Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Almost Home......

Well I am currently in Transit from Edinburgh to Brisbane!
I will be home by Saturday- so after a few days recouperating from the Jet lag- I will be well and truly back into the swing of things!
A big sincere thank you to everyones patience whilst I am returning to work and catching up on all of my emails and paperwork from whilst I am/was away!
I hope to be back on track ASAP!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Short and Bittersweet...............

After a 5 hour delay leaving Brussels (for a plane that was meant to take off at 7am- hence a wake up at 3.30am due to the airport being almost 1 hour out of town) with a compensation from the airline of 5Euros- followed by a hassle to get another connecting flight to Edinburgh- as we missed the check in for our original flight ( with the same airline) due to the delay- I finally made it to Edinburgh last night!
Suffice to say that neither myself or my sister ( and possibly a couple of Hundred other passengers) have vowed to NEVER fly with this company again.
I have flown with this same airline 4 times over the past 2 weeks- and none of the flights have been on time- and the sheer lack of empathy yesterday ( as well as not a single airline representative posted at Chaleroi airport) almost bought me to breaking point!
I am sure if I ran my own business the way this company does- I am certain I would be sitting at home each week twiddling my thumbs- as I wouldn't have a business.
Anyway- I am on my way today back home to Australia- so will be out of email contact for 3 or so days :(

Thanks for listening- Rant over!

Monday, 28 July 2008

MMMM Chocolate!!!!!!!!!!

Inside one of the numerous patisseries in Bruges!

For those of you who have been following my trip- today is my last day in Belgium :(

I have certainly made the most of my 5 days here though- as everyday I have indulged in a handmade Belgian Chocolate- or 2 ;) as well as trying all of the other staples of the country!

Although the smell of waffles is glorious to most- after over indulging in them, I am now begining to feel a little queazy whenever I walk past a waffle shop! I LOVE nutella- and when you can have almost half a jar on top of your waffle- it sounds great- and tastes great to start off with- but in the end- it is just a bit too much! Plain freshly cooked crisp hot waffles- though- are fantastic!My First Nutella Waffle!

For those of you who have been to Belgium- the line up of shops is generally- Chocolate shop- waffle shop- Fritz shop- and Beer Tavern, where you can get some traditional Mussels. This is repeated all over the country- so temptation often got the better of me!

I tried to have a chocolate free day today- but when the maid leaves two Belgian chocolate on your pillow- it would be rude to leave them there- wouldn't it??

Some handmade Truffles from Bruges!

My body went into meltdown last night- after almost 4 days of over indulgence- I knew I had to stop and eat something "real". So today I have continued this - with the exception of the pillow choccies- and am feeling allot better for it!

With less than 2 days before I get onto the plane to head home- I cannot believe how fast my trip has gone!

I have really enjoyed my time in Belgium! I went to Antwerp today- where it is Diamond central. They replaced a few chocolate shops with about 10 diamond traders- another temptation that was hard to resist! I did walk away without any extra "bling" but it was very hard!
Never mind- I am sure there will be a next time!

Now all I have to do is go and try and fit all of my shopping into my bags- for my flight back to Edinburgh tomorrow! I am glad they only weigh the baggage- and not the passegers

Friday, 25 July 2008

Irish Tales.....

Since being lucky enough to travel to the other side of the world to do some Cake decorating workshops- I have also been on the Hunt for Businesses that also make Special event cakes- in every town I am in!

I have just spent the past week tripping around Dublin and County Waterford and Cork- where I was pleased to come across a few Cake shops- in sometimes unlikely places!
My trip hasn't all been about work- I did take in the "tourist" places- including the famous "Guinness Storehouse"!
Now I am not a fan of Beer- at all! So the strong taste of Guinness didn't please my taste buds one bit! So when you have a free Guinness- what better thing to do with it- but to make a smiling face in the foam! ;)

I also found a cabinet where there was some Guinness memorabilia- and everyone put their business cards through a slot- and they then stayed where they landed! A Cake That! card now sits at the storehouse!

