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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why, oh why?

So many things have happened since we last talked (read, wrote, you know what I mean).  The Georgia Department of Agriculture finally passed the Cottage Food Law....YAY!!!!!!!  Here's a link to the regulations....
Cottage Foods
Click here for the  Georgia Cottage Food facebook page .

Such a big step for Georgia bakers.  This will seriously help out so many people who may not have been able to legally start their own businesses, which in turn will create revenue for the state.  So many positives across the board.  I absolutely love to read about the bakers who have already passed their kitchen inspections and are on their way.  For me, well I've come to another brick wall.  I live in Gwinnett Co, one of the largest counties in the state (second largest behind Fulton for population), and at this point in time the Water & Sewerage Dept will not allow a home-based food business in a residential area.  Why?  In order to have a food business, they require you to have a 1500 gallon (YES, you read that right) grease trap on site.  That grease trap would have to be flushed regularly, meaning big trucks, nasty hoses, etc.  So basically they won't even give me the time of day because I don't have this. 

I spent most of the day yesterday doing research, making phone calls, waiting on return calls (which btw never happened), and hoping for some positive news.  I spoke with "the guy with all the answers" at the Water & Sewerage Dept.  He hated to be the barer of bad news, but he basically said there was nothing I could do. 

Now, let me run this by you.... their main reason for this was because any grease put down a drain can start to cause buildup and thus back up the sewage into neighborhoods.  Several years ago, there was a big problem with the water and Gwinnett was able to come up with a solution for theirs.  This has created even more strict regulations from the top down at the water dept.  Apparently some of the other big counties (Dekalb & Fulton) have some pretty bad problems and will eventually have to change their regulations as well.  So....with all of the "underground bakers" across the county making cakes to supplement income that may or may not already put any grease down the drain, will it make any difference at all if the water dept does allow this Cottage Food Law?  And there are limitations already on what you can even produce under the Cottage Food Law.  We're talking things like cakes, fruit pies, cookies, pastries.  You can't make anything that is considered perishable and needs refrigeration.  No cream cheese frostings, cheesecakes, cream pies, etc.  So how much "grease" would you really put down the drain?  For me, any leftover frosting gets scraped in the trash.  And I use disposable pastry bags because I really dislike washing them.  We're talking MINIMAL amounts of grease, if any.  No more than your average meal cooked at home for your family.

AND....the state of Georgia allows certain items to be produced and sold at state operated farmers' markets.  Hence the reason I chose to participate in the Snellville Farmers' Market this summer.  Which btw was a lot of fun!  As long as you individually package your items and label them with ingredients, allergen information, and contact information, you were able to sell their approved list of items WITHOUT having a business license OR contacting the water dept for approval.  So if a baker is allowed to participate in farmers' markets without pre-approval from the water dept, why won't they allow a variance for the Cottage Food Law? 

Sara Rylander spoke up and made a change for the future of small business bakers across the state.  Now it's time to help my fellow Gwinnett bakers get their businesses going.  Spread the word, share your stories, talk to the media, etc.  We can do this!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seriously, where did the summer go?!?!


I know!  We're thinking the same thing!  Seriously, where did the summer go???

It's been almost 2 months since my last entry.  Time sure does slip away from us, doesn't it?

Well, let's see.  So much has happened.  I'll try to recap without boring you to tears.

Farmers' Market has been consistently successful.   We have several people that stop by weekly to get cupcakes.  LOVE that!  And of course we hear about it when we're not at the market.  Very, very thankful to those that have continued to support SDC.  I love that the market is over at noon so I can get back to regularly scheduled weekend fun (although Fridays are a bit overwhelming at times). 

Here are some fun pics of market stuff...

Sand Bucket Cupcakes

S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie
"Sundae" Cupakes


And, we've had two big birthdays this summer....my littlest man turned the big 4!!  Yep, hard to believe.  They grow up so fast!  His party was FANTASTIC, if I do say so myself.  And our friends are STILL talking about it.  I created a drive-in theater, complete with snacks, cars for the kids to sit in, and a movie of course.  Best idea I've had yet!  The kids actually sat in their cars with their snacks for an ENTIRE movie!!!  Can you believe that?  The parents actually had a chance to sit, relax, and chat.  
We set up a photo booth with props for all of the kids!                                                                                                                                                       

The birthday boy in his car!


The favors...a take home movie night with redbox gift certificate!

