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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What a day!

I am excited to say that I have reached over $500 in my kickstarter project,  It is so true that every single dollar counts.  I am so anxious to see how this will turn out!  There's still time to support my business venture.  Just go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1920130639/hobby-baker-wants-to-go-pro

I told you the other day that I was expecting more packages....and they arrived!!!  Here's the last box of stuff. 


And I needed more fondant... you'd be surprised how fast 40 lbs goes.  Thankfully, my hubby moved the fondant box for me so I didn't hurt my wrist any more than it already is. 


I was busy getting everything in order and trying to entertain my 3 year old at the same time.  We made a game out of unloading my boxes.  He was such a big help!  We sorted, organized, cleaned, and repackaged.  And at the end of the day, everything had a home.  Such a good feeling. 


Those of you that have been in my kitchen may have seen my vintage yellow KitchenAid mixer.  It was given to me a few years ago and I love it.  I love KA mixers.  I also have the classic white one that the hubby bought me.  Any eventually I want the Swarovski crystal hot pink one....but that will be a while down the road.  Maybe once I have a shop!  Anyways,  I was using both the yellow and white mixers on a regular basis for quite some time without any problems.  Several months ago, however, the yellow one started having issues with the speed control.  I would put it on the first setting (stir) and it would spin like it was on one of the high settings.  Let's just say that I may have had some issues with flour/powdered sugar ALL over my kitchen.  Can you even imagine that mess?  It got to the point that it wasn't worth trying to use and I switched to using the white one exclusively.  Yesterday I thought I'd pull the yellow one out and try to see if I could fix it.  As a kid, my dad had a box of old doorknobs and locks that I would take apart and put back together, interchanging them, so I thought I'd give this a shot.  I mean, I am pretty handy (or so I thought).  After a bit of tightening screws and jiggling wires I put it back together and turned it on.  To my surprise it was working the way it was supposed to.  I was ecstatic!!!  I even texted the hubby to let him know I fixed it.  I cleaned it all up and started making buttercream.  I was so excited that I took this picture.



I should've stopped at that point...because when I increased the speed to finish off my frosting it messed the whole thing up.  I turned it off and started it again, only fast, faster, and fastest...I was bummed.  So, I took the back off again, checked the screws, jiggled some wires.  Apparently when I did that I hit the screwdriver (which was thankfully plastic handled) to a live wire and POP followed by flying sparks and a shock through my body.  And I blew the circuit.  Needless to say, the mixer has been put aside and will need to be fixed by someone other that myself.  Moral of the story-  I am a BAKER, NOT a MECHANIC! 


Monday, February 27, 2012

Packages!!!

Remember all those things I told you that I ordered for the upcoming farmers market???  Guess what arrived at my doorstep Friday afternoon?  I was working on a cake for a girlfriend of mine and heard this loud noise outside.  I peeked out the window to see that the UPS driver had backed down my driveway to get closer to the door so he could drop off these packages!  It's like Christmas in February!!!  And what is even more exciting is that I should have another delivery TODAY!!!!!  I'm super excited....can you tell? 


So, for those of you that have been keeping track of my kickstarter project, I only have 48 days left.  To most of you, 48 days is a super long time.  And yes, I would normally agree with you.  BUT, realizing that I started this project with 60 days, and only have 48 left is making me go crazy.  So many people have said that they are planning to donate at the end, but please don't wait too late.  Anything can happen.  Every dollar counts, so if you only have a dollar available, that single dollar is like gold to me!  I am so grateful to those of you that are sharing this on your facebook pages, telling friends and family, and even sharing at your places of business and worship!!!!  In order to donate, you must first register with kickstarter and then with amazon. Remember that you will not be charged until the end of the project....so why wait?  AND, you will ONLY be charged if I reach my goal.  There are fabulous rewards and every level to sweeten the deal, so be sure to check them out.

HOBBY BAKER WANTS TO GO PRO!

Here's a pic of the cake I made last week...


This week is one of those weeks that will either make or break me.  I have so much on my plate that I will find out exactly how good my organizing skills are.  I'm feeling pretty confident thus far.... reminds me of the story of The Little Engine That Could.  I will spend the week with "I think I can, I think I can..." in the back of my head.   I'll have a full writeup next week about what is keeping me so busy!  I hope you have a pretty sweet week!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

I have 9 BACKERS!

