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Monday, 22 June 2015

Come join me in New Jersey for classes!

I'm thrilled to be returning to Secaucus in November for 3 days of class.  See the website for details and hopefully I'll see you there!  Fun and informative.  You can't afford to miss it.
Supply lists will be added to the website very soon.  A minimal of tools are me.  Nobody needs to lug around a huge container of 'stuff'.  I keep it is simple and clean as I possibly can.  Any questions simply contact me through the website and I'll get back to you.
Come on!!  It's going to be FUN!!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The most unlikely friendship...sweet!

Although I am a cake maker and work with a lot of sweet things regularly...these moments are truly the sweetest.  Totally non related to cake or anything edible (although I could eat my dog sometimes...if only to shut her up!) but I get such a thrill walking Poppy (little black furry one) down the lane near my house where the horses roam around in the vast fields.  As soon as they see us they walk over towards the fence.  Poppy almost takes flight as her tail spins around so fast...mine too!  I love the horses but don't ask me to SIT on one though.  Done that only once in my life and I'm still getting over the shock.  It would take a whole lot of Firemen and a copious amount of duct tape to keep me on a real live horse.  To me it's about as much joy as being kicked up the arse repeatedly.  I'm sure there is a knack to sitting on a saddle and maintaining your dignity but I just don't have it.  I'm happy to watch the beautiful creatures over a fence.
I don't know what's happening with our Summer here in Scotland.  I'm still waiting for it to kick in.  Last week I walked the dog in tee shirt and short jeans...ME that is, not the dog.  This week it's back to boots and puffer jacket!  It's ridiculous.  Oh well...whatever the weather, precious moments remain.  Have a good one whatever you are doing today!  I'm resting up before I contemplate my first car cake next week. a transport cake.  Watch out for THOSE expletives.  Coming soon! 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

I got the figure for it!

It's been a long time since I taught any kind of class away from home.  Last year I was working to complete my book and also seeing an end to all the personal  So it was in my mind to make this new year (which is almost halfway done already!) the new beginning and create some different classes and see where they lead.  I have messed around with Rice Krispie Treats for a long time and this hasn't always passed without challenge.  The biggest challenge was on my vocabulary as I struggled to find new expletives to describe my experience with any accuracy...but trust me, I found them in the end!  Most of you who know me will already have shared this experience with me on Facebook, my daily therapy where I run to while it's still free.  As I discovered better ways to deal with the mixing of these sticky (feckin) treats, I became more confident with their use and have created many a project incorporating them into my design.  (Yeah...I'm on my second coffee of the morning so look out for more elaborate and impressive big words!)  Where is this all going?  (I hear none of you ask)  Well...let me tell you anyway.  I decided (in my wisdom) to create some projects using the treats and promote them as classes.  This would mean I would provide the RKT's for the class (that's 10 or more....RKT shapes....prepared by me....just for you) or substitute these using polystyrene shapes instead.  This would mean using glue guns, bigger cake boards, more tools than you could shake a stick at and my valium prescription being renewed every two weeks.  After creating a couple of potential projects at home, taking photos of various steps and writing notes, I set them aside to think some more.
Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked to make the heartbreaking piece of work that features in my previous blog post....and I had an epiphany!  Although I may have a knack and some kind of knowledge on how to create things using RKT's and any other medium that I haven't yet become associated with, I don't think it makes me expert enough to teach my (new found) skills to anyone else.  FUN FIGURES is what I was born to do.  My characters come natural to me so I can teach anyone how to create them with the greatest of ease....and minimal tools!  A clean pair of hands and a supply list which would fit into your handbag/pocket book.  After I completed the piece for my client I reached for the RKT projects and threw them in the bin without a second thought.  
I am a woman of many talents, some of which I even get paid for!  (that's another blog post right there...but let's not)  I respect and admire so many sugar artists with varying skills, I wouldn't want or even try to match their ability in their specialist field.  I care not if I am not a jack of all trades in my Business.  I have to enjoy what I do to be able to make a class the fun and informative experience that I know it has always been in the past.  Sugar figurines can be used as cake toppers on their own or part of a larger project where all the bells and whistles have been used to put it together.  If I can teach you one aspect of your cake decorating preference then I will be extremely happy.
I will be organising classes for Seattle this August and the above projects are in the frame as possible subjects.  I will also have a two day class where two figures will be featured, but not a Bride and Groom.  As soon as dates and venue are settled then I will share the class details with you and HOPE that I can have enough sign ups to make this happen.  
The moral of this (war and peace) story?  Stick to what you know best and don't be tempted to tread new waters unless you are wearing a snorkel and wet suit.  
Stepping out of your comfort zone can sometimes lead to falling on your arse!  (I intend to keep my arse intact)  See you in Seattle folks!  

