Just say no…..

It has come to our attention that Megan and I have been seriously slacking in the blog department.  That does not mean, however, that we don’t have anything to write about.  We definitely have not been seriously slacking in the ‘caking’ department.

Au contraire.

It actually means that we have been ridiculously, outrageously, crazy-busy with cakes.  Who has time to write about cakes when you do seven cakes and 140 cupcakes in the span of a week.

I must admit, though, that I am always sad when I come back to the blog and I realize how much time has passed since we’ve written anything.

Events come and go…cakes come and go….life comes and goes.  It just gets hard to keep up sometimes.  I barely have time to live it, let alone write about it, not to mention the fact that we have been up to our eyeballs in flour and fondant.  It is also a factor that I wait to be inspired to write the blog and sometimes inspiration just doesn’t come.  But then, those of you who like to write know that.  It’s hard enough to carve out time to write and know exactly what people want to read about, let alone trying to be relatively entertaining at the same time.  Our blog is such a crazy combination of cake experiences, cake instruction and philosphizing about cakes…and, at times, philosophizing about life.  Philosophizing about cakes?  (Is philosophizing even a word)?  Yes, there always seems to be some kind of life application.  Or at least, it seems that way to me.  I’m a counselor and that’s how counselors think.  We’re always looking to make meaning out of everything.

We certainly haven’t had a lack of activity in the kitchen.  On the contrary, we recently had one of our busiest weeks ever. I barely had time to run out to the street and get my mail, let alone write for the blog.  I’m sitting in a Starbucks at the moment (even though I vowed I would never go to a Starbucks again) because I am in another town waiting for someone to finish an appointment and I have some time to kill.  I might add, this never happens, so I might as well write a blog since I’ve been meaning to do it for the last two months.

By the way, since you mentioned Starbucks…..oh, wait a minute…….I mentioned Starbucks……., just in case you’re wondering why, in the previous paragraph, I have vowed to never go to an expensive, over-priced, trendy, ridiculously-priced, stand-in-line-for-10-minutes-then-wait-another-20-minutes-for-my-individually-brewed-coffee shop, I’ll tell you……..oh, nevermind.

Megan is finished teaching for the summer and, as a result, we took on three times the number of cakes that we do in a normal week.  I keep asking myself what I was thinking.  We’ve kind of built up this pace over the last year.  We normally don’t do anymore than two, sometimes three, cakes a week.  I prefer to do only one but peoples’ life events don’t seem to happen based on how many cakes we have to do in a week and, when it comes to my friends and family, as Ado Annie says in Oklahoma, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no.”

It’s okay.  We’re learning to say no.  Unfortunately, we’re going to have to start saying no more and more.  I hate to say no.  Except with my kids.  I never had a hard time saying no to my kids.  Just ask them what life was like growing up with me as a mama.

“Mama, can I go to the movies to see the latest, totally-inappropriate-movie-for-a-middleschooler with my friends?”

“No.”

Anyway, we seem to be getting so many requests that we’re going to have to start saying no.  As much as we love doing cakes for people, we just can’t keep up and we don’t want to turn out cakes that are less than our standard.  There are times when we call in an extra pair of hands or two (usually my other two daughters), and, believe me, in this last crazy cake marathon, we ended up using both of Megan’s sisters.

Now for the reason that you probably read this blog, the cakes themselves…..

I had to actually go back and look at the last blog entry to see what cake I wrote about last.  Let me see…..where did we leave off?  Or, should I do a summary of the craziest cake week ever?

Oh my heart.

My last blog post was about the Fairyland cake….May 10……it is now July 8…….we have done 19 cakes and 290 cupcakes since then.

Lots to write about and lots of catching up to do, however I’m going to do the catching up in subsequent posts.  This post is about saying no and how we almost walked away from cakes.

Let me just say, we almost got burned out.  I guess we did get a little burned out.  As a matter of fact, we actually took a cake vacation for a week.  We didn’t go anywhere, we just didn’t do any cakes.

It was weird but kind of nice.  It was lovely to have a Saturday with no finishing touches and cake deliveries in it.  I ended up cleaning out my freezer and my garage, something that I can’t do when we’re doing cakes.  I always love all day projects and the feeling of accomplishment that they bring, but I just can’t do them on Saturdays anymore because of cakes.  Don’t get me wrong, who loves to do things like cleaning out their garage?  I can’t say that that is one of the projects that I love but one of the things that I do love and have always loved about Saturdays is working side by side with my husband on projects in the house and yard.  My poor husband has had to work alone many Saturdays because I am doing cakes, so it was nice to have the time to spend with him.  We got a lot done.

Some of our friends and people who follow the Facebook page were concerned about our cake vacation.  We were at a friend’s house on the fourth of July and I was talking to another friend who was at the party about the number of cakes that we had been doing.  He said, “I know…..I saw you post something about a ‘cake vacation’ and I said to myself, uh oh.”

Ever since Megan and I started ‘caking’ a year and a half ago, I have loved every stress-filled, flour-laden, fondant-sticking part of it.  However, in this last month, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t love it and I knew that we both needed a break so that we could love it again.

I can’t say, though, that we didn’t think about cakes or talk about cakes or strategize about cakes during that week.  We just didn’t do any cakes.

We collected our thoughts, watched some movies, played some video games and just enjoyed the days of summer.  We actually went back and, yes, we watched some seasons of our hero, Duff Goldman from Charm City Cakes.

No worries.  We’re back, not quite in full force because Megan will be leaving for her summer mission trip in a few days.  For the past several years she has gone to Russia to teach English in a summer kids’ camp.  This year she is going to Slovakia, but you know what that means.  I have taken on a few cake requests to do on my own while she’s gone.  We’ve already done the planning for these cakes, though and we’re actually going to work on some components before she goes away, but basically I’ll be flying solo again.

So….we’ve decided that, since we don’t have a shop, and ‘caking’ is not our full-time occupation, we are going to cut back ever so slightly on the number of cakes that we do.  Yeah, right.  At least that’s the plan.  We’ll see.  We love doing cakes for people but we want to continue to love it.  We want to continue to see the smiles on the faces when people surprise their loved one with a special cake.  We want to continue to brainstorm and come up with new ways to express ourselves through our cakes.  We want to continue to write about cakes and actually have time to blog…….and live.

Here’s the philosophizing part (disclaimer:  if you’re not into the musings of a slightly eccentric, middle-aged woman who bakes and counsels and takes care of a family, then you might want to stop reading at this point).

Life is balance.  Let me clarify that, life WELL LIVED is a balance.  Anytime things get out of balance, unhappy campers ensue and you no longer love what you’re doing.  Cakes were taking over and, as a result, everything else was out of balance.  I have found that anything done to the extreme makes me miserable.  Rest, healthy eating, plenty of exercise and sunshine, spending time with the people that I love, working in my craft of counseling, being outside enjoying God’s creation, and most importantly, worshipping the God that I love with my life…..these are the things that I need to balance.

Making people smile with a cake is a bonus.

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