Covered With Icing
 

Amy, Lucas and Amy’s dad, Victor, met with me at the end of January for their Easter weekend wedding.  Amy had been referred by a co-worker and upcoming bride of mine.  Amy and Lucas knew going in that they wanted cupcakes.  They were getting married at Boxwell Boy Scout Reservation and the theme of the wedding was simple shabby chic with mason jars, burlap, sunflowers, etc. 

Amy and Lucas chose to have 16 dozen cupcakes in four different flavors of Sour Cream Almond with Vanilla Buttercream, Red Velvet with Cheesecake Buttercream, Chocolate with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream and Lemon with Lemon Buttercream.  Amy wanted her colors of white, avocado and blush to be reflected on the cupcakes and the cutting cake.  They wanted a simply decorated 6″ round cake for cutting and photos, which is typical at a cupcake wedding.

I have to say that I was completely impressed with the sweet decor they used for the reception.  There was a beautiful quilt hanging outside in a place to take photos, cans with wildflowers and sunflowers adorned the tables and there was an entire wall of photos from the couple’s lives held up with wooden clothespins on string.

Amy and Lucas photo wall

 

Centerpieces

 

Such a fun sweet tea bar set up!

 

I was very familiar with Boxwell from my daughter’s days in ROTC but I had never thought of recommending it as a wedding venue until Amy and Lucas’s wedding.  Now I think it’s the perfect spot to recommend to couples who are looking to be closer to nature, laid back, but also a place that can really be decked out in a fun way.

I can imagine so many possibilites in this rustic looking lodge!

 

That's a whole lot of yummy goodness!

Amy and Lucas, thank you for allowing me to make your day a little sweeter!

Kristin contacted me just 17 days prior to her wedding, the day before I was leaving town for Washington DC.  She let me know that her baker was flying to Mexico for a funeral and would not be back in time for her wedding.  Her wedding planner emailed me at the same time and described a different scenario, but whatever the situation, Miss Kristin was somewhat desperate. 

I did not have time to meet with them prior to leaving for my cake trip so I emailed and asked if she had photos in mind for her cake.  She did have some ideas that were very non-traditional and I always love that.  I gave her a quote and told her if she were interested she would need to make a decision immediately and send a deposit while I was gone.  I would be returning only a week prior to her wedding.

Unfortunately, the internet security seems to be tighter in DC than anywhere and my email to 3 different customers ended up in limbo for several days.   Kristin was interested in using me as her cake designer but we decided she would just pay in full at our meeting, just 5 days before her wedding.  I am very uncomfortable with last minute meetings because I don’t have time to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect with my brides, but that is another story.  I was very excited to try something new. 

The beautiful Damask with Sugar Flowers cake created by the Pink Cake Box

Kristin had chosen a design out of a bridal magazine by Anne Heap of the infamous Pink Cake Box.  She chose the delicious flavors of Sour Cream Almond and Extreme Citrus with Lemon Curd filling with traditional Vanilla Buttercream and fondant.

Kristin wanted to change the main color to ivory, the ribbon and accent colors to Foil Chiffon, and she did not want to have as many sugar flowers as the original cake.  She wanted the flowers to all be white instead of ivory to match her bridal bouquet of roses, hydrangea, and stephonotis with tiny edible pearl centers.

 Chris’s cake was to match his turntables, complete with edible headphones, that he was using to play music at the reception.  His was a delicious Chocolate Cake covered with Dark Chocolate Ganache and fondant.

Turntable Grooms cake for Chris

The reception was held at Marathon Village in Nashville.  This is a truly unique venue on the third floor of the administrative building.  This building was erected sometime around 1881, and some parts of the building are completely original.  While this is very beautiful for photos, it poses certain issues for cake designers, caterers, planners, and even guests.  It is a third floor walkup with no elevator.  All items needed for the reception must be carried up.  That can be a really big job, especially for food and drink!

The floors of the venue are made of very old slat boards, or crude hardwood flooring.  It’s gorgeous but it definitely gives when walked across.  It is extremely unsettling to set up any cake when the floor or table move so much, but especially so when the cake is not a typically stable design.

