And a Partridge in a Pear Tree…

Last week was a total blur!

Us cake makers know that it’s all or nothing and we don’t know the word NO!!

All I had booked in for this week was a sugarcraft demonstration in Scotland at the beginning of the year then a close friend recommended me to her friend to make her wedding cake, ‘of course I can!’  Then a couple of repeat customers wanted cakes and I thought, right that’s it… When a text landed from a good friend asking for a cake for her mum. OK but this is definitely it… Plus another two cakes for my very regular customer. Please stop, I just can’t take any more!

image

Then, an email arrived the week before, I’d won a two night stay at the Hilton York with tickets to see James Martins live cookery show AND meet him! Well, I couldn’t say no! (Yes, I was this close and yes, he’s as lovely as you think he is!)

image

So, with my lists and military precision timings I got through it all! I even managed my trip to London on Saturday too, with a visit to Sky Garden.

image

So, 7 cakes, 4 lists, 3 nights away, 2 sugarcraft classes and 1 cocktail (the vodka infused candy cane one!)

 

 

image

Advertisements

What would you say no to?

What would you say no to?

In cake terms of course! I’m asking this question today as a Belfast bakery refused to decorate a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage” because of their Christian beliefs. They didn’t refuse because of the persons sexuality but because of the message itself.

I won’t go into all the details but if you want to read more on the case click here – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/01/gay-cake-row-i-changed-my-mind-ashers-bakery-freedom-of-conscience-religion

There was also a piece on Radio Newcastle this morning which I had my 2 minutes of fame!

I hate saying no. It’s very rare to be honest, but I do draw the line with very rude cakes! (I’m not a prude, but some things are not meant to be made out of sugar!) What I tend to say is either that I’m fully booked or I give a really high price and that tends to make the decision for me!

In my view, my business is my business. I’m the manager, administrator, receptionist and cleaner! I can refuse to serve or say no to an order if I want without an explanation.

So tell me, when do you draw the line? When something’s too complicated or intricate? Too time consuming? Just not something you want to make? Can’t be bothered!!??!! I’d love to know!

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

Cakes + Old Age = Stress

For anyone reading this who doesn’t make cakes for a living I bet you’re thinking, how on earth can you be stressed making cakes?!? It’s such a lovely thing to do. Pop the oven on, dance around the kitchen whilst you whip and whisk, into the oven the cake batter, all thick and gooey goes and voila, a lovely cake appears, ready to decorate at your leisure… I think I can remember the time of innocent cake making (with a huge sigh!)

I’m not saying I don’t love what I do, I really do and I’m not looking for sympathy (honest!) but my stress levels are definitely growing. When I was young (and carefree) I happily sailed through my orders, sometime 4-5 wedding cakes per week as well as all the other celebration cakes. I would plough through the week and deliver all cakes safely without a care, but now it’s a different story. (At some point I will tell you about the cake disasters and the ‘oh my god, how did I pull that off’ moments!)

For example, this weeks wedding cake worries.

Will everything go to plan?

Have I got everything I need and the time to make everything?

My worry then grows more the night before the cake is due, will it be ok overnight, do I know where I’m going to, how will I get into the venue, the room, is there stairs, a lift, will I be able to carry it. And then the big day, and the slow, grandma drive to the hotel. I have a sticker on the back of my car saying ‘wedding cake in transit’ but that’s worse as drivers then come right up to me to the back of my car to see what the sticker says! So you make it to the venue and into the room and then it’s trying to find somewhere to put the cake safely so you can lift it out of the box and onto the stand. Your hearts racing, your hands are sweaty, your throats dry but you’ve just got to do it! (It’s even worse when the staff are asking you a million questions about how long it takes to make cakes!!) So if this all goes to plan I bet you’re all thinking, brilliant, that’s it all over, eeeerr NO! My worry is now about will it be ok for the rest of the day, will it cut and serve ok and will the bride and groom be happy with it! I’m not completely over the worry until maybe Wednesday of the week after! Then it all starts again, sometimes the stress even overlaps!

At this rate I really don’t think I can do this job for much longer and I’ve always liked the look of Ice Road Trucking!

So that’s my weekend (and nearly every weekend!) I hope yours is going better!