From Dublin- I headed south- and met up with a close friends sister and her family! These people had never met me before- and Kindly opened their home and hospitality for a few days!
On my first day in Lismore Co Waterford- I ran into a Wedding cake shop! This town is tiny- and a real unlikely place to find such a cute shop!

Then in the town of Dungarvan- where I was staying- there was yet another Wedding cake store!

I am sure the local thought I was mad, taking photos and asking loads of questions!

I am now in Belgium- Chocolate heaven! I have spent all day visiting Chocolatiers and Patisseries- and eating way too much!
Once I digest the food I have eaten today- I may have room or a new story!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Holiday Shennanigans...... In Harrods!

OK- to Say I am having an utter Ball on this trip- is a blatant understatement!
Not only am I getting to Trip around some very famous cake places- I am also getting to sample the goods! For those of you who know me will also know that my exercise regime will have to go into overdrive once I return- to recover from my eating blowout!!
Anyway- I think I may as well enjoy myself whilst I can!

On My first weekend over here- I headed into London- to my all time favourite food court- in the entire world- Harrods!! 10 years ago when My Husband and I came here- I spent 70 pounds on individual patisserie items! Woops! Suffice to say- not much- in regards to my self control- has changed!

I spent close to 3 hours in Harrods- Looking- eating- and perhaps even trying on a really expensive item of clothing or two!

If you have ever been into the Harrod's food court- all I can say is you are missing out!
There is not only every cake and chocolate imaginable- but every type of cuisine available or purchase!

This time around- I only ate a Huge Ice cream ( that I actually shared with Kate) and ginger bread man! I did spend hours eyeig off each and every creation though!The Chocolates were amazing- but seeing as though I arrived in Belgium today- I am planning on sampling a few- for Comparison sake!

I am sure to roll home with all of the Luxury foods I am being confronted with!!

Hopefully I ill be able to add a couple of more stories in the coming days- as I currently have internet access!
If you see two girls around Belgium with chocolate fingers eating Waffles- Give us a wave!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A quickie... But A Goodie!!!!

My finished couple!

OK- for all of you regular readers- here is a very very quick account of my Lorraine McKay Workshop.

Lorraine and I!

I will write a full story in the coming week- but for now time is short- and I am busting to share!
I got to meet some really fabulous ladies- and Lorraine's husband Andy- and have an absolute blast too!

Kelly- from Ireland and I! She is so tinee tiny!

I was so pleased with my final product- I cannot wait to get home and practice some more!

The fabulous bunch- from Left- Sarah- Lorraine Me ( behind Lorraine) Kelly and Fiona!!

There were four Students in the class- Sarah ( from Scotland) Myself, Kelly ( A Londoner living in cork Ireland ;)) and Fiona- from the Isle of Skye! We all made our way to West Calder about 30 miles out of Edinburgh. As eclectic as the group may have seemed- we all got on like a house on fire! I really hope theses girls keep in touch!

I will write a full story of my unforgettable two days ASAP!!

SJ ;)

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Squire's Workshop

Well my time in the UK seems to be flying by.
This past weekend I spent a two day workshop- making flowers from Cold Porcelain- with Alan Dunn.
For those of you who don't know of Alan- his work speaks volumes for himself. His ability to recreate stunning floral displays in both Sugar and cold Porcelain- is amazing.

Alan was a great teacher- and got everyone to create a fabulous piece by the end of only 2 days!
A mixed group from various places in the UK and the corners of the Globe- came together to learn from Alan!

We made some gorgeous Masdevallia and Spider Orchids- as well as Dogwood berries, mattress vine and Tillandsia Air plants.

I have never made flowers from Cold porcelain before- but is is a fantastic medium.
It is allot kinder to being stretched really thin and hot hands.

