Timing, Timing, Timing!!!! (Looong Vent People) :-(

Decorating By SweetResults Updated 2 Mar 2009 , 1:03am by Deb_

SweetResults Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 2:24pm
post #1 of 40

Okay - to put it bluntly - my timing SUCKS!

I just can't seem to figure out when to start working on projects. It always seems too soon and then I end up the night before Valentine's Day up all night making chocolate covered oreos for one class, up at 5 am to finish the sugar cookies decorated with fondant chocolate and sugar for the other class, and cake truffles, bagging them up, making little paper purses for the teachers, packing them with cookies and truffle....

Why couldn't I have started this days in advance? It always seems too early to start a cake or cookies and then I do everything last minute and can't even enjoy what I am doing.

I baked a cake on Thursday that was due Saturday, they never showed up (another story). It sat on my counter until I finally broke down and cut into it on Monday I think, maybe even Tuesday. We ate that cake ALL WEEK! It was super good, still tasted fresh on Friday a whole week from when I baked it! Why can't I get it through my head that I can start things earlier than I do?

I hate doing this alone, not having a team or even one other person to help plan timing, structures, cake bases (I always put that off 'til the last minute too! Cake is baked and I have NOTHING to put it on!!) Times like that I wish I had Duff's team, it's just not really fun doing it alone. And things can take so long, like trying to plan a base or supports for a cake I often wonder if this is even worth it.

Lately I have been getting emails and calls and I dread calling them back to talk pricing, I spend too long sketching, this should be fun, but I wait too long, or get stuck for ideas that I sit and should be baking but can't even decide what size cakes I need to bake to get my end result!! Esp. on carved cakes. *sigh* Someone was talking about me to someone else and they said "oh she has found her passion, how special, yadda yadda..." But I just don't feel that way. I wish it was my passion, but I just can't seem to get it right and I am always doing things last minute and spending my Friday nights and Saturday mornings working on a cake that I should have finished Thursday for Saturday. Or at least Friday morning.

I just always seem to start things too late. I just don't know if I have the discipline to be able to manage myself. If someone else were here to work out the schedule for me I would have no problem, but I just always think it is too soon.

*WHEW* Okay - sorry so long - thanks for sticking to the end and letting me vent. I'm going to check my emails and messages and see if there is anyone that I haven't gotten back to yet about their cake. (Did I mention how much I hate talking to people on the phone, I get very flustered and nervous and am so unsure of my pricing, I feel it is too high to tell them, but know that I really should even be charging more than I do - I REALLY have to get over that as well!!!)

39 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 2:31pm
post #2 of 40

It sounds like you need a little time management.I sit down for a few minutes on sunday to take a look at next weeks orders and then plan my time accordingly.I bake on Tuesdays and cover my boards and refrigerate my cakes in my extra fridge.Maybe baking earlier in the week will help! I make all my small fondant embellishments early in the week also so they will dry.I make my icing on wednesday so that I am ready to decorate for Thursday and friday.This system seems to work out good!! I am never up until wee hours of the night or morning.I also have 2 kids which I run around to school and activities all week...It really is prioritizing what absolutely NEEDS to get done sooner and the small things later.Maybe making a schedule will help also.If you are dreading emailing or calling people back for pricing...maybe it is time to take a break and time out from decorating until the passion returns!!HTH

-K8memphis Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 2:44pm
post #3 of 40

I feel yah!

Over many moons and several burn outs I have learned that to have a good time (call this number - lol - no no just got carried away there : ) do the last things first.

Do the boxes and boards first, weeks in advance even--but be mindful of the customer's potentially changing plans. But if sizes change you can use these boxes and boards for another project or trim them.

Do the decor that can be done in advance next.

Print out the directions for the delivery and put them with the order in the only drawer you keep the orders because other wise you loose everything. Put payment in here too (I was talking to me remember : )

Make your icing and filling before baking cake.

Now you should be able to call that number 4AG-OOD-TIME. icon_biggrin.gif

Decorating can be fun.

It really really feels good to have those ducks in a row.
The extra confidence enhances your creativity too.
Not to mention not being sleep deprived is always a plus.

[highfive]

alvarezmom Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 2:57pm
post #4 of 40

Ahhh I am not alone! I am the same way. I dont know why I feel if I bake a cake 3-4 days before it will dry out! They never do...Silly us.....I have stayed up till wee hours. The last time that happened to me was for Mother's Day. I stayed uo till 2:00 AM then slepted for 4 hrs then back up again for another 3 hours of packaging every thing. Burns me out. I know how you feel....HUG.....

