Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer =)

Good Morning Dear Sugar Diary!

I have been M.I.A. for a while trying to gather my thoughts as well as getting things ready for this summer & trying to take a break. Things seem to be slowing down and that is fine by me=) But I have had so many moments in my absence that have been like "Oh this would make a great blog topic!" Then when I come and sit at the laptop they don't seem to translate well and I get frustrated and go do something else! So I will kinda just "play it by ear" and see what happens!

Over the past months I have really connected to lots of you online and that has been a great experience. You not only share my passion for cakes...but you are all also real people somewhere in this wide world going through the same stuff I go through on a daily. You all send me good vibes and I appreciate it! =)

 I had posted about taking a break from cakes for the summer and immediately was bombarded with tons of emails speculating as to my REASON. There is no juicy reason...No...I am not QUITTING.....No I am not angry....NO I haven't had a "fight" with anyone and NO I am not getting into something else. LOL! I simply feel like summer should be spent relaxing and playing with the kids and getting your house and life in order in time for the new school year=) I am not ill.....I am not "OVER" caking. I was doing 6-8 orders a weekend which meant I was on a very different schedule than Josh and the kids....which made it hard for them to do stuff in the daytime because MOM(me) was sleeping or tired. I felt like I was either in the kitchen or at the store getting supplies. So there...that is my reason. I felt I needed to slow down. =) I felt like this most of the time:

Now I have cakes for the summer and cupcake orders but 1 or 2 a weekend....and when I look at my calendar I can breath! So now I can feel like this:

 I have some weddings...birthday cakes...cupcake orders for baby related events and even an X rated order! LOL..My very first one! I am excited about that one! I will post some pics and even finish up on the last blog post about what to do to get started. I didn't post a Part II immediately because a lot of people emailed me and I was answering that way.=) So I will try and finish that up and then post some recipes I have enjoyed and even talk about the ones that DIDN'T work! Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to continue to post! Keep up the great job you all are doing in your lives and with cakes....continue to experiment and to learn! Love you all! Ciao!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Basics Pt.I

Dear Sugar Diary,

Hi to all you Sugar Skull Cakery Allstars! Good Morning to you all from my my garage! Idk why I am in here but I set up my laptop in here for's quiet and I can hear the birds outside.

This post is in response to numerous emails and messages I have received from newbies in the cake world. Questions have poured in asking what equipment would be the best to acquire first I have put together a list of what I think is a good starting point. =) I will also say I am by no means an authority on the matter...this is all just my own opinion !!! It's the things that I got when I decided to stop thinking about it and just did it! =)

Ok so first things first...You have played with the idea of baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes....but when you get online it becomes click your way across pages on Facebook looking at other people's creations....and you wonder "How on earth did they make that?!" lol...It happens to me too...everyday and about a million times! Here are 10 things you should have as basics to even begin to start to try out baking and decorating:

1) Cake Pans! Duh! lol....but we see soooo many top choices for a beginner would be : a) One 15x11 sheet pan
                 b) One 10 inch round pan ( I prefer the 3 inch deep ones)
                 c) One 6 inch round pan(again the 3 inch deep ones)
                 d) 2 standard size cupcake pans
                 e) 2 mini cupcake pans
2) Utensils! You will need a mixer...hand held...or like a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (what I have) It is an investment you will NEVER regret! Especially at 2am when you need a new batch of buttercream or fondant! TRUST ME! You will also want to have a good silicone spatula(for scraping down your bowls) ..two good angled spatulas (one big and one small for icing) a very sharp fillet knife for carving but  ONLY FOR CAKING...... and a knife that has teeth like a saw. 1 measuring cup and a set of measuring spoons!

3) BOWLS! Big bowls..small bowls...plastic bowls...stainless steel bowls...and bowls with lids!

