2013, Chichester, Crazy life stuff, tattoo

For the Love of Tiara & Liverpool Tattoo Convention


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It all is down to the fact that I am hankering after a tiara.

Not too long ago, my dear friend on Facebook managed to convince me that I needed to fly the flag of the older women and enter myself for the Miss Tattoo competition at the Liverpool Tattoo Convention. I was going to the convention anyway as I was booked to have the most epic tattoo by Katriona MacIntosh, who has been nominated Best Newcomer.

So, I entered myself. The selection process was pretty simple. You post up your chosen photo with a little blurb about yourself. The public can then vote and the ten with the most votes would go through to the next round. So here was my entry. I was somewhat hit by a onslaught of prosaic diarrhoea and wrote this lengthy blurb in some vain attempt to make myself feel more credible as a candidate.

My interest in tattoos spans over a period of almost 20 years, sparked initially when I spent a few years of my childhood in Borneo before it was subjected to inevitable modernisation. As a child I found the permanent skin etchings on the Dayaks and Ibans intriguing. Actual skin doodles that No mother could scrub off with soap and water!

Over the years, I have collected a substantial amount of tattoos, starting on skin not so publicly visible and moving on to areas which are difficult to cover up. I am quite heartened that I have yet to be publicly scorned for my tattoos and have never been discriminated against because of them.

I have had several career changes in my life, from being a teacher to working as a midwife for 7 years and now owning my own bakery. In between, I have paused momentarily (several times!) to have my children. All this while acquiring more and more ink and not allowing the perceived, yet questionable stigma of being a tattooed woman to hinder whichever path I choose to take.

My Japanese leg sleeves are by Darren Stares, they are still work in progress as is my Saira Hunjan backpiece. Other pieces by Nico of Softmachine, Emma Grech, DannyBoy of Inksmiths of London and Glenn Symonds. I have others planned and often chortle silently to myself when people appear bemused when I tell them that I am not done yet. Not close. I’d like to think that I represent that section of the society to whom getting tattooed is not a passing phase of the young and rebellious. Being tattooed to me is about filling in the blanks, owning the skin I am in and finding solace in the permanence of the ink.

In my spare time, I participate in roller derby and love to nurse the bruises and grazes I get from it. I will be at the Brighton Tattoo Convention this year with my Whipped & Baked tattoo inspired cupcake stall. Come and say hello to me.

And I don’t know if it were my wit or my ankles, I made it through to the next round. The next round was pretty much the same. People had to vote again, and despite the slightly tricky process of having to register and wait for a confirmation email, which invariably ended up in everyone’s spam filter, I actually made it through to the final 10.

So here is the bit that I didn’t quite consider the implications of. The final is at Liverpool Tattoo Convention. By a panel of judges. On a stage. In front of EVERYONE. And I’ll have to introduce myself and all, and actually avoid snorting into the microphone or giggling like the village idiot.

Whilst the are people who are congratulating me for my go get ’em approach to life, I am silently face palming myself. Since opening the bakery, my hair has been tucked up in a baking snood. It’s been weeks since I’ve worn high heels and what’s worse is, I literally have NO eyelashes left. I’ve somehow managed to dust my eyes with icing sugar every time I’m making icing and then caramelising my eyelashes when opening the door to a hot oven. Yum. Crunchy lashes.

So, I’m trying to remind myself that this isn’t a beauty contest. As I would never consider myself as befitting to enter a beauty contest. No one who is careless and carefree enough to accidentally shave their eyebrow when giving their hair an undercut is ever going to be beauty contest material.
And I intermittently remind myself, that as a heavily tattooed woman who has been collecting ink for over 20 years, I’ve pretty much shown that the very fact that I am tattooed has never hindered me from getting what I want, or doing what I want. The career progression from teacher to midwife to baker sets a great example of this. Even now, with the bakery, my ink is publicly visible and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Not outwardly at least. I’m being judged for the work I produce and by how I conduct myself with others – that should always be the case for everyone. And that is what this competition is all about, it’s about women who are inked who are being positive role models.

Rewinding to the fact that I hardly have any eyelashes anymore, to match my one non-existent eyebrow, you’ll be pleased to know that I have found ways of coping. It ain’t pretty and it’ll show me up as a somewhat vain individual but guys, eyelashes are important, they’re like windshields for your eyes. So I got myself eyelash extension.

Katrina, my beautician at Glorious Spa is now my new bestie. What a conjurer of miracle she is. Never mind that even she looked surprised when she told me that the fake lashes actually looked good on me. She can do no wrong in my (fluttery lashed) eyes.

I’m not sure if I’ll manage another post before I leave for Liverpool late on Friday. I’m making contingency plans. I’m the oldest by about 10 years at least and with more children than all of them put together, I suspect. There’s no way I’m going to win. So tomorrow, I am going to the toy shop and I’m buying myself a Barbie tiara.

