Monday, October 13, 2014

So... here's what happened...

I've been going back and forth on whether or not to share this on the Cakeapotamus social media. It's definitely more personal than business. But here's the thing: Cakeapotamus is pretty personal, too. We're not a national corporation. We're not a franchise. We're a small, family-owned business. Our cakes are individual, custom creations. Our clients are special people who allow us to be a part of their most special days. That's a big deal. So it really doesn't feel that weird to share my personal business here. You deserve to know why there's been a break in the whimsy.

Here's what happened last week:
Wednesday, around the middle of the day, I got a belly ache. It was pretty intense, so I went to the doctor. He ordered an ultrasound, but they couldn't fit me in for a scan until Thursday morning. My ultrasound ended around 10am on Thursday morning. By 1pm on Thursday afternoon, I was at the surgery center for an emergency hysterectomy.

It was scary. It was painful. Due to my... colorful... medical history, it was more complicated than it should have been. But I received great treatment, and I'm fine now. In fact, I just finished a cake for pick up this morning!

I hate that I missed things this weekend. I hate that I missed a cake. I hate that I missed a party. I am so, so grateful to Mr. Cakeapotamus for stepping up and filling the cupcake orders while I was in the hospital. I am so, so grateful to Shanna and Princessious for running the birthday party so that I didn't have to worry about it.

I am so sorry that I missed phone messages and emails while I was sick. I've already returned all the messages that I can see. If I missed you, please call or email again. You know I will never not return a message.

I'm going to take it easy this week. I'm definitely going to fill all the orders on the calendar for this weekend. But I might not be adding too much more to this week's plan. Sorry,

I want to thank everyone who has called or come by to offer kind thoughts and words. Thank you for being here. Thank you all for being the best people in the world to cake for. (I checked around- y'all really are the best.)

If you want to help, please order something. Maybe not for this weekend... but order a dozen cupcakes for your next tailgate or a little pumpkin cake for a friend. Book a girls' night out cake decorating class or a Halloween tea party. Help me keep my little business open, doing what I love, and I will recover so much faster.

Thank you,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's a Cakepot Thing

**Note to the cakepots: Man, you guys... the pictures I could have chosen for this post... wow. Also, if there's not a picture of you in this post, it's because I had a hard time finding one that was: 1. family-friendly and b. Doesn't create more questions than it answers.

Goodness, I haven't blogged in a while! Sorry... or not? Does anyone ever read these things? The truth is, I've been so busy since the shop opened! I have been too busy having a bakery to have the time to write about having a bakery. But today's an off day, so here are some thoughts. For fun. For posterity. For Narnia!

Here's the thing... opening the bakery has been... different... than I expected. Owning and operating Cakeapotamus has had some unforeseen consequences... really, nobody could have seen this coming. I expected the long days and nights. I expected to make mistakes and learn a lot. I hoped for awesome clients who appreciated the quirky little vision I had for the place (and I got them!). I did not anticipate, however, the cakepot crew.

Did you know there's a cakepot crew?

To be clear, they're not mine. It's not like I own them or they work for me or anything. But they are the people who, for whatever reason, choose to use their time and talents to  make magic at the bakery. In exchange, I give them cookies and cake and tell them how great they smell. Really. Or maybe it's that I give them outlets for their whimsy? Hmmm...

There are actually around a dozen and a half of them. And the bakery wouldn't have made it the first year if it weren't for them. They're a magical blur of pranks and inside jokes and quirkiness that make my life better than I ever thought it could be. Any one of those faces walking through the door means my day is automatically better. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Some are nicer than others.

I love it when they hug.

If you've been around Cakeapotamus for any amount of time, you've probably seen some of them. A few of them can be seen lurking around the bakery wearing shirts that say "Whimsy Maker."

Some of them take pictures at parties and events.

Some of them, you've probably never seen their real faces because they're always in costume here. And that's a shame because their real faces are pretty darn cute.

Believe it or not, this group actually does things together away from the bakery!

I honestly have no idea how this collection of magical weirdos happened. Some came to the bakery for an event and they got caught up in the whimsy. The next thing you know, we're hanging out in a hotel room in Atlanta:

Some are cake people with whom I hit it off. The next thing you know, we're hanging out in a hospital room in Albuquerque:

Some have been around for years and years, tolerating my wacky schemes:

Some only appeared when the bakery opened, but then they turned out to be part of the tribe. The next thing you know, they're taking pictures in their Cakeapotamus shirt next to the Stanley Cup:

These are the people I can call for anything. Anything.
"Mike, it's raining and we're at the storage until and we just bought a display case for the bakery we might open one day, and it's too heavy to get off the truck. Help!"
"Chris, I need a Little Free Library that looks like a Tardis."
"Matt, I'm gonna open a bakery and I need you to get Darth Vader to come to the grand opening."
"Paula, someone in the cake world is being mean. Say bad things about their mom."
"Rookie, let's go to Atlanta and visit the children's hospital. Right now."
And they always come through.

