Give a little, get a lot

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I was asked by our local Public Library to donate some goodies for their holiday get-together today.  The local singing group ‘The Minettones’ will be performing and many locals will be in attendance.  I gladly agreed as it combined two of my favorite things – cake decorating and books.

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If you read my post yesterday you would know I have been filling out applications to volunteer at some local establishments.  Since the lodge is officially closed for the winter, I will have more spare time and I feel strongly about giving my time to those who could use the help.

Between the Toy Drive at the lodge and the time spent creating these goodies for the Library, I feel good about the decision to give back since I feel I have so much already.  I may not be rich in terms of my bank balance but life has treated me well in many other ways and now it is time to ‘share the wealth’.

 

Sweet June and doing small things with great love

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A little less than a year and a half ago my life was irrevocably changed when my mom passed away.  She had been ill for a while but it was still a shock to receive the call on a Friday morning that she was gone.  As fate would have it, a small typo at the funeral home transformed an evening that could have been incredibly morose into a night of bizarre toasts that my mom would have found hilarious.  In the haze of tragedy, my family was able to find laughter.  In the wake of death, my family was still able to breathe some life.

One slight alphabetical error was a domino effect for a myriad number of things that would follow. Had the funeral director not misspelled Jane and typed June, the course of our mourning and subsequent celebration of my mother would have been profoundly altered.  You can read the original story by clicking here.  Since then there have been continual toasts to “June”.   There is a place setting for June at family meals and she is always a part of our celebrations.

Recently, I began to dabble in cake decorating again and decided that I would like to bring the old cake business back to life.  The company name I had used in the past no longer seemed to embody what it was that I was trying to represent and I struggled to come up with a new moniker for my part-time occupation.

mom's 70th bday

After sifting through photos of cakes I had done in the past, I came across this cake I made for my mom on her 70th birthday.  Without hesitation, I knew the name of my new venture would be “Sweet June”.

“In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

 These cakes are the small things that I do with great love.  I find peace in the moments of creating special memories that help celebrate milestones.  I find joy in knowing that I was an invisible part of a happy occasion.  And I achieve the most reward, now, by knowing that my mom, Sweet June, will forever be a small part of those moments as well.

I followed the crumbs back home

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“A party without cake is just a meeting.” ~  Julia Child

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 I’m not sure how old I was or what passing birthday had just eclipsed my dream of being a child forever but I remember the birthday cake my mom had made.  It was a chocolate cake with homemade buttercream frosting and a bittersweet chocolate ganache.  It was decadent.  It was made with love.  And to a child still in single digits, it was crack cocaine.

Every special occasion I demanded politely requested that my mother painstakingly recreate that masterpiece.  Throughout my childhood, I never deviated from that cake.  It is one of the favorite memories I have of my mother.  I cannot recall whose smile was more prominent when the cake was delivered to the table, hers or mine, but I do know that cake was our moment to share.

Over the years, I lost track of the myriad number of times that cake graced our dining room table but I never lost my love of that cake.  I saw how much effort my mom put into that special treat and, perhaps through osmosis, I garnered the same conviction that cake made people happy.

After being absent for some time, due to unforeseen construction on the path of my life, I am back on the road that leads straight to my oven and my decorating tools.  I missed cakes.  I missed the escape from reality that decorating affords me and I missed the joy in people’s eyes when they had seen what I created for their special occasion.

The piping bags are ready, the cupboards are stocked and the fondant is ready to roll.   Let them eat cake!

To bake, or not to bake? That is the question.

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Once upon a time I had a cake decorating business that I ran from my home.  I made wedding cakes and novelty cakes and I really loved the creative escape….not to mention the fantastic smell in my house.

I slowly phased myself out of that cake business because “real life” didn’t want to make room for the enjoyable moments of,  not only creating extra income but, embracing another journey of artistic freedom.  But I’ve missed it.  And I knew I missed it but I didn’t realize how much until I agreed to make a cake for a 50th birthday party this weekend.  The birthday girl loves sailing and this was the cake I made for her surprise party.

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Just spending the last two days in the kitchen reminded me how one avenue of imagination can create a wider road of happiness.  This is one of my true passions and I made the mistake of ignoring it.  I put obligation and responsibility ahead of creativity and contentment.  And if the picture of the cake above wasn’t enough to make me rethink my decision…..

cake after

….the photograph of the rapidly disappearing remains of the cake certainly solidified my decision to put up my sign that I am back in the cake business.

Sometimes having to make a choice is difficult.  Sometimes we think we are doing what is best but maybe the best thing is to hang on to the things we really love and throw the rules out the window.  Life it too short to make decisions based on what we think we should do instead of making decisions based on what we really want.

Screw the other two percent!

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I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life that I can be proud of my accomplishments instead of picking them apart to find the most minute flaw.   My cake decorating days were rough!  I would spend hours putting together a three-tier cake designed specifically to match the request of the bride and, although she thought it was perfect, I always found the tiniest blemish and was disappointed in myself for not making it perfect.

At least I know I came by this mental mutation honestly.   When I was in high school I was a good student, especially in math.  I would bring home a test with 98 percent and my dad thought it was funny to ask “what happened to the other 2 percent?”  Despite the fact it was said as a joke, to an impressionable fourteen year old girl, it felt like a failure to me.  Unfortunately I have carried this with me along the way and although it has made me strive for that 100 percent even more, it has also made me extremely self-critical.

With my writing, something is different.  I have more confidence in my words than I have had in any other area of my life.  Perhaps with age really does come a sort of wisdom, or just maybe that elusive two percent was never meant to cause me so much concern.   Either way, I give myself that little punch on the arm when I’m really proud of something I’ve written, and not just in theory, I really punch myself in the arm…….

   

I hope you are able to be proud of your accomplishments.  Your successes should never be measured by anyone other than yourself.