What better way to start off a Monday than with cookies? Preferably beautifully decorated ones by Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie! However, Meaghan does more than decorate cookies and other sweets, she is a blogger and talented writer with two books – Cookie Sensations and Sugarlicious. Some of her cookies have even appeared in the likes of Brides Magazine, The Washington Post and The New York Times! Today she is sharing some of her most memorable creations as well as a little more about how she got her start, where she finds inspiration and more!
I’ll blame my mom for pushing the kitchen chair up to the counter so I could help her make chocolate chip cookies. And as a child, I was constantly drawing and crafting. The decorated cookie is all about this merging of baking and art.
I fell into cookie decorating back in 1998. I was managing a paint your own pottery store at the time, and a woman walked in, saw my display pieces, and asked me if I wanted to come work for her in her new shop decorating cookies. I said sure, though I had scarcely ever picked up a bag of icing, thinking I’d stay a few weeks. I stayed for almost ten years. Not only did the flexible schedule allow me to go to grad school, but I just loved it. The cookie store was my second home. As customer requests became more and more intricate and demanding (yoga poses, people’s dogs, major appliances, human organs, you name it, I’ve put it on a cookie), we became better and better at wielding icing bags.
I published my first book, Cookie Sensations (now pretty much extinct!) in 2007, the same year I left the shop to stay home with my first daughter. Inspired by writing the book, I started a home-based business selling cookie decorating kits. I started the blog to gain an internet presence to sell the kits. But I’m a terrible business woman. I just can’t sell myself. And I don’t enjoy selling myself. My business shrunk and my blog grew, and that arrangement was just fine by me!
What is your favorite part of your daily work … when you reflect on the day, what is most rewarding?
My favorite part of the day is creating. Coming up with an idea, thinking of my readers and what they might practically re-create, finding a unique twist on a cookie or marshmallow design, and getting in the kitchen to experiment. That is what is most fun. Which is why writing Sugarlicious was such a joy. The process of writing a cookbook is so much different than blogging, so much slower. It’s all about words and art and conception and creating, free of the rapid-fire pace needed for self-promotion online. (Um, until it’s actually published, that is.)
Blogging is a tricky business. With the explosion of blogs from so very many talented bakers, competition for readers is fierce. Stats-checking, submissions, self-promotion, these are all necessary components to blogging, and my least favorite chores (there’s that whole “selling myself” flaw again). There is also negative energy out there, such as from those claiming credit for other’s work. Yet those that blog from a position of kindness and sharing far outweigh the bad eggs. Being part of a community of like-minded bloggers is what I find most rewarding. As vast as the internet is, it can be very small. I’m surprised by how many true friendships–friendships full of support, humor, and sharing–I’ve made with a keyboard and a computer screen.
What is your most memorable baking creation?
Oh, this one is easy. Mr. Melty. The melting snowman cookie. I came up with this idea on a whim back in 2008. Since that post, I’ve witnessed his explosion on the internet. I can trace every step of his journey and how he grew bigger and bigger. When that happens, the original creator is often lost, as I was. And there is just no way to control the growth, which is something we often have to accept as a blogging reality. That cookie is a perfect example of what can happen to an idea in the blogworld. I’ve seen versions of the melting snowman cookie all over the internet, in national magazines… There’s now even a melting snowman cookie kit sold by Target! One day I’ll get a windfall of riches for the idea, though. Right?
If you could bake for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Kids. Kids. And more kids. At the cookie shop, we organized many a kids’ cookie decorating activity, and I’ve led cookie decorating activities in my daughter’s school and with my daughter and her friends at home. Kids adore decorating cookies, and they truly appreciate the awesomeness of it all.
What thing/place/event were you most recently inspired by?
My trip to Hershey’s Headquarters. Hershey’s invited a group of bloggers, myself included, to join their kitchen team this holiday season to come up with some recipes and baking ideas. It’s not often I have a chance to participate in something this fabulous, not to mention we were treated like royalty. Despite being subject to public scrutiny, blogging is an isolating activity. It can get lonely home all day alone, even with a baby wailing and a 5-year old pulling on your arm. Being a part of a group, a real live group, made me realize how much I want to take part in more collaborative projects.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled to?
Oxford, England. I’m a total Anglo-phile, and in another life I’m living in England earning a phD in Children’s Literature, my path not taken. I’m an academia nerd, and I spent a summer studying English literature at Oxford to earn credit for one of my Masters degrees. I loved every minute!
Where in the world are you dying to go next?
One of my best friends of—yikes—fifteen years is from Chile. I’d love to travel with her back home.
What is your favorite Rosenberry Rooms product(s)?
The mobiles! You have an amazing selection of mobiles, and I’ve been eyeing all of them, trying to figure out which one to choose for my second daughter’s nursery.
Do you have any news that you would like to share, perhaps about upcoming recipes or events?
Actually, I have a stunning LACK of upcoming news! I just had my second daughter this December. I have a long and tumultuous health history, so her arrival has been much anticipated and much fought for. Now that she’s finally here, I expect her to hold me back just a bit on the blogging. However, I won’t be gone. But I do want to evolve beyond what I’ve been doing for the past few years… what that means yet, I don’t know! I’m waiting for my grand idea to hit me.
Now, just for fun:
Mac n’ cheese. If it’s on a menu at a restaurant, I have to order it. My standards are pretty high, though, so I’ll most likely judge what comes out of the kitchen.
Favorite TV Show
This is a tough one. I love TV. Always have, always will. I’m unabashed in my love for TV, in fact. If it’s rotting my brain, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I’d say my favorites are pretty much any ‘80s sitcom or any modern day mind-bending action adventure.
The Wizard of Oz.
Favorite Weekend Activity
Happy hour with the neighbors. The kids run around ignored and unsupervised while the adults sit around eating food and drinking wine.
Sigh. Back in my twenties in the 1990s, I was hugely into the Indie Rock scene here in Washington DC. Then, in the 2000s, when I learned to dance salsa, I shifted my interest to salsa music. Now, I’m afraid, I’m more about the ABCs and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I do miss my music-appreciating self, though. It might be time to revisit my past passion!