Sunday, September 11, 2011

Celebrating "One"

Much like always, this summer has been a crazy busy time for us. Rather than being a mellow relaxation into a pool of cool and languid lazyness, both Launa and Heather have kept us the constant activity that seems to characterize our lives as mom of young children.

While Heather had a family reunion out of state and other summer activities, Launa had a better reason for sleepless nights and a full schedule of "To-Do's. She and her husband (and three other children) welcomed little Asher Phillip into the family in early August. Born just shy of 5 lbs, he is continuing to plump up nicely.

With both of us having teachers as husbands, our summers tend to stay full of activity since we have "daddy" home and plan a bevy of family fun activities to keep little hands and feet busy and enjoy that extra daddy time.

So with all that in mind, we decided to take some time off from making cakes and just enjoy (and let Launa recover and get some sleep!)

We did, however, celebrate two special first year celebrations. The first was our very own one-year anniversary for our business, Plum Crazy Cake Company, on July 20th. Circumstances (many listed above) prohibited us from celebrating with an appropriate beverage, but we hugged and congratulated each other and making it through a crazy, fun, stressful, fulfilling first year in business. We wouldn't want to do this with anyone else.

The other was for a sweet little boy who turned one in July. With Launa indisposed, Heather took on the bulk of the cake order herself. While not the first time she has taken the lead on a project, it's the first time she has baked and decorated the entire thing without Launa present (although she did get some help with some fondant work - yay!). The order was for a puppy dog cake for little Owen (who loves dogs). So, we did a two-tiered fondant covered cake and a smaller personal cake for the birthday boy to dig into.

Two tiered puppy dog cake with personal cake for the birthday boy

Close up

We heard from his mom and grandma that Owen dived into his cake like a champ and greatly enjoyed it. Happy Birthday, Owen!

After making sure we were all squared away on our quarterly business taxes and annual state tax, Heather temporarily closed up shop on the business side of things and enjoyed time with her family.

Launa didn't stop dabbling in cake, though. She made a fun cake creation for her youngest sibling to mark both her high school graduation and preparations to leave to go away to her first year of college.

Tiered cake with mini "grad hat" cakes

Close up of tiered cake

After getting our children squared away in their new year of school and getting our bearings (somewhat), we are feeling ready once again to take on more orders. Our next project will be a "welcome home" party for a sweet little six-month-old boy who has been adopted into a loving family. With adoption especially close to our hearts (Launa has an adopted daughter and Heather has an adopted nephew), we are thrilled to be able to provide the "yummy" for this particular celebration.

Launa is also feeling ambitious (and energized) enough to seriously consider entering a demo cake or two into the Fresno County fair in a few weeks. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ovens, Swamp Coolers & Powdered Sugar

Yes, those three things may not seem to go together at first glance, but the month of June was all about them for the gals at Plum Crazy Cake Company.

We've been utilizing one working oven at the kitchen we rent. While there are four total, three of them have had temperature issues - one in particular ping pongs up to 400 and back to 275, making it very hard to evenly bake a cake. But, Oven Number #2 has been Old Faithful for us and we've used it over the last few months. Up until now, only having one working oven hasn't been ideal, but it's been workable with the projects we had booked.

However, in May, we had our first big wedding. Baking a two-tiered wedding cake and 8 sheet cakes in one oven was a daunting thought. But then we heard the other ovens were going to be fixed! (Yay!) And then we found it, it would be happening after the wedding. (Awww!) However, in June, they were finally fixed! (Yay!) And we eagerly set about using more than just Old Faithful #2, only to find that either the ovens weren't calibrated correctly, or the internal temperature gauges don't work or ??? Old Faithful is now Oven #4, but at this point, we're glad to have an oven that reads 350 degrees inside when you set the gauge to 350 outside.

And so the oven saga continues....however! We had a cooling breakthrough! Last summer we started our cake business and spent July, August and some of September sweltering in the kitchen, scraping up melting buttercream, etc. But, this last month was also the month we got a swamp cooler put in the kitchen! It was actually so cold, we turned it up! Now that's luxury!

