Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Networking For Introverts

I don't know that people would believe this about me, but I consider myself to be a shy person. Seriously. When I tell my daughter this she just about laughs in my face and says that I'm the least shy person and I'm totally making it up.

Well, let me tell you...I'm shy, but the older I get,the better I am at dealing with it. All of the recent hype about introverts vs. extroverts helps, but being introverted isn't exactly the same as being shy. (I'm also an introvert, which doesn't help much with the shy thing.)

So anyway, if you're a shy introvert like I am, let me say the words that will make your blood run cold: NETWORKING MEETING. This is the single most heinous form of torture you can force a shy introvert to participate in. You're forced to show up at an event where everyone is expected to talk to each other, sometimes to STRANGERS, and you're also expected to promote yourself and tell people why your business is great! The horror...

Well, as one of your own, let me tell you that you can do it, and you just have to get over it and get it done. Take a deep breath, put on a happy face, and make up your mind to act like you're an extrovert for a couple of hours. You know, like those people who seem to be able to make conversation with anyone and actually enjoy it. Just get through it, then you can go home and collapse in the fetal position on the couch with the lights out until you feel better.

The more you do it, the easier it will get. Work on an elevator pitch with a couple of variations so that you have something prepared in advance, and once you're done saying that, let the person you're talking to ask a few questions. Answer those, then ask them what they do. It sounds so easy, doesn't it?

The one thing NOT to do is to move onto random topics. Shy introverts tend to do the "nervous babble" thing, where you can't think of anything to say, but once you start, you can't stop. Don't fall into that trap. Keep it business-related, it's much safer.

Some safe topics to ask other people about are what got them started in their industry, how long they've been in business, general business trends, and what kind of things they're looking to focus on and why. DO NOT ask them their opinions about other vendors. You don't know if you're talking to that vendor's best friend. Just assume that everything you tell them is going to be repeated to someone.

Always get the person's name, too, because the easiest way to extricate yourself from a conversation is if someone else comes over and you can introduce them to the person you're talking to. Once they get chatting you can excuse yourself to go get another drink (don't drink any booze at these things either. You'll regret it.)

Next time, I'll write about some ways to make self-promotion feel not so slimy.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How To Attach Strings Of Isomalt Beads To A Buttercream Cake

This post contains affiliate links

My video about making strings of isomalt or fondant beads is here:



Now we'll see how to put these onto a buttercream cake without ripping it apart. I did this cake a while back, and it took me about an hour and a half to assemble it at the venue because putting strings of beads on buttercream isn't as simple as putting them on fondant.



The strings will press into the edges of the tiers, and will slide off the cake and take all the icing out on the way down. So you have to get tricky and rig it so that they won't go anywhere.

To do this, I use my favorite trick of melting drink stirs with my culinary torch and bending them into a U or a Y shape to use as a clip.



The U is to hold strings against the cake, and the Y is to act as a little rest so that the string doesn't rip the icing. You'll use them in different areas depending on what you need.

And now...Behold the cake. Yes, I spent a whole $2.99 to get one of those nasty little refrigerated cakes from the grocery store since this is a demo and I didn't feel like baking. (I'm actually kind of hoping that this cake wins an award like my other display cake did.) I wanted the top tier to be wider so that the beads would hang down in the empty space.


To keep the beads from sliding off the cake, I started with a skewer inserted into the tier and left sticking out about 1/2".


You can either tie a loop in the string's end, or just wrap the beads around the skewer. Here's a loop:



And here's a wrap:


Either way, just make sure the the end of the string is secure and it isn't sliding off the cake.

Next, determine where your string will go down the cake. See how it digs into the icing? You don't want that.

Life it up and put one of the little Y shapes into the cake. The Y should act as a little holder for the string to keep it from digging into the icing, and the beads on either side of the Y will keep them from sliding down the cake.




Press the beads against the icing to stick them to the cake.


The bottom of the string should rest on the tier below, and the combination of the Y clip plus pressing the string on the icing will keep it all in place.


Place the next strand of beads on the cake and use some of those beads to cover up and hide the Y clip.

 For this string, use a U clip to catch the string and attach it to the side of the cake. That will keep it in place and keep if from shifting and being pulled down the cake.



Go through the same process with the other strings, then cover the clips with some icing to hide the ones that other strings of beads aren't covering (if you have some overlap).



When you're done all of the strings will be secured and won't have wrecked the icing.


Drape some extra beads over the skewer on the top, or over any visible clips to hide them. Add some more on the flat surfaces on the edge of the tiers, and you're done. And yes, I threw that nasty cake right into the trash after I took the pictures for this post. I tasted some of the icing, and if it was any indication about the rest of it, yuck.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, February 10, 2017

How To Make Strings of Beads Using Isomalt or Gumpaste

This post contains affiliate links

This cake had strings of beads on it that were made using isomalt and gumpaste.



When you string beads to use as a suspended element on cakes the hard part isn't really stringing them, it's hanging them on the cake. If the cake is fondant it's one things, but the cake in the photo was buttercream, and it took me about an hour and a half to get the strands on without wrecking t he icing.

I'll be posting about ways to suspend strands of beads on cakes next week...For now, here's a video on how to make strands of beads with isomalt.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How To Make A Molded Sugar Cake Topper--Cake Decorating Tutorial

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If you need a little urn or a vase for a cake topper, you can easily make one from sugar and water. The key is to use a container that's wider at the top than the bottom so that you can remove the sugar easily. You can also use this method to mold sugar into fancy shapes for a tea party. I remember my mother doing this when I was a kid, so this isn't a new thing by any means!

Start with a cup of regular granulated sugar and add about 2 tsp of water.



Knead the water into the sugar, adding a tiny bit more if you need to. After mixing it for a while, it should stick together and be the consistency of stiff brown sugar.




Press the wet sugar into the container that you've chosen. I used some little tartlette pans, but you can use a small bowl or any other container or mold that has a larger opening at the top than at the bottom.


Level off the sugar, then turn it upside down on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper and press it onto the surface.


Jiggle the container a little, then carefully remove it from the sugar, which should keep its shape on the pan. if it falls apart, the sugar is probably too dry, so you should add some more water (just a little) and try again.

Make enough shapes to create the containers that you want. I'm making a vase that has a top and bottom made from the little pan, so I need two of them for one vase. I did extras in case one gets damaged.


Leave them to dry out for a couple of days without picking them up, then carefully pick them up to see if they're dry enough to handle. If they're not dry enough, leave them for another day or two.


If you want to hollow out the center to make a bowl for flowers, take a spoon and carefully scrape out the sugar starting at the very center. This will be the softest area, so be careful when you get out toward the edges. If you put too much pressure on it, it could still crack.




 Turn the shapes upside down and let the top sides dry for a couple more days.


When they're dry, glue the top and bottom together with some royal icing and there you have it.




I made some royal icing flowers to use in this,but I need more, so that will be coming later. You can either use royal icing or a little styrofoam ball in the dug-out area to hold the flowers in place.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sole Provider Clauses and What I Think About Them

The issue of whether to have a sole provider clause comes up a lot when people talk about cake contracts. The bigger issue behind this is why you think you need one, and whether you'd be willing to enforce one!





Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com