4) towels and a lifetime supply of paper towels and pot holders! But make sure all of these things are ONLY USED FOR BAKING.....don't use them for everything else you do in the kitchen! They lose their magical powers! ;)

5) Go to your favorite craft store or just a WalMart and get a basic set of icing tips and couplers...and disposable piping bags. The bigger the bag the better for starting out.=) They come in many sizes;)

6) Cupcake is a secret...the prettier they are ...the better your cupcakes will be....OK OK isn't a scientific fact but it helps! Trust me!

7) If your planning on baking cakes get some cakeboards....there is nothing worse than baking a cake...pulling it out of the oven and running around realizing your OUT of boards ! =/

8) Buy STOCK (lol) in parchment paper...aluminum foil...wax paper....sandwich bags....and plastic wrap! These things will become your best friends! =)

9) Buy a basic set of polymer clay can get those in a craft store and even at WalMart! (this is if you plan on working with fondant)

10) a Good non stick rolling pin!

I hope this starts you off in the right direction! Part II is coming very soon! Stay tuned! I have to go unpack some more stuff....last week was a busy one and I didn't get to much these couple of days off are gonna be for that! Good Luck on your adventure! =)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Flood

Dear Sugar Diary...!

Hey Hey Hey !!!!!! How are YOU??!! has bee FOREVERRRR! But here I am again and there you are and that's all that's all that matters! :wink wink:

I have so much to tell you! A lot of you already know why I was M.I.A. for a while ...but for those of you who do not here is the low down...ready? Ok!

Well...I was in my kitchen minding my own business..washing some dishes when I noticed the sink start to fill up with water....hummm....I thought...."Well let me run the disposal and that usually makes it go down...." WRONG! So then a little bit of panic set in.....why? Well because I heard a drip....then a loud gush of water and when I looked into the bottom cabinet with the same slow caution someone opening a trunk of a car does on those CSI worst fears were confirmed...I sprung a leak! Well no not ME but my sink did=(!!! OM;Gosh... What do I do? How does this get fixed/ Is it bad? is there something in there? Can I do this alone? Should I wake Josh or wait? Do I call our plumber? Am I over reacting? ..... I shut off the water valve and sat in a puddle...convinced I was the cause....with my potato peels in the disposal! But as I started taking off each pipe I saw that nothing was in I "fixed" it like BOSS. lol....I ran and got a latex glove...fitted it in the pipe like those rubber rings and screwed it back in place....the drip was less but the sink was still full =\.... OOOOO a PLUNGER! That should work...PLUNGE PLUNGE PLUNGE ...and yeah...No ...It wasn't doing anything....-_-.........and then my youngest son came into the kitchen...." toilet in my bathroom...the water is going UP and not DOWN." "WHAT?!" Up? Really? " So I ran in there and low and behold...the water WAS going up! AND...The bathtub also filled up !! OH NO! We need help! Josh finally woke and I showed him the problem...he assessed that we had a leak...LOL.....! He called the realty people and they said a plumber would be out to us in 2 days! WHAT!? 2 days????? But I have orders! I have work! I have things to do!

I accepted the fact that I would have to deal with it.....pulledyh./r up my big girl underpants and i placed a bucket underneath the sink and dealt. Tuesday finally came and the plumber was late.....-_- then he looked at it and said (I kid you not)
"I can't fix this....the problem is in the wall..I will be back tomorrow."
By this point one thing was on Josh's mind...MOVING. So we looked around and found a place and moved. took us 3 1/2 days but we did it! So even though it was all crazy and chaotic...we made it! I even managed to keep all my deadlines! Now we are in a much more comfortable home....and crossing our fingers that the water pipes are a-ok here! LOL....but I think I need a vacation! I want to thank all of you that "helped" me through that crisis...via emails and txts...comments and messages and just thoughts.....I want to thank Chris Mougette for reading her facebook feed regularly and bailing me out of an otherwise horrible catastrophe...(ran out of fondant and I wanted to use her recipe) lol.....I want to thank all of you who stuck it out and sent hello's and "it will ok's" The move left us internet free for two days and I realized how much I use it! You all live in it.!! Well one last thank you to Josh...for taking charge and making sure Sugar Skull Cakery could continue to bake and create on time and in better surroundings!  Thanks Babe! ;) I still have to unpack but that can be little by rush! ;) Wel I have a cake to get to...a promotion cake for tomorrow! So I will be back soon! Love you all!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Internet Cake Friendships

