occasional fresh fish.  Depending on season, you can stumble upon some locally caught grouper, flounder, or scarlet snapper.  They do import, so not always local - ask.  I wrote a blog post previously and it is linked here.  I've never been disappointed with their shrimp.  They were my sole provider for several years.  They do sell large boxes of block-frozen shrimp but I've not bought that.  I rarely need 5 pounds at one time and while I know others say to just run water over the end for what you need...that sounds like work to me.  I prefer individually frozen or already thawed shrimp (believe me when I tell you I now know that ALL shrimp is frozen on the boat - if you are buying thawed, it has been thawed at the store).


Los Tortugas:  In the bluish green building in front of HEB Port Isabel - between the Stripes and the Burger King.  Address is officially 1683 Hwy 100.  This is a new find for me.  I prepared some of their shrimp for dinner this week and am heading back on Friday to get a five-pound bag of IQF shrimp to have in my freezer.  I love individually frozen shrimp - I can thaw what I need and it always tastes fresh - it is individually blast frozen on the boat and I can control when it is thawed.  Their card says "Family owned and operated, from our boats to your table".  That's what I like to hear!  Drop in or call 956-943-5602 to see what's available or place an order.  Good people!  They also sell fresh ceviche and other items.  I don't have experience with that though.   I knew I had some good shrimp when I opened the bag, that they put in ice without me having to ask, and it smelled like I was standing on the beach sniffing fresh Gulf salty water...not a hint of "fishiness'..just beautiful freshness.  That's what I'm looking for!


Dirty Al's Seafood and Restaurants - most of their restaurants in this chain have a raw seafood case where you may purchase seafood to take with you. Ask for ice if you have more than a 5 minute drive.  I have purchased shrimp far in the past at the Dirty Al's SPI location, more recently at Daddy's, as well as at their free-standing seafood market next to Dirty Al's Pelican Station in Port Isabel.  Shrimp has always been good and smelled fresh.  Much of the other seafood is imported - always ask the source....it should be labeled.  Check out this previous blog post.


Joe's Oyster Bar and Gulf Seafood Market - a Port Isabel standard for delicious fresh shrimp and oysters, as well as cooked seafood plates.  Always fresh, always delicious...for over 30 years!  You can find them at 207 Maxan in Port Isabel (the first street north of Hwy 100 - turn at the light by the post office for easiest access.  The building says "GULF SEAFOOD...OYSTER BAR".  Locals love it, tourists return year after year when they visit.  Can't go wrong here!


Reyes Seafood Market - Laguna Heights/Port Isabel area - I admit I have never stopped in.  My friend, Iris, said she always buys her seafood there and she loves it.  So, I'll add it to the list because I trust her judgement.  They are at 716 Hwy 100 on the left side if you are heading towards the island.


I also know there is shrimp to be had at Blue Marlin on the island - but I've never bought it there.  They do show source in their case and last time I was there, it was all imported.  I have heard from others that this is NOT always the case and that it is quite good...so, I'm adding it to the list.  Please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll consider adding comment data to this section.

Last, but not least, I have heard good things about buying shrimp from shrimpers down on Port Road and/or South Shore Drive in Port Isabel.  I have no experience with them at all.  I've heard they sell IQF...so I may need to check that out.

I love shrimp, most of my kids and grandkids love shrimp or fresh fish...having access to delicious fresh seafood is one of the true joys of living at the coast.  I hope you find this helpful.  Not much better than a big old pot of shrimp boil thrown out on the table for everyone to enjoy!!!


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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spicy Shrimp Teriyaki Stir Fry

Last week-end I was in Austin and stopped into Central Market to pick up SIX bottles of my favorite Teriyaki Marinade/Sauce.  It is sooo delish!  I used to find it down here at the coast from time to time, but not recently.  We love the stuff, so I had to lay in a supply!  They didn't even blink as I checked out.