When I want a sandbox for the side porch:

When I buy a pirate wheel online with no idea of how to attach it to anything, but wouldn't it look good somewhere?

When I want to throw a last-minute going away party for a kid who will one day be a part of this tribe, too:

These people have come to my rescue more times than I can count. They take my random, crazy schemes and make them a reality. They can do anything.

If you would have told me a couple of years ago that my life would include these amazing people, I wouldn't have believed you. So now, as I am about to turn 26 (again), I am recording it all here. OK, not all of it. I could write a book about each of them and what they mean to me and the bakery. But... it's probably best to leave some of a lot of it to the imagination.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My First Call to Action

I discovered Icing Smiles at a cake convention last summer. Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom cakes to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. It seemed like the perfect fit, right? I was about three months out of my own cancer treatment, so I knew just how easy it would be for parents to forget something like a birthday cake in the middle of juggling appointments and treatments and medication schedules. Serious illness is time-consuming, y'all. Plus, I was just about to open the beautiful, geeky bakery- of course I signed up!

I got my first Call to Action a few weeks ago. A family in a town not-too-far from here has a son with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. I had to google that one. It's his ninth birthday and he wanted a Star Wars LEGO cake. Gosh, who do we know that would love to make a Star Wars LEGO cake? ME! I was so excited. My first Call to Action was a perfect fit. Because I love Star Wars... and Star Wars loves me:

I'm not that short in real life
As the information came in from Icing Smiles and from the family, I found out this one was to be a double smile. The medical child has a sister who is eleven months younger than he, and they were having a joint party. Icing Smiles asked if I'd mind making her a cake, too. Hers was to be a celebration cake (and therefore less elaborate) than the Star Wars dream cake, but I still wanted it to be special. And so, the planning began. Templates and emails, looking at pictures online... so much to do!

The best part of being an Icing Smiles baker is that you get to design the cake. The family can request theme, flavors, and inscriptions... but the actual design can be anything you want. If there's something you've been really wanting to try, you can do it on an Icing Smiles cake. As a cake decorator, that's pretty exciting.

**Now, before the story goes any further, there's a little disclaimer: This Icing Smiles Call to Action, like EVERYTHING we do at Cakeapotamus, is not typical. I got lucky, y'all. Very lucky. I got a cake request with a theme I love and am familiar with. I got a family that was... what's the word for more precious than precious? And the mom? So nice, so easy, so fun to work with, so open to all my crazy ideas. If all those stars hadn't aligned, this magic might not have been possible. But the stars *did* align, enough with the writing, bring on the pictures:

Star Wars LEGO cake:
I made a template, and then made some molds off of my kids' LEGOS so that I wouldn't have to cut a million LEGO bumps by hand: 
This was the mold's first attempt... other, better molds came later

I got Mr.Cakeapotamus to build a cake base so that the cake could be a little bit elevated off the board. Here it is all covered in fondant, ready for cake:
It's a pretty big board- this cake is gonna be big.
Then I started adding cake:
Chocolate, he requested
And icing:

And details:
I didn't worry about the mushy ends there because I knew I was going to carve them out for LEDs

And LEDs:
Boom, LEGO Millenium Falcon cake: 

Next: the sister's cake.
Originally, the sister's celebration cake was requested as a LEGO Friends theme to coordinate with her brother. But as I got to working on the special extras for the Star Wars cake, I realized I couldn't do anything similar for her with a LEGO Friends theme. And that just wasn't fair. I asked the mom if the sweet sister was, by chance, into princesses at all because you KNOW we do princesses around here. Luckily, the sweet birthday girl was open to a princess theme:

The special extras:
Since this was my very first Smile, and since... you know... Cakeapotamus... I wanted this cake delivery to be extra special. Remember that awesome mom? She and I did a little scheming... I made some phone calls... she kept some secrets at home... and, together, we worked out a pretty great surprise for the kids.

"Wouldn't it be cool," we wondered, "if, say, Darth Vader were here when the kids come to pick up their Star Wars cake? And maybe the little mermaid for the princess cake?" You know that the princesses of Princessious host parties at the bakery- getting the little mermaid here was no problem. And the 501st- you know those guys are always up for helping out on something like this. And so, secret plans were made for a little extra magic.

