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Stay Connected with Your College Kids

Stay Connected with Your College Kids on wetakethecake.com

Enjoy mothering while avoiding hovering.

They say, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” but that’s nothing compared to being a mom. When your children go off to college, it doesn’t matter how involved you get with preparation, financial and travel arrangements and all the moving parts of getting them safely to campus. Once they’re gone, it can be a tough time for both parties.

The distance is, of course, the problem … or should we say “was”? The modern age has turned distance into an ever-shrinking concept. Technology can provide voices and faces from around the world in moments, and the sheer speed of some modern postal options aren’t far behind.

There’s a wealth of ways to stay connected with a child while they’re out in the world studying. With a little finesse and a whole lot of care, you can be there in every important way. What’s more, you have the chance to exercise your imagination and communicate in ways you may never have tried.

Don’t Panic

There’s some short and sweet advice that will fit well into every area of life, especially when the nest is empty. Your child is off on a journey now, both literally and figuratively, so you have to give them space to travel. Now isn’t the time to over-communicate because they’re going to need all their wits about them. A host of new distractions will be competing for their attention.

Let your child have space to get to college and settle in. There’s no telling how long this will take, but it’s certain they will need all their focus to do it. This means they may not be able to answer calls or may forget to make one to you in the first place.

Don’t panic! This is a natural process, and your child will be thankful they had the space to do what they needed. When they do get in touch, don’t be anxious or annoyed. Your child will equate you feeling bad with them not communicating as you want them to. This will only add pressure when they’re already dealing with a lot.

Let them get in touch when their new schedule allows and make full use of the electronic options at your fingertips.

The Megabyte Mom

Parents are rightly concerned with how much time their kids spend glued to their various digital devices. It’s never out of their hands, away from their ear or not vibrating in their pocket. The good news is that those factors can become a big relief while your child is on campus.

The number of young people aged 18-29 in possession of a cell phone of some kind is 100%, and that little device is always with them. Their cell phone is designed to take in lots of texts, photos, and calls. You won’t be bothering them if you send them a text every day or a photo of anything fun or interesting from back home.

Unlike the past where kids would have to schedule phone time with a parent, you can reach them anywhere, anytime. There’s always the comfort of knowing that even if they don’t answer immediately, you can leave a message.

Video calling is also an excellent way to interact in real-time with your kids. It doesn’t have to last long, and, again, you can see each other anywhere  – as long as it’s not when driving! Don’t forget social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media makes it even easier to make that immediate connection with your children.

The Human Touch

The immediacy of technology is wonderful, but there’s something about a written letter that will always make it superior. What is that “something”? It’s the human touch. Your child will be able to hold something you’ve held, see the uniqueness of your handwriting, and be able to hold the letter to their heart.

A hand-written letter is a part of you and a tangible link to home. It’s a deeper form of communication that frees a parent from the clipped text-speak of a quick email or social media post. Your self-expression will be unabbreviated, and so will the happiness of your child as they read it through.

Hand-writing letters can also improve your health. If being apart is making you and your child sad, picking up that pen can boost your mood back into the positive. Psychological research in human development and family studies has shown the link between the written expression of gratitude and important matters, and the resulting improvement in our emotional state.

Remember, the longer the letter, the better! If you feel there isn’t much to tell this time around, then you could include a photograph, a greeting card or better yet, a present of some kind.

Which leads us to our next suggestion.

The Sweet Truth

Nothing is trivial when you’re a parent. A mother may be concerned that she’s overly fussy with her child who, in turn, may be annoyed by the fussing. She can, however, count on one ever-reliable truth: kids love presents. Everyone does, and something else we all love is something sweet from time to time.

It may be your child’s birthday. Maybe it’s a notable calendar day. Being in college by itself generates plenty of cause for celebration (moving in, good results in class, graduation, and so forth). The best reason, of course, is just because you care.

A handmade cake crafted with attention and love will remind your child you’re thinking of them in the same way. It’s always a joy to receive a surprise package in the mail. It makes us feel special. When the contents are every bit as sweet and unique as the sender, it’s simply something extra-special.

As one of our customers put it, “This was my daughter’s first birthday away from home, I wanted to make is special. Our daughter said the cake was perfect.”

As successful parents, we see the best of us in our children. By association, any gift we give reflects the same. Granting our children the benefit of a college education is a wonderful thing. So is the fine art of attentive and considerate parenting. This involves many gifts. The gift of time, of space, and always keeping our place in their hearts warm.

At We Take The Cake, we understand the personal touch. For over twenty years, we’ve continued to craft each cake by hand using only the finest ingredients. If you’d like to know everything we can offer, drop by and get in touch!

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Feeling guilty about those long-distance family relationships?

Best gifts for long-distance family and friends

Tips for showing those far-away loved ones they’re always on your mind.