I have 2 cakes this week. One is due tomorrow. I have already baked iced and stacked them. Now all I need to do is put the decorations on. Then I have another one for Saturday. Needs to feed 20-30 ppl. Still deciding on what sizes to bake....probably go with 8 and 6 incher's!!!

jlynnw Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 2:59pm
post #5 of 40

good tips from all! thumbs_up.gif

OhMyGanache Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:02pm
post #6 of 40

That vent could have been written by ME!

But in my defense, since I work from home (I bake in a commercial kitchen, but I'm allowed to decorate from home) - I hate dragging out all of my stuff any sooner than necessary and having it clutter up my kitchen. It takes over my kitchen and dining room and makes everything else (mealtime, homework, etc.) that much more difficult.

I know it'll change once I have dedicated space - and I can't WAIT!

I am starting to make lists and do little things ahead of time so that I don't continue to pull all-nighters. There are some things that can be done ahead (royal icing or fondant accents/figures) etc. - and I'm really trying to plan better myself. Good luck!

ladybug76 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:08pm
post #7 of 40

These are all great tips and I think you have 'plenty of company' in the cake-timing-saga!! I would always wait to bake until Wednesday (for Friday / Saturday cake), which my cakes take me hours.... get a few hours sleep, slap on some makeup to try to cover my tired bags and keep moving!!! Slowly, you will learn what works for you. I got the 'nerve' to test a cake baked on Sunday for a Saturday delivery (no typo there) for a friend... I didn't tell her and she raved and raved about the cake. I thought to myself, "OK, this is a good thing!" To help make myself feel better, I slap on some simple syrup prior to covering in BC or fondant.
Hang in there and you'll find the spark again. It may be simmering right now, but once you have a system to help with timing, that cake decorating spark will be all a'blazing!! thumbs_up.gif
~~ Jaime

kakeladi Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:21pm
post #8 of 40

If you'd like I'll be your partnericon_smile.gif Just send me the info on your orders for the week and I'll prod you (UNmercifully) until you tell me the work is doneicon_smile.gif

mamacc Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:24pm
post #9 of 40

I tend to wait till the last minute too! You are definitely not alone. My problem is that a lot of times I don't know exactly what I'm doing so I can't do much ahead of time. I tend to get my best ideas when I'm already working on a cake.

It does really help to get the cakes baked, boards covered, fillings/icing made ahead of time. For 3D cakes I've found I need one night to carve the cake, then I need another night or two for the decorating. So I already know that for most 3D designs I need to plan 3 nights to work on the cake. (I mainly work at night b/c of kids)

Also, is there a reason why you can't email the customers back...why do you have to call them?? Phone calls are not my fave either and most people are perfectly happy doing the whole transaction by e mail, and it's just easier than playing phone tag.

jlynnw Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:25pm
post #10 of 40

kakeladi you are so nice!

alvarezmom Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:35pm
post #11 of 40

The cake that I am doing is a garden cake. Nothing special just a couple of simple MMF accents and flowers. Now the cake for Saturday is a little girl's 1st birthday and the mom a friend of mine wants butterflies, lady bugs and flowers. I found several great pictures that I plan on using for inspiration.....

ladyonzlake Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:36pm
post #12 of 40

Yes, I agree. Planning is one of the hardest things to do. I'm getting better at it though as my year is booking up with wedding cakes. I'm having to schedule tastings only once a month so I can get some baking in.

I have a double booking in May. I have a 4 tier and a 5 tier buttercream cakes both due on the same day. I'm dreading this one!

You might consider taking payment in advance so that you arn't wasting your time and ingredients. I take a 50% deposit on party cakes with the balance due at pick up or delivery and my wedding cakes are all paid in full 4 weeks in advance.

jammjenks Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:41pm
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetResults



I ... am so unsure of my pricing, I feel it is too high to tell them, but know that I really should even be charging more than I do - I REALLY have to get over that as well!!!)




The others have given some good support about timing. I used to struggle with timing issues too, but not much anymore. Now I do sort of like kiddiekakes and make out a "schedule" for evenings. Having a FT job leaves me with little time so I have to make the best of what time I have. My job has cut back to 32 hrs, so I have Fridays off to get more done for Saturday cakes. That has made it easier on me...not so much the pocketbook KWIM?