And how does powdered sugar fit in? Well, it always fits in! One evening when we were down at the kitchen baking and decorating away, we started talking about what one thing would symbolize what we do. As Heather was standing in front of her Kitchen Aid mixer working on her umpteenth batch of buttercream icing, she exclaimed, "powdered sugar!" as she looked around her work area (that stuff really gets everywhere!)

This is the image that we'll always have in our heads when we think about cake.

In June, we used a lot of it working on our two orders for the month. One was for a double bridal shower. We did petit fours for each guest -- one was a two tiered buttercream mini wedding cake.

And the other was a fondant covered ring box with an "engagement ring" -- complete with edible sugar diamond. And, yes, it was all cake!

We enjoyed providing the treats for our two brides.

The other project we took on was for a informal outdoor barbeque and wedding reception that was a few weeks after the bride and groom's small and private wedding.  They wanted a blue and silver squared cake with daises in bright and cheery colors.

Congrats to Jairred and Suzanne....may you have many happy years ahead of you!

We also heard from some friends of ours in the Las Vegas area that their eldest daughter, Selah, has been taking cake decorating classes -- ever since Heather visited back in February and helped her and her younger sister, Mercy, bake and decorate fondant mini cakes for Valentine's Day. She got the cake bug and the rest is history.

Her cake decorating teacher says she one of the most talented in the class!

Her piping skills are excellent -- and she's only 9!

Great job, Selah! We couldn't be prouder of you.

Inspiring someone else to try their hand at cake decorating is an amazing feeling. Of course, we can't take credit for raw talent and ability. ;)

So, that was our June in a nutshell. July promises to be fun with a proposed cake class for kids and a first birthday cake with a Puppy theme. It's also our first anniversary of being in business. (More thoughts about that next blog post.) Of course, Launa is 36 weeks pregnant so Heather is worried that she will have to add Foot Masseuse to her portfolio!

This should be fun...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spring in Our Steps's hard to keep up with this blog when it seems everything is happening so quickly. It hardly seems possible that we're almost in June. The last post we wrote was in March!

We Plum Crazy gals have been just that. Between the two of us and our 7 children (and 1 in utero), two husbands and busy lives, I think we've been just trying to hold on. Three of Heather's children have birthdays across a four-week span starting at the end of May. So, we've been baking up a storm for business and personally as well!

We took things somewhat slow and easy in April. We only took one order for a smallish baby shower. The client wanted us to provide her expectant friend's two favorite things -- butterflies and bows -- in her two favorite colors -- purple and pink. We did our candly melt monarch butterflies and made some fondant bows.

Rather than put in a lot of hours towards the latter part of April and during Spring Break, we elected to take that time off, knowing that May would be plenty busy.

And, it was.

We started the month off with a fun project -- a Tea Party themed baby shower. The client wanted a teapot cake with cupcakes for each guest. We suggested that she add in real china cups and saucers to provide a lovely favor for each guest, and she quickly agreed. Also, we were thrilled to be able to work with our favorite event coordinator, Suzanne Devereaux from Encore Events and Party Planning. As always, she understands what the client wants and executes it flawlessly. She makes it easy to do our job. We think it turned out fabulous!

Suzanne from Encore Events put on a beautiful spread...
Can you guess what the baby's gender is?

Chai Tea Latte cupcake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
The swiss meringue buttercream is a lighter and more buttery tasting frosting than its standard buttercream cousin. It was the perfect compliment to the moist and light cupcake underneath. Thank you, Delores, for letting us be a part of your special day.

Our second project for the month of May was a biggie! Our second wedding cake, but this one would be providing cake for about three times the amount of our first wedding last December.

On the docket was a fairly simple and straightfoward two-tiered ivory buttercream cake with sage green scrollwork. The tricky part was providing the seven sheet cakes that went along with the order. While that may not seem like a challenge, let us assure you that it most certainly is...when you only have one working oven.