The last time I used the last bit on hand, Mr. Flip Flop said "you know, this would taste really good with shrimp".... and all I could think was "yes, but it would double the cost of my week-night dinner!"  I started feeling guilty about that, so today I stopped in and got some incredibly fresh smelling large shrimp at Los Tortugas in Port Isabel.  I'll write more about them in an upcoming blog...but I'll say today...a high contender for some of the best wild shrimp in the area!  When I prepped it - it smelled like fresh ocean water.  That is a very good thing!

Here's the way I put this dish together.  It was absolutely delicious.

SPICY SHRIMP TERIYAKI STIR FRY
by Debbi Hook

Ingredients:

1 pound large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/3 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce, shaken very well
1 Tbsp. Chili Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Lite Soy Sauce
1 large or 2 small zucchini squash, quartered and sliced
1 small sweet onion, large diced
6 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 large red bell pepper, sliced and large diced
1 package prepared mixed chopped salad (I used HEB Fiesta Salad Mix this time - but have also used broccoli slaw as well as chopped Asian salad blend found at Wal-mart or Sam's Club)
1 Tbsp corn starch mixed with 4 Tbsp water to make a smooth slurry
White or Brown rice - cooked.  I used the HEB frozen steamable brown rice in a bag.  4 minutes.  Done!

Thinly sliced green onion and raw sesame seeds for topping

Method:

Prep all vegetables and set aside.  Clean and de-vein shrimp and keep cold until ready to add to pan.

In the largest pan you have (if you don't have a wok - which I don't), add the olive oil and chili garlic paste.  Bring temperature to medium high then add all prepped vegetables except the bagged mix.

Stir fry until vegetables begin to soften.  Add soy sauce and toss.

Add the chopped salad mixture and stir to coat with sauce. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  Add shrimp and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

Start the rice in the microwave if you are using the steam bag.  Add the Teriyaki sauce to the stir fry and bring to a boil, stirring to coat all ingredients.

Add the completely smooth slurry and stir until returns to boil and sauce thickens.

Add prepared rice and stir to coat.

Plate the dish and sprinkle with green onion and raw sesame seeds.  Serve immediately!

I baked a box of HEB frozen chicken egg rolls and served on the side with some Duck Sauce.
Did I say how delicious this dish was?  Oy vay... Enjoy!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!



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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

La Hacienda - Take Two

My first, and only, visit to La Hacienda on South Padre Island's beautiful bay front was less than stellar.  We went on a holiday week-end, during their inaugural Summer.  They were short staffed, it was a tortuously long wait, the hostess bordered on rude (and I'm being generous), and 2 out of 4 at the table didn't care for their food,.  I never wanted to spend my restaurant dollars there again.  For many months I heard nothing but the same sort of thing we experienced...and then I heard "nothing"...crickets.

In mid-winter 2013/2014 I began seeing La Hacienda in Facebook posts again, people raving about the food, the location, and the good service.  I smiled to myself and thought "okay - that's good - they got their act together".  The restaurant and amazing view is outstanding.  I always had hoped it would make it, turning around all of the bad experience into good.  It appears they have!

Mr. Flip Flop came home Monday in a very good mood after winning a very nice prize at work and getting off work early after having spent a grueling two days on-call at the hospital.  After he sat in his recliner for a bit, resting after the work day, he said "let me take you out to dinner"...and I was on that like a chicken on a june bug!

Our original thoughts were going to one of our favorites but as we hit the island, I mentioned I felt bad that we never went anywhere "new" and there were some places we might want to consider.  I told him that I'd been hankerin' to try La Hacienda again and told him about the locals who seemed to really enjoy it.  Being Monday, I wasn't sure they were open (many restaurants close on Monday down here) but it was worth checking.  He was agreeable so we headed over after a quick stop at the Blue Marlin for lottery tickets.  He felt like it was a lucky day so he wanted a ticket.  Fingers crossed!

When we arrived, it was nearly 7:00 and there were only three cars in the parking lot.  We looked at each other and wondered if that was a bad sign.  I took it as a good sign that I wouldn't have to wait this time!  I said I suspected many people might assume they were closed on Monday, like I had wondered and to get out of the car, because we were going in.  I later learned they were open every day.  Yay!