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A fondant farewell...

I'm off on holiday tomorrow...lucky me.  All I could think about at the beginning of this week was the arrival of my granddaughter who was travelling from her home in Maidstone, Kent to celebrate her first birthday with me in Scotland.  (Accompanied of course by her mummy and daddy!)  I had her cake design on my mind and my time all planned out, but you never know what is around the corner.  I was never in the Brownies to the "be prepared" motto rarely applied when I'm involved.  I was on my way to do a demonstration for the British Sugarcraft Guild when I got a phone call asking if I would be able to make a cake for a very special occasion.  The date requested was the 2nd of June and I quickly realised that it was the date I was due to return from there seemed little point in continuing the conversation.  However, the lady (who turned out to be a past student of mine) explained that this was a birthday cake that might not even be seen by the recipient, but the family want to celebrate what is going to be this man's final birthday...if he makes it.  What DO you buy for someone under these circumstances?  The family are going to gather around and celebrate under the most incredibly sad circumstances with the best intentions and with hope that the day will be a lasting memory for everyone and a final grand gesture for the gentleman concerned.  He will be 60 years old on the 2nd of June and his goal is to reach it. I hope he does.  What distresses him most is the fact he won't see his grandchildren grow into young adults, so the them of the piece was purely all about the grandchildren and their love for him.  He owns a timber company, hence the seating arrangement.  I couldn't offer a cake as it was too soon to be making a fruit cake which would last for the longest time but I personally had no time to fit this in at this point.  But if the whole idea was to keep the toppers for as long as possible, the best and only thing I could do was create a sugar topper.  A project more like but something that would remain intact and be able to view at any time....and remember.  I took some details from the lady who furnished me with photographs of everyone so I could work from those.  It was requested that Grumpy the Disney Character be incorporated in the piece somehow.  With time really against me, the only thing I could suggest was that he was added as a colouring/story book.  This was agreed...and so it was.  The log was created using Rice Krispie Treats (minus the 'F' Facebookers will understand the private joke with this one!) and the rest was purely sugarpaste and tylose powder added to create the figures.  I intended to make the figures a little simpler but I just couldn't stop myself from adding the little extra detail.  My intention was to show the love for this man and can only hope this was achieved.  I finished in enough time to take care of the creation of my granddaughter's first birthday cake.  When I told my daughter Vicky about the sadness surrounding this piece, she commented that it was quite a moment to be involved in the creation of the celebration of one's first birthday and another's last.  How sad.  Today, the lady who was my past student came to collect her piece.  I told her about Vicky's comment and she reminded me that when she took her 'class'....she was actually the only person to attend it!  It was held at my own little studio in West Calder some years ago and Vicky was still living at home at the she came to join us and took the 'class' too.  So it was just us three.  This morning, Vicky left with her family to return to Maidstone and my lady arrived this afternoon to collect her piece.  How crazy is that?  I wish Vicky could have still been here and it would have completed this circle of events.  It's so bizarre, happy and sad at the same time.  A roller coaster of emotions and events.  Life is strange.  Which makes me wonder what is still around the corner.  Never give up.  Life is too, too short.  It has been a privilige to be part of this experience.  I'll hold it dear...always.  For more up close and personal views of this piece visit Lorraine McKay Facebook

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How To Decorate Emoji Cookies With Royal Icing!

I am getting far too hooked on watching SweetAmbs cookie videos.  I think I need to make some and get this out of my system!  I know they make them look so easy and quick but I'm sure there is a lot of waiting time between steps....but this isn't going to phase me.  I see this stuff come up on my Facebook Home page all the time and could sit for....well....two cups of coffee time at least (with the occasional Malteser) just watching in awe!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Return of the Lost Blogger!

You may or may not have been aware of my frustration over the last few weeks.  If you follow me on Facebook then nothing I say here will be of great surprise.....BUT.....after all the confusion (my own doing) and touching of buttons that I know nothing about except for the "let's see what happens!" experience, I think I have learned my lesson...but don't quote me!  Somehow everything you have online relating to social circles (social media??) can be connected to each other and that's where I've fallen short of a brain cell or two.  I'm still trying to work out Google+ which is probably the equivalent of giving a baby a square peg to fit into a square hole.  It's not that difficult and they will get there in the end...probably a lot quicker than it will take me to get to grips with technology as it is today.  In my geniousness (it's in MY dictionary OKAY??) I managed to disable myself from my own blog.  Thankfully I have another Admin who many moons ago redesigned this blog for me so she will always have access to it.  So I have her to thank for reinstating me.  I own my crown once more and shall reign upon this blog with more care and attention than ever before! means that much.  I remember starting it after discovering how a computer worked (thanks to my kids who are all grown up now of course but who taught me everything...and I mean EVERY thing there was to know about plugging in a computer and how to Google!) and finding a whole new world (cue Disney song...) out there.  Over the years I've kind of abandoned the blog but I think it's time to keep on top of it once more and see what I can personally bring you.  So first of all, let me show you that I am still very much promoting my book which is called "Serugif Nuf" according to the photo I've uploaded!  This is of course the foreign version which should read "Fun Figures" in English.  I have been 'out of stock' personally on this item but will be taking delivery any day now.  It is still much cheaper to buy on Amazon of course but if you want to help a poor starving (dramatic effect apologies offered) Author then buying from me direct puts more pennies in my pocket and instead of smiling at the Electricity man I can actually pay him too!  So there you have it.  Problems solved (I hope) and a new adventure with the BLOG.  I'll understand it all some day...and hopefully you'll stay with me while I get there!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

