Decadent bites / private baking experience

The perfect storm....

The perfect storm....

I think "the perfect storm" was the title from a movie I saw years ago, but the words just sounded poetic and more interesting than "the perfect Sunday afternoon."

If you are only to here to read about luscious desserts, your reading will not be in total vain.  Now each paragraph will not cause your tummy to rumble with excitement, but I do have a little decadence to share. 

In the picture, I have a few of my new favorite things -- Match Latte from Summit Coffee at Birkdale Landing strategically nestled on top of a table with the perfect mixture of sun and shade.  My favorite Moleskin journal embossed with the University of Richmond - Robins School of Business logo, the book my eGroup (Elevation Church Bible study group) is reading, and the Southern Living "Cakes & Pie” edition from 2017.  

As I mentioned months ago, I have a lovely relationship with Nieslen-Massey Vanilla.  I create a dessert featuring their agreed upon product and they send me free product!  I've been using their amazing vanilla since I was introduced to it at the French Pastry School, a million years ago (I'm rounding) so it's a win-win for us both!  I have NEVER liked or gravitated toward the artistic creative or whimsical side of cake decorating.  However, I love flipping through a magazine on a crisp sunny day under a picturesque Carolina blue sky for flavor inspiration. Viola - inspiration struck!  I decided to merge 2 different recipes together to create a Spiced Pina Colada Cheesecake.  With all the modifications I noted, it will either be culinary genius or something we shall never speak of again.  I need to get this creation completed before the end of this month.  So I will schedule the creation time very soon!

You might be wondering -- "don't you miss baking all the time?"  My answer may surprise you, but NO, not really.  Please don't misunderstand.  I'm a firm believer that everything is for a time and a season.  And currently, I'm in a different season.  Although, I am extremely skilled in multitasking to an insane level.  I am still very firmly rooted in reality and know when enough is enough.  On the business side -- I've modified almost every page on my website, steadily moving further through the process of landing several new large corporate clients for speaking engagements and private baking experiences as a team building activity, giving a presentation this week, and working on proposals for a couple other corporate clients.  In addition, the ATD video was released and I was also awarded the CVMSDC 2022 Class I - Supplier of the Year award. 

On the personal side -- after 20 showings in 3 days, I poured over 8 offers and sold my dad's house in NY.  Since he’s elderly, I’m coordinating 14-20 other tasks for him all from Huntersville, NC, and selecting the upcoming date this month to get him on a plane to Charlotte. 

All of the above comes with an entire new set of stressors.  However, I pray a lot, ask friends to pray for me, and have found ways to maintain balance and stay on top of my game.  So for now, retaining baking would have been 1 spinning plate too many.

For everything there is a time and a season, and I wait with great anticipation to see the season change again. 

Blessings!

Maria 

 

Maria Kemp
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Procastibaking

Procastibaking

Procastibaking:  When you have a laundry list of other tasks you are supposed to be doing instead, but SQUIRREL...BAM!  There you are in the kitchen happily buried in butter, sugar, lemon and lime zest. 

To say this week has been one for the record books, feels like another understatement of the century.  I don't take credit for any of my strength myself.  I always see it as God giving me the strength to get through what I need at any given moment.  My presentation this week in Hickory was one of those moments.

I was enjoying the drive during another picturesque North Carolina morning. I watched the sun dance with daybreak’s dewy mist as I was listened to my favorite Smokie Norful CD (Christian artist and also a pastor).  I wasn't torturing my own ears by singing along, but the music was soothing my soul and settling my spirit.  It was still relaxing although, I'm one of those odd birds who actually ENJOYS public speaking and knew my squad was praying for my trip and presentation!  So I was not nervous or anxious about taking the stage at all.  Siri was periodically chirping the directions as I navigated the back roads of Route # "out in the middle of nowhere".  Then a phone call broke through the music and chirp of Siri.  It was my Dad.  He was in a panic about something that in reality didn't amount to a hill of beans.  Normally, the call would have shaken me, but God prepared me in advance.  Instead, I calmly reassured him and resumed listening to my music and Siri.  I also made a mental note to put my phone in airplane mode before I went on stage.  

