Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's Too Early To Decorate. It's Too Early To Celebrate. But It's Never Too Early To Plan for Christmas!

And heaven knows, I like to plan ahead!

Today, I went to the annual Holiday Open House at the International Sugar Art Collection. I love that place. Check it out:
Look at the cute, color-coordinated decorations!
That light fixture? How cute!
Muffin tins by the light? Genius!
And do you want to hear the best part? All these pictures were taken in one of the bathrooms. Seriously.

But I didn't spend all day in the bathroom. Here's what I saw today, my day in pictures:
Orange! Did you know they came in orange?
If anybody is going to IKEA any time soon, I need you to grab me some paper tape measures. Please?
We got a super-cool demo by THE Lauren Kitchens on how to make horizontal stripes on a cake. I can't wait to get to the shop and try it! Though I expect mine will come out looking like bacon.

Her cake does NOT look like bacon.
I've learned that some people with amazing talent are very stingy with their know-how. Some are very generous. And then there are those who are so generous, they'll let you stick junk on their cake just so you can feel it for yourself:
THAT'S generosity, y'all.
All these things are made of modeling chocolate.
 I am getting really close to overcoming my aversion to trying modeling chocolate. It's time to man up and give it another try. I mean, look what it can make:

Today is a big, big deal to me. I don't get to take classes much, and this annual event is one of the best values for cake learnin' there is. With the new shop, I don't have much time to travel to classes, and then there's this:
After the Wilton classes at Hobby Lobby, learning to make cakes can get spendy!
 After the brilliant modeling chocolate demo, we went to Mr. Scott's kitchen for some chocolate time:

This pic is here for me to remember this set up.
 OK, do you see this cutie toot gingerbread house made of graham crackers? I'm thinking about offering a Mommy and Me morning session where y'all can decorate these at the shop. Thoughts?

It's Mr. Scott!
Edible snow globes. Could you just?

The dome is plastic, but the tree inside is solid chocolate.

Look how cute this house is!
After chocolate time, we went into the BIG classroom and got to check out all this great stuff!

You know I'm a sucker for a turkey this time of year!
Chocolate sugar art. 
 I love coming here because I get to see what's possible in sugar work. I get to see what I'm working toward. I want to be this good one day, y'all.

 OK, check this out:
ISAC has the best nosh in their open houses. That punch... mmmmm... and Albert Uster chocolates! This time, there were also sixlets in their signature colors. Such a great idea!

This is Chef Lodge:

 ISAC is his place. And you want to talk about generous? He opens up his school, they arrange for all these demos full of great information twice a year, and do you know what it costs? $5. Five. Dollars. Well, $10, but you get $5 in store credit to buy whatever you want, so it's really like $5. Unreal. Everybody anywhere near Atlanta with any interest in sugar art should hit these open houses.

I get to go back on Tuesday to take a real, sit-down, hands-on class with Lauren Kitchens on ruffley cakes. Here's hoping I don't embarrass myself too much.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spy Party!

The bakery hosted its first party today. Appropriately, the first bakery birthday party was for one of my kids. My son turned seven today, and since tea parties aren't really his thing, I put together a spy party for him.

Why spies? Well... this kid is really into science. And super powers. And solving mysteries. A spy party seemed the best option for his party theme. Here's what we did:

We sent the invitations to Boo's friends, asking them to join us on a secret spy mission. When the friends arrived, they received their spy gear:

 The fedora, of course, and each new agent got a Top Secret bag containing a magnifying glass, a spy notebook, a pen, a fake mustache, a compass, and some Smartees. I'd like to thank the Halloween season at Dollar Tree for making these goody bags possible.

We also had little badge/ID cards for every agent. I forgot to get an ink pad for them to put their fingerprints on their cards... so we used food coloring. Hey, you go with what you've got!

We decorated the shop with balloons, streamers, an Operation Birthday Blast banner, and some vintage electronics I scrounged from a local thrift shop. Note the ancient VHS camera:

 And food! Some good nosh:

And drinks. Because what mom doesn't serve Capri Suns out of an artillery box?

 There was, of course, a black and red cake as requested by the birthday boy:
 So the new agents ate for a bit.

 Then it was time to start the mission. With our first grade decoding skills, I made sure to keep the clues short and simple.

It's the hats that make it.
 The agents took their first clue and set off for the rectangular table to find the next. I expected it to take them about half a second to find the second clue. However, when you're in first grade, your scavenger hunt experience is somewhat limited. So it took a while... and that was good!

 And so it went, one clue told them the next place to go and then the next and so on...

The clue searches were thorough:

And there was teamwork!

 One clue told them it was time for cake...

 I don't think anyone was expecting the next clue to be inside the cake, buried in a few pounds of Skittles. But they seemed to enjoy that part!

Did I mention some of the vintage decorations actually work? Hooray for learning about this magical, monitor-less computer that the old people call a typewriter:

One clue said it was time to open presents! The last present had another clue inside.

