Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nathaniel is One Today!

Nathaniel is One Today!

He's no longer zero. I guess that means my baby has moved on to toddler-hood, though to be fair, he's been walking for a couple of months now so he hasn't seemed much like a baby in awhile. Well, except that I still cuddle him and call him my baby. Anyhow, this picture is from just before Easter so a few months old (in fact that outfit doesn't even fit him anymore). I will try and get some new shots to post this weekend. I'm pretty sure he's got more hair now but it's so light that he really doesn't look much different than he does in this photo.

He still only has two teeth and we'll see what the doc says his measurements are on Monday but I'm pretty sure the kid weighs at least 25 pounds already. He's sturdy. He loves to climb things, open and close doors, play hide and seek, wants music on all the time, and water...I think he would live in the water if it didn't cost so much to let him have the hose everyday. He's a big Daddy's boy. He giggles a lot. He's a mover and keeps us busy and we love him tons! 

Happy Birthday Nathaniel!!!!

Addendum: I found some pictures from the end of May. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Austin Cake Show results are in.

Well, the annual Austin cake show "That takes the cake" is officially behind me once again. It's always my busiest time of year as I spend months planning and then weeks creating my cakes for the show. This year my wedding cake didn't place, but I'm alright with that. It was stiff competition and I moved up to the Adult Intermediate category this year. However, my 'buttercream only' cake got first place again this year. That was fun.

Here are some pictures:
Here I am with the two cakes I entered this year.
Purple ribbon for 1st place.
The buttercream cake can only be decorated with buttercream icing. So everything on this cake is piped on. I used frozen transfers again this year which enables to me to get a lot of detail. There are 8 frozen transfers as well as piped mini roses.
This cake was entitles "Once Upon a Time".

Next, my wedding cake:
My wedding cake was entitled "Resplendent in Rose".
It took 41 hours to decorate.
It is definitely the most complicated cake I've ever decorated. The topper is a Victorian inspired hat with white and pale pink roses, a gold fabric flower with a pearl button center, and a feather on top. The entire thing is made of fondant except for the sugar pearls in the center of the fabric flower. I've been working on getting my rose petals very thin, and I'm super happy with them this year.
The first (top) tier is covered in the darkest pink fondant and then decorated with royal icing, two different colors, piped in a lacy pattern around the entire tier and then adorned with pale pink and ivory sugar pearls that were placed one by one with a pair of tweezers.
On the second tier I attempted to make the fondant look like fluffy fabric and between each segment are jewels made from fondant and lots of luster dust.
Following that, the middle tier is covered again with lots of lacy patterns and then cinched like a corset with a white patterned ribbon.
The forth layer has a ruffle pattern that I piped on with buttercream frosting, and then the last layer is a hexagon tier covered with over a hundred individual heart shaped pieces of pure white fondant that are shaped and ruffled to create a fabric skirt appearance along with more pink jewels.

I call it my dress cake. I wanted to give the impression of a dress without actually making it look like a dress. I still wanted it to look like cake. It didn't place at the show, but I rather like it. What do you think?

If you would like to see more pictures you can view all the pictures that my friend took for me at her website here: C's Photos of my cakes.

And if you would like to see all the winners at the cake show you can view them at this site:


Also, I have been getting quite a few emails from friends wondering how I made that cake while having my 8 month old around and so I would like to thank Elin so very much for watching Nathaniel for many hours over the three week period that I spent decorating, including the 11 hours I put in the last two days before the show when she not only watched my son but encouraged me to finish my buttercream cake which I was planning on giving up on because I was too tired and Nathaniel had been sick and not sleeping at night and everything was crazy. So, thanks very much Elin!

And thanks to my husband who also put in lots of man hours each evening and weekend to help me out. Thanks honey! We don't have to worry about the cake show for another whole year...and by then we'll have a toddler. :)

Friday, February 03, 2012

I need your help.

For those of you who do not live in Texas and maybe for those of you that do I would like to explain about the Texas Cottage Food Law and why I need your help.

Awhile back it was illegal to run a "food establishment" from a residential kitchen, even if your product was low-risk baked foods like cakes and cookies. Basically, you could not have a legal home bakery. I found out about this as I was making cakes for friends of mine. I've been following this law as it was fought for by everyday home bakers all across Texas and they finally won! Our governor signed it into law last June, 2011.

This was great news! But of course even though the law already went into effect there are political groups that "couldn't win in the Legislature, so they're trying to circumvent the system and re-write our law behind closed doors", basically creating so much red tape that it would make it nearly impossible for anyone to run a home bakery.

One of the new regulations of the Texas Cottage Food Law is that all the baked goods will have a label attached to them letting the customer know where this product was made and that it was baked in a home kitchen. This is very reasonable. However, the DSHS bureaucrats want to make these labels so complex as to discourage anyone from even attempting a home business.

"In a nutshell, DSHS has taken these simple labels (which were simply supposed to inform the consumer who they bought their food from, where the food was made, and that the food was made in a home kitchen), and turned them into a bureaucratic string of red tape a foot long. NONE of the labeling rules proposed by DSHS apply to licensed bakeries, food establishments, coffee shops, or doughnut shops. But for some reason DSHS has concluded that in the name of public health, a home baker must weigh a wedding cake and list that weight (in metric) in order to operate a legal business."

Realistically, no customer that orders a wedding cake from me cares how much the final cake weighs in metric. That has no bearing on safety. DSHS also wants to add little things like all ingredients have to be listed in order by weight, and your font size needs to be this, net weight of contents needs to be placed here in the bottom 1/3 of the label, and a special ink needs to be used (so a regular inkjet printer won't make the cut) etc. etc. etc. It's all rather ridiculous and is being used to make the labels so time consuming, expensive, and difficult that home bakes will be discouraged from doing them and therefore make their business illegal. And none of the new additions add to the safety of the consumer.

