We already celebrated Halloween on Friday, the 26th of October, in Funkstown, Maryland.
Lydia was attending a sophisticated party for 10-year-olds, while I accompanied my two toddlers in their homemade My Little Pony costumes; Mia was Pinky Pie and Jacob was Rainbow Dash.
It certainly wasn’t a Martha Stewart project, rather they kept changing their minds until the very last minute.
Joe grudgingly went along with the rainbow-colored yarn tail and felt “Cutie Mark” that I fastened to his son’s rear….
Although he grumbled, “Aren’t there any boy Ponies?”
“Why, yes, in fact ~ There is a male unicorn called Joe! His Cutie-Mark is an iced doughnut. Wanna come Trick-Or-Treating with us, Honey?”
I’m actually On Time for a Halloween post this year! Although Hurricane Sandy did her best to knock our cable and Internet offline for a couple of days, and I was worried this post might not go live until next week ~ we were obviously lucky! We even managed to keep our electricity throughout the storm.
Last November, I wrote a slightly belated Halloween post about decorating vampire fanged cupcakes with blood-shot eyes. I had just transferred to the bakery as a part-time cake decorator to bring in extra income for the holidays.
This year, I took the bakery manager position while Joe was out of work… so my plate was full this October.
I still had to worry about producing enough cupcakes to fill the main display (I have three cake decorators to help me!)… but also needed to keep this wall of featured goodies full….
And this other display….
I personally decorated these Jack-O-Lantern doughnuts. 106 boxes so far…. and they’re selling like crazy!
Artwise, I’ve finished up two commissions, and am ready to jump into a third. I can’t share the finished portraits yet, because they are meant to be gifts.
The wait is excruciating!
The charity auction at Howards’ Arts and Frames raised over $3,000 for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. My two Baroque-style portraits netted $20 (to the same bidder ~ so thank you, mystery cat-lover!) and I won my bid for a beautiful mixed media collage by Kate Williams, incorporating one of Shel Silverstein’s famous poems:
Listen to the Mustn’ts, Child
Listen to the Don’ts
Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts
Listen to the Never Haves
Then Listen Close to Me ~
Anything can Happen, Child.
Anything can Be.
~ Shel Silverstein
This inspiring piece deserves a special space on my studio wall, because it truly sums up how I’ve felt this year ~ with all the set-backs and difficulties we’ve experienced (some which I’ve shared online, and some I’ve kept to myself) ~ I believe that having the right attitude makes a world of difference.
I could listen to that inner voice (and a few outer voices) that tell me to “give it up” and accept my future as a retail employee, or return to college to earn a sensible degree.
Or I can continue to push myself further into this uncertain world, head to Megacon in the spring, cough up entrance fees for bigger shows, and see what happens.
I do enjoy my job, though. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared any discarded grocery lists (I still find them, and read them!) … but I did uncover a list of my own, stuffed in a pocket, while I was doing laundry. I thought I might share with you, because my short-hand is rather funny.
This is a work list of items we needed in the bakery a few days ago:
- 8″ Rain
- RV – 2
- Boston – 2
- Lemon from Steps
- Sliced Marble
- Rasp Thumb
- Oat Tub
- Dutch Snicker
- Dutch Peanut
- Gooey Pump
- Devil’s Holes
- 4ct Blue
- Asst Mini Family
- Mini Snicker
- Haw Bread
- Hall Cookies
My bakery associates are so awesome, they can actually interpret my list!
Well, except for the 8″ Rain … I had to explain it was an 8-inch Rainbow Layer Cake for the cake showcase.
Heaven knows, we don’t need 8 more inches of rain!!
I wish I could take my ladies with me to help with the fall Farmer’s Market this Saturday in Westminster. They’d have a blast!
Unless the venue washed away in the flood. It’s better to be safe and dry at home, than risk life and limbs to sell art in a hurricane.
Although I will take advantage of the next severe storm, and channel those 70-mph gusts of wind to promote my work…. I will tie my prints, in weather-proof cellophane bags, onto strings of helium balloons, and let Mother Nature distribute them across the East Coast. One might land on the penthouse balcony of a famous art director or celebrity cat-lover.
Hey, anything can happen, Child! Anything can be!
Now that is a loaded title, ripe with keywords bound to attract SEO spammers and Twilight fangs fans!
I say, bring it on!
My poor spam folder has been neglected these past few days…
…nothing, nada, zilch…
A few weeks ago, I was complaining on Twitter about the boring French spam ads for Abercrombie and Fitch, and now my blog is apparently on some kind of spam black-list. Nobody will send me any spam.
However this title serves another, more appropriate, purpose. It answers that ubiquitous question:
“What have you been up to?”
