Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Every Couple Should Know About Ordering Their Wedding Cake--Consultants v. Decorators

Back in the days I used to do wedding consultations in addition to decorating cakes, a lot of brides or grooms used to say something that would make me giggle: "Sorry I'm asking so many questions--I've never done this before!"

If this is you--don't apologize!  For many, many people, their wedding cake is the first and perhaps only time in their lives they will order a cake so large and, in many cases, so specialized.  It's much different than ordering a birthday or other everyday celebration cake, and it's completely normal no to know how one goes about it.  There are some general things that are good to know and, as someone who works in this industry, I'd like to share a series of some things that books probably don't tell you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Cross-Country Journey, Part 5

By the time the offer was made, I'd known I was going to accept.  I'd already been mentally distancing myself from my job months beforehand, and upon coming back, knew that--no matter what--I wasn't going to be staying at the Santa Fe job.  Whether it was Baltimore, or another place in New Mexico, I was ready to leave the place in Santa Fe for hopefully greener pastures.  It was only a matter of time.

3 weeks' time, it turned out.  Once I'd been offered and accepted the Baltimore job, they told me they needed me the first week of April, which gave me 3 short weeks to figure everything out.  I told my family, told my friends, and started my research.

Turns out, moving is HARD.  And expensive.  Finding an apartment in a city you don't live in and aren't familiar with?  Scary and stressful.  Condense all that in with a time crunch?  Given my body's past reactions to stress (ulcers, rashes...) I'm surprised the flu didn't come roaring back with a vengeance.

I tried to keep a level and pragmatic head.  I looked at furniture I'd collected and held onto over the years (an impossibly heavy armoire I particularly loved, procured at Target for 75% off; a baker's rack and dining set I'd bought for $50 and repainted to look like new), and made harsh cuts, selling a large amount of it on Craigslist (though, at a very nice profit from what I'd originally paid for it all, so that was a nice bonus).

I packed.  I made reservations for a moving pod.  I found an apartment and signed the lease, having only their website and Google street maps to go off of.  I finally put in my notice with 2 weeks to go, giving them no more notice than I had to.  I notified brides and hotel contacts, many of whom seemed genuinely upset to see me go.  I watched as days ticked by, and the Santa Fe bakery failed to make any provisions for wedding cakes once I'd left.  I enlisted my amazing family to help me move my things and painstakingly arrange them into a moving pod that looked entirely too small to fit everything (and yet it did, with a bit of room to spare).

With the help of my mom, I cleaned out my condo, packed the last of my belongings and my cat into my car, and headed down to Albuquerque for a last few days with my family before my Monday departure.  I was feeling the stress: the stress of change, of money, of leaving the support system I'd had close by all my life.  Up until that point, my parents and younger siblings had pretty much never been more than a 3 hour drive away.  This was to be the first time I'd live so far from them.

My lovely younger sister was coming on the road trip from New Mexico to Maryland with me--we had a plan, hotel reservations, roadside attractions to visit--we were ready.  Monday morning came, the car was packed, the GPS loaded up, the treats stashed away...and I was bawling.  Thinking about it now, even, I tear up.  It was one of the hardest things ever to get in that car and drive away, and pretty much the only thing that spurred me on right then was knowing that--at that time--I was at a point of no return.  My stuff was on its way, I had a years' lease signed that I had to honor, and a new job to start.  I had to be a grown-up and see it through.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Cross-Country Journey, Part 4

The interview in Baltimore came toward the end of my visit and, all too soon, it was time for me to go back to Santa Fe.  The night before I was due to leave, I helped make a dinner of an oven-baked "fried" chicken recipe I'd made and loved in Santa Fe, accompanied by some mashed potatoes.  The chicken didn't turn out as good, and the mashed potatoes were gluey--not my best meal ever.  Especially not when we all got sick the next day.  Lovely older sister insisted it wasn't the dinner, as the chicken had cooked far too long (while we waited for brother in law to come home) to have been undercooked.  I maintained I must have somehow contaminated the mashed potatoes.  However it happened, we were all feeling ooky--myself moreso than I had been.  Enough to not want coffee--big mistake.

Brother in law drove me to Union Station to catch a train up to BWI, as planned.  On the train, I started to feel it--the onset of headache.  I attributed it to my lack of caffeine, but still didn't feel I could stomach coffee or the like.  Got on the plane to go home feeling the continued flu symptoms, now expounded (as the flight went on) by a severe caffeine headache and the general nastiness of air travel.  All I wanted was to sleep, but had managed to sit in the one seat on our full flight that didn't recline, and spent the entire flight miserable contorted in various ways, trying to find a way to nap.

When we finally arrived in New Mexico, I was picked up at the airport by my mom, who drove me back to her house to retrieve my car.  I was due at work the next day, and felt I couldn't call in.  We had 3 cake decorators--one part time, and one who had pulled 13 continuous days of work to allow my vacation (as that was, according to our manager, the only way to make it happen).  Even if I'd wanted to call in, I had no idea who to call or what to do if the other decorator refused.  I figured I would tough it out, miserable as I felt.

My mom was urging me to go to the urgent care clinic--she didn't say so at the time, but she apparently thought rather strongly that I had flu that had progressed to the borderline edge of pneumonia.  Working in a hospital, it was something she saw happen, and apparently something that could quickly become bad.

I, again working that extreme denial, refused.  I just wanted to get back to my apartment, sleep in my bed, and tough it out.  She did impress upon me a Z-pack (a course of antibiotics designed to hit hard and fast), and thank god for that.  In hindsight, she was probably right (as most moms usually are) and goodness know what would have happened had a pushed myself to keep going to work without any sort of treatment.  As it was, I had just started to feel like myself again 2 and a half weeks later when I got the call from Baltimore, offering me a job.