It's in the bag!

I feel like I haven't made a cake for a client in such a long time, so when this order came in I was more than happy to take it on.  I was given a picture of the cake laying down which to all cake decorators would be a breeze, so of course I thought the same.  A kind of rectangle cake laying flat, covered in stripes.  Bish, bash bosh....good to go.  But no.  This one had to stand up.  Now if you are the kind of cake decorator who is capable of building constructions and making things look like they are floating in mid air when they are actual cake (and polystyrene and Rice Krispie Treats) then this task would be like mental arithmetic using an abacus.  Easy.  Right?  But when you have a brain like mine which is possessed by procrastinating demons then the make up of this stand up cake becomes as big a deal big deal, okay?  It may look simple enough to some but the cake itself is layered and separated by cake cards somewhere in the middle and covered in chocolate ganache to hold it all together smoothly.  The biggest task is measuring and cutting those fondant stripes and placing them neatly with some degree of accuracy...and therein lies the headache.  But, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing it all turn out in the end AND to have a satisfied customer who you know will come back for more.  The logo on the bag was freehand painted using white dust powder and a little alcohol.  Use a fine paintbrush, drink the alcohol and WAY-HAY!  Seriously had fun doing this piece of work.  Just need to get some new background materials and nice lighting to make sure the cake photos don't let me down in the future.  The perils of moving to a smaller house...only room for a small dog and Maltesers.  (To be stored separately!)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cake decorating...a blood sucking industry?

Well here's a little rant for the's been a while. (A whole week at least!)  For those who frequent my Facebook on a regular basis, you will be no stranger to my occasional p*ss and moan, but today I choose to rant on my blog as I don't think my gripe (it might be looooong!) would fit into the status box provided without spilling over to another page.  This post is dedicated to all those who have had successful cake businesses and have sadly over the last few months...weeks even...decided to hang up their sticky aprons and concentrate on something a bit (lot) more appreciative of their time.
For the past year I have concentrated on sorting out personal stuff and with the sale of my little shop/house (long and boring story which is not entirely relevant but still makes me want to burst a gut...not that I am bitter or resentful in any all...honest) I have relocated to a little piece of heaven in my opinion, out in the sticks and away from town/village mayhem.  Now that I am settling in to my new domain, I am finding it extremely difficult to get myself known as a cake maker without forking out shed loads of stupid cash on advertising.  The phone is ringing occasionally so the potential for new customers is certainly there....until that is, you give them a quote for the type of cake they have in mind for their special occasion.  When someone says to me in the first few minutes of conversation, "I don't want anything too fancy, just a plain sponge." then I know that I should just hang up there and then.  I can do a plain sponge for you, but what about the covering and the decoration?  Baking the cake isn't the biggest cost here, but shouldn't be dismissed either.  Ingredients...not forgetting the petrol used to shop for such....gas/electricity, storing, layering, filling,'s just a cake, right?  Wrong!  The next step is to find out what type of decoration is required...and there you go.  People expect Cake Boss, Choccywoccydoodah, Ace of West Lothian/South Lanarkshire or any other collection of villages...for £50!  For £50, I will bake and cover a 7" cake for you, place it on a cake board and maybe even put a little bit of ribbon around it.  How does that sound?  The little Dracula long did that take me?  You want me to add him to the 7" cake too?  I'll charge you a further £25.  (He's small....bigger models with more intricate detail will cost you more)  You want extras?  The cost continues to rise.  What do you realistically expect for £50 from a bespoke cake maker who does everything from scratch?  No pre coloured pastes (unless to cover a large cake perhaps).  
Then there are cupcakes.  Not just a cupcake with a buttercream swirl on top.  Little hand made toppers to go on each one.  These can be more time consuming than making larger models and much more tedious, but we do it because it's what the customer wants...if the price is right.  But these days more and more, the price just isn't right at all.  Customers are blinded by the supermarket offerings and the TV shows which are obviously not educating the public by explaining in much detail, just what this means as a cake maker/decorator.  Not explained in terms of money OR the sacrifices made by many just so they can have a successful business.  I ranted about my lethargy in pushing myself too much in this industry that I love so much because of the responses...many of them just plain rude...when I quote a price on their expectations.  The number of friends...Facebook related, but nonetheless friends, who have supported and stuck by each other on this social media...who have given up or lost businesses because of the lack of respect and understanding they get through doing this job is overwhelming, and just plain sad.  
Am I giving up?  Nope.  I'm surely not.  But I'm not going to give in either.  If you want to have a special cake made by hand, designed and created for you to the standard you would expect for the money you are quoted then I will continue to provide such a service.  To those who want to start with a budget of £50 to serve a hundred guests, let me tell you this...the loaves and fishes story is in the Bible.  I don't possess such skills as the loin clothed icon who could turn out miracles at the flick of a wrist.  My Kitchen Aid can do some tricks, but churning out cheap cakes is not one of them.  If you are on a low budget, a personalised and skilled bespoke cake maker is not for you.  By all means, make your enquiries and see if there is something that fits your bill, but please....please....don't be rude about it if it doesn't.
Cake makers and decorators stay strong and respect this over indulgent industry.  Don't let the "I'll do anything you want for a tenner!" bakers put you off or shove you into a corner.  Just remember, good cakes aren't cheap and cheap cakes aren't good.  It's okay to say "NO!" once in a while too...politely of course.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Golf? It's all balls to me!