So here's how you can help me.

At this website:

You can find information about the law and sample letters that can be emailed or snail mailed to help make sure these bureaucratic red tapes rules do not get added on to the already approved Texas Cottage Food Law.

I know you're all busy and this isn't necessarily your fight, especially if you don't live in Texas, but I want to keep making cakes, and I want to sell them, and I want to do it all legally. So, Please help me by sending in a letter. Even a short letter will do. The more, the better.

Thank you so much!


The 30-day public comment period starts January 27 and ends February 26, 2012.
Comments on the proposed new rule may be submitted to Cheryl Wilson, Food Establishments Group, Policy, Standards and Quality Assurance Unit, Division of Regulatory Services, Environmental and Consumer Safety Section, Department of State Health Services, Mail Code 1987, P. O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347, (512) 834-6770, extension 2053, or by email to Comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication of the proposal in the Texas Register.

Friday, January 06, 2012

I saw this in a store the other day.

In case my last post made anyone think that I had given up cakes then rest assured that didn't happen. I just have to take things slower because of Nathaniel. For instance, last year for the Austin cake show I started my cakes about two weeks ahead of the event...this year, I started yesterday, and the event is not till the end of February.

Anyhow, before this year's cake show rolls around I should share some things from the last years. to start with in this blog I'm going to brag a little about an opportunity that came to me because of a cake I entered in last year's "That Takes the Cake" show. You might recall that I posted a blog about my excitement that one of my cakes made it on the Cake Wrecks blog; well, that same cake also got me a magazine interview. The magazine is called American Cake Decorating and I made it into the Nov./Dec. issue on technical cakes.

Here are some pictures of it for your enjoyment!

First, the Cover of the magazine:
Yup, that's my cake on the cover!!! From this view point you can see the LED lights that were inside.
Next, on pages 20 and 21 you have my article:
If by chance you can't see them very well here are the pictures and the writing separately. (If you click on a picture you can see it at it's biggest.)
The two pictures on the the second page (above) were actually taken by me. I emailed them to the magazine people so that they could see what it looked like with the lights off. It was very bright in the hall where they took their pictures so they didn't have any shots that showed the blue light very well.
(Click picture to enlarge it to read.)

I guess they have a bit of creative license when they write an article because I never said I dreamed this cake up. I specifically said I couldn't sleep when I thought of it. But I guess their way made a more exciting beginning to the article. And anything that's quoted by me in the article could be true...hard to remember since I had only been home from the hospital a week and half after the birth of my son when I answered the interviewers questions. I might have been a bit loopy.

Then lastly, we have page 56. On this page they included each contributor's favorite tool to work with. Here's the page:
And after the magazine went out I received an email from a gentleman that ran a cakes and catering company in Kentucky that wanted more information about the metal icing smoother I used so that he could go get one. That was nuts....but pretty neat.
That means at least one person somewhere read the article. :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Life Decisions

I know most people would expect an update and pictures of Nathaniel or possibly some new pictures of cakes here on my blog, but I'm not writing about either of these. Well, I guess this is about cakes but I'm not going to upload a bunch of pictures of my new stuff. (Though I intend to get around to that some day.)

Today I need to talk about motherhood, life decisions, and giving things up. I got a couple of interesting emails today. I was contacted by someone who is opening up a bakery in San Antonio. They had come across my website while looking for Austin Bakers. They also found my resume on LinkedIn. They liked what they saw and wanted to know if I was at all interested in a job as they were looking for professional head bakers for the bakery they were opening up in San Antonio.

There was probably a whole five minutes that I sat there contemplating the offer. I saw myself working at a bakery making cakes all day long. I saw myself creating masterpieces, receiving praise for my delicious work, and getting paid on top of it all. My dream job. I nearly started hyperventilating with the excitement that I felt!

And then I came back to reality.

I looked down at my son who was wiggling in my lap. He's only 6 months old and has turned into Velcro baby these last few days. I haven't showered in two days. He cries if he can't be with me 24/7 and even needs to be sitting against me or he'll keep one hand on my leg while he's playing with his toys. He didn't used to be this way. Now, he's permanently stuck. I don't know if this is just what 6 month olds are like or if he's going through something. Maybe he's not feeling well. He's been sleeping a lot lately too. But only in my arms. Anyhow, the point is it hit me suddenly. I can't do this. I can't get a job as a head baker in a shop and become a famous least not right now. And it's not just Nathaniel, Monte loves his job here in Austin. He's good at and enjoys it. I'm proud of him. And a good job, good pay, good health can't really pass that up (especially in this economy) to go chasing after dreams.

A few years ago, before I was married, before I had a child, before I had a house mortgage, it would have been easy. I would have moved to San Antonio. I would have taken the job. I would have taken the chance that it might not turnout great, that the business might fail, that it might be mediocre. But I would have tried. Now, I just can't do that. I've made a decision about my life. And in all truthfulness I do love my home, I love my life here in Austin, I love my husband's company, and most of all I love my family. But this is the first time that my dreams of home and family have been in conflict with my dreams of career and ...well... my own interest and selfish pursuits.

I was extremely flattered by the job offer. It made me feel good. Yet I felt sad too and fought back tears as I typed my reply. I turned down the offer. And then I held my son till he fell asleep again.

As mothers, or fathers, have you faced this moment yet? How did you deal with it?