Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions...bah, HUMBUG!

      So, sometimes people need a break from their everyday routines.

      That was my intention, during the Christmas/ New Years take it easy, not stress, simplify. For the most part, I was successful. We barely decorated the house for Christmas (more on holiday decorating another day), we bought small, token gifts for each other this year, instead of going all-out.

     And I only baked for family gifts this year. No cake, no cookies for the masses, just enough to send to my family in Arizona (which I haven't even posted yet, as those pics are on my camera's internal memory, not the card, and I can't figure out how to make the switch. Please hang in there with me as I figure it out!)

     Having such a low-key holiday, I've gotten lazy. And I hate that! I bought a notebook last month, to begin sketching cookie designs, and make lists of designs that I still want to get fleshed out. It feels good to have this, my "vault" if you will...of all these thoughts and hopes for the coming year!

     Knowing that 2011 holds so much promise, just from a cookie standpoint is exciting to me! All these thoughts, begging to become reality! I can resist the call of my kitchen no longer :)

     So tonight, we venture out into the cold, to enjoy a nice dinner for NYE. We've much to celebrate from 2010, and even more to look forward to in 2011!

     The one and ONLY resolution I make to myself, and to that I will be baking and decorating LOTS more sweet treats to share with you in 2011, on a much more regular basis!

     All my hopes to you, my friends, for a safe, fun, and JOYOUS New Year's Eve, and bountiful 2011!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friendship, inspiration, and blogging...

     Hi everybody!

     I'm still very new to blogging, as you can tell. :-\  I'm in the thick of the holiday baking rush, (cookies are my latest'll see why below) having a great time, so I don't take much time to learn more about effective blogging.

     Though I do READ a boatload of blogs, and gawk at the eye-catching layouts, the regular witicisms, creativity, and something else I found interesting...GIVEAWAYS!!

     Who'd have BRIBE followers to keep coming back, and spread the word to their friends? Sounds good to me! LOL

     While I find my way here, creating a "hook" to bring people to my own blog, I do have a handful of you that support what I do, and sometimes what I have to say. And for the love and support, I'm very grateful!

      To celebrate my first nearly 3 months of blogging, and in the spirit of the season, I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic blogger! Callye's an AMAZING cookie artist, and writes The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle. She's generous with her creativity to a fault, and I just love her for it! Look at these cookies on her latest entry...

Holiday Collection by SugarBelle's
     Check her blog out. Even if you don't bake a'll marvel at her artistry never ending! And for a couple of days, she's doing a giveaway, too! Cooking/baking books are a passion of mine, a quick-growing collection in our house, so I was thrilled to see what my friend is doing! Again, even if you don't bake, we ALL know someone who does, so if you enter, you'd have a great gift to give for the holidays! (NO, this is not a pitch to have my friends win it for ME...I've already entered! LOL). I want to share with y'all some incredible talent, and a great person.

    So there ya have it...go, read, enjoy, and share!  I'll be back in a couple days, sharing some more myself.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Traditions, gratitude, and a Red Velvet cake...

         This year I'm thankful for so much...

         My health, my family and friends, a wonderful home, so much happiness I could burst! I could go on and on with the list, but these things stand out above all else.

         Oh, yes, there is one more thing....I am thankful for CAKE!! I love to bake it, eat it, share it, and decorate it! When I am asked to bring a dessert somewhere, I don't just bake and frost something (well, I used to, but I was lazy!) My brain, ever busy dreaming up designs, gets all happy thinking of an appropriate, even simple design to add that something extra to the end of a meal.

         Thanksgiving is no exception! There's pumpkin, pecan, any kind of pie. There's cheesecake too, sure.
But how do you dress these up? Nice crust cut-outs, a little sanding sugar, egg wash, check! Fruit coulis, chocolate sauce, softly whipped cream, check. Tasty yes, and in their own rights, a feast for the eyes. I like making them. I just don't get the same level of joy out of it. I GOTTA decorate!! But honestly, other than us cakers, how many of you serve cake with your turkey dinner? Not many that I see.

         We were invited again this year to Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my former boss and his family. Chef Paul makes an INCREDIBLE spread! His daughter asked me last year to bring a Red Velvet cake, so I whipped one up, with Seven Minute frosting. No decorations then. That recipe for RV cake is extraordinary! I didn't think it needed anything else. Everyone loved it. When I was asked again this year to bring the RV cake, I wanted to up the ante. Here's the result

        I'm a detail freak, so I had fun creating the turkey's dinner plate first. T-bone steak, half a baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives, and peas. I LOVE miniatures, and this 1.5" plate qualifies as my favorite thing about this cake!