The concession stand

All of the kids got so comfy in their cars.
"Popcorn" Cupcakes









And, yes, I turned 30 this summer.  Yep, the big 3-0....THIRTY!  Me?!?! Whew....hard to say.  It's true.  I threw myself an extraordinary party inspired by the great Jimmy Buffett. 

The tiki bar


Oil Station (All those tourists covered with oil!)

Wastin' away again in Margaritaville Cupcakes

The food table- each item had a reference to a Buffett song!!!

And of course we used the photo booth as well....

Ya know, if the whole cake thing doesn't work out...perhaps I could go into the party planning business.  ;)


So, what's going on with the business side of me?  The Dept of Agriculture posted the regulations for the cottage food law in July and opened a 30 day commentary period allowing people to write in and share why they think this would be beneficial or not to our state.  Well, the 30 day period is over, and still no word on what the outcome will be.  We are anxiously awaiting some news about it.  Until then, we have a few more weeks scheduled at the farmers' market and will keep trucking along!


Some other projects this summer...
BBQ Grill/Tailgating Cupcakes







What about you?  What have you been up to?  How did you spend your summer???

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Market Updates

So, summer has finally set in.  The weather has been strangely mild so far, although today felt like a heatwave came through.  It is always a big adjustment for the first few weeks of summer... I have both boys AND the hubby home with me everyday, which can make for a hard time getting work done....thus is why I haven't updated my blog in some time.  I started the Snellville Farmers' Market a few weeks ago and have been very welcomed by the community.  Both weekends we nearly sold out of treats!!!  I've featured an array of sweets, from Maple Bacon Cupcakes, to S'mores Stuffed Cookies and Chocolate Overload Push Ups.  I picked up a box of peaches from Pearson Farms to make peach preserves that I served with samples of cream cheese poundcake and also used them in peach cobbler cupcakes!  They were delish!!!


We are back at the Farmers' Market this Saturday, June 23 with more sweets and treats and then we will be off for two weeks.  If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by Snellville City Hall. 

I finally got around to putting my business info on my car and it turned out GREAT!!!  What do you think?















I hope you're enjoying your summer!
-Jennifer

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Updates

Yes, I know...it has been forever!  I promise to try better next time.  I won't leave you for so long.  It looks like we have a lot of catching up to do...

Well, I've had some VERY busy weeks lately with the school year ending, which means that I had to get gifts read for Nicholas' teachers and bus driver.  I absolutely LOVE that Nicholas is taking advanced classes at school.  He truly is very smart, but that also means triple the number of gifts to send in!  But, it is all worth it.  I came up with a really cute idea for his teachers, that "hopefully" they would be able to use over the summer.  Since the hubby is a teacher and I worked at a private school back in the day, we really try to send in gifts that the teachers will appreciate and USE.  I can't tell you how many bottles of Bath & Body Works lotions I received over the years that are still in my gift tote.  I started to wonder if they thought I smelled bad, but then realized that smelly stuff just seems to be a typical gift.  Haha.  Here's a pic of what I sent in.  Total cost per gift worked out to be around $11, plus the kids got to enjoy the leftover snacks (bonus!). 

The buckets were filled with a personalized water bottle that had crystal light drink packets in it, a beach towel, snacks and candy.


The same week was filled with lots of cakes.  My favorite one was made for my cousin's graduation.  I haven't seen some of my extended family in 10 years or so, so when my aunt asked if I would make my cousin's cake, I was honored.  We drove out to their house for a party and spent some time catching up with everyone.  It was neat for my kids to meet a whole different side of the family!  My cousin, the one I made the cake for, has been accepted into the Navy Seal program as a Navy Diver and leaves this fall.  So, we only thought it was appropriate to make a Navy Ship Cake.

The hubby had to help guide me on this one because my ship looked like a cruise ship for a while.  He said it needed more weapons! 

I also made a graduation cake for a friend's sister.  She is a huge Beatles fan.


And my neighbor was celebrating his 2nd birthday.  Aren't these Blues Clues cupcakes adorable???

Oh, and I made the awesome BEATS headphones for a good friend.  They were a lot of fun to make.



And, while I've been away, I purchased my new CUPCAKE MOBILE!!!!  Yay!!!!  Here she is.....


Do you like the little cupcake antenna topper?  (Thanks Mom!)


