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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Happiness prevails...but cash helps!

"Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery."  Spike Milligan said that...and I'm here to tell you how right he was.  I'm not going to dig up all my trials and tribulations which have tested my mentality and endurance over the last 4 years.  I don't have a big enough shovel for a start.  On the stress scale, the top main causes for such is moving house, divorce, money (the severe LACK of) and fear of uncertainty.  When you lump all 4 of those together you go into hyperventilation and basically can't tell your arse from your elbow.  When a marriage breaks down for whatever reason, the initial elation kicks in (let's face it...if it wasn't worth sticking around for, run for your life and kick up some dust along the way!) but reality hits like a brick wall.  Moving house isn't always in the plan so when it is forced there is nothing in this world you can do.  Not unless you have the cash to buy the other out or go find somewhere new without pressure.  I had a little shop below my 3 bedroom flat on a busy Main Street.  For the first couple of years of being on my own, all was pretty much well....kind of.  I wanted to have that time to build the business a little more on my own but realise now that it would probably have been best to bite the bullet and put it all up for sale immediately.  Hindsight is a proverbial...with a capital B, ending in D, middle letters ASTAR!  As soon as the 'For Sale' sign was attached to that pretty window it was more or less curtains for the business.  Cake orders dwindled faster than a packet of Maltesers in my hands.  Like the little pig's house of straw, it all came tumbling down around me.  Every penny became a prisoner...unless I ran out of mascara.  C'mon.  You understand, right?  
My poor little dog has also suffered these hard times.  Earlier this year she was so badly needing groomed.  I remembered that I had a set of clippers in the attic and decided to give her a haircut at home.  I'd always cut the fringes (bangs to those of you in the US) of my girls when they were little.  What could be so different?  Let me tell you....it's a whole different ball game working with clippers on a hand knitted dog than cutting a straight line across the forehead of a wee lassie!  My poor Princess was left looking like she suffered from alopecia and had to wear a doggy jumper for weeks until most of it grew back!  Never again.  But desperate measures were very often required on a regular basis.  Heating couldn't be afforded much so during the winter months I began a relationship with two hot water bottles who will now remain in my life forever!  A snuggie blanket and fleecy onesie, one hottie tucked into the small of my back and the other at my feet...pure bliss!  My duvet wasn't the best either.  With all the layers on me before I got IN to the bed, I was probably rated a higher Tog than the bloody duvet!  
At times when you fall flat on your arse, you surely get to know those who really care.  I have to say that I struggle to name anyone who didn't which is pretty damn amazing.  There are many things I kept...and will keep...to myself, but I shared enough information about this shi**y period for people to realise that all was not as it should be.  Facebook gets a bad write up sometimes, people sharing stuff they later regret and continue to complain about but then share some more.  People using it as a playground to bash each other...but this isn't my experience, although I've been known to share some rants of course, it's all in the name of 'banter' and it has kept my sanity (what's left of it) in check.  Without the support of my Facebook friends I can honestly say that I may not have reached this point with such determination and gritted teeth.  The highlights of this year have been the birth of my granddaughter, Jessica Lorraine (I had to get her second name in!) and also the completion of my book which is being launched next month.  Did I just say that??  NEXT month!  At times I thought I couldn't do it.  I couldn't muster the energy and concentration required to put those words down and reach the finish line.  But a little part of that flame still burned and I KNEW that this day would come, albeit months later.  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  FACT! 
TODAY....I am in my own little castle ....a rented one with 3 other flats attached but who cares.  The old place has finally SOLD and the hardship has been lifted.  It's now up to me to make sure I never know such times again.  Fancy handbags and expensive shoes are all well and good if you have money to burn.  I won't be burning any soon.  Maybe one day....
IT'S OVER!  I'm BACK!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Real Housewives? My arse!

