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Sunday, 13 April 2014

What about ME??

So...my book layout arrived, and I look it over to figure out the work I have ahead.  It looks fabulous already even though it's filled with little x's which will soon be replaced by clear and concise instruction...by me.  Clear and concise.  Very professional.  Very practical and straight down the middle.  No worries there then.  After all, I'll be writing about the thing I know the most about, the thing I created and have chosen to share my knowledge and skill so that the world and their dog can go forth and create the same and hopefully gain a sense of achievement....and pride!  This shouldn't take long then should it?  Just sit in front of the computer and type, type, (slurp coffee and eat chocolate) and type until the deed is done and I can sit back and relax.  But no....there is one more page in the book to take care of, and that very page is the one which has had me awake since 3 am this morning and the reason why I sit here now after 4 am drinking coffee and pondering what to do.  What is this dilemma I hear you ask?  Tis this I reply...one page in this book is about ME.  Why is this such a difficult and awkward task?  I am not short of words when it comes to any other subject, whether I'm an expert in the field (rarely!) or not, and I am prone to sharing my opinion regardless.  Writing about myself reminds me of those office meetings, when everyone sits around the table smiling innately at one another.  The 'speaker' arrives and introduces themselves then suggests we all do the same...starting with the 6th person to your left.  You have 6 time delays to think up something clever to announce to the group.  By the time your turn comes, you've used your last paper hanky wiping your clammy palms.  Your tongue latches on to the roof of your mouth in protest and you temporarily forget your own name.  I inadvertently ended up at a Marketing Meeting...it wasn't the job I had applied for and had specifically mentioned that Marketing was not for me before being sent but this seemed to fall upon deaf ears.  After the initial introductory embarrassment, the group was split into little groups and tasks were set.  Nothing that required a Mensa qualification to achieve.  In fact, if you could pin the tail on a donkey or pat your head and rub your belly at the same time (although personally I've always thought this takes great skill) then you were pretty much a winner. It's those on the spot (dreaded) moments that I avoid like the plague and is something that I would never do to my students who take my classes.  I have no trouble at all being the 'speaker'....the one who is there to share and teach.  In fact, shutting me up could be a problem.  Just don't hand me a microphone at a party and expect me to burst into karaoke.  What you might expect instead is a visit to A & E to have it surgically removed.
At least this one page of my book is not a spontaneous thing...it's not something I didn't know from the start that I would need to do.  I still have some weeks (days!!) to think about it and hopefully I will simply wake up one morning and be inspired to write about me and whatever it is about myself that I hope to inspire you with...without the use of 'floral' literature (F for short!).  

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Search Press announces details of my new book!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time, I agreed to have my book published.  It was November 2012 when I was approached to do this, and today...almost 18 months later...I am looking back on a crazy week and wondering if I actually took part in it or if it was all a dream!  I've spent the last few months (weeks!) creating the projects that will be featured in the book and stored them carefully until they were needed for the photography for the book.  Stress free, right?  WRONG!  These carefully stored projects had to be packed into the back of my car and travel 450 miles and reach the publisher's studio in one piece.  If the drive was one long straight line there would have been no reason for me to wear incontinent pants for the journey.  But as my luck would have it, I was introduced fairly quickly to every hole (crater!) in the road and every tight corner possible to get to where I needed to be...intact...stress free.  I thought the roads in Scotland were tight (relative to the nature of the Scots I dare to say...) but these little English farm roads take the cake.  (pardon the pun)  Each tight bend would have been a little easier to get around had the grass verge met with the road...but no...there was almost a canal along the grass line so to avoid a car coming at you (at 300 miles an hour!) you had to swerve into the side of the road and try not to lose two wheels at the same time.  Bloody nightmare.  Every hill was like climbing Everest in flip flops.
Nobody could imagine the work that goes into putting a book together...I surely didn't.  I can't say enough good words about the fabulous photographer, Paul, and my Editor, Becky, who both proved to be a breath of fresh air.  It soon became apparent when I entered the studio on the first day that we would all get along, which was just as well since we were pretty much in each other's faces for hours on end.  Recreating each project for the camera to capture each step was a long...and sometimes tedious process.  Camera angles had to be carefully thought out and tried and tested.  At one point, the photographer set up a ladder behind me and announced, "don't worry...I'm just going to come over your shoulder".  I shot a glance at Becky and replied, "I bloody hope not....that wasn't in the contract!"  Yes....I'm afraid to say....this set the tone for the rest of the week.  We worked long hours to make sure we included every single thing possible to make this book the best it can be.  At the end of the day, all of us struggled to keep our focus and were zapped of energy...the scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream might have had something to do with that though.  Every night I would do "homework" so that the next day's shoot might be a little easier.  So all in all, it has been the most hard working week I've had in a long time.  Was it worth it?  I'm sure when the book is published the sales will provide the answer....but on a personal level....YES!!  The blood, sweat and swearing has all been VERY worth it.  The next challenge is to write this book....bring it on.  For now I am going to rest my weary arse and think ahead.  No looking back...