Well, gee, funny you should ask…
“I’m earning money for adding vampire fangs and blood-shot eyes onto cupcakes!”
Here are some green-faced mummies, big black spiders, and orange Jack O’Lanterns.
And while I realize how messy that black butter-cream icing is… I have toddlers after all! …Halloween wouldn’t have been official without BLACK CAT cupcakes!!
With Joe’s boss sucking the blood from his dying career, and the prospect of taking on additional hours at my workplace, I needed to make a change.
Scraping spaghetti sauce off grocery shelves, and assisting elderly ladies in locating their instant barley and bran flakes, may have provided me with a paycheck but certainly wasn’t a job that I could sink my teeth into.
I need challenges.
I need to exercise my talents.
I need to stop making poor vampire puns.
And I need to feel needed.
Anyone can put boxes on a shelf. No experience necessary.
So when my store manager approached me about a opening for a cake decorator in our bakery, knowing that I had years’ worth of experience on my resume… the offer was quickly accepted!
It has taken me a few days to get acclimated to the routine again, but cake decorating really is akin to riding a bicycle. You’ll never really forget how to do it.
On my first day, I began with simple designs and decorated this “Tangled” kit cake from DecoPac. It’s a very basic concept, just lots of twisted hair using a #233 grass tip, and some small flowers made with a writing tip.
But the icing bags felt natural in my hands – unlike cases of Cheesy Ragu – and the shell borders and roses all came back to me.
In fact, my brain is now preoccupied with all-things-cake. I find myself looking at artwork, and wondering how to replicate the design and style with icing. I half-jokingly told Joe that I’d re-create Mr. Darcy Cat onto a cake someday, and sneak it into our showcase.
But with Mia turning 4-years-old this December, and the popularity of Tangled cakes, I’m in birthday-cake planning mode…. and leaning toward the incredibly cute cupcake/muffin tower featured in this Super-Mom blog post!
I believe I’m somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to cake decorating. I love the classic touches – swirly shell borders, piped roses and leaves, basket-weaves, vines, and swags. I might also incorporate gumpaste flowers, edible glitter, and airbrushed color.
Today’s trends, though, are wild, colorful, and sometimes just a bit strange.
More cakes by Karen Portaleo:
I don’t have much experience working with sculpted cakes like these, or with fondant for that matter. I’ve always preferred the sweet taste of butter-cream (or even better, whipped chocolate! Mmmmm…) over that edible Play-Dough stuff.
And I secretly loathe rolling out dough. Whenever I’m baking cookies or biscuits, I’ll take a section of floured dough, flatten it with my palm, and cut the circle with an upside-down drinking glass. Blend the leftovers into another piece of dough, rinse, and repeat. Who needs a rolling pin?!
Cakes like those take a loooong time to create… Barbara Jo took over a week to create her TARDIS cake honoring Dr. Who, complete with LED lights and mirrors inside! O_o
At our house, if the cake takes longer than 2 hours to decorate, it will undoubtedly be eaten (by somebody) before it gets finished. *whistles innocently*
Leaning tower cakes, and cakes shaped like steaks, and….
The retailers for whom I’ve worked are catering to the average customer who wants a $20-40 birthday cake, or an occasional $200-400 wedding cake…. since I get paid an hourly wage, that means quantity is almost as important as quality.
Of course, I’m assuming these professional decorators are commanding higher salaries as well.
I’ll never forget the customer who tried to slip me a twenty-dollar bill, saying “I know your boss isn’t compensating you for all that hard work.”
I didn’t take the money. To do so would have violated our company’s policies regarding tips. But considering his $20 contribution was almost double what I earned in my paycheck for that gentleman’s cake… it brought to the surface some uncomfortable realizations about my self-worth.
I was discussing fads. And the most influential design of all? The blasted polka-dot. Personally, I cannot stand dots.
“But they’re modern!” squeals my shift manager excitedly. “We need more modern cupcakes!”
Like Dots Cupcakes. Which are $3.00 per cupcake and come in a smorgasbord of fun flavors. Even honey goat cheese?!
They deliver straight to your door ~ just like pizza! Except in smaller boxes.
So in the coming weeks, you’ll find me buried up my ears in polka dots and pin stripes… trying to relearn old arts and new at the same time.
Squeezing in some studio time, blogging a bit behind schedule, and dreaming about cake steaks.
Or more likely having nightmares about vampire cakes made from Play-Dough trying to suck my blood, and leaving me covered in polka dots!
In case you’re wondering how AfriCat did in the Art for the Animals charity auction? She sold for $40.00!
Although I didn’t win any awards, AfriCat was announced as 1st runner-up for People’s Choice in my category. I was the only runner-up publicly acknowledged, due to the near-tie between my work and the winner’s! Yay!