Organizing my cookie work space

It has been a busy weekend, as usual, starting with the kids’ school carnival on Friday and then time spent with great friends on Saturday. The weather is turning cooler in the mornings and evenings, and Saturday night was perfect for our fire pit with S’mores. In the midst of all of this, I came clean to my friends about my secret cookie habit that I have been too insecure to tell anyone about. Of course, they gushed and built me up and made me feel really talented, even though I see all the imperfections. One friend, being super supportive and amazing, even asked me to make cookies for a church gathering in a few weeks. Ok, this feels real now.

In order to prepare for a real gig, I spent my Sunday doing practice cookies. I had some icing left in my fridge and some cookies that had not been iced just waiting for me. In all of my cookie research and learning how to do this, the piece that has overwhelmed me the most (besides the consistency of the royal icing, of course) is the organization of the workspace! I feel like I have piping tubes and icing pods and tips and couplers EVERYWHERE! And oh, the drips! I don’t know which bags are piping and which bags are flood and my table and my hands are covered with multi-colored drips from icing bags. It is just too much.

I have been storing my unused icing in these little plastic containers I already had from packing my kids’ lunches. The plastic wrap lays directly on the icing to keep it from drying out. I store mine in the refrigerator to keep it from separating as badly, but it can be stored on the counter. I just get it out 30 minutes or so before I am going to use it to let it warm up. I definitely tried once to use it cold from the fridge– that was a disaster.

With all of this icing that I wanted to put to use on my practice cookies, I decided to also really work on a more organized work space that would work for me. The first thing I did was abandon the icing pods. I read extensively about these and about how they save time and mess, but I have decided that they are not for me. Some people swear by them. I first read about them from Sweet Sugarbelle– genius level stuff on her site- and I have been religiously using the pods ever since. I am sure that they are better than putting the icing straight into the bag, but it was one more thing that I had to manage, and I’m not just not at the level that I can deal with that. But, if you are looking for an easy way to pre-prep all of your icing and keep those piping bags clean, check out Sweet Sugarbelle’s post, because I think it is the better way to do it. However, icing straight into piping bags is my new jam, at least until I am more proficient. I put the piping bag in one of my tall coffee cups for easy icing loading and it worked beautifully!

I keep Christmas mugs around for the whole year and this one gave me enough height to easily fill each bag with icing.

I loaded all of my piping bags and put my brand new #2 tips on them since most of what I was practicing today was detail work. I did invest in four additional #2 tips this weekend since I have found that I feel most comfortable using that size. I started with just one each of a few common types, so this was the first upgrade I have made to my supply. I have been pretty economical for starting from nothing.

Once the bags were loaded, I had to decide what to do with them so they did not leak out all over the table or dry out. After researching lots of options from mason jars, to dollar store popsicle containers, to just laying them on the table, I went with what I have endless supplies of already– coffee mugs. I wet a paper towel, dropped it in the bottom of each, and put my bags in tip down so the tip openings pressed into the wet paper towels.

These wider coffee mugs were perfect to hold 3-4 bags each. I chose to put several in each to cut down on clutter on the table and to only use a few paper towels. I am trying to be conscious of not creating too much waste as I decorate.

I am still looking for an easier way to handle my flood. The coffee mugs worked great to stop the icing from leaking out of the small tips, but the flood is so much thinner than the piping and the tips have bigger openings. I had a #5 on my flood today, so I rolled up small pieces of plastic wrap and stuck it in the tips to keep the flood from leaking out while not in use. I do have bottles, but I haven’t ventured into that realm yet because I am intimidated to get the remaining icing out of them at the end of the day. The plastic wrap in the tips worked okay, but I don’t think this is a long term solution. I would love to hear from someone about what works for this dreaded icing leak. I know I can’t be the only one with this issue, but information on this topic is scarce.

There it is, my new semi-organized work space. I also had my typical tools: 1 wet towel, 1 dry towel, box of toothpicks, smooth cutting board that I use as a work surface, drying rack for iced cookies, stacks of cookies to ice, and cup of iced coffee with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice creamer (yum!). It made my practice decorating day a lot more efficient and less overwhelming to have all of my icings ready to go and NOT leaking all over the place. As for my practice, well, let’s just say it was a good thing I took the time to practice and although I have pictures, those are not ones I plan on posting! My piping definitely needed to be tighter and my colors are not to my liking, yet. But, gosh, I learn a ton every time I sit down to decorate! Have a great week! -K

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