Sunday, April 13, 2014

Be Still My Heart Cuz it's Freakin' Out...

Ello Baykahs-
It happened AGAIN this week....I met one of YOU!!!!!!!!!
You know...I started this blog seven years (7 YEARS?!?!!?!?) ago in order to get my thoughts together about building our bakery...then I realized something: PEOPLE ARE READING THIS SHI*T.

I really don't write for people to read. I write to get all the STRESS of running a bakery OUT of me...apparently, for your enjoyment. SO, when one of you walks through the door and says, "I've been reading your blog forever, and I just HAD to meet you" I kinda freak out.

But this time I knew you were coming...BUT YOU DIDN'T.

About a week ago I got an email from "Paul from the UK." He told me that his girlfriend who lives in SF has been reading my blog and wants to open her own bakery. AND the two of them are meeting for a vacation in Vegas...and can he arrange some time for her to meet and talk to ME...as a surprise for HER.

HOW RAD IS THAT??!?!?!?!

1) I never say no to a Brit
2) I never say no to romance...
3) I never say no to anyone....really.

SO OF COURSE I SAID, "YES!"

In they walked...and she was SHOCKED! "He told me we were going to see some old Elvis thing...and then we kept driving, and HERE WE ARE AT THE BLOG PLACE!"

HI GINA!!

We chatted about the blog...about baking...about then and now and the future. IT WAS GREAT. It was so nice to see someone at the very beginning of her decision to change her life...sometimes I forget what it was like. And when your old self walks in to chat IT IS AMAZING because it is easy to forget where you started....that you were once a woman who wanted a change....and baking in your kitchen dreaming of a future....

Gina, you reminded me where the dream was. And I am thankful for that. I so hope you get your dream....wherever you decide to MAKE IT COME TRUE!!

Speaking of DREAMS...take a look at these DREAMY CAKES O' THE WEEK!

Gold glitter sugar-topped cake:

 "Married in Fabulous Las Vegas" cupcake tower:

"Married in Fabulous Las Vegas" two-tier "BLING and BLOOMS" cake:

 Fondant Gold wedding cake (topper by customer):

and the BIGGEST DADDY OF THEM ALL....
The "Pink and Yellow Fondant Roses" wedding cake:
BRIAN MADE EVERY FLOWER ON THIS CAKE...amazing.

When dreams FINALLY become reality it becomes a little fuzzy of why they were your dreams to begin with...especially when you're seven years in and exhausted. But, when a ball of energy like GINA comes in and reminds you how lucky you are to be a baykah, it all comes back to you.

To Gina and Paul: GOOD LUCK TO YOU!! You're welcome to visit any time!!! And best of luck on your new adventure in BAKING!!!

Laytah

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Clap Along if You Feel Like Happiness is the Truth

Ello Baykahs-
These past two weeks have literally felt like two days....It's BUSY SEASON! I feel like I say that all the time...but it really IS Busy Season now! Between weddings, baby showers, and bridal showers SPRING is our busiest time of year for cakes...and the time when we say, "No," "Sorry, we can't," or "I wish we could, but unfortunately..."

The same old dilemma is rearing its ugly head: WE ARE TOO SMALL FOR OUR OWN GOOD.

The truth is we're still just two cake people and one cupcake person in a 600 sq. ft. kitchen and NO WALK-IN COOLER. We're still just ONE OVEN. We're still just a MOM AND POP.....

But these are the days that hurt.... a lot...because I get it...people get mad when I can't fit them in. They want their cake they got last year or the cake they asked about six months ago. I WOULD BE MAD TOO IF I WAS TOLD NO!! But it still stings...it still makes me feel terrible that I can't say, "Yes" to everyone.

But that's the deal...it is the REALITY that I am in. So, I try to tell people to LITERALLY call me the moment they THINK they might want a cake...just to make sure I can fit them in. I do my BEST, and that is all I can do.

I try to focus on that: MY BEST. I give my ALL. I give EVERYTHING I can to make sure that we CAN fit in your cake...or cupcakes....or cookies. Because at the end of the day I really DO want you happy and eating our buttercream.