        I hope you all have had a wonderful day, full of loved ones, laughter, gratitude, and joy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


     Merriam-Webster defines 'legendary' as:  leg·end·ary  adj \ˈle-jən-ˌder-ē, -ˌde-rē\
                 1: of, relating to, or characteristic of legend or a legend
                 2: well-known, famous
     How does this relate to my cake world, you ask? I believe definition 2 above applies in this case. I had my most recent brush with fame this past Tuesday! With whom? None other than Walter Cole, better known to the City of Roses as Darcelle XV. A native of the area, he's been a pivotal figure in the gay and lesbian community here for 43 years. His cabaret club, Darcelle XV Showplace, has been a destination event location for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, and  nightly drag shows. Darcelle herself performs 4 nights a week, with a wonderful cast to entertain the masses.

     Wait a minute! You said 43 years??? Just how old IS Darcelle? Well...she just turned 80!! And doesn't look it a bit! This grande dame of the Rose City deserved a birthday bash  that was to be one of THE social events of the year (with 400 or so of her family, friends, and adoring public, I was to find out the night of the party!)

     Luckily for me, I am friends with Darcelle's "heir apparent", Kevin Cook aka Poison Waters. A powerhouse in her own right, she's very well-known, respected, and much-loved in many circles of Portland. I was chatting with her one day, and found out about the birthday plans. Kevin told me about the idea of the evening...10-top tables all round the room, each with a dessert as the centerpiece. GREAT idea, I thought! Kevin and accomplices were looking for bakeries and others to donate the desserts, and I jumped at the opportunity!

    Now, the party was not only a celebration of the legendary lady herself, but a benefit fundraiser for Camp Starlight, which helps children whose lives have been affected in any number of ways by HIV. The week-long camp on the Oregon coast is full of activities, cameraderie, laughter, and more for these children. An AMAZING thing, to be sure. So what was I to DO for this event?

    I'm not a close personal friend of Darcelle's, nor have I had any involvement in Camp Starlight. So I had to do some research. What does she like? What does she LOVE? And what things are important to include with a design to honor the work of Camp?

    I have friends who have visited Darcelle's home, where she has a special kitchen table. This table is hand-painted with the landmarks of places all over the world that she and her partner Roxy have visited over the years. BINGO! I got pictures of the table, and was determined to re-create her artwork as part of the cake. Red roses also play a big role in so much of Portland's culture, and are dear to her heart, so that was a given, too. GREAT! Design ideas came into being...

    But what about Camp? How does that work into her birthday? Only indirectly, as best I could figure, so I had to design a second cake! Children playing, being creative, and the Camp logo...check!

   One huge event, two lowly home baker...WHAT WAS I THINKING???

    Paying it forward, a birthday gift from the heart, that's the ticket!

    So I put my creativity into overdrive and started working on the decorations. Each new piece became my favorite of the project!

Seeing ideas come to life is one of the best parts of creating cakes for special occasions, in my humble opinion.


 The last two days before the event, the baking done, the icing made, and all decorations lined up and ready to make a cake worthy of such an awesome night...I can do this! Ibuprofen, caffeine, and lots of love and support from family and friends, I pressed on. We ran very short of time, and I was a blur as I put the finishing touches together.

      We get to the venue, a little late. Good news was, the birthday girl hadn't arrived yet, and people were milling about during the cocktail hour prelude to the night's festivities. WHEW! Eyes followed us as we carried the cakes to, through, and out of the kitchen, to the tables. I did not know beforehand, but my cake was the one chosen to sit at Darcelle's table. <GULP!> I was very honored, and humbled by this. Here I am, a home baker with no bakery of my own, with desserts from very well-known businesses around the room, and my work is center stage! How lucky am I???

     Darcelle was thrilled with her cake, both the cakes. And the guests from Camp Starlight were delighted as well. A couple of the fondant figures even went home with party-goers LOL That made me smile.

      And here they are...with a few flaws from hurrying (lessons WELL learned this time!). But people started snapping pictures and commenting immediately, so I knew I'd done my job. A job I'm very proud of.

     A great night, a legend celebrated, and there's still icing in my fridge, and fondant leaves at my workstation...

     Onwards to the next!!! Under the sea, and a little Turkey Day fun! More blogging next week!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

     I got to do this cake for an office Halloween party on Friday.

     Typically, I might be shown something to be inspired by to create a design. This time, I was asked to duplicate a cake found in the 2011 Wilton Yearbook. It's nearly copy-cat, but I recommended we add purple to the middle tier. And this was the result!

     It was NOT an easy go-round with this project! First, the cake kept cracking. Then the icing wouldn't smooth. Then the fondant was tearing. I couldn't get my head wrapped around all these mishaps! I was freaking out. But then, I got a good night's sleep after fixing the fondant. And I just kept going. For the first time in a very LONG while, I had serious doubts about my abilities. With the support and cheering of loved ones, and my cake friends on Facebook, I persevered. I overcame the hurdles, and made a lot of people happy as a result. We just keep pressing on. I get it!

    Cake finished, washed up, we delivered the cake. Oooh's and Ahhh's while I finished the set up, and set out some business cards. Camera phones clicked, the business cards started disappearing! The receptionist sent a global email to the entire facility, and the people came in droves! Within and hour, the cake (which serves almost 100) was GONE!