We were promptly greeted by our very friendly and efficient wait person, Graham.  He gave us the latitude to sit inside or out - anywhere we wanted.  Knowing my husband can't stand the sun in his eyes and it was glaring off the water as it prepared to set over the bay, we positioned ourselves so the sun was blocked by the space between two windows.  Glorious view, partially blocked sun.  I know they don't want to block the view, but some sort of sun protection would be nice.  I imagine we are not the only ones bothered by this issue.

We were promptly offered drinks, appetizers, and menus...we ordered our liquid refreshment and began perusing the menu.  Looked pretty much the same as I remembered, which is good for comparison purposes.  Our drinks came PDQ with a small bowl of salsa and really outstanding chips.  I might have mentioned previously that chips and salsa down here are rarely to my taste.  The salsa at La Hacienda was slightly spicy but delicious and the way I like it.  The chips tasted freshly made but not over-cooked like so many chips I encounter on the island.  Excellent start to our second visit.

I really waffled between ordering Chicken al Carbon or a plate called The Saltillo.  I finally chose the latter because it had a variety of items - including a beef enchilada, a seasoned ground beef taco, and two "Yolanda's Peppers" along with beans and rice.  Mr. Flip Flop decided to have the Chili Relleno plate, like he'd had on our first visit.  He loved it then and he really wanted it again!

We enjoyed the view, the nice cloud formations that remind us of puffy Summer clouds, and the sun slowly moving down over the West side of the bay.  More people arrived while we waited for our meals - so we came at just the right time.  Our drinks were refilled and our waiter checked on us, but was not intrusively attentive.  Just right.

Our meals came out, also at just the right time, we were starting to get hungry, but we weren't checking our watches!  Another "just right".

Mr. Flip Flop's Chili Relleno was reportedly wonderful.  I think I kinda heard him moan when he bit into it, causing me to smile to myself.  I'm glad it was as good as he remembered it.
Chili Relleno

My plate was HOT.  I dabbled about with my tasty beans and rice as I allowed things to cool just a bit.  My first bite was the beef enchilada and I have to say it was superb!  The red sauce was perfect, a generous amount of cheese, and the meat was tender and moist.  Two thumbs up there!  I next sampled a bit of the Yolanda's Peppers.  They are whole jalapenos stuffed with ground beef and cheese.  They are dipped in batter and fried, then topped with a light avocado cream sauce.  They were much bigger than I expected!  They were HOT - temperature wise and spicy the closer I got to the stem.  I could only eat one and Mr. Flip Flop ate the other.  They were quite delicious.  I would have been happy with some extra avocado sauce to dip my bites in...the breaded crust absorbed the cream sauce by the time I got to it.  I'll know to ask for extra on the side next time.  I was starting to get full by the time I made it to the taco - served in a corn tortilla, lightly fried, but still soft.  I will say it was good, but not great.  The meat was kind of dry and bland by the time I got to it - I suspect that's my fault for eating it last.  I ate half and Mr. Flip Flop ate the other half.  The other flavors were so powerful and seasoned that I think my tongue was underwhelmed by the less seasoned taco.  I would also have enjoyed some cheese on the taco.  Still, I was so filled by that time, I certainly don't hold the taco against them.  It was certainly generous in proportions - the plate was really large and a reasonable $13.
The Saltillo Platter

Overall, I definitely believe they have gotten their feet underneath them.  I doubt I will go back on a holiday week-end (actually we don't go ANYWHERE on a holiday week-end) but I think we can comfortably add it to our restaurant rotation.  I really want to try the Chicken al Carbon dish - it sounded awesome.  I'm thinking Monday nights are a good night to go out and eat at La Hacienda!

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:


4 – Lip smackin’ - good quality – flip flops will definitely be parked under their table again!




La Hacienda on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life - A New Normal

I haven't baked cookies in over a month!  Whoa...hard to imagine.  I've fixed a few meals where I thought, yum, I should have blogged and photographed this.  I just ate it instead.  I go through slumps of time where I am so busy with every day life that I forget about the blog !!!  Yes, it's true. Despite empty nesting, I find myself quite busy.

