Happy 2015!  Lots of exciting things are happening at Cakes by Erin Salerno.  Did you know we moved? No worries, we didn’t go far. We are just behind the Galleria West at 655N. Brookfield Road, Unit C. We went from a tiny 250 square foot kitchen, to over 1,000 square feet. I have the wonderful opportunity to share my kitchen space with two other businesses.  The Naked Baker (trust me she keeps her clothes on!) sells all natural frozen cookie doughs.  These doughs are for the busy families that want to bake a homemade treat, without all the chemicals, and artificial junk.   There isn’t anything in these cookies that you can’t pronounce!  You can find her amazing doughs at stores like Outpost, Sendicks, Good Harvest, and Whole Foods.  The other fantastic creations coming out of our space are from The Beautiful Cookie Company.  Sharon makes the most gorgeous molded and hand painted sugar cookies.  Please check out all the great things that we’re cooking up!

 

I’d really like to take this moment to thank ALL my customers, vendor partners, family, and friends. I truly could not be the person I am if it wasn’t for all your patronage, and support!  2014 was a good year, and 2015 is shaping up to be an even bigger and brighter one.  Wedding season is filling up fast!  Have you become recently engaged over the holidays?  Call or e-mail to schedule your complementary tasting.  Don’t forget to check us out at the Magnificent Bride wedding show at The Pfister on Sunday March 1st.

Cakes by Erin Salerno is now located in the Galleria West Shopping Mall at 18900 W. Blue Mound Road Suite 203 in Brookfield, WI. I am available by appointment only. Please e-mail or call to set up appointments. 414-520-2219

My site was hacked a while back, and had to be completely rebuilt.   Good news is that whatever attacked the site is now gone, and we can return to our regularly scheduled program.

A lot has changed in the past few months.  The biggest is taking a new position with a new employer.  I’m really happy and looking forward to all the good news things that may come.  I’m still working for From Scratch Catering, and am now at Miss Julia’s Bake Shop.  It was the first cupcake bakery in our area.  I have been helping the owner for the past year with cutting cakes for weddings.  They, up til now, have only done cupcakes.  Since all the production baking is done in the mornings, afternoons has a lot of potential for other goodness like specialty cakes.  This is where I come in!  I respect and adore Paula.  She’s generous, kind, and appreciative.  Her quality in products are unmatchable, and it shows through and through.

I have some exiting events coming up and already scheduled right through the fall.  I’ll keep you posted!!

This summer has been just  flying by.  I’ve been so busy with more cake than I know what to do with, especially with the increase of Friday and Sunday weddings.  I have been really thinking lately that I wanted to spotlight a few of my favorite vendors from this area.

I always love doing a wedding that is at ANY of the Bartolotta locations.  Each location has it’s own feel and specialty, but I cannot say enough good things about the way they are run.  First off, their kitchens are spotless.  Delivering cakes to many venues throughout the area, you get to see a lot of in’s and out’s and behind the scenes. I am always completely blown away by the level of meticulousness of the Bartolotta restaurant group.  There is a standard of excellence, and it shows through and through.  I would have to say that The Grain Exchange is one of personal favorites from that group. I’ve done several cakes there, as well as attended a few weddings there.  It’s always a regal expirience and the ornate beauty of the building is one I find unmatched.

I’ve also had the great pleasure of working with David Caruso of Dynamic Events.  I have to say that I just cannot get enough of the details that they pour into their work.  Every event is precisely planned out, absolute perfection, and astounding beauty.  Milwaukee Brides, if you have the chance to work with Dynamic Events, it’s a MUST!  Check out these details of a children’s table:

Just amazing, thoughtful, and delightfully clever!

A few of my other favorites are:

From Scratch Catering

Flowers by Gregory and Company

Ms. Julia’s Bake Shop

Amandalynn Jones Photography

 

Please take a moment to visit each of these sites.  I’m sure you’ll fall in love with all the hard work and dedication that I have with each of these companies.  It’s just a small part of my ever growing list.  It will for sure be continued!  Okay, back to cake….

