Embellisihing with Royal Icing

{First of all, I would just like to express my frustration (over myself) for not having saved my supposed to be original post for this. How I wish I could still recover that but I guess it’s already in oblivion. What’s up WordPress?} 😦

It’s a happy day anyway πŸ™‚

Good morning! It’s the start of March and it’s supposed to be hot because it’s a summer head-start but it seems kind of the unusual. The weather outside is gloomy and cold, not really humid. Hot or cold, humid or dry, I’m just glad that it doesn’t affect what I’m doing – decorating with Royal Icing πŸ™‚ Last night, I was able to continue decorating my sugar cookies. It’s only during evenings after work that I get to experiment in the kitchen, and so…

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Embellished Sugar Cookies

These are the products of my doing last night πŸ™‚

{Forgive me for the dark capture – I made these at night time, working on my “camera” skills}

The way it was decorated is called Brush Embroidery. Special thanks to Amber Spiegel of SweetAmbs who inspired me a lot to do such way of decorating. It was mid-last year when I first dropped by her YouTube Channel and saw some of her cookie decorating tutorials. I was so amazed and willing to try. Thank God that yesterday I was able to. You should check out Amber’s tutorial videos on her YouTube channel. She offers free video (and instructional) tutorials – oh, and some are paid.

BTW, her videos are love πŸ™‚ Even if you don’t try her tutorials, by just watching her videos is truly stress-relieving. She has background instrumentals from Mozart, Beethoven and so on… Sometimes I leave it on play while I’m working in the office.

Okay.

Without further ado – off to decorating cookies! The other night, I baked cookies from the “excess” dough that I have in the fridge. These are re-rolled scraps but I was hopeful I could still use them for decorating, even if, maybe I couldn’t get as nice cookies as the first batch. I was able to cut a few circles from the dough. I had the baked cookies kept in a container for 24 hours because the butter/grease from the freshly-baked cookies could seep onto the Royal Icing of the cookies and could leave you splotches or spots. I am no scientist speaking but it happened to me. Also, thanks to Marian of Sweetopia for the tip! See here. I also used the excess Royal Icing that I still have from the weekend.

Moving on… I had my Royal Icing colored mint for the base πŸ™‚ I allowed it to completely dry for, well, supposed to be just overnight but due to work – almost 24 hours, before decorating. For the petal outline, I used a stiff, white Royal Icing with a Piping Tip #2 (I use Wilton). I have a 10-second RI on hand and I just added a little powdered sugar and beat with a paddle attachment for a stiff consistency. I simply piped the outline in a zigzag motion, one petal after the other. Okay, look who’s talking “simply.” I’m not a pro and I actually had trouble at first. I really didn’t pipe in a zigzag well. I need more practice. And my royal icing clogs in the piping tip. I was inserting a cake tester in the opening most of the time and since it continues to clog, I switched to a #3 piping tip instead and clogging got a little less πŸ™‚ There are lots of troubleshooting for clogged tips. I just got so excited I could care less. Here are someΒ  tipsfrom Sweetopia in case it’s a fuss. For the smaller details, I used a damp paintbrush and gently brushed the outline downwards. I did the same thing to the leaves and just piped a few small dot details just like Amber did.

Nothing’s really uniform. A flower here, one there and a leaf… I also had one cookie with the leaf as the main attraction.

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Drying the stiff Royal Icing Embellishment only took a few minutes…

1, 2, 3…

Until it was time to paint the details with gold luster dust :)Some spell it “lustre”).

I have been using a lot of gold luster dust lately and I’m really loving it. The one I’m using is a D’Chef brand. I am not sure if it’s a local brand (I think it is) but it’s one of the least expensive luster dusts in our area. It’s not my first preference but it works fine. And being a fan now, sooner or later, a set of colored dusts would be on a shelf in my kitchen. To use luster dust for painting, you only need to drop a few, well, “drops” of either alcohol or lemon/vanilla extract over a teaspoonful of luster dust powder in a small bowl. I use alcohol such as Vodka and sometimes, Gin (haha). A teaspoon goes a long way for painting. If the mixture gets dry (it does if not used for a while), just add a few more drops and mix well.