The fedora brigade.

One clue told them to pull the pinata strings:

A clue fell out!

 And, you know, candy:

Almost there! The big, rusty trunk on the patio holds the birthday boy's surprise:

What kind of terrible, horrible, no-good mother ties up a kid's present with rope and a combination lock?

 But no worries! The combination is hidden inside one of the party balloons. Oh, that popping was LOUD:

At last! Opening up the lock:

 And there it is. The super spy kit that Boo had been talking about for months.

I think the bakery's first party was a success. Everyone seemed to have a good time, especially the birthday boy. So much fun! But I have GOT to remember to take that Spy Headquarters sign out of the front window tomorrow!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

That Opening Was Simply Grand!

The shop is open. I have a bakery. I have a bakery. How strange.

After years of planning, wishing and hoping... going to business school at night... taking any and every cake class I could get to... making hundreds of cakes and learning something from every single one... hitting restaurant auctions to get equipment on the world's tightest budget... I have a bakery.

The grand opening was this weekend, and it was simply grand.

We had the Opelika Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting on Friday morning. I was expecting two, maybe three people to come. But there were a LOT of Chamber friends there.

It was a little overwhelming. Lots of people, giant scissors, and it never occurred to me that I would be expected to say something to everyone. Why that never occurred to me, I can't imagine. But there we were. So I stumbled out a little speech and made sure to thank my family for their support during this whole crazy process- because that's the important part. These two were at the bakery EVERY DAY of their summer break while I cleaned, painted, organized, and built the shop:

Saturday morning was the big, Grand Opening brouhaha. With my limited, new business budget, I did everything I could think of to get the word out. We had an ad in the paper on Friday, we had an ad in the local parent magazine birthday party guide, and I'd spread the word on Facebook. I was expecting people to come, so we baked as many cupcakes as could fit onto the rack. In the end, we were left with one small box of leftovers, so it worked out pretty great!

The whole day is kind of a blur to me now. I remember seeing some people... I remember trying to mend a minor wardrobe malfunction on one of my special guests... I remember chatting with some really nice people about custom cakes...

Luckily, some of our AMAZING friends were there with cameras. Here are some of the great pictures they took. I'll do my best to caption them from the parts I remember.

OK, I remember this! We had some awesome members of the 501st come over. Love these guys!

Count Bassie, looking sharp.

Here we are, pretending we know what we're doing.

The always aawesome Alabama Ghostbusters were there too! Love all these guys. 

Setting up the display, getting ready.

I can never take pictures this good with my camera

The display case around the middle of the day

LOVE this picture. 
OK, side note from the captions. True story: One of my biggest fears in opening this shop was that other people's kids would drive me nuts. Having been a teacher for 7+ years, I know how challenging some young people (and, let's be honest, their parents) can be. Heck, my own kids drive me nuts sometimes... But then, kids like these came. Between the soft opening and this week's opening, I can honestly say that the kids who have come to the shop have been delightfully lovable.

Oh, gluten-free cupcakes. How you challenge me.

I love both of these guys.

OK, right? How much fun is this?

I love this kid. Always have. Always will. And his parents are pretty cool, too.

Who knew maple bacon cupcakes would be such a hit?

How surreal.
Story: OK, you know how Darth Vader is the bad guy? And he's really really tall and evil and he makes that creepy breathing sound? And you know how he's kind of made of nightmares and gave me many such nightmares in my childhood?
So, I was in the front kitchen while this guy was getting ready in the back kitchen. I'm standing there, working on a cake, minding my own business when I hear it. That breathing sound, coming from my precious, purple, back kitchen. I couldn't see him through the curtains, but I could hear him. Not going to lie, it kind of freaked me out. Then out he comes, 25 feet tall, just like my childhood nightmares. 
I loved it.
Story time with Summer. You know who loves Ms. Summer? We do!

Sweet Cheeks face painting! She does such a great job and is so, so nice.
I'm so glad there are these pictures to remember this whole thing.

My little display case at the beginning of the day.

I apologize that we didn't get the bushes trimmed or the grass cut before the opening. The rain! All week, the rain!

Oh, those chocolate, peanut butter things.

These guys are pro photobombers.

Rainbow cake was popular.

I wish he could be there every day. how cool would that be?

I love this bakery.

So surreal.

THIS! How great are these guys? Out by the street, bringing in the business.

So many people said, "We just came in to find out what the heck was going on with the guys on the street".

When I made the light saber/ whisk frame, I never thought there'd be a photo like this.

I wish this guy were there every day!

Choose your weapon. Mine's a fondant extruder.

Bigger on the inside.
So many people who have seen pics of the shop online were surprised by how big it is inside. I'm glad this pic was taken- it shows there are places to sit! Come in, eat a cupcake, sip some coffee, and enjoy our free wifi. 

I love this bakery. It's been so much fun so far. But I love the people who helped make it happen even more. So many family and friends have given us so much to get this place going. I love you all.