 

Just wanted to go back and tell you all about Kansas City.  Icing on the Cake for Newhouse was just amazing!  The amount to possitive, supportive, and energetic people there was enough to make you want to bathe in buttercream.  Mike Elder put on an incredible event, that if I understand correctly came together very quickly and with the help of some generous friends and peers.  One of the most exciting parts of the show, is to see how each person interpretates the theme, and what they come up with.  The ideas and inspiration are refreshing.  I was so obviously stoked to see and meet Debbie.  She’s even more beautiful and funny in person.  I  also felt awe struck to see so many cake artists in action in the live challenge.  I know that I personally couldn’t turn out the amount or quality of work there, and 3 three hours no less.  It was entertaining, education, and most of all enjoyable. 

Some of the main highlights:

-Pulling into the family hotel with waterpark in Des Moines and finding the “Girls Gone Wild” tour bus in the parking lot.  (I swear I’m still laughing about that!)

-Seeing my sister and her family.  The kids were fantastic, and we weren’t sucked up into any bad weather.

-Debbie won the live challenge with her insane creation.  Always great to support a friend and watch them recieve the accolades that they deserve.

Check this bad boy out!  It’s all cake and the details are jaw dropping.  The plate of ribs and corn was so realistic, it wasn’t even funny.  The cake also had steam coming from it and played blues music.  (Go ahead and faint…I’ll wait.)

-I won the Kansas City Strip award for best representation of the Kansas City theme.

My cake was sort of a personal joke to myself.  Growing up I loved the Wizard of Oz…so much that I cut all my hair off at the age of 3 because I wanted to be a munchkin for Halloween.  I spend the rest of my childhood with a Dorthy Hammil hair cut waiting for it to grow out again.  I’ve already outlined my healthy respect and fear of tornadoes, and the irony of me making the cake while under a tornado watch with warnings going off all around us was just plain ridiculous. 

All the details on the cake are hand painted.  The bow on the side was made from an edible image of the sheet music for Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  The tornado on top of the cake spun.

All in all it was a great week, time well spent with family and those that are a true inspiration to me.  Next year’s event is already being planned, and I can’t wait to see what Mike will come up with.

Today marks a very difficult day.  One of remembrance and important value.  As part of my blog, I wanted to extend the chance to share what I’ve learned throughout my cake experience.  My following words will forever  be a tell tale true story of the day that changed my life.  It’s been by far the most horrific thing that’s ever happened to me, and as I come to terms with my physical and emotional struggles, know that even if I could search every corner of my mind, words will still always fails me.

 (Warning, this will be graphic …)

May 5, 2010

I had only been at my new job a few weeks.  I was working on my first big project.  A large custom safari cake, that was for a birthday event.  Mandi was going to come and photograph the cake, so I could submit it to a magazine that had contacted me early that month, interested in my work.   It was a perfect opportunity to have something fresh and new.  I wanted this cake to be perfect.  I was working alone, methodically, and percisely.  I already had the top tiers of the cake done, and was moving onto the bottom two tiers.  Both the bottom tiers were squares, and I wanted to make sure that the fondant didn’t tear.  One of my bosses walked by and I asked, “Don’t you guys have a sheeter?”  Never once did I think that I would regret those words for the rest of my life. 

My boss set the machine up for me.  It was old and large.  He plugged it in and ran through some fondant.  The machine was leaving marks on the fondant, with grey streaks.  This was not the result I anticipated.  I decided to grab some scrap fondant to use to run it through the machine.  I didn’t want to waste the piece I needed to for the cake.  I also grabbed a towel.  I was on the back half of the machine, when the rollers sucked in the loose towel and my hand with it. 

