Wednesday, August 25, 2010

postheadericon Back in the saddle again!

I am coming up on the close of my first week back in business.  It as been busy and very fulfilling!  I managed to knock out 2 orders in 24 hours...that was fun! Orders are coming in and keeping me busy.  Which has been great so I have less time to ruminate on the huge changes happening in my life.  If you haven't heard, we will be moving back to California at the end of the year.  So Sugar Beez is coming to the Los Angeles area!  Watch out LA, here we come!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

postheadericon Where the heck have I been?

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything!  Wow!  Lots of changes in my personal life.  As you can see from my last post, I was let go from my job.  Then my personal life began to take a turn for the worse too.  I'm now in the midst of ending a 22+ year marriage and it has been very stressful.  I actually took a break from cookies all together for about a month.  I couldn't function or focus on cookies so I figured it wasn't fair to keep taking orders.  During that month I actually gave serious consideration to giving up on cookies all together.  Thank goodness I put that thought down to focus on just getting through my days. 

I am now on the upside in terms of my self-esteem.  I'm feeling better about myself and my decisions and so I decided to revisit the issue of Sugar Beez and whether to continue...and my decision is...yes, I will continue the business.  I do get a lot of enjoyment out of doing cookies and I'd like to think I'm good at it, so why not do something that affirms my self worth? 

So, back to the Kitchen Aid! 
Saturday, May 29, 2010

postheadericon Change is the ONLY constant

On Monday, 05/24/2010, the company that I worked for since 2004 decided to lay me off.  Bummer.  It was on one hand a relief, on the other a huge stessor.  I was relieved because I had really begun to hate my job as a manager.  It was hard to get 41 people to just do their job.  I definitely was becoming tainted and angry.  I believe all things happen for a reason, and I see the lesson in this is I was let go because I definitely would not have left on my own.  This job was the provider for my family's insurance benefits, so that was the stressor.

I looked for the good in this event and that is that I now have plenty of time to focus on cookies!  I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday working on cookies and thoroughly enjoyed not having to rush or think about work.

There is a benefit for Sugar Beez in this little bump in the road for me...I have come up with some really great ideas that I will be incorporating into the business and website, so watch for those!  Such as a limited time special where you can purchase a $20 coupon which will get you $30 toward your next purchase! 

After almost a week of not having to deal with a stressful job, I'm relaxed, centered and focused again! 
Thursday, May 20, 2010

postheadericon 1000 cookies, 10 days - DONE!

We did it!  We met the challenge, completed not 1000, but 1002 cookies in 9-1/2 days.  We certainly had our bumps in the road on this journey.  For instance, these were cookies with graphics being printed on edible paper (with edible ink of course) made by a company with the initials of KK.  I have been a customer there since 2008.  But their customer service this last time was the straw that broke our relationship!

I placed a very sizeable order last week for this 1000-cookie order.  The cookie order was due to be delivered today.  I order Wednesday last week expecting my order would ship on Thursday and be delivered on Monday.  On Friday I still had not received my shipping confirmation from KK so I called.  I gave the young lady I spoke with my order number and she said "your order shipped yesterday." 

First of all, I put instructions in the "comment" section when I placed the order that if the order did not go out on Thursday I wanted to pay for 2-day shipping.  I asked the young lady if she would please forward me the tracking number.  An hour later I received the email with the tracking number and it showed my order did not ship until FRIDAY!  And it shipped ground with a delivery date of May 20!  I was very upset.  I called back and spoke to someone else who told me they were very sorry, but they could not help me!  WHAT! 

I tried calling UPS and they told me they had not even picked up the order yet!  WHAT THE HECK!  I called KK back and they said again, sorry, can't help you.  I was furious!  FUR-EEE-US!  I sent them a scathing email telling them I would find my supplies else where and that I would not order from them again!

So, I found Tasty Foto Art, read some positive reviews online and order from them, overnight shipping ta boot.  The cost was cheaper than the order I placed with KK and their lame ground shipping!  Sold on the price...

