Thursday, August 2, 2012

We're Only Halfway Through...

The month of July kept us hopping... it seemed this month was the month for cupcake orders.   The cake business is strange... it's like a pendulum. You never know how it will swing and how far. Some times I will go weeks without cupcake orders and think, "Hmmm... maybe the cupcake craze is over, then WHAM!!! I am hit with a rash of cupcake orders". Yep.. the cake business is certainly unpredictable.

Here are some of the orders we completed this month...

30th Birthday Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting... YUMMM!!!

 Smash Cupcake for a little girl turning ONE. Love the contrast between the colors. We also made coordinating cupcakes to match the cake. Her mom later wrote me, `` Jasper loved her cake and the cupcakes were a real hit. Thank you!!!!``

Pansy Cupcakes. These for a client whom I have made her birthday treats for the past 3 years.  She later emailed me saying, ``Thank you very much fo rthe beautiful Pansy cupcakes you had made for my birthday. They made my day very special. Thank you.``

AND, lastly, this was the HUGEST wedding cake I have made to date. This wedding cake was created for a very sweet bride. This 5 tier wedding cake was airbrushed in pearl dust and then scroll work and lace applique was applied to the cake which was then painted in champagne dust.  Unfortunately, I didn`t get a great pic of the cake, however, the bride has promised she would get me one.  The bride emailed me, the day after her wedding saying that the cake, ``It was absolutely incredible!``

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Back-to-School" Cookies

It's that time of year again, and if you are like me, you absolutely dread the thought of making lunches. What a hassle??? right??? 

Just Like Gram's is offering once again their "Back-to-School" Cookie specials.  We are offering a package of 4 doz nut-free, wholesome, homemade cookies to get your child's lunches off to a great start.

Each package is $55.00 and includes:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin
Chewy Brownie

Cookies are baked fresh, so pre-order is required. Delivery is included, or save 10% and pick them up your self.  Packages are available: Sept 7, Sept 14, Sept 21, Sept 28.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Just Like Gram's is exicted to announce that it was recently featured in an on-line magazine article in the Northern Groove. You can read the full article here...

Taking a moment to breathe...

Well, the month of June is now behind us and we can now catch our breath! It was SUPER busy here at Just Like Gram's.  We were so busy that I didn't get a chance to take pics of every cake that went out our door, but here are just a few.

Clifford the Big Red Dog Smash Cake created for Lana Hamilton Photography. Love the paw prints going up the side of the cake!

We created this hockey theme cake for a young man graduating from high school. It featured the colors and logo of his favorite hockey team... the Edmonton Oilers. Sugarpaste accents included hockey sticks, hockey skates, puck and a grad cap.

Here is another high school graduation cake we created for a young lady.  This cake was centered around the theme of music. The bottom tier was designed to look like piano keys, with scroll work and musical notes on the second tier. Topping it off was the grad cap with a gold tassel.

 I absolutely love the simplicity of this wedding cake. This 4 tier square wedding cake featured white sugarpaste blossoms at the corners of each tier which were wrapped with a green and overlapping black ribbon. Later I received this message from the bride,  "Thank you again Tara! It was perfect, delicious, and exactly what we wanted."

Another wedding cake that went out our door was this 3 tier square wedding cake. It featured simple scroll work  with a yellow and orange ribbon wrapped around each tier.

Received a call from a lady out of town who wanted to order some cupcakes for some friends. She chose a variety of theme, such as these Golfing Cupcakes. She later sent me a message saying, "LOVE them!! Thanks soo much!!"

Beer Mug Cupcakes

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Don't send Flowers, Send Dessert!"

"Don't send flowers, send Dessert!" For years, flowers have been the traditional gift delivered for a special occasion, sympathy, thank you, or when you want to express a feeling.

Just Like Gram's is now offering an alternative. Instead of flowers, we bring dessert… always considered special, uplifting the spirits of the lucky recipient.

 Just Like Gram's offers freshly baked custom decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies. We will even deliver them for you. Delivery is included in the price of all our baked goods within the Fort St John area.

Check out our Delivery Vehicle!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June...and We're only Half-Way Through....

One thing I have noticed over the years is that some years, June is quiet and some months June can be completely insane. You can never predict from year to year, what it's going to be like. In the past, I have had a ton of weddings in May with few in June, but this year.. the EXACT opposite. June seems to be THE month to get married. Let's also add in the fact that it is also graduation season and people don't stop having birthday's either. We are only half-way through June so I thought I would post some pics of the cakes we have completed so far.

Buttercream piped basket weave flower basket with all hand made sugar flowers.