Maintaining relationships is tough, especially when they’re going up against a busy work schedule, maintaining the house, and taking care of children and/or parents. And if your children or parents live far away from you, it requires even more effort and attention. With today’s technology, you would think staying in touch would be a little easier. However, with easy communication comes too much of it! So much in fact, that it starts to feel impersonal.

For friends and family that are long-distance, writing a post on their social media or sending a text doesn’t feel like enough. In these cases, it’s actually more effective to communicate the snail mail way, by sending thoughtful and meaningful gifts that can reignite that connection with a loved one. Here are a few ideas that can help you feel closer to your far away family members.

Rather than sending gifts for the holidays, focus on giving random gifts to far away family

Family and friends have come to expect the routine holiday gift. Even if the gift is thoughtful, the idea of gift giving over the holidays has become almost something you have to do. To show family that you’re thinking of them when you want to, rather than have to, try sending gifts to your far away family “just because.” This way, it comes as a surprise to them and will inspire them to make time for a catch-up call.

We Take The Cake customer LuAnn Lanke decided to send a triple chocolate Bundt cake as a surprise gift to friends who had helped her with a project. “They were delighted! Not only was the cake delicious, the presentation is wonderful and made our friends feel special. It was a perfect surprise.”

Leverage a personal touch for your long-distance family with a customized gift

The Internet has afforded us the opportunity to get almost anything customized these days. If your son is a sports fan in college, for example, you have the ability to order him a jersey from his favorite sports team with his name inserted on the back just like the pros! The personal touch makes the gift something unique, made especially for the person receiving the gift.

The trick to making it thoughtful is to think of a funny memory or a favorite hobby of your far away family member and play off that memory or hobby with something custom. You can add artwork from a certain memory to food, clothing, and even coffee mugs. There are so many ways to get creative and make sure it’s clear that your gift was made especially for them!

If you can’t be there in the present, a tasty treat can still leave family talking

The old adage is true, “they may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” And what greater feeling than one that comes after enjoying a mouth-watering, tasty sweet? Cakes, cupcakes, and other scrumptious desserts are the perfect gift for celebrating when you can’t be there.

Just ask Joanne Taylor from Michigan – “I sent a cake to my son in college for his birthday, and not only did he love the surprise but a week later I received a text saying, “I think this is the best cake I have ever eaten…Send me another one soon!”

The best gifts can start new tradition with far away friends and family

Taking the “sending random gifts” idea one step further, a way to develop a closer bond with far away family throughout the year could come from starting a tradition of celebrating one of those crazy national holidays. While they might feel like they only exist for social media, why not bring these wacky holidays into the real world?

National Best Friend Day sounds like the perfect excuse to let a dear friend know you’re thinking about them and put a smile on their face with an unexpected and thoughtful gift. Or perhaps your aunt who you only see once a year loves strawberries. Why not use National Strawberry Day to start a tradition of sending fun and unique strawberry gifts back and forth each year? It’s unique spins on gift giving like these that make your relationships feel closer than distance has us believe.

We Take The Cake takes the stress and prep out of your far away gift giving

At We Take The Cake, cake isn’t just a dessert. It’s a symbol of celebration, happiness, friends, and family. We pride ourselves on perfecting our craft, sure, but it’s the smile we put on your loved one’s faces that make our dreams become a reality.

It’s easy to get busy, overwhelmed, and caught up in your own to-do list that you oftentimes forget what day it is, much less a loved one’s birthday. And even if you don’t want it to be, shopping for the right gift can feel like a daunting and time-consuming task. But that’s where we come in!

We take the headaches and stress out of finding the perfect gift and we put it into a delicious, beautiful cake! Whether it’s for a birthday or just because, all you have to do is choose your sweet of choice, fill out the details, and let us take care of making your loved one smile.

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Clean Label – A Clearer Understanding of What It Is

Clarifying What Clean Label Means for Your Food

The term can get messy when it comes to food transparency.

Our usual worries over fat, salt, and sugar content now have another troublesome additive: confusion. Mystery about the overall contents of our food has us worried as a nation. A recent poll discovered that as little as 13% of respondents actually read food labels, but the majority know we’re not getting the full story. They want clear, honest food labeling.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a controversial move in 2017 by giving food manufacturers extended time to meet public demand: from 2018 to 2020. This hampers us being aware of what we’re eating. A very unhealthy delay!

In the meantime, the Clean Label (CL) movement is trying to help consumers understand what they’re consuming. Here’s a closer look at what it is, the obstacles it faces, and the benefits it’s trying to bring to grocery carts.

Clean Label means straight talking

One of the views of clean enthusiasts is this: if an ingredient can’t be pronounced, it shouldn’t be in food. Clean Label wants ingredients to be simple and natural: things the public can recognize and understand. For instance, it’s fine when our bread contains wheat, flour, and yeast. When it also contains azodicarbonamide (found in shoe soles and yoga mats), people get concerned.

