Archive for » March, 2015 «

Sugary Business Trip to London and Birmingham

While Chris was in Naples, I took a little trip of my own to England with my Slikkepotten partner, Katrine, for my first ever business trip! I tell you, there was something surreal about flying to London on a business trip for a company that I own. Life takes you to crazy places, that’s for sure.

The purpose of the trip was two-fold: 1. Take a 2-day cake-specific business class from The Business of Baking and 2: Go to the Cake International convention in Birmingham.

The Business of Baking class was probably the best thing we’ve done for our business all year. By this point Slikkepotten had been open 9 months and we were both completely exhausted and very burned out. I was personally at the point where if I never made another cake again it would be too soon and just the smell of chocolate cake would make my stomach curl (although the latter was probably primarily due to pregnancy…) The class was run by Michelle Green, who is a former bakery owner in Australia who now runs a popular cake industry blog by the same name and Sharon Wee of Sharon Wee Creations, who is a pretty famous cake decorator in the cake world.

In contrast to most cake blogs that focus on tutorials and techniques for decorating cakes, Michelle strictly writes about how to run the business side of making cakes. Katrine and I had been following her posts for a year at this point and her advice proved to be essential to the successful start-up of our company! By this point though, we desperately needed further help  because clearly how things were going weren’t sustainable for us or our families (multiple 80 hour work weeks in a row, anyone?). So, when we found out Michelle and Sharon were coming to London to host their very first international class we jumped on the opportunity.

It was an amazing two days! We learned loads about how to truly run a successful baking business including things like pricing our cakes correctly, managing schedules, dealing with customers, marketing ourselves, getting good systems in place, etc. It was fantastic to interact with other bakers who were all in the same boat as we were and to realize that the problems we were dealing with as a company were pretty universal to the industry. We found out we were actually doing pretty ok for ourselves :) We were able to take what we learned in the class and make some important and much-needed changes in how we run our company. It is definitely still a work in progress and I can’t say it’s even close to where we want it to be yet, but things have been set in motion that will hopefully help us be able to work better hours, have better customer service, spend more time with our families and run a more efficient company. Oh, and to pay ourselves a salary. That will hopefully happen soon :) Thanks so much Michelle and Sharon!

 

We spent two full days in London doing the class and then hopped a train to Birmingham for the Cake International convention. No time for sightseeing!

Cake International was awesome. We went specifically to find new vendors and new products to stock in our shop and get a heads up on upcoming trends (Norway is about 5-10 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to cake trends), but we also watched plenty of demonstrations (some were pretty meh, but some were useful) and ended up getting majorly inspired by the competition cakes. It felt pretty legit to get schmoozed by the vendors who wanted us to stock their products, especially since Norway is such an up and coming market in the cake world and a lot of brands want to expand into it. I felt like such a business owner!

Me the entire 3 days we were there. I had to exercise some serious restraint. Sooooo many cake toys!
^^All made out of sugar!^^
This was one of the coolest cakes in the show! Made by Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes, 8 feet tall, 100% decorated with buttercream. Check out the details of the piping below! 
^^Made out of sprinkles. No joke.^^
The details! The baker in me still geeking out.
Peony demonstration. Time to step up my sugar flower game!
The lovely Sharon Wee signing some books for us for our shop.
I wasn’t very good at taking photos of the progress of my growing baby bump, but here’s one at about 25 weeks that I took for Chris so he could see his baby growing while we were apart. And yes… that was a kissy-face elevator selfie. Don’t judge me.
Buzzfeed famous Katniss Everdeen Mockingjay cake.

 

People are seriously so talented.



Overall, the trip was inspiring and encouraging and made Katrine and I both feel like we might actually be able to pull this off. Thanks Michelle and Sharon and Cake International!

Naples round 3

November saw Chris heading back to Naples, Italy for another 2 1/2 week NATO exercise. This particular exercise ended up being a little overwhelmingly busy with some complications that arose during production so Chris didn’t get much time to hang out and take in much of Italy. He did manage an excursion to Pompeii with his co workers though as well as a stop at our favorite pizza place, Da Michele!

 

This is now the 3rd time Pompeii has been featured on our blog (1st time and 2nd time). Life definitely takes you down strange and wildly unexpected paths. I never would have thought I’d be able to write about it once, let alone three times and I’m humbled by the course we’re on that has led us here.
I tried to do another photo challenge for Chris for Naples, but since he had hardly any free time he wasn’t able to do much. One of the completed challenges though was a self-portrait eating gelato and I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite, so you get both! I sure love this man! He makes me smile like no other :)

 

Category: Adventures, NATO, Travel, Work  Tags: , ,  One Comment
It’s a…..