That being said, I was very confident that the cake looked good even though I took a tier apart and redoweled it for stability sake before I left.  I was just not as comfortable as I usually am when I leave a venue.  I took photos from all angles and held my breath somewhat until I heard from the planners a few days after the wedding who assured me the cakes looked great and as far as they knew the couple was very pleased.

My version of the cake with changes made in colors, flowers, etc.

A few years ago I would have panicked when I didn’t hear from the bride after the wedding, but I do not anymore.  Some people do not think about feedback and only let you know if they are unhappy instead of how great everything was, which is why I am convinced now that “no news is good news”.  Sadly, this was not the case for Kristin and Chris.

I was informed they were upset when I received and email on June 2 telling me I had a new review on weddingwire.  I am always excited to get a new review, as not all brides take the time to review their vendors.  I have made hundreds of cakes, but only became active on weddingwire  last year so I am still in the process of building my reviews.  The email does not tell you who sent a review, so I opened it with glee, knowing I had made many great cakes in April and May. 

I was so dismayed to find that it was a very poor review from Kristin, my first bad one.  I have to say that I was heartbroken.  Her cake design was not one I would have chosen and it wasn’t my favorite, but I found myself defending that poor cake in my head.  She showed me photos from the photographer taken later where the fondant looked bumpy instead of smooth and therefore the ribbons did not look even.  She was upset that I chose to hand stencil her design on the sides of the cakes with edible luster dust so I could get the color just right instead of using fondant cut outs.  I could have blamed the aesthetic problems on the shaking as people walked across the floor, but I didn’t.  I simply put my big girl panties on and accepted the fact that the cake wasn’t the cake of Kristin’s dreams.

I emailed Kristin after being blindsided by the review and while I obviously could not do damage control after the review was already out there, her email was not nearly as harsh as the review.  I felt it wasn’t fair to skip over a negative experience as I am a very honest person and I guess I needed to come clean with that situation.   I have put it off a long time, which is partly the reason I am so far behind on my blogs.  I just didn’t know what to say while still sounding professional and sorry she was upset.  I’ve printed out all of our correspondence from beginning to end and will force myself to read it every once in a while just to keep myself grounded.

Kristin is a very hard worker and owns her own business as well.  I am sure she’s terrific at customer service and we have both learned a valuable lesson from this experience.  I wish her and Chris the best for their life together.  I wish I could have made her happy, just as I aim to please all of my brides, but it will force me to work that much harder to keep every bride thrilled in the future.

Kristin and Chris, may your marriage never be bumpy and may your outlook on life together always be a positive one.

Wednesday morning started off promising freezing rain and snow.  That did not excite us very much as we had mountains to cross later!  We had thought about staying the night in NYC so we could let Laura get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty, but after seeing the weather report we took off. 

We began our Wednesday morning trip and not more than an hour or two in, I saw a sign for Hershey, PA.  Seriously…how could we possibly be 7 miles from Hershey and not stop?  Laura wondered what could possibly be there and I told her there was bound to be something!  So once again I convinced Laura to stop and see the sights.  What FUN!

Laura and I outside Chocolate World!

We took the free tour at the Hershey’s Chocolate World visitor center, ate a little chocolate, bought some more souveniers and marveled at how every worker acted as though it was the greatest place on earth.  I was so happy to visit Hershey, PA for my husband and son, two of the biggest chocoholics you’ll ever meet.  They smell chocolate from 3 blocks away and my son’s favorite snack is a “spoonful of ganache please!”.  I’m pretty sure he learned that word years before he should have.  We also arrived at Chocolate World at the time they were just opening so there were not many people there.  I highly recommend it!

Candy represented-I don't know why I liked this shot-colorful I guess

My favorite part of the tour were the singing cows!

They were everywhere teaching us about how chocolate is made

And not the same cows! These are pretty girl cows! LOL

Hershey was a lot of fun but when we started traveling again we realized just how far we still were from home.  Laura’s husband Jim called right after we left Chocolate World and when he found out where we were he exclaimed, “You still have 3 days of driving!” It felt like he was right!  You know at the end of a long trip when you’ve had such a great time but have to travel hours back home just to work??  That is so not the fun part of vacation and I was feeling it!  I had some big birthday cakes for the weekend and was stressing if we were not going to make it home until Thursday evening.  That doesn’t give a lot of time for custom designed cakes.  I didn’t want to push Laura at all-she was tired and I was too.  It’s just a LONG way from that part of the country.