You are not alone in the pricing struggles either. I feel the same way sometimes. Just keep in mind that the cakes you make are a luxury to your customers. If they have to keep it cheap, they can always opt to go to a grocery store for their cake. If they go with you, they are not looking at price as the only determining factor. People don't NEED a custom specialty cake. They WANT one. That mind-set helps me when I repeat it in the mirror 7625971 times a day. icon_lol.gif

jammjenks Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:42pm
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetResults



I ... am so unsure of my pricing, I feel it is too high to tell them, but know that I really should even be charging more than I do - I REALLY have to get over that as well!!!)




The others have given some good support about timing. I used to struggle with timing issues too, but not much anymore. Now I do sort of like kiddiekakes and make out a "schedule" for evenings. Having a FT job leaves me with little time so I have to make the best of what time I have. My job has cut back to 32 hrs, so I have Fridays off to get more done for Saturday cakes. That has made it easier on me...not so much the pocketbook KWIM?

You are not alone in the pricing struggles either. I feel the same way sometimes. Just keep in mind that the cakes you make are a luxury to your customers. If they have to keep it cheap, they can always opt to go to a grocery store for their cake. If they go with you, they are not looking at price as the only determining factor. People don't NEED a custom specialty cake. They WANT one. That mind-set helps me when I repeat it in the mirror 7625971 times a day. icon_lol.gif

SugarChic24 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:48pm
post #15 of 40

Amen! This is so me! I am terrible at my timing.... Almost every cake I am scrambling at the last minute to get it done, and then its always something else... I don't have the right size cake board, I forgot to get a box, my 3 foot slot machine cake colapsed the morning of the party (yeah I'm still bitter about that one...). For me it IS my passion, but in the grit of a project I can't help but feeling like I just can't get my sh*t together. Lately I've been positive, I look at it like growing pains, and who knows maybe one day I will have my cake done the evening before and get to sleep like a normal person on friday nights and I may even get to enjoy the outcome before rushing off to deliver them. Till then...

SugarChic24 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:49pm
post #16 of 40

Amen! This is so me! I am terrible at my timing.... Almost every cake I am scrambling at the last minute to get it done, and then its always something else... I don't have the right size cake board, I forgot to get a box, my 3 foot slot machine cake colapsed the morning of the party (yeah I'm still bitter about that one...). For me it IS my passion, but in the grit of a project I can't help but feeling like I just can't get my sh*t together. Lately I've been positive, I look at it like growing pains, and who knows maybe one day I will have my cake done the evening before and get to sleep like a normal person on friday nights and I may even get to enjoy the outcome before rushing off to deliver them. Till then...

SugarChic24 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:54pm
post #17 of 40

Amen! This is so me! I am terrible at my timing.... Almost every cake I am scrambling at the last minute to get it done, and then its always something else... I don't have the right size cake board, I forgot to get a box, my 3 foot slot machine cake colapsed the morning of the party (yeah I'm still bitter about that one...). For me it IS my passion, but in the grit of a project I can't help but feeling like I just can't get my sh*t together. Lately I've been positive, I look at it like growing pains, and who knows maybe one day I will have my cake done the evening before and get to sleep like a normal person on friday nights and I may even get to enjoy the outcome before rushing off to deliver them. Till then...

alanaj Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 3:55pm
post #18 of 40

Wow I feel like I've been cloned! icon_smile.gif I'm the same way about timing and pricing, although I must say I'm still LOVING the decorating, even when I'm still up at 6am (for the second day in a row) and I have a 5 month old that tends to interrupt my all-nighters. icon_smile.gif

OhMyGanache--ditto, I hate how my decorating stuff takes over my entire kitchen/dining area. It seems like every time I put it away I just have to pull it all out again. If only I was allowed to do EVERYTHING from home!

Ayanami Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:09pm
post #19 of 40

I have a cake due on Saturday @ 5:00 but I have to work all day on Saturday (till 3:00 at least) so I went ahead & made my MMF last night & did my fondant cutouts. Tonight I will bake the cake, make the BC, color & paint the MMF ... I think that's about it for tonight. Tomorrow(friday) I will ice the cake & apply the MMF & cutouts. Deliver on Saturday after I get off work.

I always look at the end (day cake due) and then plan/schedule my caking backwards from there.

Which day will I be able to complete the cake 100%?

Okay, so that means that I have to be able to do "blahblahblah" the day before & "blahblahblah" the day before that & so on and so forth.

