Once upon a time, in a land eight minutes to the northwest, when I was long on ibuprofen and short on sanity, I ran a tiny side business in my kitchen…making cakes. Aaron was 2 years old and Vic was an infant when the madness began. Mom and I set out to learn to decorate like pros, and the next thing we knew, we were churning out three to five custom cakes a week. That doesn’t sound like much at all until you factor in a full-time day-job, two toddlers, and all the regular household chores of a bustling little family. I look back on those days and I really don’t know how I did it all. Actually, I acknowledge that I got by on very little sleep, which did none of us any favors. Cake decorating began after the kids went to bed, which meant I was up until at least midnight, and that’s IF there were no icing issues or mental meltdowns. (To clarify: add heaping mounds of sugar inhalation to perfectionism, a pot of coffee and self-induced OCD and see what you get!) It was a bit of a rough spot, looking back. But there was fun, too. And the smiles on my customers’ faces made the aching wrists and sugar-splattered kitchen all worth it.
In 2006 my hard drive crashed and I learned a tough lesson about backing up my files. Not only did I lose six years of pictures of my children, but insult was added to injury when I realized all my cake photos were gone too. At that point I had four years of cakes invested in my archives. Fortunately, I also had some of the photos stored on my website, although they were sized rather small in order to not consume so much space. I recently opened the vault of past files and uncovered some cake photos that I felt deserved a place of honor for the dream that they once were, calories and all. Indulge me a memory-lane trip, if you will, down Bella Dolci Boulevard…
(Yes, sadly, these are full-size pics, folks. See my disappointment in losing the hard drive? )
The cake that started it all: Aaron’s 2nd birthday cake.
And, coincidentally, his third. To Infinity and Beyond, right?!
Victoria’s birthday cakes were equally fun. (Castle at the beginning is hers too.) Who doesn’t love Tink??
And then there were the senior birthday cakes…
Buttercream cakes weren’t the only ones that stole the show. Cream Cheese Poundcakes rocked the stage, too!! And no one could resist the temptation of chocolate ganache! Wedding cakes, though incredibly stressful, were always worth it in the end.
And then there were the special occasion cakes. Baby showers, baptisms, holidays… And Veterans’ Day. Possibly my favorite cake ever…
I had fun with the Fire Department’s cake:
The most disappointing losses of the hard drive cake pictures were the Roly Poly Olie cake made for a friend’s child and the Robots cake that I made for Aaron’s 5th birthday, complete with cake cogs and icing nuts and bolts. I dare say William Joyce would have been proud.
In 2006, after just four years of baking and mixing and piping icing, I hung up my apron in favor of devoting more time to being Mom. My customers understood and were genuinely sweet in wishing that I would fire up the ovens again. As it looks now, it just wasn’t meant to be. But it was one incredible ride.