Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Food Review: Stacey's "Crunch"

My friend Stacey sent me a sample of her "Crunch" that she makes out of her shop, "Truly Custom Cakery" as a gift and I had to share my wonderous experience with you!

The plain packaging impressed me the second I opened the shipping box. A simple brown box wrapped in a brown & turquoise ribbon had that simple-but-elegant look we all like. Not overdone, simple in it's presentation, yet elegant enough to hint of great things yet to come.

Two cellaphane bags of her Crunch awaited me as I opened the box. Ripping open the first bag, I popped a cluster of popcorn, carmel, pecans and chocolate into my mouth .... and like butter over flame, I just melted in ecstasy as the salty-sweet sensation flooded my taste buds, each flavor standing on its own as it melded with the others to create a one of a kind flavor combination.

I noticed Stacey had used pecans and almonds, opting for the higher end part of the nut family, and the clusters had the perfect amount of nuts ... enough to enhance the taste and flavor yet not so many that its a pile of nuts with a little chocolate on the side. I also noticed there weren't any unpopped kernels and all of the popcorn was light and fluffy. In talking with Stacey on the phone (because I just HAD to call her right then and there to tell her how great this stuff was!) she explained that she actually hand sorts the popcorn twice so that only the fluffiest popcorn pieces are used! Quality is certainly Job One in her shop!

While one does not need a special reason to order a supply of Crunch, I can see this as the perfect food item for birthday party gift bags, party or wedding favors (great wedding favors!). Order in large quantities and put a large bowl in the center of the guest tables to double as the centerpieces and favors. Its the perfect birthday or Christmas gift for the office, for neighbors and casual friends.

It was fun for me to (sparingly!) share my Crunch. My husband, whose best compliment to anything is "not bad", absolutely loved this. I shared it with a friend and I actually watched her eyes roll back into her head as she said, "oh my god this is the best stuff ever!"

Putting Stacey's Crunch on your "gifts to buy" list will make you the hero of all of your family and friends! Here's a link to her website with the story of how she created it and how to order. Just tell her Debi sent you!!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Chris Jaeger on "Clunker Websites"

My friend Chris Jaeger graciously said yes when I asked if I could share his blog on "Clunker Websites". As many of you know, bad websites really get under my skin. It is not because I am a website snob, or anything like that. What gets to me is the bad marketing that bad websites represent.

Don't put up a bare bones website thinking that brides/clients will call you and THAT'S when you'll "hook 'em" with your sales pitch. Too many brides have told me, "If the information isn't on the website, I click out and move to the next one."

Read Chris's blog and then critique your website. If you are driving a Clunker Website, it might be time for a trade-in!

Chris's Blog from "Marketing to Brides Online":

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Shamrock Cake Was Featured ....

I'm very proud to share that my Shamrock Wedding Cake was included in an article on Irish Wedding Traditions. Thanks, Carly, for the compliment!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Just Serve a 'Cheap' Sheet Cake" she said

Well, this one pushed my hot button! Brides, please pay attention to this one. Please. I'm about to teach you how to NOT insult your guests at your wedding.

I actually saw an online article entitled "How to Buy Cheap Wedding Cakes". Now I understand in this day of a tough economy that we are all on the lookout on how to save money. And weddings can be expensive. So I know that anyplace where costs can be cut, all of us should endeavor to cut them. I get that.

However, I've never seen an article entitled "How to Buy a Cheap Diamond Engagement Ring" (bride, how would you react if you saw your groom studying up on such an article?) or "How to Buy a Cheap Wedding Gown" (or if mom was reading a series of these?).

But here I find an article (written, by the way, by someone who, based on her bio, is not in the wedding business and definitely not a cake expert) who is encouraging a bride, on her wedding day, to "oh, just go get a cheap cake!"

Wait ... it gets better.

Further down in the article is the tired and uninformed opinion about buying a fake cake (see my article on why THIS is false!).

She says a couple can "cut" the cake of their dreams and "serve a cheap sheet cake to wedding guests."

Serve a "cheap sheet cake."

Doesn't that make you sad? It does me. It makes me sad that someone with some fake and self-imposed authority on wedding cakes is regurgitating the same tired, worn out, untrue advice about cakes and encouraging brides to serve their family, their friends, their guests who have elected to incur some personal expense of their own to come and share in the couples wedding day .... she tells these brides, "oh just serve 'em some cheap sheet cake."