SPEAKING OF BUTTERCREAM...Take a look at the CAKES 'O The WEEKS:

Harley Davidson-inspired cake:

 Mustache Baby Shower Cake:

Police-inspired birthday cake (complete with fondant handcuffs):

 White fondant with real ribbon and real flowers wedding cake:

Teal to Purple Ombre rosette wedding cake:

Rosette cupcake tower:

"Lace and Fabric" cake:

The Ultimate "Married in Las Vegas" cake:

Buttercream and fondant florals wedding cake:

 Rustic buttercream with fondant peonies wedding cake:

And the BIG DADDY of the last two weeks: The CHEVRON WEDDING CAKE!

Quite honestly, this chevron cake is Brian's best work. It was so clean and the flowers looked so real. It was a proud Baykah moment when we delivered this one.

See...we DO make people happy! Sometimes I have to remind myself of our GOOD work, since I seem to only remember all the NOs I have to say. But, then we deliver a cake like THAT, and all the NOs melt into OOOOOOHHHS.

Laytah

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Your Love got Me Lookin' so Crazy Right Now...

Ello Baykahs-
I don't even know where to start. This has been the most INSANE week of my life. I literally felt my soul....

As you may have guessed I've been a little overwhelmed lately. Family emergencies I can't attend...major bakeries opening up in Vegas that shouldn't really hurt me but hurt me deep....working too much...eating too....drinking too much....
IT HAS ALL BEEN TOO MUCH.

and then I got a phone call.

"Hi, Kari. Would you be open to having your U.S. Representative be an 'Undercover Congressman' at your shop? He wants to work your job for a while and get a chance to see how you work and meet more people in his district."

HUH?????

"We will be there Thursday."

OK.....
And in walked Rep. Steven Horsford....who then proceeded to be the BEST COUNTER BOY EVER! I'm telling you...HE WAS FABULOUS. No wonder he's in politics!

Steven (can I call him Steven?? I don't know!) was gracious to all my crew and customers. He was hard-working, and he actually WANTED to do a good job. My Counter Girl, Heather, showed him the ropes, and he really took his time and wanted to do everything right!

He stocked the case. He loaded up boxes. He greeted customers. HE REALLY WORKED!!!!!...for an entire hour and a half (way longer than I thought, to be honest).
 His entourage watched and laughed...and even bought cupcakes from him!


 It was TRULY an incredible day...and before he was done he asked me to come out from the kitchen to the front and presented me with THIS:

I mean SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!? A SPECIAL Congressional RECOGNITION?? 


I was actually SHOCKED....look at me. WHAT AN IDIOT....THIS is the face of a woman who just got a SPECIAL CONGRESSIONAL RECOGNITION?!?!?!

I had no words. I still don't. I still feel like it didn't happen...

The best part of this day?? Five minutes before this picture was taken I had received the phone call from Oregon that I was truly praying for for the last two weeks. My dad is ok. He called to talk to me...and I was crying harder than I have ever cried in my entire life in my office....while a U.S. Congressman was serving MY cupcakes.

Yes. This is my life. This is my insanity. THIS IS WHY I CAN CALL MYSELF THE CRAZY BAYKAH.

It has been a week without description....
My soul was eased. It was finally at peace...even if it was just for a five minute phone call with the one man I call "POP." I am so thankful he is alive....and the fact that I got to make him proud was just icing on the cake....LITERALLY.

I love you, Pop.

Laytah

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Little Things I Should Have Said and Done...

Ello Baykahs.
This has been one of the hardest weeks of my entire life. We were busy as busy gets...and on top of that there was a family emergency in Oregon that I couldn't even THINK about leaving for because if I did that the entire bakery would collapse...and nine people would not get a paycheck...

Six years and only one time have we had to close for a family emergency...our sweet Grandpa George's funeral. But that was when we could barely have one part-time employee let alone THREE FULL TIME. And the sad reality is dropping everything and running to whatever crisis is happening is just seriously out of the question...at least right now.

BUT, I think I already found my solution. WE HIRED AN EXTERN. We finally found a girl who said the magic words, "I would love to work for a family business." AND she is full of energy. AND she has purple hair...so she fits right in. SO FAR SO GOOD...but she's only been around for about five hours.

I'm choosing to think positive. I am choosing to think that this girl has the potential to REALLY become the person that can give me the FREEDOM to make Retro what it needs to be...and that is not with me in the kitchen for 12 hours.