As one who jogs along (not literally of course) with normal daily life, I am a little bit addicted to watching reality (is it though?) shows such as Real Housewives of Beverly Hills...and all the other countries that claim to show us their "real" housewives.  Beverly Hills being so over the top and decadent has to be my favourite though.  However, this last year has been the most difficult one I've had to endure in my entire life I'd have to say, so watching these women play out their stresses on camera hasn't always had the overwhelming "I wish I was them" affect on me that it normally has.  The biggest dilemma any of these women have to face is which Jimmy Choo to wear today.  They don't have to keep an eye on their gas meter and flick it onto emergency til they find the cash to go top up at their nearest gas station.  I watched in awe at the beautiful Yolanda Foster take charge of decorating a mansion....and I mean MANSION....then go off and watch her daughter trot around on a horse doing some horsey gymasty thing.  Having a conversation with another of the wives, she stated "I only wish I could afford to buy her another horse.  Most of her friends have two horses and she only has one."  There's a whole lot going on in that one sentence that is all wrong...in my opinion....for whatever that's worth.  (not half a million, that's for sure, but here it is anyway).  In a previous scene she left a party to go home early.  Did she jump on a No. 10 bus or take a taxi?  Of course not.  Her private jet picked her up.  (two horses unnafordable?)  Her daughter has one horse.  Correct me if I am wrong, but if you only have one arse, how many horses do you need?  Also, how many people do I know who have a horse...let me think......um.....I'll get back to you on that one.  She implies that money is the issue for not indulging her daughter in a second horse.  I was almost grabbing the Kleenex as she spoke.  Imagine that.  Poor wee thing...only has one horse.  Then I thought of my experience some months previous, not horse related at all so I'm not sure why it sprang to mind.  I ran out of milk, among many other things, but milk seemed most important at the time.  In my purse, all I had was £1.04.  The milk I wanted was £1.09.  (feck!)  So I had no choice but to opt for the smallest carton and be thankful I could get any at all at that moment.  As I reached the checkout there were flumps on offer so I grabbed one of those too to make me feel better...and I got change!!  Flumps are my least favourite sweet thing ever, but beggars can't be choosers in times of need so I saw it as a treat and didn't turn my nose up.  Yolanda looking so glum about the horsey situation just made me flip a finger at the TV...well laptop actually.  I'm still watching everything on Catchup TV on the lappy til I get the TV ariel man to come out.  (to visit that is...not out of the closet that I've locked him in!  As if....)  But again, there is no point in doing that until I have my new living room in a fit and livable state, and that won't happen until my own finances are sorted (long and personal and very VERY frustrating story...but one I may share in my own way when I can eventually see a funny side...don't hold your breath!)  This sh*tty chapter of my life is about to close and I will continue to catch up on the lives of the vastly better off than me.  But are they though?  Better off than me?  I don't have a horse...and actually, I don't know anyone who does...not personally anyway.  I'll continue to watch the (un)reality shows but to be honest, I'd rather be me.  Who needs a mansion anyway? (I am one helluva liar!)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

I'm going UP from here...just so ya know!

