I'd been looking forward to January.
This is my 4th January trading as Cake Box (happy 3rd anniversary to me!) and the previous three have been deathly quiet. Everyone's full of New Year Resolutions about healthy eating, Indulgences like cake are brushed aside as people join gyms, think about summer holidays and go on diets. Or at the very least looking to the credit card statements with some nervousness after the Christmas spend.
It's the prospect of this extended period of quiet that keeps me going through the very busy autumn. By Christmas week I'm ready to hibernate. Orders will be down, I can choose not to accept the birthday or anniversary orders from private customers. I can use the time to recover from the marathon baking session that October to December involves and I can look to the future.
Well, that's the theory.
I don't know what went on this year. The deli had a quiet fortnight but the soft play centre went mental for cake. Orders were up, not down. I had my much-anticipated weekend away, but the work either side was heavier than ever.
So here I am, on the last day of January. I'd done my tax return in plenty of time and my admin is up to date. But I've not worked out a business plan for the year, nor done any recipe testing. I have a fair amount of guilt about that.
Looking forward, I've an interesting fortnight ahead. From Monday I've a work experience pupil with me for a week. I've worked out which jobs to give her and which skills and techniques I can show her. It's my hope that she'll do some of the low skilled stuff that chews up my time - stuff like washing up and wiping the counters down - as well as some baking and cake decorating.
One job she's looking forward to and I'm delighted to be rid of for a week is piping the faces on the gingerbread men. It's the sort of job that is fun if you don't do it often. However, it is a right pain if you're doing 150 of them at the end of a busy day when your hand is so tired it keeps cramping.
We'll also talk abut how to professionally cover a cake and ideally she'll design and make a celebration cake across the course of the week that she can take home for half term.
Should time allow, I'll use the opportunity to do some recipe testing while I've help to hand. I've got a list of HEAPS of things I'd like to try.
During half term itself we hope to have the marvellous Miss P back with us. She did a few days of work experience with me in the summer and charmed the whole family into loving her. She's impossibly tall and beautiful, good company and ace with the kids. If she's this marvellous at 16, she'll set the world alight by her 20s. She's been asked to decorate a wedding cake for a family member, and I've invited her to come here and use my equipment to help her.
If I do get some new cakes ready, I'll pop here to post the recipes, I promise!