My 20 slide presentation on eCommerce for Small Business went better than I could have scripted myself.  60 seasoned professional acclaimed it was the best marketing presentation they'd ever heard AND the best presentation of the entire 2 day conference!  Wow, thank you God!  As a result, I have new business opportunities to collaborate, teach, and speaking engagements being presented to me! 

Actually, I've moved from procastibaking directly to going for a walk in Jetton park, petting cute puppies, swinging on the bench, helping a mom get her toddler’s attention during a phot shoot, to visiting with a dear friend as we absorbed the beauty of the day and watched people fish on Lake Norman.  Now I'm onto procastiblogging, as I am supposed to be working on 2 different proposals and another presentation right now. I wonder what’s next on my procastixxxxxx list?!  

One thing I've learned over this journey with my Dad is this -- God has DEFINITELY opened some sizable and unbelievable doors in my business lately!  However, they have occurred simultaneously as I manage various aspects of his care, calmly reassure him or answer his 5-10 emails a day.  His challenges haven't eased up one iotia and being an advocate from 5 states away has it's own frustrations/limitations.  So what do I do to stay "balanced"?  I use the DND (Do Not Disturb) feature on my phone, reconnect with friends/family who are dear to me, procastibake Lemon Lime Pound cake for my daughter's boyfriend's birthday, take time out to sit on a bench by the water, be transparent with my challenges, go to the gym, try to eat more healthy foods then chocolate, drink more water than yummy Moscato, rest when I’m running out of steam, pray a lot, and ask for forgiveness and grace when I get it all wrong. 

If you follow me on LinkedIn, you'll see I was just featured by Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF) "Women's History In the Making" series. Wow, just wow!  Stay tuned for what's next, whatever that may be!  Despite my best-laid plans, I surely don't even know what God has in store for me next!

Blessings!

Maria

 

 

 

Maria Kemp
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A thief in the night

A thief in the night

When I told my daughter the title for this post, she chuckled and said "Well, okkkkkayyy!"  

As a small business owner, there's always a delicate balance of which personal details to share on your business page.  I've always felt when it came to the choice to prioritize my family, there's no solace keeping the entire journey secret.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm walking through "a journey in aging" with my father in New York.  As common as the word "COVID" is in our everyday language -- all the age-related labels are just as common.  One day your parents are the way they've always been, then just like a "thief in the night" pieces of them disappear without warning; leaving us all to learn to cope together.  I've talked to many friends and confirmed the changes our parents face are never anything they accept willingly.  But it's still surreal to accept, I've once again become the parent to my parent. 

When I paused the online store in February, I knew it was the right decision so I could focus on being with my dad.  I felt the pause was the only way to maintain my flawless order track record.  I knew with all the stress and juggling tasks from 5 states away, it was not the time to agonize over lemon bar, cookie or brownie orders. 

In the midst of all the heartache, God is faithful and surrounded me with the most amazing friends.  These cherished treasures truly prayed me through the most difficult days. 

During my last trip to New York, I overhauled my website.  The online store is hidden and everything is refocused to center on baking experiences, speaking engagements, and continuing education.  (All are predominantly virtual.)  

The American Tire Distributors (ATD) video/commercial is done and it is FABULOUS!  (I promised not to release it before they debut it later this month.)  They were also gracious and recorded a second video exclusively for my marketing purposes!  Private virtual baking experiences are booming, so this last morph (aka pivot) is working extremely well.  Later this week, I have one of my first large speaking engagements!

Thank you for your prayers and continued support!💜

Maria Kemp
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A $5,000,000,000 BILLION dollar company...

A $5,000,000,000 BILLION dollar company...

I would say, "Somebody pinch me!" but I don't want to have any residual marks for the premier of my video with American Tire Distributors (ATD)!

