The start of the year is so often the time for fresh starts, tackling new projects, and generally changing things up. As much as change is exciting and fun (and quite possibly the best way to learn and grow), it can often bring pangs of sadness about what we're leaving behind to pave way for the new. And . . . such is the case this January with our Practice Bakes Perfect Challenges. I'll cut to the chase, I've got some bittersweet news for you all.
As you know, Christine Donnelly (aka @Bakerloo Station) has volunteered for Cookie Connection for five years and created 30 challenges for you at a pace of one (plus a recap) every few months. (Phew!) Her contributions to this site have been, well (long pause as I try to hold back the tears), nothing short of monumental. She has pushed each and every one of us to new heights, be it with our cookie skills or just as people, and, for that, I am personally so grateful, as I know many of you are too. I have worked very closely with Christine during this time and can tell you without hesitation that I have met very few people as smart, thoughtful, kind, creative, and professional.
So . . . it is with great sadness that I am here to be the first to tell you that she is bidding adieu to her challenge host role after Challenge #38. As she'll explain in that challenge intro, it's high time for her to move onto other exciting creative and professional pursuits! That said, it is also with great happiness that I announce this transition, because I know she is headed for wonderful things!
But that's not the only sweet note in this bittersweet tale. Oh no! Being the consummate professional that Christine is, she advised me of her intended transition months ago, and, together, we worked on finding her perfect replacement. What's more, Christine and our-soon-to-be-host worked alongside one another, behind the scenes of the last challenge, to ensure a seamless transition of challenges to you.
And who, pray tell, is that perfect replacement?! Yes, more sweet news! It's the one and only @Sweet Prodigy, aka Christine Dutcher. (How convenient - or confusing? - that both challenge hosts should have the same initials? ) Who better to run challenges than someone who has so clearly challenged herself to become a master of precision-piping and mind-boggling designs that often leave one asking, "How on earth did she do that?!" Christine has also been a longtime Cookie Connection member (since May 2015) and has actively participated in many of our challenges, so she clearly knows the drill inside and out. I couldn't be more excited to see how she applies that brilliant mind of hers to creating challenges for you! Her first official challenge will begin with #39; until then, she'll continue to shadow Christine (Donnelly) on #38!
If you don't already know Christine (Dutcher), I encourage you to check out her Cookie Connection portfolio, and also to read her bio below.
And with that, a HUGE round of applause for both Christines, for being the amazing talents that they are, and for so generously giving of themselves to make us better cookiers and people too!
Christine Dutcher decided to search online for "amazing cupcake decorating" ideas when her daughter received a cupcake maker for Christmas 2012. That search led to some amazing cookie photos, and, like many cookiers, Christine instantly became obsessed. After spending countless hours online learning all that she could about decorated cookies, Christine decorated her first set in October 2013. For the first few years, Christine decorated cookies just for fun and only sporadically, however, in January 2016 she decided that she would begin to focus on perfecting her skills, challenging herself each time to create more detailed and progressively complex pieces. In 2019, Christine became one of the very first sugar artists from around the world (and the only "cookier") to be named as an "Honourary PME Five Star Sugar Artist" by Knightsbridge PME, with her work being featured in their Five Star Sugar Artist course book. It is through the Practice Bakes Perfect challenges that Christine hopes to motivate and inspire her fellow cookiers to think outside of the box, and to challenge themselves both creatively and technically in order to reach their full potential as cookie artists. You can learn more about her work here on Cookie Connection, and by following her Facebook and Instagram pages.