Archive | September 2012

Traveling to Cake Shows

I LOVE cake shows! I have driven across the United States to enter a show and enjoy every bit of my trip. My shortest drive was one and a half hours; my longest was 22 hours. There are a few keys to make attending a show much more enjoyable. First and foremost, remember this is supposed to be fun! If you drive to a show thinking only about winning, your experience will not be good if you fail to reach that goal. If you go looking forward to seeing what all the talented people will bring, to meet and make new friends and to challenge yourself to do your personal best, then you will come home in love with the cake show experience.

Before you go:

1. Make sure you have read the rules for the show you are attending and ensure that your entries comply with their particular requirements. Each show is different.

2. Email the show coordinator and offer your help while you are there. If you regularly demo or teach, offer those skills. All shows need “cake guardians” to keep the public from touching. This is a great way to help the show, pass the time and meet lots of people.

3. Pack your cake. If it is a smaller entry, it may be fine in a traditional cake box. If it is a tiered cake, you want to use a sturdy cardboard box and cut down one side of the box. Tape 3 flaps at the top together so they will not fall down on your cake. Then you can slide your cake in and out. Be sure to put non-skid in the box to hold the cake in place. Once the cake is in, use masking or packing tape to hold the front flap in place. Remember to pack the tape for later! Use a sharpie to label the box.

Before I box each cake, I give it a “shake” test. If I can shake the cake and nothing moves, it is ready to travel. (How many of you just gasped?!! If your cake cannot survive a little shake at home, it will have a rough time getting to the cake show.) Loose pieces must be packed separately. If flowers or other fragile pieces need separation, use toilet paper or Kleenex. Cotton catches on the pieces; foam can sometimes break them. Put cleats under your cake boards to make it easier to get your fingers under them…especially the larger, heavier cakes!

4. Packing for the trip. Once you have all your clothes and traditional repair kit items for your cake, you might want to add a few more things.

a. Allergy and pain medication. You never know how your nose will react in another place and my friends and I are always happy to have sinus medicine with us. You will be stiff and sore from working on your entries, from driving, from standing at the show and from sleeping in strange beds, so take your aspirin, advil or whatever.

b. A heating pad or icy hot back patches. My friends and I have discovered that you sleep much better if you heat your back right before you fall asleep. Muscles relax, you forget about the hotel bed and you will wake more refreshed.

c. Maps, maps, maps! For me and my friends, we prefer Mapquest and a GPS. I’ve always driven straight to my destination with no problems. Sometimes your phones lose signal, so have a back up plan!

d. Car and In-Room chargers for your telephone.

e. Camera, memory cards, extra batteries and/or a charger.

f. Extra set of keys for your car—I’ll explain why later!

g. Your favorite pillow.

h. Damaged in Transit signs. Some shows provide them, but have a couple of your own…just in case something breaks on the drive. Place it by your cake before judging so the judges know you did not intentionally place a broken flower or whatever on your cake.

i. Business cards with an email address for all the new friends you will make.

5. Have your vehicle serviced. Take the vehicle to your favorite service center and make sure that the oil, tires, coolant, etc. are all in good condition before you set out. If you have a roadside emergency kit, this is the time to be sure it is in your car.

6. Check the forecast. Between the internet and the Weather Channel, you can find out the predictions for the time you will be there. I’ve arrived with my friends at shows only to find that we needed to go buy warmer or cooler clothes!

7. Book a room. If possible, look for rooms with microwaves and refrigerators. If you are working on your cake in your room, these could be lifesavers. Consider asking for a room on the bottom floor or near an elevator if you plan to work on your cake in your room.

8. Get a good night’s rest. Especially if you are embarking on a cross country drive, you will want to start the trip fresh.

9. Take a cart. If you have the room, a cart can make the loading/unloading process a breeze. If your cart does not collapse or fold, make sure you have it tied down or properly braced so it will not move. I have folding carts that lock in place. I can load cakes and delicate items on them for travel. They aren’t cheap, but they are sturdy and reliable. Mine are made by Carlisle.

On the Trip:

1. Take a cake buddy. Carpooling to shows cuts your costs and doubles your fun. Take the vehicle that holds the entries best. Don’t forget that you have to have room for luggage and (usually) room for the prizes you win and goodies you buy. I’ve had to sacrifice entries for the “good of the group” and let a cake be destroyed to fit things in for the trip home.

