I began cake decorating when I was 8, when my best friend and I entered a school contest for a school spirit decorated cake. Our cake won, and that started it all. When I was 12 I decorated my brother's birthday cake, which led my mom to decide I should attend a Wilton Cake Decorating class. She went along just to make sure they took me seriously (I mean, I was 12 :). After that I began making cakes for friends and family (sold my first cake for $10 - a $5 profit :). Over the years I bought books and learned as many new techniques as I could. When I was 19 I made my first wedding cake, and began looking more seriously at improving my skills. I was published in American Cake Decorating Magazine several times (even made the cover of this issue), and worked with several caterers in my area providing cakes for weddings. I played around with gumpaste, but lacked the techniques and understanding of the medium to go much further. Then, when I was 23, my parents gave me the amazing birthday gift of a trip to the International Sugar Art School in Atlanta run by master decorator Nicholas Lodge. What an amazing time! I have since taken several classes under Nick, and while I don't do a lot of decorating these days, the experience was priceless. One of the wonderful things about class is the atmosphere. It is a fun, friendly space, and he is a wonderful teacher. Each day, the students look forward to what is advertised in the brochure as "a light lunch". His business partner Scott cooks while the students work, and the smells often carry over into the workroom. During my visits there I enjoyed some amazing food - and at the top of that list was a simple bread pudding recipe ("light lunch" huh :). He graciously shared the recipe with us, and while I have not made it very often, this year I decided to pull it out. My kids had bread pudding at Mt. Vernon in October and loved it, so I am thinking it would be a wonderful treat for Christmas week.