From food colorings also used in cosmetics to high fructose corn syrup, so many of our daily foods are under the spotlight. How much butylated hydroxytoluene do you like with your snacks? We’re not sure, either.

Potentially harmful, hard to understand ingredients lurk in every sector of the food industry. Frustratingly, there’s scientific debate that attacks and defends the same ingredient. This leaves the average shopper unsure of what to think.

Go Clean LabelTM offers this by-category list of what’s deemed safe by their food partners…but does that make it the definitive last word?

Is clean labeling itself totally clear?

Here’s an issue with Clean Label: there’s no solid definition on what’s “clean” and what it isn’t. As a resource, the Clean Label movement itself doesn’t claim to be a judge of what’s good or bad; it’s simply a source of current information and attitudes in the food industry.

Companies like Aldi, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Panera are all involved in the clean movement. When they deem an ingredient undesirable, they publish this on the Go Clean Label website. From there, the public can see what’s accepted by these big companies and what isn’t.

It isn’t just the consumer who’s confused

Generally, there’s a favoring of organic foods, natural ingredients, and items free from artificial additives. Clean Label acknowledges that the word “natural” is a really hard one to pin down. People like it, but there’s no real understanding of what it means. The FDA isn’t too firm on the word either and asked for public input to help them define it.

The same applies to the word “clean.” Some food labeling agencies will mark a product clean as long as there’s no environmental impact from its production. You may be eating all kinds of harmful ingredients, yet your food could still be called clean.

Food considered organic isn’t regulated by the FDA. It’s overseen by the Department of Agriculture via the National Organic Program. They’re the ones who set the national standard.

Does Clean Label mean consumers pay more?

Much like the costlier organic alternative to standard produce, Clean foods are expected to be more expensive. The required increase in labor intensity to produce foods to this higher standard (and not cut corners chemically like their competitors) is one factor expected to drive costs higher.

When the raw materials are more expensive, the manufacturers and bakeries who utilize them will have to foot the bill and, if they want to stay in business, are likely pass that price hike along in some way to the consumer.

As CL gathers steam toward becoming an industry standard, businesses will have to incorporate new visual adherence into their products. This will involve the designing and deployment of new product labels and promotional materials: another company expense that may make Clean Label products cost more.

The use of promotional materials will be of particular importance as consumers become warier of what they eat and drink. The company who spends more to demonstrate their Clean Label credentials will put their customers’ minds at ease. They will also have a bigger bite taken out of their profits to promote it in the first place.

As meat, dairy, and crop farmers are gradually affected by the shift toward Clean Label, they may have to alter their operational procedures to ensure compliance. It’s a cost trade off that carries its own risks. Will these farmers get in line and risk pricing their product too high? Even if their produce still sells, it creates an increased expense chain that reaches from the field to the food aisle.

Ultimately, the question is: will consumers be willing to pay more for peace of mind? You may like to review this resource from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute that cautions consumers against the likely increase in cost of Clean Label ingredients.

Consumers could shape the future

As a result of all these varying attitudes and regulatory bodies, Clean Label isn’t any kind of industry standard…yet. Consumer concern about ingredients is forcing the food industry to sit up and take notice however, and that’s adding a lot of power to the Clean Label movement’s status and influence.

Since they’re the ones at risk, shouldn’t the public have the last say on what they want to eat? This seems to be the way things are going. Go Clean Label’s founders see the future as a collaboration between themselves, food providers, and the public.

Conscientious Leverage

The journey there means “clean” will become something more than just healthy ingredients. People’s social beliefs are becoming a factor, too. Everyone wants a clean conscience from their food. Was the environment harmed? Were the people or animals involved in production treated humanely?

As a company, We Take The Cake believes in the purest food possible. Even though our cakes aren’t Clean Label, we use only the finest ingredients with the minimum of additives.  It’s important to remember as the clean movement progresses that the lack of Clean Label doesn’t certify that any ingredient has a negative effect.

As our health concerns and our principles start to dictate our choices (and the companies who provide them), we truly are becoming what we eat.

Conclusion

The foggy definition of what’s clean isn’t going to last. When everyone understands the information and has their say, a final Clean Label will very likely be created. As things are, organizations like Go Clean Label are good resources, and the ongoing mixture of industry opinion and consumer concern is a healthy recipe. It will turn tomorrow’s Clean Label into something with a conscience, and our food into something we can trust.

At We Take The Cake, what you eat means the world to us. For over twenty years, we’ve continued to craft each cake by hand using only the finest ingredients. We’re proud to include among our customers nationally recognized caterers, party planners, private clubs, world-famous hotels, and exclusive resorts. Find out more about our delicious cakes for any occasion.

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Cake is For Vegans Too!