I simply painted the outlines…

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‘Til everything’s dry.

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and Voila.

So that is how a weekday of mine went. I am hopeful that one day, I’ll be able to also post tutorials the way Marian and Amber does.

Here are a few pictures of the embroideries I practiced doing the other night. A little practice helped me decorate better on the actual cookies!

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Happy decorating!

Ciao,
Jay.

 

 

 

 

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Rollin’ with Fondant

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Fondant Flower on Ganache

Fondant comes in variety. There’s what you call Poured Fondant and there’s also Rolled Fondant. The two is similar but as their names say, one is poured, meaning, it is liquid in form and the other is “rolled” meaning you can work on it as a dough or simply clay. Rolled fondant comes in different flavors but the most basic and commonly used is Vanilla/White as labeled in most pre-made fondant tubs. Satin Ice, in my country, is the most commonly bought. Some are now made with Buttercream flavor in which I have no idea what it tastes like (I expect better than the original since it says “buttercream”). All kinds are used in pastries and confectionery. In modern times, using rolled fondant in cakes has become and continues to be in trend in the food industry. Most wedding cakes and some birthday cakes nowadays are based on cakes decorated with fondant because the use of this to cakes is very eye-catching.

In my own description, fondant is as sweet as any icing that is workable as clay that you may color and decorate over cakes and cupcakes. Anyone can make his own rolled fondant at home! That’s the beast part when you don’t get to spend as much as $10-$11. You’ll only spend maybe at least $5. Personally, I’m not a fan of fondant’s taste as it is, everyone knows, too sweet. I make one so I know how much sugar’s packed into it and all I can say, not for a diabetic. But just like everyone else whose passion is to be creative, I use it too. Anyway it’s a choice to eat the cake without it, I understand (Hehe).

Just this week, I tried to make my own homemade rolled fondant! And yey! I’m kind of proud of myself. I’ve always wanted to try making my own so that I could start crafting on my cupcakes and later on, who knows, cakes, layered cakes! Okay. At first I was actually thinking of buying a pre-made rolled fondant such as Satin Ice because it what was most people would suggest – so that one may know first the real texture, color, consistency or whatever it is that fondant is. True, true but you see, I live in a country that’s kind of limited when it comes to imported products. Willing that I am to buy Satin Ice, unfortunately there wasn’t any available at the time I called and honestly, it’s kind of expensive for 2 lbs. only. They didn’t know when their next supply was coming and being the explorer that I am, I simply couldn’t wait and so I just did my own. I have read much about rolled fondant on the internet and watched videos and tutorials that would give me ideas on how it was done. Most of the recipes from the videos on my research basically require and produces the same stuff. So I gathered up confidence in trying. At first, okay I was doing fine, following instructions and not over-thinking as that could kill what I was doing. I became hesitant at times especially during the kneading part as I thought my fondant was really becoming stiff. Oh, and get ready to workout and sweat during kneading. But whatever the hesitations I had or problems that may arise to anyone doing their own fondant, there’s a solution, trust me. So just keep doing what you’re doing and rollin’ what you’re rollin’. And if you find yourself sweating as you come to knead your fondant, it’s okay. It would happen if you don’t have a stand mixer (and it’s okay). But kneading? It lasts!

As I am very happy to have done my first homemade fondant, I would like to share with you guys how I made it. I got the recipe below from Lisa Mansour of about.com and for those who know her, I know, I know, she looks so stiff and all like – look who’s been left by his husband, I’m sorry (hehe) but let’s not judge her because her recipe goes well. I just hope that behind the cameras, she’d smile more often. I have also researched on different recipes and basically everything is made the same way.

Here’s everything you need:

  • Gelatin – 1 Tablespoon and 2 teaspoons
  • Cold Water – 1/4 cup
  • Glucose – 1/2 cup or
  • Corn Syrup – 1/2 cup (If using corn syrup instead of glucose, do reduce your cold water to 3 Tablespoons only)
  • Vegetable Shortening – 2 Tablespoons
  • Glycerine – 1 Tablespoon
  • Powdered Sugar – 8 cups (Sifted)
  • Choice of Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract or any – 1 teaspoon

Notes:

*It is important to sift your powdered sugar as sometimes, there are small bits which are hard as tiny stones. Nobody wants a rocky-textured fondant.