I received the edible paper sheets and ink cartridges from Tasty Foto Art the very next day as promised.  I was super pleased with their product.  It did not dry out like the other product always did.  It was thinner and had NO TASTE!  We were all amazed by the fact that this product had no taste...none!  So, to shorten a long story...I'm only ordering from Tasty Foto Art from now on!

After that fiasco we got back on track with production of our 1000 cookies.  We set goals on cookies to roll, cookies to bake and cookies to ice on a daily basis. 

Let me introduce you to my team of cookie elves...
  • Gina, my 22-year-old daughter who does it all, mixes dough, rolls dough, cuts cookies, bakes, frosts, bags, tags and bows!
  • Neva, my 20-year-old daughter who rolls and rocks!  She mixed dough and rolled and cut an amazing 300+ cookies in a day! 
  • My sister Tai-Lynne who is the queen of cornering! 
  • My daughters Kiona, Karyn and Kami for all their help bagging and sealing and building bakery boxes!
This was tiring, but a great accomplishment for...
Thursday, May 13, 2010

postheadericon 1000 cookies, 10 days!

Yep, you read it right, 1000 cookies, 10 days.  We can do it!  But we will be hairless, snarling beasts by the time the order is complete! 

When it is all said and done we will have used 30 pounds of butter!  And about 49 pounds of flour and powdered sugar. 

I can still recall the first time someone asked me to do 4 dozen cookies and I panicked!  Now, 400 might set me a flitter, and 1000 definitely will, but I know we can do it.  I love a challenge.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

postheadericon Bad weather, great baking day!

It is cold, rainy and dreary favorite baking weather!  And lots of baking to do!

We had a great Mother's Day.  My daughter Karyn got to be the cookie fairy and delivered bags of Mother's Day cookies to surprise women with sweet treats!  It was really rewarding and lifted my spirts!

I have a lot of cookies to get done and love losing myself in the task of decorating.
Sunday, May 9, 2010

postheadericon Moving beyond disappointment

I was so excited that this weekend would be the opening of my first retail experience.  I was taking over Smash Cake in Chicago and was very excited.  We had been planning and baking all week long, really looking forward to a Mother's Day opening. 

Yes, I was very scared too.  I worried that I would not be able to make enough money to sustain my family.  I could not afford to fail.  Failure would mean a very expensive loss for me, my husband and our five daughters.  But as the date got closer little things began to pop up.  These small things began to become very large things...and I had to make a decision to move forward with a bad choice, or cut my losses and get out while I still could. 

It was a good decision to back out, although it was very disappointing to everyone involved.  It meant some added headaches and expenses for everyone involved.  But if I had moved forward it was becoming very apparent to me that I would fail.  I did not have the mentoring support I thought I did and certainly didn't have enough money to make repairs to nonworking equipment and I would not be able to operate until those items were working.  Every day I postponed opening we would be hemorrhaging money.  I could not do that.

An opening I had been so looking forward to was not going to happen.  I had my first experience with very angry customers who did not care why I was not able to host their parties, had called into question my professionalism and had even gone to my blog and used things I said there against me.  I think the intent was to try to persuade me to change my decision by guilting me into hosting their party, or maybe it was just to embarrass me, I'm not sure, but it surely was not nice.

It has been three days since I made the decision to back out, and like I said on Twitter, sometimes good decisions disappoint, but a bad decision would have hurt people.

Lesson learned!
Thursday, April 29, 2010

postheadericon Procrastinating or Postponing?

We (Gina, more than and I) came to the realization that we were no where near ready to open this Saturday.  So the decision was made to postpone opening for 1 week to get better prepared.  This raised the question for me, am I again procrastinating?  Oh yeah, I definitely did way too much procrastination and a lot of overextending myself.  Took on way too many orders for the week before a grand opening, but I kept telling myself I need the customers, and I need the money.  Is taking the time to blog procrastinating?  Naw...right?