My original intention for this blog was to fill my time and to fill a need I saw where I lived;  restaurant reviews, local activities, dishes I cooked in my past or discovered and wanted to share, creating recipes and meals and desserts. .My husband was traveling, my youngest was in high school, I worked from home, and I felt the need to write.  I wasn't in to intricate cookie decorating at the time... but that was the next evolution of "me", and by extension, my blog.

My husband now works locally, works day shift for the first time in our entire married life, my youngest is off living in a dorm in another town, and I'm finding myself living a more "normal" life than I have for the past 6 years (maybe in the last 37 years of child rearing).  Less crisis going on, more free time is available, I'm enjoying going for walks again...more of my version of a comforting normal. (jinx - I probably just cursed that and something crazy will show up on my radar)

I won't stop blogging, but like the past 18 months of my blog where my life was strongly evolving, my blog will evolve as well.  I'm trying to learn new things in the cookie decorating world - so spending time at YouTube University as well as sketching designs I might want to incorporate.  Every wall, every door, every card, every piece of fabric, and every flower I look at, I often wonder "how would I cookie that"?

Eventually, I'd like to just have a cookie blog...but I really like the eclecticism of being The South Padre Island Flip Flop Foodie.  When the mood takes me, I can still share about what's going on in my little corner of South Texas.  People ask why I don't have more current restaurant reviews and I have to say I tend, when I go out, to go to places I know I like and that I've already blogged about (sometimes many times).  There are a few new places I need to cover, so I'll be making an effort to fit some of them in.  I may also invite a few guest bloggers to write about places they go.  We'll see how all of that shakes out.

For now, I'll just continue riding the softer, more gentle waves, of life as an "empty nester" and think about where the next wave will take me (and please, Life, no rip currents.... I've been through enough!).

I've got a new technique I'm dying to try, so I bet the next post you see is that new way of decorating a cookie (new for me anyway).  We'll see how it goes.  Until then...

Bon Appetit, Y'all!StumbleUpon

Saturday, April 26, 2014

VIPF Readings at Paragraphs on Padre...and Some Forgotten Cookies

Every year I look forward to the Valley International Poetry Festival...because I know my friends, Joni and Griff, owners of Paragraphs on Padre, will host a poetry reading.  I enjoy the poets who come to read their work...I particularly like the performance style of the readings. I really appreciate their efforts because I know they drive all over the Rio Grande Valley on this day!


This year was no different.  The agenda at Paragraphs was full this April day - a workshop, two reading events, a practice for another event...Joni and Griff manage to juggle all of that AND take care of a store full of customers.  It was a lovely Saturday on the island and the first readings were held on the delightful patio that separates their living quarters from the book store.  Flowers bloomed, voices read with great passion, I shed some tears, and I laughed. 



I snapped photos of some of the poets.  Unfortunately, I was so busy enjoying their work, I didn't identify who was who, but I'll post the photos anyway.  Every year I take away something special from this event.  This year there were several moments.  For that, I am thankful.






If you know me, you know I rarely attend an event without a little somethin'-somethin' to share with folks.  This year, I was up at 11:00 last night preparing some Forgotten Cookies.  I wrote about them in 2010, but never took pictures that I know of.  I colored these light blue and used up some "Spring" colored chocolate chips, then added some mini semi-sweet morsels as well.  They just reminded me of the beauty of today's sky and the color of the bay through my polarized sun-glass lenses.  They make me happy.  The link above is to a printable recipe and this link is to the blog post where I originally wrote about these cookies my family has enjoyed for nearly 50 years.  They are super simple to make!


Forgotten Cookies also travel well if not bounced around too much - they get a nice crispy crust and the internal chips seem to help stabilize the normally quite fragile merengue.  I can easily move them around and hold them in my hand.  If you need an easy-to-make treat some late night, this is a great one.  They will be ready when you wake up the next morning!

I also "attempted" to video record one of the readings by poet, Amalia Ortiz.  It's a newish camera so I didn't know the zoom would make so much noise...and I couldn't figure out how to stop the recording...oops.  Lots of "stuff" on the end.  Also, couldn't edit it with my current software.  I'll work on it for the future (or maybe I'll give up my video attempts and stick to making cookies) - but this was a great poem, "La Matadora", and I wanted to share the reading.  Maybe I can figure all of that out and share it eventually!