I can tell you every perfect noise as I experienced the machine crushing my hand.  The pain, the most intense unfathomable and excruciating thing imaginable.  Ingrained in my mind I will always hear crystal clear the noise of the sheeter as I was resisting against it to try to get my hand free.  I screamed, as did my boss.  He unplugged it, but I was stuck in the machine.  Two other men came to try to free me from the machine.  As the commotion built, others from upstairs came pouring down to see what was going on.  I decided at that moment to shut off.  I went into a strange state, mostly shock.  I thought that if I continued to panic that the situation would be worse and at that point I would pass out.  When my hand lodged into the machine, the pin holding the rollers into place jammed which is why I could not be freed.  I told someone to call 911.  I thought that I would have to be extricated from the machine.  It seemed as though hours passed in those next several minutes.  Finally, the release and I was free.  It took three men.  My hand was deformed and gruesome.  I took another towel and wrapped my hand.  I couldn’t wait another second for anyone to come to me.  I was in fight mode.  I took my purse and told my boss to drive me to the hospital a few blocks away.  The instant we stepped foot outside the bakery, I turned in the other direction and walked to the fire house next door.  My husband is a Milwaukee firefighter.  I went right in and said, “I’m Vince’s wife and I need a med unit.”  They sat me down were they had trouble finding a pulse.  I bit my shirt to keep the mind blowing burning nevere sensation from making me stop breathing.  I kept thinking that I had to hold it together because these were my husband’s co-workers.  They couldn’t see me at my weekest.  I had to be brave.

At the hospital my fears were confirmed.  Three broken fingers, two of the tips also shattered, two finger nails torn off.  They numbed me, casted me and set me up for surgery to two days.  The next day at my pre-op I was rushed into surgery immediately.  My hand was completely blistered from the swelling.  The surgery happened so fast, that my husband didn’t even have time to drop my daughter off and get back before I was under.  I had three pins in each finger, and my nail beds reconstructed, with the nails sewn back on.  More than anything, I can tell you that the nerve pain from my fingernails was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. 

In the following days set to recover, my world started to spiral out of control.  I had orders and clients that had to be fulfilled.  I couldn’t take care of my kids, or even dress myself.  My husband had to take leave and take care of everything.  It was in that moment that I learned some very hard and valuable lessons.  First I realized how fortunate I was to have my fingers at all.  I became overwhelmed with the love and support of my family and friends.  I learned that no matter how much you’d like to think that the world doesn’t go on without you, it does.  I also learned that the people that should have cared the most didn’t.  That they mistook my ability to look the other direction as stupidity.  Even more so, my world was shattering around me as I became incapable of coping with my emotions.  I felt ashamed, guilty, and most of all alone.

I sought help from an amazing phsycologist who gave me the most insight into my injury, the process, and my downword spiral.  I started to have panic attacks, nightmares, and was hyper visulant towards everything around me.  Certian sounds, motions, senariors would trigger instant panicing and physical sickness.  I was diagnoised with Post Truamtic Stress Disorder.

After months of physical and physcho therapy, I’m here left with permement damage to my hand and my mind.  I have lost complete function of my index finger at the first knuckle, and have limited use and movement of the others.  I cannot fully straighten or bend all three of those fingers.  I lose feeling in the tips, as well as have throbbing pain the majority of the time.  The atrophic changes to my hands are remarkable.  The skin is different and sensitive especially to cold.  I have disfigurement to the nails and fingers.  I’ve lost 50% of my strength to my dominant hand, leaving simple chores like opening containers, or untying knots and counting money difficult. 

More than anything through all of this, it’s a learning expirience.  I cannot stress the importance  or invaluable lesson behind every single sentiment in this post.  If you are unfamiliar with a machine in anyway, make sure you have every possible chance of training on it.  Check and recheck to make sure everything is in place, and NEVER have anything lose like a towel, clothing or jewerly in your possesion while working with industrial machines.  It only takes a split second to change your life.

So at a year later, I embrance my fortune of still being able to make cake, eventhough it causes me pain.  I’ve learned to addapt around the injury and non-functioning parts of my hand.  I’ve learned to ask for help.  I thank God everyday that the injury wasn’t worse, and can only hope that I can pass the urgency to someone else that will heed my advice.  

