Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Paige Turns 11!

So my daughter celebrated her 11th birthday over the long weekend and well, there was no getting out of making a cake for her 😄
She requested sunshine, pineapples and flamingos!!! I wanted to do something with buttercream rather then ganache and fondant. Besides who doesn't love a good buttercream cake!! I also wanted to use cookies as the decorations rather then making fondant ones. I've seen a few cakers use cookies round the place, but one caker who I've admired for quite some time does it do well that I couldn't resist recreating one of her designs. So design credit for this cake goes to Spoon and Fork. I do love the end result of this cake and it tasted delish!! Happy birthday Paigey xx

Monday, June 2, 2014

Introducing Tammy and Peter...

I can't believe it's taken me so long to share these photos with you. I've loved them since I first saw them. Maybe I've just been savoring them all to myself! Everything about this wedding screams happiness, love and fun. Totally gorgeous in so many ways. There were so many photos to chose from. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I did. Congratulations again to Tammy and Peter xx

The Ingredients!
Photographer - Joy Butler
Cake - Me of course!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Starting over...

Starting over is something I hadn't envisioned in my business plan. When I first started Happy Cakes it was in a town where I knew people, I had friends and those friends had friends and even connections. It wasn't easy starting, but it was easier than I had thought. I made a cake for a friend, who's friends saw it and one of them wanted a cake and then their friends saw it and well you know how it goes. It was a smallish town where it wasn't hard to know who was who and in the zoo. Now I find myself in a situation where I know absolutely no one and no one knows who I am or who Happy Cakes is. I don't know who is who and in the zoo any more. I don't know which expo's to go to, who the photographers are or the venues are. And I mean the good ones to. There's so many that it just seems so hard.

I thought I had a business, but it would seem that I don't anymore. Not only are all my existing customers in another state, my 17,000+ followers on Facebook, count for nothing, no offense. Facebook is no longer a place where you can create or establish a business. Which is pretty much how Happy Cakes started other than word of mouth, Facebook played a huge part in exposing my business. But now that Facebook limits your posts to a very very small percentage of your liker's, it's hardly worth anything. Whether you like my page or not, there is no guarantee I'll show up in your news feed unless I pay the big bucks. As a small business their fees are quite high to sustain on an ongoing basis. I can't complain it was good while it lasted!!

I can no longer rely on my wit, charm and good looks to get me through either. I have to create this business from scratch all over again. Which is not only a little disheartening but daunting at the same time. I worked pretty damn hard for the past 7 years getting it to a point where I could leave my full time job, to a part time job to a no time job and cake full time. I no longer had to cake at night and work a "real" paying job during the day to sustain the cake business. The cake business was able to sustain itself and my family without me having to work anther job. Does this mean I have to go back to working and caking at night?? Gosh they were hard times.

I also wonder if my old tricks will work this time around? Or will I have to sell my soul for cake hehehehe. Are my cakes good enough for this market? Are my prices competitive? Who are the wholesalers? These are just few of the things that I need to work on, all over again. Starting a business is hard. Do I have the energy to do it all again...For the love of cake can't I just bake already!! Running a business would be so much easier if all I had to do was make cakes and turn them into pretty little master pieces. Oh the joy that use to bring me. For some reason it's worth it, so I suppose it's back to the drawing board for me.

Happy caking

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Introducing Jenna and Luke...

Last year I had the privilege of creating a beautiful wedding cake for a beautiful couple. Jenna was a gorgeous bride to work with and Luke was the perfect groom. She knew what she wanted but was comfortable enough to leave me do the hard work!! I love that. I was thrilled to make this cake. I loved every minute of it. Delivery was a nerve wracking event though hehehe. Congratulations Luke and Jenna. And thank you for allowing me create for you on your very special day.

