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Category Archives: The Postcard Project

Announcing the Third Annual Postcard Project Cookie Swap

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I just found out that your brain shrinks in the third trimester.  Like, literally.  I have a shrunken brain right now.  Now I’m not saying that’s why I’m going through with the this year’s cookie swap (I’m pretty sure my love of cookies and the Postal Service are the main culprits), but it might have a little to do with why I’d be hosting a swap during the time when I’m supposed to be giving birth.  Pregnant women be all crazy.  Lucky you! :)

 If you’ve never heard of the Postcard Project, it’s something I started in 2011 to inspire people to send more mail in order to support the US Postal Service and also spread love and cheer.  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap coincided with the beginnings of my project, and it was perfect timing for me to jump in and organize one for non-bloggers, thus creating even more packages being sent through the mail…and spreading joy and cheer! Both goals of the project attained, thanks to the ingenuity of the bloggers (Lindsay & Julie) who created the original, highly popular, Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

This will be our third year for the non-blogger swap and I’m really looking forward to it!  The first year we had 52 participants and we shipped 162 packages of cookies.  The following year we had 72 participants and shipped 216 packages of cookies while also raising $3,574 for children’s cancer through the Cookies for Kids Cancer cookie swap matching program.  We also enjoyed getting to know each other, and sharing photos of the cookies we mailed and received on our group’s Facebook page (you will receive a link to the private page when you sign up).

Here’s how the cookie swap works.  1) You sign up.  2)  You get matched to three other participants.  3) You bake cookies and mail a dozen to each of your matches, and in return you receive a dozen from each. 4) You gobble up the deliciousness (sharing not required).  Fun, right?

Ready to sign up?

If this is sounding as good to you as it does to me, you can click here to get all the nitty gritty and sign up.  Let’s get this cookie swap party started!

Note: I’ll be back tomorrow with my pregnancy update, I had to delay it in favor of cookies today.  :)

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Cookies in July

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Maybe you’ve already swapped some cookies in my little group, or maybe you’ve done it in the bigger blogger swap in December, or maybe you’ve never participated in a nation-wide cookie swap.  In any case, due to popular demand, I have decided to have a summertime cookie/brownies/bars swap for those who just can’t wait until December for another swap!  It is open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike, and you can click here to get all the details and sign up if you so desire.  I do hope you can join us, even if we are a bit mad for actually wanting to turn on our ovens in July. :)

I know I haven’t shared a recipe in a long time, so in the spirit of cookie swapping, I can at least share my favorite cookie recipes with you!  Click here for some yummy treats!

Love, V

Announcing: The Sweetest Swap!

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Sweetest Swap Header

By popular demand, announcing The Postcard Project‘s Sweetest Swap!  Can you guess what you’ll be exchanging if you join this February swap?  If you guessed corn, then you’d be wrong, dead wrong.  What is wrong with you, anyway?  But if you guessed candy, then you’re right on the money.

The Sweetest Swap will work exactly like the cookie swap.  You sign up, you get three matches, you mail each match 12 pieces of your best homemade candy, and you receive a dozen pieces of delicious homemade candy from your matches in return.  Super sweet, right?  Candy is a given for February, but homemade is a special treat.  If that sounds good to you, why not join the fun and let’s get swappin’!

Sweetest Swap logo

Important Dates
Signup deadline: Saturday, January 26th at midnight (sorry, I closed it early)
Receive matches: Monday, January 28th
Shipping deadline: Monday, February 11th

Important note: as with the cookie swap, please do not sign up if you are not 100% certain you will be able to make and mail your candy by the deadline.  Flakes will be removed from the contact list and blocked from future swaps.

For tips on shipping, check out this post, and keep in mind that most candy will fit easily into a small priority flat rate box, which are free at the post office.

**Sign up for participating in The Sweetest Swap is now closed.  If you would like to be contacted for next year’s candy exchange, you can click here to add your name to the list.**

Cranberry Bliss Cookies & Cookie Swap Recap

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Happy new year!  While most food bloggers are recapping 2012 with their top recipes, I’m totally disorganized and sharing an unseasonal recipe instead, weeks after I’d intended to.  Hey, give me a break, I still don’t have my head on straight after the hectic holiday season and still have one holiday party to go to before I’ll feel truly like I can settle back into a normal routine.