2. Allow extra time. If your map tells you it will take 7 hours to get there, allow yourself a couple of extra hours leeway. Many of us at OSSAS will remember when Gary Silverthorn made it to the Oklahoma Show late because he got lost on his trip. While the show director allowed him to compete, you should never rely on someone making an exception for you. When possible, I arrive the night before and then place my cakes the day of the competition.

3. Allow setup time. If you wait until the last 30 minutes of setup to show up with your cake, you will be stressed for most of the morning. It could take a while to get checked in and fill out the judges’ information sheets. My friends and I try to get there as close to start of the setup time as possible. Once we have everything in place, we are able to do any repairs without feeling pressured by time.

4. Be prepared for the weather. We arrived in Maryland for the Mid-Atlantic show on a cool, overcast day. The first entries to unload were just fine…then the skies opened. Our cakes were in boxes, so we moved them in just fine, but we saw people without boxes trying to hold trash bags and umbrellas over their entries to get them inside. Of course, rain drops were all over many entries at that show. Plan for your worst case scenario.

5. Watch the weather on your trip. If you stop to go eat on the way, the cakes in your vehicle can suffer in the elements. I left a cake in my car on a hot day only to discover later that my cocoa butter painting had “heated” and the cocoa butter ran down the cake. A friend had flowers freeze in her trunk on a trip. One watched flowers wilt from humidity. If you are worried, leave your car running to maintain the proper conditions. (Lock the car with your spare set of keys I told you to bring!) If you are stopping overnight, take your cakes into the hotel if you feel they are at risk. If your cake isn’t boxed, remember that the natural light might fade your colors and it might only fade the part facing the window, leaving you with a two-toned cake!

6. Stack your boxes wisely for travel. I put mine in sturdy boxes and put a piece of non-skid between every box. My vehicle is usually packed to the gills, so I don’t have much chance for movement of my boxes. If your vehicle won’t be that full, you can also use packing tape to hold the boxes in place. Your most fragile items should go on top or on your cart.

7. When you arrive, ask for help unloading if you need it. Many shows have helpers, carts or husbands available to help you get heavy pieces in place. The helpers can also show you where to place your cake. Make sure you check in at registration before you place any cakes!! Follow all the procedures they give you at the registration desk.

8. If you see work you admire or a technique you’ve had trouble with, ask around to find someone who can help you. This is the time to seek out the “free advice” readily available.

9. Be gracious, win or lose. Remember, every show is judged differently. Your cake could win first one time and not place the next time. To some degree, it is a lot like Vegas. You can only control your work. The judge’s preferences and the other entries present can influence the outcome. Thank the show organizers for their work (they are all unpaid volunteers) and thank the vendors by shopping as you can and by writing thank you notes for raffle prizes you receive. In the end, don’t forget that it is for the love of Sugar and the ribbon will never be as valuable as that feeling of accomplishment you had when you looked at your completed cake for the first time. You have to do this because you love the design you are making…not to win.

Crooked Brook T Shirt Giveaway 6

Hi!  I just got home from the Missouri Weekend of Sharing.  I think my car is better traveled than most of my friends!  It goes to lots of cake events!

This is the 6th  T Shirt that Crooked Brook is giving away.   You will have 1 week to enter each contest.  Crooked Brook does custom printed tshirts in addition to all the great chef  Crooked Brook wants to give one of you one of these, too!!  The picture below is the blog logo, but this will have YOUR logo on it!  Isn’t that exciting?

Custom t-shirts are one of the most inexpensive yet cost effective marketing tools available. One of the advantages they have over other promotional products is that wherever people wearing t-shirts with your logo on it go; your brand goes. It is a great way to convey your business image and build brand awareness.

In response to this, I have teamed up with my friends at Crooked Brook to sponsor another custom t-shirt giveaway.

The prize is a White, Gildan, G200 6.1 oz. Ultra Cotton® T-Shirt made in 100% preshrunk cotton, with the image of the winners logo printed on the front or back.