*The recipe may require 8 cups of powdered sugar, but that is the approximate. You will find that at least 6 cups is enough. BTW, 8 cups is equivalent to 2 lbs. or 907 grams (yours truly exerted time to measure) for those who prefer to measure it using a weighing scale as measuring cups could sometimes be untrustworthy. Could somebody agree, please? And so for 6 cups, it’s 680 grams.

*Natural Vanilla Extract could produce an off-white color to your fondant but that is really not much of an issue if you plan on coloring your fondant after. Use Pure and Clear Vanilla Extract if not coloring fondant.

*Almond Extract, usually clear, has a very very strong flavor so do not over-measure. Vanilla is my preference.

In a stainless steel bowl, pour your cold water and sprinkle your gelatin over. Allow to stand for a few minutes until it thickens. Set aside. Now in a double boiler, with the water barely simmering, melt your thickened gelatin completely until it is clear and dissolved. Take your time. Add glucose and mix well. Add the shortening and stir slowly. Just before the shortening is completely melted, remove the bowl from the double boiler. Add your glycerin and clear vanilla extract (or almond). Stir well and allow to cool until it is lukewarm.

In a bowl, pour half of your powdered sugar and form a well in the center. Pour in the lukewarm mixture and start stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon (I used a rubber spoonatula and it works too) until most of the sugar comes together and forms into a somewhat sticky dough. This takes time. Set this aside for a while. Now in a clean table or surface, pour over the remaining powdered sugar. put the dough on top of this pack of sugar and knead well until it comes together forming a smooth, pliable (like clay) dough that’s not sticky or tacky. You don’t necessarily need most of the remaining sugar as it can make your fondant too stiff. Kneading manually takes time and effort but it will all be worth it. If in any case, your fondant seems too stiff, add a drop of water at a time and knead until it’s the right consistency. If it’s too soft, just add maybe a handful of powdered sugar or less at a time, until, well, it’s the right consistency. Now, you may wonder how smooth and pliable feels for a fondant, just don’t over-think. What I do is just knead the fondant thoroughly until it’s not sticky to my palms, get a pinch from the dough and roll it with my hands forming a small ball and check if I can work on it like a clay without it sticking to my hands. If it does, voila, a fondant.

Cover your fondant dough with clingwrap and allow to sit in a bowl covered again with clingwrap. Fondant lasts for a month or two stored in room temperature. A few people suggest to keep rolled fondant refrigerated but you see, there’s too much moisture going inside the fridge and might affect the consistency of the fondant when ready to use.

So, hey, was I able to help? Let’s all do our own fondant whenever we need to. Who cares for a little workout? As for me, I am ready to use mine for decorations this weekend, when I can sadly, only spend time for baking. Oh well! Lustre Dust, Sparkle Dust and AmeriColor, I already can’t wait to use! Photos to follow soon. Ciao Bella!

Caramelize Up That Life

Just this New Year’s Eve, I decided to make Cream Puffs and having white chocolate and sliced almonds as my usual topping (actually, I ran out of time buying sliced almonds since the store where I buy from is closed, holiday reasons) I thought of making (hard) caramel instead. Hehe. But hey, I enjoyed doing caramel so here I am spending time to share how it’s done.

Ever tried making your own? It’s really easy and fun to make. Oh, but can be a little bitsy difficult to handle (only because it could be real, intolerably hot ok?). Just avoid getting in contact with while it’s hot and overall, doing it is nothing but fun, fun, fun! BTW, the recipe I’m talking about here is Hard Caramel. This is different from Caramel Sauce or Fudge. I use hard caramel to dip in over my cream puffs that’s gonna give them a hard, crunchy textureΒ  just before you get into that slightly crunchy-soft bread and creamy filling. I also use this as classy embellishments to my pastries πŸ˜‰ Now, if you feel like trying to make your own, I would be delighted to share these very few and simple ingredients for you to happily concoct! πŸ˜‰

