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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A look back at "The Cupcake Craze" 2010

It seems like yesterday when I sat down with my husband during a random "home movie night" and shared my cupcake idea. We never actually watched the movie. But, thanks to those bogus "no late fees" from Blockbuster, we now own it, along with the others. Guess we have plenty of time. Ha!

Instead, we sat in our usual "reserved" spots on our everyday suede couch and hashed out the concept, tossed around a few company names, and settled on The Cupcake Craze. Ultimately, I repositioned myself in front of my laptop sitting on my wooden chocolate-colored chair with my fingers searching domains. The search returned-available!! I reported back to my husband across the room-the good news. That was only half the battle. The birthing process was just beginning. There would be a long road between contractions, breathing exercises and finally, postpartum. The Cupcake Craze would be my third child. Sort of. With an estimated due date (or launch) set for March 2010, I was still in my first trimester. Time sure did fly, even through labor pains. Is that possible? Nope! Anyway, it was time to push this baby out! The banner no longer read "coming soon". The Cupcake Craze had arrived!!

The unofficial "start-up" arguably may have been, the "Cupcake of the Week" column on Essence.com. Photos courtesy of "JF." Then, of course, there was the feature on Brides.com. It was a cake test judged by a group of epicureans who decided which six cupcake flavors, created by "me" were most suitable for a destination, winter or summer wedding. The editorials gave me a jump start into the culinary world. Basically, they put me on the map. And, instantly made me a "caterer". Of what? Didn't matter, I went with it!

The "site"--gave me a home. A landing zone. A marketplace. Credibility!!!!!! And, the editorial coverage, well that certainly helped! Before I knew it, I was off to the races landing demonstrations at some of New York's most prestigious locales. Eventually, I was promoted from "caterer" to "chef" then "chef/owner". Great! Inadvertently, I was building a culinary resume-- Greater!!!

Architectural Digest Home Design Show March 2010 (FIRST EVER DEMO--SCARED STRAIGHT!!)

Macy's Herald Square July 2010 (BATTLE OF THE CUPCAKES--WINNER!!!!)

New York Botanical Garden August 2010 (OUTSIDE DEMO--HOTTEST SUMMER DAY OF 2010)

Whole Foods Market September 2010 (CUPCAKE KIDS--CUTE!!)

Williams-Sonoma October 2010 (MY FAVORITE STORE!!!)

New York Botanical Garden October 2010 (MUCH COOLER DAY- ENCORE DEMO!!!)

Williams-Sonoma November 2010 (MY FAVORITE STORE, AGAIN!!)

P.G. Chambers School November 2010 (LIFESTYLE SERIES!!)

Neiman Marcus December 2010 (400 HUNDRED CUPCAKES--WOW!!!!)

Bloomingdales December 2010 (HOLIDAY FUN!!!!)

Oh yeah, and the cupcake orders. I had lots of referrals, some random, others from the demos--the question I repeatedly asked, "so how'd you hear about us?" Funny how things happen. I never expected to make that question a part of my vocal repertoire.

Then, there was the on again...off again...on again...and finally, off again booking on LXTV. The producer LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVED the cupcakes!!!!!!! So what happened?????? IDK!!!!!

The year was definitely a sweet one and I'm looking forward to an even sweeter journey in 2011.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!

PS. check out photos on www.facebook.com/thecupcakecraze
posted by Nicole Friday for The Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And the winner is...

And the winners are...was written in the subject line. It was an undisclosed eblast. I assumed all the participants of the battle received the news. It was "the" email from Macy's. Just about three weeks had past and not a word. I tried to convince myself that winning didn't really matter as much as knowing I did my best. Huh! So much for that.

Isn't it always about winning? Ask Lebron James!!!

I refused to concede just because I was up against one of New York City's most famous bakeries!!! Some say "they" are responsible for starting the whole Cupcake Craze. Seemingly, that would be a recipe for intimidation. Not! Even if that were true- I love a challenge. Colossal or mini. Pun intended. So what if "they" consistently have lines wrapped around several blocks on sixth avenue. Did it really matter that cupcake aficionados would travel cross country just to indulge in a certain bakeries handheld treats? Sure "they" have even been on the Martha Stewart Show, shipped cupcakes to Oprah, visited by Hollywood's finest etc... etc... ! Really, what was the big deal? "I" was the "mom minus the pop" shop. A start-up. So was Google once upon a time!!! Where are they now? Ha!

By the way, "they" are famed Magnolia Bakery.

This was the real life Cupcake Wars...no edits, cuts, takes, do-overs, wardrobe, hair or makeup. Just raw footage. Oh, did I mention that both my parents earned Master's Degrees in child psychology with a speciality in self-confidence fortification. Perhaps, I could blame my optimism on them. Either way, I enthusiastically accepted the challenge. Crazy or Brave? We'll see...

As I scrolled down to the winners...I moved closer to the screen, slide to the edge of my seat and read every letter that formed each word. I wanted to be sure I didn't misread, misconstrue, misunderstand or encounter any of the other misses. Instead, I inhaled the entire email as if I were Vanna White turning over yet another appetizing vowel. Then, I read it again. I refused to be a victim of fine print.