The Ingredients!
Photographer - Andrew Rankin
Styled by - Jenna & Wedding Works
Ceremony - Queens Gardens|Rainforest Lawns
Reception - Banquet Centre
Wedding Dress - 'Willow' in the Mori Lee Collection by Madeline Gardner
Hair & Make Up - Jenna says, "Very fortunate to have amazing dancing friends Shaughn Pegoraro and Melissa Prince who understood exactly what I wanted for my special day".
Suits - Black fitted dinner suit with satin trim
Flowers - Townsville Flower Market
Cake - Me of course!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Is it just me...

Do you find you lose your way sometimes in the cake decorating world? Or is it just me?? It's like I can't keep up with what's going on. The new crazes, the new products, the new styles and trends and the next big thing. There's a new cake decorator popping up every time I turn my head around. It's an insanely crazy busy world. Maybe it's just me. A cake doesn't seem like it can be any good these days unless it's 6 feet tall, balancing on a 45 degree angle, not to mention internal construction devised by a small engineering team!!

It's like a macaron can't just be a macaron anymore, it has to be in a shape with painted detail. A cake pop isn't just a round ball anymore they're sculpted little masterpieces. Do you sometimes feel like you just can't keep up with the Jones's anymore? I'm struggling at the moment. People want these Ah-mazing cakes for a tiny amount of money and a cake can't just be a cake anymore, it has to be over the top cray cray. I'm a pretty simple girl and I think I like simple things. Don't get me wrong I appreciate all these beautiful masterpieces being created, but are they realistic for all of us. I don't think so. Well not for me anyway.

I've lost my direction lately. Not sure why, but I wonder if it's cause I'm trying to keep up. Am I trying to keep up with the insanely crazy world of cake decorating? Maybe it's cause I'm comparing myself to all these amazing decorators. I've always strived to try new things and push myself, which is why I follow these amazing decorators, but I think maybe my need to become great like them means I have lost who I am as a cake decorator. It's a little overwhelming.

I love making cakes, the joy that they bring people. The look on their face when they see it is my reward for doing what I do. I miss it to be honest. It's been a while. I feel like though my next cake isn't going to be good enough. Which is silly I know, but I feel like the pressure is on!! I mean it's just a cake after all, and there probably won't have been an engineering team behind it. I know the pressure comes from me. Maybe I just answered my own question......I'm the problem hehehehe Pffft forget what I just said, think I just need to get back on the horse (so to speak) and make a cake already LOL.

Would love to hear if anyone else struggles with this. Or is just me!!

Happy caking.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yes yes I know, I'm a slacker...

I know I say this every time when I've been MIA, but this time I promise to write more often. So much has been happening professionally and personally. Our family has relocated from Townsville, QLD to Melbourne!! It's been a huge change for us. Everyone is settling in, except me I suppose. It's kinda hard starting from scratch again. It's only been 8 weeks and I know I should be a little more patient. I lived in Townsville for like forever. I'm sure in 12 months I'll turn around and think and wonder why I spent this time wondering and worrying. The kids are amazing. They love, love their new school and friends and when I occasionally joke (it's not entirely a joke on my part) about going back to Townsville they immediately say NO! For them it's been an amazing new adventure that they are completely embracing. Bless them.

I have no cake pictures to share with you all. It's been months since I've made a cake. I'm kind of scared and wonder if I can even still do it hehehehe. I've made the decision to open Happy Cakes up here in Melbourne. I ummed and ahhed over it for many reasons. The first one was because I don't have a registered kitchen any more and the second one was that I really didn't want to get stuck working from home again. After doing it for so many years, it becomes and became a lonely job to a certain extent. No one to talk to, no one to share my ideas or experiences with. There was no working environment and I was always at home. There are so many pros and cons to working from home and towards the end I didn't have the balance right and it was doing more harm than good.

Anyway, after much discussion and thought I have reopened the business here in Melbourne. I'll be working out of a commercial kitchen so it will be separate from home. It's going to be hard reestablishing the business again. I have to start all over. New contacts, new customers, new networks. It's funny how easy I had it in Townsville with all my lovely customers, suppliers and contacts. Now I'm starting with nothing. So it's going to be hard work. I need to remember to be kind and patient with it and with myself. I'm sure, I will meet some amazing people here and have lovely customers.

