Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine's Lesson Learned.

*Family Blog Updated.

This year it seemed like Valentine's Day was on some kind of performance enhancing drug.
Everywhere I turned there was some kind of irresistible Valentine's craft or baked good staring me in the face, and I could hardly choose which morsel of cuteness I wanted to partake in. A few blogs down, I posted some bubblegum necklaces that I thought I was definitely going to be making for my girl's Valentines. However, after pricing out gumballs and thinking about the time factor, making 30 of those necklaces...packaging them somehow...I began to feel overwhelmed. Which is why I turned to Our Best Bites, where I saw these adorable cookies:


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Perfect! Cookies are easy to bust out, and really, how hard could these be? Sure, I had never worked with GLACE icing before...or piped a cookie...or piped anything...but it would be fine, right?

Next, I was in charge of my preschooler's 'sweet treat' for her class Valentine's party. So what would be cute and fun for preschoolers to eat? Off to Our Best Bites again....how bout these beauties?
OBB Pie Pops in Blue Glass

Cauuuuuuute!!!! Since I am the queen of homemade pie crust, I just knew these would be a breeze.

Oh my gosh...ANDDDDDDDDD....since I am making pies ANYWAY....why don't I make those cute Pie in a Jar treats for Teacher gifts?????
heart pie jar OBB

Perfection. Utter perfection.

And so it began, my baking extraveganza. Husband was out of town, but no sweat. I knew I could do it alone. New baby in the house? Not a problem. I would bust it all out while he was sleeping.

Do you see where this is going? We are headed to a very dark place, my friends.

I started out right. I made the sugar cookies AND the pie dough on Saturday night so that on Sunday all I would have to do is pipe the cookies and make the pies. Easy peasy. I got the baby down for a nap and the kids settled in front of a movie, and began making my glace icing. The icing was very easy to make and turned out exactly as she showed it. The only problem is, her black icing called for food coloring gel, which I had bought....one of. Ummmmm, not even close. In the car, kids, and off to the store to buy 4 more of those...and to be safe, I picked up a bunch more red, too. Back home, the black was finally a dark charcoal color and the 'red' was about as good as it was going to get.
I pulled out my previously purchased frosting bags and piping tip. For those of you who actually know what I am talking about, I bought a #4 tip, and then I read that she used a #3. Shoot! Well, I had to make due with my #4, and it also worked fine. I figured out how to attach it to my bag (where were my reality tv cameras when I was working THAT out?) and filled it with icing, and got to piping.

Let me let you in on a little secret, friends. Piping is VERY SOOTHING. I could have piped all the day long. Sure, my piping wasn't perfect, but boy was it fun! Here are my cookies all piped and ready to go:
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Notice that I added a line down the middle that OBB didn't have. I think it helped define the wings more. I liked it.

So then I had to wait for that to set. Once it was ready, I filled in the middles. While this was not hard at all, it took FOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER!!!!!!!!!
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You can see that I piped frosting in, then spread it with a spoon. Took about a million years to spread it all out.

FINALLY! All spread, and, once again, waited for it to set:

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Next came the black. First I put on the black heads while I was waiting on the wings to harden, then went onto the dots. Now let me let you in on a MAJOR secret here. The black dots were SO MUCH EASIER to put on the wings that were NOT FULLY SET. If I could do it over I would have immediately put the black on before the red was even close to set. I could just push the tip (still #4) down into the red and squeeze a little and the black would meld into the red. On the ones that were set, it sat on top, kind of 3 dimensionally, which was hard not to squish when I packaged them up.

Okay, so once the black heads were set (do you see how time consuming this was becoming, waiting for the icing to set between each step?) I added the white eyes....then....you guessed it....waited for those to set and THEN I added the black eyes. PHEW!

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Hello, my pretties!!!!

By that time it was about 9 pm and it was off to get the kidlets in bed. They had insisted that they witness the creation of the eyes, so I had to let them stay up late to see them (because I had to wait for them to set, people.) Oh, and I made 5 cookie sheets full of these, between school friends and other friends, we needed a lot of cookies.

Fast forward to 10 pm, kids are finally sleeping and it is time to START the pie pops. Yes, start them. At 10 pm. No problem, pie is easy. And the pie crust was already made in my freezer, remember????

I pulled out the dough, made the mistake of trying to roll it out right away. It crumbled into a bajillion pieces. Rolled it out a few times, and when it warmed up it worked beautifully. I grabbed my 2 inch heart and....wow, it was tiny. I wish I would have taken a picture to show you, but it was ITSY bitsy. The trouble was, I had lost my 3 inch heart. Crap! So, I rolled out 2 inch hearts and then I flattened them out with my hand to make them larger. I filled them with her apple pie recipe (I used about 1/10 of the recipe, the pies were that small) and got them on the sticks...into the oven....and started working on the Pies in the Jar. Oh, did I mention how I had to hunt around town for the jars? And even then I didn't find the exact right ones. Oh well.

Quick glance at clock...11:30. How did it take so long to make those pies? Oh, right. I flattened them all by hand. Shoot.

Okay, so I flew into crazy mode, pressing the pie crusts into the jars, filling them with blueberry pie filling (from a can, people, times were getting desperate!) and then cut out tiny pie hearts to put on top. At this time the pops were coming out of the oven, so I feverishly whipped up the glaze to go on top. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! The glaze was delicious!!! I threw the pies in the oven to bake...For 45 minutes????

