Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Toy

This post is being brought to you by my brand, new laptop; Cherry Coke! She's a Gateway 15.6"LCD Core i3, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD Laptop w/Wi-Di. To be honest with you, I couldn't tell you what most of that means. It does what I need it to do and I only got it for $500!

I didn't know whether or not to keep it when it arrived. I kept it boxed up for two weeks. I was considering returning it. It's a big expense. But, I really need my own equipment. It's not state of the art or high-end gadgetry, but it does what I need it to do and I can always upgrade to a better machine after a year or two. $500 isn't bad for something I will use for a couple of years.

Yes, it's red. Hence her new name; Cherry Coke. I'm happy with it. I'm still stressing over the 5 c-notes, but I know it's worth it in the end.

Just to make me feel like a total ass, my brother just bought himself the 17" 2.2 GHz Mac Book Pro for $2,500 CASH. That boy is gangsta. He said since he was buying such an expensive piece of technology anyway, he may as well invest in the best. After I picked my mouth up off the floor, he said my laptop was very "pretty", and when I was ready for a new one, let him know and he would take care of it for me. =/ Then, he ordered us lunch...his treat.

I worried that he just cleaned out his savings account, but he was more than happy to pull up his bank account on his new baller laptop to show me he has another 4g's in the bank. I asked him where he got all that money, worried that he was doing "bad" things. He laughed and said he works too hard to blow all his cash on "socializing". He's also been able to save a ton of money since he moved back home, as well as pick up several side jobs (DJ gigs and some handy man stuff in his building).

I can learn a lot from my little brother.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to my Roots

I'm exhausted. Since I landed back in NY, I've been inundated with orders. Thank you to my out-of-state charity orders. Your baked goods were shipped out today and should arrive by tomorrow or the day after. They are sealed tightly in tupperware containers as well as cling wrap. I guarantee they will remain fresh.

I also managed to pump out 100 assorted cupcakes for my friend's hospital bake sale. It was very last minute and she phoned me while I was in Chicago to ask if I would do it. I should have said no, but I just decided not to sleep for a couple of nights in order to get it out.

On top of that 100 cupcake order, my mom took a last minute custom cupcake order for today, which I also baked and frosted before the sun came up. It brought in $50!!! I know a few hundred dollars won't fix all of Frank's house problems, but it's another month's rent paid and some pocket money to cover the things they lost due to the damage. And thank you to all who pitched in to help. It really means a lot to me. =)

The root of the matter is that I'm not exactly satisfied baking and making pretty cakes for money. I did that this year, and the more orders I took for the money, the more messed up the final products turned out because of the mounted pressure. Money doesn't motivate me. I like doing these things to make people happy. When I make a beautiful cake, my customers are happy. If I am pressured to perform, I don't do well and no one is happy.

I don't know exactly where the future of Queenie Cakes lies. I have many options set out in front of me right now in places all over the country. Although it's not as far as I would like to have gone, it's still out of NY, and let's face it. When trying to ditch the past, no place will ever be far enough. We take the past with us.

I have a lot to think about over the next 6 weeks. I have to be brave and do the things I've never done in order to get the results I've yet to get.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Please Help If You Can

My mother's co-worker Frank lost his house during Hurricane Irene. We all laughed about the minimal damage and how NY over-prepared for it, but there were some parts of the Eastern coast that really got hammered. Living slightly north of NYC, his little house was flooded and declared unlivable until it is repaired. He was offered space at a shelter for himself, his wife and their autistic daughter, but because of the major disruption to their normal routine, their daughter is having a terrible time adjusting and is up all night shouting and screaming at the shelter. They had to move into an affordable motel until their house is repaired. While paying for their motel, waiting for insurance to help them, their mortgage is still due each month, as well as medical expenses for their daughter, and basic repair costs to their house. Frank is the only one working, as his wife is home taking care of their daughter on a full-time basis because of her condition.

It really broke my heart to hear what they are going through. I can't imagine a nicer man being hit with terrible luck. They are doing a bake sale at their workplace this coming Thursday, where I have donated about 100 cupcakes for their cause.