I know I should have done this a long time ago, BUT I am doing it NOW. Another emergency will happen...I've just been DAMN lucky nothing has happened so far....so, I need to prepare. WE need to have our "cupcakes" in a row. And that is exactly what I will be focusing on for the next couple of weeks...

Now, like I said, I was a LOT distracted this week, so I only got two cake pics, but THEY WERE GOOD ONES!

Here are the Cakes O' the WEEK!

Married in Las Vegas ruffles cake:

And the BIG DADDY of the week:
The blue and grey chevron and flower cake (believe it or not this is for a baby shower!):

As my heart is still in Oregon, my mind is totally focused on RETRO and making it as self-sufficient as it can be....just in case.

Laytah

Sunday, March 2, 2014

You're a Hard Habit to Break...

Ello Baykahs-
Long time....no write...
I had to give myself some time. I just HAD TO. I really didn't recover from the Valentine CRAZY until yesterday. It was a level of busy I had never seen...and since it was on a Friday, meaning I had do it ALL OVER the next day...then one day off...then another week and another week of CRAZY BUSY. It just piled up...and I JUST crawled out from under it.

Busy is good. Busy is money. Busy is happy customers. Busy is amazing cakes and delicious cupcakes. Busy is GREAT. BUT, busy also means less time with my kids....less time for me....So one of the things I have been privately (and kind of publicly) working on is giving ME time and being OK with that.

I don't know when it happened, but at some point I just starting working and NEVER taking a break. I got up at 3:30 am, got ready, and went to work...and I never stopped. From making cupcakes, to answer emails, to having impromptu meetings with one person after another "that just decided to drop this idea on you today"... to blogging at 4am on my only day off. I NEVER STOPPED WORKING.

And then I saw myself in the mirror.

I looked like shit....it REALLY took a toll on my body and my soul. I didn't look like ME. I was miserable.

So, I just stopped. I started pulling back from the things that I could pull back from. I became OK with not answering emails within 10 minutes of receiving them. I put off blogging. I put off the little shit -that when done constantly- was eating up every minute of every day of MY life.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still making cupcakes, baking cookies, and deciding what the hell new flavor we'll come up with next. But Brian and I decided that after I pick up Lucy from school I drive her home to do homework with him and Abbi. I then go back to work for a couple more hours, and then I go home FOR GOOD at 5 pm.

5 pm?? That's still a 12-hour day!

Yes. I know. But, when you're used to working 14-21 hour days (yes, a 21-hour day HAS happened) over and over and over again, a 12-hour day sounds like HEAVEN...and it IS heaven.

I'm not going to lie. It doesn't work every day. BUT, it is a habit that I WANT to make permanent. So far, so good...at some point I may start to recognize that girl I see in the mirror again.

NOW...we WERE busy, so forgive me for the lack of cake pics, but let's take a look at what I DID manage to take picture of. HERE ARE THE Cakes O' the Week!


Buttercream Lines with fresh flowers wedding cake:

Baby Carriage and Pacifier baby shower cake (to top a cupcake tower):

Turtle-topped baby shower cake:


Ropin' Cowboy birthday cake:

Curious George on his ball birthday cake (customer brought in toy):

Giant cupcake birthday cake (yes, Liisa is the correct spelling!):

Fondant ruffles and flower wedding cake:

And the Big Daddy is a Little Daddy...We're making show cakes for the bakery, and THIS is the one I designed. I just love a textured cake...

When you own your own business, and your entire life is based on the success of it, YOU WILL WORK....a lot. But you also need to recognize that if YOU are no longer there...and it's just the shell of a person runnin' the place...you MAY need to pull it back a bit and give YOURSELF some time.

Here's to new habits!

Laytah


Sunday, February 16, 2014

But I'm Dancing on the Valentine...

Ello Baykahs-
We just finished the BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR. In fact, 2.10.14 - 2.15-14 was Retro Bakery's busiest week in HISTORY.

When I opened six years ago on February 10, 2008, the thought of making it THIS far wasn't even in my radar. I was just NEEDING to get open...we were bleeding money. Between the contractors, the equipment costs, and the landlord we were NEEDING income to make it WORK, so the sooner we opened the BETTER. However, I did NOT anticipate the fact that VALENTINE'S DAY was only four days away...and I was NOT prepared for that six years ago, and frankly, I was barely prepared for it THIS week.