I used the time wisely to create a container for the pie pops to stick into. I used a punch bowl and made a little tag for the outside. Then I used floral foam and glued some cute paper on it that looked like conversation hearts, and then filled the top with the hearts. Perfection.

At this point my baby woke up and by the time I got him back to sleep it was 1 am. ONE IN THE MORNING! The pies were ALMOST done baking and then I could sleep.

But wait.

The kids can't just take those cookies to school to drop in Valentine's boxes all naked and unpackaged! DARN IT!!!! DARN ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I loaded all the mostly set cookies into tiny cellophane bags. Which were open on top. then I took a trip to the basement, quickly made a tag in photoshop, printed the tags, brought them up, cut them out, and stapled them on top of the cellophane bags.

Which brings me to the point of the story. There I was. At TWO in the morning. Finishing Valentine's treats for my preschoolers. PRESCHOOLERS. 4 and 3 years old. What was I DOING??? WHY??? Was I insane? What was I trying to PROVE? And who was I trying to prove it TO??

Honestly, I cannot tell you. I will say that I grossly misjudged how much work these treats were going to be. I definitely did not set out to spend 10 hours making Valentines goodies for tiny children who would not fully appreciate the magnitude of my work. I am begging you...next year, if I even MENTION hand making treats like this again, stop me. Get on a plane, fly here, and stop me. It was definitely not worth losing my sanity over!!!

The only saving grace here were the results of the hard work. Of course everything turned out darling. The cookies were TO DIE FOR and the girls were incredibly proud to hand them out (don't worry that my older one got sick and ended up not being able to go to her Valentine's party anyway. No, I am not kidding.) I was, however, surprised to discover that in BOTH of their classes...they were the only ones to bring home made Valentines. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. I also have to admit that as I was carrying everything into the school, I felt a bit silly. It all felt so over the top....oh well.

So, I wish I had a cuter picture of how the Valentine's turned out, but at 2 am, you get what you get.

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And the Sweety Pie Pops? Um yes, so cute, Here they are at the preschool about to be served:

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And here they are after, just a few left over:

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My favorite thing, and by far the EASIEST thing to make, were the Pie in a Jar for the teachers.

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So there you have it. My totally insane Valentine's Day Treat Extraveganza. PLEASE tell me that I was not the only crazy mom out there up til 2 am making treats for preschool. Lie to make me feel better if you have to...or at least to make me feel a little less insane.



12 comments:

Chrispy Critter said...

Oh how I love you Joy!!!

Posh Petals said...

Awesome Joy! My kids totally took candy. Lame I know but after doing treats sunday for 90 primary kids and something for 24 leaders my time was gone. Then Monday after my girls parties I was feeling guilty of not doing something for them I went overboard on Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate dipped Peanut butter cookies and made chocolate covered cinnamon bears? All to leave tornado through my kitchen & I was the only one that seemed to care. Why as mothers do we do this to ourselves.

Matt and Joanna said...

please share some of your creative juices with me! have a fabulous time on your vacation. i'm sure adrienne will watch your kids so you can take lots of naps!!!

Suburban mummy & Co said...

That is crazy! We don't celebrate valentines here with children it's only adults. Maybe you should move here LOL

Kamryn said...

WOW! Joy- you are awesome! Can I be you when I get older? ; )

Sherwoods said...

Nicely done. That Valentines day sounds a lot like mine. Josh just kept saying, "You know you're going above and beyond again." Yes, dear, I know, but I have already started all of this madness!

I made the sweetie pies too. I don't think anyone appreciated homemade valentines as much as they should. I even wrapped all of mine in little cello bags and put her tags on them. I also had to made heart shaped cupcakes for his party and told Josh I would make whoopie pies for him to take to work. So, you are not the only crazy one who spent FOREVER making Valentines treats for preschools that no one would ever appreciate!

They all turned out darling. Nicely done. And, I for one, appreciate the work that went into it all!

Natalie said...

So that is what you were talking about when you said it had been a long night, and I thought it was the kids who kept you up.
The love bugs were way cute.

MT said...

I just have to say - good for you for following through! You proved to yourself that you are amazing. Sleep-deprived and all, you still got it!

makemyselfathome said...

Oh, Joy. I wanted to laugh & cry at the same time reading this. I have totally had moments like these; this post totally offers the perspective we moms all need sometimes. It's so hard to find a balance between making memories for your kids & wanting everything to be "just right" so that the prep work ends up overshadowing it all. But everything looks fabulous, as always & I'm sure they tasted amazing! Great job! You deserve a mommy medal for these.

Nick and Maddy Winward said...

You are AMAZING! In my boys school you aren't able to do homemade treats to share. How ever I did make plain heart sugar cookies. Not as adorable as your ladybugs. :)

Alysha said...

First off, those are all TO DIE FOR! They turned out so cute! However, I can see that it took a bit of time on your part. I can totally relate. Here I am, so excited to make Valentine's boxes, but after 3 hours, I was done! And I love that all of the other kids brought nothing more than a shoebox or gift bag. I may have gone over the top as well. ;)

Darby said...

Now I KNOW you are superwoman! :)

Super cute, all of it!