  • 175 grams of Water
  • 500 grams of Refined Sugar
  • 100 grams of Glucose

It’s really easy to make but if you’re a starter and you would want to somehow be as precise as possible, I suggest you go buy yourself a candy thermometer. Yey! A cheap but reliable one would do (I use Sunbeam). Also, a kitchen mitten is a must-wear as you come to boil the mixture πŸ˜™

Okay so let’s get started. First, put water and sugar together in a saucepan. Please make sure that your pan has a sturdy handle because you don’t want your skin get burnt during the boiling process as you’d need both hands efficiently. On your stove, bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it’s boiling, pour over your glucose and slightly mix. Keep heat and boiling that way. You may now sink in your candy thermometer into the boiling mixture just to see and meet the right temperature. The right temperature to meet by the way is 166 degrees C / 330 degrees F. As your mixture boils, it’s best to brush down the in-sides of the pan every once in a while with water to avoid burnt sugar-liquid that’s been splattering out due to boiling. Make sure you are wearing your mitten here. Believe me, a touch of mixture on your skin is just total ouch. More on, no one wants caramel with different shades of brown, eh? Use a rubberized pastry brush if you have one. So, if it reaches that temperature or ifΒ  the mixture is golden brown or caramel in color (don’t overthink, you would know), usually it’s done, but if you’re not satisfied with the browning color then you may continue boiling just until it reaches that browning that you want. Think caramel fudge? You can go farther than 166 deg C, maybe until 175. Just don’t overboil as burnt caramel would obviously taste…burnt. So now if it gets you to that color, turn the heat off immediately. Caramel is now ready for dippin’!

Most people prefer putting the pan onto an ice bath right after removing it from the heat but me here, personally I don’t. I just find such making my caramel harden so quick that in the end, total waste especially if you are using caramel to dip in pastries. What I do is just let my caramel be after turning the heat off and just dip everything as fast as you can especially if you’re on solo mode. You would still more importantly need your mitten here. Because I’m telling ya, snap! it just hardens that quick and temperature is just intorelable. However, if in any case that happens in the middle of your happy time dipping, try bringing it back to the stove, only heat it on low-fire this time. Just add a cup of water or so and stir well with a rubber spatula or just a spoon until it looks like the first time you made it – caramel-ly. Expect a browner color though. But from there, that’s it. It would be very difficult the second time you bring it back to heat. But hey, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. Just my suggestion, you can still put it in an ice bath if you want to and just see for yourself. The only purpose of putting it on an ice bath is to allow it to cool and stop continuous cooking and browning but that is really not much of an issue for me.

So… Thinking of making one? Leave a comment on how it goes. I’d be happy to know!

TIP: A SIL-PAT is one I would suggest having if you want to make caramel ornaments or candies! Just pour your caramel over the SIL-PAT carefully (in whichever design you wanna have) and allow it to sit for a few seconds. It would be easily removed from it and then you’re good to top it over your cakes or pastries. Just be careful, broken hard caramel could cut skin easily. Happy caramelizing!

Pictures to follow soon! Avere una bella. Ciao.

Know Some Coco

HEYY. I just wanted to write something about cocoa powder. I don’t know but it interests me because I simply use them in baking. And for all of those who bake as well, ever wondered how it’s made? Hehe, i know! There’s your Cacao Pod or Fruit reaped from the Cacao Tree. The Cacao Fruit is similar to the the Papaya fruit in appearance. Well I haven’t seen one personally but I am hoping to see one! Anyway, inside these pods are where you can find the Cacao Beans and there are at least 30 to 50 beans inside. Like whoa right, oh so many! I wish I had a Cacao Tree right here at home but I’m not even sure if they can be grown in a tropical island where I live (Oh, I live in the Philippines by the way). In order to make cocoa powder, these beans are roasted and then ground into a thick paste. After which the paste is pressed into a disc (factories have this machine presser) and finally, this disc is grated into a fine powder. And this powder is now that same powder you use in baking your chocolate-flavored cake or cupcakes or in making hot chocolate! Can you imagine. I wanna try working in a chocolate factory and experience the joy in getting my hands and clothes dirty making cocoa powder and then take some home and use for baking cupcakes.