The following three cakes were created for a client (and upcoming bride of mine) who planned a "ladybug" theme party for her little girl turning 1. We created a ladybug smash cake, ladybug birthday cake for the guests and additional ladybug cupcakes.


One week later, I created this wedding cake for the mom "the bride". She had a destination wedding and then came back to hold her reception. We chose a bold blue color her wedding cake with some simple white scroll work. Chocolate seashells and fresh orchids were added at the end to complete the overall look.

Another wedding cake created last weekend was the this ruffled cake complete with yellow ruffled gumpaste flowers. The bride requested a design by Maisie Fantaisie. The original design had pink flowers which we changed to lemon yellow. I also added additional ruffles than the original design.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's been a while...

I know I haven't posted in a while, so now that we are halfway through June, I sit back and look at the previous couple of months. After taking off most of April, my husband and I took our children to Disneyland and then after being home for a week, I headed back east to Kitchener, ON to attend a course taught by Karen Portaleo, of the Highland Bakery, hosted by Chrissie Boon of Icing Inspirations.  I was only there for one night and came down with the flu. Running a fever of 102, I wasn't about to quit. I gritted my teeth, filled up on meds,  and somehow got through the course. I spent lots of money just to attend with airfare, hotel costs, etc so I wanted to get my money's worth.  We learned a ton of stuff about modelling and working with chocolate. It was too bad being so sick with the flu that I didn't really have a the chance to thoroughly enjoy it. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to take another course by Karen. Unfortunately, I never finished my cake (I WONDER WHY???), so ONE day when I have some spare time, I will finish it.

After my course was done, I headed to my sister's in Alberta for some R&R, shopping and visiting family.
May brought a whirlwind of cake orders.  Here are just a few of those completed...

I work closely with the wonderful Lana Hamilton of Lana Hamilton Photography. She specializes in family and children photography. She also does Smash Cake photography too. Her work is AMAZING, plus she is fun to work with.

Set of two Smash Cupcakes  for a set of twin girls.

Smash Cupcake for a little boy who was into Dr. Seuss  (who isn't... "Big A, Little a. A, A, A", yes I read that book to my son a ZILLION times)

Smash Cupcake featuring purple polka dots and matching bow.

Sculpted Martini Glass Cake for a young woman's birthday.

In addition, to the sculpted Martini Glass cake, we also created this pink cake with black zebra stripes. Matching fondant martini glass applique was applied to the top.

I received a lovely phone call from Mary Anne on Vancouver Island who wanted to order some cupcakes for a young lady's birthday (she had just moved up here). Isn't that sweet?  I created some Red Velvet cupcakes with Italian Meringue Buttercream sprinkled with silver dragees and purple gumpaste blossoms.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Let's talk about "DEPOSITS".

What do I have to pay a "DEPOSIT"?

An excellent question!

Yes, we require a 50% non-refundable deposit on all our orders payable at the time of ordering.


First, we are a custom design cake studio AND if the order is cancelled, we cannot sell the cake to someone else since it was made for a specific client. We are not a walk-in bakery or large scale grocery store where we have ready made cakes to sell. All our cakes are made-to-order to the customer's specifications.

Secondly, when we take a deposit, we book that day and commit ourselves to your order. Many times we turn down business because we are booked already. Should an order be cancelled, we have lost business since we have turned away clients in order to design a particular cake.The non-refundable deposit covers the lost opportunities and the costs incurred by the vendor based on your commitment. In the past, we have ordered specialty items or started production on specialty cakes, only to be called a few days prior to completion to have the order cancelled. For example, one time I had an order for an "adult oriented" cake, and after having the cake baked and started working on the decorations, I received a call needing to cancel. There is no way I could have resold the cake since 1) it was adult oriented 2) it had some very specific custom designs requested by the client. You know the saying, " only takes once".

So requesting a "deposit" does 2 things:

1) It protects the customer. When you place an order and pay the 50% non-refundable deposit,  you are guaranteed that your order is booked with us. The deposit  protects the client and assures the client that the vendor will be there. No worries! and
2) It protects us against cancelled orders and lost business.

Happy Mother's Day!

Looking for a treat for your mum on Mother's Day? Just Like Gram's is offering a box of either 6 or 12 Gourmet Filled Cupcakes decorated with handmade roses. Choose from these delicious cupcake flavours: Red Velvet, Cappaccino Express or Raspberry Mirage.
Cupcakes are specially priced just for Mother's Day. We will be taking orders until May 9th. Cupcakes must be picked up or delivered May 11th. For more information call us at 250-827-3023 or email us

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Snoopy Revisited...

