I’m so excited to be sharing another Sweet Talk interview with you this week. Today I’m interviewing my friend Heather of Twins Plus One Goodies. Heather is one of the few decorators that I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting in person. She has family in the Houston area so on a recent visit we had a meet up with some other cookie gals from Texas. It was a lot of fun to talk to other women who understood the cookie obsession.
Heather is such a sweet person with a wonderful personality. She’s a talented cookie and cake decorator with a colorful and fun style. She has a thirst for decorating that I really admire. I’m glad that we met and have become friends. Take it away Heather.
Hi, my name is Heather Harper and I am the creative mind behind Twins Plus One Goodies. I am a wife to a wonderful husband of 12 years and together we have three beautiful children. I have 5 year old boy/girl twins and a 2 year old son that I affectionately call “Lil Red”. I was born and raised in a very small Southern town in Louisiana and I still live in Louisiana – Southwest of New Orleans. Yep, you heard right – there is life south of the Big Easy. I am a small town family girl that likes to keep things low key. Besides baking cookies, cakes and cupcakes, I do have a full-time, 40 hour a week job in the Social Services department of a local hospital. I come home every day to my husband and my three wonderfully rambunctious children that I must feed, play with and put to bed. My time with sweets occurs after 8pm or early in the AM if I decide to wake up to do some before work. I do not get much time to just “play” or “create whatever” because I haven’t been able to figure out how to extend the time of my day. I love to learn new things and this is just a new venture in my life.
Tell me about your name. Why did you choose Twins Plus One Goodies?
Well, I really wanted my name to incorporate my children. I couldn’t creatively figure out how to combine – Madelyn, Christian and Noah. Therefore one day I thought “Twins Plus One”. And because I wanted to showcase my amigurumi crochet as well as my sweets, I decided to add “Goodies” to the title. It stuck. I love it. It may seem long to others but I don’t see anything else fitting as perfectly with who I am. And luckily my husband is a graphic designer, so he created the perfect logo for me that has our children in it. (I have to thank, Kim at The Cookie Puzzle, because she is the reason that I even really came up with a name and made a Facebook page. Never would I think I would create things people would want to see. I wanted to raise Autism Awareness with her and I needed a page so she talked me through it and helped me with so many cookie issues I had. Kim is amazing and I wouldn’t be here without her push and assistance.)
Where do you live?
South Louisiana – a small town outside of Houma, which is actually about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans. I love Louisiana life because it is so completely different from anywhere else.
How long have you been baking?
I have always seen myself as a good cook but as far as baking went, I only baked banana bread or pumpkin cheesecakes. I started baking cookies in 2011 and it spiraled from there.
Is baking a hobby or a business?
Both actually, it started as a hobby but now with the passage of the Cottage Law here, it can be a business. Best of both worlds – making money while doing something I love.
When did you discover your love for decorated cookies?
I really wanted to start doing cookies with the kids for the holidays so for Easter 2011 I bought a Pillsbury sugar cookie roll and actually rolled it out and let the kids use cutters on it. To my naive brain, I thought it was a great idea. When the cookie sheet came out as one big baked BLOB, I knew I needed help. So I spent the rest of that year searching the web and finding Sweet Sugarbelle, LilaLoa, Sweetopia, The Cookie Puzzle and many more. I watched many videos and read many blogs. Christmas 2011 I made my first batch of Sugarbelle vanilla sugar cookies and FELL IN LOVE. They were perfect shaped and tasted sooooo good to me. I attempted the royal icing but we had to use knives to put it on the cookies. After that I was determined to learn as much as I could and perfect my cookies and icing. I fell in love with preparing, baking and decorating.
I know that you also decorate cakes. When did you start decorating cakes?
