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Fixing Common Mistakes in Pen and Ink

If you're drawing with pen and ink, you know that the potential for calamity is high. You could spill ink, mess up a line, or smear fresh ink...and unlike pencil, there's no easy way to erase.

In this post for Craftsy, I address common mistakes in pen and ink and easy solutions. If you're an artist, it's a helpful post!

Read the full post here!


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Please, can someone buy me this plush unicorn bouquet? (Right here)

Curious about the life of a professional fake food maker? (NPR)

How to make tuiles, a fancy French cookie. (Craftsy)

I'm so all about this pistachio cream cake. (My name is yeh)

Cronuts and pretzel croissants: part of a trend that is pervasive and possibly perverse. (The New Yorker)

We owe the restaurant experience as we know it to the French. (Ireland Independent)

Chocolate chip French toast layer cake. OMG. (Sun Diego Eats)

Homemade French burnt peanuts: I'm intrigued. (Baked Chicago)

Since it was recently President's Day: desserts named after US Presidents. (CakeSpy)

Ever heard of Watergate cake? (Craftsy)

Red velvet gooey butter cake. ALSO OMG. (I am baker)

Love this: The first time my daughter told me she hated me, I baked her a cake. (xojane)

Book of the week: Mug Meals: Delicious Microwave Recipes. Technically, this book is not out yet, but I got an advance copy. I have to say, I am completely impressed with all of the delicious-looking meals that come together in a mug in the microwave. Yes, there are cakes. But there's a whole lot more, too, from mango crumble to even lasagna. 


Easy Olive Oil Shortbread Recipe

Chocolate drizzle

In spite of the cartoon treatment above, these cookies are actually quite sophisticated.

They're shortbread, yes, but with an important departure from tradition: they're made with olive oil. Sound weird? Get over it. Because these cookies are so tender, so flavorful, so delicious, that you'll be craving them long after the batch is gone.

Chocolate drizzled olive oil cookies

The olive oil gives them an intriguing taste that more than makes up for the fact that they are delicate--so delicate, in fact, that I like to eat them with ice cream and a spoon. 

A drizzle of chocolate, which is my preferred garnish, helps hold the cookies together, so that they can melt in your mouth--not your hand. 

Chocolate drizzled olive oil cookies

Here's how to make these crave-worthy and conversation-starting cookies.

Olive oil shortbread cookies

Makes about 12

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • pinch salt 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Optional: 2 ounces melted chocolate, for drizzling on top of the finished cookies


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease and line with parchment an 8-inch square pan. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch with a pinch of salt. Set to the side.
  3. In a stand mixer or by hand, mix together the sugar and olive oil. It will be just a sandy liquid mixture.
  4. Add the flour mixture in 2-3 increments, mixing gently to combine. If the mixture is too soft, you can add up to 1/4 cup more flour.
  5. Turn the mixture out into your prepared 8-inch square pan, patting the mixture evenly into the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on the edges and matte on top.
  7. Slice the bars shortly after they are out of the oven, using a very sharp knife. But let them set completely before removing them from the pan.

These are much softer than regular shortbread so handle with care!

If you'd like, drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate (my fave!). 

Have you ever tried shortbread made with olive oil?


How to Use the Last of the Peanut Butter in the Jar 

Peanut butter jar solution

This is an empty peanut butter jar. But it isn't a bigtime bummer: it's a delicious opportunity.

No more do you have to lament the loss of the last hard-to-remove bits of peanut butter from the jar. Instead, make it a delicious snack: peanut butter hot chocolate. 

Peanut butter jar solution

All you have to do is this.

Gather up:

  • 1 almost-empty jar of peanut butter 
  • Up to 8 ounces of hot chocolate, not piping hot but definitely warm 

And do this:

  1. Pour the hot chocolate into the jar. Shake vigorously. You'll start to see the chocolate melt and absorb the peanut butter as you shake. Peanut butter jar solutionYou may not get every last shred, but you'll get a good amount mixed in.
  2. Once you're satisfied, stop shaking. You can drink it straight from the jar if you want to look all cool, or transfer it to another cup to enjoy. 
  3. Peanut butter jar solution 
    Enjoy! Peanut butter hot chocolate time!
    Peanut butter jar solution


Don't do this with low fat peanut butter. In fact, don't buy low fat peanut butter, EVER. 

I suggest "up to 8 ounces" as the liquid amount because this leaves you room to shake the liquid.

Don't like chocolate? I don't know what's wrong with you, but I guess we can share space on the same planet. You could also use warm milk or any soy/rice/nut alternative. 

You're welcome. 