Dear Sugar Diary,
    Hey again! How is it going?? Things will be back to normal soon and I will blog more I promise! Thank you for still finding time to email me ! You all are always so encouraging and just awesome! I have been at my table making decorations while having my "forever full"cup of coffee and answering all your emails makes me smile. I know we are all online and in different parts of the country and  world even but it really has sparked some friendships that make me wish I lived everywhere! A true cosmopolitan citizen of the world! I laugh with you via "lol's" and "ha ha ha's" and we are sad together via "=( or ='(" We even get happy for each other via "Yays! and Hooray's!"  We exchange pictures and critique each other and even just chat about whatever...not even cake related.

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on my Facebook Fan page asking what group or clique you belonged to in high school....I was looking for a common thread ....something that may link all of us even if we didn't bake or decorate cakes back then....and the most common pattern that kept recurring in answers and in emails was this: Most of us weren't the "cool" kids....or the most popular kids.....we were creative geeks...and the ones that had friends in many circles. I myself was a friend of every group.....and very artistic and creative. It is nice to NOT be in High School anymore..but sometimes Facebook makes it seem like we still are huh? You start noticing certain cliques and friends that "hang" together popularity contests....and rivalry. It really is all so funny to me now that I am in my 30's. I don't bake to make anyone upset and I don't bake to get approved by anyone. I don't post pics because I am striving to have a pic "liked" the most .... I have friends and family and clients that  really do want to see what I am up for them I post. Pictures and video are the only way to get noticed for what you do online. I mean ...I could describe a cake in words but I don't think it would have the same effect as a pic...LOL!

All in all the online caking community has been amazing....a place to go where EVERYBODY knows what you are talking about all the time. If I was to call a non-caker friend and say:
" I just spent 2 hours answering email orders and then spent 2 more hours re ordering supplies online...and 4 hours making batches of fondant".....they would (and have) most certainly look at me and say "Well..Shey it sounds like your life is very HARD...chit chatting with and playing with play-doh..while some of us actually get up and GO TO WORK" =\  ...=\

But at any time of the day I can come here and say that very same thing and everyone is sooooo understanding and awesome....saying things like " Can't wait to see what your working on..." or "What site do you shop on? Such and such site is cheaper!"

                                            You guys make my days happy!

You get me. You sympathize with me. You get it....all of it! And for that THANK YOU! So with that said I will have to wave goodbye for now......I am supposed to be making a cake but I fell asleep and just woke up! Ciao! I will be back shortly! Keep those emails comin! =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes!

Dear Sugar Diary!

  Wow! I am soooo sorry ! I haven't blogged in like FOREVER! It wasn't intentional...I promise! I was swamped here with cakes! Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes! I feel blessed business has picked up. I made 7 cakes in 7 days....and then 1 more last night...and I have 5 more orders lined up for this week! Phew! I remember daydreaming two years ago of having more than one cake a month ... I used to put together montages in my head of me in a frantic baking frenzy....flour all over my face....dirty bowls and spatulas stacked up in the sink....the fire alarm going off.....(sounds like an episode of I Love Lucy ..LOL!) Now I get to be IN the montage! People don't even look at me weird anymore when I run into the supermarket in sugary clothes with a crazed look in my eye....Ha! They know it's just THAT one lady(me) that runs in ...grabs an insane amount of ingredients WITHOUT a cart and makes a mad dash for the cashier....!! I had back to back orders .... sleep came in two and three hour spurts...deliveries were a very sleepy me holding my breath and whispering curses at every speed bump/manhole/sharp turn and red light.... as I was driving to the different events. But again...every single cake made it and no tragedies occurred. Yay! Here are some of the cakes I made while on my crazy cake making binge....I think I need an intervention! lol....Enjoy:)