Since then I have ordered some advertising for the back window and can't wait to put it on!  I'll post pics hopefully next week.  So, what's going on now???  Well, my first day at the Snellville Farmers' Market will be this weekend.  I have made product lists, gone shopping, ordered promotional items, and I'm not even close to being ready yet.  I am overwhelmed, stressed, nervous.... VERY nervous.  What if people don't buy my treats?  What if they don't like them?  AHHH!  But, at the same time, I am very excited to have this opportunity to share my sweet treats with the community.  And, it will help by some time until we hopefully hear some good news about the Georgia Cottage Food Law!

Until next time,
Jennifer

Monday, May 7, 2012

Long time, no see...

No, I haven't been hiding under a rock.  I'm in the process of getting all my little duckies in a row.  And let me tell you, I wish it was a little easier!  With the kickstarter project being funded, I have just received all of your wonderful donations.  I have sent surveys to each of my backers to get some more info for their rewards.  The projected start date for rewards to begin is June 4.  If you haven't received your survey, contact me asap!

My amazing parents surprised me with a little bit of homework to help me get things in order. 

The books have been very helpful thus far, but still have a good bit of reading to do!




I also took a trip to the shared kitchen to do a walk through.  Here are a few pictures from the tour.  I have to admit that it's not quite what I was expecting, and it is a LONG hike from my home, but it looks to be the best "next step".  And, the manager of the place was really nice and very helpful.  She's been in my shoes, just as many of the other members have. 

Here's the outside of the building...


When you first walk in, they have a small table with chairs that could be used for consultations.  Once you get back to the kitchen area, it sort of splits to a side more geared towards catering and a side mostly used for baking.  These are on the catering side.

Around the corner was the wash room...

And ice/sink area...also had the walk in fridge/freezer (not pictured).

I didn't get a pic of the baking side because there were people working in the space, but it basically consisted of a double convection oven with stainless steel prep tables.  There were two areas like that, and also another area with just big prep tables.  They have large mixers that can be wheeled to your working station as well. 


Here's the dry storage.


I have a good bit of work to do before I can get the membership there, as well as licensing, insurance, etc after I get the membership.  But, I've made progress and now at least know what needs to be done next. 

My other big business factor is getting another car!  Kyle and I have been a one-car home for a few years now.  When I decided to stay at home after C was born, it didn't make sense having two car payments since one vehicle was almost always parked in the driveway.  So, we sold Kyle's truck and have managed pretty well without it.  I am still at home with C on a daily basis, but the opportunity is there for the hubs to get a ride with a coworker if needed.  But, in order for me to work in a shared kitchen an hour from my house, I need SOMETHING to drive.  And, it needs to have enough room for some pretty big cakes in the back, have the seats lie completely flat, AND be an ultra smooth ride.  I can't have cakes falling apart from a rugged riding vehicle.  So, I'm on the hunt to find a vehicle that will do all of these things AND stay within my conservative budget. 

Happy Monday!!!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh happy day!!!

For those of you that don't already know, my kickstarter project ended on Sunday.  I was seriously stalking my page, watching as the donations kept climbing, and sure enough....I met my goal!!!  My project was 102% funded!!!!  It has taken a few days to sink in, but I am so incredibly excited.  I am touched, honored, humbled, thankful, etc for all of you that shared my page, encouraged me, lifted my spirits, and made extremely generous donations, both big and small.  Literally every single dollar counted! There was no donation too big or too small.  It was a joint effort behind all of my backers that made this possible.  In the coming months, I will be working on licensing, setting up the rental kitchen, and purchasing a delivery vehicle.  I'll also be sending out rewards for all of my backers.  And, be sure to mark your calendars for June 2, opening day of the Snellville Farmers Market!  I'll have a booth set up that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth!!!

I also wanted to share this little guy with you...


Isn't he just adorable?  I had a friend send a picture of her son's favorite stuffed animal and wanted me to make a cake that looked like him.  I think he turned out great!  The dog bowl is the smash cake!!!

I hope you have a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back to reality!

It feels so weird to work on my laptop right now.  I packed it up a week and a half ago to head down to Florida for spring break.  BUT, I didn't even take it out of the bag the ENTIRE trip!  I'm so proud of myself.  So, now I have emails to respond to, updates to post, pictures to post, you know...all of that catching up we do when we return to reality.  Not to mention getting the house reorganized, the loads and loads of laundry, and trying to stay motivated while you just want to plop down in a chair outside, bask in the sun, and take a little siesta.  But no, there are more important things to do.

Our trip was great.  Definitely not long enough.  But when is it really long enough?  We've had several vacations where I've just wanted to get back home, to my house, my space, and my bed.  We spent the first few days at the in-law's in Florida.  You may remember the two cakes that were getting packed up for their 7 hour journey.  Well, they made it!  And everyone loved them!!!

