Monday, February 8, 2016

My Sightless Vision for Sweet Tooth Satiation

I have a friend who makes ahhhh-maaaaay-ziiiiiing cookies!  We're talking, knock your socks off, insanely adorable, so cute you don't want to eat them but so yummy you're practically yelling, "GET IN MAH BELLY!" as soon as you see the FedEx guy has dropped them off by your door--THAT kind of amazing!  She made and decorated ladybug sugar cookies for the Toddler's first birthday--they were red and black polka dot perfection!  Last Halloween, she sent me a dozen of her Halloween cookies, and I shamelessly ate 2/3 of them.  They're just THAT good!

After consuming my eight very Halloweeny cookies, I chatted with this friend and said, "You should make guide dog cookies!  Wait, NO, you should make BRAILLE cookies!".  I figured I would submit an order for such scrumptious tactile cookies in the near future....  

And then, somehow, sometime, the crazy crafty side of me decided it would be a good idea to try it myself!  Why NOT, I thought!  It'll be FUN, I thought!  Nevermind that when the Tween turned 6 and wanted one of those Barbie cakes with the "real" Barbie in it where the "dress" is the cake--I had to do some serious dress patching and repair through the use of heaps of icing so big I thought we would ALL be zooming through the house like the Flash after Happy Birthday was sung and the cake was cut and consumed.

But, I did some reading, and I decided, "No fear, Nicole....  It's a cookie...  Worst case scenario, you get to eat some really ugly sugar cookies.  I gave it a shot!  I made a batch of cookies as gift for the retirement of a guide dog training supervisor I respect a great deal.  I figured if they didn't turn out, no harm was done, he didn't know about them anyway--SURPRISE!  But, they turned out pretty well, especially for my first attempt with making and decorating sugar cookies with anything other than a store-bought tub of icing (true story).  My apologies for the lack of fancy setup for these photos, but I was really focused on the task and trying to do just a little better with each and every one.  But here they are, my first-ever attempt at guide pup cookies.  This batch included guide dogs in harness, guide dog puppies in training, dog bones, and hearts (some with the letters "GDB" and others with paw prints).

First-ever attempt at guide pup cookies:  yellow, chocolate, and black labrador guide dogs in harness and puppies in training (wearing green GDB puppy coats, green frosted hearts with "GDB" and paw prints in white, and dog bones in brown and white.

I felt really good about this attempt!  They weren't perfect by any means, but I felt like I had done pretty well for my first try, and certainly, I felt I had done far better than the days of my Barbie cake aka mountain of icing.

I asked for open and honest feedback--and several people gave me their feedback.  I am a guide dog handler but I am not a puppy raiser, so some of their feedback simply had to do with the details on the puppies in training.  They also hoped that I might be able to figure out a yellow icing that would work for the yellow labradors.  In retrospect, they do seem pretty boring with the sugar cookie as their yellow color and the icing of their harness or puppy coat as their only icing.

I realized I really, REALLY enjoyed doing this!  And, I figured that as with everything, I would get better with practice.  I had a friend ask if I would make these for her dear daughter for Valentine's Day--so I said of course and it was time for round two of Project Super Sweet Guide Pup Cookies!  I figured out a lot of things between Super Sweet Guide Pup Cookie 1.0 and 2.0.  I'll post an actual blind chick tutorial soon, but for now I'll just say that even with learning a lot so far, there is still MUCH to learn, but I rarely back down from a challenge and I see perfecting these cuties as a fun and creative challenge right now.  Also, in decorating the cookies, there are definitely some non-sighted techniques that I've been employing, and these techniques often differ from the methods of the sighted decorators I've been learning from.  With creativity and patience, we can find ways to almost anything as a blind person--just doing it a little bit differently.

In addition to the guide pup cookies, I also prepared to work on some Valentine's cookies for my daughters' teachers--I decided I would like to send them heart shaped cookies with red or pink royal icing and I wanted the words on the cookies to be in Braille.  The smaller cookies would simply say, "love" in Braille, and the larger ones will say "love is blind" in Braille.  I've only done a couple of the Braille cookies, but even in their simplicity, they are my absolute favorite cookies so far!!

Top row:  guide dog puppy in training cookies (black, yellow, and chocolate labradors.  Middle row:  guide dogs in harness (yellow, chocolate, and black labradors).  Bottom row:  two heart shaped cookies covered in green royal icing with two white paw prints on each.

Heart-shaped cookie iced in red royal icing with Braille spelling "love".  The Braille dots are made with dark pink and light pink edible pearls.  
I'm hoping the special people these cookies are going to will enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed making and decorating them!  Here's to a very happy and super sweet Valentine's Day ahead!

Until Next Time,
Vertical rainbow strips with white handwritten text spelling "Nicole".

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