Suburban Soiree

4th of July

A Fun-Filled Round-Up of Ideas for the 4th!

Cereal Station, 4th of JulyAmy WileyComment

Hang on to your sparklers, because this week is the 4th of July!  I’ve rounded up some ideas to help you get your maximum amount of red, white and blue this week!

Patriotic Parfaits

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Whip up some Patriotic Parfaits to help everyone keep their cool in the summer heat.

Festive Tablescapes

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Whether you’re serving up your grilled fare indoors or out, I’ve got you covered with ideas for Three Patriotic Tablescapes.

Yankee Doodle Dandy Movie Night

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This Yankee Doodle Dandy Movie Night is both delightfully vintage and fantastically patriotic!

Star-Spangled Shortcake

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Nothing says summer like Star-Spangled Shortcake!  This one is super simple to whip up.

Summer Cereal Station

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After a late night of taking in the fireworks show, you’ll want to have a Summer Cereal Station set up for an easy breakfast.

Here’s to a safe, festive, food-filled 4th of July!

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Guest Post: Jill From Nibble Cookie Co!

4th of July, Something to CelebrateAmy WileyComment

Today I’m thrilled to introduce the darling Jill Childre of Nibble Cookie Co. I’m never one to turn down a beautifully iced cookie, and Jill is going to help us get started learning how to make our own gorgeous creations! She even whipped up some patriotic treats to go with the “flip flops and fireworks” napkins from the Sassy Napkin Society. She’s also super cute and has a great sense of humor! I’ll let her take it from here…

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Have you ever caught  yourself in a memorizing loop of watching awe-inspiring, cookie decorating videos? I’m pretty sure we all have, myself included, and I’m a professional cookie decorator!  It’s easy to watch those clips and think it’s something you could never do, but I’m here to convince you absolutely can. Like many artistic endeavors, cookie decorating is a learned skill. Many cookiers, like myself, are self taught through trial and error. The kitchen is a great place to flex those adventurous muscles! 

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My love affair with cookie decorating began about 8 years ago.  I’d like to be able to share a memorable story about my early inspiration, complete with an illuminating epiphany and angels singing,  but it didn’t exactly progress like that.  I just wanted to make impressive looking desserts for my kid’s parties and school events. Yes, I am that mom. However, what I found was a creative outlet so fulfilling that I wouldn’t stop until I’d mastered technique after technique.  This didn’t always result in victory. There were vast numbers of horribly hideous cookies sacrificed along the way, many ending up on the scrap heap of my husband’s late night snack plate.  It’s here I’ll insert important life lesson #1: I KEPT TRYING!  I’d pick myself up off the floor, dust off the flour and try-try again.

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In 2017, I began teaching decorated cookie classes. I was surprised at selling out multiple classes a month and realized people were not only eager to learn this craft, but also eager to engage in creative community. The cookier community, especially, is one of a kind.  Much like the cookies we create, it’s filled with different shapes and shades of people all united by the love of cookie art!

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Once I’d maximized the number of classes I could reasonably teach per month (hello, busy homeschool mama of three kiddos!), the momentary constraint served as a catalyst for me to explore additional, more far-reaching outlets. The online community deeply added to my early success as a cookier and is a key part of cultivating the creative community I envision. Online classes have allowed me fellowship with burgeoning cookiers well beyond the confines that my super-cool mini-van can take me (I did mention the three kids.) 

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The best thing about decorated cookies is that cookie art can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  I teach beginner students basic, eye  catching techniques that are adaptable for many occasions. These serve as a springboard for more elaborate designs as your skills grow.  I believe setting you up for cookie success, from the beginning, is critical for nurturing your creative confidence. 

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I want my online community to feel completely equipped to create their own decorated cookies at home. I’ve created tutorials starting at the beginning with dough prep, making royal icing, and then thinning it down to the desired flood consistency. All these helpful tutorials can be found on YouTube (search Nibble Cookie Co) and on Instagram. 

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My step-by-step, virtual cookie decorating class was created with the beginner  cookie decorator in mind. With unlimited access, you can press play as many times as needed to master each cookie decorating technique. So, quit oogling the decorated cookie videos and allow me to virtually walk you through creating your own cookies! After all, decorated cookies are every occasion! 

Have fun, be playful and keep up the kitchen adventures! 

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Now, a few helpful tips before you get started…

-I recommend just 4 products to get started. Product recommendations can be found at www.amazon.com/shop/nibblecookieco

-Always use concentrated gel colors for coloring your icing. I like Americolor (bonus- it’s Amazon Prime!) Grocery store food colors will not get the job done. 

-For cookies that keep their shape, it’s necessary to use a dough recipe specifically for decorated cookies. I’ll email you a great recipe after joining the class. My personal favorite recipe is the Chocolate Chip Cut Out Cookie recipe from Semi Sweet Mike. 

-I DO recommend making your own royal icing, but I have seen a few students have success with some store bought cookie and decorating icing. 

-As a beginner, use a thick flood icing to both outline and flood cookies.  This way, you are only mastering one consistency icing at a time.

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About Jill: Nibble Cookie Co. is a family owned, small business in North Georgia. As a cottage baker, Jill provides her local market with specialty, custom decorated cookies, but her true passion is teaching others the art of cookie decorating. Teaching others her craft is the perfect blending of her educational background and mastery of decorating skills.  For those curious but intimidated by the prospect of decorating their own cookies, she’ll leave you with the following quote: 

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
— Pablo Picasso

Isn’t Jill a delight? Go visit her at Nibble Cookie Co. Have a great day!

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Summer Cereal Station

4th of JulyAmy WileyComment

If there was ever a chance for this little set-up to shine, it’s in my home during the summer months.  My answer to “what’s for breakfast?” is “whatever you make yourself!” Enter the cereal station.

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Clearly I was more concerned with a patriotic color scheme than nutritional information. Hey... it’s summer.  The offerings include red and blue Rice Krispies, Special K Red Berries, and a mix of blueberry and strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats. 

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I’m not exaggerating when I say that the minute this was set up we started helping ourselves to bowls of breakfast bliss. 

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As always, this is an ideal setup for overnight guests too.

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Encourage independence at breakfast! 

Check out my other cereal stations for:  Fall, Christmas and Valentine's Day.