I do have quite a bit of anger, sadness, and fear that’s left looming around the entire messy ball of drama.  Given the point of where my hand is now, I fear my future.  I’m already seeing drastic changes that point to me perhaps not being able to have a long cake career.  I’m still able to play the piano, with pain, but other passions such as my flute are a far bigger struggle. 

As far as the other parts of this injury, there is no worse feeling then being taken advantage of, especially after something so life altering.  There’s a deafening silence that consumes you when you realize that the people that you’d hope would care the most, don’t.  It’s devestating.

I have to apologize for my absence from my blog.  I have been up to my eye balls in sugar, cake, and all things related, while being  Mom, wife, and friend.  There is so much unrest going on locally and globally.  The catastrophic events in Japan are just heart wrenching.  On a more personal level, there are major chances coming into play with a new governor here in Wisconsin.  Those fellow readers in the United States my have seen some of that on their news.  I’m definitely not going to talk politics or get on my soap box, because what is the fun in that?  This blog is about cake, sweets, and sugar .  Regardless, things do happen for a reason.  It’s very hard for me to settle in on that because I’m very impatient when it comes to life altering decisions.  It will all work out, and I have so much to be very thankful and blessed for, it’s what keeps me going every moment.

All that being said, let’s talk about something that’s good.  Not good, great, fantastic, magical, wonderous, fantabulous (puts the thesaurus down…you get the point.)  A few days ago I stumbled across Mike Elder-Black Sheep Custom Cakes.  You may recognize him from TCL’s Ultimate Cake Off, especially if your like me and stalk all and any related cake show on cable television.  Mike is organizing something really truly incredible.  A sugar art show and exhibition to benefit Newhouse women’s shelter.  I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having to seek assistance from  a woman’s shelter  for protection against an ex-boyfriend in college.  I am grateful that they were able to offer me the resources to get the help and attention that I needed.   So not only is it a cake convention, competition, but for charity.  Pretty flipping awesome sauce right there.  I got even more excited when I found out that one of my cake friends, Debbie Goard owner of Debbie Does Cakes , is going to be one of the competitors of the live challenge.  Debbie is like no other.  She has a style of her own that is unmatchable.  She’s been on Food Network Challenge, as well as featured all over the world for her realistic cakes, and amazing artistry.  I came in contact with Debbie a few years ago on Flickr.  She has been a great companion and peer that floors me everytime I see her work.

Beyond getting excited about Mike and Debbie, as well as the other artists competing and attending the show, I then realized the show is in Kansas.  My sister lives in Kansas.  I starting looking for airfare, soon to discover that if I wanted to attend this event, see my sister, and bring my kids, I’d have to rob a bank.  Then I thought… road trip.  12 hours isn’t too bad, but wait…my kids.  Do I really, really, really want to be in the car for 12 hours with my crazy kids?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids.  It’s just that driving to the middle of the country with my high energy 3 and 5 year-olds for 12 hours straight takes a special kind of stupid.  I just might be insane enough to do it however.  It’s like 10 fold for me.  I get to see my sister and her family, meet and experience all sorts of greatness at the show, and my husband is going to stay behind and work on finishing up the basement that we started 5 years ago.  Perhaps 12 hours is excessive, so I’m fairly certain there will be a stop over night at a hotel with a pool to burn up some of that said energy my kids possess.   I would like to also enter a piece of work, however my time is very limited and I would not be capable of turning out anything show worthy in such a strained period of time.  I’m still working out all the kinks and deciding if I do in fact want to embark

My only other hang up would be the fact that it’s Kansas…where tornadoes happen, a lot in Spring.  You see I am deathly affraid of tornadoes.  My husband thinks this is an unrational fear.  I’m not so certain.  We live in the tail end of tornado alley.  We get tornadoes in Wisconsin.  They are infrequent, but it happens.  It’s not like I have this fear that I’m going to be sucked up by molten lava or an avalanche.  It happens, it happens here, and I have a healthy respect, fear, and fascination with weather of that sort.  A good friend of mine did bring up a great point when he said that experts try REALLY hard to put themselves in the direct path of a tornado and fail.  I realize that I have a better chance in winning the lottery or getting in a car accident, but if a house drops on me on the way out….  just saying!



