Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reno Diary : Seven

What is that saying people use, "The end is near!" or better, "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!"
Well, that's how I feel right now about our renovations because, we're almost done!!!

Yesterday we marked the electrical panel, which will help us determine how to distinguish all our plugs... and there are a lot of plugs.

Frank and Sam painted our wall Bonnie Gordon School BLUE. Take a look!

There is still quite a bit to do - order tables, stools, a fridge, shelving... plus - I'm teaching Advanced Cake Design to our Confectionary Arts Program (CAP) students all day this week. Did I mention I leave for Oz in 5 days?

Again... Breathe, Bonnie. The end (of renovations and CAPS) is near...


Monday, November 23, 2009

Designing with Peggy Porschen

It was a remarkable weekend.

After much excitement and anticipation, Peggy Porschen arrived at the Bonnie Gordon School Thursday evening for a meet and greet with eager cake fans. Together with her charming husband, Bryn - Peggy engaged us with her story on becoming a celebrity cake designer. Her grace and talent can only be described as beautiful and we are thrilled that she joined us at the school.

Peggy began her three day workshop on Friday. She started off by completing a handful of demonstrations on covered cake dummies. Saturday and Sunday was hands-on for the students, and they began designing their own Peggy Porschen inspired Wedding Cake.

Here are pictures from our weekend with Peggy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reno Diary : Six

Is it just me, or does every Sunday come in the blink of an eye?
Lovely Peggy Porschen joined us at the school this weekend - so I had to divert a lot of my attention from the renovations, over to Peggy and her class. It was an amazing class, but I'll save the details for another blog.

Our shiny new triple sink is in and it comes with a fabulous spray attachment that should be fun to use! At least - once we get it installed?!? Right now it looks like there is a giraffe rising up from the sink - the hose pushes up into the ceiling tiles, and we even need a stool to use the sprayer. Keith is looking into this for us - but apparently the pipe has "threads" so its not as simple as cutting the pipe (because what is simple these days!), instead we have to call the manufacturer to inquire about different lengths. Note to renovator patrons: Remember to be diligent and approve everything before installation!

Sandi, (the architect,) chatted with the building inspector who confirmed that as long as our exit signs are up and working and the new emergency-safe door has been ordered, we can use our beautiful new kitchen!

Next on the list... LISTS! Shopping LISTS!

The NEW KTICHEN - Stainless steels tables (but how many and what size?), stools (the endless challenge of finding the perfect 8 hour stool" that doesn't take up too much room and is comfy - and once we find those - how many do we buy?!?), fridges (yes - another one), freezer, shelving, bathroom towel dispenser, storage units for tools and supplies... and wait... where do we keep our many baking pans?!?? Overwhelmed - onto the next list.

Big BOX Store Stuff - Fluorescent light bulbs, garbage cans, squirrel and racoon proof garbage bins (tough lessons have been learned!)...

SIGNAGE - Follow up with our designer for the exterior window signage and order an awning for the school entrance.

That's about it for now. It's hard to believe that we'll be finished in a couple weeks. Phew - Breathe, Bonnie. Despite a few hiccups, everything seems to be just perfect and now it's time for the finishing touches. My favourite part!


P.S. I'm living for Australia and New Zealand in just over a week!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reno Diary Lesson - Hidden Costs

Do you want to know the secret behind why renovations always exceed budget?
You hire trade workers to do specialized work- flooring, plumbing, electrical, etc. But what no one tells you is that these amazing workers LOVE to make holes in your floors, walls, and ceilings. So the unexpected costs kick in - hiring another contractor to cover up and fix all those holes and the materials required for the work to be done.

Reno Diary : Five

Even when you think that things are going great and according to plan, don't contractors always have to throw in a "BUT!" somewhere in the conversation?

We had a building inspector drop by to approve our current renovations. Everything was to code - BUT - the existing back exit door. So Lily, our school manager, had to call the landlord with the news to advise him that a new door is required in order to finalize the inspection. Great news, he agreed to the new door - BUT - a new door takes 6-8 weeks!!!! hmph!!!...

On a positive note - the Floor Guys are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I am so proud of their fine craftsmanship and meticulous detailing in their finishings. Perfect characteristics for a future in cake design?!?

Alright, maybe not.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Corporate Holiday Parties

Looking to add some flare to your office this season? Book your private group function at the Bonnie Gordon School and choose one of our popular Designer Mini Cakes, Cookies or Cupcakes classes.

Designer Cupcakes - Explore the baking and decorating possibilities of these popular miniature cakes in this hands-on class.

Designer Cookies - Everyone loves cookies! Join this fun hands-on workshop and be able to bake and decorate your own cookies to take home.

Designer Mini Cakes - Learn to make delectably adorable mini cakes Topics covered include cutting mini-cakes, crumb-coating, masking with buttercream, covering cakes with fondant, and making ribbons and bows, as well as different ways to decorate.
At the end of this workshop you will take home both a square and a round mini-cake!

An unforgettable experience perfect for corporate team building, entertaining clients and holiday parties. Call to book your event today.

Reno Diary: Lesson on Buying an Oven

Our new oven is GORGEOUS and I can't wait to start baking in it. But today I received some troubling news... Apparently, this new oven needs to breathe?!? No venting means creating a tropical paradise indoors (not so much fun without the palm trees and beach). Now it's time to meet Shaun, our venting expert. He told me that it won't be a problem - he'll just have to puncture a 6" hole in our ceiling. Alright, sounds good -right? Umm... I later found out that I'd need to replace the panels on the roof once he's done.
Lesson on Buying an Oven

1. Buy an oven
2. Hire an electrician to hardwire the oven to the wall/or use a plug if you wish, but make sure your electrical panel has enough juice. If not, the electrician will happily change your panel for a new one.
3. Get the heating/air guy to vent the oven outside or install a large commercial fan over your oven; either way it will still have to vent outside.
4. If you vent through the roof you'll have to hire a roofing guy to repair the roof around the hole. That is of course if you don't want your roof to leak.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reno Diary : Four (Weekend Edition)

Is it really Sunday evening?
I guess I learned another lesson today: renovations = no weekends.