I don’t remember where we made it to when Laura said, “7 more hours?  We can do that tonight!”  This is after she had already driven about 9.  We went just a little farther and a little farther and by the time we made it to Lexington, KY, Laura decided we should just grab some coffee and get home.  At that time it was 10pm.  We talked more in the last 2 or 3 hours of the trip about our lives and memories than we had the whole week.  The last hours flew by and I couldn’t believe it when we were pulling into Hville!  I knew Laura had a ways to go home but she was wide awake by then.  She wanted to spend the night in her own bed as I did.

We're STILL driving!

I'm good-we can do it!

This was one of the most fun trips and most memorable I have ever taken.  We are still talking about events and interesting things we saw while we were on our cake trip across the country.  I love to get places fast, but sometimes flying is just overrated.  We would have missed out on seeing my brother, visiting the Natural Bridge, going to Chocolate World and having hours and hours of great converstation and sing-a-long time!  I’m so thankful to have such a great friend willing to go the distance to cross things off our bucket lists!

Love you Lady!

Laura, my dear friend, you are a bright light in my life, woven from gold thread.  (you used that line last week and I could not resist-it fits you completely!) You say we were brought together for a reason but I am positive I got the better end of the deal.  You are way sweeter than I am! :)  Thank you forever for sharing such an amazing vacation with me!  I can’t wait to do it again!

Tuesday morning had us on the road early and heading straight to our next stop in Baltimore!  We could not possibly be so close to Baltimore without going through and checking out Charm City Cakes.

We had both tried to set up an appointment just to get into CCC but they basically said they couldn’t give a rat’s butt what we were doing, we weren’t getting in unless we spent $500.  Um, no.  SO we hung out at the building like groupies and took photos of the front door.  Anna happened to come out while we were standing in front of the door which was a little awkward.  She was just trying to leave the building and we were kind of in the way. 

Nope, you're not going to see anything through the blacked out windows!

Laura in front of the CCC doors

I'm going in! Darn it-door's locked!

The Dizz is just across the street and was featured in an episode of CCC.  The people there entertained us with stories and we were able to purchase a few items next door.  All in all, not a wasted trip in the least!  Of course, meeting Duff would have been sweet but it was not in the cards.  OOOOOH-I almost forgot!  While we were in the Dizz, we met 5 women who actually had an appointment at CCC.  My sweet friend Laura tried to bribe one of the women to buy her spot!  LOL

We found another fun little place while we were in Baltimore.  Just down the road is Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe, a gluten free bakery with lots of yummy treats.  I would not recommend using the restroom while you are there…as it is through the kitchen, down a horrid staircase, in a basement room that honestly frightened me and I’ve had to go in some creepy places.  The cookies and muffins were really good though!

We only spent about 90 minutes in Baltimore before we headed on the road again to Hoboken, NJ to Carlo’s Bakery, home of the Cake Boss.  Now, hate me if you want to, but I am NOT a fan of the show.  I believe it is way too fake for TV and makes decorators look like extremely clumsy raving idiots.  That being said, I wanted to check out the lobster tails and cannolis, along with the other treats made at Carlo’s Bakery.

As we drove into New York City, Laura saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time.  I won’t tell you exactly what she exclaimed, but it was enough to make me really wish I had her on video!  I laughed and said, “Wait…it gets bigger!!” because it was pretty small in the distance at the time.

We drove on through NYC to Hoboken and nearly got lost in a pot hole.  We parked a couple blocks away from Carlo’s Bakery and headed on over.  We stayed in line outside for 2 hours before we got in and another hour inside.  I don’t believe I’ve ever waited so long for a treat in my life but I will honestly say that the cannolis were worth it.  In fact, they are worth driving back for again.

Laura and I outside Carlo's Bakery

The infamous consultation table from the Cake Boss

Look! Laura's in the family portrait!