I absolutely LOVE these cake boxes.  Unfortunately, the company I purchased them from just went out of business before I could order some more.




We had a great time with hubby's family, but were all very eager to get to the beach.  We were only able to spend 2 nights at the beach since the hubby had to come back for a meeting, but we definitely made the most of our time there.  The hubby even rented a kayak for Nicholas so they could do out in the ocean.  And it was reported that Nicholas said it was the best thing a kid could ever do.  We took a leisurely drive home and stopped in St.Augustine.  It was very crowded walking through the historic district, but the kids had fun and it was a great way to stretch our legs before finishing our journey home. 

Here's an update on my kickstarter!

I am currently at 28% of my goal which is GREAT, however, I only have 5 days left to reach my goal.  With your help and support, this is still possible!  PLease take a moment to read it, share with friends, etc.  Every single dollar helps!  There is no donation that is too big or too small.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1920130639/hobby-baker-wants-to-go-pro

Monday, March 26, 2012

I am still anxiously awaiting news about the Georgia Cottage Food Law.  The last I heard was that there should be some sort of decision made in April.  I can tell you this, waiting for things is not my area of expertise!  On a similar note, my kickstarter project seems to be in a lull.  I am so very thankful to those that have donated to my project and are continuing to share my page.  However, with only 19 days left, and being so far from my goal, I will have to come up with a backup plan just in case.  I know so many that are waiting until the end to see what happens and then make a contribution.  Please don't wait too late!!!

I had a great weekend.  Saturday morning my Nicholas scored his first goal in soccer!!!!  I am VERY proud of him and all of his hard work.  Then, hubby and I delivered a wedding cake.  Now, I have to admit that I am not nearly as versed in buttercream cakes.  I prefer using fondant to cover a cake and feel that it's just a better medium for me.  But, once the flowers were added to the cake, it looked beautiful, and perfect for the chic rustic elegance at Tucker Plantation.




We had a great dinner with my parents Saturday evening!  And spent some time outside enjoying the beautiful weather with the neighbors yesterday.

This week is filled with cleaning, packing and making cakes for my niece and nephew.  Then, 7 hour drive WITH the cakes for their parties this weekend.  Sounds fun right?  Now to get my head wrapped around a concept for the cakes!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!!!

It is the first day of Spring, and the pollen count is already at record highs.  Today's count...9369!!!!  We have completely skipped over that time of year when you can have the windows open and get a nice breeze blowing through.  I mean, it practically feels like summertime outside!  I almost got a sunburn sitting outside with the neighbors on Sunday...in March...really?!?!? 

As of today, my kickstarter project is 8% funded.  There are only 25 days left to donate, so please continue to share the word!!!

 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1920130639/hobby-baker-wants-to-go-pro

This was a pretty eventful weekend.  Friday night was the St.Patty's day party with the neighbors.  SOOO much yummy food!  I made these fun treats for the adults. 
Chocolate Guinness cake layered with a Guinness reduction and Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream and topped with a white chocolate shamrock.


I also had two friends that asked if I could make cakes for their girls this weekend.  I LOVE the way this one turned out!  The only request was that her daughter could easily recognize it as Tangled.  The most tedious task of the cake was making all of the shingles. 


I had some challenges with this one.  One of my BFFs asks that I make cakes for her kids every year.  She sent me a pic of the paper products they were using and asked if I could use that as an inspiration.  BUT...she didn't want fondant on the cake.  I don't do buttercream covered cakes as well as I do fondant ones.  Fondant is just my "thing" I suppose.  Traditional bakers, well... I give them props because it just doesn't come as naturally to me.  And my piping skills are not fantastic, although I don't spend a lot of time practicing.  You can see that most of my cakes have a simple bead border around the bottom just to give a finish on the cake. 

This was my inspiration...


And this is the cake. 


The colors were a little more vibrant in person.  I will be the first to admit that I am not the best photographer.  I airbrushed the cake using the different colors from the plates and the black center.  The stars are the ONLY fondant pieces on the cake.  The peace signs are white chocolate.  Oh, and there is black edible glitter on the cake too!

The weather outside lately has been absolutely beautiful, but on the verge of being HOT.  It was so warm on Sunday, that the hubby pulled out the slip-n-slide and sprinklers for the boys to play in.  Which meant that all of the neighbors came to play too.  It was so funny watching the kids splash through the water.


Happy Spring Everyone!