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, and I wanted to share the yummy cookie recipe I used for  my cookie swap. I know most people are probably drinking green smoothies and training for marathons to attain lofty new year’s resolutions, but I’m going to share this cookie recipe anyway because I really don’t want to wait until next December to do it.  You can save it for next year, but if you have some dried cranberries left over from your holiday baking, why not use them up in these cookies?  I promise those you share them with won’t complain about cookie season being over.  But they might blame you for not making their goal weight loss this week.  :)

This recipe is for a super ginormous batch that makes about 9 dozen cookies, which is great if you are planning on sharing lots of cookies.  If you’d like a more moderate single batch (wuss), you can refer to That Skinny Chick Can Bake‘s recipe, which is what I used to make my ginormous recipe.

Cranberry Bliss Cookies (large batch)

*Note: the pecans need to be toasted so do this step first to avoid frustration.

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ cups (3 sticks / 12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (10 ¼ oz) vegetable shortening
2 ¼ cups (1 lb) sugar
2 cups (1 lb) brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 large eggs
6 cups (1 lb 9 ½ oz) all-purpose flour
2 ¾ cups dried cranberries, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 ½ lbs Ghirardelli white chips or chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment (I used foil this time) and set aside.

Cream butter, shortening and sugars. Add vanilla, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Add the eggs in while the mixer is running and continue to beat until well combined. Add flour and beat on low to combine. The mixer will be very full at this point so be careful to keep the flour from going over the edge before it is mixed in. Transfer the batter to a very large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until incorporated.

Scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or till golden. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 9 dozen.

*To toast the pecans, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted. Remove and cool completely.

Recipe source: adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake!

***

Cookies from Kristin Moya to Devangi Raval; photo by Devangi.

I know I’m all kinds of evil, but I soon will be announcing a Postcard Project Candy Swap for February.  Don’t blame me, the people have spoken and have begged for more swapping throughout the year.  We’ll see how many actually sign up once they realize it could interfere with resolution number 1: lose weight!  lol

Red Velvet Pinwheel Cookies made by Paula Hartson; photo by Carmel Hodge.

As for the cookie swap, it was so much fun this year (OK, last year–I’m still not adjusted to this being a new year)! I added a Facebook page where we could all connect and gush about the cookies we were baking and receiving, and share pictures, and we just had a blast.

Cookies from Carmel Hodge to Paula Hartson; photo by Paula.

I toughened up and was pretty in-your-face about coming through with the cookies, whereas last year I tried to keep it totally positive. Well sometimes you gotta be tough or people will walk all over you!  Last year six people flaked out and I didn’t know what to do beyond apologize to the those who were left in the cold as I couldn’t afford to make and mail that many cookies (6×3 dozen would be 18 dozen! Yikes.).  Because of my new zero tolerance policy for flakes that I stated in the sign-up form (all flakes are blocked from future swaps), we only had 3 this year, though there were more participants.  I also clued in this year and when those three people didn’t come through with their cookies, I asked for “cookie angels”–volunteers to fill in and send extra cookies to the cookie orphans.  That worked great as there were so many who were eager to share more cookies and no one was left in the cold this year.  Apologies to those who didn’t get all their cookies last year!  I’m a better hostess now so please give me a second chance. :)

Cookies from Marlo Edwards to Paula Hartson; photo by Paula.

All in all the cookie swap was a roaring success, the highlight being raising money for kids cancer and the mixer I got as a reward (see this post if you missed all that).

Cookies from Paula Hartson who volunteered as a cookie angel for Shania Ortiz; photo by Shania.

Cookie Swap Stats:

Participants 2011: 52 2012: 72

Number of packages sent 2011: 162, 2012: 216

Number of cookies swapped 2011: 1,944 2012: 3,574

Money raised for kids cancer: $3,574 (2012 only)

Number of smiles created 2011 & 2012: countless :)

Cookie Swap Sign-up Deadline


Just a quick note that since I’ll be gone today for a baby shower and won’t be able to start doing matches until tomorrow, I’m extending the sign-up deadline for the cookie swap until tomorrow morning.  Last chance–click here for all the details.  I will be working on the matches Sunday and sending them out later in the evening.  That is all, enjoy your weekend!