I wanted to do more.

I'm imploring anyone reading this to please help, if they can. I understand that no one is really rolling in the green right now with the way our economy is running. Hell, even the ingredients I'm using to bake has increased by at lease 30% over the last year. But, I have money in the bank to pay my bills. I am healthy. My family is fairly healthy and I don't have the responsibility of a sick child. Not everyone is so lucky.

On behalf of myself and Queenie Cakes, I'm offering up baked good for this man's cause. If you buy a box of Carrot Cake cookies or cupcakes or brownies or rainbow cookies....anything I can make- I will donate 100% of the proceeds to this cause.

Because of the nature of his hardship, I don't want to put his name out there to protect his child's identity. Please know, I would never fleece my friends or customers over a few dollars. Anything you buy with this cause in mind will go to this man and his family. I'd be more than willing to give more info out, off this blog in private for anyone who has any questions.

So, 16 carrot cake cookies, brownies, rainbow cookies or 12 cupcakes will be selling for $30, and if you are not local in NYC, I will ship to you. (Not the cupcakes, though. They won't survive the trip.) I also make mini pies, which have not been released on my business blog yet. They are being sold HERE for the first time at  $3.00 a piece. They are bite-sized. Maybe 3-bites total a piece. Try them out before I introduce them for the Thanksgiving season.

Yes, these prices are much higher than what I normally charge but this is all going to a good cause, so I hope you all can go a little deeper into your pockets.

I pride myself in knowing the kindest, most-thoughtful, caring people. I know you all would help me if I needed it. Please place some of that care towards this family. If you have ever had an autistic relative, you can imagine how difficult it is to try and do normal day in and day out. Imagine how much more difficult it is for this family with a severely autistic child, given this terrible circumstance. How many times have we sent $5 overseas or to some text number to "help" strangers we don't know, but  feel compelled to do something for? Well, here is someone I do know, and it hurts to see what they are going through.

Queenie Cakes participates an average of 5 times a year in various charitable events, and I'm happy to help. This is the first time I've had to try and raise money for people I have had the pleasure of knowing. It really does make a difference when you know the actual people who are suffering right now.

Thank you in advance for all your kindness. I know you all will try and do your best to help! And I love each and every one of you for it!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bad Bakers

Goldilocks is one of the biggest bakery chains in the Philippines. I've grown up knowing that something coming out of a Goldilocks box was guaranteed to be good. The first time I ever touched down in California, the first place my friends took me to was Goldilocks. What my family has instilled in me was that if you want a REAL Ensaymada, the place to go was Goldilocks. Period.

Ensaymada: In the Philippines, a Spanish colony for over 300 years; the Majorcan ensaïmada (commonly spelled ensaymada in Tagalog and Cebuano ) has evolved over the centuries and is perhaps one the most common delicacies in that country, the ensaymada is a brioche made with butter instead of lard, and topped with grated cheese (usually aged Edam, known locally as "queso de bola") and sugar. Upscale versions of ensaymada are also topped with butter cream. It is extremely popular throughout the islands, especially during the Christmas season, when it is often, although not always, eaten with hot chocolate. (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
So, that's the background info I have on Goldilocks and why my family has always loved it. Whenever I traveled back and forth from LA to NY, I'd always make sure to stop at Goldilocks before heading to the airport to bring home 3 dozen ensaymadas for my family. In fact, I think that's the only reason they liked it when I came home for visits.

Imagine my dismay when I was scrolling through my feed to see a smallish wedding with a Goldilocks cake. It was a generic looking cake, which probably didn't set the couple back much. I'm assuming it was probably a hundred dollars, at most, if that. Well, look at the pics:

God, where do I start? First of all, it looks like a cake that was sitting in a case, picked out from behind the glass, and boxed up and sent home without much fuss. I'll give it to them for getting it to their destination with no damage. Hell, I'm still working on that feet!