I made most of these last week....and the Oscar theme cake last night. I will post again soon! =( When I finish the cake I am currently working on=) Pokemon! =) I have some exciting projects coming up that I am super excited to begin! I promise to meet you all back here soon! Thanks for taking a couple minutes to stop by and read. =) Tootles!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mission: Find the YUMMIEST sugar cookie recipe....Status: Accomplished!

Dear Sugar Diary,
Sugar Cookies (made from scratch) decorated by my kiddos<3)
         So yesterday was Easter ..... I was on a quest for the yummiest sugar cookie recipe. And yes....YUMMIEST is a category to me when it comes to Sugar Cookies. ;) I have made about 5 different recipes...all slightly different on amounts of ingredients....and each one was very different from the next. I tried a recipe that produced little thin crispy cookies...when I say crispy I mean CRISPY. I could have used them to patch a hole in drywall. -_- I am by NO means a cookie baker or decorator...but when the kiddos convene and want cookies to decorate one must always comply! I many kids still want to do that nowadays? Mine are 13,12 and 8 whenever they express they want to do something NON-ELECTRONIC I am overjoyed and JUMP at the chance to spend sit down NON-ELECTRONIC time with them!;)  

Ok so the next 3 recipes were all OK....but OK isn't yummiest. So I looked at all my recipes and compared them to the one I hadn't tried yet. There was really only one significant difference...this one I had left to try called for a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar and 3 1/2 cups of flour. I have only used Cream of Tartar in stabilize it...but never in cookie recipes. And a lot less flour. So I happily gathered my ingredients:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Followed the directions EXACTLY:
  1. Cream the margarine and add the sugar gradually. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt gradually to the creamed mixture, stirring in by hand. Cover and chill dough overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut into your favorite shapes. Place cookies onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 6 to 8 minutes or until cookie has a golden appearance.
Immediately with just the dough stage I had that feeling that I was finally on the right track! It was smooth, soft & silky. It didn't stick to everything...and it tasted VERY GOOD! 
I have also learned throughout this experimenting that the "chill dough in the refrigerator" is VITAL in getting your cookies to hold their shape when baking. I always used to skip this part .... being impatient... but they always turned into cookie blobs and that's no fun! I chilled for 2 hours...not overnight...seeing as to how Easter was almost over and the kids wanted to decorate before Easter was over! I rolled out the dough to about  1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes and circles. I placed them on cookie sheets and popped them into the refrigerator again for about 10 - 15 minutes. The oven was already hot by now (I set it to 350...not 375) I baked them for about 8 minutes .. and they looked soooo pretty and held the shapes rather well. I let them cool and harden a little and placed them on a large square cake pan I have. I had already gotten the royal icing ready while the dough had been chilling in the fridge. I use my own royal icing that I have modified to work in my climate....

It is great for cookies as it is runny like "color flow" and it's yummy too! This is how I do it:

 Sugar Shey's Royal Icing Recipe (for cookies):

3/4 cup of warm water
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract(clear)
One 2lb bag of Powdered Sugar
*Food Coloring 