It read...

"A special thank you to all of our wonderful chefs who participated in the Battle of the Summer Favorites! The competition was stiff and the judges were impressed by everything that was dished out! It was a great month long event that excited customers and the store and after tallying all of the votes, I'm pleased to announce the following winners!"

Battle of the Crabcakes:
Chef Matthew Hughes, Blue Water Grill

Battle of the Burgers:
Chef Brian O'Donohue, Primhouse

Battle of the Guacamole:
Chef Scott Linquist, Dos Caminos


Battle of the Cupcakes:
Nicole Friday, The Cupcake Craze


SHUT. UP.!!!!!


I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you to all of you who voted for me. I'm so excited!!!!!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cupcakes Delivered

It arrived in our info box. Like the others, it had a "from", "subject" "received." The request read: we would like to place an order for seven dozen assorted cupcakes, especially the Amaretto Pineapple Upside Down and the Sweet Potato to be delivered at 12noon-- tomorrow. Tomorrow??? It was 5:45pm. That was less than 24 hours. Just one problem, I didn't have any-- STAFF!!!!!!! For the most part, I'm it!!! No sous chef, no assistant, no mother's helper. NA-DA. Just me, myself and I. How could I pass on this "big" opportunity? One thing could lead to another and who knows??? Ugh, I was in a bit of a pickle. Sure, without even a wink of an eye, I could pull this off. But, then there were the kids, my kids; the husband, my husband and oh lets not forget the shower: Necessary! Seemed like an impossible task for even the most skilled. Obviously, the Craigslist Ad, I had been meaning to post served absolutely no purpose now. Bakers Assistant-WANTED!!!! Shucks.

Against all odds, I confirmed the order and bought two hours. They agreed to a 2pm delivery. Was I nuts? Probably. Willingly, I gave me, myself and I an impossible task. While my three alter egos battled, I ran the credit card. Waited. APPROVED. Let the baking begin.... I may be ambitious and a little over zealous, but I know the drill. Money first, cupcakes later.

I had twenty-three hours to go. I gathered my recipes, ingredients, equipment and "got to mixing". It was a reality show in the making. I was tempted to set up the tripod and attach the handheld. If nothing else, this was sure to be a "real" life episode. I passed on that opportunity. I figured YouTube had staying power.

Deliriously, I pulled an all nighter. Not really something at the top of my "to do" list. Those insane mid-term days had long passed. At 7am, I had to get the kids ready for school. Thank God, my four year old is pretty self sufficient. As long as one color on the shirt and pants match--it's an outfit. He's happy--I'm happy. I made sure my little one was groomed and dressed appropriately. Then, off to school they went. As for me, I was back to cupcaking.

By 11 am, the cupcakes were done, boxed and ready to go. Believe it or not, I made it with time to spare!!! Now, I had to deliver the cupcakes. Yep, "me deliver the cupcakes too"! But, not without disguise. I grabbed my Pam Grier hair, my inspector gadget hat and MJ's white glove without the studs and proceeded to the ninth floor reception. I was prepared for my fifteen seconds. I couldn't be the little fish in the big pond. OH, NO! I had to be like the "others." This was it! So, I cleared my throat, lowered my voice and announced, "cupcakes delivered".

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cupcake Mission

It was like a blind date. Sort of. I was persuaded. Grudgingly I agreed. For me, it was the superior mission that kept me motivated. We've all been there. Agree to something that simply makes us regurgitate at the very thought. Indeed, I said "yes"! Not that I had a choice. It was a friend of a friend thingy. So, I gritted and smiled at the cameras. It was three minutes, at most. Grant it, a long three minutes. I kept my eyes on the bigger picture. The optimistic pay off. The end result. The walk down the aisle or in this case the runway.

Before, hitting the catwalk, I made a special delivery to the producers. An afternoon sweet snack is simply irresistible. The Red Velvet cupcakes with swirled cream cheese frosting was all the buzz around the studio. Who? What? Where...echoed throughout the hallways while the makeup artist tweezed my untamed eyebrows to perfection.

First, I had to fulfill my commitment. Done. Then, it was all about my personal assignment. Still dressed as if I just walked out of Vogue's fashion closet and Revlon's makeup studio, I introduced myself as the "cupcake lady". I'm rarely forgotten that way. Hey, whatever works! I happily distributed my business cards, answered the previous who, what, where questions and entertained any others. At that moment, I was an open book. The floor was mine. Perhaps, they were all delirious from the sugar rush. Not sure....wasn't important! With my hand raised and my bright whites beaming, I asked enthusiastically, "anymore questions????."

The next business day, I followed up. I emailed all 52 people I met. My cardholder was filled with random names none of which had mine on it. Didn't matter as long as one person responded. Preferably a decision maker. But, I'm begging not choosing. So, whatever. I received, ONE.....it said, "I LOOVVVVVVE YOUR CUPCAKES'!!!!!! From.....the producer. Wow!!!!