Oh I DO love my Winter retreat when it is all lit up at night, don't you?  HA! I wish.  This stunning building is the view of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club taken en route to the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews where I had the great pleasure of visiting last weekend.  I didn't stay in the hotel, but I did enjoy the luxury of sitting in front of the floor to ceiling window in the bar, sipping a Prosecco and strawberry syrup...otherwise known as Rossini.  So delicious you have to have at least two to appreciate it.  On the way to the hotel to partake in the liquid delights, the wind was blowing a hearty gale and the cold was biting every available facial space that was left uncovered by scarf, jacket and gloved hands and whistled through every orifice...enough said.  It's funny how after the alcoholic entertainment, the walk back to my residence seemed like a stroll in the Bahamas.  (Google search hip flasks or mobile intravenous drips for future excursions)  I have travelled around and visited many places, it's true.  This is the first time I've escaped...been an idyllic weekend break which isn't that far away from home.  I stayed in the gorgeous open plan Whins Cottage and dined (and wined) at the most delicious restaurants, my favourite being Forgans.  I'm no golfer by any means.  All I know is that a stick and ball are involved and you need to be there to appreciate it.  But what I do know is that you don't have to be sporty to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful surroundings of St Andrews or the respectful manners of the people at our service no matter where we chose to be.  I mean...anyone who tops up the nuts bowl in the bar without being asked is way up there in my estimations.  Freezing at times as it was, the warmth of the gift shops/coffee shops/bars provided an adequate buffer so that thawing out in between strolls was a pun intended.  It all ended too quickly but was a short break that won't be forgotten in a hurry, for many reasons, most of which are unbloggable!  Thank you to my male accessory who enabled some restoration of sanity to my chaotic brain by being both gallant and entertaining at the same time.  I hope the ghosts of Christmas past will be laid to rest and Christmas present will be the beginning of a new dawn....and perhaps a return trip to St Andrews one year from now.  "FORE!!" cannae whack it! 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

WHOA! The tunnel light is BRIGHT!

FINALLY!   It's HERE!  My new book "Fun Figures ~ cute character cake toppers for all occasions" is now on sale.  As the last chapter of my life closes, a new chapter begins...and this is what it has all been about.  I am proud to be a published Author at last.  The book can be found on Amazon and the Book Depository for a bit less than if you purchase direct from myself.  I don't have any control or influence on either of these sites so if you wish to own a signed copy of the book, a direct purchase from yours truly is the order of the day.  Sadly I cannot offer the kind of discounts these other sites can and the postage to some countries from the UK are a bit on the hefty side, but I thank all of you who have already opted for this choice as it makes all my hard work (blood, sweat and swear words) worthwhile.
The book can be found in Extra Icing SHOP.  Only UK buyers can purchase directly from the shop.  Overseas buyers can still purchase from me using the Contact Lorraine option at the top of the Shop page and inform me of home address and e-mail address along with any message you wish to have written in the book.  A PayPal request will be sent to collect the payment required to cover the costs for that specific country.  Check out the costs at the top of the Shop page and decide if this is the route you wish to take to buy your copy.
I can hardly believe that the book is now available and am overwhelmed by the number of buyers along with all the support and appreciation being shown to me.  I cannot say Thank You enough times to make it sound enough...but THANK YOU!  It means a whole lot more than you know.