Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pink & Green Swap

I seem to still been in an "I'm unemployed but I really don't feel like crafting" funk lately so I decided to jump back in the pool and join a swap. This way I could focus on someone else for while, make something cute and fun, and have a project for the week. Just as this thought formed in my little mind I received an email that the Lovely Miss Gypsy Mermaid was hosting a Pink & Green Swap. My favorite colors! Perfect!

I was paired with the most wonderfully fun and talented partner, Lisa. I could just tell from her beautiful blog that she deserved a fabulous swap package. And she certainly didn't disappoint me either. I received a beautiful swap package overflowing with pink and green goodies.

We needed to find a box and fill it with pink and green items. Here is the package I sent to Lisa.

I secured two small band boxes together to create a faux cake. Each "layer" was filled with glitter, trinkets, cards and other goodies.

I added decorative papers, rhinestones and needle felted flowers to decorate the "cake" box. I really love how this turned out.
We both love cupcakes so I made Lisa a custom feltie.

Here is the lovely package Lisa sent me:
Isn't this the cutest banner? It says "Life is Sweet", my motto. I LOVE it!!

This clipboard is to-die-for cute! It's also decorated with vintage cookbook images on the other side. It's so cute that I just can't image putting it aside until I use it, so I've hung it up on my studio wall.
The box she sent me is the beautiful vintage pink jewelry box filled to the brim with pink and green treasures and ephemera.
I absolutely love everything! Thanks Lisa!

I really needed this swap. It was a great way to focus on something other than my stupid job search. If anyone else is interested in doing a swap sent me an email!

My new goal is to create a least one new item per week and post it. Keep your fingers crossed!

Hugs, Heather

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scones, Cookies and the Job Search

I have to apologize for not keeping up with this blog as I should. I'm in this weird limbo land. I've finished culinary school but have decided that it isn't something I want to do full-time. So as much as I hate to admit it, I'm heading back to the corporate world. I promise I won't give up baking and crafting! They are two things that I really need to keep me sane.

I have fully accepted the idea of going back to the 9-5 grind, but the job search is just brutal. I won't bore you all with how sucky the job market is right now, just watch the news to find out. And I'm not asking for sympathy. I fully accept that I chose this path over the past year. It's weird to try to explain my daily existence. I feel that my full-time job right now is getting a full-time job. That takes time even if others in my life don't see the results at the end of the day. I seem to be getting more leads and follow-up than others I know, but companies are just slow to pull the trigger right now and actually hire for positions they've posted.

Here's my internal struggle: My husband has been so supportive of my crazy decisions lately and I feel I owe it to him to find a job as soon as possible (which I'm working on). But I also feel this is a cool opportunity. When you have a desk job you dream of all of the things that you would do if you didn't have to work full-time. Well, I'm here! What do I do?

Of course, I have my Etsy shop. I do enjoy my faux treats, but they take a LONG time to make each piece. They are really more a labor of love than something I would consider doing to pay the bills. Honestly, they couldn't ever pay the bills. The labor and material cost are just too much to recoup. I just enjoy making them for people who truly appreciate them. If there are any foody/cottage artists out there that want to do a swap, let me know!

There is another side of my life that I've been holding back from the lovely readers of this blog: I'm a romance novel junkie. I love them. I read them. I write them. OK, I'm not published yet, but this is something I've been working on a long time. I took time off while in school, but this down time has really made me realize once again that getting published is one of my top life goals. I started a new blog to document this journey, if you're interested check out Heather's Romance Bistro. I hope to share my writing journey, book news and reviews, and of course recipes and snack ideas. It's a bistro after all!
I've also been baking this week. On today's menu: chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries soaked in Southern Comfort, and Cranberry Orange Scones.
My kitty Leela decided that when I put out the plastic containers for the scones & cookies and laid the cover to my Kitchen Aide mixer inside it all, I was actually building her a nice little bed. She supervised the rest of the baking from her new kitchen table bed.

I hope anyone else out of work right now is able to take advantage of this time, and dedicate at least a little part of the day to doing or trying something you've always dreamed of when you were sitting behind your desk. Maybe a new more fulfilling career might come out of it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Kind of Cupcake Am I?

You Are a Vanilla Cupcake

You are very sweet and mellow. You are easy going and easy to like.

You are drawn to those stronger personalities. You get along with powerful people.

