Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea 2014

Did you miss it?

Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea was this past Thursday 22nd May from 8am to 9pm AEST!

It was such an incredible day, although sadly due to the time difference I was asleep for most of the excitement.

I’ve talked about ASMT in previous posts, but if you are new to the blog and have no idea what I’m rambling on about, basically it is an E-vent that showcases the talents of Australia. The entire E-vent was published online via Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea Blog and Facebook page, as well as on each contributors page.

Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, dessert tables – all sorts of beautiful events photographed and published online and in a magazine, raising awareness and funds for cancer research.

Just like last years e-vent, 2014 was incredible! The talent was very impressive and the amount of effort obviously put into each shoot was enormous.

If you did miss it, make sure you check out all the photos, and even better – the magazine is now available to view online here!

Here’s a look at the photoshoot put together by myself, the talented Kate from Vanilla Rose Cakery, and the creative Natalia from Natalia Chippillo Photographer

Sugar Push, Vanilla Rose Cakery & Natalia Chippillo Photographer teamed up for ASMT 2014

You can view our full photo shoot on the Sugar Push Facebook page here.

ASMT is brought to us by four big forces being The Cupcake Lady, Blissfully Sweet, Darling Details and Pretty & Print. I’d just like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to these wonderful ladies who put so much time and effort into making this E-vent a reality. They really do not get enough credit for the work they put in.

While I’m on the topic of thank you’s, two big ones have to go out to my team. Kate – you are so wonderful and talented and thank you for joining me on this adventure! Natalia – we could not have done this without you! You took our crazy ideas and made them something beautiful.

Sugar Push, Vanilla Rose Cakery & Natalia Chippillo Photographer teamed up for ASMT 2014

The magazine will soon be available to purchase in hard copy where you can keep it forever and indulge whenever you choose. We are pleased to say that $5 from the sale of every magazine goes directly to The Cancer Council. Please note that the sale is a not-for-profit sale and all monies collected are for the publishing of the book as well as the donation.

Of course, the whole point of this event is to raise funds for cancer research, so if you have enjoyed viewing Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea, please click here to visit the Biggest Morning Tea charity fund if you would like to donate to this wonderful cause.

Thank you!

ASMT: Introducing the team

If you’re a regular reader of this blog or you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you would be aware by now that this year I am contributing to Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea (ASMT). Yippee!

ASMT is brought to us by four big forces being The Cupcake Lady, Blissfully Sweet, Darling Details and Pretty & Print. 2013 was the first year, and the results were fantastic. If you missed ASMT 2013, the magazine is still available for view online here. Definitely take a look if you’re interested in cakes, desserts, parties or just pretty pictures. I look at my hard copy of the magazine all the time – it’s just so beautiful!

So what is ASMT? It is an E-vent that showcases the talents of Australia, which will be taking place this year on Thursday 22nd of May. The entire E-vent will be published online via Australia’s Sweetest Morning Tea Blog and Facebook page, as well as on each contributors page. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, dessert tables – all sorts of beautiful events photographed and published online and in a magazine, raising awareness and funds for cancer research.

This is a topic that is very close to my heart after watching my mothers battle with cancer (a battle which she was lucky enough to win, thankfully), so I am thrilled to be involved this year.

I assembled an amazing team to work with me on this project and I am so happy to introduce them to you. Due to me leaving so soon, we didn’t have a lot of time to pull together our ideas and yet these two wonderful women have worked so hard to make this happen. Our photo shoot took place yesterday and I am so proud of what we have created as a team within such a small time frame.

In fact, I got a little too excited…

YIPPEEEE! PHOTO SHOOTS! 

But back to the serious stuff!

Firstly, the always lovely and exceptionally talented Kate from Vanilla Rose Cakery. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as kind and selfless as this lovely lady, plus her caking skills are incredible. We met via the online cake scene on Facebook, and then later in person in a cake class when I discovered that she is just about the funniest person ever. She is so generous with her knowledge and always willing to lend a hand. Take a look at her Facebook page for some beautiful cakes! Give her a ‘like’ – she deserves it!

Kate from Vanilla Rose Cakery and Natalia Chippillo Photographer

Secondly, probably the coolest person I have ever met: Natalia from Natalia Chippillo Photography. Not only is she a wonderful photographer, Natalia even flew in from Melbourne just for our photo shoot. That’s what I call dedication! She is also the person who inspired my monthly videos. She’s just an all round creative genius. While Kate and I flailed around with our never ending ideas for cakes and desserts, Natalia stepped up and became our creative director, stylist, and photographer all in one! Phew! Natalia’s photography work can be seen on her Facebook page – make sure you give her a ‘like’ too, especially if styled shoots and fashion are of interest to you.