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Half Price offer on selected tutorials...£1.50 a tutorial? C'mooooon!!



Half price for a limited period only on selected tutorials.  Get yours here at EXTRA ICING SHOP!
You can't beat these easy step by step guides to help you create a beautiful model to decorate your cake.  Every step is captured with a photograph and explained to you in simple detail.  What more could you ask?  Take advantage of the offer today.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Act 1...Scene 1!

This week, I have finally come to the end of the first chapter (pardon the pun...as you will come to see it) in this new venture...creating my first book!  (you see it now, right?)  This weekend I will be packing up all of the delicate (yikes!) projects in the car, all 12 of them (double yikes!!) packed together in the back of the car as I head them off on the 450 mile journey (yikes just went out the window...this calls for FFS!) and hope they are all still in one piece when I reach my destination.
This book is very exciting for me but it has also been a tremendous challenge.  It really shouldn't have been that big of a deal to be honest.  I mean, I'm creating characters that I do on a regular basis for cakes and for teaching purposes.  It's not like I've been doing anything that is alien to me.  Right?  But here's the thing.  We (cake makers) decorate our cakes and send them out to happy customers without a second thought.  We've put in the extra work to give them that extra special detail that goes a little beyond their expectations and we sit back and smile (sometimes!) at the good job we have done.  But let me tell you, when it comes to doing something that you have no guidance on, when the characters aren't personal to anyone in particular, it is much more difficult.  Well for me it is at any rate...and as I have suffered throughout the process I don't see why I shouldn't share my burden a little with all of you!  *smile*  Some mornings I would sit with all the sugar paste and colours in front of me and my hands just wouldn't stop switching on that kettle and filling my cup with more coffee in order to get working on the job in hand...I had more than one creative block throughout this entire process and a belly full of coffee!  I learned some new expletives along the way.  I even tried naming my characters to give me a sense of purpose...I can share some of the names on here but not all of them without installing a parental guidance option.  Whatever I could use in my head to work this out, I tried it.  I didn't always win and looking back over the last few weeks, I wondered how I would ever reach the deadline on time.  It's funny how a bottle of RosĂ© can help alter your sense of achievement and expectation!  This morning I completed (by the skin of my teeth) the final project...3 days before I travel.  I've had MONTHS to get this done.  But this is how I roll...chaotically, stress filled, "tomorrow is another day" and finally (and not to my credit) who gives a f**k!
The truth is...I do.  I give a f**k.  There's more to all of this than meets the eye, and one day I'll write about that too.  No I haven't lost my home in a monsoon or been struck down by some deadly illness.  There is always someone worse off than yourself .  I try to remember that.  But when the gas goes out and I can't get enough heat and the next cake order isn't until another month, bills pile up and I'm working with insufficient light coz I can't afford to fix the strip light right now...other people's troubles don't spring to mind.  *insert selfish cow emoticon here*  But for now, this is IT!  The big finalĂ© of Act 1.  The final curtain is in sight at last.  Act 2 will be the actual photo shoot followed by Act 3, the writing of every step (I try to contain expletive eruption of the gob here!) and finally THE END!  I'm taking you along on the journey...watch this space...I'll be back...AND...I'll get that strip light fixed!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Peppa Pig meets The Night Garden




This cake was a whole heap of fun to create.  Peppa Pig was made from Rice Krispie Treats (see I CAN say the words without swearing...sometimes!)  Iggle Piggle was made from sugar paste with CMC added.  If I had used a wider board for this cake I might have opted to make both characters using the treats.  It all worked in the end though so I really can't complain.  The project was a delight from my point of view.  I love kiddies cakes.   

Friday, 21 March 2014

Gordon Ramsay, eat your heart out!



I had a lot of fun with this theme.  All of the items are hand modelled and are made using sugarpaste with CMC added.  The detail on the sliced tomatoes is a little blend of yellow sugarpaste in the centre, dusted with petal dusts and a little paint work using a mixture of yellow and red petal dust mixed with alcohol.  Once this dried and a coat of confectioner glaze was brushed over, everything blended in quite nicely.  I was pleased with the result for sure.  This would make a great class...without the figure.  Figure modelling takes up an entire class day so I think having a kitchen theme without a person would be just as exciting and I personally would have great fun with it.  There's all kinds of veggies after all.  None of these have been airbrushed.  Everything is dust powders and different little paint techniques...trial and error to be honest.  I knew what I wanted to do in my head and then it was a case of finding the best way to go about it.  I'd love to pass this on...so you never know.  Maybe a class will be in the foreseeable.  Would anyone be interested do you think?  I sure hope so.  You can see more images of the cake here on Extra Icing Facebook.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Sweet reunion...