Moving house, divorce and business sliding...these are three things on the top ten list of causes of stress.  Well I can verify that!  Having to sell my house and shop was a huge heartache for me...in the beginning that is.  When you think about these things, you tend to over think them. Well I do that's for sure.  But when you have no choice and the situation is real then there isn't a whole lot you can do about it, and when you REALLY think about it, you realise that there is nothing you would WANT to do to change it.  Only now I realise what being free in the mind really is.  I have not only moved house but have moved location.  In for a penny in for a pound as they say.  I'll take my chances and breathe some new air and realise that this has all been worth the ride so far.  I have moved from a busy Main Street to a little country home where all I hear at night is my kitchen clock ticking...only if I am in the kitchen of course.  It's not on loud speaker throughout the house or anything!  I am on ground level which is GRRRRREAT!!  My usually hyper little poodlydoo is unusually calm and no sedation has been necessary.  She is enjoying regular walks to a park a stone's throw from my door and the home atmosphere is completely relaxed and couldn't be more peaceful if it tried.  Business has dwindled over the months, mainly due to the big For Sale sign hanging outside of the shop for the last year so people imagined the cake making days were over...but only the building was closing, I am still very much trying to do what I do best...and I'll slowly get there once more.  With a new book on the horizon and many classes scheduled around various venues, here in the UK and Overseas, I don't think I need to get out the crying towel just yet.  Times may be hard but they have been harder, and now the light is showing itself at the (almost) end of a very long and depressing tunnel.  Yippeeee!  It's finally time to take care of one more item that shows itself on the stress level list... "failure to take time out and relax".  Well tick that box please.  It's my turn to take some time now.  God knows I've bloody earned it.  Everything happens for a reason.  What's meant to be will be.  True sayings I do believe.  Goodbye to the past, you will never be mentioned again.  This girl is ready to kick up some dust and see only the path ahead...with a few curves along the way I'm sure...but that's okay.  I'm not on my arse yet!!  haha!

Friday, 8 August 2014

And here is the news....

A few little things to update you on.  First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Daniel who turned 7 yesterday.  My cheeky wee grandson is growing fast and full of fun.  He loves Spongebob and to it was inevitable that this would be the theme for his cake this year.  

The next item on the agenda is to tell you that Extra Icing has now officially moved to Lanark!  I am happily ensconced in my new country surroundings and already enjoying the peaceful sounds of this new life.  No more bar brawls and early morning serenades from drunken twats on the streets.  Total and utter BLISS!!  You can find all the new details on Extra Icing website.  I am taking orders for celebration cakes but unfortunately I cannot commit to weddings for the next year at least.  My book is published in November and I have a few countries to teach in the coming months which makes the diary quite erratic.  Apart from that, I no longer have premises to take consultations so all cake orders will be made via the website, telephone or e-mail.  Deposits to secure the order will be requested through PayPal.

And finally....my downloadable tutorials are still on offer at £1.50.  With moving home, the "for sale" signs did a lot of harm to my business in West Lothian.  Establishing myself in a new area is going to take a little time, but I'll get there.  Although I have moved into new surroundings, there are still the final ties to be cut from the old ones and so the struggle continues until I can finally take control and begin this new adventure with a lighter heart and a wider smile.  I appreciate any sales from the tutorials, especially at this time when everything seems to be dying a slow death around me in the business sense.  But I'm not completely on my arse just yet, and don't intend to be.
Find the tutorials here at Extra Icing.  I appreciate your support!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

White elephant in the room!

This little cutie was a cake topper for my beautiful (and funny) granddaughter who just turned 2.  What?  When did that happen??  It wasn't my original plan to make an elephant but time and personal stuff (aka garbage) is against me at the moment...but that's another ranting post which will be saved for later when I am able to communicate my thoughts without causing offence to you, the public reader, who needs only buy any music download these days to know the kind of language required to express oneself clearly.  Anyhoo....at the risk of beginning my rant already....I shall sign off and leave you with a link to Extra Icing Facebook photo gallery where you can see the rest of this pretty pastel coloured cake.  I love it actually.  It's a simple design but it's effective and makes me smile.  I hope it does the same for you too.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Happy girl!

Is there any particular reason for sharing Jessica's picture?  No...not really, unless you are feeling particularly down.  I hope she brings a smile to your face as much as she does mine.  My beautiful granddaughter is 2 months old and a bundle of smiles.  It would be selfish not to share...so I am sharing.  Have a good weekend!

Friday, 11 July 2014

I'm so proud of my tits!