A Guide to Hairstyle Calamities in Yoga

Yoga hair calamity


Listen, I know I mostly talk about sweets here, but I'm willing to take a detour into the land of figuratively sweet every now and again.

And I believe that this is an important subject that calls for some of your time and attention:

A guide to hairstyle calamities in yoga.

If you think yoga is safe, you are wrong. Here is just a sampling of the things that can go terribly wrong with your hair in the average class. 

The ponytail-earring snag.

Yoga hairstyle calamities

Think ponytails are safe? Think again. It's only a matter of time before they snag in your earring or float into your eyes at a pivotal point in a pose.

The bun-head jam

Yoga hairstyle calamities

So why not harness your hair into a bun? Totally great, until you get to poses when you're on your back, and you feel like you have a stale cinnamon roll wedged between your neck and the floor.

The hair-to-finger mangle

Yoga hairstyle calamities

Whether it's flying free or in a long ponytail, chances are high that your hair will get stuck in your hands when you fly up into wheel pose. Ouch!

The "Cousin It"

Yoga hairstyle calamities

Think it's a good idea to wear your hair down? Enjoy the view from your downward facing dog.

The top-knot fish pose buster

Yoga hairstyle calamities

Hey! What about a top-knot? Great idea, until fish pose or headstand comes along. See how either of those works out for you.

The braid slap in the face

Yoga hairstyle calamities

Braids are fraught with calamity. While they give the back of your head a flat profile, if you're in a vigorous class, it's only a matter of time before you slap yourself in the face with that braid, whether it's a single braid or two.

So what hairstyle is right? The world may never know. Perhaps we all need to shave our heads!


Make Your Own Cream Cheese

DIY Cream cheese

I'm totally not lying. DIY cream cheese is a thing, and it is delicious. It takes some time and patience, but it's really quite easy to make--the hardest part is the waiting, as it has various resting periods.

This cream cheese is great eaten on bagels, or used to make a very impressive cream cheese frosting. Seriously--how cool will you seem when you tell people you made your own cream cheese for the awesome red velvet cake you're serving?

Find the recipe here. 


CakeSpy's Recent Craftsy Posts

How to choose typefaces to complement your artwork. It's an art!

Awesome baking hacks. Bookmark this one!

A primer on the best types of paper for illustration

How to do a drawing a day. It's an awesome and inspiring project!

A scintillating guide to the different types of bread yeast.

Creative cross hatching to deepen your drawing practice.

2B or not 2B? A guide to working with pencil for creating art.

Related: An easy guide to getting started with pencil drawing

How to draw illustrated instruments, ideal even if you're tone deaf!

How to correct common pen and ink mistakes

DIY cream cheese. Could it get any better than this? 

A primer on focaccia bread sandwiches. Worthwile.

Yes! NYC-style Italian flag cookies!

Pretty in ink: a guide to pen and ink illustration.


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Chocolate drizzled olive oil cookies

These links are brought to you by the letter CHOCOLATE. 

Chocolate ganache petits fours. A winning recipe if I do say so myself. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Olive oil chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Can I get a witness to this awesome? (Colavita)

Chocolate dipped Pop-Tarts. Happy time! (CakeSpy)

Why do we eat chocolate on Valentine's Day? (History.com)

Chocolate olive oil cupcakes. Yumz. (In Jennie's Kitchen)

Like Inception, but in chocolate: chocolate covered chocolate truffles. (Serious Eats)

Baking with chocolate, 101. (Colavita)

Ever heard of "Five Pound Fudge"? (Find out more)

DIY chocolate fountain. You're welcome. (Project Wedding)

Good question: how can I tell which filling is in which chocolate? (Russell Stover)

If you're feeling "alternative" this heart day, try some chocolate covered cheetos! (Serious Eats)

Book of the week: The True History of Chocolate. Botany. Archeology. History. There's more to chocolate than you might think! This book explores the real history of one of America's favorite sweets. 


Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Olive oil chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. That's a mouthful to say, but an even more delicious mouthful to eat. 

Olive oil can be employed in this absolutely gorgeous egg-free (it won't kill you!) cookie dough for an intriguing flavor which becomes all the more seductive when coated in rich dark chocolate. 

Go ahead--you deserve it. So does your Valentine. 

Recipe here. 


Chocolate Ganache Petits Fours

Forget going to work today. Call in sick, and make these instead: chocolate ganache petits fours.

All of the awesomeness of ganache, delivered in adorable petit-four form--doesn't it just make your heart melt? If that doesn't, the taste will: rich, full-bodied, unforgivingly chocolate. 

Recipe here. 

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