.....the return invitation. Of course, minus the arm twisting.

Mission accomplished! Stay tuned......

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bread & Butter Cupcake "copy"

For me, bread and butter are the beginning, middle and now "the end" of any course. Have you ever heard of "Bread & Butter Pudding"? OH. MY. GOD!! I got a taste of that sweet life while on a culinary retreat in the islands. By the way, anytime food meets my world, it's a "culinary retreat." It was unbelievable. Besides cupcakes, I have never tasted anything so darn good. Like every course, the server highly recommended the dessert. We took our chances repeatedly. It's so frustrating when restaurants serve up great entrees, then fall apart at dessert. We risked it all. And, unanimously decided to share the pudding. BIG MISTAKE. Never have I felt the desire to stab my comrades with a fork. The pudding was sooooo delicious, it made me selfishly and childishly want to hog the dish and yell, "no mine." I literally wanted to stick my face in the pudding as if I were bobbing for apples and give it a "Mr. Clean" shine. Down to the last drop we scowled at the sight of another fork gesturing towards the plate to experience more of the silky smooth delight. It was a valuable lesson learned. In the future, I will cautiously commit to family style sharing.

With most desserts I encounter, I consider the test kitchen. Subconsciously, I'm always looking for new desirable treats. This was no different. Each time I dove into the pudding, I felt an uncontrollable urge to sift, whisk and bake. I wanted to taste every ingredient to make a cerebral shopping list. Unfortunately, I hadn't cleared out the history and cookies in my mental save drive, so in the absence of paper I jotted down a few notes in the palm of my hand. To say the least, the sous chef wasn't eager to share his secret killer recipe. So, I left it up to the speckled taste buds wagging inside my mouth and avoided washing my hands.

I held onto the delicious memory of my encounter with the "Bread & Butter Pudding" until returning to the states. I transferred the list to my journal and washed my hands of any unsolicited germs. First chance, I ordered the necessary ingredients for my creation. The delivery should be any day now. Meanwhile, the test kitchen awaits. I am eager to try my new recipe. I'm sure it will be a few trial and errors, but I am hopeful that the smooth taste of my new "Bread & Butter Pudding Cupcake" will be more than desired.

I'll keep you posted.

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Working "Cupcake" Date

It started out as "just a date." Instead, it became a working lunch. For me, at least. Four days before, our "date day", we were ambivalent. The movies--boring. Dinner--don't want to talk about the kids! Broadway Show--so not a cheap date! We tossed around a few ideas, all following tentative. MoMA was a consideration. Definitely, far from the usual. Not a first thought, nonetheless, a cultural experience is always broadening.

I jotted it down in our [His & Hers] couples calendar. Prior to "date day", I researched the Internet and perused through past issues of the New York Times (the ones you swear you'll read at some point). I noticed an advertisement for the Architectural Digest Home Design Show happening the same weekend as our "date". Perfect. Since, it was ultimately my decision, according to him. It was decided. The lineup included exhibits, designer seminars, free consultations AND, a culinary pavilion!!!! The chefs featured were from the "hottest spots" in New York City restaurants. Bingo. We were SO there!

I visited the site http://www.archdigesthomeshow.com/ to find out ticket & registration, hours etc... Since our rendezvous was settled, I became more curious about the culinary demos. I needed more information. With three days to go, the participants were confirmed. But, what about next year? Does the company produce other events that showcase culinary demos? The rhetorical questions continued. The answers were essential. Thus, I called to inquire about the contact. I wanted to share my information for future events. And, why not? I had nothing to lose and maybe a demo to gain.

Later, I left a message for the director. We exchanged a game of tag. Eventually, speaking the day after. She asked the who, what, where questions, and I responded enthusiastically. She requested that I email here my contact information for future events. That was enough for me. Mission accomplished. I continued the day as scheduled. Checking her off my "to do" list.

That night, around 9pm, I sent it. At 9:45pm, I called it a night. I was exhausted. About, 6:45am, my two alarm clocks (boy 1 and boy 2) awakened. I wiped the sleep from my eyes. Stretched every ligament in my body until they snapped, crackled and popped. Had a solo meeting in the "ladies room". Then, proceeded downstairs with my crumb snatchers. Got their bowls of cereal. Turned on my blackberry. Browsed my emails. There was a response from the "director lady" of the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. It read: delivered. Great! At 10:30pm, about an hour after I sent my initial email, another posted. I clicked open...

"I had a cancellation for Friday 12-1pm, do you have any interest in doing a culinary demo?" That was her reply. I reacted...What? I paused. Meditated. Allowed the heavens and earth to come together. Yes, all of that, and then some. Before long, the kids began to harmonize, "mommy, mommy." The entire 3 minutes felt like excitement and fear were erupting towards the finish line. I had to respond without seeming anxious or desperate. This was HUGE!!!