Last weekend I created this adorable Snoopy Doghouse cake complete with Snoopy and Woodstock molded from sugarpaste. I had created this cake design, complete with cupcakes, a couple of years ago for a baby shower.  When I first received the request a few weeks ago, I asked the client if she wanted the EXACT same cake or should we add something to the cake to make it more "individualized". The client requested the same design. Now, I really don't like replicating the same cake design.  I like making each cake customized and a little different for each client.  You know... make it "yours". So with this particular cake I made the roof have some texture by using a brick-like impression mat and we also put a large "5" on the back of the doghouse for the birthday boy. 
To complete the cake order, she requested additional cupcakes topped with little Snoopy's and Woodstock's. These toppers were created out of chocolate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Early Start to Wedding Season...

About a month ago, I received a call from my good friend and wedding planner, Tammy of TLS Wedding Designs, about doing a wedding cake for a June wedding she was planning. Not a  problem... and a consultation was set up. Fast forward 2 days in which Tammy calls me and says the wedding was moved up by 5 months to the end of February. She now had 2 weeks to plan a wedding. Could I do the cake??? Fortunately, I had a light schedule that week so I was able to fit her in.

Over three-way conference calls, we managed to have a consultation over the phone and came up with a design that the bride was happy with. It was a small wedding, however she wanted a 3 tier red velvet cake utilizing different shapes. We went with 2 square cakes (one on the bottom and one on the top) with a round cake in the middle. Each square tier was quilted and turned so the point was facing to the front. The middle round tier was decorated with an edible sugarpaste ribbon in the shade of pewter silver with a monogram. To stay within budget we added silk red roses on top and few at the bottom to balance the design and complete the overall look.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"What's in my cake?"

When I discuss a cake order with prospective clients and the topic of "when do you bake the cake" comes up, the first thing a lot of people bring up is "using a mix". It seems that the general perception out there is that one does not bake from scratch anymore, and a using a mix is the just the norm. So, I thought it would a good idea to discuss "what's in your cake".
  • First of all, I DO NOT USE MIXES! I personally find the taste unappealing. I taste one, I taste them all. They all seem to have the same "chemical" taste. It's like going to a "certain" popular coffee shop here in town, all their muffins taste the same, and I know they use a mix. I like the fact that I KNOW what goes into my cakes not having to decipher all the weird "lingo" on the back of the box. Another reason I don't use mixes is that they are too soft and fluffy. I find a cake, made from scratch is more sturdier and less likely to fall apart when it comes to decorating, whether it be carving a cake or stacking it for a wedding cake. The majority of my recipes have been handed down from my grandmother who was a pastry chef in the Canadian navy during World War II.
  • Secondly, I use 100% butter, flour, sugar, fresh eggs, Dutch cocoa, buttermilk, no artificial flavorings ( I use Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste for my cakes).  All my fillings are made fresh from scratch. We do not use sleeve fillings. These are pre-cooked fillings are found in a sleeve that you just squeeze out. Any cooked filling that is found packaged and sitting on a store shelf has got to be filled with preservatives to be prevent it from going bad. While we are on the topic of fillings, did you know that all the raspberries we use are locally grown. By that I mean, they come straight from MY GARDEN! During the summer months, I go out and hand-pick the raspberries myself to make all my raspberry fillings. Then at the end of summer, I freeze my bountiful supply and continue to use them during the winter months so I can continue to use fruit that is local and hasn't been sprayed by pesticides. I had a strawberry patch too, but the squirrels always beat me to it leaving me with no fruit, so I have resorted to getting my strawberries from local supplier. 

  • To answer those who wonder when we bake our cakes, we bake them fresh just for your event.  We do not pre-bake, ice and freeze our cakes in advance. I remember attending a friend's wedding some years ago and one of his cousin's heard I did cakes. He also worked for a local grocery store chain. I won't name "names", but he told me he worked in the "cake plant". He told me all the cakes were baked in this huge warehouse, iced, frozen and then shipped to all parts of the province. Yummm... sounds appealing.  All our cakes are made to order for each individual client.
So there you have it! So if you have ANY questions regarding your cake, please do not hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sharin' Some Love!

Well, Valentine's Day has come and gone for yet another year! Personally, it was pretty quiet for both my husband and I. We don't make too much of a big deal of it. I do get a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates (which were completely devoured by both my kids and husband... I did manage to sneak a piece  in though). I got him some much-needed darts for his dart board. His were pretty mangled and sad looking. That was about it. No dinner out... he had to work late and I was busy fielding my kids around to taekwando practice and horse riding lessons. 
Both the days leading up to and on Valentine's Day morning was spent filling Valentine cupcake orders. Here are just a few pics of the cupcakes we handed out yesterday. 

Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes

Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes (we couldn't seem to keep enough of these in stock... they were extremely popular this year)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


"I'M ON A BUDGET!"   I hear those words quite frequently when a bride comes to me to discuss her wedding cake. I do understand the whole budget issue, especially nowadays with the economy the way it is. Personally, I don't want to spend anymore than I have to either.  I cringe everytime I fill up on gas or buy groceries at the store. 

Remembering the time when I was getting married (has it been 13 years already?), I was one of those frugal, budget-conscious, do-it-yourself brides. I was a teacher-on-call and my husband-to-be was a student - IN FACT, he wrote his final exams the day before we got married. We paid about $5000 for our wedding (yes, I know that was 13 years ago, but there are ways to keep it simple and affordable). In fact, our move to Fort St John, was MORE expensive than our wedding once we added up all the moving expenses. To help trim costs, here are some of the things I did for my wedding

  • made my own wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. Both my sister and I CAN sew, and I made them a year in advance. It's a great incentive to keep your weight down.
  • had a buffet dinner (it was a wild game meal so all our family chipped in with different types of meat)
  • had our wedding/reception all at the same location
  • was gifted the cost of the hall rental
  • used to work with my caterer who is also a dear friend, so she prepared all our food FREE- I just had to give her the money for the ingredients
  • purchased freeze dried flowers from a business going under, my sister did all the arrangements
  • made my own invitations/decorations
  • purchased my husband's wedding band from a business going under - which by the way, he doesn't wear anyway because of his job
  • had a family friend be the DJ - I just gathered CD's from family members for him to play
  • had a family friend who was a freelance photographer do our photography
  • I did have a small wedding cake, plus desserts made by my grandmother

Being in the wedding industry, I am in constant contact with lots of vendors and have come to learn lots of budget-friendly tips.  So here's a few:

1) Guest List - Keep it under control!  The sure way to keep costs down is trim your guest list. For example, if dinner costs $15/person, just by cutting down 10 people from your list, you save yourself: 1 less table rental, 10 fewer chair covers, 10 less people to feed, 10 fewer party favors to make, 10 less alcoholic drinks to buy... you get the idea.  The rule of thumb I learned from a top wedding cake designer and caterer in Indianapolis is the 60% rule.  You plan for 60% of your invited guests.  Realistically, not EVERYONE is going to come.  When I got married my guest list was appx 180, but just under 100 showed up.

2) Plated Dinner vs Buffet Dinner - Overall, choose a buffet dinner where everyone can help themselves. For a plated dinner, you have to pay someone to put everything on your plate and serve it you and your guests individually.  Also, on the topic of buffet, think about your food. A simple buffet with one meat, one starch and 2 veggies is going to be cheaper than too many multiple choices.

3) DIY - Yes, I do believe there are some things that you can do your self and save money, i.e. organizing wedding favors, invitations. HOWEVER, I do firmly believe that there are some things that are better left to the professionals, such as your wedding dress, photographer, caterer and wedding cake.  I believe that you get what you pay for. If you want good quality stuff, then you should be prepared to pay for it.  I can't count how many brides have come to me at the last minute thinking that they could save money by having a sister, mom or auntie make the cake and then it didn't work out and had to have me do it for them.  So, yes, I do believe that you can honestly save money and do some stuff yourself, but be realistic and honest with yourself what you can and can not do.

4) THE CAKE - One important piece of advice - a fake cake is NOT cheaper! No matter what the wedding magazines say (by the way, those articles are not written by someone who actually makes cakes, but someone in an office).  A lot of people say, "well, you're not paying for the ingredients of the cake, so it should be cheaper."  Wanna know something?? Those Styrofoam pieces cost just as much as the ingredients do, plus I have to pay for shipping too, since I can't get them here in Fort St John.  Overall, you have the Styrofoam pieces (equal the price of the ingredients of the cake), plus the time for me to decorate them which would have been the same as if it was a real cake, plus sheet cakes you plan to serve sitting in the kitchen which is STILL cake that I have to bake and ice.  SO, to save money, go with a smaller cake (see the advice of guest list above) and forget the fake cake idea.

My overall advice (which is also what I hear from other vendors too): spend the money on what is most important to you and what you want to remember the most. What I remember the most from my wedding was my dress, the beautiful location (we saved money by having the ceremony, reception and pictures all taken at the same location), the pictures and the food (we had a wild game buffet dinner).  Save money on the little things that honestly no one will remember years from now (and neither will you...Smile.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A "Farming" We Will Go...

