Pie on the Sidewalk [My Story, Part 4]
Do you ever feel like you’re just one of those people who walk the path of crazy happenings, and no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you can’t escape? For example, the Fire/Flood that happened to us during the time I made my first wedding cake; that would be a prime example.
Last Week I left off by mentioning that starting a business came with a lot of obstacles, and I think this story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning at least a couple of the small ones. If not for the sole purpose of acknowledging those things as hard, or perhaps to make someone feel like they aren’t alone… Or, better yet, to make someone laugh – because if you sit back and look at it, there’s really no better way to react to these things. When the options are to laugh or cry, I prefer to choose the former.
I remember when I was first opening my business, a customer asked me in a meeting, “What happens if you drop the cake? What do you do then?” Knowing that it would take me a good week to make most wedding cakes, I was a little lost to know how to answer her. I assured her that I would do my very best *not* to drop the cake, but the question got me thinking… What would I do if______? There are a thousand things that *could* go wrong in any situation.
I prayed early on in my business that if anything would go wrong with my cakes, it would happen to family and friends, who I knew would forgive me. (Sorry guys. :-D) I prayed that if anything bad was going to happen, it would happen to OUR cakes, and not to paying customers.
Shortly after that, I got an order from a good friend for an arrangement of baked goods, not cakes specifically this time. Among them was a lovely peach pie, which I made and had ready for him to pick up at a set time. He arrived to pick up the baked goods, which I had boxed and ready to go, still warm from the oven. After waving goodbye, I walked back into the house, shortly to be met from behind with a bunch of my younger siblings running to the kitchen yelling, “He dropped the pie!!” Sure enough, I looked outside to see my fresh pie splattered all over the sidewalk in steaming hot portions of peach and pastry, with a fresh light sprinkling of rain falling from the sky to crown the moment. Our friend, my customer, laughed – and invited any who would be daring enough to do it to grab a fork and enjoy some fresh peach pie off the sidewalk.
Hehe, what can I say? I’m thankful that pie wasn’t for anyone’s wedding, and that my friend was/is so good natured. I’m also so thankful that *I* didn’t drop it; that’s grace, right there. God is good!
Another thing to note about the foibles of my journey would be that if you know anything about cake decorating, you will know that a major enemy of making beautiful cakes is a fluctuating temperature and humidity, with humidity being the worst of the two evils. If the heat won’t melt the cake, the moisture in the air will. Every time – especially if you’re dealing with delicate sugar flowers.
I once made a cake with sugar flowers that had me starting my work a good 6 weeks in advance, in the heat of the summer. At the time, our air conditioning had ceased to function the way it once had (which was a small unit in the living room window, making that the only cool room in the house), and we had only a small, 5-seater car with a temperamental A/C unit in it for transport – Meaning, the air conditioner in the car worked sometimes, and not others.
At the time, the best place for me to work on such a time-consuming project was on TV trays set up in our sort of cool-ish living room, moving them from our house to my sister’s apartment next-door, where the air was a little bit more of a consistent temperature. We also had really drastic temperature changes during those weeks, so some days were cool and perfect for me to work at home, and others were so hot and humid, I couldn’t work on the flowers if I wanted to. It was so frustrating, and I felt so helpless! Working in that kind of weather pretty much destroys the work while you do it, so doing it feels… completely pointless. But at the same time, weddings wait for no cake! So, I had to find a way.
Soo… Problem solver that I am, I transported flowers back and forth from work (which had A/C), my house, and my sister’s apartment over the course of a few weeks until they were all done, and all looking decent. The week the cake needed to be made, thankfully, was perfect weather – and a friend with working A/C in their car offered to help me deliver it.
Those moments make me feel a little sheepish about my work at all – I always felt like, “They can probably see all that this has been through, just by looking at the cake… or my face!” But, no – the cake was beautiful, and appreciated, and I don’t think anyone could tell all that I’d had to go through to make sure those flowers survived. *phew*
Aside from bad weather and no A/C (on MANY occasions, in different ways with different solutions at different times), I have had quite a few hiccups with transportation (again, never destructive – just difficult and nerve-wracking). I’ve had trouble with getting photos of my work (or not), coordinating my schedule with many others in my household, sharing vehicles, sugar decor melting in the summer heat, chocolate melting in the summer heat, customers picking up cakes and not knowing how to transport them safely, border crossings, people thinking I’m 14 and almost not letting me into wedding halls, a camera that smelled like sausage (long story), colour mis-matches, poor lighting to work in, and pie on the sidewalk. Among other things… actually a lot of other things.
But, I should be careful when I talk about the hard stuff: Troubles teach you to be thankful for the good times, and to learn through the bad ones. I have learned a lot about problem solving, learning to think on my feet, etc, and truly – I am grateful for that.
I worked on cakes faithfully for a good 7 years, growing my business and perfecting my craft. During that time, I entered contests, got interviewed for a cake decorating TV show (they didn’t pick me – I think I’m too calm of a person for a dramatic TV show), toured and was invited to attend a chef school, did wedding shows, designed and donated cakes for charity auctions, started a blog (this one!) and wrote tutorials. It’s been a wild, great ride. Here’s a few photos of me over the years:
After 7 years of cakes and craziness though, and a lot of questions about what I wanted my future to look like, I got an itch for travel – and learning – and that’s what I’ll talk about next week.
To Be Continued…