Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Pro's and Con's of Working from Home (with a baby)

Before my little one came along, working from home was great. I had my own hours, my own space, and most importantly, I had no one to answer to, but myself. I loved it.

But the real reason, I started the business from home, was so I could stay home and look after the baby at the same time.

Well, that was the plan anyway. 

Little did I know, in hindsight that, would have been the ideal situation. I had visions of making all these beautiful cakes, whilst caring for my perfectly behaved child. 

Well, that was the short-lived dream I had anyway.

When the little one came along, I decided to take a break from doing my cakes full-time. I was going to do a few cakes here and there, until I could manage to do more. After being away in confinement and at my parents place in KL for 2 months, I had to fly back to Sydney with the little one to fulfil a few cake orders. 

It was very stressful and extremely exhausting, to say the least, but somehow the cakes went out, and the little one was well-fed and cared for. I, on the other hand, had no time to myself at all. 

It is also safe to say, that when baby is still eating, sleeping, and not very mobile, that is the very best time to be still working. Albeit, I wasn't getting enough sleep, but still the work could still get done, when baby was asleep.

As time went on, the baby grew more complicated, and more mobile, somewhere around 7 or 8 months old. J was a backward crawler (or Monsieur Worm, as hubby and I used to call him), which meant he was pushing his legs on his back, to move. From one end of the living room, he'd push himself right across, till he reached the sofa. And then, he'd whinge a bit, till I came over, and turn him around, so he could do the same, in the the other direction.

Work still continued, slowly but surely, but seeing that I was so busy from running the business as well as looking after the little one, my milk supply also dropped quite rapidly. I still managed to nurse J till he was 7 months, and then, I just couldn't produce enough. This I believe, was due to the lack of rest, lack of nutritrious foods, high stress levels, and basically not looking after myself. 

Around 10 months, J, started crawling - so that meant, I had to watch him like a hawk! He was still putting everything into his mouth and loved opening and closing things. It became harder and harder to work while he was awake, so that meant I had to work at lightning speed when he was asleep. Thankfully, he still had his 2 regular naps everyday, so I could arrange my work schedule based around his routine.

He's almost 2 years old today, started a playschool, and only naps once a day. I have since moved back home to KL, and it is only with my family's help, that I can still continue to work from home and care for J at the same time. 

My cake business is something that I love doing, and thankfully, I get to do this from home. Sure, I miss out on company social events, medical benefits, annual leave, sick leave, and all the rest of it, but, I get to stay home and watch my son grow everyday.

And that is something money can't buy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Armand's Caterpillar Cake

Yet another cute cake to share with everyone...this time it's a caterpillar cake! I have never done a caterpillar cake before, and I was super excited to get this project!

Ok rewind - An old, old, old friend of mine from school contacted me awhile back, enquiring about a cake for her son's 1st birthday. She was open to a lot of ideas and didn't really know what she wanted exactly. So I asked her, if her son had anything that he could relate to, or anything that makes his eyes light up. 

She answered, "Well, he does have this grubby caterpillar...." 

"Perfect", I thought. So she sent me a few photos, and it was so cute and colourful. I decided to put the caterpillar on top of a giant-sized name block "A", and to personalise it, put his name in mini-name blocks on the cake board, as well as a number 1, to show his age.

The name block cake was made from 2, 7" square cakes, which I stacked together, and strangely enough, after filling and ganaching the cakes together, the total height was a perfect 7" tall, too! That never, ever happens! So I didn't have to trim anything else off, and all I had to do now, was to ganache the entire cake.

The four sides of the cakes had "A" cut out in different colours, and what I loved about this cake, is that my friend's family's names all begun with the letter, "A" - and there were 4 of them as well! So perfect.  

I think I should have named this blog post as "Perfect" :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I love my job!

I like having fun projects to work on each week, and I am very lucky to have a job which I actually enjoy doing. Each and every week, I am challenged with new tasks and this week was particularly enjoyable with a James Bond-themed cake and a 3 tier Jungle Safari Cake.

The first cake, the James Bond one, was based on the movie "Diamonds are Forever", and the recipient of the cake, loves her bling, loves to be glamourous, and of course, loves her diamonds! The idea mostly came from her daughter, who already had a clear idea of what she wanted the cake to look like. I offered my suggestions to make it all come together as a birthday cake, to suit. 

That's my job. I need to create cakes to suit the theme and occasion, and the personality of the individual must really come through in the final design. For wedding cakes, that's a whole different ball game all together, as there's so much to consider. There's things like flowers, bridesmaids, invitations, number of persons, how large the function room will be, budget, colours, and so forth. 

On some occasions, great ideas on paper, need not necessarily work as well on cakes. This is where I need to step in and alter the design to suit the final cake on the day itself. It could be something as small as the placement of the flower on a tier, or as drastic as removing certain elements and replacing them with other items. Whatever it may be, all my cakes are sent out with my 100% satisfaction guarantee. I need to be 100% happy with the cake, before it leaves my work studio.