Just watch me.

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2013, Chichester

Flourvonsponge Goes To Her First Auction


It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. The thing is, I’ve probably started many a blog post with that statement but by heck, this time I’ve really earned it. However for now, let’s talk about the other things. The things which are not the bakery, or the baking or the cakes.

I went to my first auction. Apparently I went to a really good one. I was dispatched by Slaveboy with a list of furniture we were interested in along with a maximum bid price for each item. I arrived early, stood at the back and was pretty much frozen solid in time, for for that if I scratched my nose, or twiddled my thumbs, such act might be mistaken for a bid. Silly I know, and irrational considering there were people fiddling about, eating their sandwiches and reading the newspaper.

But stood I did. For a little less than three hours. I didn’t want to miss my lots, you see.

And I think I witnessed a momentous event. I saw this come up for bidding. I poo-pooed it as some small ugly brown vase with fancy handles. Akin to a sixth former’s attempt at pottery. I wouldn’t have given it house and the owner certainly didn’t think much of it either as the reserve price was placed at £100.

It sold for £66,000.

Sixty six thousand pounds.

At the time it went to press, the owner was still away and unreasonable, and he was going to come home to the news that his vase had sold for 66K.

I texted Slaveboy about the vase that sold for £66,000. He promptly texted back reminding me that I need not spend quite as much.

As if.

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2013, bakery, Chichester, Whipped&Baked

As the dust settles


Well, SniffSnorters, all I seem to be doing at the moment is bake brownies. We are selling dozens of the stuff. I had this self indulgent idea that I would be rolling out a magnificent array of baked decadence that would showcase my skills but the reality is, Chichester just loves brownies. Especially cheesecake brownies.
Within a week of opening, we has people come in requesting the cheesecake brownies, even when there went any on display.
There are lots of things we have yet to catch up with. We still don’t have a till. Or an A board. Or a sign above the bakery. Apparently these would encourage business but seeing that we sold out of cakes by 2:30pm last Saturday, I’m not sure we are ready to deal with even more customers just yet.
There has been a lot of goodwill and enthusiasm from the general public. They seem to get our ‘local’ ethos and appreciate our quirky approach to running a business.
Today has been the first day we’ve had to juggle childcare for the youngest 3. Normally, when I wake up to go to the bakery, the little ones are still asleep and today I managed to fit in some baking until 10:15, which was when I needed to get back to take over the childcare from an older child.
The baking is intense, I’m still feeling my way around it and I’m yet to settle in a conclusive baking schedule.
If you’re interested in keeping more current with what I’m to, I have a Facebook page for Whipped & Baked here.
And you know what bugs me the most? Above the crazy amount of baking and the lack of sleep?
I had a vision that I would be über glamourous and wear my favourite PVC pencil skirt as my baking uniform but the reality is, most mornings, if I could roll into work in my pyjamas, I would.

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2013, bakery, Chichester, Whipped&Baked

2 weeks and a bit


This post is fuelled by the mantra something is better than nothing.

It’s been just over two weeks since the bakery first opened its door and we’ve been running to stand still. Despite all our convictions that things would start flow and build up to a steady momentum, we have found ourselves rushed off our feet and really testing the limits of our raw drive to want to make this work.

I’m not going to go into to much details tonight and I promise a more lengthy post during the weekend (hopefully) where I might talk about just how most of my baking time has been monopolised by making my cheesecake brownies which seem to be flying out of the bakery when just barely cool enough to cut.

There are a few things I’ve learnt.

Dishes. Bins. Floors. These things don’t get cleaned by themselves. You would have thought by now I’d got to grips with this notion.

I need an A board. I know this. You know this. My customers ALL know this and by golly, half of them have made sure that they know that I know this.

Over-frothed milk really does smell like dried egg whites. Not nice.

Open plan kitchens are great until you mistake the bicarbonate of soda for baking powder. Then your kitchen looks like a failed science lab lesson run by the substitute P.E. teacher. EVERYONE can see the mistakes you make.

On that note, I’ll share the second attempt of the failed baking endeavour above. It was all ok in the end.

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Word of mouth is spreading about Whipped & Baked bakery and I have so much to share with you. I have ideas, musings and some if I could redo some bits moments to share with you but that will be coming at a later date.

Until then, do keep in touch via my Facebook page.

Sleep well.

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2013, bakery, cake, challenge, Chichester, Whipped&Baked

28.02.13


We opened yesterday.

And I’m still alive.

The eve of the opening, we took delivery of a radiogram, a bass cabinet, several valves and other things. These items were in the front of the bakery some 10 hours before we were due to open.

But we overcame in. We were busy. Lots of lovely friends and family cake to visit and I’m sure I has this insipid grin on my face for most part of the day.

Will write in more details but here are some pictures.

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