Friday, May 31, 2013

The Business of Cakes

I'm not entirely certain where to start with this post, so I guess I'll just start at the beginning of this journey.  When I started toying around with cake and fondant and what not, I had no clue what I was doing.  But I LOVED it.  It was so intriguing to learn new things.  I had successful attempts.  I had crushingly horrible attempts.  But I enjoyed it.  My husband is a chef and he knows what he's doing.  He's "been there, done that" so to speak.  Somehow though, he still enjoys the process.  Even though his successes are far more frequent than his defeats, he still loves to cook.  His satisfaction comes at the end result.  I, on the other hand, am a process person.  I like the learning and the planning that goes in to the attempt.  The end result is just a by product of that. 
When I started making cakes for people, 99% of those were friends.  They knew that I didn't know what I was doing but they took a chance on me anyway.  And those people are AWESOME for that!  I got some confidence under me, took on bigger and more complicated cakes.  Unless you do this (or something like this) you have no idea how awesome it feels to take a cake somewhere and have everyone literally stop everything to stare at your creation.  Your baby.  You put your blood, sweat and tears into some of these cakes.  Not literally of course, that would be unsanitary, but on any given day, the temperature and humidity outside, the temperature and humidity inside, the precipitation for that day, and more measurements that really only meteorologists and sugar artists give two cents about can affect your canvas.  Nevermind the logistics that go into making sure the cake will hold up at the venue.  Woosh.  It can boggle the mind.
Before I lose you in barometric readings and dew points and such, let me get back to my story.  At this point, I started taking on other clients, as in people I didn't know.  Here's where the joy started creeping out.  It's not that I didn't love the process anymore.  It's that then I had to start setting prices and flavor lists and bookkeeping and blobbity, blobbity, blah.  The process that I love so much was getting pushed further and further back.  It started becoming a job.
And here's the real kicker.  Because this is a hobby, I don't charge "cakery" prices.  I can't do it.  I still don't know what the heck I'm doing half the time.  So it's become a job that I'm not getting paid to do.  To be perfectly honest, what I charge for a cake barely covers what it costs me to make it.  There is very little profit if any (some cakes cost me money) and I make nothing.  At this point you're probably thinking, "Charge more.  Problem solved."  And you're right.  That would solve that.  But it also undermines what I really want to do.
I have lost sight of the process in all of this.  That's no one's fault but my own.  I should have learned to say no earlier.  The sheer volume of cakes I turn out sometimes means that it's all about the end result and very little about the process.  And it's kind of sucked the joy out of it.
I have never set out to have this be a job.  At its core, this is a hobby for me.  There is so much more I want to learn and attempt.  Plus, I have four little people who depend on me as their sole source of emotional support when their Daddy is working out of town.  It's unfair to them for me to be tethered to the kitchen from sunrise to bedtime because I couldn't say no to just one more small cake. 
I hope this explains why my work load has been decreasing and will continue to be so small for the time being.  My favorite cakes are almost always the ones that I make for friends and family and I will continue to do those on a case by case basis.  I hope if I tell you "no" that you won't take it personally.  Even if this does become a job eventually, I want it to be one that I enjoy doing.  For now, I hope my hobby continues to make people happy.  And that includes me!

Friday, May 10, 2013

All About Mom...From the mouths of my babes.

In honor of Mother's Day, I asked B, C, and A to fill out a little questionnaire all about me.   D is still a bit too young to be answering any questions, but she made a fantastic assistant.  For you reading enjoyment, answers about me...from the mouths of my kids!  To give you a guidepost regarding some of these answers, B is 12, C is 7, and A is 4.

1.  My Mom's name is:
  • B:  Jennifer
  • C:  Jen
  • A:  Ma'am
2.  She is _____years old.
  • B:  34
  • C:  6
  • A:  Some years happy
3.  She is _____feet _____inches tall.
  • B:  5 feet 8 inches
  • C:  6 feet 9 inches
  • A:  Long feet big inches

4.  She weighs _____pounds.
  • B:  Don't talk about it, son!  (Best. answer. ever.)
  • C:  6
  • A:  This much (holding his hands about 6 inches apart)

5.  Her favorite TV Show is:
  • B:  NCIS
  • C:  Football
  • A:  NCIS
 6.  Her favorite food is:
  • B:  Steak
  • C:  Pasta
  • A:  Salad
7.  Her favorite thing to drink is:
  • B:  Coca-Cola
  • C:  Coffee
  • A:  Milk
8.  Her favorite thing to do is:
  • B:  Be on Pinterest
  • C:  Stuff
  • A:  Eat
9.  She likes to wear:
  • B:  Stuff that isn't PJs
  • C:  Red
  • A:  Red raincoat
10.  My Mom is really good at:
  • B:  Blogging and cooking
  • C:  Working on stuff
  • A:  Driving to Nee Nee's house
11.  I like it best when my Mom:
  • B:  Cooks
  • C:  Buys me a Batman cowl (I think he's dropping a hint here since I've not bought him a Batman cowl yet!)
  • A:  Drives the car
12.  My favorite thing to do with my Mom is:
  • B:  Talk to her
  • C:  Shop for groceries
  • A:  Eat crawfish
13.  During the day my Mom:
  • B:  Cleans
  • C:  Plays ball
  • A:  I can't remember
So, so funny!  In case you were wondering, my name is Jen.  I am 34 years.  I am 5'6" tall and we don't talk about the weight!  My favorite regular TV show is NCIS but I am a huge football fan (Roll Tide!  Geaux Saints!).  My favorite food is steak, although spaghetti with meat sauce and a loaded salad with bleu cheese dressing are high on my list.  Coffee is my favorite thing to drink.  My favorite thing to do is any sort of home improvement project (except installing a new pane of glass--bleck).  I like to wear jeans and tees, but my raincoat is red and I was wearing it earlier.  Their opinions on what I'm good at, what they like for me to do, and their favorite things to do with me are all their own.  I love their answers for their favorite things to do with me because they are uniquely them.  I spend time talking to B at night after the smaller kids are all in bed.  That's our time and I almost cried when I realized he treasures that time too.  That might be my favorite answer of all.
And if you're wondering what I do during the day, well, that's a whole other post altogether.
To all of you mommies out there and to all of you dudes who fulfill the roles of mommy and daddy, my hat is off to you.  Happy Mother's Day from our family.

Jen (or Jennifer or Ma'am)

P.S. I found this questionnaire over at All for the Boys.  She even made a super handy PDF and you can click here to get to it!  Print some out for your kids and prepare to be amused!