After a few days without an action on my kickstarter project, I already have 3 more this morning!!!!  That makes a grand total of 9 backers that have donated $495!  I am so excited...like Christmas morning excited!  I'm pretty much giddy about it.  Can you tell?  That feeling could be partially due to my coffee this morning, but either way.  I am SO grateful to everyone that has passed my project on to friends and family.  The word is getting out and this project WILL BE FUNDED!  51 days to go!!!

Here's the link!  Check it out!!!  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1920130639/hobby-baker-wants-to-go-pro

Other exciting news... I have been making my list of sweets to sell at the Snellville Farmers Market this summer.  And they are pretty fantastic if I do say so.  I just ordered new boxes, a ton of "cake up" containers, and lots of other goodies to use for this summer!  It is going to be GREAT!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I have to say that a 4 day weekend was just what the doctor ordered!  I got all of my work (cake stuff) done on Friday.  To be honest, I can barely remember what all I had to do!!!  Is it crazy that I had to look at my facebook page to see what pictures I uploaded?  Oh, I made these adorable cupcakes for a friend who was hosting a baby shower.  There wasn't a specific theme to the shower, they just wanted to stick with the blues, browns,and greens.

And, my adorable neighbor Beau was celebrating his 3rd birthday.  He has to be the happiest kid I have ever met... he always has the biggest smile on his face!  He wanted a cookie cake for his birthday.  Now, those of you that know me, know that I LOVE COOKIE CAKES!!!  You know that place at the mall that sells them, well... I seriously have to convince myself that I don't need something from there when we do rarely go out to the mall.  The double doozie is my favorite... two chocolate chip cookies with frosting sandwiched in between.  YUM!  My hubby, knowing how much I love them,  had a lady that works with my mother-in-law make a giant one for me last year.  Um, it was fantastic!  Anyways, back to my story... I didn't want to make a plain cookie cake for Beau.  This was a chance to do something a little different.  I decided to make a 3 layer cookie cake, but too much frosting could make it unbearable...so I filled one layer with buttercream, and the other with chocolate ganache, decorated the top a bit, and VOILA.... 


On another note....  my kickstarter project already has 6 backers and $345 in generous donations!!!!  There is still plenty of time to check it out, pass it along to friends, and help support my "sweet dream".  


Here's the link...  KICKSTARTER- HOBBY BAKER WANTS TO GO PRO!


Happy Fat Tuesday y'all!!!

KICKSTARTER- HOBBY BAKER WANTS TO GO PRO!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

BIG NEWS!!!!!

I FINALLY LAUNCHED MY KICKSTARTER PROJECT to get my business up and running!!!!!  I am super excited about this and hope you will check it out.  With the way the economy has been, I haven't been able to get anyone to even think twice about loaning/giving me money.  I've done countless hours of research trying to find ways to start a business, get funding, etc.  Hopefully in 58 days it will all be worth it!

Here's how the program works.  If you have an idea that needs funding (be it recording a new album, making a movie, publishing a book, etc), you submit your idea to kickstarter and wait to see if your project is approved.  It took an very nerve-wracking 3-4 days.  Once approved, you create a page with all of your information, make a video, create a rewards program for people donating, explain what you will use the money for, how much money you need, and set your deadline.  Here's the catch....it's ALL OR NOTHING!  If at the end of your deadline, you have reached your goal, you get your money (less a percentage) and fulfill your rewards to backers.  If however, you don't reach your goal, no money is sent, backers do not owe anything, and no rewards are sent.

Here's my project!  KICKSTARTER

I'm trying to reach a goal of $10,000 by April 15.  With that money I will be able to file all documents for licensing and permits, rent a commercial kitchen space, and purchase a delivery vehicle. 

My rewards are pretty fantastic, and start at the $5 level.  Every single dollar counts and will definitely be appreciated.  I have rewards from cookies to push up cakes, and all the way to tiered cakes.  If you have an event that needs a fabulous cake, maybe a wedding or corporate event, you might want to consider the $1000 donation and you will receive a fabulous 3 tiered cake made just for your occasion.  There is something for everyone.  And you don't have to be local to the Atlanta area to receive the rewards.  There are substitutions for some levels depending on your area.