This past Thursday I had the great opportunity to display a cake piece at Art Jamboree for Art Milwaukee.  Art Jamboree events are held the first Thursday of every month.  It’s held at a different venue with a different theme each time.  The idea is to get people to explore art as understand that it’s not  just limited to canvas.  With the events being at different venues, it gives everyone the chance to see all the places Milwaukee has to offer.  This month’s theme was “Love and Desire.”  I decided to do an Adam and Eve based wedding cake.  The venue was Blu at The Pfister Hotel.  Those familiar with the historic hotel, can relate that my cake looks as if though I took the decrotations right off the walls and formed them into a wedding cake.

My true inspiration for this cake however, came to me from Ron Ben-Israel.  He is a master in his own right, and someone that I hold in the highest respect in the industry.  His creations are dripping with regal, elegance, and perfection.  I would love to take a class in flower making from him if I can ever get to New York someday.  He’s also a very nice man.  Generous, helpful, and extraordinary.  I’ve replicate his cakes before, yet I tried to push myself out of a comfort zone.  I wanted to do a style that I haven’t really done before.  I sat at my dinning room table researching art, cakes, and Ron for hours.  Staring at the ceiling it hit me.  “I want that!” I exclaimed.  My husband completely dumb founded…”Want what?”  “The medallion on the ceiling.  That’s the feel of my cake that I want to replicate.”   A fixed over my head was what I was searching for.

How do I represent that in cake and make it sensual, yet beautiful?  I chose a deep red color.  It’s such a passionate color, sinful, and luscious.  I wanted to show the snake on the goblet, rich bold, subtle and slightly sinister.  The apple as the fruit, and flowers highly symbolic of Adam and Eve.  A tiny splash of white marking purity, but playing on the  of the  nature of the flowers and how they can represent man and woman respectively.  I’m madly in love with the cake and how it turned out.  It’s different from my usual whimsical style.    The event was wonderful, and I love being around other artists in every form.  I can’t wait to see what more Art Milwaukee has to offer. 

Iron Cupcake Milwaukee Pro/Am Clash of the Cupcakes was the most amazing event to date.  Seriously, the best weekend of my life!  I got to meet Duff Goldman at a private reception the night before.  I refrained from crawling in his lap and asking him if I could stow away in his suitcase.  He’s just the nicest, funniest, down to earth guy.  The kind of guy that you could totally have to your house for a back yard cook out…yeah, he’s that cool!  If that wasn’t enough, Michelle and Vinny Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago were there just to add to the awesome.  They just had a little bitty baby, and have two other children.  I love the energy and magic that the kids have.  It amazes me so much that the Garcia’s are highly successful in the industry, and balance their family.  They make it seem effortless, which I know first hand it’s the furthest thing from.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting them before, but the awesome in one room was overwhelming.  Listening to Duff, Michelle, and Vinny talk about the good, the bad, and the funny in the cake world and being able to step for step identify with them was incredible. 