Victoriously, I battled the sparing match. Maintained my composure. And responded, with...AB-SO-LU-TE-LY!!!! She replied immediately...FANTASTIC!!!!! I'll have my assistant contact you with all the details. SHUT. YOUR. MOUTH!!!

Did I just get booked to do the Architectural Digest Home Design Show? Yep.

The details: please arrive at 11am. Prepare a tasting for 75-100 people. Poggen Pohl is the sponsor. The kitchen is equipped with....

Say no more. I was off and baking.

It was Friday, my premier "cupcake demo". I was accompanied by a few unwanted butterflies that shadowed my every step. It was like an annoying fly that you keep missing with the folded newspaper or magazine. Where's the "butterfly" swat when you need it?

We (the butterflies and I) emerged from the darkness of the tunnel into sunshine city. I hoped the beauty of the sun would entice the butterflies to find another garden. No such luck. Mine was fine. Before, I proceeded to Pier 94, I confronted the unwanted "beauties". Next, I stepped out of my comfort zone into Martha Stewart's shoes for the day.

I arrived at the Pier. Prepped. And, stayed poised. There were about seventy or so tastemakers. Several preferred orchestra seating. Others, mezzanine was sufficient. Some onlookers were satisfied with standing room only.

The tech guy fitted the wrap around microphone on my head. We did a sound check...testing, testing... all was good. We were ready to roll.

The sponsor gave the intro... turned the show over to me....the butterflies had left the building....

"Hi everybody, my name is......,and Welcome to The Cupcake Craze".
posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

check out more photos: www.facebook.com/thecupcakecraze

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Got Googled!

Has anyone notified Google? I pondered. Until now, I never really gave much consideration to how the Google people are "all knowing". Like everyone else, I just "Google". For everything and anything. Got a question? Google it. Want more information? Google it again. The searches run the gamut from cupcake ideas, to the latest kitchen gadgets to Forbes 2010 billionaires list. Guess who's in the top ten? It ain't Tiger Woods either. THE GOOGLE PEOPLE!!!! Talk about pot-luck! How old are they? Seriously, they are rolling in the dough without the flour.

The importance of Google? Very. So, my internal question raised, has anyone notified Google? What about the yellow and white pages? Too prehistoric, unnecessary? Besides, who has the time to peruse through the alphabetical pages of ads and fine print. Somebody. Let's keep it real, The Cupcake Craze is a start-up company. Better call Y & W AND 411! City and State, please...Listing...

Find me! The Good Year blimp was a stretch. But, placement on Google--MAJOR. First page listing is crucial. Some may arrow down to the second page, perhaps even the third, if they're desperate, the fourth. Beyond that you've dropped off the radar. Next search. If you're unlucky enough to land on the 18th or 19th pages. Consider purchasing the "going out of business" sign. Who goes that far? The subject matter has to be really loaded.

I had to make the call. From one All-Purpose Flour to the Unbleached En-RICHED. We spoke the same language. Sort of. You know, a BFF (in this case, in my head "only"). The
Google headquarters would hear from me! I wanted to be added to the list of "all knowing".

Now, I realize in the spectrum of the world "we" are a mere smidgen of cupcakery with big hopes and dreams, not that I would allow that to be a deterrent. I'm just saying! I will try to keep things in perspective when delivering my product dissertation. But, before I embark on that power move.

I figured, why not test it for myself. With a reputation that supersedes search engines, perhaps they already looked into their "info bubble". So, I Googled, The Cupcake Craze...
Ahem...about that call..not necessary! Damn, they're good!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"We're Open For Business"

We've launched!!! We're Open for Business!!! Now what? It's one of those "hurry up and wait" sort of things. It's the norm in fashion, radio, tv and film. In an industry where there is hair & make-up, directors, producers, talent etc...there's a lot of moving pieces to coordinate. In the cupcake world, you have three...Ready. Set. BAKE. Hardly, a complex movement. Now, that's not to say I haven't put in the hours. My family can attest to that. Thanks fam for your love and support! I owe you some really special cupcakes! Smooches.

For days, weeks, months, we've grinded it out. I have to give kudos to my web designer (artoftanishasmith@gmail.com). She's got stamina. We've been around the world or the web a hundred times or more. Whew! I can be so indecisive. Maybe creative is more appropriate. I never really saw myself as a perfectionist or pest! Oops, did I say that? I'm just passionate, that's all.

So far, I've received some really cool feedback from the site. Apparently, a few of you have seen it. In case, you haven't here you go http://www.thecupcakecraze.com/. By the way, "We're Open for Business". Lol! Since the launch, I've received tons of inquiries. Several orders and lots of "cupkeeeekkeesse peeeeezzze, mommy" from my kids. It's pure torture for them. Mommy, apologizes in advance. Bring on the orders!!! Having an event? We're the perfect guilty pleasure.

Even the search engines are the craze. Call me a late bloomer. I avoided the whole facebook, twitter thing long enough. Whenever someone invited me to join. I responded with. Ignore. So not interested! I've since succumbed. Mainly, because my publicist told me I had to. For the business, of course. I'm still navigating my way through. Who has time for all that? The mompreneur thing has got me strapped.

