31 January 2014

Montage: January 2014

One month of 2014 already gone... time is just flying by lately! I think that means I'm getting old.

With only two months left now before I pack my bags and leave Australia for half a year, things are getting a little bit hectic with my 9 to 5 admin job. As a result, I've decided to take on a few less cakes over the time before I jet off.

I am absolutely flat out every day training up my replacement admin, but luckily for me she is amazing and learning very quickly. Thank goodness for that! I think I'll be leaving my position in very capable hands.

Still, we did have one big cake this month which pushed me to my limits in terms of structure, and we did a number of cupcake orders too.

I'm using my extra time to a) recover a little since I was so flat out in 2013 that I burnt out a little, and b) focus on myself, my family & friends (and fur baby!), and get back into a bit of swing dancing before I leave. Sometime's it's nice to just take a break!

So, without further ado here is my video montage of memories from January 2014!

Only 58 days left until my big adventure beings! Bring on February!

21 January 2014

Some things you just can't live without

One of the biggest things that has stuck in my mind from my favourite teacher, Janet aka The Cupcake Lady, was to not rely on gadgets.

She would always tell us, sure you can buy a mould that will create that perfect shape for you, or a device that will cut your cakes evenly for you (oh, how I love these!), or a cutter for every shape possible in the world - but what happens if you're in a situation where you don't have these? You can improve your skills, and save money by creating things by hand or using what you've got.

When I first started out I'd look for a tool online that would help me get what I want. Now, after Janets 'brainwashing', I sit down and think 'What sort of shape do I need? What do I already have that could create it? What part of my hand can I use to make that shape?'. I could be constantly spending a fortune on gadgets but since I don't have a fortune, Janets advice has really come in handy.

Saying this however... every cake decorator has certain things they would struggle without. I've never made a cake without fondant smoothers before, or a ganache scraper, and I desperately love my prep boards.

So what is the one thing I absolutely would not want to live without?

Well I'd planned on introducing Rosie (see The Jetsons). Rosie is my Thermomix. Well, technically she's not mine - ah, the benefits of living at home with the parents! Rosie does everything - she can chop, beat, mix, emulsify, mill, knead, blend, cook, stir, steam, weigh and melt!

'Rosie' our Thermomix, named after Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons.

There are two types of people in this world. Those without a Thermomix who raise an eyebrow and turn back to their food processor thinking it's the same thing... and then there are those with a Thermomix who act in a cult-like manner to convince you that it's the best invention ever! And trust me - it really, really is.

However, since originally planning this blog post something huge happened in my house.

Over Christmas, when we were hosting two days of family Christmas meals.
Over Christmas, when I had two weddings with 4 cakes and 6 dozen cupcakes just days later.
Over Christmas, the busiest time of year...

... our dishwasher stopped working. DISASTER!

We've always had a dishwasher and as a result I've always taken it for granted. We still hand wash certain items such as my huge collection of cake tins - but for most part, everything we use goes into the dishwasher. I never realised just how much time this saved!

We got through Christmas. We survived the two weddings. The other Sunday I spent 2 hours just washing dishes I'd used during the days caking. I thought my hands were destined to be wrinkled forever!

Until last week when we got a new dishwasher installed - YIPPEEEE!

My new love - our replacement dishwasher! 

Life is back to normal, my cake schedule is finally back into routine without delays from having to spend hours washing up. My attitude towards the dishwasher has changed dramatically. I can't live without it. Well maybe I can, but I just don't want to. Ever.

Does that sound lazy? Yes. However, if we're thinking in terms of cake... that's an extra 2 hours I need to spend per cake washing dishes, instead of perfecting some details on the cake! I know where I'd rather spend my time.

To those without dishwashers, especially those in the cake industry, I have so much respect for you! I don't know how you manage!

For now, I'm just going to gaze lovingly at our new dishwasher and enjoy the fact that my hands no longer look like my grandmothers!  (Whoops! They might read this! No offence Grandma / Mimma!).

14 January 2014

Locals, mark this date in your diary...

Once upon a time, on the 17th of March last year, Sugar Push launched as an official registered business - WOOHOO!

It's been a wonderful year and I have been overwhelmed by the support for my little cake venture. All my wonderful clients this past year have helped me save for my study trip to Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto! Thank you to each and every one of you!

As you probably know if you read this blog, I am turning off my oven and jetting off on the 30th of March this year, so while we're celebrating one year of Sugar Push Cakes, I would also love to see (or meet!) as many people as possible before I leave for 6 months! 

Come along to the beer garden of the Ed Castle Hotel (233 Currie Street, Adelaide) from 2pm on Sunday 16th March 2014 to have a casual drink, a laugh, and eat some cake! 

Anyone is welcome, however please leave a comment below or pop over to the Facebook event to let me know you're attending so I can make sure there is enough cake to feed us all!