So, our photo shoot has wrapped up and now Natalia is hard at work editing away preparing for our submission. I can’t tell you much more at this stage as everything is under wraps until the 22nd of May but make sure you at the very least like one of our Facebook pages, Sugar Push, Vanilla Rose Cakery or Natalia Chippillo Photography – and the ASMT Facebook page as well so that you can see all the beautiful creations on the day!

This is an E-vent not to be missed!

Some things you just can’t live without

One of the biggest things that has stuck in my mind from my favourite teacher, Janet aka The Cupcake Lady, was to not rely on gadgets.

She would always tell us, sure you can buy a mould that will create that perfect shape for you, or a device that will cut your cakes evenly for you (oh, how I love these!), or a cutter for every shape possible in the world – but what happens if you’re in a situation where you don’t have these? You can improve your skills, and save money by creating things by hand or using what you’ve got.

When I first started out I’d look for a tool online that would help me get what I want. Now, after Janets ‘brainwashing’, I sit down and think ‘What sort of shape do I need? What do I already have that could create it? What part of my hand can I use to make that shape?’. I could be constantly spending a fortune on gadgets but since I don’t have a fortune, Janets advice has really come in handy.

Saying this however… every cake decorator has certain things they would struggle without. I’ve never made a cake without fondant smoothers before, or a ganache scraper, and I desperately love my prep boards.

So what is the one thing I absolutely would not want to live without?

Well I’d planned on introducing Rosie (see The Jetsons). Rosie is my Thermomix. Well, technically she’s not mine – ah, the benefits of living at home with the parents! Rosie does everything – she can chop, beat, mix, emulsify, mill, knead, blend, cook, stir, steam, weigh and melt!

‘Rosie’ our Thermomix, named after Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons.

There are two types of people in this world. Those without a Thermomix who raise an eyebrow and turn back to their food processor thinking it’s the same thing… and then there are those with a Thermomix who act in a cult-like manner to convince you that it’s the best invention ever! And trust me – it really, really is.

However, since originally planning this blog post something huge happened in my house.

Over Christmas, when we were hosting two days of family Christmas meals.
Over Christmas, when I had two weddings with 4 cakes and 6 dozen cupcakes just days later.
Over Christmas, the busiest time of year…

… our dishwasher stopped working. DISASTER!

We’ve always had a dishwasher and as a result I’ve always taken it for granted. We still hand wash certain items such as my huge collection of cake tins – but for most part, everything we use goes into the dishwasher. I never realised just how much time this saved!

We got through Christmas. We survived the two weddings. The other Sunday I spent 2 hours just washing dishes I’d used during the days caking. I thought my hands were destined to be wrinkled forever!

Until last week when we got a new dishwasher installed – YIPPEEEE!

My new love – our replacement dishwasher! 

Life is back to normal, my cake schedule is finally back into routine without delays from having to spend hours washing up. My attitude towards the dishwasher has changed dramatically. I can’t live without it. Well maybe I can, but I just don’t want to. Ever.

Does that sound lazy? Yes. However, if we’re thinking in terms of cake… that’s an extra 2 hours I need to spend per cake washing dishes, instead of perfecting some details on the cake! I know where I’d rather spend my time.

To those without dishwashers, especially those in the cake industry, I have so much respect for you! I don’t know how you manage!

For now, I’m just going to gaze lovingly at our new dishwasher and enjoy the fact that my hands no longer look like my grandmothers!  (Whoops! They might read this! No offence Grandma / Mimma!).

Eighteen months and very little wisdom.

Just over eighteen months ago I packed my bags, threw all my money at Planet Cake, Qantas and The Merton Hotel and jetted off to Sydney, Australia.

Just like that, my cake decorating journey began and I had very little knowledge of what I was doing or what to expect. Looking back now, I really was in way over my head.

Here are five bits of wisdom that I’ve learnt along my journey so far…

1. Don’t get intimidated if everyone in a class is better than you.
You’re there to learn. So what if everyone else has more experience than you? Focus on what you’re doing, and do not compare your outcomes to the others. Only compare your outcome to what you started with – and have fun while you’re there!

Don’t forget to have fun in class! This Stand Up Guitar Class with The Cupcake Lady was exciting – REALLY exciting by the look on my face! Enjoy it! Photo also starring Kate from Vanilla Rose Cakery and Lauren from Cake Art by Lauren.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
My whole life I was always the quiet girl in class who kept her head down and got on with the work, no questions asked. It got me through school quite fine.

Cake decorating was another story altogether. I needed help. I had no idea what I was doing. Reading the notes wouldn’t get me through this time.

The teachers were busy with other students who were louder and more demanding of their time. The amount of times I almost gave up in tears because I couldn’t figure out how to do things is really quite embarrassing. The thing is, the teachers are there to help everyone. Just because you’re quiet, doesn’t mean you deserve any less attention than the others. You all paid the same for this class so make sure you get your moneys worth! Ask for help!

