Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welcome to The Sweet Life

Hi! Thanks for visiting The Sweet Life! This will be a place where I can proudly display my "works of art" in cake form, and some of my other yummy treats :) I am so excited to finally have a place to post the pictures where the general public can have a look.

I started working for Kroger in 2005, and for some reason, they put me in the bakery. I remember my first day I felt completely lost. My boss was from Greece, and I had a hard time understanding her, which quickly faded as I got to know her. The first task I had in the bakery was to make cake wedges - little triangles of cake rolled in icing and sprinkles along the edges, then to pipe icing onto the top and add even more sprinkles. What a MESS!! I had never "piped" icing in this way in my life, but everyone thought they looked great. I was soon deemed a cake decorator in training, and my boss sent me to the cake decorating classes that Kroger has periodically. My first day I had to be there early, and I drank some coffee on the way there, only what I thought was coffee, was actually an entire tall coffee mug full of espresso (!). (The coffee maker we had at home was actually an espresso maker, but I didn't know that at the time, I just drank it with cream and sugar and it resembled coffee to me.) Anyway, I get to the class, meet the lady teaching it, and our first task is to pipe (trace) these beautiful cursive letters on a mat. I was shaking like a leaf from nervousness and a tall travel mug full of espresso. Probably more from the espresso LOL! Months later, the lady who taught the class told me she thought I had some sort of "condition" that made me shake so bad and wondered how in the world I'd make it as a cake decorator! We had a good laugh about that :) It took a while for the espresso to wear off, but once it did, I was in the top of my class. I was by far the best student in the class. Somehow I just caught on early and was actually good at something, and I enjoyed it, too. The class was a week long, and I didn't really learn anything in the class that I didn't already know how to do except how to make a magnolia flower. To this day I still can't make a good one - oh well. I really enjoyed the class, and especially the teacher, I'll call her "D". She had been with Kroger for 26 years, and I learned a lot from her. She would occasionally visit the store I worked in, and I really enjoyed seeing her from time to time. Once, she had to come to our store for 2 days in a row. On her first day there, she decorated a few half sheets for us and then left. I had also done a few. The next day when she came back, my boss showed her one of my half sheet cakes, was sort of bragging on me, and "D" said, "No, I made that one....didn't I?" Nope. That one was mine. I was proud :)

After the week long class, I went back to working in the bakery as an official cake decorator. Before then I was helping with cakes, mostly icing them, making borders, learning how to make roses from my boss and the other cake decorator, etc. It seems like I kind of just caught on so quickly and never turned back. I had so much fun decorating the cakes! I loved having that creative outlet at Kroger's expense (LOL). After a while, I had people requesting that I do their cakes, and no one else. They wanted me, a girl who had been there less than a year over someone who had been decorating cakes for 10+ years...WOW. I felt honored, grateful, but still humble and a little unsure of myself (I still feel that way sometimes!). My only downfall was that I was "slow". I wasn't mass-producing cakes because I refused to let anything go out that I wouldn't serve to my family. I always had to have my area clean before I started on anything, and everything on my cakes had to be perfect. This didn't cause too many problems, I was just told I needed to work faster, work faster! I guess that what you get in any grocery store setting is quantity, not quality.

I worked for Kroger for a little over 2 years. When I became pregnant with Raia, the stress of the bakery (I thought) was too much for me, and I asked to be moved to cashier. I was so afraid of picking up heavy icing buckets, slipping on the icy floors in the negative temperature freezers and hurting myself and my unborn child. Plus, the stress of Saturday mornings when you get there at 4am to start on 25-30+ orders for the day, I just couldn't do it anymore. Once I got to the front and was cashiering, I was silently wishing I was back in the bakery. My big belly leaning over a thousand times a day into grocery carts to pick up items to scan was ROUGH. My pride kept me there, though. I wasn't about to ask to go back to the bakery. I had a few problems in my pregnancy that eventually got me out on early maternity leave with 60% pay. Everyone kept asking if I was coming back to Kroger after Raia was born, and I told them "I haven't made up my mind yet", but I had. I knew I'd stay home with her if at all possible. Raia was born on September 11, 2007. She has changed my life, what a wonderful blessing she has been!

As a stay-at-home-mom (for the most part), I realized I could use my "talent" to keep me busy. Cakes can be very stressful to make, but they also are a form of stress relief for me, if that makes any sense. It's almost like I can focus my attention elsewhere for a while, and let my creativity wreak havoc with icing! I absolutely LOVE making people happy, especially the kiddos when they see their birthday cake! That makes my heart swell, and it makes all the hours in the kitchen and my aching feet completely worth it!

Look at her face! That is what keeps me doing what I do :)

So, with this blog, I hope to bring you as much joy looking at my pictures as I have when creating them. Hopefully you'll get a little hungry, too!

Stay sweet~

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