We will continue into the evening, but the sooner you arrive the less chance you have of missing out on cake – but don’t worry, there should be plenty!

Hope to see you there!

11 January 2014

Photo challenge

If you read my last blog post you would have seen that one of my goals for 2014 is to improve my photography skills - especially when it comes to food photography!

I'm not going to lie and pretend that I'm a good photographer - I'm terrible. Honestly, I am. I'm not trying to be a great photographer either… definitely not going to be changing career paths!

I just want to be able to take photos of my cakes that make them look just as nice as they do in real life! Far too often I share photos of my cakes with disappointment that the average photo makes the cake itself look a bit average too.

So how am I planning on improving?

Step 1: Practise

Practise is always the key to improving at a skill, right? I've jumped on the bandwagon of popular blog Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge! Chantelle posts a monthly list of prompts to take a photo each day.

I tried to do this once before and only lasted a week, so here's hoping I'm a little bit more committed this time! I'm playing along with the challenge over on instagram so take a look if you're interested!

My first photo of the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge - prompt: lunch.

If you would like to join in the fun of the challenge, jump over to this page on Fat Mum Slim and start taking photos! Just remember to tag #FMSphotoaday!

Step 2: Research

Practise is great, but research helps too! Last year a picked up a copy of 'Nikon D3100 for Dummies' (that's my camera!) since I really am a dummy when it comes to cameras and photography. I haven't even picked it up yet, but once I'm on holidays I plan to give it a read!

I also received the most wonderful gift from my big sister for Christmas! A copy of the A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman!

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman available for purchase here.
Again, I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to give it a full read yet but I have skimmed through and there are lots of great ideas and advice inside! I can't wait to sit down and give it a thorough look and try out some of their tips!

3. Classes

Luckily for me, part of the Diploma Programme at the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts is an introduction to photographing cakes using natural and artificial light! Hooray!

This is one part of the programme that I'm looking forward to the most. From what I've heard, the class is taught by Michael Kohn who is a food photographer for major corporations such as Nestle and Bacardi. I can hardly wait to see what skills I can learn from him.

Hopefully by the end of the year the photographs of my cakes will be as beautiful as the cakes themselves.

Hopefully by December my photos for the FMS photo a day challenge and photos on this blog will have improved dramatically from where they are now!

1 January 2014

Hi there 2014. Catch you later 2013.

Well that's another year over and done with. Where did all the time go?

2013 was an interesting year for me. It was one of the very best but also one of the very worst. Although, I think I say that about every year that passes! There is always some very major highs accompanied by some rather heartbreaking lows.

December is always a favourite time of mine as it involves both my birthday and Christmas, so there's lots of family time - and presents! Yippeeeeee! This year was even better as I got to spend most of it with my best friend. Here's my monthly video recap of the past month. December treated me very well.

One thing I did in 2013 that I'm most proud of was setting goals for my year. At the end of 2012 I sat down and wrote out a few things I wanted to achieve during the year. 

These were my goals for 2013…

  • Turn Sugar Push into a business
  • Reach 300 likes on the Sugar Push Facebook
  • Visit America for 2 weeks
  • Save a certain amount of money by the end of the year to fund trip to Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Art in 2014

Well, needless to say all of these have been achieved! Each and every one ticked off my list - some much sooner than I expected! When I wrote this list I had less than 100 followers on the Sugar Push Facebook page, and I'd never have thought for a second that by the end of the year it would be well over 1000! 

I have to say a big thank you to you. Whoever you are! If you're reading this, you've probably been supporting me in some way with my big cake adventure during 2013. Or if this is your first visit to the blog, at least by reading this you've given me a moment of your time. I am so grateful to be able to share my journey (and cakes!) with you all. 

So now that it's 2014 (Happy New Year!) it's time to set new goals. Here we go…
  • Stick to strict budget and save the final amount needed for college
  • Attend Bonnie Gorden College and pass Confectionary Arts Diploma Programme with flying colours 
  • Write at least one handwritten letter per week (look out friends - your letterboxes may soon be full!)
  • Improve photography (note: especially food photography) so start FMS photo a day challenge on instagram

Here's hoping I can tick these off in 2014 as well as I did my goals last year!

I cannot encourage you enough to set some goals for yourself. Don't think of them as resolutions. Resolutions never last long - or at least, not for me! They are simply reminders of things you want to achieve during the year. A to do list of sorts! 

Now I shall leave you with some snap shots of my cakes from December. 

My birthday cake - design based on these gorgeous cocktail invitations by blog Oh Happy Day!
Huge congratulations to Hailey and Montie on their wedding! One of my biggest projects for the year!
Best of luck to Marek on his new adventure! And finally, my favourite cake of 2013.
Adri's 21st Alice in Wonderland themed cake is still my all time favourite cake.
Another goal for 2014 should be to create a cake that I love more than this one!

2014… let's do this!

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