You are like a cupcake because you appeal to almost every type of person.

You are friendly and accepting. You bring out other people's best qualities.

Monday, January 26, 2009


You have to see this magical dessert themed claymation short. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Year Tidy Up

I decided to start the year off right and clean up my studio. I'm still somewhat in limbo trying to decide my next move in life. I've actually been getting quite a few orders from my Etsy shop, which has been keeping me busy, but I'm also trying to decide what new products I should be working on. Should I stick to 3-D needle felted items? Should I include flat embroidered felties? Should I bring back my hand painted signs with bakery themes? So many ideas, so little time. So while I'm pondering all of these questions (and many more like how do I make an actual living) I decided to clean out my studio. Here it is in a rare pristine moment.
You can see some naked felt cupcakes ready for their color and sprinkles. On the tall shelf is my treasured pink mixer from my dear friend Julie (CupcakeDD), on the white shelf are my adorable faux cupcakes from Emily at Sugar & Meringue,
and the lemon bunt cake and pink strawberry donuts from The Soapmaker (which smell AMAZING!)
This shot has three of my favorite things in my whole studio: the cake painting by Jenny/Everyday is a Holiday, the top shadow box shelf holds the cardboard cupcake made especially for me by my friend Patianne at Art on the Menu, and my LolliDolls having a tea party by Be Cheery herself, Miss Jenny.

I love my studio, spend nearly all my time at home here, and do all of my work here. Hope you like it :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Well, 2008 has been quite a year. I made my first Etsy sale and continued to make and sell felted sweet treats all year. I left my temporary job at the Craft Center, started culinary school in May, finished classes in November, and am nearly finished with my pastry externship. I’ve made lots of amazing and delicious cakes, cupcakes and cookies. I’ve learned to work with gumpaste, fondant and pastillage. I can make a wicked awesome Swiss buttercream (not a fan of Italian buttercream). I’ve reconfirmed my hatred of crème brulee and soufflés. And ultimately realized that my pastry passion lies with cake decorating.

I’ve had an amazing externship at Cake Haven in Danbury, Connecticut. I want to give a HUGE thanks to the owner, Francine Bové, for being such a fantastic teacher and mentor. She is a true artist and has taught me more than I could have ever asked to learn in ten weeks. Thanks Frani! You’re the Best!

As this adventure is coming to an end, and we’re starting a new year, I need to figure out my next move.

For starters, my new LolliShop is OPEN!! I just adore what Sadie Lou Who has done with this new online candy-colored, sugar-coated shopping dreamland. Be sure to check out my store and all the other super sweet vendors. There really are some amazing artisans and crafty gals in LolliLand.

2009 will definitely see an increase in merchandise in both my Etsy and LolliShops, with new designs and fun sweet filled gifts. But while I’ve had fun in pastry school, and learning the fine art of cake decorating, I just don’t think I’m ready to make the full career change to pastry chef. I’m thinking that I’m ready to go back to the oddly balanced life of corporate America by day, and craft queen by night. The job search is on (yeah, great time of year and economy for a job search), we’ll see how it goes.

I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year! I wish you all an over abundance of creativity, more love than you know how to reciprocate, and a world of wealth to make all of your dreams come true.

XOXOX Heather

Saturday, November 8, 2008

School's Over, Now the Work Begins

I've finished my last class in pastry school--Chocolate Artistry. This is my final piece--a pastillage box with one dozen truffles. Everything on the box is edible, the snowflakes are also pastillage, and the truffles are all hand rolled and dipped dark chocolate raspberry (Framboise & raspberry puree)
Here I am in my full uniform. DORKY!

So I'm now ready to start my externship and I have a confession to make...I didn't survive the first externship I agreed to. It took me only one weekend to realize the the restaurant life wasn't for me. I was so excited about the idea of being a pastry chef in a four star restaurant, but the reality of working 16 hour days to open a new restaurant was just not happening for this girl (yes, I've worked in restuarants before, but I was MUCH younger). In the middle of dinner service I had an epiphany--I just want to make and decorate cakes! I went into pastry school believing that cakes was the direction I wanted, band guess what, it is. And I realized that I needed to get out of the restaurant and find another externship more suitable to my advancing age and desired skill set.
I'm thrilled to report that I found exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to work at Sweet on You bakery in Stamford, CT. It's so cute and has super yummy baked goods, plus I'll be able to decorate which is really what I want. I'll keep you all posted, cross your fingers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cheese Please!