The James Bond cake did run the risk of looking like a wedding cake, with the diamonds and brooch. But once you change the shape of the classic 2 tier wedding cake, into a double stacked barrel cake - everything changes. Add a sexy James Bond figurine on the top, and voila, it's changed again.

Modelled after the infamous "Jessica Rabbit" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The cleavage on the dress had tiny Swarovski crystals to accentuate the neckline. And by tiny, I mean T.I.N.Y. And there were also more crystals around her neck. The Swarovski crystals really added some serious sparkle under the light.

I lustred the entire cake in gold to give it an extra touch of glam.
The other cake I had to do was a 3 tiered, Animal-themed cake for a lucky girl, turning 1. The client ordered it for her Goddaughter as her birthday gift, and as a housewarming gift as well, for her parent's new place. She sent me a photo to replicate but of course, I had my own take on it. 

I love doing cute, fun cakes, and this cake was definitely a pleasure to do from start to finish. More over, it was 3 tiers, so I love it when a client wants a big cake for a children's cake. 

The cake topper was a white bunny rabbit, symbolising her year of birth, which was obviously in the year of the Rabbit. And I added cute little ladybugs around the cake, with trails following behind them. So so cute! And so much fun! LOL! I know, I've said that before.

The other animals were mainly 2D characters, which means I could only finish them on the cake itself. So they were hand moulded once the cake was put together, and then stuck onto the cake immediately. 

Side View

Top view
 I'd love to recreate this cake again - any takers?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

KL Bird Park

Have you ever been to the KL Bird Park? I certainly have never been, and never even dreamt of going, until my little one came along! Since J was born, I always need to think about, "Hmm...what shall we do today to entertain the little one?" Then, it's factors about the plan that I need to consider such as logistics, nap times, things to pack, food, do I bring my own, or hope that wherever we are going, the food will be at least semi-decent for a 20 month old to consume. It's never as easy as walking out the door anymore, so an outing to the Bird Park needed to be researched thoroughly.

I came across this website Living Social where you can purchase vouchers at discounted rates for meals at restaurants, massages, manicures and spa treatments and loads more. The KL Bird Park had a promotion where the adult tickets were going for RM12 per person, from the usual RM48!

I immediately grabbed 4 for the family and as J is below 3, he gets in for free. I had from April to July to use the coupons, and all I had to do was pay online and print out the coupons. Easy! Just the way I like it!

So when the time came for us to finally visit the Bird Park, we packed J's lunch, picked up my sister, and off we went at 9 a.m. It's located near Lake Gardens, so it wasn't too bad to find. There were plenty of signages as we approached the park and parking wasn't a problem either.

I was very surprised when we walked through the gates. Not only is it quite stroller friendly, the entire park is covered with a netting above us. There were birds EVERYWHERE!! We were greeted by lorikeets and parrots just hanging out on the fencing, then a few peacocks came strutting by... a few steps forward, and there was a huge feeding frenzy of birds right in front of us!

Feeding time!

Anyone know the name of this bird?

J having fun feeding the fish

Yippee I can throw the food in!
Now I want to go in, Mummy!
Quick, grab him before he jumps in!!
As we walked deeper into the park, now I understand why the KL Bird Park is known as the "World's Largest Free-Flight Walk-in Aviary". 

Phew. That was a mouthful, wasn't it?

It's quite fascinating walking amongst different species of birds, roaming freely around the park. J, to be honest was too young, I think to appreciate the birds, but he did relate to the owls and the flamingos, which he pronounces as "Ah-Ming-Go". So cute :) He did enjoy walking on the footpath and stopping to touch the bushes and flowers, and boy did he love climbing the stairs! He wanted to go up and down the stairs in the blazing hot sun! 

I, on the other hand, was NOT game to play "Up, down". 

There Ah-Ming-Go!


Hehehe this owl was funny! He looked like a darn-right wise ol' owl!
As the morning became hotter and hotter, and J becoming more and more excited running around, we eventually found the playground. Thank GOD! He could run around as much as he liked, and wear himself out - as quickly as possible, please. 

The playground was very well kept, although the only thing it didn't have was a baby-bucket-style swing for the little ones. Other than that, he was a happy chappy in the playground!

My sister and the parrots. Not impressed after she discovered tiny holes in her linen shirt!

A really long-tailed peacock, perched on the bridge. I was quite scared of it, actually. And J, also looks uncertain!
By the time we were finished walking the entire park, it was already almost midday. J, was famished by the time we got to the Hornbill Restaurant, located inside the park. It was such a welcome, walking into the air-conditioned restaurant!

We too, were very hungry, so we weren't very picky with what was on offer. The menu was sub-standard, with local favourites such as nasi lemak, chicken curry on rice, chicken pie, burgers (Ramly burger patty!), fried noodles and so on. The food came very quickly but, it was just mediocre. Nothing to shout about, but then again, after a long walk in the hot sun, anything edible would have been just fine!

We went home tired, but J was happy, most importantly :) Not a bad day, at all...

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
920 Jalan Cenderawasih
Taman Tasik Perdana 50480
Kuala Lumpur MALAYSIA

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.