Hello There, Cookie Enthusiasts!

Hey guys! My name is Kimberly, and even though I've been a member for a few years, I have never actually formally introduced myself. So I thought I would take the time to say HELLO.

Anyways - yes. My name is Kimberly. I'm Canadian. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be an artist. I've always done crafty things. I used to be a sculptor - I've been sculpting under my online alias "Monster Kookies" for more than a decade, but I got burnt out. I don't sculpt as much as I used to, but when I do, I just make what I wanna make and I don't take orders anymore. I also do chainmaille.

I decorate cookies, obviously. I've only been doing it for a few years, now. I live in a rural area, and we seem to have our share of cake decorators and little bakeries, but I noticed that nobody was doing sugar cookies. I got inspired by people like Flour Box Bakery and SweetAmbs. My first ones were super duper simple and boring, but I kept at it.

I was feeling really low when I got burnt out at sculpting, and I was searching for something else to feed the fire. You guys know that I have a background in Art but I also went to Chef School and apprenticed as a cook when I was 17, though the baking part is what I excelled at. So I feel like cookie decorating is a nice mix of the two, ya know? I like simple designs and a good colour palette, but I also have a soft spot for more complicated things like lace, embroidery, and needlepoint on cookies.

I have a small business out of my inspected home kitchen (in my area, you need to be inspected twice a year by the local health unit) - Sweethart Baking Experiment. I started as a little FB page that "experimented" with recipes and I'd share these experiments with friends and family. When I started decorating cakes and what not, I decided to keep the name. Why not. It was cute.

Anyways. I guess that's it. Cookie decorating, like sculpting was, has become my therapy, really. It keeps me sane(ish). I've been dealing with depression and anxiety over half my life now - I won't really go into detail about that - but I'm content to have something that keeps me busy and interested and always learning. I'm happy to be here introducing myself to you all.

Original Post

Hi, Kimberly! I'm from Ontario, Canada too. I consider myself more of an artist than a baker.  Your story is very interesting and I'm curious about how you set up a licensed food business in your home. I'm guessing your house is zoned for commercial use and you have a commercial kitchen? Besides being cost prohibitive, I've always thought it was next to impossible to set up a licensed, commercial food business out of one's house in Ontario. Can you please let me know how you manage to do this? 

Manu posted:

Hi, Kimberly! I like your cookies very much, the "old  tattoo school" ones are among my favourite of yours. I loved to know more about you! 

Thank-you very much - I'm glad you liked my old school tattoo cookies - I think they are one of my favourite sets, too. I haven't seen a lot of tattoo inspired cookies, so they were a lot of fun! Especially the swallows.

Sweet Prodigy - Christine posted:

Hi, Kimberly! I'm from Ontario, Canada too. I consider myself more of an artist than a baker.  Your story is very interesting and I'm curious about how you set up a licensed food business in your home. I'm guessing your house is zoned for commercial use and you have a commercial kitchen? Besides being cost prohibitive, I've always thought it was next to impossible to set up a licensed, commercial food business out of one's house in Ontario. Can you please let me know how you manage to do this? 

Hey Christine! No, I just have a regular home kitchen, actually, and I live in a residential area - I just need to make sure I follow the guidelines set for things like food temperatures (every fridge and freezer has to have a thermometer) and to make sure I use a sanitizer (200ppm bleach to water, basically), have atleast a double or triple sink, and there is all sorts of little things the health inspector looks at twice per year. I am considered low to medium risk because I do cakes, cookies, etc. It would be different if I sold meats, canned goods, etc. but it all varies from county to county. The only commercial equipment I have is my 20qt mixer and a sheet rack. The rest is just a regular kitchen set up!

I also have my business insurance, of course - it covers everything including the Farmers Market and any shows that I do throughout the year. And I am a registered business.

I am quite a small business - I provide cookies to about four different local businesses and I schedule a pick up time for customers to come to my house and pick up their orders.

You should look into it! I'm not sure where in Ontario you live, but I know the rules are different depending on your area (I'm in Huron County).

Sweethart Baking Experiment posted:
Sweet Prodigy - Christine posted:

Hi, Kimberly! I'm from Ontario, Canada too. I consider myself more of an artist than a baker.  Your story is very interesting and I'm curious about how you set up a licensed food business in your home. I'm guessing your house is zoned for commercial use and you have a commercial kitchen? Besides being cost prohibitive, I've always thought it was next to impossible to set up a licensed, commercial food business out of one's house in Ontario. Can you please let me know how you manage to do this? 

Hey Christine! No, I just have a regular home kitchen, actually, and I live in a residential area - I just need to make sure I follow the guidelines set for things like food temperatures (every fridge and freezer has to have a thermometer) and to make sure I use a sanitizer (200ppm bleach to water, basically), have atleast a double or triple sink, and there is all sorts of little things the health inspector looks at twice per year. I am considered low to medium risk because I do cakes, cookies, etc. It would be different if I sold meats, canned goods, etc. but it all varies from county to county. The only commercial equipment I have is my 20qt mixer and a sheet rack. The rest is just a regular kitchen set up!

I also have my business insurance, of course - it covers everything including the Farmers Market and any shows that I do throughout the year. And I am a registered business.

I am quite a small business - I provide cookies to about four different local businesses and I schedule a pick up time for customers to come to my house and pick up their orders.

You should look into it! I'm not sure where in Ontario you live, but I know the rules are different depending on your area (I'm in Huron County).

Thanks for the info. I always though that it was provincial regulations that prohibited the use of a residential kitchen for commercial use, and that municipal regions/counties were governed by these laws, regardless of where you are in Ontario. I guess I was wrong. That said, you are very lucky that your local health department allows you to operate out of your home kitchen. I live closer to Toronto and around here (Toronto, Peel, Durham, York, Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, etc.) if the health inspector were to come to your residential kitchen, it would be to shut you down. (Although they will usually only come if there is a complaint.) Fortunately, there is also a place in Mississauga called, The Cake Collective, which is a health inspected commercial kitchen rental space for bakers.

 Right now, I do not have a lot of buyers for my cookies and cupcakes (just admirers with shallow pockets ) and I am still working on honing my skills (when I can find the time) to become proficient enough to sell professionally or to even teach this wonderful - and delicious - craft.

Hello Kimberly!! What a pleasure it is to read your story . I'm so glad that you not only found cookie decorating as a way to keep yourself involved in artistic endeavors but that you also found us . We are delighted to meet you and I hope that you will continue to share more info about yourself and the cookies you decorate. I love reading the stories/inspiration behind the cookies everyone decorates, if there is one. 

I, too, find cookie decorating to be very therapeutic. This is mostly true when I see the smile on people's faces when they receive a cookie

haai Kimberley, wonderful to read your story. I think cookies are 'therapy' for a lot of bakers, I know it allows me to block out other stuff for a few hours.

My husband's surname is also Hart, and there are related Harts in the US. Do you have a link to South Africa?

Hi Kimberly @Sweethart Baking Experiment.   It's always nice to hear about one's cookie travels.  Thanks for telling us about yours.  Yes, cookies are theraputic in so many ways, from creating them to eating them, cookies always make me feel better.  Well, except when I gained 5lbs in 3 mos by eating my mistakes!  

Your vintage tattoos were spectacular, I poured over that clip.  And your lace work is gorgeous!    Looking forward to seeing more of your work.       Pip

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Anne Marie AdamspipCookies Fantastique by CarolManuSweet Prodigy - ChristineAproned ArtistJulia M. Usher
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