Coming Down From Our Sugar Rush

They ate our cupcakes....SURREAL to say the least.

They ate our cupcakes....SURREAL to say the least.

Alright y'all, by now, most if not all of you have sat down to watch the all new Netflix original, SUGAR RUSH...episode 8 in particular! Didn't watch it? Not sure what I'm talking about? Ummm, Team Sweetness competed against three other teams for a grand prize of $10,000! Judging our confections were world renowned culinary professionals: Candace Nelson, Adriano Zumbo and Mindy Segal.  *Side note: All three of them are absolutely charming, kind and amazing to be around. And our competitors....amazing people. It was a privilege to compete alongside each and every one. And the entire crew working on production. We were seriously blown away by kind hearts.

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. It was an incredible opportunity.

SPOILER ALERT***DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHO WON

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Getting ready to watch the show for the first time.

Getting ready to watch the show for the first time.

Ahhhhh! We still can't believe how everything unfolded. That was absolutely bananas and we want to share a little about it. 

UNITY: So, we've had a lot of people comment and message us with the sweetest words about our unity and the love between us while we worked under such high pressure. I want to tell you a little about that. When we first knew that being on this show was a possibility, we started praying and asked others to pray also. Our greatest fear was that we would go on this show and under the pressure be snippy with each other, or just out right crazy people who would be a poor example of the love and character of Jesus. So we prayed that if we would be an embarrassment as Christians, that the doors of opportunity would just close. We would rather not go than to go and be a poor example. When it came time to fly to Los Angeles we prayed for three things: That God could somehow be glorified through this opportunity, we prayed for tremendous unity...because sometimes we fall apart in stressful situations, and sometimes it can be difficult to work with your spouse, and we knew we couldn't possibly glorify God without unity. And lastly...just before we left I asked one sweet sister to pray for us, that we would be charming....I know that sounds really weird right. But it's so much easier to interact with people (competitors and crew) when you're not awkward or stressed or grumpy, but likable, and friendly, and encouraging and charming. (sidenote: I had recently been to Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conference and she talked about how we should be charming as Christians. We should have something about us that is different and our character should be attractive to people. Our character should be one that people like to be around). So yeah, that's how we prayed for and through this whole experience and the support and encouragement and unity you might see between us...that's a whole bunch of answered prayers. It's not that we aren't always that loving and supportive of each other, it's just that we were definitely given extra grace to pour out towards each other during the challenges. 

HOW'D WE GET ON THE SHOW? We've been asked this question a lot and it's pretty funny actually. I received an email one day from someone I didn't know saying that there was going to be a brand new baking competition show with some twists on the standard format. It said it would be on a major streaming network and that there would be big name judges and asked if we would be interested. I honestly thought it was a scam! After I closed the email I thought about it and wondered...what if it's legit...that would be pretty cool. So I googled the name of the woman who emailed me and she popped up in IMDB....woah! This is for real! So I replied that we would absolutely be interested. Next came a phone call and I had a wonderful conversation about our background and what we did at our bakery...after that was a long application form and photo submission of work we've done....then followed a long Skype interview between Ben, Myself and a producer. I had no idea what they were looking for and I'm pretty sure I blurted out some ridiculous responses to questions, but we just rolled with it. Then we had a what felt like a long wait....until we got the email that we had been chosen to compete! (happy dance and happy tears and utter fear set in right about this time) The network flew us out to L.A. and so began the incredible experience. 

PRIZE MONEY: We had a lot of people say 'I knew you won, because you went to Thailand!' or ask things like 'Did you already get the money? What did you do with it?'

Response: We have not received the prize money. We competed praying for a win so we could pay for our missions trip to Thailand. Well, we won, but winners don't actually receive prize money until after shows air. So we funded our trip with MANNA Worldwide knowing that eventually, we would receive those funds. That trip was in January! So it's been a while. But here's the awesome thing. Our trip to Thailand cost about half our prize money...so what will we do with the rest? Pay for our next missions trip with MANNA Worldwide of course! We committed our prize money to God's work and that's exactly how we will use it. Our next trip doesn't have details set yet, but we know it will be to Guatemala with MANNA Worldwide. 