    I think they liked it! Hope you do too :)

    I also hope you all have had a safe and fun Halloween!
    On to the busiest two months I'll see for a while! Bring it ON!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sugar Arts as Healing Arts

     Summer's warmth, the nurturing energies of the sun, the invigoration of fresh air, and the joy of clear, cool waters....I haven't seen them in over a week, have any of you? I'm already missing them.  I also know all too well that it will be another 7 months before I see them again. Sadness...

     What to do in the meantime? Why, bake, decorate, celebrate, of course!

     When I was in college, and fall was upon us, I would take to my kitchen, baking all my own breads, rolls, etc, until springtime. It was healthier, and I found it to be VERY therapeutic, too! Focusing on the task regularly kept my brain working in good fashion, and kneading the dough helped work out whatever frustrations of the day I was experiencing. I felt so good! Then, tasting that love that went into each item, I  had to share it. I gave away three quarters of what I made! Seeing the smiles on the faces of friends and family who received my home-made goods was just as rewarding as actually making them.

     Now, while I don't do much breads baking any longer, I find the same scenarios apply to the sugar arts. Each project is borne from celebrations to come. Anticipation is high, people coming together, time, stories, love to be shared.

     Our part as sugar artists in this process, this experience? We are the ones through whom the feelings of the celebration come into physical being. We take the time, our energy, thought and skills, to bring our art to our clients' tables. Most times, we're ready, and eager for the opportunity. Some times, not so much.

      We artists are all human...we have good days and bad. But business is business, right? We have clients to meet, designs to put together, and cakes to create. I myself have a bad time motivating to start a project when I'm stressed. I stew, I worry, and worst of all, I continue procrastinating. UGH! But when I remind myself of the people who've asked me to make a cake for them, I realize I can't let myself be the reason part of their celebration fails. Therefore, I pick myself up, sit down and my workstation, and just get my hands BUSY. Once I start, even if it's just fumbling at the beginning, it gets the ideas moving, the motivation crystallized, and the excitement to see ideas come to life builds.

     We spend hours, sometimes days, pouring our hearts and minds into our projects, and as they near completion...can we stop? Sure, to take a break, rest our eyes from time to time, or whatever. But walk away from it? Heck NO! I know I am fulfilled, personally and professionally, by the completion of each and every cake I create. Aren't you? I thought so! We each start out in a certain space when a project starts, and by the end, that energy is transformed into a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment for us. It's also very heartwarming to share the love and passion for our art with others. And the motivation to push forward, to create the next. For our clients, the energy is transformed into an expression of joy, celebration, and love.

     In the end, not only do our clients reap the benefits of our art, but so do we. 
     In my opinion, that's healing, plain and simple.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My "first" cuppies

Cake has ALWAYS been my passion.
I like cookies, don't get me wrong, but never got into decorating them until recently (more on that in another post soon).
Cupcakes have been the same thing for me...not much interest in making them 'interesting.'

Then came some inspiration yesterday, and I decided, I'm going to make some yummy (hopefully), beautiful (keeping my fingers crossed a second time!) gourmet cupcakes!

I've had bananas on the brain for baking lately, as we always have them in our kitchen, but usually nearly all go to waste. Well, Bananas Foster is a favorite dessert in our household, so why not in a cupcake form???

A mad dash to the grocer for under-ripe bananas, and a visit to the liquor store for some dark rum later, and I banged them out in just a couple hours. For an idea I just came up with, and didn't write out and plan on paper, I'm pleased with the results.

little bites of heaven...

'beauty' shot?
What do you think?
What are some of your favorite desserts you'd like to see reinvented as a cupcake? I'd love to hear from you :)

Hope you're all having a great day ~ Scott

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A C-R-A-Z-Y week!!!!

     We've had family in from out of town for the past two weeks. That's great, as we don't get to see them all that often. Add one nephew who comes home from his FOURTH tour in Iraq. FANTASTIC! Welcome home, Matt!
     Add on top of that a cake order with a LOT of sugar detail work to do ahead of time. Check! No problem there. Also add a small, but heart-felt cake to celebrate Matt's homecoming. Still, all's well.
     So, the "fun" part was a 3- and a 5-year old, running around the house, "whatcha doin', Uncle Scott??? What's that for? Can I eat that?" All day...every time I sat at my work station!! Don't get me wrong, I love kids.... in small doses. :)
     The final 48 hour push to complete both cakes was insane...with the last 24 spent without sleep, to get everything together. Which is great, because I work better in the kitchen under pressure. Keeping things fresh and my work as pristine as possible, I really shine to bring out the best in each project.

     The fruits of my labours of love...I hope you enjoy them as much as I did in creating them!

     Now, onto more design work for two more projects in the coming week and a half....I need more coffee! Stay tuned, and I hope you all enjoy a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coming soon!!!

A new blog, a new start, and lots of talk about sugar, butter, flour, eggs...also known as CAKE!

Welcome, everyone! Stay tuned!!!