Meager Beginnings [My Story, Part 2]
I left off Last Week telling you that I had purchased The Essential Guide to Cake Decorating with a mind to make cakes, which would thus fulfil my requirement to graduate High School, and would also allow me to pursue a skill that I thought I would enjoy.
My first exposure to making cakes for other people at that point (I had made the odd birthday cake prior to that) was for a friend who wanted to help me out and give me a chance to practice. The cake was for a little girls’ first birthday, and, feeling ambitious – I picked one out of the book I had just purchased and decided to give it a whirl. Of course, I aimed big. I picked a fondant kitten cake, purchased some fondant mix from a candy company, and tried my hand at following the instructions. I wish I had a picture to share – I’m actually still surprised with how well it turned out, since at the time I knew nothing about different types of fondant icing – and the particular kind I used was a candy fondant (a very different thing thing than cake fondant, for those who don’t know – much softer). At any rate, I was encouraged with the result of my work and the joy of my customers, and I continued to look for occasions to make cakes for other people.
From there, Mom heard about a hobby course offered at Michael’s for the Wilton method of cake decorating. The course was on sale – $20 for a 4-week course! At the time, my only income was for a paper route I delivered every week, 104 houses at $0.05/paper. But, I had been saving for a little while, and figured I could afford the investment.
Taking the course was a lot of fun, and I was thankful to see, taste, and touch so many of the things I’d read about. (Shout-out to Cheryl, who was my teacher – and still keeps up with my work!) I got a feel for icing consistency, learned about pressure control, and felt what good fondant feels like, works like, etc. It was a valuable experience, I’m glad I did that! For one of those courses (I took 4), I made my first wedding cake, pictured below. (Note: This is a Wilton cake design, made by me – in the colours of my choice.)
This cake (above) just-so-happened to be due during a time that the house we lived in caught fire, and the pipe lines burst – flooding our yard. The house was deemed “Unsafe” to live in, and within 4 days, we had to move out. Thankfully, the apartment manager next to our house took pity on us and offered us a space in one of his apartments for free, just until we could find something else. It was so sweet and generous! God provides for us.
Still, making a wedding cake on a small card table in hot July-esq weather, while running back and forth from a fire-truck surrounded house and sharing a small apartment with 11 siblings and my parents… was one of MANY experiences I’ve had in the last years of learning what it means to persevere. That– was– hard. But somehow, diligence and determination paid off, and I’m so thankful for a family that put up with my stuff everywhere while we shared a 1-person kitchen during that time.
After we found a place of our own (again, a 1-person kitchen and then a larger work area attached), I found out that my cousin was getting married and her parents asked me if I would make a cake for the wedding (it was going to be a small, family-only, backyard-type wedding). I was delighted at the opportunity, and of course, said yes.
I did a bunch of reading, and put my new skills (and yet to be developed skills) to good use. The cake I designed for that is pictured here:
When the cake was done, my mom said to me, “This looks like it should be in a magazine! You should pursue this; you should make wedding cakes.” And so, at 16 years of age, with a lot ambition and almost no experience (or fashion sense, for that matter), I booked myself into a local wedding show – and thus embarked on the journey that would largely shape the next 10 years my life.
To Be Continued…