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

Black Friday and the WI

  • Now I know what you’re thinking, how one earth are these two connected, well let me tell you…

This week has been all about teaching. I love teaching and demonstrating (there’s a whole back story to this which I will tell you all about in my next post) and this week I’ve had classes and demonstrations every day. Today and yeterday were both with the Women’s Institute. Yesterday was a demonstration to 80+ women which was great fun, especially as it was the first time I’d used a microphone (I felt like a pop star!) Today was part demonstration and part hands on to a smaller group of 18.

Now the Black Friday part. I knew it was happening and after last years chaos I didn’t want to go anywhere near a shop!

I was driving to the church hall this morning, whilst listening to BBC Newcastle, and they were interviewing people at the MetroCentre. A few of them had been there since ten to six waiting for the shops to open! I was really engrossed with their stories and just as I was turning off the main road I noticed a young couple with a large fishing net collecting blackberries. What a contrast if I ever did see one! They were probably blissfully unaware that there was a massive sale on!

Now I only live about 6 miles from the MetroCentre and it really made me think about how different people live their lives!

We had such a fun day, making Christmas characters, I was only planning to stay for the morning but I was ‘persuaded’ to stay for lunch and was very pleased I did. We had (all homemade) soup with, fresh out of the bread maker, bread, then quiche and salad and we finished off with lemon drizzle cake and a cuppa!

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I am now resting my rather full stomach whilst looking for a bread maker in the Black Friday sales!

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!

About me

Hello, I’m Karen and I love cake! It all started for me when I was 20. I saw an article in Women’s Weekly on how to make a Mr Men birthday cake. I was totally amazed at how the little characters looked so real but totally edible, so I decided I wanted to have a go! My first cake was a Wallace and Gromit birthday cake for my best friend this didn’t seem too challenging and I was really impressed with the results! Looking back maybe not so much, but we all have to start somewhere! So I’m now nearly 20 years older and definitely wiser! My passion is still going strong and for the past 10 years I have had a cake making and Sugarcraft supplies business with my long suffering husband!

I hope you enjoy my ramblings!

Welcome to my shiny new blog

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Well hello! Fancy seeing you here!

Hopefully you’re here because you love cakes, sugarcraft and anything cake related! If not then I might just convert you so please keep reading!

So I think I’ll start with a little bit about me… I’m Karen and I’m 38 and live ‘Up North’ in a little village called Rowlands Gill (not far from the Newcastle Upon Tyne or the MetroCentre). I’ve been making cakes for 18 years. Starting off for family and friends (as you do) I now have an established cake making and sugarcraft supplies shop.

I’ll keep my first post short and let you know what I’ve got planned for you. From my point of view my life is quite boring – get up, do stuff, go to bed and repeat. But sometimes funny stuff, irritating stuff and horrible stuff happens so this is what you’ll get. I’m not promising it will be regular or interesting but hopefully it will give you something to read while your waiting for the kettle to boil or waiting for your computer to load your 50 million emails since yesterday!

I’ll leave it there as I’m really struggling to get to grips with how this blogging thing works and I feel like I’ve been trying to write this for 200 hours (actually only an hour!)

See you soon x