Onto the big event.  We had 2,100 people in attendance.   A complete sell out!!  The entire weekend went seamless.  I wasn’t stressed or nervous, and even given my severe lack of sleep, I felt perfect.  My partner Melissa Martin and I came up with an Alice in Wonderland idea to our cupcakes and display.  The theme of the event was perfect pairs.  We ended up doing a red velvet cupcake with a black vanilla caramel tea hazelnut mascarpone filling.  Topped with vanilla buttercream and a chocolate, sea salt tea cookie for garnish.  Pairing chocolate and caramel together.  Our other flavor was a white velvet rose tea infused cupcake with homemade strawberry, orange, coriander preserve filling, finished with a strawberry, mandarin, cardamom buttercream.  Pairing strawberries and coriander.  Both cupcakes were made using teas, and it was only fitting to use the Mad Hatter tea party scene from the Disney movie as our display.  We were incredibly fortunate to have some very generous friends that helped our display come to fruition.  A New Leaf floral donated flowers and greenery to help this magical woodland party come to life.  Donna Erickson, owner of From Scratch Catering, donated her personal collection of tea cups, saucers, and tea pots.  I purchased a few extras for the table like clocks, and plant stands to hold cupcakes and plates.  As part of my madness, the center had a gumpaste rendition of Alice and all her minions at the tea party.  The Cheshire Cat’s head spun, the Caterpillar had a smoking hookah, and there spinning dials on a clock on the table.  The display part was a ton of fun to make….mostly because I got to curl up on the couch and watch a Disney classic with my daughter for inspiration.   

So how did we do?  We won best Pro cupcake voted by the crowd, AND Duff’s choice for best cupcake all around!  Getting that affirmation from someone I respect so much in the business is the highest compliment of all.  It was the most amazing feeling in the world coming from someone that I look up to so much.  Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself in LA in a few years 😉  More than anything, I could never had done any of this without my partner Melissa.  Her talent in baking never stops impressing me, and makes my taste buds sing.  She’s a wonderful friend, support system, and I’m so grateful she’s in my life.  Robert Klemm, one of the owners of Industri cafe, was also gracious enough to allow Melissa and me to represent their restaurant, as we are the pastry chefs there.  I don’t think that anyone is as great as thoses that love them, and I can honestly say that I am one truly loved and blessed individual. 

However, just incase Milwaukee didn’t get all their filling of Duff…

He promised that if we had 2,000 people come to the event, he would come back next January and do the polor bear plunge.  Guess well being seeing A LOT of Duff in the future!

About a year and half ago I got involved in something really cool.  I stumbled across  Sandy Ploy’s blog.  The Milwaukee Cupcake Queen as she’s affectionately known, for all cupcake goodness.  I competed in my first Iron Cupcake in August of 2009, and the challenge was Summer Fruit.  I was excited and wanted to take an elegant approach to the challenge.  I knew instantly what I wanted to do my white chocolate strawberry cheesecake with brandy apricot reduction and white chocolate cupcake.  Then it hit me when I was brushing my teeth.  I have this weird thing, where my design ideas seem to come to me when I’m getting ready.  I have no idea why, but the bathroom seems like this mystical place where I actually have real thoughts, either that or there’s something special about the toothpaste I use.  Anyway, Strawberry Shortcake popped into my head.  I knew I had to do it.  As a little girl I loved Strawberry Shortcake, and recreating her as sugar would be something so sweet.  I turned from the elegant approach and went  into cute and fun.  I felt that perhaps the crowd would intentify with it, and it was a great idea.  Then, I was contacted by a producer of a local television show called Wisconsin Foodie.  They were doing a segment on Iron Cupcake and were looking for volunteers to have a film crew come in and film bakers getting ready for the challenge.  I thought, “why not!?”  So I e-mailed the producer back and promised to duct tape my husband and kids in the closet if they chose me.  I guess crazy kids make for great TV, or maybe it was my sparkling personality, but either way, Wisconsin Foodie came into my home and the corners of my kitchen.  You can see the video to the Wisconsin Foodie Iron Cupcake segment on my press page.  So not only did I win for presentation, but I won the partner pick, taking home a double win on my first time out.  It was a great time, and I decided that I wanted to compete again.  You see Iron Cupcake isn’t all about the winning and competition, it’s a charity event.  Part of the proceeds go to a non-profit organization.  Each month is a different theme, and a different sponsor.  Not only was I able to have fun, I got to be a part of something much greater than myself, and it felt good.  Since then, I can’t believe how much it’s grown.  I’ve had the pleasure of being able to showcase some of my best work there, and have meet some wonderful friends, and people that are doing such positive things for the community.  I can’t even being to express how much it’s change my  life, and I can’t thank Sandy enough for starting something so incredible, and feel  fortunate to be a part of it.

