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Let it Settle

3 Dec

My life so far this year has been utter shit! You know! You have read all about it! There are some things that I didn’t really share because I was embarassed, but to hell with it! I am an open book! I have had some extreme hard financial problems this past year. I haven’t been able to keep up with pay roll taxes, so now, I owe them for a whole year! Yay! This kind of thing just sits on your shoulders with a weight so heavy that you feel like your neck is going to break. I still feel that stress, but it feels a little different now. I have done some real heavy looking into our financial well being. It is not good. The last year at the bakery, I have not wanted to be there. I wanted it just to be run on its own. I wanted my staff to just take care of it. Needless to say, any small business needs the owner/operator to be within reach at all times, or it kind of fizzles out. Thank heavens I had Shanna. She really stepped up and ran things when I wasn’t there. She knew all the troubles I was having and even though she may have hated me for it, she held down the fort for me. I am sure she understood. She knows my whole story, probably truer than anyone else. She was the first person who I told everything to, all of it, even how I felt and she saw first hand how it all effected me. We are close. And I am forever in her debt. Anyone who hires her on next, is getting an exceptional employee! Anyways! ha ha! Love fest is over!

So, as I was saying, I needed to be present. Even though things were being handled, there was just as much stuff that wasn’t being handled. I am totally at fault. My head was under my covers. It was heating up and turning to blobs, like a lava lamp. Not on fire, and not buzzing with little anxiety bees, it was melting and not knowing which form to take. I was a puddle.  So, when I didn’t work as much, someone had to, which means that there is more money paid out. I wasn’t picking up the slack. And, by the time that I was ready to get back into it, I wasn’t into it. I was over it! Not only are my parents not at 100%, but my mental health is lacking right now, and my kids need me to be myself. Not wounded and stressed mommy. By the time I was ready to get myself in order, and take back being in charge of the business, my financials were lacking, to say the least. And guess what? My oven cacked out on me! A little part was needed, but that little part could cost up to $200. And even though it isn’t a bundle of money, its more than I had. I needed to pay people left, right and centre! I still owe people!

With that being said, and so many people being owed money and a part needed for my oven, I had to take it as a sign. A giant, huge, blinking neon sign, that says……STOP. Just stop and breathe. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that we must play with the cards we been dealt and find the silver lining on every cloud. (Enough cliches for you? ha ha) So I took it as that sign. So, I stopped. I ended up panicking hard for a day wondering if  I had done the right thing, rethinking situations and calling my mother for advice and the “its okay” reaction. And, it was okay. I have been dealing with coming off of this stress bus. Without putting all of the sexual assault stuff into view, I needed to find a level field where my brain could function. I have had to let all the dust settle so I can see the destruction that is left from the bumpy ride on the stress bus!

You know what it looks like? It looks like a hotel room that has been trashed by Keith Moon for petes sake! There is alot of clean up! I have had to go through all of our finances and find out what we owe, what we make and how we can fix it all. Budget here we come! Now, I can see a tiny sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is very very very long. Every day, things get better, but I can tell you this…..it is hard! I have to pinch every penny I have. I have to focus and take time to tidy up this mess! Not fun, but it is at the same time! Weird, right? I am enjoying baking the snacks for the kids lunches, I am home every day to make supper, and now I have to be more creative with meals in order to use what we already have. Oddly, I don’t feel restrained or stuck. I feel a freedom of sorts. I am not relying on anyone to do anything for me, I am taking control, I have the wheel. I am feeding my children healthy meals with food that we have either grown or have froze from fresh. I am up for this challenge I have got in front of me. As long as I can get the odd bottle of wine…..I’m going to be just fine! Ha ha!

Those Clenched Jaw Moments

26 May

_-91[1] (2)As you know, I own and run a bakery. I make cupcakes and specialty made cakes, I also make pies and baked goods. It is not easy to have to run a business by yourself. And, I know I don’t literally do it all by myself, I have staff, but the brunt of everything is on my shoulders. I have to manage everything and everyone. This is very tiring  and stressful. I have noticed, when trying to find new employees, they see my business and think that it is going to be so fun and easy! They can either bake or decorate cupcakes and it’s all sunshine and rainbows. This is not the case, and when they find out how hard we have to work, they are not into it at all. Complete misconception of the business. And I have to say, that these cupcake shows on tv are terrible for me! The potential employees are swayed, they have stars in their eyes when they bring a resume. No, we won’t be making gumpaste flowers for 6 hours, no, we won’t be decorating 12 cupcakes for an hour. Things have to get done, and efficiently. Timing matters in this business.