Lovely cheese platter? Nope, it's Cake!

Everything you see is entirely edible, even the marble is marzipan. The blue cheese wheel and pistachio crusted cheese ball are both yellow cake soaked with Earl Grey syrup and filled & iced with green tea Swiss buttercream.
This was my final project for Advanced Cakes. I LOVE how it turned out!
(Yes, I got 100%. WooHoo!)

I really like the "moldy" sides of the blue cheese. It's really just royal icing tinted with edible food color.

I spent a long time on the blue cheese wheel, but in the end I liked the cheese ball more. I was just so tickled that it really looked like a cheese ball you could scoop into.

Even the crackers and the cheese knife are edible gum paste. This is absolutely my favorite piece to date. I can't wait to make more sculpted cakes!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life is Sweet!

I think it comes as no surprise by now that I'm food obsessed. Or that I take my search for the full on sweet life very seriously. OK, not too seriously, I mean that's the whole point of leaving corporate America to find my true passion and enjoy life to the hilt. I have, however, completely committed myself to doing and trying everything I can to make my life happier, sweeter and just more fun. To that end and to the complete dismay of my dear hubby, I've embraced my inner rebellious teenager...
I got a tattoo!
A BIG one!

My new cupcake tattoo!! I LOVE it! It took me a while to find the right tattoo artist to do it because I really wanted it fully shaded and great color. It's about 4"x 4 1/2" on my lower right shin.
I love it, love it, love it!

A huge thanks to Markus at Lucky Soul Tattoo in Ansonia, CT

I also have other new cupcakes from online friends. I did a swap with Emily from Sugar & Meringue. Aren't these the cutest faux cupcakes? They absolutely look deliciously real. I love the ballerina cuppie! They look so awesome in my bakery themed studio.

I sent Emily one of my jumbo cupcakes made just for her:

I've wanted one of these amazing cupcakes for a while. This fantastic cardboard cupcake was made especially for me by my friend Patianne Stevenson from Art on the Menu. I've shared her work with you before, but now I own my very own Patianne cupcake!
Isn't it so cool? And check out that wicked cool matching serving tray. She even sends it with a tag to tell you what type of boxes she got the cardboard from. Now that's a green crafter! The cherry is my favorite part :)

Thank you soooo much Patianne! I hope you like your felt cupcake.

Now for your Thursday sugar rush, here are a few of the latest cakes from school:

Flourless chocolate cake covered with ganache and raspberries. This is now the hubby's new favorite!

Chocolate genoise and peanut butter buttercream covered with ganache. Aren't the vertical stripes cool?

To make the vertical stripes is actually pretty easy. You do need to assemble the cake in a cake circle lined with acetate. Put a layer of cake on the bottom and frost it with buttercream, then you take long stripes of cake 1 1/2 inches wide, frost them and roll them like a swiss roll, keep adding strips until it fills the entire circle (The swiss roll goes onto the cake flat so you can see the rings, similar to the rings of a tree stump). Then top the giant swiss roll with another layer of buttercream, another cake circle, a crumb coat of buttercream and enrobe the whole thing in ganache. When you slice it, you get the vertical stripes. Cool huh? Hope that made sense.

This one is called a Dobos Torte. It looks more exciting than it is. Basically it's a hazelnut layered torte with 7 layers, covered in chocolate buttercream. The triangles on top are caramel covered sponge cake that have been dipped in chocolate.

This entremet is called Eleanor: Framboise soaked cocoa genoise, outer rim of raspberry jam layered sponge cake, fresh raspberries, raspberry Bavarian, topped with raspberry gaze, whipped cream & fresh raspberries

This Fraisier Entremet is composed of: Kirsch flavored genoise, strawberries, mousseline, French buttercream and topped with a marzipan disk.

Mini Fraisiers. The acetate is still around them so you can't see the strawberries very well.

Havana Torte is a hazelnut cake with three separate layers of hazelnut sponge cake, two chocolate layers, and one vanilla, the whole cake is crumb coated in chocolate buttercream and enrobed in chocolate ganache

I hope you've gotten your sugar fix. I'll check back soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So much to do, So little time...