As we've mentioned before, we rent the kitchen at a local church for our projects. They have been working hard to get all four of their ovens in working order. One has been on temperature and working great. The other three ping-pong around temperature-wise, making it difficult to evenly bake a cake. It hasn't been too much of a hassle to date with the orders we've had. But this was one we were hoping to have all 4 fired up and working -- or at least more than the one.

However, despite their best efforts, the parts weren't able to be ordered and installed in time. That meant a lot more time waiting for cakes to bake and take out and put in another. Repeat. Thankfully there was always work to be done -- making the filling for the sheet cakes, melting down chocolate for the mocha buttercream icing, washing up dishes, chopping up strawberries for the main attraction cake -- strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese filling. So, we kept busy.

On Sunday, Wedding Day, we arrived at the kitchen with plenty of time (or so we thought) only to realize that we had a new issue to deal with -- the temperature of the kitchen itself. Even though the weather was lovely this weekend, for some reason the kitchen retains heat like crazy. As fast as we could frost the sheet cakes, it seemed to want to start melting. This led to some interesting rotations between the fridge and our work space.

At last, we had everything done (or almost), so we packed up the Plum Crazymobile and headed out to the wedding location in east Clovis. Thankfully, we made it out there before the ceremony started and were able to get completely set up and finished just as the wedding concluded and guests started trickling over to the reception.

Even the hiccup of missing cabbage roses that were supposed to top the cake didn't keep us from finishing in time. Launa was able to use her skills to "borrow" some flowers from the surrounding reception tables to make what turned out to be a lovely cake topper.

Strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese filling

The "replacement flowers" turned out to be just as gorgeous with the sage green scrollwork

Finishing up the sheet cakes. This one was chocolate cake with mocha buttercream

With the cakes done and ready to be served, we hightailed it out of there to let the guests enjoy. By the time we collapsed in the car, we were both a little jittery with the crazyness of the last few hours. This photo tableau pretty much summed up that moment.

Note the buttercream smeared on Heather's glasses. Who knows how long she wore them that way.
This is what we thought about that...

Heather (right) is hysterical. Launa (left) looks exhausted and frosting encrusted!

We rewarded ourselves with a dinner at In n' Out Burger before heading back to the kitchen to clean up our mess. We've heard that that strawberry cakes were the show stopper and made a good breakfast the morning after too. And as always, we are so grateful to be involved in one of the happiest days of a person's life. Congrats to Gabi and Rachel Gonzalez! May God grant you many blessed and joy-filled years together! put our feet up for a few days before embarking on our next adventure. Petit fours for a bridal shower. These are going to knock your socks off. All we are going to say is two words: sugar diamonds!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Madness of March

March marks the six month point of the existence of Plum Crazy Cake Company. I'd say most days it feels like it's been longer than that -- but in a good way. We've done so many projects, filed so much paper, filled out so many forms, it seems like we've been operating for longer than July 2010.

At the same time, it's hard to believe we've been in business for half a year already. Although we don't have the volume that other cake shops might have, we're proud of the cakes we've created and the work we've done.

This month, we were so happy to provide cupcakes for a baby shower for our beautiful friend, Teresa, who has been waiting for this baby for 10+ years. Although we did these "personally" and not through Plum Crazy Cake Company, they were still definitely "us." We decided to follow the theme of Teresa's bedding -- featuring a chocolate brown blanket with butterflies in light and hot pink with green accents.

We decided to do our signature candy melt monarch butterflies to match atop lemon and vanilla bean flavored cupcakes.

Launa adding the candy melt wings to the cupcakes

We think they turned out super cute.

Candy melt butterflies atop lemon and vanilla bean cupcakes
 We were happy to work with our fabulous friend, Suzanne Devereaux, from Encore Events and Party Planning. As usual, she did a gorgeous job and the tablescapes were perfect! Thanks Suzanne!

Somehow Suzanne has just what we need to make the party fabulous!

The next weekend we were back in the kitchen as Plum Crazy, working on two separate orders from the same client. One of them was one of our sweet Elmo cakes.

The other was four dozen "Fiesta Cupcakes" with poured icing on top.