So, even though we are not opening this weekend I am still finding myself waking up at 3:30a to toss and turn, stressing over the massive responsibility of taking on a retail bakery.  What the heck was I thinking?!  Do I know what I'm doing?  Nope.  Will I learn?  Maybe.  In time to prevent from going down in a fiery mass?  Maybe not. 

Everyone keeps telling me to follow my dreams...what happnes when dreams turn into nightmares?  Ever have that happen? 

Okay, enough wallowing in stress...let's look at the bright side...this little shop is in a great location.  I have the great privilege of calling Michelle Garcia at Bleeding Heart Bakery my friend.  I try not to bug her with questions too often, but I do always have that well of knowledge to dip into when I really need to (and sometimes when I don't really need to, but just want to).  She sent me an email last night telling me it would all get easier, and I believe her...but WHEN! 
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

postheadericon And the panic sets in!

So here it is Tuesday evening and we are set to open the bakery on Saturday...I'm totally panicked!  Do I have the right license?  Is the phone going to work?  Will we have enough product?  Will we have too much?  What if no one shows up?  What if too many people show up?  What if they don't keep showing up and a week after we open we are sitting there twiddling our thumbs?! 

I want this to be successful enough to sustain me and my family, but what if it isn't!  Anyone else ever open a bakery?  Any tips to share? 
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

postheadericon Tail of the Tiger!

As we get closer to the opening of Sugar Beez/Smash Cake I have gotten so busy!  I keep telling everyone that I feel like I'm hanging tight to the tail of a tiger and I having the ride of my life!

We are booking up fast for parties in May.  That's exciting and a little bit daunting too!  Sunday 4/11/10 I worked at Smash Cake to help with 3 parties being held and to get my feet wet.  I got a taste of what I can expect when we are running Smash Cake...and how tired I can expect to be!

The parties were a lot of fun and I learned a lot, like some very creative ways to enterain a group of 21 six- and seven-year-old girls!  Freeze dance worked great! 

Bleeding Heart Bakery provided some delicious pizzas and some totally tasty baked goods!  I could have eaten their apricot bars all day long!  I think right now that is my favorite treat from BHB!  You can bet we will be carrying those at Smash Cake!

We will be hosting a Share Our Strength bake sale at Smash Cake this Saturday, 4/17/10, for the food bloggers and then again on May 1st for our own opening.  I hope you will stop by and say hello!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

postheadericon What "giving" means to me.

I'm a nurturer.  That's why I have five children, 2 cats, a dog, 2 birds and a fish.  I think I was born with the drive to take care of anything needy.  My mom can tell you stories of hurt birdies in boxes, stray cats, raggedy dogs that I brought home.  I'm sure she thought I did it to drive her nuts!

When I was newly married my husband and I struggled to balance work, family and finances.  Sometimes having way too much month left at the end of the money.  Some really great friends and family members would help us with childcare or sometimes a gallon of milk.  Now that I'm a little older, a little wiser and a little better at managing my money I try to find ways to pay forward the generosity that was given to me.  My husband probably thinks I do this to drive HIM nuts!

I have let various displaced family members live with us, his brother, my sister, my sister-in-law and her 2-1/2 kids. No, never all at the same time, but it did sometimes cause some tension between me and my husband. 

I give of my time, sometimes my money and always of my compassion, it is my way of paying my rent in life for my time on this planet.  I strongly believe that everything we give will come back to us...that could be good or it could be bad, but it is what you make it. 
Monday, April 5, 2010

postheadericon Bleeding Heart Blessings!

Okay, I'm going to try to get better at blogging than I have been.  I've been so busy, but some really fabulous things have been happening.

I would say that things really began to change for me personally in July 2009.  We had moved to Illinois from California in November 2004.  I left all my family (aside from my children and husband) and what few friends I had in California.  I have been working from home in the medical transcription field for more than a decade and a half.  In California, I made friends by socializing with women that were standing outside the elementary school waiting to pick up their children.  In Illinois, November is not the time of year that you stand outside waiting to pick up your children.  And in our community the children are bused anyway.  So I had no real opportunity to meet other women.

