Most of you know how very moved I was by having met Talia Castellano last year. God certainly had a plan in allowing me to make her 13th birthday cake via Icing Smiles last August 18th. This tiny child moved mountains in my heart- her fearlessness calmed me, her grace encouraged me, her life story inspired me. When the family reached out to me for help in honoring her life and birthday during the tribute event being planned I felt as though another piece of me had fallen into place. It just felt so right. We decided on mini cupcakes for the guests and at that time did not now how many to expect but anywhere from 1000-2000 plus the family wanted a birthday cake for Talia that they could keep and also just a small carrot cake to take home as that is Talia’s favorite. Talia had asked for a Paris themed cake prior to gaining her wings last month. If you know me then you also know that Paris is very personal to me as my mother, who also passed away from cancer 3 years ago, took me on a trip to Paris before she was diagnosed. That trip impacted me greatly and brought about Bliss Pastry. My mother also attended the church where the tribute was held. Everything has seemed so connected between Talia, myself and the loss of my mother. That loss is what Talia’s light helped to heal in me. This was a painful cake to make. It was painful to witness her passing even at the distance of social media. It brought me back to the details of losing my mom. I had a recurrance of those night time flashes which jolt me awake. Seeing my mom as I saw her for the last time. Remembering the place your heart is in where you begin to pray for deliverance and mercy. My heart was so moved by Talia’s family and her friends. By her mother who stayed by her side and held back her own fear and pain to be steadfast and true in comforting and supporting her children. By all of her family and friends who maintained hope through every moment until the moments passed and Talia was freed from her body. When you see them you can feel the exhaustion of their pain. Very clearly. Yet they reach out to everyone and let everyone reach out to them. They are gracious and kind and thankful. And right away you can see that all of Talia’s amazing qualities run deeply through that family. Since last night I have been absolutely haunted by the memory of Mattia and her friend singing Dancing In The Sky. I have been singing it all day. Mattia has the most incredible voice that emotes and mesmerizes and I hope she realizes she has a gift and a future right there. The most beautiful voice and song I think I have ever heard. It was perfection. Another gift that I will never forget. In making Talia’s cake I wanted it to be fun, quirky, playful and unique. Like Talia. Lots of Marie Antoinette dress inspired ruffles, corseting that was not too grown up but not too childish either, luxury, fun, all beneath a hunters moon shining behind the Eiffel Tower. A girl with all the style and energy to take over the world. Talia’s little poodle, Bella, is there as well looking over her mommy with a pink rose adorning her ear. My deepest gratitude and respect and love to Talia and her beautiful family and friends. Thank you for blessing me. Thank you for accepting the gifts for girls of my hands and heart. It really means the world to me.
What an honor it was to be asked by a local women’s group to host a buttercream basics class at their monthly luncheon! This was my first time teaching and the goal of the class was to learn simple piping techniques but mostly it was to have fun and enjoy outstanding fellowship. These ladies were very eager to get started and they each dove right in trying different borders and flowers. The room was filled with laughter and everyone had a great time. Prior to the class the ladies enjoyed a light luncheon followed by my lemon cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate ganache. The theme for the cake was spring, feminine and soft colors. I chose a blush pink accented with brighter pink peonies, a simple textured ruffle border and gold beads for a touch of dazzle. Perfect for a spring day in Florida!
I have loved every single moment of planning and making this wedding cake. It has everything that I enjoy most- It is feminine, floral, detailed, and blush pink! There are times when we fall in love with the cake design and there are times when we fall in love with the clients. When the planets are aligned just right we fall in love with both. Carrie has a small son who was recently diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy. For a baker this can be a terrifying thing. You dwell on the potential for microscopic particles to somehow make their way in to your cake no matter what precautions you take. It probably doesn’t even work that way under normal conditions but…. what if?! Yes, my head is always filled with those horrible what ifs. I knew I had to be beyond organized and have allergen safe cleansing protocols in place as I had never baked for an allergic client before. Carrie was so very wonderful. Between the two of us we called every manufacturer of every single ingredient that I would use in her wedding cake. She was an angel. She helped me not be terrified that I would hurt her child and in turn I felt a fierce attachment to them both. I prayed so often during this process because it is just that important. It was such an education and I truly admire the people who live with food allergies in a processed food world where factories are not generally safe. They cannot rely on a description of a food. They cannot rely on knowing what should be in their food. You cannot always rely on product packaging either. When you call manufacturers they often times do not know what else may be in the room with what you are serving. If you call back again and get another person you may get a different answer! So it is scary. I made a Google doc and shared it online with Carrie and every item was reviewed and verified. In the end the petal dusts could not be verified as safe as they are repackaged and we just could not take a chance on her sons well being so he got his own little chocolate cake that day and every other ingredient in his Mommys cake was safe just not those sugar flowers. When Carries cakes were delivered and I drove home… I was kind of sad. She is a really great person and her little one stole my heart before I ever met him. This is one of those cakes and families that I will always remember.
When a person really gets hot and heavy in to cake decorating they tend to become a little OCD about things. Things like having the smoothest finish, sharpest edges, cleanest lines. As much as I do love an element of the random to my cakes yes I at least try to strive for these things. Strive, I say, not actually accomplish. When someone asks me to make a rustic iced cake I both jump for joy and cringe. I jump for joy because I know I do not have to be perfect and flawless which are things I never am anyway. I cringe because it makes me twitch to ice a cake then not make it as perfect as Kristenly possible. Or to actually go back in and “mess it up”. The result, however, is really quite stunning in its simplicity and free form loveliness. Yes, I am now a believer. Flower making is one of my “things”. Not going to call it a specialty because there is still much to learn. Definitely flower making speaks to me and I love any cake which gives me the chance to make flowers. Especially flowers I have never made before. Succulents come in so many shapes, sizes and colors that really you can do most anything. They are not fussy to make and they are quite fast. The same as with a rustic iced cake the effect is beyond the effort. Combine the two and you have a real winner. Brides have so many choices now and so many images to look through. They know what they want. Christie is a smart and pretty young college graduate who, besides making me feel really old in comparison, taught me that my way is not always better. That a ton of detail and time and sweat and tears and stress can give you a showstopping result but so can simple, clean, pure. She taught me to trust my bride. And myself. And the two of us together working toward one vision. For that I will always be thankful. She doesn’t even know she did that for me. I do, though, and it is a lesson I needed.