THIS is absolutely what I would want to see if I was coming to pick up my birthday cake.
Getting a princess cake from the little mermaid? Come on! Magic!
I met them outside for a little intro before they walked into the shop.
In they came
 Have you ever seen such precious children?
"Do I look at the sandtrooper?"
"...or the cake?"
"... or Vader?"
That smile.
I love this picture.
A quick lesson in how to turn off your cake LEDs
Princess time!
Everything is just better with a princess around.
All of us.
Precious. I wanted to keep them.
If I were you, I would have noticed there, a picture or two ago, that this family actually has four precious children. And, if I were you, I would have been concerned about the littlest ones being nervous of the big, terribly accurate movie villains in the room. Don't worry:

The younger ones did just fine. 
And once big brother shook Vader's hand...
...then everybody was cool with him
It's cake, y'all. It's supposed to be fun.
That's my first Smile. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Here's the thanks:
All I did was make the cakes and the phone calls. The real magic came from others:
Thanks for the cake board, Doss! Thanks for being the bakery paparazzi, Chris and Mike! Thanks for being so awesome to work with, Chastin! Thanks for the whimsy Shanna, Matt, and Clark! Thanks for helping me keep Vader safe, Laine! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Parties at the Cakepot! Part two: Princesses

Being a cake decorator is great! You get to create something that is a small part of someone's special day. You get to create a part of their special memories. As cool as that is, though, sometimes I like to play a bigger role in creating a memorable experience. I tend to stay behind the scenes as much as possible, but I love coordinating, planning, and scheming to get everything to fall into place. Planning parties at the bakery has given me a good outlet for this. The geeky party was a good exercise in scheming. But immediately after Darth Vader left, it was time for something completely different.

As this child made her way home, exhausted, and overwhelmed with love for unicorns and the Sith:
We were working quickly to take down everything Star Wars and replace it with snowflake decor.

We had one hour between parties to switch the decor, sweep up, pick up the food, set up the tables, pick up the balloons, and change up the costumed characters. The first party set a dangerous precedent. There was a lot going on there. Theoretically, I wouldn't have to provide as much for the second party. It's not like the second birthday kid would know how much work and planning went into the first party.

Oh, wait. Yes, she would. She's my daughter. I have to give my own kid a memorable party, too! No pressure.

As I had with the first birthday kid, I'd been having a lot of discussions with my own kid about her party. Obviously, she spends a lot of time at the bakery so she knows how it all works. She has seen Ariel and Belle come for other parties and so it was a given that her bestie, Belle, would host her party.
Sometimes, Belle's my BFF, too.
She also knew that Darth Vader and the Ghostbusters were coming to the earlier party.

"Do you want me to invite the Ghostbusters to your party?"
"Yes and Mr. Brock's kids."
"Do you want me to invite Darth Vader to your party?"
The answer to that one changed a few times. Sometimes "Yes," sometimes, "No, he's too scary". As the day drew closer, she landed on a decision: Darth Vader, no costume. Sure, why not?

Then a terrible thing happened. We took the kids to see Frozen. Have you seen Frozen? It's good, right? So good, in fact, that my child decided she needed, not just a princess party, but a Frozen party.

Here's the good news: Snow-themed decorations are really cheap after Christmas.
This picture was really taken at my shop!
Here's the bad news: My daughter wanted to send a birthday invitation to Elsa, the snow queen. She wanted Elsa at her party. And she absolutely believed that I could get her there.

Confession: It has been a string of lucky coincidences that got me access to the princesses, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars characters. I've been coasting on the generosity and good nature of others. I try to make their experiences at the bakery as positive as possible, but I'm awed that they come at all.

And now she wants Elsa. I don't know Elsa. I don't know where to find Elsa. I don't know anyone who knows Elsa. I had to tell her no. "Mommy doesn't know Elsa. I'm sorry." And she accepted that. She didn't argue, she didn't fuss or whine. That made me want to find Elsa even more. She probably saw that coming, the little manipulator.

Then, a strange series of coincidences occurred and my mommy magic pulled through.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but  look at her face.
Elsa made me mom of the year.
My daughter's dream team!
And so they decorated cookies:

They hunted for Olaf's nose:

They hung out with princesses:

There were songs:

There were friends:

And cake:

With Skittles inside:

And so, I get to keep my mommy wizard cred for another year.

Immediately after the Bellsa party, we had to reset the bakery for a Sunday afternoon tea party. Boom!
Like that whole Sith thing never happened.
I don't have any pics from the Sunday afternoon tea party... but I do have a video of Ariel that I snapped from the kitchen. Unfortunately, Blogspot is not loving the video tonight. I'll try to get it up soon.  If you have not had the chance to see Princessious in person, you're really missing out: 

And so that crazy weekend is over. There are more pictures, hundreds more. I'll upload some to the Facebook page soon. I'm sad it's over y'all. 

HUGE thanks to Brock and Rookie and Matt and Shanna and Amie and Doss and Mary Wynne and Mike and Chris and everybody who came to the parties at Cakeapotamus this weekend! Here's to more good times!