Wisdom comes from Experience

I have a rule.  It’s one of the first things I tell aspiring cookie decorators, and my #1 cookie tip.?  It’s not cute or catchy, but it’s 100% true, and the sooner you learn it, the sooner you will be on your way to becoming an awesome decorator.
So here it goes, SweetSugarBelle’s #1 rule for decorating cookies…
*It is not about how well you decorate a cookie, it’s about how well you can fix it, or come up with “plan B” when you screw up*
See?  I told you it wasn’t catchy, but boy, oh boy, it’s hard earned GOOD advice!!
I have been decorating for almost two years now, and there is one constant.  No matter how experienced I am, how well I plan, or how sure I am my newest great idea will work, things can still go wrong, and often they do.
Take this Friday for example…
Keep in mind, it’s not always fun to broadcast your goofs for all the world to read, especially when it’s almost unnoticeable after the fact…
But, just so people understand I am human, and that they really aren’t crazy…royal icing DOES some funky things, I will make an exception.
Back to this weekend.  I was working on sock monkeys.  I’d made them before…
However, this weekend I wanted to try a little different design that I’d been toying with.  {Pardon the lack of photos, this was not a planned blog post, but rather a BLOG OF OPPORTUNITY} 
I got about here when I realized this was not what I should have done…

First of all, I wanted the brown areas “sanded” and I was in a hurry.  I didn’t really have the time to wait for the hat and face to dry.  And as if that was not enough…my red icing was doing that funky mysterious thing it sometimes does, getting STICKY instead of dry. {Insert bad words}

Did I mention it was LATE {it had been one of those weeks} AND I needed them the next day?

I didn’t have time to redo, or to even worry about it very long, so I  did what I do best.  I improvised.

Lots of my best ideas come from a big mistake or problem.  That’s what happened in this case.

I needed to figure out a way to sand the brown area, without getting too much sugar on the sticky, stupid red. 

*I have another name for red icing that does that, but it’s not appropriate blog language ;)*
So, this was my grand solution.  I preset the eyes in the wet brown flood icing.  I showed the tweezers just as a little FYI…
Then, I filled an icing bottle with a mixture of brown and white sanding sugar, picked out a cookie and said a little prayer!
Fortunately, this was a good night and IT WORKED!!!  {I don’t even want to talk about that bad nights when it doesn’t}

 Thank the Lord, crisis averted, happy ending.

Moral of the story is my #1 tip, again, for emphasis…

*It is not about how well you decorate a cookie, it’s about how well you can fix it, or come up with “plan B” when you screw up*

Next time around, I will approach this cookie in a COMPLETELY different manner.  But last Friday night, that didn’t matter.  What mattered was taking what I had and making it work.

It takes a little flexibility, but creative thinking is a “must have quality” for any decorator. 

Actually, it’s a good life rule in general. 

Think Apollo 13…it ended well because of  people who didn’t give up and thought of solutions…I like that.

Try to practice this in the next few weeks.  You will be surprised how many great cookies come from unexpected little oopsies!

Happy Monday, everyone!  Here’s to a good week!   

Join The Discussion



  1. 31
    Pink Martini says:

    Just found your blog. My gosh you are one talented cookie gal! Your monkeys are adorable! I just posted a cookie tip on my blog today about solving a problem. I so understand what you said. Loved the idea of putting the sugar in a container. :)

  2. 32
    lisa k says:

    Callye – You never cease to amaze me! I learn so much from you. The sanding sugar in a sqeeze bottle is what would be, as Oprah would say, an "AHH HAH" moment. Thank you!!

  3. 33
    Shondra says:

    What great advice and once again AMAZING cookies! So what do you think it is that causes the icing to remain sticky and not dry? And did That happened to me once where it totally never did dry (well at least after two days when I had to give them away) and for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. I really don't think that I added too much water during thinning… it was as thick as usual…

  4. 34
    Paula says:

    I love sock monkeys! I adore your sock monkey cookies and your philosophy on cookie decorating can be applied to life in general. LOL Great cookies.

  5. 35
    Bimmer says:

    I'm amazed how come you seem to have the right cutter for every design you do?!

    Do you ever handcut the shapes, even when you have many cookies to do?

  6. 36
    SweetSugarBelle says:

    I have at least a thousand cutters. However I never seem to hqge the right one. I handcut, use my shapes creatively and piece bake :-)

  7. 37
    Connie says:

    I love the sock monkeys and am getting ready to make some for a friend. Where can I get the black eyes? I looked at Karen’s and on Wilton’s website, but don’t see any. Do you have any suggestions?

  8. 38
    Salena says:

    I am looking through the pages here and my jaw is hanging open!
    Coming from a girl who can’t cook to save her life, this is insane!
    So then, I guess it would be totally insane for me to try to attempt those sweet little sock monkeys having no experience in this arena at all, huh? Is there a cookie cutter you use? Perhaps I can push the idea on to my mom for some help. ūüėČ

  9. 39

    Hi Sugarbelle, Where can I buy ehe Sock Monkey Face Cookie Cutter that you used on your website? I went to Ecrandal and I couldn’t find your cutter on their site. My daughter asked me to make her some sock monkey faces and I don’t have the cutter tp make them. Thank you, Claudine

  10. 39.1
    Nena says:

    I‚Äôm impressed, I have to say. Really halrdy ever do I encounter a blog that‚Äôs each educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; the issue is one thing that not enough individuals are talking intelligently about. I’m very glad that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something relating to this.


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