So we have now our cocoa powder. Do you know that cocoa powder has many variations? If you’re a baker, then you should know how to use a certain type of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder has basically 2 types. You have your natural cocoa powder and your dutch-processed cocoa powder (also known as alkalized cocoa powder). Natural cocoa powder is lighter in color. In baking, one must take note that natural cocoa powder must only be used for recipes which call for baking soda as the leavening agent. It’s because natural cocoa is acidic and baking soda is an alkali. So basically they’re a good pair and when combined in baking, they will give good balance in taste and results to your baked goods. On the other hand, there is your dutch-processed cocoa powder which is “alkalized” and which I personally prefer to USE in baking, just wanna share. Alkalized means it’s been soaked or washed with potassium solution giving it a change in its natural brown color, darker perhaps. More importantly when cocoa powder is alkalized, it also means a large percentage of acid has been taken away as you know, natural cocoa is acidic. So it becomes milder in taste and richer in flavor and a lot of bakers prefer using it. One thing to know when using it in baking, you should pair this up with baking powder as your leavener. Otherwise when paired with baking soda which is also an alkali, there’ll be too much alkali in your batter giving your product lack in rising and a soapy taste. So actually there it goes. Those little things are actually what you should take note when using cocoa powder and I hope that helps you when making a chocolate flavored-something baked! There are still lots of types of cocoa powder to use out there but so far, the recipes I have don’t require them. There is what they say “Bloomed Cocoa Powder” and this means that the powder is allowed to sit with hot water or liquid and this is done they say to intensify flavor. I must try this. Another interesting type of cocoa is the Black Cocoa Powder which is a heavily-dutched cocoa powder. I am pretty sure you have seen this kind of cocoa powder beacause the perfect example for this is your OREO cookie!

Some product of Cocoa Powder. Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes!

There’s a picture of where I had my cocoa powder going. Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes! I have learned all these Cocoa must-knows after I had gotten into this recipe that required Dutch-Processed Cocoa. So it made me wonder why not use ordinary cocoa powder instead and I saw comments why I shouldn’t. And so I’ve done some nerdy stuff research about Cocoa before making almost everyone’s favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes for my Dad’s birthday πŸ™‚ As you may know, the flavor of red velvet is primarily chocolate. The only difference is the color and perhaps the icing used. So I guess it’s a must to know something about chocolate. In my Red Velvet recipe, I make sure to use dutch-processed cocoa powder as my chocolate base and baking powder. This combination made sure that I had a lovely Red Velvet to share on a very special day.

Have a great day! CIAO BELLA!

 

 

Nothing but Luscious Cream Puffs

Freshly baked Pastry Shells ready to get piped with Custard Cream!

CREAM PUFFS YA’LL! Craving? Does it create a hint of smile on your face whenever you’re offered one? What’s your choice of topping? Dark Choco, White Chocolate or both? or Hard Caramel? Topped over with Almonds! Sprinkles! Imagine those mix of flavors you’re having as you indulge on this rich, cream-filled pastry shell. Well, allow me to share with you guys some of my experiences in making this very simple sweet treat. Just so you know I am no expert but with enough time spent in the kitchen and with an enthusiasm and love for pastry and art, I can say that I can actually make good cream puffs (that’s adored by many – at least by my honest family and friends, haha). In order to make cream puffs, you need to know the puffin’ components. Cream Puff is basically a tiny dough or bread that has been baked and “puffed up” as a result and later on filled with cream. And in order to make one good recipe, you need to have a good Pate a Choux or Pastry Shell recipe and of course you must never miss out on a good Custard Cream filling (Guys, nothing beats homemade custard cream…). Some people prefer a different type of filling such as whipped cream folded with fruits or puree or just plain sweetened whipped cream. These two are the primary components in making Cream Puffs. You’ll have the best of it if you have a good recipe for your filling. And personally, I prefer the custard cream for the filling. You can have the best recipe for your shells but without filling that is rich, thick/custard-like and made with real vanilla (vanilla beans), you might not enjoy the best of the cream puff experience.

