Saturday, 21 March 2009

Firstly I would like to say a big congratulations to Emma and Chris who got married this afternoon. This is their cake which has rather a lot of marshmallows on it!

The front door is looking good. It now has handles and stops so it closes properly. The glass and woodwork needs completing, which should be done in the next week.

The shop is coming along well. Kev finished building the till counter and put the electrics in. We now have the till in place, the grinder for coffee beans and the credit card machine.

Yesterday saw the first chocolates made in the chocolate factory. Kev made some white chocolate and milk chocolate easter eggs. It was great to see this finally come together. I thought it might be interesting to show how the easter eggs are made. We use polycarbonate moulds which are cleaned and polished. Chocolate reflects the surface it sets on, so polished moulds make shiny chocolates.

The chocolate has to be tempered in order to set properly. This shows Kev filling the moulds with milk chocolate. Kev knocks out the air bubbles so the surface of the egg will be smooth.

The excess chocolate is then knocked out into the bowl. This leaves a layer of chocolate in the mould. The moulds are then left to set for about five minutes. The factory is a fairly constant 5 degrees (about the same as a fridge) which means chocolate sets quickly. The process is done again which makes for nice thick easter eggs.

We open in less than three weeks time!!!
I spent some time this afternoon putting stock on shelves. It made a real difference to the space, adding colour and really lifting the space.

We thought it might be a good idea to create a 'snag list'to make sure that all the little jobs get done. It's now a page and a half long!!! From Monday we plan to make in the morning and sort or build in the afternoon. In theory this means everything will get done on time. It's getting very exciting to walk through the spaces, still bouncing ideas around and developing new concepts. More changes next week....

Monday, 16 March 2009

Kev and Brian worked well on Saturday to build the frame for the new front door. It looks a bit strange here because the outside doors are closed. When we are open the outside doors will be propped open. Kev still has the strengtheners to put in and the cladding to fit. We are going to put glass in the top space. Between that and the glass in the door the main entrance area gets quite a lot of natural light.

The production area is getting more organised as time goes on. This is the biggest space we have ever had, and storage space too! We are very spoiled here - it's lovely to be able to have the space to get organised.

The shop unit that we bought but broke the glass in transit has become a wealth of recycleable material today. It weighed a ton and obviously made to last. There has been more than one occasion recently where Kev and I have gone to move the unit. Kev's end seems to move, but somehow my end doesn't. Funnily enough, this didn't happen when Kev and Brian moved it - I can't understand why!

The base is becoming the till counter. Kev has added legs to make it a reasonable height. Some of the boards and panels have been used to finish the front of the unit. The left-over work surface will be added tomorrow to finish off the top.

The four display cases fit very well in the end of the display area. Kev is going to tap in to the power supply behind the wall to illuminate the cabinets. After a dusting, these are now ready for me to dress. I have started to think about how I am going to put the displays together.

The drawers out of the shop unit have been removed. Here they will be used to display favours and ribbons. They need to have a coat of paint, but they should come up well. This leaves a big gap in the main shop area. Gillian suggested having our three little chocolate fountains on display - smarty pants! Great suggestion though, and this area will be set up for that - I think!

The glass hopefully can be cut down and used for over the front door, which doesn't really leave much of the unit left to use. We like to recycle as much as we can. I have always liked the idea that you can use everything on the pig except the oink! This is our approach to recycling - why buy new when you can make do!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Wow - it's Friday already - where did this week go! We were off on Tuesday due to other commitments. Kev would like me to point out that he painted all the white bits on Wednesday, but unfortunately they don't show up very well on a photograph - but I can vouch for the fact that he worked very hard and it has made a tremendous difference.

On Thursday Kev painted the rest of the floors. He was there well into the evening to get the work finished so it had a chance of drying overnight. The difference the colour makes is amazing. The space has really come together now. This is the display space. It's all very empty at the moment!

The space has started to flow as one connected area and I am really looking forward to dressing it next week. For me this week has been admin, admin and some more admin. I have to say a big thank you to the lovely lady I spoke to at the Council today. She managed to work out that we were actually able to get rates relief until April - how amazing is that - someone who isn't shouting for money!!!!

Here we are looking through the central area to the main entrance. The frame is going to be fitted in the next few weeks. This will change the space again. It's only two weeks until our wedding exhibition at Elgin Town Hall. Much of this week has been spent updating the website at The website is looking really good now and as an event it is starting to come together.

The Wedding Room will stay red and white. Hopefully it will be a romantic change from the rest of the building which is very functional. It's been a busy week, but I think the biggest changes from the outside looking in will happen next week when stock starts going on the shelves and the units are in place.

