Tinkerbell Cupcake Cake

Ryanne is a cool little kid.  She keeps my husband entertained, draws pictures for us, and generally brightens up our Sunday mornings when we all get together.  Last month was her birthday, and with everything going on, her Mom realized that she wouldn't have time to put together a birthday cake and asked if I would do one for her.  It did take a little while for Ryanne to make up her mind on whether she wanted a Tinkerbell cake or a Transformers cake.

Her mom wanted a cupcake cake so it would be easier for the teacher to deal with in class, and she also wanted an extra dozen matching cupcakes to take home for the family later. They wanted chocolate cake with my standard cream cheese frosting.

I think it worked out pretty well for a cupcake cake.  I usually don't like making them because they use way too much frosting, and they're really kind of awkward to handle.  But I do understand why some people like not having to provide a knife, forks, and plates.

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Culinary School Archives: Friday, March 26, 2004

A note before I begin: For some reason, I went back to my old blog that I started when I decided to attend culinary school.  I posted about quite a few experiences I had as a student and what I thought I had learned from them.  I think that with all the current changes to my career and where I think I'm heading–it will be interesting to look back and compare.

An Introduction 

Terrified, excited and scared to death. That's the description of what I'm feeling right now. After 11 years as a Technical Writer and even longer working in the high tech industry, I'm ready to ditch it all and change careers. The thought of finding another job creating unread user manuals and documentation was more than I could handle. So I've decided to become a Chef. Yes, I'll be making less money, and I'll be going back into debt… but for once someone will actually USE something I've created. There are many other reason for this decision, but first and foremost is that I will be doing something I've always loved to do. (I DO love working in the culinary industry, but I missed the tech world much more than I ever thought I would.)

What worries me the most is the cost–$40K–for a degree in the Le Cordon Bleu program at the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin. I have a house and bills to deal with and working only part-time will barely cover that. But I'm going into debt anyway knowing that I won't be looking back when I'm retired and wondering why I wasted so much of my life doing work that I hated (I may be good at it – but being a technical writer in the semiconductor field just SUCKS). (Let's not start talking about my student loan right now.  It's tough, but thanks to my brilliant husband, we are ahead of schedule.)

I did a lot of research on culinary schools and careers, and then went and visited a few here in Austin. Someone at TCA took the time to give me a tour of the school, introduced me to some of the instructors, and sat me down and showed how all the classes were structured and what I would be learning in each one. I left knowing that I had to get into that school somehow… maybe it was the atmosphere or maybe it was just the sight of all those gleaming student kitchens. I'm a sucker for a big beautiful kitchen. Yes, attending a LCB program is expensive, but it'll give me the contacts and networking opportunities that I wouldn't have with another local school. And I need that boost since I'm starting out in this career later than most people (and it doesn't hurt that it also comes with an Associates of Applied Science). My husband is freaking out about the cost, but even he agrees that this specific school is the best choice for me at this time. It's funny, now that I've set all of this in motion, my friends and family are asking me why it took so long for me to decide to become a chef. Ummm, if they all knew this was the job for me–why didn't someone mention it 18 years ago? Or was this something I had to figure out on my own? 

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I started on this path from the begining instead of wandering all over the place trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Part of it bothers me because I've wasted so many years. If I had known that culinary training was an option, my career choices would have been different. And I definitely would have started at a cheaper school – Austin Community College has a pretty good program – or maybe I would have gone to Johnson and Wales on the East Coast. I don't know why it never occurred to me that you COULD go to school for it…. man, I must have been a stupid kid. But on the other hand–it might have also been wasted on me at that time. Now I know that I have to put everything I have into my education, and I also have the drive, ambition and single-mindedness that I was lacking in college. 

Tomorrow morning is Orientation at TCA and I'll finally get to meet my classmates and instructors. We were given a recipe to try and discuss there, and it was…. um, interesting. I'll talk about it tomorrow after I find out if it was a test or just crappy instructions. (It wasn't a test, and it wasn't a mistake.  Some people just shouldn't be allowed to write recipes.  I'll probably harp on this pet peeve quite a bit more as I update my archives.)

I still sometime wonder what it would have been like if I went to culinary school straight out of high school, but while I would have been so much further ahead in my career, I don't think I would have learned as much back then as I did as an older student.  Besides, there's a lot I would have missed out on that I'm glad I've learned. And while I now know more about the different culinary programs here in Austin and which ones teach which subjects better than the others for different types of careers paths, I don't regret my choice of schools.  Attending the Texas Culinary Academy was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Next up: Orientation.

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A Resolution for May. Or for the second half of May, kind of…

My goal is to post at least once a day for the rest of the month.  Yeah, I know that's not very exciting, but with all the meds the dentist has put me on, I'm becoming a very large potato.  I'm not just large and round, but I've also developed the stunning mental and physical agility of an Idaho potato (not to be confused with slimmer and slightly more intelligent Washington potato).  A physical resolution will be announced soon.  Or at least as soon as I can come up with one that I have at least a 50% chance of keeping for the two weeks left in the month.

Remember, as all the grocery store bakeries have drummed into their employee's heads: Quantity is more important than the quality.  You can be sure that I will incorporate this very important life lesson into my blog as well.  

Go Quantity!
UPDATED ON 6/11/08: So I can't keep a resolution.  Bite me.

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Something I haven’t mentioned…

While I still work one day a week at the bakery, I'm now working full-time for a computer company in tech support.  This is an increase in pay with better hours, but I miss the kitchen.  On the up side, I now have more time, and customers, for my little sideline baking not-quite-a-business.  It's amazing how many people here want cookies, cupcakes, tarts, and all kinds of cakes.  I even have a set of wedding cakes scheduled for later this summer (this included a groom's cake shaped like Moya).  I also started working as a personal chef for a friend once a week.  While I'm not sure I'd want to do that for a living, we're trading professional services and her skills come in very handy.

It's amazing how happy I was to be involved with high tech again.  One of these days I'll find a way to combine it with my obsession with pastries.  And on that day–I'll be a truly content person.

Update: My friend that I'm trading work with is a talented programmer and interior decorator, but the most useful skill that I plan on taking advantage of, is her organizational skill.  Yes, people paid her lots of money to organize their homes and offices.  Bartering services rocks!

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My New Favorite Song – Speechless

This is Samantha Miller.  We raced from a company celebration today to hear her before her set was over at the Blue Marble.  Hubbylove has been going on and on about how good she was and now I agree.  Speechless is the song she closed with today, and I just wanted to share it with everyone (luckily she has a YouTube clip from a show last year, because we both forgot to grab our camera). The little machine at her feet that plays the prerecorded loops of herself that she harmonizes with is pretty cool too.

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