I've already been welcomed by the cake community here. They are really lovely. The girls that I've looked up to and admired for so long are right here in my backyard now. It's exciting to finally put faces to them after all these years of speaking with them through facebook. I am looking forward to developing those relationships. It's amazed me how welcoming they have been. It's so lovely.

So there you have it. Just a little snapshot of what's going. Hopefully I'll be creating cakes in no time so I can share pictures with you all of my creations. I am looking forward to getting back on the horse.

Happy caking.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lately on Instagram...

In the beginning.....the start of some pretty cakes at layering stage.

A random picture of an elderly couple that made my heart smile! So in love and so caring of each other.

The start of a flower cascading cake. I loved making this cake for the beautiful Jenna and Luke. First time I'd ever made one of these. All tiers were uneven height which made for such a dramatic look. 

Ahhh a boy cake. I do love making boys cakes. It's a rare occurrence. I'm not sure why. Boys eat cake don't they?? A WWE cake for one of lovely customers. 

Flashback Friday. This still goes down as one of my most favourite and memorable cakes. I made this back in 2011 for Kelli and Les who's wedding was Dr Seuss themed!! I saw the happily married couple only a couple of weeks ago and their expecting twins!! Girls to. Mmmmm I wonder what themed wedding they might have hehehehe. 

Some pretty little pastel baby shower cakes for one of my previous brides expecting her second child. I feel kind of lucky to remain a part of their lives if only in the form of cake!! PS Congratulations Mark and Allysha on the safe arrival of your beautiful little girl Sienna xx 

One of my clever students made this cake at the Big Cakes 101 course. I love seeing the end results of their work. 

Big Cakes 102 brought a bit of stress to all involved......Square cakes can be a little frustrating, but the end results were amazing. I do love teaching! 

Naked hot vanilla cakes. Sounds kind of sexy when you say it out loud!!! 

Said bye to my gorgeous nephew "Jacobean" who leaves us to start his new adventure in Brisbane :-( I miss you already xx 

It's been such a roller coaster time lately both personally and professionally. Instagram is a way for me to capture both these moments. I love capturing the little things and big things that go on in my life.

Leoni xo

PS You can find me @happylittlecakes

Friday, August 9, 2013

The downside...

to running your own business. There are many of them. There are also many ups to running your own business, but over the past fortnight all I've wanted to be is an employee of a company where I could just ring up and say I'm not coming in today. Not have to worry about who was going to finish the cakes and just know that someone else would finish them and the customers would all get their cakes.

It's been a really trying few weeks. My husband went to hospital with heart problems two weeks ago and the very next day my Dad was in hospital. A week later, Dad was back in hospital. Yesterday my husband ended up in hospital again with his "dodgy" heart and then today my Dad was back in hospital. To say I haven't had the odd meltdown would be a lie, but today really was the day I lost my shit. Excuse my language.

All I've wanted to do is through in the spatula and say to all my customers, "you know those ordered cakes of yours well you won't be getting them today." But alas no can do. Today was particularly hard. As much as I wanted to be with my Dad in hospital, all I could think of was cranky customers abusing me for not getting their cakes to them on time.

Several years ago, I became quite ill with swine flu and got a secondary infection of pneumonia. I ended up in hospital for weeks and was out of action for a couple of months. This was in the middle of peak wedding season. I could do nothing, literally, nothing. I was hooked up to oxygen machines and it was very serious. My husband bless him, rang all my customers and advised them of the situation. Some were very understandable and compassionate and some were well how do I put it, less than understandable and compassionate. I can obviously understand the frustration that some of those brides felt, but it was a situation out of my control. Everyone was refunded their money, but at the end of the day they were cake less.

Many abusive and irate phone calls were received by my husband, who could do nothing except refer them to other decorators. Long story short, my business suffered from that. Word got around that I was "unreliable" and "she just cancels without notice". It was heartbreaking to say the least, that some people valued their cake more than someones health.