Once again, we locked up the kitchen in the early hours of a Saturday morning, but it felt great to have everything finished and looking great...and another satisifed customer.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fabulous February...this is how we take a break!

It hardly seems possible that it's 2011 already! And not only that, we're almost a quarter of the way through this year.

February ended up being a much-needed month of rest for the two of us, business-wise. We kept pretty busy (busier than our hubbies might have liked) through the Fall and Winter and it was nice to have a month without orders just to catch our collective breaths.

We did, however, squeeze in a cake decorating class that we called, Fun with Fondant. We had 7 students around the prep space in the kitchen we rent for baking. After only 45 minutes of instruction, we let them loose on their own 6-inch round cake with frosting and a ball of fondant to roll and drape over their cakes. We were pretty impressed with their learning curve and creativity.

Launa with her "quick study" students

Patti getting fancy with fondant...making flowers for her "hat cake."

Her hat turned out great!
 One student learned so much that she was able to make her daughter's first birthday cake...and she did a great job! For more photos of our student's work, check out our Facebook page.

Just because we weren't on the Plum Crazy clock, didn't mean that the cakes stopped. Heather ended up doing an impromptu fondant class for two sisters in Henderson, NV when she visited their family for a weekend. Selah, 9, ended up being an excellent student and worked hard at rolling out the pink fondant (she picked out the color) and making heart cut-outs for the Valentine's Day themed cakes.

Selah making heart cutouts

Putting fondant hearts on cupcakes  
Little sister, Mercy, also enjoyed decorating the cakes. She thought it was an awful lot like playing with Playdoh. Although, she had more fun licking the powdered sugar off the of the counter when Heather made the fondant.

Mercy was a natural.

Mercy's finished cake. (Baby Ayin didn't help, he just supervised.)
 Heather even made a special Valentine's Day cake for the girls' parents.

Launa also stayed busy with cake. She made their daughter, Mila, a fabulous Super Why cake for her 5th birthday party.

Mila loves watching Super Why on PBS

Fondant covered "books"

A super cake for a super sweet little girl

So, as you can see, we've stayed plenty busy. Now if only we could find the time to sit down and do our business taxes...but that's a whole other blog post.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Coasting into 2011

Well, as you can tell, we fell off the face of the blogging earth. Add in 7 children between us, one surprise pregnancy (Launa, not Heather), Christmas, New Year's, 2 teacher husband's home for three weeks, and all the other stuff and you can understand why we've been MIA.

We've stayed busy though. In January, we did a cake for a friend's baby shower. After a decade plus of trying to conceive, our friend Amy recently gave birth to a daughter. It was amazing to be a part of that special event.

Cake in honor of sweet Emery Rose, who showed up not too long after her baby shower

We also provided a 3D carved cake for little Noah who turned two. His dad is a pretty amazing designer (he did our Plum Crazy logo, so we might be biased, but we don't think so!) and it was a trade for services. We hope that Noah and his parents enjoyed his Noah's Ark cake as much as we love our logo (although we can't eat ours and there's was perishable.)

Typical sight when we're baking up a storm.
It took an entire batch of fondant to cover this board for the "grass."

Launa carving the cake and "glueing" pieces together with frosting

 Finger-piped animals for the ark

We used a "wood grain" stamp template to make the fondant look like planks of wood and then used a gumpaste tool to poke holes in the planks for the "nails."

Putting the cake together on the board with animals and bushes

Close up of Mr. & Mrs. Tiger before the Ark "Wheel House" was put on
We had a visiting "sous chef" that night. Launa's husband, Jeff, graciously allowed their "date night" to be cake night so that we could get the cake done at a semi-resonable hour on this Friday night. It also allowed for a rare photo opportunity with the both of us. Thanks Jeff!

Another late night in the kitchen, but another work of art done

The next day, Launa put the finishing touches on the cake and then took it over to Noah's party.

The finished cake

Sheepish sheep.

Pig and boat detail

Thanks KC and Rebecca for letting us be a part of Noah's 2nd birthday!