This is a HUGE project and could literally make or break my business venture.  The next two months will probably be a very emotional time for me as I have literally put everything I have out on a line in hopes that people will believe enough in me.   

I need as much help as I can get.  Please share this with friends and family, post on facebook or twitter. 

Thank you SOOOO MUCH!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love Is In The Air!

I spent the better part of the day yesterday trying to get my video finished for my kickstarter business project.  I'm sure I could've just broken out my hubby's old video camera and tried to film myself, but any one that knows me knows that I REALLY dislike being on camera...video or otherwise.  I thought, what better way to show people what I do, than to make a slideshow of my work.  Simple, right?!?  HAHA.  I've made powerpoint presentations for classes before.  It's been a while, but I could figure it out.  Anyways, I'm not going to bore you with details, but after hours of frustrations with file extensions and types, etc I finally put it aside to enjoy time with my family for Valentine's Day.   This whole blog should've been uploaded yesterday, but I hope you will enjoy it a little late. 

I wanted to create something different for my son's teacher than sending in a cupcake.  I've been teetering on these personal mini pies for the longest time.  I've seen ones on sticks, ones in jars, handheld ones, etc.  These ones needed to be special.  I mean, they are for Valentine's Day after all.  So what better pie for VD than strawberry pie?  I took a few pics along the way...  
I started with some very sweet Florida strawberries and cooked half of them with a cornstarch/water mixture and sugar,  The other half were sliced and mixed in with the cooked mixture.  I wanted to make sure you tasted the strawberry pieces and not just a mush.

Then I made my dough.  I used a crisco based pie crust this time, but for future will stick with my trusty butter crust.

The hearts were filled with strawberries, sealed, and brushed with butter.  I also added a sprinkle of strawberry sugar.  The sugar is ABSOLUTELY fantastic.  I found it on our last trip to Disney World and can't wait to use it for some other treats. 

Here are my yummy "pocket pies".  Nicholas took one as a snack for school yesterday and the consensus was that all the other kids wanted one!  Ha!  With this type of pie crust, it fares more like a homemade poptart than pie.  Delicious either way!

And, my day wasn't over with the pies.  I also baked and decorated sugar cookies for my neighbor's class.


I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!!!  I am so thankful for my Valentine's... and was so happy to be able to spend the evening with them.  And in case you're wondering what sweets my sweet and I shared last night....  I dipped strawberries in dark chocolate, dressed some with white chocolate, and the others sprinkled with espresso sugar (also from our last trip to Disney World).  I also made Irish Cream Creme Brulee topped with the espresso sugar and torched until crusty.  My hubby loves creme brulee and I don't think I've ever really made it before, so I think he was pretty happy.  And of course we paired our desserts with Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco, which was delicious!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I had such a busy weekend...and pictures to prove it!  My neighbor asked if I could make beautiful cupcakes for a friend's birthday, no specifics, just wanted them to be beautiful.  So I came up with these.... 2 Strawberries & Cream, 2 Chocolate Overload, 1 Red Velvet, and 1 Maple Bacon.

And not only did she want beautiful cupcakes, but she wanted them packaged pretty too!  So....I stayed up pondering all of the ways I could box them up to look nice.... a basket, a bouquet, a box with a ribbon...those are are too typical.  And then it hit me... I had ordered these fantastic cupcake boxes a few months ago and never had a chance to use them.  They are so adorably cute and can be decorated for any theme or occasion.  I just added some ribbon and a made a felt flower and voila!

Cupcakes were picked up Friday afternoon.  Meanwhile, I was busy working on 3 cakes that needed to be ready for Saturday.  The first was for my son's bus driver that was celebrating her 40th birthday.  She wanted a red velvet cake with a red lily.  The second was an Angry Birds cake!  I had to do lots of research for this one.  I wanted to make sure that all of the birds looked as close to the real thing as possible. I had my husband and 8 year old double checking all of my characters and giving input.  Perhaps I should've tried playing the game prior to doing the cake, lol!

My last cake Saturday was for my neighbor.  I was super excited to do a Cat In The Hat cake for him.  The thing about doing cakes for parties that your kids will be attending...is that every time my 3 year old walked in the kitchen and saw me working on Caleb's cake, he wanted to know if it was time to go to the party.  (Sigh)  The cake was not originally going to be a topsy turvy cake, but the more I thought about it, it seemed like it would be more fun and a little more fitting than a standard stacked cake. 

