Friday, 16 July 2010

Taking Stock

Somehow these past few weeks have got away from me. There I was thinking the summer was months away, and it turns out the kids break up from school next week.

The glorious heat and sunshine of June gave me a bit of a break. Orders from the soft play centre dropped like a stone - who wouldn't rather be in the park in such weather - and the deli orders dwindled. Hot weather isn't cake weather. It's weather for ice creams, bowls of strawberries, long cool drinks with straws and parasols in.

As well as working in the garden and having some super days out with the kids, I used the time to take stock a little. I've done my accounts and have a clearer view of what is working and what isn't. I also know precisely how little money I've made, which sent me into rather a bad mood for a bit. It's one thing having a rough idea. It's another thing entirely to see exactly how much has come in and - more depressingly - gone out during the 18 months I've been Cake Boxing.

I need to keep looking for ways to make the business more profitable. If your target is to achieve minimum wage pretty steadily and you can't even manage that, there is something askew in the business model.

On the plus side, I've had loads of work from a variety of sources. The cake box scheme was enthusiastically received and people have asked that I tell them when it's starting up again. The birthday cake and cupcake orders are picking up from referrals and word of mouth. Now that the weather's less clement the play centre is heaving and they are selling stonking amounts of my cakes and cookies. My seasonal cakes and new ranges at the deli have been very successful too.

Speaking of seasonal, I've spent a week faffing about with raspberry and lemon cake ideas and I think I've got a winner now. It's not very sweet despite a fair whack of sugar; raspberries can be quite tart. I have to use frozen berries because fresh ones vary so much in price and in quality. That's rather a shame and if I were baking just for the family I'd stick to fresh. Still, it's a nice balance of flavours, a good moist texture and should also have a pretty good shelf life (important for the deli!) and I am rather proud of it.

On the home front our lives are going through some changes over the next couple of months. I'll be interested to see how they all pan out. The Big Lad, all 11 years of him (eek!) is off to Scotland camping with Scouts for a week and will be starting high school at the end of the summer. The Divine Miss B starts school and already wears her new uniform most days out of sheer excitement. Z's the only one whose life carries on as normal, moving up a year in school.

For the first time in 11 1/2 years I will be finished with toddler groups, NCT groups, CBeebies and daytime childcare. From 9:15 to 3:10 I will be left to my own devices - well, from October anyway, as B is part time for the first little while. I'd like to get all dreamy at the prospect of some free time but in fact I've already crammed my days with work until at least Christmas.

Hmm - a rather bitty blog post this time, isn't it? Sorry. I'd like to revise, rewrite and refine it to make it a better read. However, the number of half-finished blog posts I've got cluttering the place up ought to teach me to post this one now before it joins the others in the Land Of Unfinished Blather never destined to see light of day. So that's what I'll do and you'll have to tolerate my ill-formed ramblings as they stand.

Have a lovely summer,
J x

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