This is Paul.  I'm sure he has featured on this blog several times in past years but for the last 5 at least, he hasn't.  I was Paul's carer from when he was 10 years old.  As Paul gradually moved on to adult care, my time with him grew shorter.  As my new found cake business took off in another direction, commitment to family and other personal stuff took wings and flew....my time with Paul gradually came to an end.  He moved on as well he should have and found new friends, new experiences and forged ahead on a new path.  Over the years since we've been apart, so many things have changed.  My family are all grown up and have families of their own...one at this point is still in the baking phase but will be ready to bloom and grow in May!  My cake world has spun off into teaching and of course, the publication of my first book this year.  I am also no longer in a house filled with family tantrums or hear the cluttering of dinner dishes and see the kitchen through a haze of chip fat and fry ups (I am TOTALLY exaggerating on that point...it just makes for more drama!)  Life consists of me and my dog, Poppy.  It would be a cozy and quieter existence if I were to have Poppy's bark box removed of course...but that's another story!  Anyhoo...for far too long I have been trailing my lack of enthusiasm for most things around with me like an old handbag and the light at the end of the tunnel wasn't getting any brighter.  Out of the blue came a phone call...from Paul's mum.  Chatting like old times, it came around to wondering if I would be available to see Paul again....just occasionally.  In that simple sentence the bulbs in that tunnel light just got replaced with energy savers!  WOOHOO!  "Occasionally" in any normal language means now and again...right?  But this is Paul and 'Aine' language.  We are BACK and we are ready for the new dawn.  It's amazing how things come around in full circle.  It's a true saying, "what's meant to be..."  Just as true as "nothing fixes it like a Malteser!"  (Fact!)  Just so you know....when I started all this cake stuff, I joined Cake Central under the screen name of 'Aine'.....rhymes with rain, pain and (in)sane!  The reason for this initially was because this is how Paul says my name...and written down, he recognises it.  So on screen, he knows it's me even if he doesn't see my picture.  That's where it came from.  Now I can hear it every time I leave the room....."AINE!"  My loving response?  "WHAT??"  hahaha!
Looking forward to this new chapter in our story....watch this space....!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Blog it!

Seems a bit daft to advertise another blog on your blog...when both blogs belong to the same person and highlight the same things.  But that's exactly what I am doing today.  I realised that paying for a whole lot of space on my website and not using it is a bit of a waste of money, so I trawled through all the possibilities and came up with...another blog!  To be fair, the blog on the website won't be as detailed as this one and I probably won't add personal stories and try to be cute and smart mouthed...no...I'll save that for you readers here!  Don't want to spoil everyone now do I?  In any case, you can find the new 'blog' right HERE at EXTRA ICING.
If you're going to leave any comments on the posts, it will be the same as the posts here, they surely will be monitored.  I can't have all the invitations of lust and lewdness being shared by all now can I?  No....I save those for my own personal reading (amusement!) when I've nothing better to do.  Have any of you who have Facebook ever checked your "Other" mail box?  I'll bet some of you haven't even noticed that it's there.  It makes for very interesting reading.  I've had requests for all kinds of things...most of which I've had to Google!  Ooooooh!  
OH...before I forget..."Milly" downloadable tutorial is on offer for £1.50 for a short period only.  Go take advantage in my SHOP today!

Friday, 7 March 2014

London calling!!

This class is coming to LONDON in June, but only if I can get sufficient spaces filled to allow the class to go ahead.  London is a costly place to set up tuition so unfortunately I can't just go on a whim at the last minute.  The venue and other costs need to be taken care of one month prior to the class date to ensure that I am not charged with late cancellation fees.  Any class that I teach in my own place, students can sign up the day before if I have spaces available and it doesn't make any difference.  But sadly I need to know ahead of time if the sign ups are enough to take things forward.  I do hope the London class will fill enough to avoid cancellation.  If this happens I doubt that I will teach again in London.  It's a stressful business trying to do what's best for everyone, including myself.  But here's to a final push to see if I can encourage just 8 more people to sign up for this two day class in June.  I'm keeping my fingers...and everything else!...crossed.  All the edibles and tools are supplied for you.   All you need to bring is a 6" dummy cake attached to a 10" board and covered in sugarpaste.  The rest I supply...including tea/coffee and biccies!  How could you possibly refuse?  Let's make this London class happen.