Inevitably, you can catch me tweeting (www.twitter.com/thecupcakecraze.com) or facebooking (www.facebook.com/thecupcakecraze.com). Blogging, I sort of get. My husband argues, is there anything sacred anymore. Sure it is. Just nothing I write about!

This weekend, a blogger inquired about the company and the menu. She asked, if we had a store. I explained to her that we are not a retail establishment, but a catering company. I told her our slogan, "your favorite desserts turned cupcake." Her response, "they sure are, as a matter of fact, I wanted to eat everyone on your menu". Love that! I asked her how she heard of us. She said, on facebook. Go figure!
The Cupcake Craze launched a week and three days ago. I have 27 facebook followers and 9 twitter followers. Wow!! Funny thing is, I have no idea who any of these people are!! Well, maybe a few. Does it really matter? I'm just siked! But now, there's this responsibility and pressure thing. It's like a fan base. Right? Stop me when I've gone too far. I feel like I have to write something clever every time. Engaging the audience is key. Even, I, who fought the facebook, twitter craze, don't want to bore my loyal followers. God forbid they unsubscribe!

At least, I could still post, "We're Open for Business"?

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Enough--with the Vagina Monologues! [Man-Up]! At least, that's what Butch Bakery is advocating.

Picture this. Tall, dark and handsome, and man-ly. He goes by the name of Jackhammer, some call him Driller, others know him as Big Papi. Sound tempting ? Or scary? Welcome to "Butch's" place. It's where Mrs. Buttercream and Mr. Testosterone rendezvous. The daily specials include Beer Run, Tailgate and Home Run. These cupcake's got game!

The point is...men really are from Mars and women from Venus. We even see the [cupcake] world differently. Apparently, there is a gender category for cupcakes. Who knew! The cupcake by [Encarta]definition is a small iced cake, baked in a paper or foil cup, or in a cup-shaped mold. Obviously, authored by the male species. Cupcakes are, so not black and white! They're colorful...cute...and captivating. The female would write, the cupcake--a multi-hued delight, a miniature sized treat baked in fluted cups with pristine pastel frosting. There! That's better.

Admittedly, when it comes to guilty pleasures, we all have certain criteria that must be met. NO EXCEPTIONS!!! He/She (It) must have flavor, be a certain (cake) type, have the finest ingredients, tasty, fun, moist, and make us smile every time. Oh, and by the way "Mr. Cupcake" you must be in touch with your feminine side. Wink...Wink! Yes, we have high standards. Indeed.

The cupcake has been reincarnated, redone, redesigned with exceptional supercupcake strength, comfort, and powers to seduce men and women with "happy endings". The question: Is there enough to go around?

The supply and demand are weighing in. With re-orders, back orders, place orders, order now, in case you were thinking of ordering. It's covered. What's your fancy? The options are endless. Click on the navigation bar. Go to menu. Select your order, and there it is..."wait a moment while we process your order." And, remember don't press the back button.

Where does that leave us? Well, school bake sales are headed towards extinction. And, the once ALL girls club is now co-ed. As usual, [we] are irresistible. Evidently, [they] are too! The old saying goes...if you can't beat them join 'em. That's what "Butch" did! So, [Man-up]!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cupcaking for the Gold

"Would you be interested in catering a promotional event for Sanya Richards, the track star, Olympic gold medalist?"

That's what my publicist asked me a couple of weeks ago. The details: Sanya and her bridal party will be in New York City for the weekend celebrating her upcoming nuptials. Her beau: New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. The wedding: Well, WeTV Platinum Weddings is covering the bling affair. The ceremony: It's all taking place in Austin, Texas. By the way, they're both graduates of the University of Texas. And, they live there. Part-time, at least. Did I mention, he plays for the Giants! The after party: 700 hundreds guests. Enough said!

So, the girls are coming to the big apple to hang! One last hurrah!! A non-stop weekend filled with fittings, fifth avenue shopping, spa-ing, private fashion shows, dining, and cupcaking! That's where I come in. Yes, I too had my very own presentation. Well, not exactly. Me, and Kevan Hall, designer to the stars. You've seen his red carpet show stoppers draped on the likes of Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy); Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives) and recently, Gabby Sidibe (Academy Award nominee-star of Precious).

Kevan's "one of a kind" and my "ready to eat" were both appetizing to the eye, and stomach. Sanya and the girls were happy to indulge. There's something about food and fashion that really gets a girl going. Agree? Men, take notes. (You're not the only ones who have ways to your heart!!!) :)

The apparent theme of the evening was filled with fun, fashion and food. It hardly ever gets better than that! It was a blast! First up, Me. I presented the cupcakes. Told the gang who "I" was, what "I" did and how "I" did it. Surprise-was the overall reaction. "You made these?"- was echoed by several. But, without hesitation they ALL dove into the tempting treats before them. Since this was a bridal celebration, I wanted to complement the occasion with the perfect festive cupcakes. The coconut cream-screams marry me. Now!