For now, enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

Update 5/2/2014
A link to my very pathetic video attempt.  Sorry for the poor quality - just listen to the voice - it's awesome...close your eyes if you have to.  Really, I'm bad with the new camera.


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter and Spring...and a few cookies

I'm taking a quick trip this week-end to see my youngest, my middle, and my oldest!  Rarely do I get to visit with all of my sons at one time.  This is a real treat!  Unfortunately, Mr. Flip Flop is on-call and can't go with us.  I know someone has to do it...but he seems to have an inordinate amount of call scheduled!  Oh well, nothing to be done about it at this point.

I made a batch of Sweet Sugarbelle's Red Velvet Roll-outs because the older two have not had the chance to try them yet.  I think they are primo!  Unfortunately, the Cream Cheese MP Icing got a little wavy when I put it under a fan that was a bit too close to the cookies.  It literally moved the icing! 

I had planned to use a large Easter egg stencil I got a while back...so I made particularly large cookies...the cutter was 5x3 inches...and the cookies expanded 1/2 inch both ways!  The entire batch of dough only made 8 rectangles and a dozen teeny tiny little mini cookies.  Due to the waviness of the iced large cookies, I was afraid to use a plastic stencil with a thick royal icing - that only works when your cookie is nicely flat. 

I decided, instead, to airbrush a background and use some pieces of lace I purchased just for this technique.  I selected two different designs and cut a swatch that would drape over the cookies easily.  I hoped this would "sort of" mask the imperfect surface.  They did a fairly good job of doing just that!  One was sort of flowery and I used a blue pearl sheen for that one.  The other seemed maybe a bit less feminine...and since I had a lot of boys...I added some purple to the blue sheen and sprayed the second half of the large cookies.  I grabbed some wafer papers I had on hand and started flying by the seat of my pants...no drawn out plan as I usually do.

I practiced free-hand printing on all of these cookies -
one of my true weak skills in the decorating arena. 
I read that cookiers were using the thinner Masters brand
bags with no tip and just a bare snippet off the tip of the
piping bag.  I had some on hand so I tried it out on a small
baking mat.  I was really amazed at the level of control I had
compared to the more traditional piping bag and tips with couplers. 
I added a smidgen of corn syrup to a thick
piping icing to get a smooth flow...and it worked! 
Some letters look better than others...
but it is an improvement for me!
The minis just got a quick base coat as my intention was for us to munch on the tidbits instead of decorate them.  Half of them did go that way - but the other half of the minis got a last minute, quickly piped flower to use up some leftover icing.  These little cookies are barely larger than
1 1/4 inch, so REAL minis!

The blue pearled cookies got a dose of Easter d├ęcor.  These are the very cute Peter Rabbit wafer papers I got from CookiePixie on Etsy.  She has a wonderful selection of prints, including vintage prints, and I feel her prices are reasonable for quality wafer paper prints.  This batch goes to my Granddaughters and my middle son.


The other cookies (including some not shown - don't get in a snit youngest son - there is one for you) had wafers of blue bonnets applied.  When we start seeing blue bonnets (around mid to late March) in Texas...we know it's Spring.  After such a rough Winter...I'm thrilled that I'll be seeing wildflowers this week-end.  It's a great sadness to me that they don't seem to grow down here by the coast.  I was happy to put them on cookies this year!

I had never tried a running bead border, so I gave it a shot
around the wafer papers.
The outer border was a shell border. 
I did use royal icing for all of the detail. 
The Cream Cheese MP Icing is really quite soft! 
It does, however, have fabulous
flavor on the Red Velvet cookies!

So, wherever you are in the U.S.A., or beyond, I hope you get to enjoy some lovely flowers and beautiful colors in your landscape...some are in Springtime...and other friends are in Autumn.  Whatever it is, I do love the moderate seasons between harsh Winter and hot Summer!  Hope you do to.

