I knew the year 2020 would be one of change and challenge for me personally, but I think I speak for all of us when I say that no one could have predicted where we all would be just three months into the new year. Y'all, I can't deny that my heart is heavy. I weep for those so deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including many members of our Cookie Connection community located throughout the world. I hope that in this time of extreme "social distancing" you can look to Cookie Connection as a place to meet and connect virtually. I know that, when I am feeling heavy, hanging out on Cookie Connection, looking at and commenting on lots of beautiful cookie art, always lightens my mood. In the coming days and weeks, I hope that you can find some refuge here too.
In the spirit of lifting each other up, and celebrating the beauty and love that still exists in the world, let's get to our latest challenge! Even though this was a collaboration and not really a challenge per se, we still have a prize to award to one lucky participant, who was chosen at random from among all of the challenge entrants. Our lucky winner will receive a HUGE $100 gift certificate to Confection Couture Stencils, donated by Cookie Connection founder, @Julia M. Usher. Recall, Confection Couture Stencils sells @Julia M. Usher's gorgeous line of cookie stencils and other related products for every season and occasion.
And the lucky winner of this very generous prize is . . . @iSugarfy (aka swissophie)! CONGRATULATIONS, Sonja! I can only imagine what amazing cookie art she will be creating with her new collection of stencils! For this challenge, Sonja submitted this gorgeous entry (full confession: I am completely obsessed with the knitted sweater sleeves!):
Sharing Cookie Love and Knowledge by swissophie
I couldn't agree with Sonja more!
Before we get to our quilt collaboration reveal, I also wanted to share the beautiful ways a few of our other challenge participants described, in their own words, what the term "cookie connections" means to them.
Share the Love by Kim Damon
"To make a cookie that represents how I feel about Cookie Connection and these challenges was wonderful, and past due, and I love a chance to say how much I am thankful. I love this place because I have learned and grown as an artist. I love it because I have cookie friends from all over the globe now, and the kindness of cookiers new and mature keeps all of us spurred on and inspired and growing in our abilities . . . " ~ Kim
Lambeth - First Attempt by Cookies Fantastique
"One of the reasons I chose to make my square cookie using the Lambeth piping method is because we are a community that grows together. It's like layers upon layers of learned techniques, shared ideas, awesome tutorials, help from one another in times of need (I've definitely taken advantage of the forums and hope you have as well . . . they're absolutely wonderful!!) and, best of all, warm friendships that are continually emerging and growing as we share the same passion for the art of cookie decorating." ~ Carol
Many Thanks, Dear Christine! by Kanch J"The message I wanted to convey in the entry is Cookie Connection is a giant tree that provides support and shelter for birds with various differences from all over the world. It is a one big happy family, sharing love, kindness, and various skills." ~ Kanchana
My Quilt by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.When Ryoko creates a challenge entry, there are always so many layers of meaning. About her quilt entry for this challenge, she wrote:
I could go on and on with all of the heartfelt comments we received in this challenge, but instead I will encourage you to check out the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set and read them all for yourself! However, I would now like to present to you our Practice Bake Perfect Challenge #38 cookie quilt, made with every entry from Challenge #38 and more love than one image could ever hold!
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The four repeated quilt squares are "Dahlia Cookie Quilt", one of my all-time favorite sets of cookies from back in 2014, by the original host of these Practice Bakes Perfect Challenges, @RebeccArchitect aka The Cookie Architect.]
And with that, I will bring this challenge and my tenure as Practice Bakes Perfect host to a close. Because of the speed of my own life these past couple of months, I did not get to comment on each and every entry to this challenge as I usually do, but I absolutely read every single one of your comments . . . many times over, in fact. Often, upon seeing your quilt cookies and reading about how these challenges have influenced and affected both your art and your lives, I became too emotional to even type a comment. But I promise that I will take a few deep breaths and comment on each and every clip in this challenge in my "retirement!"
As I have always said, these challenges are not meant to be a contest, but an adventure in learning. I hope and expect that this same spirit of sharing and stretching, learning, and growing will continue when @Sweet Prodigy grabs the Practice Bakes Perfect reins. It has been truly an honor to share this sweet journey with all of you. I assure you that no one has learned more or grown more through these challenges than I!
I would like to thank @Julia M. Usher for giving me this opportunity to share something I love to do with a huge community of some of the most creative, kind, and caring people I have ever met. I was shocked when Julia first invited me to host these challenges, and five years on, I can still hardly believe my fortune. I am beyond thankful for all of Julia's help and mentoring during my tenure as challenge host. From offering technical advice for creating 3-D cookies, to giving lessons on the science of baking, to copyediting these actual challenge posts, Julia's assistance was indispensable. But beyond all of that, Julia has become a real friend, and for that I am most thankful.
Last but not least, thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart. Whether you were a frequent challenge entrant or commenter, know that YOU are the reason these challenges have been a success. I have no doubt that even greater things are on the horizon. Continue to lift each other up. Take those "healthy risks." Continue to participate in these challenges and do me proud! And be on the look out for the occasional Practice Bakes Perfect entry from a little place called Bakerloo Station.
Our next challenge, the first hosted by the incomparable @Sweet Prodigy, will post on or about March 22, 2020. I have NO IDEA what is in store, but I will tell you that I can barely contain my excitement!
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.