For those of you who are fluent in the custom cake world and also those who may just be hobby bakers....you probably understand how much time, effort, hours and resources actually go into each custom cake. Even the small ones!
So, imagine multiplying it, every weekend, all by yourself, and all in your own home. As much as I love creating cakes and especially making people excited to receive them....the work was slowly becoming NOT worth the reward.
Cakes, cake supplies, dates and deliveries started taking over my life and my home! It started out gradual at first....Okay, so I was just a little busy, that's all.....I love being busy. I've always thrived on the pressure of an upcoming deadline, that's when my best work usually comes out......but then as referrals progressed and inquiries started pouring in, it snowballed into a full-blown take-over.
Having even only 2 cakes on a weekend, though doesn't sound like a whole lot, is actually almost total chaos. Work has to start on a Tuesday or Wednesday. All the layers have to first be prepared and baked. All the fillings have to be made. Most cakes consisted of more than one flavor and filling, especially tiered cakes....so there was always a lot of different batters, fillings, and frostings and all their ingredients going on at the same time. It turns your kitchen looking like a pastry science lab. After everything is baked and all the fillings prepared and set and ready....All the cakes have to cool and then be leveled and carved and then chilled over night. The next day usually consists of stacking and filling and then crumb-coating everything. (Crumb-coating is the process of covering all the cakes and cake tiers in a thin layer of frosting to hold them together, retain the moisture, seal in the filling and flavors, and provide a smooth surface for decorating.) After crumb-coating, all the crumb-coated cakes must be returned to the fridge to chill for atleast a few hours, but preferably overnight. (This is where more of the take-over starts coming into play...depending on how many layers and cakes and stages in the process you have going on at a time....there's always chilling and setting needed to be done. So, this requires fridge space. I had 3 different refrigerators and 1 freezer going on all at the same time in my home and on different levels. I had to stuff cakes where I could, running up and down steps, back and forth, all the time between all these fridges!)
Once everything is nice and chilled and set....you can finally begin the first steps of decorating. Any fondant being used has to be prepared, measured out, and then colored. Some cakes have so much fine details and so many colors...it's not uncommon to have more than 20 different colors going on at once for just one cake. Especially, for character cakes....all the different colors needed for their hair, eyes, skin, mouths, teeth, highlights, shadows, clothing, background....etc.....you get the idea. Not to mention all the different decorating supplies and tools! It gets crazy. They not only take over your kitchen storage space, but then you have to find more room elsewhere. I had cake supplies in my laundry room, my basement, and our rec room. Some decorations require being made days in advance so that they have time to dry and harden properly.
It can be very detailed, time consuming and monotonous work that takes hours and patience. Harder to accomplish with a toddler. Especially, when your toddler is your full-time job. Some other mothers get the luxury of getting to drop their kids off at the baby-sitter's or daycare and then they get to go to work and do just that---WORK---while someone else is doing all work of taking care of their child-- all the feeding, and diaper changing, and dressing, and teaching, and playing and cleaning up. But, that's not the case for me. I am my own child's daycare. (That's why most of my work was done overnight. I could do my normal day and then put my daughter and husband to bed and then have the whole quiet night to concentrate and get work done. It just made for a harder sleep-deprived next day.)
I didn't get that bonus of leaving my home to go to work either. Everything was done in right in the middle of everything! It was really starting to stress out my poor husby. He already works hard. He's actually the most-dedicated and hardest working and unselfish man I have ever met in my life. He works hard, so that he can feel comfortable that one of us doesn't have to work outside the home and can concentrate on raising our daughter and in the most preferable way. (He may even be more opinionated about it at this point, than I am. Our daughter is now 4. He couldn't have imagined now, her being with a sitter or a daycare this whole time. I have always highly valued being a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn't have it any other way and anyone who knows me, knows I have always held a strong opinion about it. I would have sacrificed anything I needed to (and have) to be able to do it. If our household income was lower, it wouldn't have mattered. I would have lived as cheap as I needed to, to be able to raise my own daughter. If it meant living in a apartment or sharing a car or living with family or anything drastic like that----I would have done it in a heartbeat. No career, or financial advantage or amount of money would have ever made a difference. There was no job on this planet worth more than the job of taking care of my own baby and I had no problem putting my career on hold to concentrate on my family. There's no way I would have ever been able to pay someone else to do it while I went off to "work" every day. Not in a million years. Thankfully, our situation made it comfortable to be able to do that. I feel like 2 incomes can be very deceiving, too. If you do some research, you'll find that most double income families actually spend way more and ultimately wouldn't necessarily even need both incomes. (And please note...this is only my own opinion and what I feel works best for my own family and my own situation. Not to demean anyone who may make a different choice. People have different situtations and ways of doing things that work the best for them. I only would wish them the best and hope their choices make them the happiest they can be.)