This began to cause a problem that I hadn't really noticed right off.  I honestly began to develop a phobia, not of going outside, but of socializing with strangers.  I also have a skin disorder, vitaligo that helped to feed my fear of meeting people.

In July 2009 I attended my first Iron Cupcake Chicago challenge.  I love baking and I really wanted to participate, but I didn't know anyone there and I was now aware of my phobia.  I had also decided that I was going to get out and meet people and get over this phobia.  So I contacted the woman in charge of IC:CHI, Irma, and threw myself into the challenge.

The day of the challenge my kids literally had to keep talking me into going.  I kept coming up with excuses not to go, some I thought were actually really good excuses, but the kids kept pointing out to me they were just excuses.  One of my daughters even had to go with me so I wouldn't chicken out.  Actually, standing at the door of the restaurant where the challenge was held, holding the door handle, I had a panic attack, but my daughter reassured me and I went in.

I managed to have a good time and made up my mind then that I would beat this phobia and socialize more.  I also began to use Twitter as a way to socialize and meet more people. 

Okay, fast foward to January 2010.  I have been to several Iron Cupcake Chicago challenges, and even a couple of Iron Cupcake Milwaukee challenges.  At IC:MKE I was fortunate to meet Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery.    

I guess I made an impression on Michelle Garcia the night I met her. I know she liked my cupcake, a Goose Island Oatmeal Stout cupcake.  And she visited my website too.  I found this out a few weeks later.  She liked the work I had done on my cookies enough that she asked me to start decorating cookies for her bakery.  I was thrilled to death!

My dream has been to grow my business to a point it could sustain me and my family.  I love baking and decorating cookies and participating in the IC challenges has made me realize that I love baking cupcakes too.  In February I had been looking around to find a retail space for Sugar Beez, but nothing was panning out even with the help of the Robin Schabes, the Director of Lakefront Development for the City of Waukegan.  She was so helpful and so motivated to help me get into a space in Downtown Waukegan, but it just did not work out.  I told my daughter, Gina, that when it was meant to happen it would happen and it would not be hard or challenging.

At the end of February, Michelle Garcia and I began talking about Smash Cake.  Michelle has been concentrating on her bakeries, and wasn't able to give the attention to Smash Cake that it needed in order to be successful.  SC is more of a space for hosting children's birthday parties than the type of bakery Michelle currently opperates. 

Michelle is such a great person.  Yes, Michelle is famous for having been on Food Network cake challenges 8 times.  Yes, she owns a kickin' bakery with her husband Vinny, but she has proven to be the kind of woman that I try to be, gives back because she has been blessed. 

So, on May 1st Sugar Beez moves into Smash Cake!  This has worked out so easily for us and has felt like it was meant for us.  I see nothing but a fun endeavor growing the business with my daughters and my husband.  We will start promoting here very soon and planning for our opening day.

My kids, my husband and I have already decided that opening day proceeds will go to Share Our Strength.  We will be hosting a Great American Bake Sale on our opening day, come out and help make it a success!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

postheadericon Sugar Beez introduces Cupcake Delivery to Lake Co, IL

Delicious wonderful cupcakes are available everywhere in Chicago.  You can even get delivery cupcakes in Chicago through Mari, the wonderful woman who owns and operates Foiled Cupcakes.  Well no more feeling left out Lake County!  Sugar Beez is expanding our menu to include cupcakes for delivery in Lake County, IL. 

We will start by offering 5 flavors that will always be available and one monthly flavor special.  We will launch our cupcake delivery service on Monday, March 15, 2010. 

Sugar Beez Cupcake Menu
  • Chocolate Cupcake with your choice of vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting.
  • Vanilla Cupcake with your choice of vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting.
  • Lemon Cupcake (for the citrus fanatics like me!) with sweet cream frosting.
  • Espressor Cupcake with a jolt of coffee flavored buttercream frosting.
  • Red Velvet Cupcake with a delicious cream cheese frosting.
March's Monthly Flavor Special
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcake!
Tell us what you think or what you would like to see for April's Monthly Flavor Special! Give us a SHOUT!