I also hate talking to customers over the phone, just b/c I have found that a lot of people don't hear everything you say or they hear it the way they want to hear it.

I prefer to email back & forth with my cake customers so they can read & process the information I have given them & I have evidence of the conversation if they try to claim something different.

It's also less nerve racking to email than to speak to someone IMO.

HTH thumbs_up.gif

alvarezmom Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:23pm
post #20 of 40

SugarChic24 3ft slot machine! I would love to see pictures of that. I had a cake collapse on me last weekend to. It was my Aunts..I have a picture in my photos. It's the black and white one. It was supposed to be a 3 tier but the bottom tier 12''in started to break away on the way to the venue. I was so dissappointed. That has happened to me 3 X's now. Still cant figure out why?????

I am so with you on getting my poop (LOL) together. I do hope I can sleep the night before.

Tonight I'll be up till 10:30 with the MMF accents for the garden cake. I have another cake class until 9:00 tonight so...

SugarChic24 Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:43pm
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by alvarezmom

SugarChic24 3ft slot machine! I would love to see pictures of that. I had a cake collapse on me last weekend to. It was my Aunts..I have a picture in my photos. It's the black and white one. It was supposed to be a 3 tier but the bottom tier 12''in started to break away on the way to the venue. I was so dissappointed. That has happened to me 3 X's now. Still cant figure out why?????

I am so with you on getting my poop (LOL) together. I do hope I can sleep the night before.

Tonight I'll be up till 10:30 with the MMF accents for the garden cake. I have another cake class until 9:00 tonight so...


The slot machine was for my aunt as well! maybe Aunt cakes collapse by rule? I don't have any pics of it standing because it was not completely finished, but I do have pictures of the wreck, which now that its a few weeks later are hilarious to me! Since it was the morning of the party I decided the only thing I could do is damage control. I Called out sick from work (it was a Friday), baked 2 sheet cakes and made a 9x5" slot topper for the sheet. In the end it came out awesome! I was happier with the "mini slot" and the pressure was off to keep the large one standing till the party that night! I'll try and upload the photos when I get home tonight...
Tonight I'll be baking my rounds, and continuing to make more fondant roses for a princess/girly birtday cake due Sat. morning so I feel your pain... Good luck!

playingwithsugar Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 4:52pm
post #22 of 40

I don't know about anyone else - but I do my best work when the pressure's on. And especially if I'm doing an over-nighter.

If I start a project too early, I tend to over-think it, and it ends up with either too much on it, or I'm just not happy with it when it's done.

How about all of you out there? When do you do your best work?

Theresa icon_smile.gif

alvarezmom Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 5:46pm
post #23 of 40

SugarChic24, I'd love to see pictures when you get them uploaded let me know. I saw a YouTube video on brush embroidery and now I want to try it out on some of the flowers for Saturday's cake..probably not all of them but the ones I'll do in white.

cinjam Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 6:08pm
post #24 of 40

This also could have been written by me. I am excellent with time management for the rest of my life, but when it comes to cakes I seem to be all over the place.

But, I also have to agree with playingwithsugar, that I do some of my best work underpressure. For example, where to put the birthday message (on the board, cake, etc). Something always comes to me while I am decorating the cake.

I've started incorprating my cake time management into the rest of my time management. On Sunday, I sit down and roughly plan out each day. In the past this included what I was going to wear to work, kids activities, doctor appointments, etc. Now I add cake stuff to it. I try to bake on Monday or Tuesday, icing & filling Wednesday, start assembling Thursday & begin decorating if time permits. My goal is to have cakes completed by friday.

I am tired of pulling all-nighters.

My biggest issue lately is to start making GP figures. Ii know I can do them WAAAY in advance, but I just can't get my butt in gear to do that. I have an Abby Cadaby figure for April. She's going to be a pretty decent size. You would think I would start working on her during a slow week. No. Nope, you'll find me playing on Facebook instead! LOL

I think we all go through highs and lows with what we do. For me, recently, I've been on a low ride & I have to snap out of it!