Many of you are familiar with Mango Tree Coffee because we talked about it ALL THE TIME at the bakery and we sold it there. Well, MTC has a coffee bean plantation in Guatemala, where MANNA also has an orphanage. I can't begin to tell you how my heart flutters when I think of the opportunity to go and see the plantation and love those little children. The day I learned about MTC changed my heart forever. It was the day I knew with certainty that no matter what happened with the bakery, no matter what God did in our lives, our long term vocation goals would be intertwined with ministry and that has been at the forefront of everything since then. We are so incredibly thankful that not only did this show provide the means for our last trip, but it will fully cover this next one as well. 

If you are unfamiliar with MANNA Worldwide, or if you would like to know more about how to support the work they are doing around the globe to share the love of Jesus and meet nutritional needs, please email us at customerservice@houseofsweetness.com . We would love to chat with you about missions trips, financial support, shoe and water filter fundraisers, or how you can have a MANNA missionary visit your church. 

I know we've come a long way from sculpted cakes...but life is an incredible journey. When we are seeking the will of the Lord and we are willing to be guided  at the risk of walking away from things/places/jobs we love, we end up in the most unexpected places, doing the most unexpected things. For us, this unexpected journey has brought immeasurable joy, purpose and blessings. 

Thank you all for watching the show, for all of the congratulations, for sharing videos of your little ones watching the show or pretending to be on the show (precious). Please continue to follow our journey. We are just getting gstarted!

-The Coopers

It's June...And Life Is Preparing To Bloom

Well, it's June first. WHAT HAPPENED TO MARCH APRIL AND MAY?!?! Seriously though. 

When I left this morning to tote the children to school it was gloomy with a light dusting of pollen (I was not thrilled). But I caught a glimpse of my rose buds just waiting to bloom and it gave me a bit of hope in the morning. It was something to look forward to and to smile at. Hope is a wonderful thing isn't it?

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June first brings the budding of many things for House of Sweetness. A lot like our rose bushes, we went dormant by the end of this past winter, with the closing of our cake shop; but we are budding and awaiting full boom. We have a tremendous hope for the things to come; a hope we can only grip tightly through our faith. What are we looking forward to? A new beginning. A new commissioning. Healthier living. Endless possibilities. 

In 23 days, we will drive (some of us will fly) out of the great state of Massachusetts as residents for the last time. Our home is in transition as we prepare. The children are in transition, as they prepare. Our lifestyle is in transition as we continue to pursue healthier living and seek healing from my allergy-like ailments. And our hearts are in transition. Walking away from a place we thought would be home forever is not without heartache. There is great joy and excitement because of the path we are pursuing; but that doesn't wash away the tenderness a heart feels when it leaves behind a treasured chapter, and treasured friendships. 

Our hope, oh our hope is great. The things we will pursue when we arrive and begin to establish life in our new home will be worth all of the change. To pursue meaningful living. To pursue a life of great purpose, servitude, simplicity, and love. Our hope is in the abundant life promised to us. 

We are so very excited about the adventures and positive changes this new journey will bring us. And we are so very excited to be able to share it with you. 

-Sweetness

Bittersweet...Not Just Chocolate

Hello Sweeties! We have some big, probably not so exciting news to share. There’s some important information scattered throughout so please read all we have to say.

This coming Wednesday, the 14th of February will be our final business day at House of Sweetness. I know I know, “but why?”… “I thought things were going well”… “where am I supposed to get my cupcake fix or weekend cinnamon rolls???” All very good questions. The truth is that our first year was amazing. You have all been very good to us and we’ve enjoyed it so much. Some of you know that the current ‘version’ of House of Sweetness is what we’ve been referring to as Phase 1, which was only supposed to be open for 9-12 months at the most, while we prepared for Phase 2 (a much larger shop with on-site kitchen, classroom, coffee service, seating and regular hours). Well, we simply aren’t ready for Phase 2. And through much prayer, our vision for Phase 2 is rapidly evolving into something much different than we originally imagined.

So why close? There are quite a few reasons, but we’ll list a couple of the key factors:

As mentioned above, this shop was never intended for long term business. It’s not the most efficient way to operate a bakery/cake shop. It limits our production capacity which limits our hours and menu. It’s not what our vision is and we would rather press pause for a bit to really focus on the next steps rather than forcing this to continue.