The cupcakes were eaten in unison. It was the "different" styles of eating the "same" cupcake that was interesting to watch. A few bit right in. Some ate the coconut flakes off the top as if they were eating popcorn out of a bag. Others, ate the icing first, (reminiscent of our primitive years), and the cake last. It felt like different versions of the same movie. With all the head nodding, the eye rolling and the hmmm's....this is good. It was a moment to enjoy! For me, and them!!!

After, the sugar rush. It was onto the fashion show. The room was filled with oooh's and aaah's each time the model catwalked the fall collection. The roar crescendo resonated through the room when a "show stopper" was presented. They loved everything!!! Genuinely!! I even got a dress named after me, well sort of..."the cupcake dress". "Kevan-what a delicious idea!!!" Perhaps, you can unveil it during the spring collection!!! Just a thought!

Sanya had her picks. She was ready to walk the catwalk and do the "stanky leg". Got me! Texas verbiage?? Maybe!

The highlight of the evening was a show stopper that- was untouchable. This was not a, Kevan Hall design. It was mine. Actually, it was more like a wardrobe malfunction. Before, the event began. We, "the presenters" were sitting around chatting it up. I happened to look down at my boots and noticed a design on my left boot that I didn't or couldn't see on my right boot. Could it be? Nooooo, I looked closer. Impossible!!! I asked myself, "do I have on two different boots?" Nooooooo waaaaaayyyy! How could that be? I looked closer. Subtly, I raised my pants and bent down to get a closer look.

OMG!!!!!!! I HAD ON TWO DIFFERENT BOOTS. ONE BLACK. AND, ONE CHOCOLATE. I was mortified!!!! But, began to hysterically laugh out loud. It was unbelievable!!!! Insane!!! Ridiculous!!!! I shared my new fashion statement with the gang and we all just howled. I laughed, until I cried. How does that happen??? How did I not know? I made it all the way to the affair without a clue. What a goof ball!!! Clearly, I had way to much going on. The life of a mompreneur!!! For the rest of the night- I tried to hide my feet. That was hard. I'm sure someone in Sanya's crew recognized the mix up. No one said anything-maybe they didn't notice, or they were just being polite. Maybe they thought- this broad is crazy- but her cupcakes were good!! Either way-- this one goes down in history.

At the end of the night, we all agreed...they were a great group of girls!

Thanks for sparing my feelings, ladies.

Congratulations, Sanya and Best Wishes to you and Aaron!!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Happy Cupcake greetings from Atlanta!

Well, not really. This past week, many of us have experienced blizzard like conditions, especially if you live in the northeast. After all, it is February. So, suffice it to say, it's to be expected. BUT, NOT IN ATLANTA!!!!!!!!! If you sense a little frustration-- you're on target. Snow requires preparation. Preparation means proper equipment. Makes sense? The south is just not equipped for 3 to 4 inches of snow. They don't have snow plows, blowers or salt trucks. Instead, they have sand trucks. But, the trucks don't sand until the snow has stopped. Therefore, EVERYTHING comes to a halt. There's no school, employees leave work, and ALL FLIGHTS ARE CANCELLED. The city shuts dowwwwn!!!

Yesterday, I arrived at the airport FIVE hours prior to my departure. My intention was to get on an earlier flight in anticipation that the later flights would be cancelled. I paid the $50.00 change fee and waited. The snow continued to accumulate. I didn't worry. Three hours later, one cancellation, then another, then another. Eventually, the arrival/departure screens were full of red letters...CANCELLED. Yet, I remained hopeful. I was determined to wait it out. After all, I had a cupcake party that I was hosting the next day, my first. It was a Valentine's Day theme. It had been planned for months. So, I had to get home. There was no alternative. Valentine's Day is February 14th-period. Santa doesn't come on December 26th. Four hours, thirty-six minutes and two seconds later, my flight was CANCELLED. Devastated is the only appropriate description.

I was re-booked on the next available flight--TWO. DAYS. LATER!!! No cupcake party!! What do I do? What do I tell the client? How could I make it up to her? What was plan B? What about my company reputation? What about my name? Would I be blacklisted before I even get started? Would she be understanding? Would she believe me?

This was headline news. Surely, everyone was tuned in including my client. It doesn't snow in the south!!! I couldn't fly the plane. I'm doomed, I thought!!!

Once, I regained my composure. I devised plan B, called the client, and braced myself for the backlash of disappointment. I, first apologized profusely. Paused. Then I dropped the bombshell. And, exhaled. Was she disappointed? Yep. Was I? Absolutely. Was she understanding? Should she have been? Well........perhaps!! If it happened to you, would you be? Honestly?

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cupkeeekes Peeeeezzzzze

The words of my almost two-year old.....cupkeeekes peeeezzze, mommy. Soooo sweet! How could I say no to such a polite lil' pumpkin. And, so cute!

I'm thrilled my kids love my cupcakes. But, they can't continue to eat the product!

