I equate the experience of CookieCon and all it offers to Dorothy arriving in Oz and walking out of her fallen house into bright technicolor (minus the dead wicked witch). Until yesterday, I had been living my cookie life back in Kansas (read Maryland) in black and white, searching for my heart's desire with plain old cookies and royal icing, and humming "Somewhere Over The Cookie Dough" in the wee hours of the morning.
It's been a couple of years (plus or minus a decade) since I've had a day like yesterday filled with classes. I've been doing this cookier thing for a few years now and feel relatively successful with how I've grown over that time period. But yesterday, I learned that I am just starting out on my yellow brick road and have a lot to learn before I make it to the Emerald City.
There is a whole world of cookie tricks and tools of which I was completely in the dark. Stencils and airbrushes and Kopykakes, oh my! A special thank you to Amy Clough of Clough'D 9 Cookies & Sweets for being my personal tour guide extraordinaire and translator through the maze of vendors and foreign objects. In CookieCon Oz, I have come to refer to her as "The Good Witch Glenda". She's actually even sweeter than Glenda, and much less cryptic in her advice and product recommendations.
The classes and all-star instructors were fascinating. From sketching and developing cookie sets (Mallory Mae Chiavacci of ButterWinks and Monica Holbert of Cookie Cowgirl) to 3-D cookies (Susan Carberry of The Cake Cottage) to airbrushing techniques (Laurie Thompson and Jeanette Durham of SugarBliss Cookies) to business development (Dotty Raleigh of Sugar Dot Cookies) to social media analysis (Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350) . . . each seminar was more eye-opening than the last. Actually, a better description is jaw-dropping, because I'm pretty sure I spent most of the day staring and drooling at the presenters, mouth agape in wonder and the constant feeling of "a-ha!" . . . and, "duh, why didn't I think of that!?" I suppose in the grand scheme of things, drooling is better than snore-snorting on a plane.
The vendor show was mind-boggling in its size and scope. There were more cookie cutters, custom cookie cutters, ribbons, stencils, icing tips, bags, and gel colors here than flying monkeys. People have gone out and bought extra suitcases to accommodate their purchases!
If that wasn't enough, conference attendees were invited to a night out at Gygi, a local shop with anything and everything a baker or chef could dream of. In addition to the 10 percent discount on the already low prices, we were treated to gourmet popcorn, snacks, adult beverages, and live drawings for prizes every 15 minutes. Although my number was not called in any of the drawings, I maintained my sense of decorum . . . the big prizes won't be awarded until the banquet tonight! (Side note: a friend I was with DID have her number called and, following yesterday's blog post, she took one look at me with fear in her eyes and offered me her prize. I allowed her to keep it . . . mostly because I am worried about the weight limits on my luggage already.)
I will be leaving CookieCon 2015 a transformed and evolved cookier. The only thing I'll be muttering as I click together three times my orthopedic mud brown shoes is: "There's no place like CookieCon." My apologies to my husband and kids; it's not personal and I really do miss you . . . but I'm sure you'll totally understand when you see all of my new cutters and stencils and tools and . . . my new suitcase . . .
Jen Wagman is the owner of Sugar (Cookie) Momma, Inc., founded in July 2012 on a complete lark following a couple of her kids' birthday parties and a dare from a good friend. In the ensuing years, Jen's cookies have been featured at corporate and private events, and the United States Capitol! She lives outside Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Matt and four kids (including four-year-old identical twin boys). Jen is also a practicing veterans' law attorney in Washington, D.C. Her cookie philosophy is to have a solid combination of a delicious cookie and a fearless attitude toward decorating. Trying and failing is part of the process. Imperfect cookies will still make somebody very happy (especially in the Wagman house!). While at CookieCon: Since Jen is a CookieCon newbie, she'll be capturing what it's like to be a first-timer through a series of daily blog posts.
Photo credit: Jen Wagman
Note: This article expresses the views of the author, and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. To read more CookieCon 2015 updates from our special Cookie Connection Correspondents Team, click here, and for CookieCon event photos, click here.