I first place the 3/4 cup of warm water in my mixer bowl and start it on medium..adding the egg whites slowly and let it mix for about a minute until it is all bubbly ...then in high till it looks like meringue all shiny and gooey and peaks on it's own without falling back into the bowl...but not DRY(think whipped cream). Then I add the vanilla and cream of tartar and bring it back to medium speed for about another minute to make sure its all mixed in...then I add the sugar bringing it back to low (or I will have a sugar explosion! ) lol....once all the sugar is mixed up and not loose (remember to scrape the sides of your bowl!) I bring back up to medium/high to get it to a smooth shiny consistency. =) I hadto play with different ways till I came to this one...our weather is kinda strange in Arizona...VERY DRY and this modified by me recipe has endured the test of DRY. =) It doesn't set up as fast as other recipes either allowing for more time to decorate and even to color the icing.
I found the recipe for the sugar cookies on  they are called "Michelle's Soft Sugar Cookies" . I don't know who Michelle is...but if I did I would write her and thank her. I LOVED these cookies and so did my fiance and kids! They ARE soft and YUMMIEST...super simple and easy to handle without breaking. I will be using this recipe forever now. I hope you try it too and add Cream of Tartar to your pantry arsenal. It works great in this particular recipe. Well I have to say "Toodles" for this week is gonna kick my butt! Orders are all lined up and I have a ton of fun creating ahead! I will try to get in 1 or 2 more entries before the weekend! 1 of which will probably be a tutorial....just not sure on what yet! So...TOODLES and I hope you all have a great week! happy Baking and thanks for stopping by! ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

10 Caking Things I have Learned (the hard way) !

Dear Sugar Diary,

There are things you don't know when you get into caking. Things no one can prepare you for. So I have put together a list of the top 10 things I have learned the HARD way since I began caking......

1) Everyone  is NOT going to be nice to you. Not everyone will like your cakes...and not everyone will have something nice to say. And it will get you will fester for a while and hurt your feelings...You will need to grow a tough skin and do what you do...because in the end there is more friendly ju-ju out there than negative....use the negativity as creative fuel.

2) Not every recipe you bake will turn out brilliantly. And it isn't always your fault. Sometimes weather...ovens...geography...mood....and ingredients conspire against us....and sometimes it IS  our own mistake....don't let one botched cake drag you isn't the end of the's time that cake will turn out delicious and you will be a better baker for it.;)

3) Don't try to be a caking super hero. Trying to do more orders than you can handle will only reflect in your work....if you can handle 5 cakes in a weekend then fine ....but if you can handle 1 ...that's fine too! Your clients are after quality quantity isn't really important.

4) Don't compare yourself to other bakers/decorators. You are YOU...and what YOU have to offer and what you bring to a project is YOURS and unique and amazing. Sure we get inspired by our peers and their work....but if you are trying to "compete" your going about it all wrong and should re-evaluate your priorities.

5) Be honest about your skill level and abilities. Don't try something NEW on a real project ...a real order.....leave the NEW stuff for practicing at home when you have the time....

6) It's OK to spend time on caking ...its ok to set time aside to practice...but don't forget that you have a life OUTSIDE of cakes while you have projects...make sure you set some break time in there for your family ... your pet....and your friends...or you will be one lonely caker. 

7) Remember that your non-caking friends don't get your passion as much as your caking buddies do. Try not to bore them with cake talk....I get that we have a million things running through our minds...ideas we want to try out...but if it is ALL you talk about people stop listening.....

8) If your not in a caking mood...if the vibe isn't there on any given day...don't try out that "THING" you've been wanting to try...because if the mood is off you are only going to be frustrated .... so cake when your in your caking mood...=)

9)Saying No to an order is don't have to take every single order that comes your way. You may not have the time...or are already booked. Let your client know...tell them in a nice way that while you appreciate the inquiry you are unable to accept at this time and hope they keep you in mind for next time. I promise people won't hate you for that...they actually appreciate your honesty. 

10) Have fun. In baking patience is a requirement....almost a law. Breath and remember to have fun...after all when you decided to be a caker....the "fun" aspect of playing with buttercream and fondant is what pulled you in. If it isn't fun anymore then something is wrong .... find out what is wrong and fix it. Cakes are meant to be fun...=)

I hope this helps a little if you are experiencing any of these things.....we are human....and I really believe that projects should be fun and satisfying...NOT frustrating. Happy Caking !!