Although the most popular method of printing t-shirts is screen printing; Crooked Brook t-shirts are printed using Direct to Garment Printing (DTG printing or digital garment printing) which is the process of using inkjet printers to print an image directly onto a t-shirt without the use of screens like with silk screening or screen printing. DTG technology uses eco-friendly, water soluble ink, unlike some screen printing methods that layer Plastisol (a suspension of PVC particles in a plasticizer) on top of the t-shirt. The only thing DTG printing requires is for the image to be high resolution resulting in photograph quality printing with no setup fee or minimums for custom t-shirts.

To enter, please leave a comment below.

The winner will be chosen randomly…

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter.

Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 10/03/12.

Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email.

Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

Winner’s artwork must meet requirements for Crooked Brooks DTG printing.

Crooked Brook will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end.

Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes, US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Crooked Brook Chef Coat Giveaway 11

Hi everyone!  It is time to give away another coat for the guys.  Be sure to double check the sizing and make sure that this coat works for you!  Remember, if this isn’t the right size, the next one might be!  I think this will be a handsome coat and really hope that whoever wins will send in a picture in the coat later!

Although all Crooked Brook chef coats are made to order, they have various styles and sizes that were not made according to the customer’s specifications or have a slight imperfection. These are the men’s and women’s chef coats I have partnered with Crooked Brook to offer as giveaways.

Since 1989 Crooked Brook has designed and manufactured chef jackets for the world’s most recognized chefs. Each one of their chef coats is made to order in the USA, and can personalized with your choice of fabric, pockets, buttons, piping and embroidery.

For question regarding size, please refer to their size chart or contact them at 315-733-1992

Size- 44  Men’s Chef Coat Style BSM105

Blue Grey 100% Cotton Gabardine Fabric

Blue Mussel buttons

Navy piping: collar, front and cuffs.
Extras: left sleeve patch pocket
Irregularities:  None

(Regular Price: $155.00 including shipping)


To enter, visit Crooked Brook and leave a comment here with the description of a chef coat that you would like to see offered as a giveaway in the future.

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 10/03/12. Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Crooked Brook will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end. Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes, US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Crooked Brook Custom Embroidered Jacket 1

Hi everyone!  This is a new item to our giveaway family!  I wish I could have this jacket.  It is totally me!

Custom jackets are another great wearable promotional item for cool weather. Full zipper front or pullover fleece jackets offer the flexibility of a unisex style to be worn outdoors; spring, fall, winter or cool summer nights. Custom embroidered jackets with the logo or name of your business is a way to identify employees and when given as gifts or giveaways they are great way to get your name out there and tell the world about your goods or services.

With that said, I have teamed up with my friends at Crooked Brook to sponsor a custom embroidered jacket giveaway.
The winner has the option of getting the jacket blank or with their business name embroidered large on the back and small on the left front chest with any one of the sugar arts-pastry-cake embroideries at the top of Crooked Brooks embroidery designs page. The colors of these cakes can be changed to any of the embroidery thread colors they offer.



Great Republic GR200, Danica Zip Jacket,

100% cotton French Terry, Light Pink / White,



To enter, visit Crooked Brook and leave a comment here with the description of a item from their page that you would like to see offered as a giveaway in the future.

Terms & Conditions:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. Contest ends midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 10/03/12. Winner will be chosen by SugarZen and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. Crooked Brook will ship the prize to the winner within 30 days of contest end. Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes, US recipients only residing in one of the 48 contiguous states.

Crooked Brook Prize Patrol – Winners Announced

Happy Wednesday!  I am excited to announce the winners on 5 giveaways today.  I know you guys love the giveaways…and they will continue, but I’ve been finding that I need to limit the number.  It fills up my blog and then people have trouble finding my informational posts.  I’m going to limit it to 3 a week and am going to give you one week to comment, instead of two.  That way, the blog posts won’t overlap so much on what is active and it will be easier to see what the current giveaways are.  Look for new giveaways in a little bit!

Now for the winners:

Sandra Frezza for the Apron 5…. Carolyn Lawrence for the T Shirt 5……Dawn Parrott for the Chef Coat 10…..Marc Daniel for Polo Shirt 6 and Sherry Thrush for Hoodie 2 giveaways.  How exciting!  I do hope each of the winners is thrilled with this great gift.   Thank you again to Crooked Brook for these incredibly generous giveaways.   I will be sending an email to each winner shortly with instructions on how to have the items mailed to them.  Thank you to all who commented on these posts.  Don’t forget to check in each week to see what the next prize is!