This article of mine is in danger of going on and on because I am just in SHOCK that someone would actually say that to a bride. Am I getting my frustration across? Because the only thing that would appall me more is to hear a bride say, "That's a good idea! I'll spend a fortune on my venue, my dress, my bar bill and my fabulous dinner. Then I'll just slap some "cheap sheet cake" in front of my guests!"

As I take a minute to take a deep breath, let me clarify that a low-cost cake to fit in a budget is not a bad thing. Many highly skilled decorators have many options for brides to enable them to have a wonderfully decorated and great tasting cake at their wedding. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about serving guests cheap tasting sheet cake: Mass produced, frozen for months in a warehouse, shipped to a big box grocery store bakery, already iced when it arrives, pulled out of the freezer the day before it is due so a decorator can spend 4 minutes putting a border with icing that from a big bucket that is commercially made.

Most people can tell the difference between this grocery store sheet cake and a wedding cake that is custom made just for the bride's special day. That is part of what is irritating me on this. That someone just so nonchalantly suggests a "cheap sheet cake" is good enough and that a bride shouldn't care if her guests actually LIKE the cake or not. That, too, is just sad.

Brides, the key to being able to stay in budget involves careful planning, including control of your headcount (see my "60% Rule" article), good comparison shopping, working with a wedding planner (yes, they DO save you money!), and being realistic about what you can afford.

But please. Please. DON'T slap your guests in the face with an attitude of they are only worth some "cheap sheet cake" for your wedding. Plan accordingly. And treat your guests with the respect they deserve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cupcake Stands

First the disclaimer. I do not get paid or reimbursed or compensated in any way for any products that I recommend or endorse. My function and purpose is to share new ideas, products and innovations to help those in the baking and wedding industry. That said .....

I recently came across a wonderful product that I project to be very popular with the increased demand for cupcake weddings and parties.

There is always a question of how to display cupcakes other than just lining them up in a box on a table. Nice. But no "wow" factor. There is also a concern with the baker of renting stands, getting them back, wanting to make sure their sugary art is displayed in the best artistic way, etc.

Enjay Converters Ltd, a company that has been in business for more than 25 years, offers disposable cupcake stands to the commercial baker.

The tiers are approximately 8", 12" and 14", plenty of space to display cupcakes. I can see two or even three of these on a cake or dessert table. With the various colored foils available, (the photo shows three of them) one could almost color code the display: white cupcakes on the white stand, chocolate cupcakes on the silver stand and yellow cupcakes on the gold stand.

As your demand for cupcakes increases, be sure to visit their website at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meeting the Client's Expections ... Do We REALLY Want to Do That?

In watching an episode of "The Apprentice" this past week, I heard a great line that should be a part of every business person's philosophy and vocabulary.

First, I am a BIG fan of this show. Every week, I pick up a little Donald Trump insight and expertise pertaining to business, dealing with people, strategy and more. It is one of the great free classrooms of business that I know of. And come on, let's get real .... its Donald Trump expertise, for goodness sakes!

This week, Trump's son, Donnie Trump, visited one of the teams who were planning a large golf outing at one of Trump's golf courses. One of the team members expressed concern about "meeting everyone's expectations."

Donnie said to her, "Oh you never meet everyone's expectations." And then there was a slight pause during which the team members seemed to laugh with agreement. Donnie then continued and said, "You always exceed them here."

Wow, did I sit up and take notice of that line! Yes! We should ALL be thinking that way. Sadly, too many businesses take the same road that everyone else takes. The road to mediocrity.

How many mission and vision statements have we read in which a company proclaims they will "meet or exceed customer expectations"? It is the very reason I'm never impressed by mission statements .... they all tend to say the same mediocre thing.

Will your business can be like everyone else, who lackadaisically believes, "Eh ... meet it, exceed it. Same thing." Or will your business have a mission statement that follows the Trump viewpoint of "We will never meet a customer's expectation. We will always exceed a customer's expectation."

Excellence costs no more than mediocrity ---- Donald Trump

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Lame Excuse for Losing a Sale

On the coattails of my November 4th article, "But I Don't LIKE Sales....!" I am proud to offer this link to an article by Wedding Marketing guru Andy Ebon about pricing and bridal budgets. I must totally agree with him that "brides do not have money allotted for most wedding expenses in a truly thoughtful and rationale way." That is why I believe a wedding vendor should be an expert in their field so they can help guide the bride through the process and why I believe that a business person's sales and marketing skill are key, absolutely KEY, to having a successful business.

Please take a minute to read Andy's article. I'm sure you'll enjoy his wisdom as much as I do!