No matter how much you prepare mentally and physically for the "Busiest Week of the Year" you just CAN'T prepare for the "Busiest Week EVER." It was great. It was terrible. It was EXHAUSTING.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am exhausted and can barely form sentences. This is NOT the time for blogging. I had ZERO time to take pictures of the cakes anyway...

It was our best week ever, but it definitely took its toll out on me...I am VERY thankful for the LOVE, but I need to take EVERY MINUTE of this Sunday for myself to recover...because it starts all over again on Monday.

Laytah

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm Not a Perfect Person. There's Many Things I Wish I Didn't Do...

Ello Baykahs!
I'm sitting here on the morning of the eve of Retro Bakery's 6th birthday....

SIX YEARS....

I have been doing this for SIX YEARS. The funny thing is I still feel like a rookie. I still make dumbsh*t mistakes. I still irritate customers when I just can't do something that they have envisioned. I still can't seem to make Retro EXACTLY what I want...and frankly, I don't even know what that IS. I just know that it is something OTHER than what we're doing now....

AND THERE IS THE FUTURE.

I have a vision for Retro, but it is pretty blurry. Some days I get little blasts of what we COULD be doing...WHERE we could be doing it...HOW we could be building the bakery more...

BUT IT IS A CONSTANT BATTLE BETWEEN FAMILY AND BUSINESS.

I always tell people that if Brian and I didn't have kids we would have the biggest bakery in Las Vegas....but, we do. WE DO HAVE KIDS, and THEY COME FIRST. And that is my inner battle. I am an EXTREMELY competitive person. If I do something I want to be the BEST...but, I can't give 100% to Retro. As much as I want to build my "baby" to where I think it should be in the NEXT six years, I ALWAYS have to think about my ACTUAL babies...raising THEM to where they should be for THEIR futures.

My REAL BABIES come before my BAKERY "BABY."

I am always struggling with not spending enough time with the girls...but, recently Brian and I have done our VERY best to make sure THEY KNOW they come first. He's been taking them home at 4 to start homework, and then we switch and I get to go home for the day at 5. It's taken six years, but we've finally figured out how to work ONLY 12 hours a day (on weekdays).

The sad reality is that I always feel like I'm letting people down...I can't give Retro 100%. I can't give my kids 100%. I CERTAINLY can't give Brian 100%. So everyone gets 33.3%. And for ME, that just isn't good enough.....but, it has to be. I am the one that has to start being OK with what IT is. Some day I will have OODLES of time for myself to build WHATEVER I want to build. NOW? I have to realize that these are the ONLY children I will ever have. These girls are MINE right now...but they won't be mine forever. They WILL grow up. They WILL leave. They WILL remember all the crap I didn't do with them....So, you're damn right I'm going to make an effort to make sure they have more GOOD memories than bad.

Honestly, I am so lucky to even have these struggles. So many bakeries have opened and closed in these six years, that Retro still being open and thriving is something I am very very very thankful for. I am so grateful to have a business AND a family...and the good AND the bad.

I know LIFE will never be perfect. I know that I will fall 900 more times...but I will also have 900 more chances to pick myself up and try again (those 900s were for you, SNAZZ). I hope the next six years and BEYOND for Retro will bring some tasty new products...and more importantly, NEW and stronger friendships.

It is truly the connection with others that make our business successful. I truly care about my customers and how they feel...and I literally think about how to make them EXCITED about what Retro has NEXT for them. THAT is what keeps it fresh. THAT is what keeps me going back in six days a week...now only 12 hours a day (HA!).

NOW...let's get to the COOLEST part of Retro...THE CAKES!!
Here are the CAKES O' the WEEK!

"Super" birthday cake:

Wrestling ring birthday cake (the ropes are spaghetti!!!):

"Frozen"-inspired birthday cake:

 Snow White-inspired birthday cake:
 Shades of pink polkda dots birthday cake:

 Choo Choo Train birthday cake:

and the BIG DADDY of the Week: The TEA CUPS CAKE!! Any Alice in Wonderland fan would LOVE this cake!!!

Speaking of cakes...our 6th birthday will have a SIX-TIER cake celebrating "Six Years in Sin City"!!

Happy Birthday to my youngest baby. You make Mommy so proud.

Laytah