Cake decorating has always been a hobby for me and in the last 10 years I have grown quite a bit in my skill. From the plain white cake with stencil letters and the olympic rings piped on it to the towering inferno, castle cake has been quite a journey.
When Jeff and I first got married I used some wedding money to buy a few decorating necessities. After all, if I was going to follow in my mother's footsteps and make my future children's birthday cakes, I was going to need a few bags, tips and colors. Over the years I have bought a few additional tools now and then, but have mostly waited for birthdays and Christmases to bring me new toys. A few years ago I coordinated a wedding for a woman who used to decorate cakes as a hobby. As we went through her storage unit looking for wedding decorations we found a few boxes of her cake stuff and since she was moving after the wedding and didn't want to take it with her she gave them to me. I had more tips, pans, and rose nails than I knew what to do with. And having never actually taken a class, I stared at the tools slightly intimidated by the thought of using them, but I was so grateful and excited to expand my collection. Since then I have just kept plugging away, birthday cake after birthday cake, baby shower after baby shower, never giving a thought to making cakes for money.
That all started to change recently though. After my last cake adventure my friends really started to hound me about marketing my cakes. I groaned at the thought. I'd had a bad experience when I donated gift certificate for a custom cake to a silent auction. There was a miscommunication with the the person who won it, and she wasn't happy with what I had done. Even though it was one of my better cakes and I had painstakingly cut out hundreds of tiny polka dots to embellish the fondant ribbon. My friends insisted that I shouldn't let that one incident keep me from pursuing this. We just kind of left it at that and while I thought more about it, I didn't DO much of anything. And it's not so much because of the thought of making cakes, its more the business aspect of it; license, contracts, what to charge, commercial grade kitchen. My throat is closing just thinking about that stuff.
One thing I did do though was to teach my very first class, which is slightly ironic since I've never taken a single class myself. Our church's women's ministry began offering workshops on anything and everything from house cleaning tips and container gardening, to eye brow grooming and 30 minute meals. So, I offered to teach a class on making novelty cupcakes without any special tips, just zipper lock bags and candy to decorate them. As my class chatted, giggled and licked the frosting off our fingers (shame on us!) A few people asked me about cakes for their kid's birthdays. And I, ashamedly, waffled. I didn't know what to say. I don't know what to charge people! What if that week is crazy and I have to stay up till 2 in the morning to finish because its a harder cake than I thought? What will my dishwasher have to say about this? I make more than enough dishes to keep him busy just cooking dinner! I managed to get out of there that night with out committing to anything. And while I felt a little guilty, my mind was preoccupied with my next big cake.
Decorating often does that to me. The class just whet my appetite for another project. The next afternoon I found myself taking my decorating books with me in the van so I could brainstorm. I'm surprised there wasn't thunder and lightning following us around town that day; ideas were swirling around like an F5 inside my head. By the time I was done I sat there and thought there is no way I could do something this big without help. Well, at least I had a group of eager students the night before, some of them might be willing to help. But still, I would have my work cut out for me. The next night at church the women's bible study that a friend and I had volunteered to babysit for called us in to thank us for the past couple months of serving. Little did I know I was being set up. Heather and I sat down for a few minutes and waited while they did announcements. Then they said Heather had a story to share with everyone. I gave her a look that earned the response, " Oh yeah, I'm here for this too. " Odd. She began talking about times in our lives when God "winks" at us. He does something special for us, winking his approval and that someone in our church had called her and said God was asking her to bless to someone else. God wanted her to be his hands and feet (or eyes in this case) and deliver a "wink" to one of His children. I still had no idea what she was talking about. Then she called me up and I noticed a large box covered by a table cloth. She said the person who wanted to bless me was doing it anonymously but wanted to give me something. I looked at the hidden box. I recognized the shape and thought... it can't be, there is no way. And there it was. Heather threw back the cloth to reveal my very own Cricut Cake. I fell backwards into the wall and began to cry. "This person wants you to know that God sees you and sees what you do and wants you to have this." Heather's words were mind numbing. Another woman chimed in and said "God sees the desires of your heart". It was the truth. Someone once asked me if I had ever seen the Cri-cut Cake and I jokingly said lusted when I saw it. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a joke. The first time I saw this beautiful machine I thought of all the things I could do with it and how much time it would save me. For Levi's Robin Hood cake I hand cut over 300 1"x1" squares to make the castle stones, just imagine a machine that would cut them all for me! It took my breath away. All the women clapped honestly and politely, although I doubt any of them knew what it was, how much it was worth and why I wanted it so badly. Only Heather and the woman who generously gave it knew what it meant to me. It would have taken me a long time to save for this machine and no doubt it was not high on our family budget's priority list. I can never thank my anonymous donor enough for this amazing gift.
After Heather and I went back to nursery duty I sat and stared in shock at the lavish gift before me and we talked about that this meant to me. My benevolent benefactor hoped this would encourage me to use my God-given talent and take a step of faith and see what I could to with it. Moment by moment I felt my confidence growing. I COULD tackle my next big creation, although extra hands would still be nice. I COULD, someday, make my sisters' wedding cakes. I COULD have my own business. Maybe. No, I could. I don't know exactly what it will look like yet, but I'm working on it. It's almost like being pregnant. It's like i just found out that I have a baby on the way and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea. But I'm sure over the next season of my life the idea will take root and begin to grow. And just like having a baby there will be a gestation period, growing pains, thankfully no heartburn, labor and delivery. And, I hope, on the other side, there will be great pride and joy in using my talents to His glory. Until this "baby" comes I'll be busy thinking of names, marketing strategies and how big or little this adventure will be. While I have no desire to have a storefront or be on the Food Network (although a Betty Crocker baking contest sounds fun) I'll leave that up to Him. I'm just going to be obedient, step forward and enjoy the confirmations along the way, like when we got home Wednesday night. Jeff called his mom to tell her what had happened at church and she told him she had just been talking with a retired woman who used to have her own cake shop. This woman asked my mother-in-law if she knew anyone who might want the boxes of her equipment. My mother-in-law showed her my cake album on Facebook and the woman decided she wants me to have every box. Yeah, I think someone is trying to tell me something and I am listening.