Friday morning I had to meet with the Sandi (the architect), the plumber, Tulio (the electrician - no longer M.I.A), and Jeff (the contractor). So much is happening and we needed to have another team meeting. Mr. Frank (the painter) also joined us on Friday and took full advantage of the sunny skies to paint the windows outside. We decided on a yummy milk chocolate colour - it seemed fitting.

Next on the list: Window treatment and an awning. Is there a city bylaw about awnings? I better find out before I order one.

Tulio, the electrician has been working so hard today! He is extremely knowledgeable and understands exactly what I want! He has definitely been such a huge help sourcing out 'hard-to find' fixtures.

After the meeting I left the school to pick up an Exit Sign for our new unit. Of course, I grabbed the wrong one! (Is there seriously different options for EXIT SIGNS?!?). We needed a sign with lights on the top or bottom - not on the sides. Silly, me.

Mr. Frank, the painter, finished painting the first coat of white paint throughout the room by Saturday afternoon. The room looked so bright and clean. We treated him to some cupcakes that Isabelle made in her D1: Designer Cupcakes class.

This evening I spent wandering through big box stores when I could (or should) have been home enjoying down time with the family. I really should be resting because next week our Confectionary Arts student have quiet a heavy workload that I need to prepare for.

Oops - I keep digressing!!! Back to the renovations...

I was able to pick up a lot of miscellaneous (yet, imperative) items from the store tonight. Coat hooks, toilet paper holder, and dishwasher detergent just to name a few! I also need to prepare a check to pay for the new floor that is happening on Tuesday. The cost? Wait for it... equal value to an all inclusive trip for two to Cuba.

Well, I should probably enjoy the last 30 minutes left on this Sunday. Sweet dreams.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Reno Diary : Three

Jeff - our perfect contractor (and Mike Holmes look-a-like), called me downstairs to have a look at the placement of our new dishwasher and sink. I had to admit, it was thrilling to see our gorgeous oven just waiting patiently to be embraced by our decadent treats.

Here is a photo of Jeff measuring the dishwasher and sink cabinet.

The framing is in the for the closet, which makes our raised platform ready for flooring. Sadly... our flooring guy is completely M.I.A. Urgghhh! He took measurements last week and was supposed to get back to me on Monday. It's Thursday.
The electrician also comes and goes... not too sure when we'll be graced with his presence again. This is starting to get fun - it's like playing Hide and Seek.
Lucky for us, our perfect contractor Jeff is on the job every day at 7:00am sharp! Jeff... you're the glue that's keeping it together.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reno Diary : Two

The sound of drilling is unbearable at times. Especially when we have our Confectionary Arts Program students upstairs trying to concentrate on baking! But beyond our students, I'm not too sure if the folks next door are too thrilled with us. It's a good thing we bake cakes at the school - we shared some yummy treats with our neighbours.

So what's on the plan today? SHOPPING! Shopping is a girls best friend! Oh wait, we're not talking about shoes, are we? Today I'm on the hunt for a dishwasher, sinks, toilet, freezer and a 1,000lb oven. Not your typical shopping list... but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

The landlord installed a brand new window in the office and Lily, our School Manager, can finally unplug the block heater that she uses to warm her feet. She'll be warm and toasty with these double-paned glass!

Here are a couple pictures of our new pad!!!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reno Diary : One

Great News! Our architect went down to City Hall and picked up our building permit!

It's hard to believe that after all the planning, negotiating and meetings... it's really happening. The school is finally growing again.
But who would have thought dealing with lawyers was the easy part?!?

I went shopping for light fixtures today. How is it that big box stores never carry the quantity you need?!? It sort of reminds me of the Hot Dog case from the movie, Father of the Bride. Steve Martin (or as the called him, Mr. Banks) wanted to get the same amount of Hot Dogs to Hot Dog Buns. But grocery stores sell Hot DOGS in quantities of 8 and Hot Dog BUNS in quantities of 12. Why can't these manufacturers just agree on the same number?

I'm sorry to digress. Back to light fixtures.
I had to drive out to Scarborough to pick up two more ceiling lights because the Caledonia store only had one in stock! Humph.
But it didn't take long for the renovators to install the new ceiling light and fan in the bathroom and it looked great. Now all we need is a toilet and sink.


Bigger and Better

Drum rolls please!

We would proudly like to announce that the Bonnie Gordon School is growing!
Stay tuned for more updates and continue to visit our blog and stay on top of our renovation experiences.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Cake for a Cause

Last week the Bonnie Gordon School was asked to make a celebration cake for the University Health Network (UHN) - Canada's largest hospital and training facility for University of Toronto students.

The cake was designed to resemble a "special edition" Grand Cru wine bottle and was completed by our Principal Cake Designer, Isabelle and our fabulous intern, Matt.

One Intensive Week...

It's unbelievable to see what a little training can do...

Last week we had back-to-back intensive cake design workshops where we led our students from beginner cake techniques right into master cake designers.
Here are a couple pictures from our DC2: Intermediate Cake Design class. Students learned proper levelling & dowelling techniques required to create stable multi-tiered cakes, brush embroidery and pressure piping, and painting on cakes using petal and lustre dusts. Overall creating a more sophisticated style of cake design.

But with a little more training in our DC3 class - these students really showcased their talents and created amazing cakes for their final projects. Take a look!