I never take it for granted either. I am very lucky we have such a strong marriage and team and family dynamic to make it work and work very well. We have such a fun time and happy little family! I've really been able to enjoy the last 4 years and they have been the best in my entire life. I think I may also be the only mom on the planet that doesn't say "it goes by so fast", because I actually honestly don't feel that way at all. I feel like I was able to soak up each day and have always looked forward to the next milestone. Actually, sometimes it felt exactly the opposite. When she was 2, it felt like she was 2 forever!
And, in all this...I can't help not crediting my husband and how awesome he really is. Love you, Babe!
Cakes had always just been a fun hobby for me. I had loved to bake since I was a little kid. I had no idea I would get so popular as I got older, and so fast. I always said I would stop as soon as it wasn't fun anymore. If it's taking over my home and my time with my family, then it's not fun anymore.
It was getting very hard. But, I have always been a hard worker and enjoyed being given the challenge--especially to get a crack at being a superwoman! I first felt giving it up would be like giving in. Like, I wasn't strong enough or I was just a quitter, so it wasn't an option. I thought I would just cut back a little.
Working just overnight wasn't enough to keep up with the demand anymore. It was creeping into my days. I was having to do work during my precious day time too. Thankfully, my daughter was reaching preshcool age at this point and would sit with me at the counter and "make cakes". Fondant is just like play-dough (acutally, only better!) and I would give her scraps of fondant and she had her own little rolling pins and cookie cutters and would sit for hours working on cakes with me. Through, all this though, I still felt a little guilty. Especially, if it was a nice day outside and we were wasting it away working on cakes when we should have been playing outside or at the park. We were starting to get too cooped up and it wasn't healthy for her.
To top it off. I had totally lost my weekends. Cakes are due on weekends. That's the way it is. Who has a party in the middle of the week? So, after working hard during the week ON the cake, then I had to spend our weekends driving and delivering them and setting them up at their venues. If you're a cake person, you know that the most stressfull part of the whole cake process is the delivery. Nothing is worse. The cake can look perfect on your kitchen counter. But, it's not for you---it has to look good for the client. Now, you had to get it to it's destination looking the same way with absolutely everything against you. Cake is the worst traveler in the world.
It wasn't fair to my husband either. He worked hard enough for the both of us. I didn't "work". Cake was always just a hobby. It really wasn't supposed to be an huge business venture and we weren't relying on any type of real income from it. So, poor husby had to work all day, supposing to come home in the evenings to spend time with his family, only to have to be greeted by a cake bomb instead! (Cake decorating is SUPER MESSY!) This is no fun for him. But, he's so unselfish and lets me do just about anything that makes me happy and would just put up with all the cake. Then, he had to sacrifice his weekends---his only free time----to go on these cake deliveries with me. Cakes can be super heavy. Not only did I need him to help with some deliveries for the muscle advantage, but even with the smaller cakes, I needed help with either setting up or taking care of our daughter while I set up. So, his weekends ended up being sacrificed to cake too. When all he would have wanted was to spend time with us. This also meant no trips or vacations or anything like that, either. We couldn't make any plans if I always had cakes due. And, we absolutely love weekend trips and plans. Especially, since our daughter was at such a fun age to do all this fun stuff.
So, I finally had to make the hard decision....it wasn't fun anymore.....the time with my husband and daughter is way more important than my hobby. I prefer to spend my time with them and therefore it was a no-brainer. It was time to take a cake-hiatus.
Therefore, I am not currently taking any cake orders. I'm not sure how this will all end up or what my cake future may be, so that's why I decided just to call it a hiatus at this point and then see where it goes from there. I really miss it sometimes, but I still get to do one every once in a while for the family or a really close friend, so it's just the perfect amount right now and after being cake-free for a few months now, I'm really happy with my decision.
I think it's good for anyone to be able to take a step back and examine their lives and see what is most important and where some improvements can be made. It's nice to be able to stop and look at everything and trim the fat where necessary. People tend to get so caught up sometimes in their routines and forget whats important. They get wrapped up in status, or perception or even their designer handbags, luxury cars or job title and end up losing out on what really can make you happy. I know, because I used to be more like that. My life now has shown me that I'm the happiest now spending the least amount of money. You don't realize how much you actually could care less about all that stuff until you start to let it all go.
Now, time for me to get off the dang computer so that I can be the awesome mom and wife I'm so good at being!