Cake is for vegans too

An inside look at vegan cake.

Adhering to a vegan diet is a strict discipline – but it doesn’t mean you can’t eat cake! However, after one bad experience, such as learning a restaurant lied about their vegan dishes, skepticism is understandable. So, before you write-off vegan cake as an impossibility, let’s take a tour through the impossibly deliciousness of vegan baking.

Is it really vegan?

To be sure, vegan means absolutely zero animal products – no honey, eggs, milk, gelatin, or insect derived color dyes (cochineal). Vegan cake is entirely plant-based – bakers make clever use of fruits, nuts, and a variety of spices, including cocoa, to excite the tastebuds.

How’s it work without eggs and butter?

Eggs give cake its fluffy structure, and butter works in concert with its confectionary colleagues to create a rich, velvety texture. Fortunately, you don’t have to journey to a specialty store to find excellent substitutions.

Oil for butter. Vegetable oils such as coconut oil are perfect stand-ins for their dairy-based counterpart. Coconut oil comes in unrefined and refined – as you might have guessed, unrefined still carries a hint of coconut flavor, while refined is essentially flavorless.

Applesauce for eggs. Some vegan cake recipes call for applesauce in place of eggs. Other options include fleg (an artificial egg substitute made from flax meal), chia seeds, silken tofu, and a baking soda-vinegar mixture.

Hey, that’s not vegan! (What to watch out for)

The strictest of vegans trace their food back to its production – that’s where animal products can sneak their way into what we might falsely assume to be vegan. Here’s a few places those little tricksters can be found and how to replace them.

Bleached sugar. White sugar is sometimes bleached via a process that uses animal bones. Stick with unbleached cane sugar and you’ll be in the clear.

Milk and cream. While not so sneaky, these are tricky to replace all the same. Soy milk products are typically recommended. Soy yogurt can be used in place of cream, or dried soy milk can be rehydrated sparingly for a creamier texture.

Honey. Most grocery stores provide ample options to use instead of honey. Agave nectar and maple syrup are healthy and popular options.

What about the frosting?

In some circles, such as 6-year-old’s birthday parties, a cake without icing is grounds for an eruption of tears and disappointment. Fortunately, such catastrophes can be avoided with a little vegan-baking savvy. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, you already know the solution. The key replacement ingredient in icing is butter, which – as you know – can be swapped out with coconut oil for a frosting that’s actually pretty darn healthy, assuming you limit the sugar.

Indulging your vegan sweet tooth

While many of these substitutes are super delicious, they can affect the baking process. One thing we’ve learned over the year is that vegan baking, if using non-vegan recipes, can require a little trial and error, but we’re proud to offer vegan and gluten-free cakes to our customers because we know everyone still loves sweets!

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Who Said Cake’s Only for Birthdays?! Shame! Shame!

Company morale matters

Company morale matters more than you might think.

Somewhere along the road of life, the word “work” began collecting some rather unfortunate baggage. As a kid it basically meant, “not playing,” and as grown-ups it got, well…a little more complicated. 

Work can be a passion or a punishment, and finally, science has started paying attention to what we’ve known for years – your work environment matters! One study suggested a direct relationship between happiness in the workplace and increased productivity. So, now all you need is some happiness! 

Easier said than done, especially for more challenging vocations and intrinsically stressful industries.  Luckily, there are always ways to lighten the mood: you just need to think like a kid again!

3 cake worthy celebrations for your corporation

A  pretend study conducted on imaginary kids ages 4 through 12 decisively asserted that cake makes just about any event better. So, here are some perfect occasions to bring some of that youthful sunshine back into the hearts of your crew.

1. Cake day!!! Then again, maybe everyday should be cake day – for the sake of productivity, how about one day a month designated to celebrate your staff, one employee at a time? As an added bonus, they can even decide on the flavor and design – but, all cake and icing aside, the real value is the positive impact on morale individual attention creates.

2. Onboarding. More and more recruiters are emphasizing the importance of a solid onboarding process – and research backs them up. For example, the Academy of Management Journal published a study suggesting that the effects of a positive onboarding experience lasted for at least 90 days. To really make it special? Send a welcome cake to the new hire’s home so the whole family can feel included.

3. Launching a new endeavor. Whether it be a new product, expanded services, or, maybe landing a coveted account –- starting off with a brilliant cake in the room sets the stage for success, and of course, an abundance of smiles! After all, if you’re going to send a ‘thank you’ cake or gift to a new customer, wouldn’t you want to do the same for the team who worked so hard to get you there?

What your cake says about your company

While the gesture of a supermarket cake is sure to endear, a cake that’s customized for the occasion or the employee really goes the extra mile to make your team feel appreciated and a vital part of the business. That inclusiveness means everyone pulls a bit harder for success, which in turn means more occasions to celebrate with cake!