These little birdies (what were YOU thinking??) are made from Gumpaste and dusted with Sugarflair colours and painted around the head and wings for added detail.  The wee bird hoose is also embossed with a wood effect impression mat and cut to shape, stuck together with edible glue.  I wonder at having to say 'edible' in front of the word glue when making a cake.  Would anyone really think that PVA or UHU was used for such a thing?  Better being safe than sorry I suppose and not mislead the public...so the glue is totally edible and made from CMC (Tylose) powder and water.  The bottom tier of this cake is actually covered with a layer of marzipan.  The cake is madeira with a jam and cream filling then left in the fridge to set a little.  That makes it easier to cover with the marzipan and not have it sliding all over the place...especially when jam is used.  I covered the top of the cake with a circle of marzipan first of all then rolled a strip to fit around the sides and then gave it a good going over with a couple of smoothers to create the sharp edges.  This would have required a bit more pressure if I'd covered all of the cake in one go, so I think I saved myself a potential disaster by doing it the long way instead of the shortcut.  Top tier is chocolate and covered in ganache which made the sharp edges a little easier.  It didn't turn out too badly and my customer loved it...which is the main thing after all.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Do you want to build a snowman?



When I got my request for a Frozen cake I was thrilled.  I opted for Olaf because he is less technically challenging than the Princesses, but one day I will have a little go at making a proper lookalike for Elsa and Anna....then charge a fortune for the sweat, blood and tears!  You always know when a new movie comes out that the cake orders will come flying in with the same themes.  I loved this one I have to say, and found it very difficult to....LET IT GO....LET IT GO-O!!  

Thursday, 5 June 2014

"Fun Figures" My BOOK is available to pre order in the US!

Pre order now on Amazon.com  Hopefully it won't be too long before you can order from Amazon UK....or....you can wait and order from me personally!  Now THAT'S a great idea.  Whichever way you choose, I hope you like it.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Welcome to the world, baby girl!