The kids had a great time at the party and everyone loved the cake!  It is such a good feeling to know that people truly enjoy what I create.


Tomorrow...Valentine's Day!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

PUSH UP CAKES!

I had such a fun weekend!  My son won his soccer game on Saturday!!!  Only one more left in his regular season before they go to playoffs.  And then comes spring soccer.  It's a never ending cycle, but he loves it and is getting pretty good at it. 

Then, I waited for someone to pick up a cake.  Here's Hayden's Tinkerbell cake... 

I have to admit, that I am a little disappointed in myself with this cake.  I do like the finished look of it,  BUT it was a very last minute request and I didn't even get started on it until late Friday.  I had originally planned to sculpt Tinkerbell myself.  The first try, which took way too long, ended up going in the trash.  The second one was really looking good until I started painting her face.  I didn't realize that I had black food color on my hands and ended up smearing it all over her.  Ugh!  At nearly 11pm, that one went in the trash, I covered the cake in fondant, airbrushed it, and made all the vines, leaves, and flowers, and well... the toy Tinkerbell went on top.  Hayden didn't mind at all because she got a new toy to play with!

The weather was absolutely beautiful, both Saturday and Sunday.  We spent the afternoon outside both days, soaking up the sunshine while all the cul-de-sac kids played.  Saturday night was my neighbor's birthday...girls only!  All the guys stayed home with the kids while we sipped on cosmos, sangria, and ate all of Dori's favorite foods.  She asked me to make cupcakes for the ladies...no specifics, just pretty and purple.  I love opportunities like this because it gives me a little freedom to experiment.  So I created a little sampler. Here you've got (from back to front) Almond Pound Cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream,  Maple Bacon Cake with Maple Buttercream topped with more bacon,  Red Velvet Cake, and Chocolate Overload- chocolate cake, filled with chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate buttercream.  They were a huge hit.  The Maple Bacon was a new one.  If you've never had bacon and cake together, you must try it!  The combination of the salty bacon and sweetness from the cupcake pairs so well together.  It was like breakfast. 

I also created something new for Dori's party.... PUSH UP CAKES!!!  Remember those orange sherbet push ups that you could get from the ice cream lady at school???  These are the same concept, but filled with layers of cake and frosting.  They are perfectly portioned, mess-free, and so much fun.  And, since they're made out of plastic, they're reusable.  They can also be filled with cookies, brownies, candies, and even ice cream.  I can't wait to try out some other things in them.  I will be ordering a large quantity of them soon!   They can be personalized for any event or party.  Aren't they fun?!?!  And a special thank you to the hubs for helping me make this awesome stand for them to sit in. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thanks to those that have stopped by my blog and a HUGE THANK YOU to those that signed the petition for the Georgia Cottage Food Law.  You can also find more info about it here

So, I'm definitely new to this whole "blogging" thing.  I'm sure there are rules about the way you are supposed to do it, but please bare with me. 

I've been doing TONS of research on funding options and trying to find venues where the state will allow me to sell cakes.  I've submitted my application for the Snellville Farmers Market again this year.  I got accepted last year, had my dates selected, and was pretty excited about doing it, but once I sat and thought about how much work was going to go into it each week, I was a little turned off.  I've sold cookies and cupcakes at craft shows in the past.  I put items in a countertop display case, people would pick the ones they wanted, and I would either serve with a napkin or I would box it up and put it in a bag.  That was easy!  Farmers Markets are a little different.  They do allow non-perishable items (cakes, breads, pies, cookies, etc) to be baked at home and sold at the markets.  But, all items have to be individually packaged with name of item, common name for ingredients, allergy information, and contact information from baker.  So then I would have to create all of these labels, plan in advance for what I was going to sell, and so on, and so forth.  My more tedious than just selling from a display case.  BUT, since I'm sort of out of options right now,  it looks like my best bet.  Now, I'm just waiting to see if they'll accept me. 