This post is going to short and sweet. Why??? I am in a just a little bit of pain. I received this cake request over a month ago and "no problem" was looking forward to designing it. Fast forward to yesterday, when I went to work on it. I went out first in the early morning to shovel the snow off our deck, and only got to the first shovel full, when my back instantly froze in pain due to a pinched nerve. I was literally left motionless because I couldn't move. After what seemed an eternity I finally managed to hobble into the house and get into the pain meds. Great huh??? Suddenly it dawned on me, that I still have to do the cake. UGH!!! In between repeated intervals of laying on the couch for 30 min and 15 min of cake work time, I finally managed to get it done. 

SO... for you cake business wannabees, this is an issue that you have to think about. Yes, designing cakes is a lot of fun and I ABSOLUTELY love my job, BUT there is also the flip side (the not-so-nice part of the business).  In the rare case you get sick, injured or have to spend the evening in the hospital and then come home late at night and STILL have to work on cake, because there is no one else and JUST you (unless you have employees who can do the work for you).... just a ``little`` something to ponder on. 

Anyway, I got the cake done, and was pretty happy with the results despite my situation. The top tier was classic white with Italian Meringue butter cream filling while the bottom tier was chocolate filled with cookies `n cream butter cream. The cake was covered in fondant with fondant accents. The little toy tractor topper was purchased for the little birthday boy to play with. When the mom came to pick up her son's cake she was so happy with it, she proceeded to order 3 more cakes from me. So... A "happy" customer, makes it all worthwhile in the end. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Share some love... with a cupcake!

Valentine's Day is fast approaching! Check out these Valentine's Day cupcake specials:

  • Strawberry Passion - Strawberry Cupcake filled with strawberry preserves topped with Strawberry Buttercream
  • Red Velvet - Red Velvet Cupcake filled and topped with creamy White Chocolate Cream Cheese
  • Chocolate Truffle - Chocolate Cupcake filled and topped with decadent Chocolate Ganache
  • Chocolate Raspberry - Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake filled with our homemade Raspberry Filling and then topped with Raspberry Buttercream
  • Chocolate Brownie - Chocolate Cupcake filled with Chocolate Pudding and then finished with Pink Buttercream topped with a chocolate brownie heart

Cupcakes are $3.25/ea (minimum of 12). Cupcakes can be picked up between 9AM-2PM. Call today to book your Valentine Cupcake order!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

FSJ Bridal Show 2012

This weekend I attended the 15th Annual Bridal Show in Fort St John. I had an amazing time and met tons of  new brides and got a chance to rekindle friendships with other vendors whom I hadn't seen awhile. Part of the fun of attending a bridal show is getting the chance to network with other vendors. Another first for me this year, was that I was accompanied by my 8 yr old daughter Elizabeth. She spent the entire day with me at the bridal show and then participated in the fashion show as one of the models. She was a great help to me setting up and taking down my booth. We had such a fun time that she wants to do it again next year. 

Here is a pic of my booth

We created numerous cake designs for the bridal show. I like to try new techniques to display at the show. Here are just a few of them... For this cake, I covered the entire cake in fondant and then covered in sparkly sugar, tied with a sugarpaste bow complete with edible brooch.

Since August is a BIG month for weddings here in Fort St John, I get a lot of requests for autumn themed cakes. I created this cake in chocolate fondant complete with sugarpaste leaves with a bit of gold to add an elegant touch.

I wanted to experiment with different textures, so this cake was created with a stucco texture. I completed the overall design with sugarpaste dogwoods dusted with pink and green centers.

I actually created this cake last year for another show but I never felt completely happy with it. The design was inspired from a picture of a wedding dress I seen in a magazine. The cake originally had a dark blue ribbon with a star shaped sugarpaste brooch. Unhappy with the design, I ripped off the ribbon and brooch and created this sugarpaste bow with a softer shade of blue with a pearly white sugarpaste brooch to match the lacework applique on the cake. Needless to say, I loved the new look.

Going with an organic nature feel, this 3 tier cake was created using olive green and ivory shades with a branch going up the front. Two hand painted birds were added for a whimsical touch.

This pretty 5 tiered yellow cake was another design that underwent several changes during the design process. I originally was going to put yellow and green whimsical swirls going up the side of the cake with the addition of butterflies. BUT somehow I just couldn't get the feel of it. So, I ended up changing it midway the design process. I piped scroll work all over the cake and then added pearl dusted embossed fondant flowers and leaves. It looked so bright, summery and cheerful against the dreary winter weather we are having right now. If I had to change things, I would probably still add a few butterflies here or there, pink maybe???