Peddler 101-duh! Never...eat...your...product.

I can't even fake them out with minis. These kids are seasoned. They want super-sized only. Honestly, I have mixed emotions. I love cupcakes. Everything about them. Secretly, they're my guilty pleasure.

Not long ago, I was that girl. Still am. Sure, I had my corner. And, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I use to stand in those ridiculous lines. Who didn't? Me and the rest of the aficionados, stood patiently awaiting our favorite mini appeal to emerge from tiny vast ovens, not a typical New York scene. Really, in a city that never sleeps, no one has time to wait for anything. These days, I'm still waiting. The difference...I'm the bakery. No corners. No lines.

Cupkeeekes Peeeeezzzze......Peeeeeezzzzze, mommy. Oh, it just breaks my heart. Be strong. As parents we have responsibilities. Right? I'll caringly say, "sweetie just because you want something, doesn't mean you can have it". There! That was easy. Convincing? Now, I just have to try it on my kids. Ugh, this is going to be hard. I have to find a way to break it to them gently. Perhaps, I should start by telling them they can't help me bake anymore. Cruel. Cruel. Cruel. How can I do that? It's such great quality time. We bake, talk, share, learn, laugh, and of course, make a huge mess. Perhaps they're just appeasing me to get closer to the prize. Hmm...that wouldn't surprise me. Kids are pretty clever and calculated. Whatever the underlying agenda, still it would be unfair to deny them. Wouldn't it?

With their tongues wagging and panting...."I want cupkeeeekes peeeeezzze, mommy"......yummEEEE.......shouts my two-year old. Dee--eeli--cious....repiles my four-year old. I can't bare the disappointment.
That's it, I'm toast! My kids will end up in cupcake rehab. Fiends. And, it's all my fault. I can't do it. Like the rest if us, they'll blame it on their childhood. That's the American way.
I have to get a grip. I'm in control. I'm the parent. Here it goes..."sorry kids, mommy has to deny you of the perfect indulgence. It hurts me more than you'll ever know. You have your whole life ahead of you...take your time. It's for the best".

I love you,

p.s. Rejection is not easy. With the right help (or couch), they'll recover! Won't they?

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cupcake Survey Exposed

Yep! Me too. I belong to one of those mom "support group" organizations. If you're a mom, than you know how helpful, insightful and just plain fun they can be. No kids, no husbands, moms only. Well, at least most of the time. Every now and then, the family is invited. This weekend, we had a moms only event. I hosted the affair at my house. It was really nice. We enjoyed food, wine, desserts (cupcakes, of course!)chatter. About 25 women or more attended. Of course, we conversed about husbands, children. Although they weren't invited, there simply is no escaping the subject. Since, it was at my house, I gave my family specific orders, "the ladies will be arriving around 2pm- should be over at 5pm, please quietly exit through the back door". But, kids will be kids. My eldest, who just looooovvvves the ladies. Yes, it's started already, pray for me....and he's only four! Inquisitively, he crept around the room to get a glimpse of the mommies "lady friends", as he calls them. I felt like I was watching an episode of backyardigans "Le master of disguise". The only thing missing were his comrades: Pablo, Tyrone and Uniqua. It was funny to see him so curious. Before long, they were off to funplex. And, it was back to the "women's club."

I decided to turn the meet & greet (that was the official name), it's where old and new members come together and "meet", into a focus group. I couldn't resist. With 82 yummy cupcakes adorned on a five-tier tower waiting to be indulged...what better time, than the present. Especially since, The Cupcake Craze (that's my gourmet cupcake company- as if you didn't know) will be launching soon. I definitely seized the moment, once again. Meet & greet, eat some treats while you're at it tell me what you think. Perfect- right! I passed out the surveys. Gave my little spiel on the cupcakes, seven different flavors that were on the cupcake tower. Gone-poof! I'm pleased to report. Even before, the survey was distributed, my analysis of the "cupcakes gone missing" were a tale tell sign. Clearly, someone like 'em!

Let the taste test begin! The ladies filled out the anonymous surveys--exposing their honest opinions. Was I really ready for the truth? Will it hurt? Ouch. Two people, even included their names. Bold. I read those last. Never could take criticism, even constructive. Could this change my feelings about the group? Maybe next time, I'll invite my husband and kids for support. Perhaps, we'll form our own "moms, two kids and one husband group" Huh, that'll show them.

Soon enough, I learned my posse wouldn't be necessary. The surveys were WONDERFUL!!! Raved reviews....

"It made me want to dance"

"The presentation, and such rich flavors"

"Moist cake, soft and yummy"

"Soooooo tasty!"

"Good flavor! beautiful presentation"

Bring on the cupcake awards!!! So, glad I had that idea. Stay tuned for more to come...