P.S. OK, I’m not done.  I’m dying over all the UPS ads that have been featured on my blog lately through the Wordads program. (Is that ad below my video a UPS video right now? It was when I scheduled this post!)  Come on USPS, get on this Wordads thing! I feel like I’ve sold my soul to the competition. lol To counteract these ads, I’m going to post one of my own for the patriarch of mail delivery, the US Postal Service. Take that UPS!  (I’m not biased at all.)  Please watch it and learn about how to use Click ‘n Ship, a great way to ship your cookies (and other packages) without having to leave your home! It even saves you money (you get discounts on priority & express shipping, plus free delivery confirmation), so check it out.

Are you ready for a cookie swap?

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Last year after I found out about the fabulous Great Blogger Cookie Swap, I organized one for all those that didn’t have blogs but still wanted to participate in a nation-wide cookie swap.  Well we’re back in business, kids!  If you’re a blogger, you can head on over to Love and Olive Oil or The Little Kitchen to get all the details and sign up, but if you’re a non-blogger that would like to participate in a cookie swap, you’ve come to the right place.

This swap will work like last year’s for the most part, and here’s the breakdown:  Sign up.  Get matched to three other participants.  Ship a dozen delicious cookies to each.  Receive a dozen scrum-diddly-upmtious cookies from each of your matches in return.  That’s a whole lotta deliciousness and love being spread throughout the US!

As before, the purpose of my swap is not only to spread joy and cheer through the sharing of cookies, but to support the US Postal Service.  (If you’re new to my blog, I work for the postal service as a data conversion operator at one of the only two remaining Remote Encoding Centers.  Basically that’s a glorified title that means I type a lot.  I started The Postcard Project to renew excitement about mailing postcards and letters, and supporting the postal service in general.)  Last year The Great Blogger Cookie Swap generated 1,640 packages of cookies, which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at when it comes to revenue for the postal service.  The Postcard Project Cookie Swap generated 162 extra dozen shipped, which I’m pretty proud of, and I thank all of you who spread the cookie love with me last year.

Important Dates

Sign Up Deadline: Friday, November 9
Receive Matches: Monday, November 12
Shipment Deadline: Wednesday, December 5

Ready to sign up?

If this is sounding as good to you as it does to me, you can click here to get all the nitty gritty and sign up.  Let’s get this cookie swap party started!

Operaton Postcard for Beverly, and Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake Bites


Remember The Postcard Project?  Yeah, I sort of lost steam on it and forgot about it myself!

However, I received this message from my friend, Margaret, that revived my sense of purpose.

***********

I have a cousin that has a postcard project going for a lady that will be 90 years old her birthday. I think this would be a great project for the postcard group. She will let us know how many postcards she received and I will let you know. Thanks whether yes or no.

This is how I received it:

“You are invited to join Operation Postcard! The Regency Manor, where my Mother-in-law, Mrs. Beverly Harris, lives, has a map of the US and they mark each state a postcard comes from. Sadly, the map is not very full. Will you help me flood the map and Beverly’s mailbox with a postcard from your state? Please have your postcard sent by March 15, 2012. Also send an email to me (purpleisland@sio.midco.net) so I can keep a running total of postcards being sent.

Mrs Beverly Harris
3425 Dakota Ave, #32
South Sioux City NE 68776

Thank you in advance for helping in this very special display of appreciation for one great lady…Charlene Harris”

************

OK, this makes me SUPER excited.  I’m so on this!  I already sent my postcard, and I told Margaret I’d spread the word  I hope many you will join me and that Mrs. Beverly will be able to mark every single state (and maybe even a few overseas countries) on that map!  I can just imagine her anticipation as the cards roll in each day and seeing her marking the map and later making a scrapbook with the cards.  I confirmed her address is a nursing home through a Google search, so just imagine the happiness all these cards will bring to this lady on her 90th birthday!

If you would like to get a card to her, please do it as soon as you can (by March 15th) and email her daughter, Charlene, at the email address she gave above.  Also, please put a return address label at the top if you don’t send a postcard featuring your state, that way she will know where it came from.  Thank you so much!

In the spirit of celebration, I thought I’d share this cupcake bite creation I made using leftovers from a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake (the cake domes I sliced off, plus the leftover frosting).  If you like the combination of chocolate and raspberries, you’re going to love these!

To make them, just use the original cupcake bites instructions, using the cake and frosting recipe from my Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake.  Or, if you make the cake and want to use the leftovers for these, here is the “recipe.”

Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake Bites

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cake domes leftover from a Dark Chocolate Cake
1-2 tablespoons leftover Raspberry Buttercream
4 ounces (2 rectangles) chocolate candy coating/almond bark
4 ounces pink candy melts
sprinkles for decoration

Crumble up the cake tops in a bowl with your hands, or in a food processor. Using your hands, mush in the frosting until well mixed. Roll the mixture into balls (I got ten but you might get more if you had really high domes on your cake) and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Melt the chocolate candy coating according to package directions, being careful not to overheat it. Spoon the melted coating into miniature peanut butter cup molds, filling about 1/3 full. As you fill each one, press a cake ball down into the chocolate until it comes up the sides to the top of the mold. Once the mold is full or you’ve done all the balls, place in the freezer while you melt the pink candy coating.

Melt the pink candy coating according to package directions. Add a little oil or shortening if your chocolate becomes too thick (Wilton is especially prone to this). Pop the cupcake bites out of the mold onto foil or waxed paper. Pick up one at a time by the chocolate bottoms and dip upside down into the pink candy coating, making sure it covers the whole cake ball. Gently shake off excess and set right-side-up on the foil/waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles and continue to dip and sprinkle until all cupcake bites are finished. Serve at room temperature. You don’t need to refrigerate unless they will be outside the fridge for more than three days.

Cookie Swap Update


There is just one week remaining until the sign-up deadline for the cookie swap and things are looking pretty great!  I beat my goal of 50 participants with 55 to date!  Here’s the break down:

  • 37 USA participants with no restrictions
  • 3 USA participants, gluten-free
  • 7 Netherlands participants
  • 3 Germany participants
  • 2 Australia participants
  • 1 Canada participant
  • 1 Belgium participant
  • 1 South Africa participant

I need a minimum of five in each group to include them so we still need 2 gluten-free US participants, 2 from Germany, 3 from Australia, and 4 from Canada, Belgium, and South Africa. If you know of someone in any of these groups/countries that might like to participate, please tell them about the swap!

Spread the word!

I don’t want to leave anyone out, so please spread the word as far and wide as you can. Using this link, you can pin the Cookie Swap logo on Pinterest, link to the swap on Facebook, and tweet it on Twitter. If you have a blog, I would be so grateful if you could mention the swap in one of your regular posts. Please help me get enough people in every group so no one is left out!

Also, if you haven’t signed up and would like to, click here and you will be taken directly to the sign-up form, which includes the dates & information you will need.

To close, I thought I’d share my latest cookie finds from Pinterest.

Pecan Pie Cookies…I’m in trouble. Pecan Pie is my favorite. Cookies are my favorite. I would attack these like a crazy spider monkey.

Source: bakersroyale.com via Veronica on Pinterest

These are called “Caramel Apple Cookies” but the only thing close to caramel that’s in them is toffee bits (which actually sounds better than caramel to me right now)…so I think I’d use my caramel bits in them instead…or just call them “Toffee Apple Cookies.” But that doesn’t sound as cool.

Source: bakersroyale.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Some cookies I could just stare at all day. Like these beautiful Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

Source: annies-eats.net via Veronica on Pinterest

Or these Pretzel Cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter. I think I want these most right now. I love salty and sweet combos!

Source: sugarcooking.blogspot.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Here’s another way to get your chocolate and peanut butter: Magic in the Middle Cookies!

Source: melskitchencafe.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Why has it been three years since I’ve made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies?! Oh yeah, because I attacked the last batch like a crazy spider monkey and my underwear went up a size that I never lost. But they are so. pretty. Can’t you just taste them?

Source: melskitchencafe.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Last but not least, since I included some fall cookies last week, I had to share this adorable cookie idea for winter:

Cookie Love

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I may have mentioned before that my favorite food group is cookies.  In my perfect world, the food pyramid would have cookies at the bottom, dips next, then all other desserts, then all other carbs like bread, pasta, and potatoes, then fruits and veggies, and at the very top, to be eaten sparingly, would be meat.  Alas, that isn’t very balanced and eating that way would kill me, but a girl can dream. ;)

Funny that although I love cookies more than anything else, I rarely make them.  I may have also mentioned before that I rarely make treats that I REALLY like because I can’t control myself around them.  Seriously, it isn’t unusual for me to eat more than a dozen cookies when I bake them.  It’s ridiculous.