The cold porcelain is also quite flexible- and no where near as delicate as sugar- allowing it to be easily transported. I carried my arrangement home in a plastic bag- wrapped in kitchen towel- and it worked a treat!

I look forward to coming home and playing more with this medium!

I feel like I spent the weekend taking ( very expensive) public transport- as I stayed in London- seeing as tough the hotel I had originally chosen wasn't "quite" sure about the booking that I had made! In the end though- our new hotel was fabulous- I am sure it was meant to be!

If there ever is a next time at Squires- I will be sure to stay in London- and factor in the exorbitant train fares!

I also had a chance to look through the Squires shop- which had a big range of cake decorating supplies to choose from. I only bought a few items- as I am very conscious of my bag weight limit already!

I came back to Edinburgh last night- after getting to have my very first "QANTAS CLUB" experience! OMG!!!! This place is fantastic! Although this was the British Airways version at Gatwick ( a rather less equipped one according to my sister) - I was still totally impressed by the free bar and little help yourself snacks! Love it!! Love It! Love it!!!
Now all I need to do is take more QF/BA flights!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I made it to the UK!!


Well after more than 50 hours travelling- I finally made it safe and sound to Edinburgh!
After a VERY late arrival- due to Delays at
Heathrow- I managed a few hours sleep- before I set out with my sister Kate to Discover Edinburgh!

squiggle on the inflight GPS where the plane circled for over an hour before landing!

Ever since Kate Arrived in Edinburgh- she has been keeping me up to date with all of the different cakes she has seen along the way.
Back Home on Australia- your local Supermarket cakes are not much more than a 7" round
sponge or Mudcake with piped or plastic "Happy Birthday" on them. Here in the Supermarkets- you can get premade specialty cakes- ready for you to cake home! Whilst I would imagine that the cake inside is less than desirable, and the fact that they also seem quite short in height- their simple designs were rather intriguing!

As We walked all over Edinburgh- I
snuck a few pictures from some of the stores I saw cakes in. Kate has my days planned around seeing the cake couture of Edinburgh- from Supermarkets through to designer creations at well known local businesses!
As you may or may not be aware- the purpose of my visit is to do some Cake decorating workshops whilst I am over here- so getting to see what is available in the UK and meeting other passionate cake decorators really excites me! Getting to sample some
of the cakes is an added bonus too!

DIY Wedding cakes?? At this particular department store you can buy the individual tiers- along with pillars etc... to put together your own cake! Whilst this is definitely a budget option- I would personally be extremely desperate to use one of these cakes at my own event! Not only is the actual finish average- the cakes are not very deep, or attractive.
I actually feel quite sorry for local decorators who are
competing with these cakes- as a genuine decorator would seriously be insulted by these!
I wonder if the Brides and grooms who use these cakes realise how mass produced and the lack of love that has gone into creating these- rather than a hand made cake- from someone who is
passoinate about their craft?

After trotting around the major supermarkets and department stores- taking inconspicuous shots of their products-- we headed up the Scot's Monument.

Climbing all 297 spiral stairs to the top- we made it up in record time!
The staircase got thinner as we climbed- luckily for me- I had lost my appetite from the journey- otherwise I may not have fit through!

A "Selfie" of Kate and I atop of the Monument- with her suburb in the distance! Yes I am looking rather pale- but a 50 hour flight and not much sleep will do that to you! Hopefully by tomorrow I will be insync with the timezone- and not be waking up at 4am!!!
I combated my sleeplessness with a nice run at Leith Walk this morning- and am feeling much better for it!

I will endeavour to keep you up to date with my adventures over here!
Did I mention that my sister has commissioned me to make a 30th Birthday cake for Friday already!!! Not a days rest!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Half way...

Well I am about to baord the Soeul- London Leg of my Jouurney to the UK!

So far- all is going well!

Thank you to everyone for thier patience in waiting for return emails.

I weill get to them toomorrow sometime!

Hope you are having a fab day!


Saturday, 5 July 2008

Winners are grinners.....