3. Make sure you have the right tools for the job.
You wouldn’t ask a carpenter to build a cabinet without the correct tools, so why should you be any different? I don’t mean go out and spend thousands of dollars on every single gadget you can find. But if there’s a tool you know you definitely need to get a certain effect on a cake, make sure you have it before you start. Don’t do what I’ve done many times and get halfway through a cake before realising ‘Oh shit… I don’t have the cutters to make the flower I wanted… what now?!”.

Acrylic Cake Scraper from The Cupcake Lady – an essential cake decorating tool!

4. Learn from as many people as possible.
When I started, I thought Planet Cake was the be all and end all of cake decorating. I thought they would teach me the best skills I could possibly learn.

They taught me a lot and the skills I learnt were invaluable, but then I did another class with The Cupcake Lady. She taught me new techniques and new skills. Then I did a class with Handi. He taught me new techniques and new skills too!

There are so many different ways to do things and not all of them will work for you. The techniques I now use to ganache and cover my cakes aren’t what I learnt from Planet cake. They aren’t what I learnt from The Cupcake Lady. They aren’t what I learnt from Handi. What they are is bits and pieces from each that I found worked for me. Experiment, practice, observe, and learn as much as you can from as many people as you can!

5. Focus on you.
I’ve only been in the cake industry for nine months now and I’ve seen some crazy things. Competition is one that will never sit well with me.

Unfortunately, like in any industry, you will face competitors that aren’t so friendly. You can’t really blame people. They’re trying to maintain profits and market share and support their families. They will want to check out your business and see what you’re doing and try to do one better. It’s normal and expected. Most business experts will tell you that checking out and keeping an eye on your competition is vital to your success.

You know what it can also do? Destroy your confidence. Waste your time. Ruin your creativity.

You can spend so much time looking at the creations of others that you feel like you can no longer compete. You can spend so many hours scouring Facebook to see what others are doing that you’re losing time that could be better spent on improving your business.

If you find yourself doing any of these things, it’s time to shut down the computer. Focus on you, your business (or hobby), and improving yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing!

So, that’s my five lessons learnt in my journey so far! Yes, they’re cake decorating related and I know not all of you lovely readers are cake decorators – but I hope you can see how this advice can relate to other industries, and life in general.

What wisdom have you learnt so far in your career or life?

What the heck is a ‘Sugar Push’ anyway?

What’s in a name? A lot of businesses choose their names on a whim. A lot of blogs too for that matter! Cake decorators in particular often have very cliche names – a typical “Jim’s Cupcakes” or “Sweet Art”, “Sweet Creations”,”Sweet Confessions”, “Sweet Desires”, Sweet anything really!

Sugar anything is also proving to be a common one. Sugar & Spice, Sugar Couture, Sugar Avenue, Sugar & Slice, even simply Sugar Sugar!

These are all great names for a cake business, and yet when I say my business is called “Sugar Push” I often get a raised eyebrow or a blank stare. The reason? They usually don’t understand what I say!

The front of my business cards, designed by The Parchment Place

I was attending a cake class and was chatting to a fellow classmate about our businesses. She attempted to find me on Facebook after class and couldn’t because she thought I’d said my business name was ‘Sugar Bush’… SUGAR BUSH?! I think I need to work on my pronunciation! Yikes!

However, once we’re both on the same understanding that my name doesn’t relate to the Australian outback, a shrub, or something far worse… people often still have that puzzled look on their face! So, it’s time for me to explain what the heck a sugar push is!

Prior to sharing my cake creations, I knew I wanted to work under an alias that I could turn into a business later on down the track. I didn’t want to pick a typical name like ‘Taryn’s Cakes’ because it’s just not really me. No matter what I do with cakes, my business, my blog – I want them to express who I am! Is that a bit conceited? Probably!

I spent a good few months brainstorming ideas and nothing really grabbed me. I was just starting out with my cakes, but at the same time I was going to swing dancing classes twice a week. Cakes and swing dancing consumed my life both at the same time and both with an incredible intensity! It was at the end of a late night of brainstorming names that I got frustrated, gave up, and headed over to YouTube to watch swing dancing videos. Swing dancing tutorials. Lindy hop moves. The ‘Sugar Push’.

A ‘Sugar Push’ is a very basic swing dancing move.

Thats me! And this headless guy! Thank you to a student from the University of Adelaide for this photograph.

So simple, and yet it was the name that grabbed me! There was no doubt in my mind that it was what I’d be sticking with from that point onwards.

Both cake decorating and swing dancing took hold of my life and turned it right upside down. They took me way out of my comfort zone and led me to experiences, people and achievements that would not have been possible otherwise. For me, they went hand in hand. One couldn’t have existed without the other.

So that’s what’s in a name! Go forth and spread the word so I don’t have to deal with confused faces and the ‘Sugar Bush?’ ‘No – Sugar Pppppush!’ conversations!

Do you have a business or blog? What is your name and why did you choose it?