Where am I going, I don't know hehehehe. I suppose all of this has played on my mind over the past 2 weeks, when all I've wanted to do was through in the spatula and tell everyone that their orders were cancelled, but I couldn't. I take my business seriously, but there are advantages to working for someone else.

My husband is back at home, he's ok. They've said he'll live, but I said not before I kill him hehehehe. He's got a history of heart disease, so it's something we live with on a daily basis. It never gets easier, but we always get through it. My Dad, that's another story. We're not sure yet. Which is often the worst. Not knowing. Hopefully we'll get some answers within the next few days. I'm trying not to think the worst, but when "things" are mentioned, it's hard not to go to the worst place. I have my fingers crossed that it's positive news.

As for this weeks orders, no one missed out, and in amongst my meltdowns, tears and heart ache I still managed to finish everyone's orders. It was certainly tough, but being an owner operator there is no alternative. There is no one else that I can call. Not sure why I felt the need to write this, especially today, as it's all so fresh, maybe I just wanted to get it off my chest. There's no real reason. Maybe I just needed to talk.

Today though I'm not feeling very Happy Cakes, it's more like Sad Cakes, Drained Cakes, Emotional Cakes, Heavy Heart Cakes......

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A special cake...

Sometimes people come into your life that you'll never forgot or in this instance your child will never forget. They've managed to leave a lasting impression so positive that it's sure to stay with them forever. I'm talking about her first teacher. We were extremely blessed when my daughter started school to have been given the most beautiful, caring, friendly and loving teacher. Her name was Ms Bus. She was gorgeous, in every possible way. My Paigey just adored her and till today, she still talks about Ms Bus. We were so fortunate to have her as Paigey's prep teacher. She has the gift of being an amazing teacher. So when Ms Bus asked me to make her cake I was so excited. Paigey was a little more excited I think!! I know I say this a lot, but I truly loved making this cake. Paige was thrilled when I asked Ms Bus if we could come down to the gardens and watch the ceremony. I had to smile, as Ms Bus walked down the isle Paige looked at me and said, "Mum she hasn't changed, she's still beautiful as she was in Prep". Bless. She's right though, there's just something about her.....Congratulations Kellie and of course Moppy :-) From us to you xx

Happy caking.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Just a few...

cakes I've whipped up recently!! Hi everyone, thought I'd share some pics of recent cakes I've made. It's been a hectic month or more not just with cakes either. I've been sick, kids have been sick, we've had family visit from both sides of the family which has just been so nice. We celebrated a first birthday and a 9th birthday and there was cake everywhere :-) I even managed to squeeze in a 2 day break away, with the kids of course. School holidays are over and I'm trying to recoup from the aftermath of it all. My house is a complete disaster. Kids rooms are out of control and the dust bunnies have built up on my fans hehehehehe. The joys of domesticated bliss. Anyway I'll leave you all on this sunny Saturday morning as I head off to meet with some brides to finalise their upcoming cakes.

Happy caking.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Today Marks 7 Years.....

In the world of cake decorating. Yep. 7 years today I made my first cake for my then 2 year old daughter. It started it all for me. I never forget that time, it was so stressful. Kids parties are always stressful, but throw in making your child's birthday cake for the first time and well it takes on a whole new level of stress. I'm sure many of you know exactly what I'm talking about!!

At that time in my life I was probably the least creative person I knew. I didn't bake. I just didn't. Everyone else baked. I was extremely good at buying cakes though!! And even though I came from a long line of chef's and cafe owners within my family this still didn't help my cause. So to set the scene for you, my kitchen sink was filled with dirty bowls and spatulas. Not only had I decided to make my daughters cake I decided to make the cake from scratch. In hindsight, probably not the smartest thing to do. Baby steps! Anyway, it wasn't working and I was throwing a tantrum, so I rang my sister a chef, amazing pastry chef, and extremely competent in handling me in stressful situations. Of course not this time, she was "too busy" working in her restaurant to come and help, "sorry" she said, "you'll just have to figure it out yourself" she said, "you'll be fine" she said and hung up. Great I was on my own, the one person I could always call to fix things for me was "too busy". Anyway......long story short, I did it, with a lot of swearing, yelling and tears. I did it! Yep me, myself and I! Gosh I was proud. And well the little person I was making it for absolutely loved it. And well the rest is history, so so they say :-) Not really, but that's where we end the story today hehehehe.