I am pretty excited to tell you that I submitted an application for kickstarter.  It is a cool way to get funding for new ideas, business ventures, etc.  Basically, you come up with an idea for funding, wait to see if you get approved, then create a page all about what you want the money for.  You set a goal for yourself...however much you need, but you only have 60 days max to reach your goal.  Say I ask for $500.  I could set up a rewards system at different levels for people who wanted to donate to my project.  Once I reached the goal, the people would be charged,  I would get my money for the project, and I would send out rewards.  However, if I don't meet my goal by the deadline, no money is charged from people donating, I don't get a dime, and no one gets rewards.  They did accept my application and I've been in the process of working on all the details.  I've set my rewards already...and THEY ARE GOOD ONES!!!  I'm struggling with the video part of it.  I really don't like having pictures taken, so making a video of myself is just not going to happen.  Perhaps a powerpoint presentation will work.

Oh, and I have some other new things in the works...  last night I made maple bacon cupcakes.... the sweetness of the pure maple syrup and the saltiness of the bacon is fantastic.  AND, I'm debuting Cake Push Pops tonight at a birthday party!  I'll have pictures of all of that later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I've been CAKE BLOCKED! Welcome to my blog!

Hi!  My name is Jennifer and yes, I have been CAKE BLOCKED!!!  (More on that in a minute).  First, a little about me.  My husband is a teacher, middle school in fact.  I'm still not sure how he does it.  I have two sweet boys...okay, most of the time they're sweet...sometimes MONSTROUS.  But aren't they adorable?!?!  Nicholas is 8 and in 2nd grade, Cullen is 3 and stays at home with me every day of the week.  Well, until he goes to pre-k next year.  I decided to stay at home with my kids when Cullen was born.  Gas prices were $4 a gallon, I was driving almost an hour each way to and from work.  Plus, my paycheck would barely cover the expense of daycare.  So, we took a pay cut, changed our lifestyle, sold our second car, and I decided to stay at home.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being at home every day for my kids, but some days I wish I had a car, or some conversation that didn't include legos, cars, and Caillou.      

I am a hobby baker with a passion for more!  I absolutely love to bake, love to create new desserts, and love to watch baking shows on tv.  And I spend hours on my laptop looking for cake inspirations, editing my cake pictures, and doing research on cake stuff-sounds technical, I know.  I am self-taught...no classes at all.  I do think that skills are genetic.  You see, my Grandma was an amazing baker and created beautiful cakes.  And then there's my Mom-  I think she took a Wilton class back in the day, but she is amazing!  She taught me how to make buttercream roses when I was little (although I'm not sure I could make one now, lol).  She made my oldest brother's wedding cake almost 20 years ago, and I still remember what it tasted like!  One day I'll find a picture of it to post for you.

So, on to cakes... My love for baking was increasing with each birthday cake made for my kids.  (Side note:  I LOVE to throw parties!  If you've ever been to one of my kids parties, you know how crazy I get.  And yes, I've already planned out parties for the boys and their birthdays are not until July and September.)  Each year was bigger and better than the last, which led to friends asking for cakes for their kids, and then their friends, and so on and so on. And, well,  Sweet Dreams Cakery was born (well, not that easy, but you get the idea). Orders were flooding my inbox and my skills were getting better with each cake.  It was a win win situation...or so I thought.  In the state of GA, like many others, you are not allowed to sell baked goods from your home.  You must use a commercial kitchen, separate from your main kitchen.  Seriously?  I mean, food is probably more safe coming out of my kitchen, than some commercial ones, but whatever.  How did I find this out you ask?  I received a phone call one morning from the Dept of Agriculture.  I was too scared to talk to the guy, so the hubs called for me.  Turns out he was very nice and helpful.  Someone had reported an unlicensed bakery to the Health Dept.  And whoever it was, went straight to the top, and minutes after they received notice, I was contacted.    NICE!  And so I have officially been CAKE BLOCKED!!! They offered suggestions for me to convert our kitchen, get a mobile unit, use a shared kitchen, or open a storefront.  Unfortunately, the quickest solution, the garage conversion is a no go from the Water Dept.  

Since October, I have contacted banks, done countless hours of research, and have set my goals for my future business.  It seems that I keep coming up short.  There is a petition in the state of GA to pass a Cottage Food Law allowing bakers like myself to be able to sell items baked from their home.  Please check it out and sign!  The more signatures, the better.  But for now, I'm just trying to spread the word and hopefully gain support from viewers across the globe.  I love what I do.  I love to watch the reactions when people see my cakes.  I would love it even more if I could jump over these hurdles.