I can't believe it's been so long since my last post! It seems like every Sunday I swear that I'm going to make sure I schedule blogging time, and the next thing I know it's the next Sunday. I don't know where the time goes. These last two pastry school classes (Intro to Cakes and Advanced European Cakes) have taken a lot more out of school planning and prep time. I've loved every minute of it, but it certainly hasn't allowed for any crafting or blogging time. This is my final practical exam for Intro to Cakes. We had to complete a three-tiered fondant covered wedding cake. The design and decoration was totally up to each student.

I'm THRILLED with how it turned out! I've never worked with fondant in my life & I can't believe how smooth I managed to get my cakes. To do the garlands I made over 300 fondant flowers (I did those at home) and "glued" each one on individually. I just want to make sugar flowers all day. Anyone in Connecticut need a cake decorator? We'll get to the job front in a minute...

Here's a shot of the all of the cakes in my class. At the risk of be too catty, I do think mine stands out a bit :)
The class I'm currently in is Advanced European Cakes--Lots of tortes, layers, almond flavor and mousses. The one exception was doing a "dome" cake, which basically is a simplistic form of a sculpted cake created in a bowl and turned out once firm. We could use the dome to create any themed marzipan covered cake we wanted. I decided to alter the dome form a bit and create a cornucopia.

The cornucopia is all cake (vanilla sponge cake with vanilla buttercream, nothing exciting), the pumpkin to the right and the large apple to the left are mini cakes. Everything is either covered with marzipan or made out of marzipan. I think it's so cool. It took about 6 hours total to complete.
For the final exam for this class I've decided to make a similar type of decorated cake, but it will be a cheese platter theme (think wheel of cheese, crackers, olives, etc). Check back at the end of the month for that one!

Here are some of the other creations so far from this class:

Individual mocha layer cakes

Zebra Cake -- Chocolate genoise cake with peanut butter butter cream, covered in ganache. Don't you love the stripes? It's actually pretty easy, the middle is like a big swiss roll on it's side with a disk of cake on the top and bottom.

Dobos Torte--7 layers of sponge cake with 7 layers of chocolate buttercream. The top is a layer of sponge cake covered with caramel & dipped in chocolate. This one was A LOT of work for so so payout as far as I'm concerned.

Flourless Chocolate Cake --This cake is AMAZING. Made more like a baked custard cheese cake, very rich and chocolatey.

Here's another impressive looking cake, but give me plain cake with frosting any day. This is a Havana Cake -- A bottom layer of chocolate hazelnut cake, middle layer of vanilla hazelnut cake, another chocolate cake layer, crumb coated with chocolate buttercream and enrobed in ganache. Looks cool, tastes like dry crumbly nuts.

In addition to doing all of this I've been obsessing about my externship. I only have 4 more weeks of classes, then we all must complete a 10 week externship in some sort of baking establishment. I started looking weeks ago. It's such a strange thing to be a grown adult with a fairly decent (but not applicable) resume begging to be allowed to take on a minimum wage job. In this economy bakeries just aren't in the position to take on help, even for peanut wages. I think my resume was also scaring people a little. But alas, just when I thought I'd be working at the local grocery store, I landed an unbelievable opportunity.

A new four-star hotel is opening up in New Haven (trust me, it's needed) with a up-scale restaurant that will hopefully also be four-star dining. I really didn't want to work in a restaurant mostly because I don't want late night hours. Did that when I was in my 20's, don't really want to do it now. But they really needed a pastry cook, and since it's a hotel they would also be serving breakfast & lunch. So I decided to check it out and was hired on the spot. As a pastry chef!!!! Yes, I reminded them that I'm still a student, but he really liked my portfolio. I start next week and the hotel & restaurant open at the end of the month. It's called The Study at Yale
and I love the look and philosphy of the hotel. I also really like the Executive Chef. He has a very impressive resume and I'm hoping to learn a lot of from him.

My emotions keep switching between "how did I land this amazing opportunity" and "I really just want to decorate cakes." I'm going to keep working on my cakes and building a portfolio so I can hopefully move to that specialty in the future. In the meantime I do need to make some money and get my foot in the door. I'm excited and freaked out. I'll need to get over my hatred of creme brulee. But at least I have an externship/employment plan so I'm going with it.

The down side of all of this is not knowing how much time I'll have for crafting, my Etsy shop and my new LolliShop. Wish me luck!
xoxox Heather