So today I celebrate 7 years of making cakes. There's been highlights and low lights, tears, joy, sweat and hardwork. Wouldn't change a thing though. I have come a long way, but I seriously have not even touched the tip of the iceberg. There is sooooooo much more I have to learn and so much further I have to travel. I am certainly no qualified cake decorator and everyday is a new day in the world of creating cakes for me. But today I will take a moment to reflect on how far I have come and what I have achieved within these past 7 years.

Happy caking.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Shop Front v's Working from Home

PS Yes I know it's odd have the PS at the beginning, but I just read my post and realised it's a little long. So I wanted to let you know first. Maybe get a cuppa ;-)

Does having a shop front make you more credible versus working from your home when it comes to your business? Is working from home seen as just a hobby and that you're not a serious business owner?

I have struggled with these questions for quite some time now. I am a business owner working from home. Does this mean I am less of a business compared to those who chose to have a shopfront? Is my business seen to be just as serious as those who have a shopfront?

I have chosen not to have a shopfront for many reasons. Some of which are, we have 2 young children. Working from home allows me to be able to do pick up's and drop off's to school and afternoon activities, during school holidays I don't have to pay for vacation care, $65 per day per child. Yes I know that you do get a percentage of this back from the Government, but that's 3 mths later, which means during school holidays I have to find an extra $650 for every week their in vacation care. That's a lot of cupcakes before I can even break even! Working from home allows me the flexibility to be able to look after the kids during these times. This does mean that trying to work with 2 young children is near impossible. It's the constant, mum I'm hungry, mum he hit me, mum she looked at me, mum we're bored, not to mention the sweet sweet sounds of them fighting and arguing throughout the day. Or the shhhhhh kids I'm on the phone with a customer spiel as they're running up to you to ask you the very important question that just can't wait. It's enough to drive you to a mental asylum!

Another reason for not wanting a shop is having the added stress and pressure of working to pay for rent, electricity and other overheads such as staff for example. If it's a quiet week, well then, the fans will get cleaned and maybe I'll catch up on my washing! I certainly don't have to worry about where I will find the money to pay for the staffs wages and rent. I've come from a family of chefs and hospitality workers I know how hard it is. I grew up laying on the freezer in the kitchen watching tv and doing my homework. It's not fun. However, I do miss telling the chef what I want for dinner each night and not having to worry about doing the dishes cause there was always waitstaff for that. Ahhhhhh the memories! But I also remember, not seeing my parents, not going on holidays, not having time to sit and do the little things cause there was always a million things still needing to be done in the restaurants and cafes. Fending for myself cause I knew how busy and tired they were.

Running a business is not an easy thing. It's not pretty and glamorous. I certainly don't get around in a cutesy frilly apron, styled french roll updo, makeup that is flawless with little blue birds sitting on my window ledge singing. Quite the opposite. It's a boring old striped chefs apron, hair pulled back in a bun, no makeup and bloody myna birds pooping all over my back verandah. Oh yeah it's glamorous. I'm generally covered in a mixture of ganache, flour, eggs, and water from doing the dishes. Dishes don't even get me started on that. Never ending.

The idea that I get to have long lunches and coffee with my girlfriends is so far from the reality of it it's not funny. There are certainly some negatives to working from home, the big one for me is there is just no escape. Work is always there in your face. I remember when I use to work in an office, you would finish work and go home and it would just be a sense of ahhhhhh and you could relax. The day was over so to speak. For me I struggle with this. Sometimes I wonder if I should just get a shop for the mere fact that I can walk out, lock the door and go home. But is that a reason to get a shop? Probably not.