February 2012. My first ever decorated cake was for my children’s birthday. I thought, I can bake cookies, why not bake cakes. So I Googled… then I again naively did my own thing and made a rainbow cake in a slanted oven that only holds one layer of cake at a time. I learned how to not bake cakes in my house. However, I also learned that I LOVED IT. I loved coloring cakes, and cutting them up to fit what I was doing and making and OMG buttercream icing that is SOOO much better than store bought. I loved decorating that cake and feeling accomplishment that I, Heather, baked and created a cake for my kids that EVERYONE loved. There was no cake left that day – or any day after.
What is your favorite cake decorating technique?
Not really sure I have one. I have only been doing cakes for a little over a year and every single cake I try something new on it. I have seen many cakes on I am Baker site. She has taught me a lot but doesn’t know it. You, Melissa, helped me perfect the Rose cake that I love so much. You have helped give me a push to create my own variations of icing and to push myself to go further with my knowledge. Thank you for that.
Do you love decorating cookies or cakes more?
Honestly, maybe cakes but I do enjoy them equally. I see one as a bigger canvas to work with and to me, the bigger the better. The cookies definitely challenge me to think more and try to be even more creative.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Being that most of my sweets are for orders, I just do what the client asks for but I rely on a few blogs and YouTube subscriptions to help me with techniques to pull off what they want. I take pictures EVERYWHERE of things I think would be great on a cookie or as a cake. I have about 600 photos I would love to cookiefy but just haven’t made the time to play yet. One day…
What one item in your kitchen can you not live without and why?
I can’t pick just one. I have four items that I use EVERY SINGLE time that I bake cookies or cakes. My two Kitchen Aid mixers (without I would not do any of this), my set of Matryoshka measuring cups and spoons (that are ONLY used for cookies and sweets) and my set of two sizes of rotating cake stands that were made by a very sweet husband, Leroy, of Liz W. of CookiesToGo. It might be superstition but I swear these measuring cups measure better than my other ones and if I happen to use another set, my cookies come out wonky. My rotating cake stands – two sizes. The smaller one I use with my cookies so I don’t have to bend over so far and I can rotate them without touching. The bigger one I use for my cakes. LOVE THEM…
What is on your baking bucket list?
A new kitchen… really an oven that allows more than 8 cookies, or one layer of cake, or 12 cupcakes at a time and isn’t slanted. Besides that, more stencils for my cookies and cakes, a new rolling pin or those rolling slats that I could use with any pin.
What three words best describe your cookie style / philosophy?
Colorful, simplistic, happy
Aside from cookies and baking what else do you like to do? Hobbies?
Crochet, knit, sew, watch movies, READ READ READ, cook, keep up with a FEW TV shows…
Let’s have some fun now and do some rapid answer questions. Ready, set, go.
Royal or Glaze?
Chill or no chill?
Sift or don’t sift?
Don’t sift (did at first but got lazy)
Thick or thin?
Both – actually a medium consistency that’s not too thin or thick.
Outline & flood or one consistency?
90% one consistency, 10% outline and flood when necessary.
Piping bags or bottles or both?
Which do you prefer on cakes, buttercream or fondant?
Buttercream- 100% of the time. (however Fondarific buttercream fondant is addictive).
Thank you for the opportunity to be presented on your blog, Melissa. I would not be the Twins Plus One Goodies without the help of a lot of cookie/cake friends. I can’t name them all here, but I think they know who they are – I have a group of cookie/cake buddies that have helped me with techniques, acquiring items that I can’t find locally, teaching me new ways of doing things, helping me tweak recipes or acquire new ones from them or just being a good friend and being supportive of me. I am very lucky to have these people in my life and to have crossed paths with them.
I love being able to bring smiles to another persons life just by making a sweet concoction for them that they love. I don’t bake for huge financial gain. I do it because for at least one moment in time, with my sweets, that person can feel happy, loved and satisfied. Why else do it?
This was awesome Heather. Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you and sharing yourself and your talent with my readers. It was great getting to know you better.
I hope that y’all will visit Heather’s Facebook page and show some love & support.
Until the next Sweet Talk. Happy baking and creating friends.