I have really appreciated the comments I receive about my blog as I travel.  Thank you for the encouragement to keep writing.  I have so, so many more planned!


The Grass is Always Greener

Have you ever been driving along and you can sense that the car next to you
wants to be where you are…they covet your lane and want to be in your spot?
Maybe you are the person driving and you want to be in that other lane – the
road just looks better there or it will give you access to whatever it is you
are driving towards. It is tough to not feel envious sometimes.

I find myself getting these little pangs now and then. Why didn’t I get picked to teach at that event or judge at that show or whatever. I find myself wishing that I
was walking in other people’s shoes. Then I catch myself and remember that there is probably someone looking at my life wishing they were in my shoes. And you know what?  That is true for most of us. We look ahead to where we want to be and forget that where we ARE was once our goal. We forget that others are
working to achieve whatever we have achieved.

I caught my husband  getting irritated with a driver the other day…the person was in the lane that  he wanted to be in so he could make the next turn. I said, “How would that driver know that you wanted over?  You did not signal. “. After he forgave me for pointing this out, we started discussing that wishing for something to  happen simply wasn’t enough. He said that moving in the new direction required Patience, Persistence and Perception.

No one gets to their desired success level overnight. You have to be patient and have a plan. I think that a lot of people give up on dreams when they were SO CLOSE to realizing them. It can feel like forever while you are waiting for it to be your turn. But wait you must.

It’s funny. So many people think that the highly successful people
in this world never experienced failure or rejection. If you look into their
stories, however, you discover that they simply were persistent until they
achieved success. J.K. Rowling was turned down around a dozen times before
someone took a chance on Harry Potter. I have been turned down spots as an
instructor – or worse, not even been acknowledged several times. I could let
that shake my confidence, or I can tell myself that they simply do not know me.
I have to force myself to stay at it to be able to teach at my desired

Perception is the one we usually forget about. Just like Rob forgetting to signal the other night, we have to think about what signals we are sending into the universe. Does anyone know about our goals?  Do we have something to show the world what we want?  Just like when I wrote Cake Camp many years ago, you have to help people have the right perception of you. I put together a cd of photos of my work, a resume of classes I wanted to teach and a list of references from their other instructors. I signaled where I wanted to be.

As a baby lawyer, they used to tell us that if it walked like a duck and quacked like a duck and looked like a duck, then it is probably a duck. What they were telling us was to dress for the job we wanted, act like people act in that job, be like those people and everyone would assume we were that. If you want to be on tv, observe those who are and work on those traits. If you want to teach, comport yourself like the instructors you see. If you want the birthday cakes, be like those who get the orders. In other words, send out the perception you want others to have.

I want to add one more “P” to Rob’s list and that is Please. You must
ask. If you sit at home having a pity party because no one asked you to be on
that tv show or compete in that live challenge or whatever, you have only
yourself to blame. Many months ago I was seeing a friend pop up teaching all
over the US. I kept thinking I was doing a bad job as a teacher because I wasn’t
being invited to all these places. She and I were talking one day and I asked
her how these shops heard about her. She laughed and said, “I wrote them and
introduced myself and asked if they would have any interest in me teaching
there.”   You could have knocked me over with a feather. She asked. I kept
thinking what an idiot I had been to just assume that people had hunted her down and I sucked. She put the fourth P into action. Once I started to ask for the
opportunities I wanted, I started to get more of them. That does not mean that I
always get a yes…in fact I can list several recent nos. I know in my heart,
however, that I go more places because I ask.

My final thought for you today, is to try to stem your jealousy or insecurity.  You are seeing what others CHOOSE to show you.  They are probably only showing their successes, not their failures or doubts.  Lord knows I’ve had my share of those, but I have committed to happy posts on Facebook most of the time, so people don’t hear about those things.  I saw this quote and think it sums it all up beautifully.

So my advice for today is to put the 4 P’s into play in your life.  Signal where you want to go.  Don’t judge your life by someone else’s highlights.  Don’t let the green eyed monster of jealousy get to you and don’t let failure be forever.  Your best days are ahead.