I call my dad everyday to hear about his day, tell him about mine AND to covertly gauge how he's doing.  This weekend, I was telling him about my meeting with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of American Tire Distributors (ATD) - Bill Williams.  I was sharing with him how nice Mr. Williams was and the details of our conversation.  I could hear my dad's smile through the phone as he was definitely having a proud papa moment!  

I was telling him the magnitude of what this relationship meant to my small business -- a GI-NORMOUS company with $5 billion dollars in annual sales truly saw me!  They saw in me what I and my parents have known all along and said, "Her!  We want her!  We want to invest in helping her business grow!"  

You have NO IDEA the amount or number of times I cried tears of joy!  The realization of every twist, turn, ebb and flow I've been through over the years has shaped, molded and refined me to be ready for this moment.  I don't know what the future holds or what new doors of opportunity will swing open, but I know at my core I will remain unchanged.  I will continue to honor God and my dad in his time of need, be kind, help others shine, prioritize my family, and make ATD proud they chose me!   

Ohhh and there's that handful of other "small" tasks -- multiple courses to finish writing, a million Zoom meetings, marketing collateral to review, recipes to test, video premier, and a huge speaking engagement to prepare for...you know...the usual. 🤣

Maria Kemp
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Family First...always

Family First...always

SHORT VERSION

  1. Beyond Decadence is still in business.
  2. Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.
  3. Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes.

LONG VERSION

Let me state this first -- Beyond Decadence is still in business!

As many of you know from reading the About Chef Maria page, I opted to close my initial brick & mortar bakery after my mom's stroke. If it weren't for the virtual world we now live in, I would be contemplating the same thing now to support my aging dad.  

I chose not to make a public announcement at the time, but I spent most of January in New York helping my father.  I still donned my chef jacket to attend Zoom meetings, met with corporate clients, taught a three-part virtual class for South Piedmont Community College, planned a video shoot, and finalized details for a speaking engagement, all while completing ~47 individual tasks for my dad. I left NY's single-digit temperature behind yesterday and welcomed 54 degrees in Charlotte with a smile! Now it's Tuesday evening and finally time to gather my thoughts to share a snippet of this story.

I told my dad several times I inherited my fearlessness, strength, and fierce independence from him. However, I still repeated it one last time on our drive to the airport just in case he needed to hear it again. He's getting up there in age but as fiery and independent as ever! As he reminded me during week two, "I don't want you thinking I'm an invalid or something!" I chuckled and said, "Oh, I know THAT, but it can't be years again before you let me come visit!" By the end of our trip, when I told him when I'd be back again, he said, "That sounds great to me!"

I felt like my sleep was constantly interrupted trying to figure out how to juggle my dad in NY, my business, and the fact that I live in NC. FINALLY, the flow came together!  The only way I can be there for my dad AND still run my business is to make some temporary changes. 

I've always been a planner, but it will be paramount now. 

Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes. 

Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.  I’ll reopen my online store’s public offerings if and when things change with my dad.   

Again, Beyond Decadence is still in business – we’re just pausing some of our offerings.  Thank you for understanding my decision to adjust the business temporarily so I can be with my dad when I am needed. 

Maria Kemp
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The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

After I received a call from a client to host a private baking experience at their home early next week, it triggered a thought!  Why not offer "The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience" to someone hosting a private NYE celebration in their home!  Perhaps you've had your New Year's Eve plans finalized for months.  But maybe, just maybe, you are still looking for "that thing" that pushes your party over the edge into something epic, enviable, and truly amazing.  That's where I come in with all my desserts, tools, ingredients, supplies, and extroverted personality....

Allow me to dazzle your guests with a private baking experience/demo for the evening!  Once you express your interest, we'll have a short meeting to discuss the menu, format, time frame of the evening, and schedule a walk-through of your kitchen.  Guests will be able to watch, perform limited hands-on, and interact with me during the evening for a truly remarkable, decadent, and unforgettable evening.  Pricing starts at $95/guest.  10 guest minimum and COVID restrictions will apply. 

Only one (1) Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience is available.   Call or email to book today!

P.S.  Christmas ordering closed on Thursday, 12/16.  

Maria Kemp
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