If I knew then what I know now, I would skip everything else and get as many cannolis as I could eat in one evening.  Yummmm!  They were out of Lobster Tails, which was a huge disappointment for me, but we tried nearly one of everything just to have an honest opinion.

I will not bash anyone on a public forum-I think that is extremely rude so I will say once again the cannolis were AMAZING!!!  The whole experience was really fun and now I’ve been there.  Mauro came out to say hey while we were inside and that made it even more fun.  He is a pretty funny guy. 

This should have been a whole box full of cannolis!

Mauro was entertaining us for a few minutes

There are so many people that work in there and everything you buy is boxed and tied up with string hanging in big spools from the ceiling.  It takes awhile for each order but they are wrapped really nice and will travel well.

We left there and grabbed a cup of coffee at a little shop and then started the really really really long trip home.  We went far enough to have a great dinner and a good night’s sleep somewhere in Pennsylvania.  I was looking forward to getting closer the next day.

Sunday morning brought a busy morning in the hotel breakfast room, with Diane Shavkin, Dana Herbert,  and several others having breakfast at the same time before the show.  We started the morning with smiles and it just got better all day.

Diane Shavkin and I at breakfast

Laura with Diane

Laura with Dana Herbert, the Next Great Baker

Heather and Dana

I took photos of several cakes in the competition on Sunday and sent them back to my FB page so those back home could see them.  We grabbed a few more people for photo ops and met up with the Sweet Southern Ladies, who we would have class with the next day.  I’d like to share a few of my favorite cakes from the competition.

I love the colors on this one!

Stringwork and details

There are really beautiful details on this one!

Love the flowering lace detail

Tangled cake

Such an interesting and beautiful design

Look at the details on this cake!

Absolutely beautiful details

This cake was piped with tiny sugar pearls made with cake play

Closeup of details

Norm's cake

Details of Norm's cake

Amazing painted cookies

Closeup of bushels of apples cupcakes

I love this cake design-like a painting coming out of the frame.

Sunday also brought us class with Lauren Kitchens.  Lauren was a little out of commission with her ankle injury so she had brought in “airbrush god” Mike McCary to give us each a crash course in his airbrushing techniques as he sprayed 30 waffle cakes in about 35 minutes.  WOW!

C'mon guys, don't be afraid! Make it your bit**! Love Lauren!

My Cake Friend Rachel from She Bakes Cakes of Lexington in Lauren's class

Mike airbrushing my cake!

We got half a smile out of him...but no time to look up!

Lauren is so sweet, down to earth and humble, it was a joy to be in her class.  I believe she truly cares about other people’s feelings and is careful to stay positive about all fellow cake artists.  She did tell us to not be afraid of our modeling chocolate and to “make it our bit**” which completely cracked me up.  The class was super fun and informative.  We made a waffle with a chocolate syrup bottle suspended in the air above.  Very cool.  It just doesn’t look like it should be accomplished with cake.

Lauren and I with my waffle cake

Laura and Lauren

Lauren taught in a way that made simple work of the steps and had several things ready for us to fit everything in a 3 hour class.  It was perfect.  We all left with waffles and I was so hungry for breakfast, that’s what we ate for dinner!

The cake show winners were announced at the end of the day and that was really fun too.  The prizes were excellent and really made me think that I will be entering when we go next year!  I will definitely go back to that show.  There wasn’t a single negative experience.

Monday brought us all day cake class with the Sweet Southern Ladies.  These are some of the most down to earth and funny ladies ever.  They are also uber talented and have been featured in many publications and TLC cake show challenges.  We made a really beautiful ivory cake covered with leaves and wrapped with a big ribbon.  We also made a baseball themed groom’s cake that would be perfect for a birthday cake or any manly cake as well. 

The Sweet Southern Ladies and I with my completed cakes

 

Becky, Laura, and Martha-three super sweet and fun ladies!

I loved hearing the fun stories about the Sweet Southern Ladies wedding cakes and their audition tape stories made me almost roll on the floor.  You just can’t help but love them and want to be around them more.  Martha and Becky, you are truly the gems deep down in Louisiana!

We enjoyed spending the entire day there but we were anxious to get on with our trip the next day.

 
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Heather Noble
PO Box 1077
Hendersonville, TN 37077
(615) 338-0466