If you look at the first pic with the plastic topper, there's a Goldilocks logo steak stuck right there on top of the cake. WTF is up with that?!?! This is a wedding cake, for Christ's sake!! Advertising on top of a wedding cake? Really?!?!?!

If that isn't bad enough, their cake board is plastered with their logo, too!!! I understand if you want to do this with smaller cakes actually sitting in a case for a walk-in customer, but why in God's name would a business do that on someone's wedding cake? I think it's tacky, unprofessional and pretty low-class.

I'm often told that I am welcome to throw my business cards on a cake table or dessert display at an event I'm making the cake for. The hosts are always keen to ask for cards and encourage me to leave my marketing materials in full view for future business. I've left cards with my host, but NEVER EVER on a table. I've also been sure to make it clear I don't want my cards on the table. How terrible to ruin a beautiful set up with cheap, tacky advertising!! I don't throw my label on small take home favors, either, be it cookies, chocolates or anything of the sort.

If someone wants me, they will find me.

I know Goldilocks is HUGE now in the Phlippines and in certain parts of the US. The Filipino community flocks to them for their cultural baked goods, hoping to be transported back to memories of special holidays back in the homeland. Besides a tacky-looking cake, their tacky-looking ads are just another reason why I'm happy to still have personal interest in my small business, and thankful that I have not ballooned to the size of this corporation yet, throwing a logo on anything it will stick on.

I'm all for self-promotion. I'm also VERY thankful for the people who have helped me get to the step I'm standing on today. That's why you'll only find ONE logo on my website, besides my own, and that's saying A LOT about how grateful I am for the help I got from that graphic artist.  It was also done in good taste and not obnoxiously throw up in people's faces like a low-budget meet and greet set up for networking. And, when people ask me who designed my logo and business card graphics,'s easy for me to point them in the right direction, followed by, "If you can't remember the name, just go to my website and click on his logo. He does great work."

I can do that because I don't have a million and one logos junking up my website. I like seeing my labels on my boxes. I really do. They are designed well. The colors are exactly what I wanted. I feel like the artist reached into my head and managed to make me something that represented me and my work perfectly.  I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out, and I will resoundingly be grateful for the favor that was done for me. When I see my logo displayed on my cards, my website, and my product I'm proud of how far I've come and how much more professional everything looks now with a little help from a friend, who happened to be a fantastic artist.

I won't disrespect my business, my products, or my name by throwing it on anything and everything. I feel that your reputation should carry you before your logo does. I've built a reputation over the years...slowly. The logo just added the much-needed cherry on top.

What Goldilocks has done is very common with a money-hungry company. They are not some huge conglomerate like McDonald's with cold, calculated marketing maneuvers. I feel like this huge, highly successful bake shop has jumped the shark and put people in charge that still operate on the  "in your face" way of getting business. Take every dollar that comes through the door, say yes to any cake job solicited, and treat the business like a factory pumping out products to turn over into profit. I guess if you like doing things like that, it's fine. I can tell you, their customer service has suffered for it. They are not the friendly lot you would expect walking into a shop called "Goldilocks".

I don't operate that way. And I don't respect it when I see a fellow baker (that's what I will call Goldilocks, because at the heart of their business is still a bake shop) unprofessionally throwing their name into someone's special occasion. I feel like their stupid plastic logo and cheap pre-printed cake boards just photobombed this couple's most important day.

Shame on you, Goldilocks. Bad form.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happiness Is...

Strawberry Goober!!!! My regular grocery store only carries the grape Goober and I think grape jelly is just gross.

So now I have some yummy strawberry goober to dress up my hearty, fat-free, whole grain crisp bread. yay. =(

Well, gotta be happy with the small strawberry goober!! YAY!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Back to the Start"

I had put up this video on my other blog purely in shock and awe of Willie Nelson covering one of my favorite Coldplay songs ever..."The Scientist". However, after actually watching the cute little short 2 minute film, I decided it had to go up on the food blog.

Good for you, Chipotle! Your food may lack character, but I think you're headed in the right direction! ;-)