So, anyway, I put in alot of hours and a lot of energy for my business. I care about every cake that I decorate. I really do. And, when someone is disappointed in their cake, I take it personally. I know that I shouldn’t, but my stomach sinks and I feel red in the face and it really feels as if I am a complete failure at what I do. I don’t get a lot of complaints, but when I do, my world feels like it cracks a little! I am in the business of making people happy, not making people upset. Celebrations are important to everyone, and the cake matters. To a lot of people it does anyway. I have started taking my time to figure out what to do in situations like this. It really is a hard thing to work out. I don’t want to disappoint my customer, I need to pay my employees for the work they have done, and there are so many variables with cake…. it is so hard to deal with these affairs and honestly, I do not want to deal withcomplaints it….but I have to.

I have a tendency to clench my jaw. When I am stressed or upset or have something gnawing at me, my jaw becomes tight and I start holding my breath. I don’t mean to do this, it is just a habit that I don’t know how to stop. I am the person that likes everyone, I am the one that gets shy people to talk and angry people to laugh. I HATE when people are angry!

So, I know what kind of day I have had when I get home and have a sore jaw.

I know that the food industry is a pretty harsh place to be. Dealing with food, first of all, then dealing with the consumers. But I love what I do and there is more good than bad. 98% of my customers are extremely happy and I love to see their faces when picking up a cake that they ordered. Especially the kids! Those faces are priceless! I love it! I love coming home and my kids hugging me and telling me that I smell sweet, I love bringing people cupcakes when they are down, and I love the donation work that I give to the people that really need it. Everything about it fulfills me. I am very lucky to be able to do what I love, it’s just dealing with the hard long hours and the stress that takes away from that. Good and bad, there is a very fine line in the food business, and to all of those who own or run a business and have to manage everything, kudos to you! It just makes you want to have more fun on the days you have off! ha ha!

cheers

Sugar Lately

18 Jul

I think it’s about time that I share some more of our edible creations that we have sculpted in the last while! Shanna ( the manager, my niece, my besty) is my “right hand man” so to speak. She takes care of the shop when I am not there and she can decorate all kinds of cakes like I can. We are kind of a dream team of the Sarnia cake world….if there was a cake world of Sarnia! We kick out about 30-50 cakes every weekend, which is quite a feat, especially when I have been ill for the last 3 weeks! Our system works though, and it’s getting better the more we tweak it every now and then!

These are some of our team effort creations, which they all are now!

Hand sculpted, hand painted cake. Everything is made from cake and fondant

Hand sculpted, hand painted cake. Everything is made from cake and fondant

I love to sculpt cakes and paint them. To mold the fondant in my hands is so satisfying! I love creating! This is when I really shine! I become completely unaware of everything that goes on around me when I am doing this. This is where my great satisfaction lies. The turtle, I had so much fun sculpting and painting….just the transition from one stage to another gives me a rush! It used to be a round cake…now.. ta da! It’s a realistic looking turtle! Ha ha!

Wedding cakes are a little more stressful! It HAS to be right. If you think about making and decorating a wedding cake, you start getting the sweats! Ha ha! It’s better than that for me now that I am used to it, but it still is a high stress situation. There are over 100 people that will see this cake, and then eat it. They judge it twice! Harshly I might add! This is why there is a higher price to wedding cakes. High stress.

All buttercream covered cake with hand made fondant monkeys on the top!

All buttercream covered cake with hand made fondant monkeys on the top!

Top tier cake covered in buttercream with fondant bow/ribbon, cupcakes with buttercream roses.

Top tier cake covered in buttercream with fondant bow/ribbon, cupcakes with buttercream roses.

A mallard, it is all cake with inside structure for the head.

A mallard, it is all cake with inside structure for the head.

I also do not ask questions about why the customer wants what they want. If they want body-less legs doing the splits, then that is what they get (it has happened). If they want two guys on the top of a cake fishing for a girl, then that is what they get. Within reason I might add. I will not do vulgar cakes. I have a cute little store front which is child friendly, I will not have anything going out the door that people would be offended of.  Bake Me A Cake is the name! 