Field of Bluebonnets near Austin, TX
Photo by Ian Hook

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Point Isabel ISD 2014 Autism Awareness Walk


Not a great photo - pearlized color was doing odd things
for the camera!  The ribbon stencil was purchased
from SalsaSweets and the cute puzzle cookie
cutter was scored during my visit to Orson Gygi
in Salt Lake City!
It was lovely to see so many old friends and meet some new friends this morning after the 2014 Autism Awareness Walk in Port Isabel.  I have to admit, I slept through the walk, but I scrambled into clothes and flew out the door to be at the finish line to visit with folks, eat a hot dog, and listen to the prize drawings being called out.

For a cloudy, bordering on drizzly, day...it was a really great turn-out!  My offerings this year were puzzle-shaped Marshmallow Krispie Treats - 2 dozen were boxed up for prizes...and some cookies of course!

I scored several fabulous boxes from BRP Box Shop
in my CookieCon swag bag - used them to package
up the door prize drawing I was contributing.
I have collected puzzle ribbon wherever I could
find it for the past two years (because it is quite
scarce during April each year).  The coastal cookies
were wrapped in some beautiful ribbon from
Ribbon by Design - a vendor and sponsor at CookieCon!
Both BRP and RBD are awesome to work with.

I made a box of coastal cookies, some "Light it Up Blue" ribbon cookies, and a couple of boxes of puzzle cookies, stenciled with a puzzle stencil.  It was a lot of fun playing with my airbrush!
I got a new palm tree cutter that is much larger than the
two I already had - they made some pretty palm trees I think!
I'm fairly certain I got those at Gygi as well!

I loved my puzzle cookies - puzzles on puzzles!
Stencil from the great selection at the Etsy shop
Artfully Designed Creations.
One of my suitcases coming back from CookieCon held all
of my cookie goodies and CC swag...
which included (but was certainly not limited to)
five bags of sanding sugar which I knew I would need
for these cookies I was planning to bake.
My hair is frizzy from the humidity but my heart is joyful from seeing so many people out on a sort-of-dreary day to support the hope that our autistic family members become integrated and accepted into local activities, daily life, and are treated just like everyone else.  That's really all we want - for them to be accepted just the way they are.  They are unique and special people with a LOT to offer our community (and communities everywhere).  You can help make it happen.  Just accept them!
 
(an iron-on decal I got from e-bay...it describes my son perfectly!)
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

 
 




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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Have Found My People...and They Are Cookiers!!!

There is nothing so delightful as being surrounded by about 500 other people who like the very same thing you like.  That they are warm, caring, welcoming, and incredibly talented and creative...well, that's just icing on ...the cookie.

Yes, I'm back from CookieCon and I have no words.  The adjectives and the superlatives have all been used.  Wonderful classes, break-out sessions, speakers, the sugar art show...jam-packed into 3 exciting days of cookie joy.  My friend, Diana, and I had the time of our lives.





Diana and I enjoyed taking in the Salt Lake City and surrounding area sites.  We played tourist on Sunday before heading home on Monday.  We went to The Great Salt Lake, to Park City Ski Resort, Temple Square in downtown SLC...and my bucket list item, hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

 

 
I felt my Mom's presence with me - we both loved this choir.

I found I didn't take all that many photos in the classes.  I spent time making pages of notes (which I will need to go over repeatedly) where I documented all but the last class of the day...by that time I had a hand cramp!  I learned many new things and a different way to do old things.  It was really beyond wonderful.

The spotlight of the event, however, was definitely seeing the incredible work of so many cookie artists in one place, in real life!  Since I can't really post hundreds of photos, I decided to put together a little slide show.  I know there are some cookies I may have missed, but I think I got the vast majority of them.  I bow to the advanced cookiers...their work is incredible.  I bow to the beginners who had the guts to put their work on display.  I bow to the intermediate talents who can see how far they've come and how far they want to go.  There was a place for every level of artist in the Sugar Art Show.

Enjoy the video and I'd love any comments you might care to make.  I am avidly waiting to learn when the NEXT CookieCon will be!

Bon Appetit, my cookie friends!



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