Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baking my bundt off

Now it was time to get serious about the business. Before I could move forward I had to find a commercial kitchen to bake in. Easier said than done. There is a facility here called The Kitchen Space and it's a rent by the hour thing (which is usually not a good thing, especially with motels, but here it works). They have several kitchens but charge $25.00 per hour. I knew that it would be a long process and I would be in there for months and months before I could ever start selling so I had to find something I could afford. I went on Craigslist and somehow managed to find a wonderful man who owns a catering company and was willing to rent their kitchen to me a few nights a week for a really reasonable price.
I think something like this is a lot easier for a person who is focused on just one item, like brownies or cupcakes. But those have been done to death (and really well) and I knew I wanted to come up with something a little different. I research a lot and watch trends and I knew that small, individual desserts were going to stay in fashion and also people in general were moving towards more natural and organic products. I started buying things I might need including really pretty mini-bundt pans and a new stand mixer and off I went. Needless to say, there were many disasters. The first night I felt like Lucy and Ethel combined. I was covered in flour-head to toe. Every counter in the whole kitchen and every single measuring cup and spoon, mixing bowl etc were dirty. I was using the regular ovens because I had no idea how to use the big commercial ovens and everything was either burning or not cooked all the way through. The next night was a little better. And so it went; some nights were pretty successful, others had me almost in tears. Over the next few months I made some delicious cakes and bars but nothing that seemed special enough. I definitely had my work cut out for me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What? How did I get here?

Time to tell the story.......
After 30 years in the travel industry, twelve of them for the same company, we were purchased by a new company and I was made redundant (as they say in the UK). Seems an odd term to use for being laid off, doesn't it? I've been called worse but, since some of the definitions of redundant are repetitive, excessive, superflous and useless, I'll have to say, "If the shoe fits......" At any rate, they said see you later and, after the initial shock, I was pretty darned happy about it. I was becoming increasingly unhappy there and the new company's way of doing things was not to my liking so I viewed it as a blessing and an opportunity and have never looked back.
For some time prior to this I had been wanting to do two things. One was start a sideline business making baked goods of some sort and the other was to move to Austin. First things first. I spent the next month or so going through my entire house, filling up half my living room with things to get rid of and being ruthless about it. Then I had a huge yard sale and made quite a bit of money. Moved out and put the rest of my belongings in storage. Spent the next month staying with my wonderful mom, spending time with her and my Houston friends and then it was time to move on.
One of the MOST important things in me being able to move and start over is the support of my family. And especially my younger sister and her husband who live in the Austin area and opened their home to me. How lucky am I?
Now it was time for dual tasks; job hunting and start a plan for the baking business. I spent those first two months or so doing lots of research on the requirements for a "home based" baking business and getting creative in the kitchen. My sister and her husband both love sweets so I hope I at least partially paid my room and board with treats.
Then one of my favorite people in the world, a friend of about 25 years called to say he had an open bedroom in his house in Austin and why didn't I come be his roommate? Again, how lucky am I?
Now, only 5 months after losing my job, I was already officially living in Austin. Yay!!