Thanks again, Mommies

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cupcake Re-shoot

Who knew? Last weekend, we did a photo shoot for my website. Not the self portrait. For the cupcake flavors. "We", as in me and him (my hubby) figured, why hire professionals with all the training we've amassed from various job related industries and a few recreational classes, why not "do it ourselves"? We identified the roles. Made sure we were comfortable. And, proceeded to pull together the cupcake shoot. The M & H (me & him) team included a food stylists, art director, editor and photographer. In today's world, that's about right- four jobs/two people. Guess we weren't too far off!

Without a doubt, we were committed to getting the perfect shots. We shopped craft stores, economically-friendly retail suppliers, department stores, we even managed to rediscover useless items in our basement. So, we thought. The kitchen pantry was like a kid in the candy store, or in this case a cupcake shop. Whatever, wherever we could find something, anything that could be a prop was a prop. We were thrifty at best.

Thank goodness, my husband had long ago invested in a "good" camera. A professional camera. With some recreational classes, a few "I'll take this job and use it as a resume builder", some props and egos aside. Shoooooot...we were set!

C'mon, admit it. We've all accepted jobs we reeaa--lly didn't want. Thank goodness- right! At the time, couldn't see past those lack of zeros in your pay check, and all that filing- ugh!! But, baby steps are necessary. Thank God, for walking shoes 'cause I walked on out of every single one of those resume builders. Now, my experience includes, art director, stylist, editor, booker, and yes still gofer. Some things are hard to avoid.
Who knew? I surprised myself with all the knowledge I gained during my tenure. This weekend was proof. Call time: 9am. Location: Studio Spencer aka "our house". We shot in the sun room. Why? By default, it's the sunniest room in the house. Since neither of us are skilled in lighting technique nor do we own any equipment, it was a no brainer. We used color boards from a local arts and crafts store to create the mood. A couple of forks from the kitchen drawer, some lemons, mini marshmallows, basically, anything that could be transformed into an aesthetically appealing prop, was part of the ensemble.

My chameleon capabilities were often shared with my hubby-food stylist, art director....dare I put on the photographers hat. Not a chance. Photography is hard to fake- either you got it or you don't. And, I don't. I'm comfortable in my skin and confident enough to know when to step away from the camera. Of course, I know what works and doesn't, but the actual functionality of the lens, flash...blah-blah-blah- nope, not me.

Overall, it was lots of fun. We even played a game of who could grab the most fallen crumbs off the cupcakes. I got it first. No, that was mine. Hands off! Forgetting this was a family affair, we almost pleaded, "LET GO OF MY CUPCAKE"!!!!!!!! Focus here. We jumped around the room, playing an ol' time baby game of peek-a-boo with the sun. Whom by the way, was really uncooperative. Now...we needed a professional. Unfortunately, neither of us had ever taken a lighting class and, NO it was not part of the resume building gigs. Boy, were we sorry. Needless to say, we were at the mercy of the sun rays. After we had enough of "Catch Me If You Can". We wrapped the shoot. Then, it was editing time. After hundreds of snaps, we managed to come up with TWO really strong photos. TWO!!!!! Can you imagine the disappointment. For a second, we thought maybe we really didn't know???? No, we figured, we really did, and that's why there are RE-SHOOTS! Thank God for cheap labor!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a new flavor resolution

Ahhh- a new year!!

For some, it means out with the old, in with the new. The resolutions pour in every day, hour, and second in January, by mid-February, close to all or at least most are simply forgotten. Hmm-what was my "new years'" resolution again? Dedicated, we vow to give-up this, that, and the other, but some things are not up for discussion or compromise. For me, well--I'm sure you can guess what that is... I mean, really! I only talk, bake, eat, dream about cupcakes 365 days of the year. I, clearly, have noooo plans of committing myself to rehab. And, give up the craze? Eh-eh, can't do it. Frankly, I'm enjoying the high.

Like many, I consider this the most celebrated time of the year..start fresh, a new beginning, new dreams etc... It's a time to rejoice for yet another chance to do-it-all-over or just do more of "IT". In my case, doing more of "IT", sounds more fitting. While many are reciting the polite ritual "happy new year," my one liner is presented a little differently. The title seems to sum up an entire season of tasty treats.

Here's a snapshot into my year...

Classic chocolate and vanilla in position to my right. Red velvet swirled a mile-high with a cherry kiss sitting pretty and sassy off to the side. Coconut cream adorned with a bouquet of white coconut flakes on top. Sweet potato, as sweet as she can be, with her toasted marshmallow coat hanging back. Lemon Meringue moist and tangy awaiting her cue, and Apple Walnut Crumb sizing up her admirers.

With all gourmet players in place, anxiously awaiting their big debut, they are fancifully decorated and ready to be served. At that moment, I step center stage and joyfully shout "happy cupcaking to everyone." That's "IT". Simple, sweet and no fuss. It's all about the presentation, that's the big sell.

So, there you have it, scenes change, flavors emerge and I do more of "IT" again and again. For the next 300 + days, I continue to rehearse my short narration with different cast members, but all very sweet and perfectly sized. Like I said, giving up the cupcake craze is definitely not part of my 2010 new years resolution, quite the contrary!

posted by Nicole Friday for the Cupcake Craze
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