Have you made a New Years resolution? 

I’m not taking about the usual stuff – eat more healthily, exercise more etc… I’m taking about something you can actually achieve!

I was talking to one of my students a few weeks ago and she was saying that she really wants to take more time and care with her cake orders and I actually said I want to do the opposite! Well that’s not strictly true, I just think I need to care a little less! Does that make sense?

I really do spend too much time overthinking things and if you’ve read my cakes=stress post you’ll know why! (if not then go and read it!)

Which brings me onto mindfulness. I recently listened to someone who made total sense (up to a point, I’ll get to that later) of the whole thing. Before then I just thought it was a load of rubbish, like yoga! I just didn’t get it!

So for me, mindfulness is all about now, right this minute, today.

Not thinking about the past and the mistakes I’ve made that I can’t do anything about, or the future and how I can’t predict what’s going to happen (or if the cutter I really need for an order is going to arrive in time!) It’s about today and making the most of it. Enjoying it, whatever you’re doing, not spoiling it by thinking about the past or future.

Obviously, I always think ahead and love a list (or two) but I need to start thinking about today and enjoying the moment, because I do think I’m missing out and life is passing me by!

If you’re sitting with a cuppa reading this then think about; Is it your favourite mug? Is it a special tea or coffee?

What happens more than often is that we make a cuppa then start doing something else and it goes cold. Don’t let it go cold!

Love today and make sure you enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

P.S. The bit I didn’t understand was about thinking about where my tea came from… Mine came from Lidl 😉

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Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? 

A Mince Spy of course!

Sorry, couldn’t resist! I thought I’d share with you my no fail Shortbread Sweet Mince Pie recipe. You can just make them for yourself, your family or give as presents. I can’t do Christmas without them!

Recipe (makes 15/16)

250g Plain Flour

175g Butter (my favourite at the minute is stork marg/butter as it’s on offer for £1.00 a tub!)

75g Caster Sugar

1 Jar of Mincemeat

Edible Gold Glitter (optional)

Method

Preheat your oven to 150c/Gas 3. Weigh out your flour and butter and rub them together then stir in the sugar. Knead well to form a dough, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour to chill (this just helps it roll and cut out better).

Once chilled, roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of cling film (this is a great tip as it doesn’t add any extra flour into the dough to dry it out and you can actually get more pies out of it too!) image

Use your favourite cutter (I used a double sided circle and star cutter) and cut of your bases, add your mincemeat filling (shop bought, boo I hear you say!) then keep kneading the dough back up and rolling out until you have your 15 pies ready for the oven.

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Bake for approx 30 minutes or until the mincemeat is bubbling and the shortbread is starting to brown on the edges.

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Leave to cool, sprinkle with a little edible glitter and viola!

I hope you give them a try! If you do, send me your pics!

P.S. I even had a smidge leftover for a tiny pastie!

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Sugarcraft Classes

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What a week! All cakes went out smoothly, you’ll be pleased to hear, and although I started the week off thinking “how on earth is this going to happen” it went pretty well! (Apart from Graeme having man flu and loosing the will to live from cutting out 540 miniature circles – yes, I counted them!)

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Saturday I had 2 sugarcraft classes. The morning class went really well, then the snow hit! I had 6 booked in for the afternoon class but only 3 turned up! Which was absolutely brilliant, given the driving conditions! (this is true dedication thank you Laura and Julie!)

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Todays class was great! We had lots of fun, laughter and a bit of swearing! (I think I might start a swear box!) It’s so lovely to see people’s imagination and creativity come out in their designs!
It then got me thinking back to when I started teaching. It was way back in 2006 when I went through my demonstrator training with the British Sugarcraft Guild. I was like a rabbit in headlights but I knew from then it was something I would grow to love. It was very daunting at first (my first assessment was a nightmare, my hands were shaking and I can’t even remember finishing!) but the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it. It feels so good demonstrating to a variety of people who share your enthusiasm!
I went through my teaching qualifications and I’m now an Accredited demonstrator, an assessor and committee member for the BSG and I also teach for Newcastle Council, run my own classes in my shop and go out and about to give one to one lessons.

What I love the most is when I can help people grow and improve their skills. It’s such a wonderful feeling to see their faces when they finish their creations!

For anyone thinking of teaching sugarcraft then the BSG is the way forward. The knowledge and confidence I gained from the training seminars was invaluable.

For anyone wanting to try sugarcraft, why not come along to one of my classes, you’ll love it!

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Are you a good customer?

Following on from my previous post about my last minute customer, it got me thinking, what am I like as a customer?

Thinking back to my young and carefree days (mmm… strawberry 20/20) I used to be a really bad customer. It consisted of  revolving weeks of college, work and clubbing with very little sleep (who needed sleep back then!!) and new clothes for every night out. My very bad habit was to wear something and take it back the next day. It actually became addictive! I didn’t really think about the bigger picture. I didn’t think about how much money the company lost or how it would affect them.

Now as a small business owner, I am a changed person. I totally understand the process and the hassle of returning something or complaining. I never haggle when it comes to handmade goods as I now appreciate what exactly goes into making them (although I do like to barter!) and, when I order online, I try to give myself a few days leeway as I understand the process of processing an order and getting to the post office on time!

The world seems to be turning into a compensation culture but I seemed to have gone the opposite way!

So I ask, what type of customer are you?

P.S. The photo is of one of the ‘last minute order’ cakes which was due to be collected today. It wasn’t collected and she messaged me to say she’d collect it tomorrow. How annoyed am I!

Wouldn’t life be a lot easier without customers?

Obviously not, as we wouldn’t get paid, but you know what I mean (do you know what I mean?)

It’s December, it’s nearly Christmas and I love this time of year. I usually don’t have that many cake orders and only a few Christmas cakes to make for my regular customers, so it’s always nice to get some little bits and pieces made for the shop (homemade Christmas puddings, fudge, truffles, mince pies) but not this year! Why? I hear you ask, well I’ll tell you… CUSTOMERS!! Well one customer in particular. She’s lovely and orders a lot (and I mean a lot) of cakes so I can’t say no! (Well I can but I just couldn’t do that to her!) She is always a last minute Betty, so I’m totally used to her ringing me, or texting if she hasn’t got the courage to call, but when she rang on Saturday for 3 cakes for next week I honestly thought she was joking! Oh no, she wasn’t (oh yes, she was!) Actually she wasn’t and I had to say yes! So my now quiet week for making my lovely goodies has gone out of the window and I now have a birthday cake for Wednesday, a 3 tier birthday cake for Friday and a christening cake for Saturday along with two other cakes and cupcakes for Saturday. This is not including my usual Sugarcraft classes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and my Christmas classes on Saturday and Sunday.

The ironic thing is, I bleet on to my fellow cake decorators about being strong and saying no if you’re busy and finding time for you and your family. I really need to give myself a good talking to!

If Santa is reading my blog, I wont ask for much this year (honestly, well apart from some lovely Paul Smith gloves I’ve got my eye on!) so can I please have an extra day in next week as I think I’m going to need it!

Hopefully see you on the other side, if not it was nice knowing you! Wish me luck!

P.S. This my my last wedding cake of the year. Complete with handmade bride and groom x