Monday, December 21, 2009

postheadericon How to get organized

What do you find to be the most helpful tool to keep you organized?  Me?  The tool that works for me is Microsoft Outlook Calendar.  I put reminders in there for me to get certain projects started, completed or items ordered.  However, I did run into a computer died and I lost the data there. 

I have since started using my cell phone calendar instead, since my cell phone is with me constantly.  I do worry about losing my phone, and then losing all the data stored in there. 

Anyone use an online calendar program?  I'd be seriously interested in one that would e-mail me what I need to do...then I wouldn't have to worry about losing my data if my computer died or I lost my phone.  Maybe there is already something like that and I just need to google it? 

What do you use to keep organized?  I'm always open to hearing better ways to do what I need to do.
Friday, December 18, 2009

postheadericon Closing out 2009

I've been reading a lot of business blogs.  Some of my favorites are Spin Sucks and All Business because they break it down and make it simple for those of us who don't know nuthin but no business planning!  Yeah, what the heck was I thinking trying to start a business when I have no idea how to run a business...sure, I can decorate a cookie, but that doesn't mean I will be successful as a business...but I digress...

All Business suggests that as we get to the close of this year we look back at our business over the year and list what worked and what didn't and use that list to help us plan and change the business in the new year.  This sort of reminds me of New Year's Resolutions...but this year I really need to change the things that didn't work for my business...and what was that?  ME!  Procrastinating...I need to stop doing that....really, really need to stop doing that.

To help me prevent procrastinating I have decided that I'm just going to work on the takes 21 days to change a habit, so hopefully by the end of January procrastination will no longer be a word you will see in my blog! 

Okay Nike...I get it...I gotta "just do it."
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

postheadericon Procrastination

One of the biggest hurdles I have encountered in growing my business is trying to combat procrastination. I admit it, I'm a big procrastinator. I have read that the only way to fight procrastination is the infamous Nike motto "Just do it."

I agree with what I have read, that the biggest reason I procrastinate is because I think the task at hand is going to be hard. Usually, once I start I do find that it isn't nearly as difficult as I had made it seem in my head. And in most cases, once I get started I get lost in the enjoyment of what I'm doing, it's just getting started that is the hardest part.

What do you do to avoid procrastinating?
Thursday, December 10, 2009

postheadericon The journey

When I first started decorating cookies, let's face it, I sucked! I think back to some of those first experiments in the kitchen...baked too long, so they were hard, the icing too runny so it slid over the edges and onto the counter...and my kids will tell you, they didn't even taste good!

I started looking on the internet for information on how to perfect the art. What I found is most people wanted me to pay them for what they knew. At that time I didn't have the money or the desire to give up my money for information.

I did eventually find wonderful giving women that were more than happy to share what they knew and I want to be like that...isn't it said, what you give away will come back to you tenfold? So, I plan to share here what I have learned from having my little cookie business. Oh, my joke about my cookie business... so, I started my cookie business because I wanted to make a little extra money doing what made me careful what you wish for, because all I make is a little extra money.

A little about me. I have a full-time job working for a medical transcription service. I get to work from home and raise my children. Three years ago I started my cookie business. It has grown each year. My goal is to get it to where I spend more time baking and decorating that I do working!

Join me as a chronical the day in a life of a busy woman...mother, wife, employee, cookie decorator. I will share what I know and hopefully learn some too!
Sunday, December 6, 2009

postheadericon Update on Neva's custody hearing

On Tuesday December 1, 2009, Riley turned 8 months old. Neva also had a date with a judge to receive a decision on who would be granted custodial rights. We are so excited to announce that the judge confirmed custody was already Neva's. With a written judgement from the court Neva no longer has to worry about Riley's father taking the baby without permission or keeping him against her will. The court required a planned visitation agreement be set for that day.

Things have settled down now that there are no doubts who has custody and what the visitation schedule is. Neva would not have had such a stress-free successful day without the wonderful help of the many kind people that extended monetary assistance, legal guidance and paralegal services. Our thanks go out to all of you!
Monday, November 9, 2009

postheadericon Cookies for a Cause

This is Neva and her 7-month-old son Riley. Riley's father has decided that he wants custody and wants to move out of state with Riley. We aren't having any of that!

We have taken up Neva's cause to help her raise $2500 for the retainer for a family law lawyer. We have a donation button up on our site if you would like to help us raise this retainer fee. Also, all profit from all orders until that goal is reached, will go to Neva's retainer fee fund.

Please help us spread the word!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

postheadericon Starting a Holiday Tradition

We make gingerbread cookies for the holidays...this year we will be holding gingerbread workshops in Chicago to teach all the tricks of gingerbread house construction. We are working out the details this week and hope to have all the information available by the end of the week. Date, time, place and cost to be announced! Are you as excited as we are?!
Thursday, September 10, 2009

postheadericon "O" How Exciting!

How many of my fellow Chicagoans joined me on Tuesday night at the Oprah Kickoff Party? 20,000, that's how many! We partied on the Mag Mile with the Black Eyed Peas and Oprah!

The best part for me was learning the dance to participate in the Worlds Biggest Flash Mob! My favorite flash mob video is the "Sound of Music" train station video --> (clicky here). The same choreographer for that video created a dance to the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feelin" and we spent about 4 hours learning and practicing that dance.

The really cool part of it was that Oprah had no clue we were going to do this. Watch here. Did you find me?! He he, right, like you could find one person in that mob! These two characters were with me! The one on the left is my sister Tai-Lynne, the other is my daughter Neva! Say hi girls!