Monday, 9 March 2009

I spent some time this morning sorting out the Wedding Room. I have thought of several different variations of how to set it out. The table that we had bought for the packaging area was carried back through for in here. Last time Kev and I were carrying it we got a bit stuck because there was too much in the way. I started to get the giggles and then the phone rang. Kev was not amused! It was much easier today. The material is stapled on and I think it has quite a good look. The top tier is created using a coffee table with another length of material. All seven cakes are on here at the moment, with another table set up for birthday cakes, a strawberry tower and cupcake display (when I get round to making them!)

Kev did an absolutely sterling job painting everything else that was upright - so now everything is blue! It is just drying out, but there is a fab effect of blue and white - just like wedgewood. There is also an element of silver and grey. Hopefully it will be quite elegant when it is finished being dressed.

The floors need to be painted in the main area now - hopefully that can be done tomorrow depending on other appointments.

The work surface arrived late this afternoon so Kev and George came back after dinner to fit it. The photos were taken on Kev's phone so the images are not quite as clear as usual. The kitchen area is now complete - we will get a bin to go under the end of the work surface and after a clean up the production area will be ready for action.

Joshua thought it was all a bit too much, or perhaps this is his impersonation of little rabbit foo foo!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Firstly I would like to say congratulations to Stephen and Sarah who got married today. This is the first wedding cake to come from the new premises. I hope the day went well and that married life is everything you wish it to be.

Kev and George painted the display area today. The change is quite amazing. Kev also filled in the drains. We 'inherited' four drains in that space. These have been made redundant now so they are blocked off. When this has dried out the floor can be painted. At this stage the cabinets can be put into place and start to be filled up. George was a big help again today, and only ended up with a small amount of blue highlights in his hair!

Great job guys - well done!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Sorry this is late being posted. For some reason the website didn't want to speak to me last night. After half an hour of trying I gave up and went to bed!!!

We will have the production area finished on Monday so the first chocolates will be made here next week. It's only 5 weeks until we open. When you look round it seems that we still have so much to do, but we have already come so far when you look at those first photographs.

Kev set about the retail area. The walls have been painted twice and the floor has been painted. It is the same floor paint as in the production area and a rich blue on the walls. The paint was bought online for a fraction of the price of our local DIY store.

The units that we bought second hand from the mart are now set up and in place. We wanted to check out working space and how the area will 'flow' so the old chocolate unit and table have been put into situ to get a feel for things. The area seems quite balanced and it is easy to move freely around. It also means that when production starts next week we will have somewhere to put stock!!! How good does that sound!

One of the things that occured to me the other day was how much, or should that be how little we have spent on the transformation so far. If you read the trade magazines it will say how you have to spend £30,000 to refit a standard shop. I know that we have put a huge amount of time in and been very reliant on friends to help when things are too much for us to be able to manage, but we are nowhere near that mark. When we get to the launch I think I may publish how much things cost, if only to prove that thinking outside the box can make a difference. If you look at this project logically I don't think it would ever have happened. I also think we probably would have run away with the screaming abdabs!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A productive and somewhat frustrating day today. I have been trying to sort out utilities and bills. What is it with companies - you explain what you are trying to do and they are unable to offer any flexibility at all. It's like a computer says no moment! There was one exception where a utility company don't want any money because they don't know what our usage will be - what a refreshing change!

We bought an industrial mop and industrial floor cleaner and set about the wedding room today. The floor came up quite well. This is the original flooring and we didn't know if it would be recoverable. It isn't immaculate, but I think it was worth saving. It was an absolute delight to use a mop that was big enough for me. The last one we had was far too short and I nearly broke my back trying to mop the production area!!!

Having added the red yesterday, Kev suggested adding red to the corners so we added that and extra to the archway as well. We also have some fairy lights to decorate the archway with once the main area has been painted.

Kev set about the floor in the retail area getting this space ready to paint. Everything has been shifted across to the display area. Several items have been sent to the mart with more in Scot Ads and Ebay over the next couple of weeks - it's nearly rent day!!!!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Hi all - sorry for the interruption in service - having said we were back, Joshua became unwell and ended up in hospital with an ear infection. He is well again now and we are trying to catch up. Has anyone else noticed that it is March!!!! We open in April!!!!!! The rest of this week will be spent catching up!

We were out yesterday at The Craigmonie Hotel at a wedding fair. The cakes are back home now, but camping out in the production area while we work on the wedding room.

We have put netting and swags up to decorate the wedding room. The walls are not paintable so we felt this was an alternative approach. Kev put a baton around the top of the walls. The netting and swags have been attached to this baton. I think it looks quite good!

The archway into the wedding room has been decorted with netting and flowers. It shows a change from the main shop floor into the wedding space. The floor needs some intensive scrubbing to try and bring it back, but we think there is a decent floor under there somewhere! Hopefully this should be done tomorrow and we can move the cakes back in.

Kev has been working hard on the kitchen area and this is nearly completed. This should be completed by the end of the week with the hope to start making chocolates next week. The ovens are in and ready for action.