If I had a shop I could increase my capacity to take on more orders, people would no longer come to my home unannounced on a Sunday afternoon when I'm snoozing on my couch, yes that's happened, customers could just freely come and go, my lounge room wouldn't need to free of the kids crap, ummm I mean personal belongings, I could sell products which would increase my revenue and so on.....I also wouldn't be lonely. Yep, I admit it. Working for yourself can at times be lonely. There's no one to talk to, there's no one to bounce ideas off, there's no one there to kick your butt when you're being slack! I have been known to talk to myself at times just to avoid boredom. There I admitted it! But of course with all of that comes the extra stress and pressure of dealing with staff, paying the extra bills and expenses, having none or little free time with the family, not being able to take time off without the worry or stress of the staff ruining your business while you're gone, or even wind it back a little if it's getting too much, cause remember there's the rent and wages to pay and well the list goes on.....

There are certainly pro's and con's to having a shop or working from home. But for me there's no difference in the fact that I'm trying to earn a living like 99.9% of the population out there. I need to contribute towards my family like a lot of you out there otherwise we would not survive. And it's hard work. So I suppose that answers my question about being serious v's a hobby. More and more mothers are choosing to stay and work from home for the same reasons I am. In today's economic climate most households require 2 incomes. And going back to full time work for some is not an option, cause you're really only working to pay for childcare or after school/vacation care fees. So what's the point? I suppose I saw an opportunity to still be able to provide towards my family by working from home which still allowed me to look after our kids without having to pay for care. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but for me it was and is.

I think some of questions still need answering, like does having a shop front make you more credible versus working from your home when it comes to your business or is my business seen to be just as serious as those who have a shopfront. I'd like to think not, but I think the perception amongst people is that if you have a shopfront you're serious. I don't know if I agree with that. Shops pop up and pop down, so to speak. I've been trading as Happy Cakes now for 5 years this July and I'm still going. Happy Cakes has provided an income for my family over this period of time so to me it's a serious business.

I think that at the end of the day though being a shop front owner or work from home owner what we both have in common is that we're just trying to make a living. Working from home I don't believe makes me any less serious about my work and customers than those that have a shop front.

Would love to hear your thoughts though.

Happy caking.

PPS I told you!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Well hello there......
I'm not sure who's still out there so I could just be talking to myself hehehehe. And that's ok. I've been thinking lately that I might start writing on my blog again. It seems that it's more personal over here than the website, not sure. Is it just another thing for me to have to update? Cause between facebook, twitter, flickr, website and so the list goes on, I actually just don't know what the best platform is anymore. If you're still out there I'd love to hear from you. I might come back later tonight with a whole bunch of pics ;-) There are so many. I've been on a bit of a roller coaster ride lately with work and home life, so there's so much to tell. In the meantime though I'll leave you with this picture of an owl cake I made recently for a very lovely customer of mine. I've been lucky enough to make many cakes for her, including birthdays, wedding and now her babyshower cake. I have truly fallen in love with this cake and every time I look at it, it makes me smile.
Happy caking.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NEW blog!

Hi Everyone,

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I have some fabulous news. My new website is FINALLY up and running. Woohoo. I'm so excited to finally this up for you all to see. Once of the things I've done is merged this blog into my website. So if you want to continue to follow me, which I would love for you all to do ;-) head on over. There are a few areas still being worked on, but for the most part it's done!!

My new address is From here you can easily (I hope) find the blog!

Would love to hear what you think.....

Happy caking.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Introducing Dave & Angela

I've said it before about Angela and Dave, but I'll never forget the first time I met them, they walked in & the only thing I could see was this massive oversized scrap book that Angela was holding. In my head I'm thinking "here we go"!! But contrary to "the book", Angela & Dave, will be a couple that I won't forget in a hurry, just beautiful. They new exactly what they wanted, without being over the top about it, so nice. Everything about their wedding screamed elegant and classic. The venue was stunning, I loved it all. Here's some pictures that Angela & Dave have kindly allowed me to share, gorgeous. Congratulations Angela & Dave, thank you so much for allowing me to create for you xo

The Ingredients!
Decoration - The Events Studio
Cake - Me of Course!