Did you know that Cream Puffs are very much related to the terms “Pate a Choux”/”Choux Pastry”, “Croquembouche” and “Profiteroles”? They’re actually all the same and are only variations of cream puffs. So don’t get confused. And when you hear such terms from wherever you’re buying, just think of cream puffs, the simple small bread with pudding? Haha. But to be a little more precise… and based on my culinary experience, here are how they are actually distinguished: Pate a Choux is the French A.K.A. for Pastry Shell as it is in France where it originated. Cream Puffs are Pastry Shells or Profiteroles (as others prefer calling it) that ‘s been piped in with cream. And so that’s it. If they are combined together using caramel and then coated or poured over with chocolate, that’s when it’s called Croquembouche. Imagine a pile of cream puffs. Other embellishments added or topped over the shell such as sprinkles, almonds, other kinds of chocolate are only variations. Croquembouche is mostly used to serve as a centerpiece and is usually made or done for Christmas or other special occasions in which the cream puffs are formed into a somewhat Chistmas Tree. Nowadays, using Croquembouche as a centerpiece is becoming a trend. Some even prefer to have it on big occasions rather than the traditional cake. Now imagine having a croquembouche instead of a Christmas Tree. Wouldn’t that be something.

I love selling cream puffs. I’m a little bitsy of an artist so I make sure that my products would look presentable for business. Now that I have my own brand and logo, it’s easy choosing a box that would complement my pastries. And then sell. ANYHOW, I have first made cream puffs in school. Having the recipe from which, I had turned my idea into reality of having a business that didn’t require permit, HAH! It was perfect because it was almost Christmas during that time. Relying on my own in making and selling cream puffs, it became difficult at first. It tested my patience. For first timers, (I hope somebody agrees) you’ll probably experience your puff shells suddenly deflating a few minutes after taking them out from the oven. When this happens, you’ll feel like everything you prepared for was nothing but trash. That’s how I felt, but later on I learned that it’s normal if ya don’t know da tricky. The trick is that when you pop them out the oven, you immediately prick the bottom of the bread for release of air. Use a toothpick or a cake tester if you have. I got the idea from a friend and from the videos I stream on the net. Otherwise, air will find way to come out making your bread suddenly deflate in turn. In short, do not sell puffs that look like they didn’t puff at all. More on, do not be deceived by your oven. There are times that you’ll think your pastry shells are done because of how brown it looks inside the oven but when you take them out, they actually need few more time. Something with the oven lighting. Or sometimes, it’s the other way around and they just become too brown or overcooked. I remember the time when my cousin thought I made chocolate! Gosh. I had so much trouble at first, even during my second or so on tries.. You might too. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. All you have to do is take note of everything that went wrong. So one important thing is to have a notebook beside you when baking. With it you can list what works and what doesn’t. For the custard cream filling, there are lots of recipes out there. What’s important to know about your custard cream is that customers don’t like it runny. It should be thick enough in consistency. Holds its shape. Think pudding. One stressful thing for a first timer like me was having a runny consistency in my custard recipe. Imagine how it’s like to be piping liquid into your pastry shell. It works but eventually it will come running down at the bottom. And your end product, trashy. You’ll consider thinking twice before actually selling. If you think that the problem is in your recipe, then try another. My recipe then required custard powder and milk. Those two alone and I think with a little amount of sugar. This just wouldn’t work if you want to achieve a pudding-like custard cream. Actually, it’ doesn’t even sound authentic because custard powder is only a substitute for egg yolks. Bakers only use it for the sake of a long shelf life duration as you may know, anything that’s been made with eggs lasts for not more than 5 days. Plus it tastes bad, makes you think it’s poison. Above all, nothing beats the use of real EGG YOLKS when making cream puffs! YEY (Yey for Egg Yolks! HAHA.) However, you must be careful with the shelf life of your custard if you’re using egg yolks as an ingredient for your recipe. Usually, the custard cream lasts for 3 to 4 days the most. So there, egg yolks, along with sugar, milk and Vanilla Beans! I’ve tried making both recipes using vanilla extract and vanilla bean. Vanilla beans may cost a lot but trust me, it gives your custard cream a strong vanilla aroma and flavor and tastes so SO much better!
So hey! There ya go. These are some of my thoughts in making Cream Puffs. Hope ya had something filled in as helpful from this post. If I had anything more to add, I’ll keep this post updated. Have a puffin’ day!