I have regaled my daughter Vicky over the years with tales of her birth which basically consisted of me being overdue almost 2 weeks, a tsunami in my M&S big pants followed by severe contractions for only a few hours before being whipped into hospital in an ambulance, jagged up the arse and given an epidural which was topped up 3 times and left to lay around like an injured elephant....totally oblivious to the goings on around me and caring even less.  I had no further work to do and was kept aware of what my body was going through only by the noise of the machines I was attached to at the time.  Eventually Vicky arrived by emergency section because of her quickly dipping heart rate.  Imagine that...all the while I'm laying there doing NOTHING and an emergency situation was happening.  Cut, cut, pull, tug.....here's ya baby!  Job done.  I got off relatively easy, even though my labour was 18 hours long, it kind of happened when I wasn't there!  So I have NO experience of the pushing and panting...except for the M&S panting that is.  My daughter hasn't been let off so lightly.  Her labour started 2 days before her beautiful bundle poked her nose into the world.  Strong of mind and body as Vicky is, she could never have imagined the experience to drain her...literally...quite as much as it did.  The midwives she encountered along the way were of very different personalities.  Some of those personalities were all wrapped up in one person!  Dr. Jekyll and Nurse Hyde for sure.  Each one questioning the logic and decisions of previous midwives as if Vicky had been plotting against them and keeping certain information secret.  LOOK AT YOUR NOTES FOR THE BLOODY ANSWERS NURSES!  The patient doesn't always take everything IN when her nethers feel like there's a train coming and the tunnel is closed!  In the delivery suite, Vicky is given gas and air.  Working incredibly well with this until the pain steps up a notch.  She requests alternative pain relief and is given a run down from a very laid back midwife, sitting back with arms folded and speaking in the softest voice.  A very lovely woman for sure....but DO something will ya??  Drugs were offered, but the (possible) effects on the baby put Vicky off.  Epidural please?  Well...you've done it this far without it...could delay the progress more...baby could be here soon.  HOURS later....epidural please??  Well...you've done it this far....baby could be here soon......!!  Yes, I HAVE just repeated myself.  If Vicky was told "just another half hour..." once, she was told a thousand times.  Baby's head appeared to be a fingertip away from the exit door on several occasions, building up Vicky's hope and persuading her to keep pushing.  Which she did...almost chewing the gas and air and screaming out at some points (very few) only to be told to keep it in and use the anger (anger = pain?  really??) to push harder.  Is anyone listening??  The final straw for Vicky was when she heard "actually no, the head isn't quite there yet".  She felt as though she was being lied to...and I could see her giving up.  Her energy was on the floor, right about where I wanted to put the midwife at this point.  She left the room a few times and we weren't sure what to do...when all of a sudden the door burst open and in came Maleficent followed by Frick and Frack on speed!  They waved their arms at Vicky, informing her that they were the "team" for the night then left as swiftly and with as little grace as their entry.  It was all so quiet once again.  "what just happened?"...we pondered together.  
At the point of pushing for the finale (she thought), the midwife asked Vicky "do you mind if I go for an hour's break and I'll send my colleague in?"  Vicky is a nurse and fully appreciates they need a break, but Vicky would never leave a patient she'd worked so close with for all this time, handing over responsibility to someone else.  She'd have left the room occasionally for a quick bite of a sandwich and returned to continue her reassurance.  She did say though "if baby comes, do come and fetch me.  I don't want to miss it!"  None of us spoke much during this time.
3 hours later....and still only gas and air (a drip was set up but not given for some reason...we're not sure why) things were getting serious.  Maleficent reappeared to say the baby needed to come out with some help.  She explained the procedure, a cap fitted to baby's heard and a pump attached so she could pull the baby out with every push Vicky gave.  Once the cap was placed, Vicky was also cut.  Enough said...  She man handled Vicky with so little delicacy making no apology and only shouted "use the gas and air!  Gas and air!!"  F**K your gas and air missus!  Seriously!!  Frick and Frack worked on her arms, trying to fit a cannula and missed several times.  Blood was pouring out of Vicky's wrist and Frick couldn't attach a syringe fast enough to catch it.  What a MESS!  Vicky looked at me and said "I feel like an animal".  At that moment I just wanted this over for her.  I told her to find the strength from somewhere and push for all she is worth and let's get the fook out of here.  A few more people arrived in the room, then with all her might Vicky pushed that baby into the world and was handed her for a few seconds...before she was whipped out of her arms and the room filled with frantic nurses.  "Bleeding..we didn't expect that.." we heard....not spoken to us...we just heard.  Vicky's arms were being jabbed by needles as they tried to get another cannula in and failed several more times. Vicky was hemorrhaging fast.  The chord was cut quickly, the placenta was pulled out with so much force.  Vicky was packed with swabs...she was given a local anaesthetic which wasn't given long enough to kick in before she was stitched up.  Vicky howled like the wounded animal she felt and was sharply told to relax and keep using the gas.  Stitches were taken out and more swabs stuffed inside...her stomach being scrunched like a massive stress ball and no explanation offered as to why this was happening.  Stitched up again...then repeat the process!!  "Will SOMEone TALK to my DAUGHTER?  PLEASE!!"  I was given an icy stare as if I had spoken out of turn, but an explanation was given as if read from a manual.  No more, no less.  These are the facts...deal with them.  Finally the bleeding was under control.  She lost a litre and a half...just under 3 pints that is.  This was always one of Vicky's biggest fears, postpartem bleeding.  She opted for the injection during pregnancy to avoid this...it didn't work, did it?  "Will I need to go to theatre?" Vicky asked.  "No" was the response...with no eye contact.  Two minutes later, Maleficent turned to Frick...or Frack....and said "prepare for theatre just in case".  Nice.
We are all delighted and relieved that baby Jessica Lorraine was totally oblivious and unaffected by this experience, but sadly, the experience has traumatised Vicky too much to consider any more children. It's not how it was supposed to turn out...and not how it should have if she had been listened to several times over.  How grateful am I now for my instant jag in the arse!
Jessica Lorraine Tucker...born 5.57 am and weighing 8 lbs...you are precious, just like your mummy.