Well with Less than 18 hours until I head forthe UK- I still had wedding cakes to make- and deliver this week!

As some of you may remember- Earlier this year I ran a competition in conjunction with Beyond the Bride to "Win your Wedding cake"! A lovely girl called Rebbecca Won the $400 Voucher- and used it towards- what very well may become- my new favourite cake!

Inspired by a design in a magazine- this two tier cake has a double barrel base and a single top tier. Iced in an almost Wedgewood/Dusty Powder Blue- with a damask stencil overlay, this vintage style design is so pretty! Piped icing pearls are around the base of each tier, and a spray of Ivory roses and fillers sit atop of the base tier.
The Wedding Reception is being held- this evening- at the Treasury Hotel- in the gorgeous Ryan's Private Dining Room!
It was a pleasure to create such a beautiful cake for a wonderful couple! I hope that they and thier guests enjoy the cake- and the Rosewater White chocolate and Raspberry cake inside!

The next cake took my Husband and I our last 3 hour tour for a while! This cake is for a fabulous couple who are holding their reception down at the Royal Pines Resort- on the Gold Coast.
I wasn't the first cake decorator chosen to make this couples cake- they had actually already booked another- then she decided to go on Holidays- and promptly canceled their booking- how rude! I am so glad they came to me- Todd and Karen are such a friendly couple- the type of clients you could chat to for hours- I hope they have a spectacular night- and enjoy their cakes!!

This tower of Mini cakes is a mixture of dark chocolate Mud and White Raspberry Mud, topped off with a Fruit cake!

The couple searched High and Low for their cake topper- a set of replica rings- which they found in the US! They bought it home with them , and now have a keepsake from their special day!

My husband has suggested that the UK weather has come to us! I hope this dreary winter weather doesn't dampen everyones wedding day!

Last but not least- is the mini cake that I have made for my Grandmother's birthday! As you cake decorators out there will be well aware- here is ALWAYS left over coloured icing when you mix it for a cake- and luckily for me- I could use this fabulous colour for my Grandmother's cake!

Cut from a matured fruit cake- this mini cake is iced in the dusty blue icing- with a mini quilt over he base tier- and Ivory Sugar roses on the top. Very grand for a Nana!

Well the excitement has well and truly set in now! I have packed- and am about to repack before I go! I have close to 8kg of food to bring for My sister and her housemates - including 4 packets of Tim Tams- which are currently only $1.85 per pack at Wollies!Bargain!

I look forward to keeping everyone up to date with my UK adventures!

I have recorded a Phone Message to let you all know that I am away and am unable to bake cakes- or give consultations until Early August- I will- however- still be answering emails- so send on any inquiries through to

Have a fantastic weekend!! I will be in the UK on Monday!!!!!!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

School Holiday fun!

I love school holidays! Not because I get them, or the fact that the shops are somewhere I need to steer clear of- but because my Mum is at home, and I can get her to come and help me everyday!
My mum loves to help where ever she can, so this week as I am busy roiunding up things before I leave on Sunday for the UK (3 more sleeps I can't believe it!!)- I asked her to come over and help me finish some jobs!
I have more than enough cakes to do this week- so helping hands are always great!
I set my mum, and my sister Alex- to work! Alex is great at kneading icing- and when you go through more than 20 kgs of it in one day- it helps to have the extra muscles!

With 3 hands on deck- I was cruising through todays tasks- when a mini two tier cake I had started for my Grandmother's birthday ( yes If you have already read- she is getting both the dog cake- and another cake) sparked interest I asked if My mum and Alex wanted to learn how to ice.
I always have bits of cake at home, so with no clients to give cake away too- I let mum and Alex loose with the cake- icing- and every decoration tool at their disposal!

Alex was first off the mark- ambitiously going for a two tier cake- mini like the one I had started. I showed her how to ganache- then Ice the cake- which she did really well considering she had never handled fondant before!
When I asked her what the "design" was- apparently you can just make it up as you go along! Luckily for her she did have a plethora of tools and books there for inspiration!