SO…all that being said, let’s talk about the Pro/Am Iron Cupcake coming up on Feb. 13th.  In case you haven’t heard by now, there are going to be some pretty rocking people there.  Michelle and Vinny Garcia from Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago are going to be there.  Yep, that’s right, Food Network Challenge winners!!  Let me tell you how cool Michelle is.  Last year for Sandy’s birthday, some of the regular Iron Cupcake bakers wanted to surprise her with a little celebration and give back to her for all the fabulous things she’s done for us.  I admit, I stalked Sandy’s blog…A LOT.  More than a healthy person should.  I went back and tried to find all the famous people and chefs that she’s possibly met and see if my some small miracle they would be willing to come help us celebrate Sandy.  I found Michelle, and e-mailed her.  Not only did she say she’d come, she offered to surprise Sandy with a cake!!  How flipping cool is that right?  After Feburuary’s  Iron Cupcake Bacon Challenge last year, we bombarded Sandy with birthday celebration and Bleeding Heart made a jaw dropping incredible cake.

The thing I like most about Michelle and her equally talented husband, Vinny, is that they are so down to earth.  They are the kind of people you can just talk to and be yourself.  I love that they take every opportunity to be themselves too.  They stay true to who they are, no matter what people say or think.  There aren’t enough people willing to take risks like that any more.  Not only being wicked talented, business proprietors, but a family.  They just welcomed a brand new baby, and I couldn’t be happier for them.  Can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks.

This past summer I decided to join forces if you will with another ICM baker.  Her name is Melissa Martin.  She’s has this profound way of combining flavors to make your taste buds sing.   I approached her after my right hand was crush in a fondant sheeter.   I still wanted to compete in Iron Cupcake, I just knew I wouldn’t be able to go at it alone with my injuries and disability.  Between the two of us, we had a large number of wins.  Melissa is known for her rocking out the box flavors, and I for my elaborate displays.   We got together, and she helped me through the most difficult time of my life.  I was going through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, just had 3 pins yanked from my fingers, and was a mess at best!  Mel had calming effect on me.  She got me and we thought on the same wave length, which is frighteningly scary.  Oh yes, and she puts up with my crazy kids and having to listen to Wonder Pets on the TV every time she’s here.  (As a disclaimer, I do no try to torture her with such obnoxiousness, it just happens that the TV senses when she’s coming….I swear!!)  Anyway, Mel and I developed a great partnership and friendship.  She’s my partner in crime and cupcakes.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Onto Duff.  Um, wow.  I’m sure it’s all been said before, and he’s heard it all before.  How and what could I possibly say other than, “Thank you!”  If it hadn’t been for Ace of Cakes I wouldn’t have had that spark ignited inside me.  I wouldn’t have taken the initiative to put myself out there and take a risk.  And what can we possibly come up with in order to impress him other than getting  Harrison Ford dressed as Hans Solo himself to feed him our cupcakes personally?!   Well we’re stirring up some ideas.  I’m putting together a display that should be my most over the top yet, even though Pro is not judged on display like the regular ICM is.  I’ve toyed around with elegant or whimsical, because you never know what mood the crowd will be in and it could go either way.  The idea is to not only have the most kick ass cupcakes anyone has ever crammed into their mouth, but to entice the crowd.  Doesn’t matter how great they taste, if they look funky…people won’t want to try them.  Again part of the challenge is getting people to open their minds about flavors.  This isn’t Betty Crocker, or even Martha Stewart.  We’re trying to push the envelope without sending people running for the hills, and yet it’s kind of a fine line.  If you have the chance to check out the Pro/Am Clash of the Cupcake challenge on Feb. 13th, we would love to see you.  Come by and say, “Hi!”  not just for the cupcake mother load and sugar comma, but to also meet some incredible people that I idolize in the industry.  Duff Goldman, Michelle and Vinny Garcia, and Sandy Ploy.  A fun time will be had by all….I mean it’s cupcakes!