FromScratch Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 6:35pm
post #25 of 40

You need to sit down and make yourself a schedule woman!! icon_wink.gif

I leave all of the decorating until the last minute (unless it's GP flowers and figures and the like), but I have Fondant made and cake boards covered and support systems ordered and at the ready well ahead of time. Also I make sure to make my fillings and icing before I start baking unless I have a lot that week and I have to freeze some cakes. Sitting down and mapping it all out helps to make sure you have everything you need and gives you a clear idea of when things need to be done by. I make fondant and cover cake boards at the start of the week. Time management is key to keeping your sanity... without it you are lost. Now of course you are free to procrastinate, but at least you know where and how you are screwing yourself if you have a list.. icon_lol.gif

Deb_ Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 10:05pm
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetResults

I hate doing this alone, not having a team or even one other person to help plan timing, structures, cake bases




You're not doing it alone, we're all here for you and each other. That's the greatest thing about CC, when we need support or advice we know where to turn. It's so nice to have "friends" that truly can relate to all our "cake" issues.

As far as the phone calls and price quotes go. When you return a call, don't feel like you need to quote them the price right then. Take down the info and tell them you'll call them back with the quote or ask for their e-mail address.

I always feel like I quote lower when I'm pressed for the price over the phone, and then I regret it later when I'm working on the project.

Making lists really helps me a lot. I refer back to the list and check things off as I complete them. There's just something about getting things checked off as I go along, that is so rewarding. icon_smile.gif It also keeps me focused on what I still need to do.

Good luck.

ThatsHowTcakesRolls Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 10:33pm
post #27 of 40

This is a great thread and everyone has given such great advice...Without my lists - I'd be screwed because I, too, do everything myself and live by my schedule & lists. I make a Step-by-Step list each week for all the orders I have to do. I then go down the list and estimate how long each task is going to take me so that I know exactly how long I'll need to complete everything. Let me tell you...after 5 years I have learned to estimate exactly and it's usually right on the money.

I have a lot of sleepless nights on Thursdays, Fridays & some Saturdays even with my lists so I really think that's just the nature of the game when you are doing everything yourself. Something that really makes a difference for me too is that I will not bake before Thursday for a Saturday wedding so if I have 5 Wedding Cakes that weekend I am spending a lot of Friday nights and VERY early Saturday mornings decorating. I do not freeze my cakes at all so baking earlier isn't really an option for me. I just find that by doing some of the small things like covering boards, making fillings and any decorations that can be made ahead of time while my cakes are baking is the best way to go. I do not make my icing early though because I prefer the way it smooths right after making it so my Wedding Cakes are always iced straight from the Mixer bowl and then anything leftover goes into my Buttercream bucket that I use for piping & flowers....

I think we all feel for you and know exactly what you're going through - Good luck to you!

Tammi

tarheelgirl Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 10:52pm
post #28 of 40

I always bake on Mondays and then wrap them good and freeze. I also do all my boards and gather my supplies for the weeks cake orders. My icings and fillings are made the next day. On Wednesdays I make my bows or anything that has to harden. Thursday and Fridays are my decorating days for delivery on Saturday. I have 2 children in elementary school. I do all my work while they are in school and hardly do anything after they get home from school Monday-Wed. Thursday and Fridays are my busy days and depending on how many orders I have it could be at least the early evening before finishing. If you don't have sort of schedule for yourself you will definitely go nutts!!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Feb 2009 , 11:28pm
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

I don't know about anyone else - but I do my best work when the pressure's on. And especially if I'm doing an over-nighter.

If I start a project too early, I tend to over-think it, and it ends up with either too much on it, or I'm just not happy with it when it's done.

How about all of you out there? When do you do your best work?

Theresa icon_smile.gif




Oh yeah I overthink everything. But I can't stay up over night anymore--it caught up with me & my health really suffered for those bad habits.

I like to get up early and work--but I like to work alone too and talking is too hard when I'm 'in the zone'. But my husband knows to tread lightly.

He said once slowly and carefully and out in public, "You're a really nice person...unless you're making a cake."

He said this over dinner at Outback after a (cake) delivery where there were many people around who could of course be potential witnesses to anything dire or gruesome I might do. icon_biggrin.gif

I said, "Are you bleeding any where? Do you have any untended broken bones? Do you have empty patches on your weedy scalp where once you had hair? If you can answer "No' to two out of three of these questions then you are indeed a lucky man."

icon_lol.gif Bwuwhahahahaha icon_lol.gif

JGMB Posted 28 Feb 2009 , 12:25pm
post #30 of 40

[quote="dkelly"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetResults


Making lists really helps me a lot. I refer back to the list and check things off as I complete them. There's just something about getting things checked off as I go along, that is so rewarding. icon_smile.gif




Something I'm cross-stitching on a pillow: "I always put 'eat chocolate' on my to-do list. That way, I'm always sure to accomplish something."

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