 

So thrilled!

 

Just a little excerpt from an email I sent my brother, Cameron, on his mission since it documents a little slice of life for us around the time we found out the gender:

“I hope these [photos] make it to you on time! We just got home from our afternoon at the doctor’s office to get our primary ultrasound scan for our baby! And yep! It’s a girl! I’m pretty excited about it! Chris was hoping for a boy, so I think he’s a twinge disappointed and overwhelmed by the idea of having a girl instead, but I think he’ll grow to love the idea :) We’ve decided to name her Lily Aurora Hill.
The ultrasound was pretty cool. We’ve had 2 already before this one, but she’s grown so much since the last one at the beginning of summer! She’s now approximately the length of a banana. We could see all her bones and the 4 ventricles of her heart and most of her inner organs. It was fascinating and the doctor says so far she looks like she’s developing perfectly normal! It’s also weird to call her a “her.” We’ve been calling the baby “it” for so long it’s strange and oddly personal to finally assign a name and identity to her. I’m sure we’ll get used to it soon though.
I went to a used baby item swap meet sort of thing 2 weeks ago and bought our first big baby purchase: a little crib! Now that we’ve passed the half-way mark, it feels like we really need to get a move on with some of this stuff!”
Category: Family, Norway, Spawn  Tags: , ,  One Comment
When the pregnant birthday girl wants sushi, she gets sushi.
Right around my birthday I got hit with a MAJOR pregnancy craving for sushi. Of course my one major craving of the entire pregnancy so far had to be a big no-no for pregnant women everywhere. Miserable!

 

Then inspiration struck one evening while browsing Pinterest: I can make my own pregnancy-friendly sushi!

 

I scoured the internet for tutorials and spent more time watching sushi-making YouTube videos than I care to admit, then we invited a bunch of our friends over to have a make-your-own sushi night for my big 2-7!

 

The idea was that each couple brought enough fillings of their choice to fill 3 sushi rolls. Chris and I provided the nori (seaweed wrappers), sushi rice and photographic inspiration for restaurant-style sushi. We set out everyone’s fillings and then each couple designed, created, named, and plated 3 rolls each. Then we had ourselves a sushi feast! Seriously…so much fun. Everyone was a bit intimidated by the idea at first, but as we got going they all got way into it and we ended up with some creative and delicious maki rolls! Just looking at these photos makes me want to have a repeat ASAP!
We used about every dish we own setting out all the fillings and plating all the rolls! Our kitchen and dining area could barely contain all the sushi!

 

Here is the recipe for the sushi rice we used. I definitely still need practice to make it like the pros (apparently professional sushi apprentices can take 10 years+ to perfect their sushi rice technique!), but I think it still turned out yummy :)

 

Fillings we used:
carrot
avocado
cucumber
mango
crab sticks
cream cheese
tempura fried shrimp
sushi-grade Salma salmon (for all the non-pregger people)

 

Toppings and sauces we used:
avocado
mango
kiwi
black and white sesame seeds
Eel sauce (apparently not actually made with eel)

 

Plus, some useful links and recipes to make your own:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This “Sweet Roll” made by Barrett was one of the biggest hits of the evening! Sugary, fruity, and desserty!

So fun, so delicious, so craving-satisfying and basically the best 27th birthday ever!

 

Misc September
September was almost as busy as August when it came to cakes and working at the bakery. Wedding season was still in full swing, although thankfully it was the tail end of it and things were starting to wind down. However, at Slikkepotten, when cake orders wind down classes start winding up! We had some great courses in September, including a few with guest teacher Sweet Sugarboy Ed, the winner of the first season of “Cake Wars” here in Norway.
New shipment of supplies and cake pans all ready to be filled with batter.
Our “special” station wagon needs a lot of tender loving care, which fortunately Chris is able to provide. Here he is disconnecting the power window in the back seat so that the window doesn’t constantly fall down and let in the rain anymore. I sure love my handyman :)
Skittles chillin’ in the shower.
To start preparing Skittles for the new little one in our life we took a leaf out of all the parenting books and bought her a baby doll to start getting her used to her new little “sibling”. (Just to clarify, I usually find it silly when people refer to their kids and pets as siblings, but in the case of Skittles it really is exactly like preparing a 2 year old for the baby so it’s hard to find another word for it. We’re slowly turning into “those” people…)
Unfortunately, the first meeting didn’t go well. See those spread tail feathers? That’s her attack position. She’s not really a fan of kids so we have our work cut out for us…
Sweet Sugarboy Ed teaching us how to make his stunning sugar roses and peonies!