The end design was a two tier mini cake - iced in pale pink- withe the top tier 1/4 turn from the base. Cut flowers in varying pinks, with ribbon strands- and a big "A" on top! Not to mention some little bows too! A great job in all!

Alex with her fab little cake!

Then My mum had been perusing my Debbie Brown books- and found the"Queenie Mum" design. Once again an ambitious carved design- that was pulled off with supreme enthusiasm!
After mixing the colours for mum, and some slight instruction- she was on her way!

The Queen cake Mum made!

Caught out buy the ease of the design- not realising the time we had spent on it- it was soon well past 4pm, and I had yet to provide any lunch! A quick sandwich for refuel- and we were almost done!

Mum and her finished cake!

So not only did I get work done today- I got to have a bit of fun with my Mum and Sister! And they got Take home cake too!
BTW I don't make my family wear the corporate logo clothing- they like too! My Mum actually had my aprons made last time she was on a Holiday! Fabulous aren't they!

It is nice to be able to get everyone enjoying-what I love doing!
Thanks Mum and Alex for coming and helping out- Keeping me company- and taking home the cakes!

Planet Cake That!

The long awaited day finally came on Sunday 29th June 2008!
After a very early morning flight to Freezing Sydney- My friend Tanya and I headed over to Planet cake at Balmain- to do a couple of workshops with Debbie Brown!

I have been a HUGE fan of Debbie's cake decorating books for a while now- so when the chance to do to some of her workshops down at Planet cake in Sydney came up- I signed up straight away!!
I was suprised to hear that Debbie only arrived in Sydney on the Friday- and had already held a course the day before! I can only imagine the Jet lag she must have had. Despite this short time on the other side of the Globe- Debbie was super friendly and eager to teach us all!
On the Sunday I attended the Pirate Dreams course- where we made a cake from one of Debbie's previous books!
The cake was so cute!
A single bed- with a fluffy quilt, with a dreaming boy and his teddy bear!

Tanya concentrating hard on the cake design!

The bed coming together!

Debbie demonstrating! She gave so many options on how the design could be modified for skill levels and time constraints- which was awesome!
Tanya and I with our cakes!

My pirate dreams complete with shiny water!- my Flag broke- so this was as finished as the design would get! :(

Debbie Kindly posing with me and my cake!

The next day I was already signed up for the Sculptured Dog course- this time all on my own- as Tanya had plans for sightseeing ( Which turned into an all day shopping trip- as you do!)
Once again the crisp cold Sydney morning greeted me- and as I made refuge in the gorgeous Planet Cake Air conditioning- I met my fellow students for the day- including none other than the immensely talented Greg Cleary from Sweetums!
The Monday bunch were mostly from Sydney- unlike the Sunday group- of which 5 of us were from Brisbane!

Monday's sculptured dog class was so much fun!
Sculpting isn't something I have done allot of- so seeing everything come together in the end was great! I took a visual diary- as well as notes, so with over 100 pictures I should be able to recollect the instructions- without my scribble!

I realised as we landed in Sydney- that I forgot all 5 of the Debbie Brown books that I own! But Debbie was kind enough to sign 5 cards for me to place inside the tittles! I also bought another book when I was there too! My motto is- the more cake/cook books you have the better! They are a bit like hand bags and shoes to me- I can't resist them!
The dog all ganached and ready for covering!
Look at how Great Debbie's dog was coming along!

The group with their master pieces!

My dog- the End result!

After a long flight home- my new puppy made it safe and sound- Ready to cerebrate my Nan's 75th Birthday later this week!

Debbie was so warm and friendly- she even posed for a no "double chin" shot with me! We look years younger!

Thank you to everyone I met for a fabulous time!
And Debbie! Thank you for coming to Australia! Please please please come to Brisbane next time! ;)