But I’m getting really excited about the upcoming cookie swaps I’m participating in.  There’s the one for bloggers, and there’s the worldwide cookie swap I’m hosting for non-bloggers (sign up here!).  I’m buying half-price Halloween candy left and right, justifying it with my husband by telling him, “this would be great in cookies!”

I thought I would share some cookie eye candy I’ve come across on Pinterest.  I haven’t decided which cookies I’ll be mailing for the swaps, but I’m saving the ones I’m considering for myself!  I want the person that gets my cookies to be surprised so there are no spoilers below.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to drool a little over these beauties.

How delicious and soft do these almond cookies look?

Source: the-girl-who-ate-everything.com via Veronica on Pinterest

How cute would these be for Thanksgiving? Pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cookies!

Source: pillsbury.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Apple Cider Caramel Cookies. Just look at those chewy middles. I die.

Source: scrambledhenfruit.blogspot.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Another adorable fall cookie–no baking required! Chocolate and Peanut Butter Acorns

Source: sixinthesuburbsblog.blogspot.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies (!!!)

Source: keepitsweetblog.com via Veronica on Pinterest

These Oreo Pudding Cookies have Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream candy bars in the middle! Aaaaa!

Source: the-girl-who-ate-everything.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Another easy but completely and utterly deliciously over-the-top cookie. I so have to do this.

Source: cookiesandcups.com via Veronica on Pinterest

And I even drool over healthy cookies, like these Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bakes!

Source: chocolatecoveredkatie.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Now, after eying all these gorgeous treats, aren’t you in the mood to do some cookie swapping?  So far there are 18 people signed up (yay!) and I would like to beat my personal goal of 50 participants.  That would be 150 dozen cookies being sent in the mail-that’s a lot of love going around! :)  I have two participants from Germany and one from Australia, so if you are outside the US, please consider signing up so these guys will be able to participate (I only match people within the same country).  Ready to swap cookies?  Click here to sign up!

Have a blessed weekend!

**Update: just 20 minutes after posting this, we’ve got another Australian and now a South African, plus another handful of Americans, bringing the total to 25 – halfway to my goal. I’m really thinking we’ll beat my goal by the end of today! This makes me do a lot of this: :D This Christmas will not only be extra merry for everyone sending and receiving cookies, but for the postal employees (worldwide!) who have increased job security because of it.  Thanks everyone, you rock!*

The Postcard Project Cookie Swap

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**IMPORTANT NOTE: The sign-up deadline for 2011 has now passed, but I plan to continue the swap in 2012 so if you’d like to go ahead and sign up in advance, feel free!  (Sign up link is below.) You will be added to the list and I’ll contact you in November to see if you’re still interested in participating. **

I just found out about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, 2011 and had to sign up.  Not only do I love baking and cookies, but this swap accomplishes both goals of my Postcard Project: it spreads joy and supports the US Postal Service.  I am all over this!

After signing up, I immediately started drafting a post to promote the swap, when I realized that the majority of my readers would be left out.  What about all the people who don”t have blogs?  Don’t you want some cookies too???

OF COURSE YOU DO!

Not wanting anyone to be left out, I contacted Lindsay, the co-host of The Great Blogger Cookie Swap, and ran my idea of doing a separate one for non-bloggers past her.  She gave me the go-ahead, despite my blatant copy-catting and ripping-off of her & Julie’s idea. Thank you, Lindsay!

How does it work?

My cookie swap has the same premise as the blogger cookie swap.  You sign up for the swap, and I will match you to three other participants.  You will mail them each a dozen cookies along with the recipe and a personal note telling the recipient a little about yourself or even about your recipe, if it has a story.  In turn, you will receive three dozen cookies from three other people who received your name.

Talk about sweet returns!  Want to join in the fun?

Click here to sign up now!

Sign-ups are open through November 18th. I will email your matches on November 21st, and I ask that you mail your cookies no later than December 5th. Before signing up, please be sure that you can make the deadline.

I’m accepting registrations from all countries, but I must receive at least four other sign-ups from your country to be able to include it. I will only be matching people within the same country to keep the shipping costs reasonable. If I don’t receive enough sign-ups from your country, I will notify you by November 19th. Reversely, as soon as I have a total of five participants from your country, I will let you know so you won’t be waiting on pins and needles! :)

And as a last note, there is a field for dietary restrictions/allergies and you will only be matched to those with the same restrictions, so this swap really is for everyone.  Let’s have some fun!

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