Oh, and the Mayor and his wife...they looked like they had a great time too!

And we can't forget the BEPs! Rascal Flatts (Hi Joe Don, remember when we sang in your tour bus in Milwaukee?), James Taylor and freaky Chris Angel! Oh, and the beautiful and talented Jennifer Hudson!

Dane Cook? Any one? Any one? No? Oh well, we sure thought it was hilarious!

I don't know, maybe I don't get out enough, but I sure had a great time, dancing, meeting people and just enjoying the freak show parade around me...okay, maybe they thought I was the freak show...but, we had fun!
Saturday, September 5, 2009

postheadericon New Adventures in Sweets!

Like I mentioned in my last post I have an irrational desire to become a cake artist; do I have the skill...dunno, but I think where there is will to learn there is the ability to gain the skills...that's what I'm telling myself!

I had been putting myself out there to every cake decorator I knew that I was willing to take a free position in trade for learning, since I really cannot afford to go to culinary school, and guess what?! Someone took me up on my offer. I was so excited I could barely contain myself! I met with her today, a sort of get-to-know-me session. I really felt we have a lot in common and I hope that she felt that I really am committed to learning and the opportunity.

In a short time today I learned quite a bit...but the real test will be if I can meet her expectations...yeah, I'm worried! I can decorate a cookie, and I have iced cakes before...hopefully my current skills will be a good enough base to build on...we will find out...stay tuned!
Sunday, August 9, 2009

postheadericon What i know

I know that there are some people that have too many irons in the fire and handle it just perfectly and gracefully. I know there must be something terribly off with folks like that!

I know...I have too many irons in the fire.
  1. I have a full-time job in the medical transcription field working 40+ hours a week.
  2. I have a small business, Sugar Beez, making custom cookies that takes up 20+ hours a week.
  3. I have 5 daughters that take up every moment of time I can give them.
  4. I have a 22-year marriage to a man who lives and works in CA that we see 4 times a year if we are really fortunate.
  5. I live with my 5 daughters in IL.
  6. I have an irrational desire to become a full-time cake artist when I know damn good and well I make much more money in medical transcription.
  7. I volunteer at my daughters' schools.
  8. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I have 1-1/2 grandchildren...Riley who is 4 months old and Ruby who is due 9/19/09 (explains the 1/2 a grandchild, right?).

I do very well at the medical transcription part of my life, and I do a dern good job at the childrearing part of my life, so someone please explain to me my totally irration drive to do something with cakes and cookies and pies and gelatins and all that sweet stuff? I drive my 21-year-old daughter crazy because she thinks I should just focus on cookies. I am good at them, but I want to be good a cakes and cupcakes and gelatins I wrong? Or am I just nuts?

The jury is still out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What the heck do I do with this?!

I'm not a cake artist. I rarely do cakes, but I love to lurk on several cake art message boards and wistfully look through all the posts and their pictures. Once in a while I will see something that I think I can duplicate on a cookie and so I will hunt down the tool that was used, such as a gumpaste cutter, patchwork cutter, etc. Then off to my favorite cake art supply website to order the newly discovered tool.

A few days later the package will arrive and I gleefully rip it open to find the tool and nothing instructions, no pictures, no clue! GGGrrrr! After the package arrives (and I've stopped throwing a tantrum over the lack of instructions) I search and search the web for tutorials. Sometimes I find them, lots of times I don't. The next few days (okay, weeks) are spent dedicating an hour or 2 (okay my 4 or 5) to figuring out the tool.

One day it occurred to me…maybe I’m not the only one struggling to learn these tools? And frustrated by the lack of tutorials on the web. Here’s an idea…why don’t I detail my efforts to learn these tools and create a tutorial and voila! my blog was transformed from my mindless blogging to blogging with a purpose! Yay! I love having a purpose, makes me feel so useful!

Beginning next week I will post my first tutorial on a tool. The tool I have decided to do first is the pasta machine. I bought one of these to use with fondant and man, did it take me some time to figure out how to keep the fondant from sticking, and even what I needed to do to the fondant before putting it through the machine.

So keep checking back! If you have suggestions for a tool you would like to see featured, or even a technique, please e-mail me and let me know –

Sweet Wishes from Tracy @ Sugar Beez
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

postheadericon Scurd....

So the economy has even me shaking in my boots. It is always one of those things that doesn't really bother you until it starts hitting close to home. I havent had much in the way of orders lately so I have been working extra hard at my "real" 9-to-5 job as a manager for a national medical transcription service. Some of our clients are being effected by the economy in that people are just not coming to the hospital for little things. The volume of work is much lower right now that we traditionally see, which means our transcriptionists are running out of work. Transcriptionists work on production, so if they run out of work, they don't earn money.

I have been tightening my budget by cutting down my services on my phone, cable, internet, everything. I'm sure lots of American are doing the same thing, but doesn't that perpetuate the problem? We spend less and this trickles down and shows up as loss of jobs? Sort of a catch-22.

One of my daughters' friends, her father is a physician. They have always been very financially stable, live in a big beautiful house...yeah, I envy them, but they are really down-to-earth friendly people, and face it, they earned what they have. But I found out yesterday that he was laidoff! A doctor, laidoff! What the hacken!

My company did some layoffs in December (how nice, right before the holidays) and now there is rumor that there may be more to come. I sure do hope that help comes soon for our economy.