 

‘Tis the Season??

29 Nov

Well, another wedding season has come and gone, and now we venture into new products! I have decided that in this business it is safest not to pigeon-hole yourself into doing just one thing. I have now expanded what we offer! Being a natural-born baker, I have decided to share with everyone all of the other yummy stuff I can make! We now make mini loaves, muffins, squares and brownies, and cookies!  We make fresh baked goodie baskets and goodie trays as well!

We have also accumulated some new staff! And with that, I have found our perfect little family! Samantha (Sam) is our new baker…..I love Sam! She is so cute and lovable, its hard not to just hug her everyday! And, she is qualified! Which is the most important! Also, I pride myself in teaching kids who take co-op at my establishment! I just hired one of my students who is from the ALC. She amazed me! She always does what is expected of her, and out of her own drive and ambition, she took the food handlers course and achieved her certificate! 18 years old at that!  I am hoping now that there will not be alot of turnaround in the staffing area for a while! I know, in this business its really hard to not get the revolving door happening, but enough already! I have my little dream team, and I want to keep it that way

As for Christmas at the little bakery! I love, love, love Christmas! I try to keep the joy going! I have a staff Christmas party every year at my home, with my family and my staff and their family! I give gifts and make dinner! It ends up being a lot of fun! And, some end up having a little too much liquid fun! But all are ensured to get home safely! I usually set up about 3 Christmas trees in my home…..which is alot, I know, especially for the little home that I do have! But, alas, there is no stopping me! ha! ha!

 

Sometimes Mr. Bah Humbug shows up in the form of anxiety and stress….which is usually over money! That is no fun at all! When I start thinking like this, I get really tired and grumpy, and nobody wants a grumpy cupcake lady! So, I look at my family and give thanks for having them in my life, and for helping me through everything just by saying “mommy”, or wanting a hug or a kiss, or depending on me to kiss their boo-boo! It makes it all worth it, it helps me be strong, even when I feel that I can’t anymore. And believe me, there are days!

Every year the business gets a little better, every year, I know more…its all a learning process!

This Christmas, I am out more, I am networking now, and involving myself in community functions! I joined a woman’s networking group, which is awesome, alot of the ladies are sooooo fabulous! And I did a christmas gift show last weekend. I will be at Sarnia’s winter artwalk as well! It will be fun! I hope to get the word out about my little piece of Sarnia small business!

Cheers! To good health, wonderful family, and great friends!

Just a Little Cake Magic!

19 Sep

There are all sorts of reasons to get a cake…..and people actually make up reasons for cakes! The ones I like the most are ones like this one on the left. This was a wedding style cake made for a proposal! This was the most fun cake to make simply because of the reason it was made! I wish I had been there when the cake was brought out and he asked her to marry him!

The magic of cake!

And, the most magical cakes, don’t always have to be the most extravagent looking ones, it is the reason for the cake that makes them special. It’s kind of like the saying, it’s the thought that counts. I truly believe that! I love the look on a person’s face when they see the cake that we have done for them, and they truly love it! It makes me proud and ecstatic that the recipient is happy. It kind of puts me in a euphoric state, and I think “this is exactly why I am here!”

Even though, I make all cakes for all occassions, it really is fun to make some cakes more than others. I love to make little baby cakes. The accessories that go on them, and they all end up super cute. It reminds me of the days when my boys were just little babies, and I miss those days! Making baby bums out of cake and teddy bears out of fondant really put me in a place that makes me happy, and then the customer is happy with the little bits of cuteness on the cake! I love baby shower cakes. Diaper bags, baby bums, teddy bears etc. all of the cakes make me happy.But then, when I see a baby, I want to cry, I miss having one! Those little tiny lips! The little kissable feet! Ah!

And then there are cupcakes! Cupcakes are fun! Anything can be done with cupcakes! Fondant accents can be put on them, they can be smoothed down and piped, they can be made into a whole cake and kids love them! There arent too many adults that don’t love a good cupcake as well!

And, at Bake Me A Cake we have over 40 flavours to choose from! The possibilities are endless! It’s so fun having my job!

I get to make people happy and feed them yummy cake! Life is sweet! Ha! Ha!

At a later date, I am going to post some awesome birthday cakes that we have done here at the shop!

Stay sweet!