Obedience and faith. Not typically part of a business plan, we know. But we are striving to run our business differently. As we’ve come to realize that our desires in a business are different than what we’ve established, we’ve had to ask ourselves why stay open? Do we stay open to make money? Well we’ve been blessed with other means of financial provision, so that’s not a good enough reason. Do we stay open because common sense says don’t close the doors on one successful business until you’re ready to open the doors on the next? Well the Bible teaches us to not lean on our own understanding. So even though this doesn’t make much sense, we’ve been saturated in prayer for wisdom over the recent months and this is the conclusion we’ve come to…with a tremendous amount of joy and peace to boot! So yeah. God said close, even though we can’t see the next steps, so we will close and embrace the journey, because if you knew the details of our journey thus far...you would understand why we can walk boldly in faith in such a way.

What will Phase 2 be and why aren’t you ready? As our vision for the next step is changing, our purpose and mission statement is changing. We can’t possibly move forward with phase 2 if we don’t have a clear vision of what it will be. But we know that we love cooking and baking, we have discovered a love for teaching, we have found new motivation to explore healthier baking alternatives, we are passionate about serving Mango Tree Coffee one day, and we absolutely want Phase 2 to be a business structured around and for the purpose of glorifying God and ministering to the needs of others. So these are big steps from where we are now… just focusing on custom cakes and cupcakes while offering a feel good experience to our customers is good, but we desire something extraordinary, and we are discovering a new plan placed inside our hearts that is growing into just that.

 

What do you mean by healthier baking? We want to feel good about what we’re selling people, and having healthier options has become an important factor. And, in recent weeks, my body has decided that many of the food ingredients I’ve eaten my entire life are enemies and I have had to eliminate all nuts, gluten, and dairy from my diet. Perhaps one day this will go away as quickly as it came on; but in the meantime…it's motivating to find new recipes. Even though we once had a gluten free and dairy free menu, we have not had a facility safe for avoiding cross contamination. So we are taking this into consideration as we ponder a future menu and facility. We would love to offer delicious products that include organic ingredients, sugar free ingredients, and allergen free goodies. So stay tuned for posts and videos on new recipes and tips as we see what we can come up with along the way!

So you’re just going to close and that’s it? Yes and no. We are going to close our store, but our interaction with the community is one of the most important and most enjoyable parts about what we do. So we are working on ways to stay connected. Continue to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for videos and posts as mentioned above. We are working on different baking and decorating classes that we can host for kids and/or adults to attend. Who wouldn’t love to learn how to make our Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls? Or decorate fabulous cupcakes!

Big news! You definitely want to stay tuned in to our social media pages because we have some exciting news in store for this spring. Believe me, you won’t want to miss this announcement.

I gave someone a gift certificate, now what? If you or someone you know has a HOS gift certificate, please be sure to stop by in the next few days to use it. We don’t want anyone to miss out on enjoying that gift. Saturday 9am-4pm, Tuesday 12pm-4pm, and Wednesday 11am-7pm.

Why such short notice? A few things factored in to our announcement. One was that this is a huge decision and the obedience we mentioned earlier, doesn’t always come instantly. We’ve been wrestling with this decision for some time and the strength to take this step came shortly before we left on our trip to Thailand. Another factor is my heart…even the past two days have been heartbreaking to have people tell us how happy they are that we’re back and how they missed us and couldn’t wait until we reopened etc. My heart could not handle the interaction with all of you for a prolonged period of time after making this announcement (a little selfish, but necessary). So we decided that we would go out with a bang. Valentine’s day is a busy and happy day, and we’d like to end this chapter on a high note.

A message to you from Team Sweetness: Thank you for your incredible support Sweeties. We never could have imagined the warm embrace we have steadily received from our community over the past 15 months. You warm our hearts regularly, and this has been an incredible journey that we’ve enjoyed sharing with you. We have made mistakes, and we’ve learned so much from them. We’ve learned our limitations in many areas and we’ve exceeded our own expectations of what we could accomplish in other areas. We’ve learned what we love about this business and what we don’t. We’ve come to know many of you and your families and that’s a beautiful thing. Above all, we’ve learned to acknowledge each and every day that we’ve been able to sustain our little House of Sweetness because of God. He’s given us every gift and ability and opportunity that has been essential for running this shop. And we have faith that He will grow our gifts and abilities and prepare new opportunities to use them in even bigger ways, for an even bigger purpose.

Love,

Amber and Ben Cooper

Baking In Thailand

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Talk about out of the comfort zone. Two not-so well traveled bakers heading to the Southern part of Thailand for 10 days to help teach teens how to bake...let's just run this to the top of the not-within-comfort-zone chart. But you know what...extending love to children, seeing the tangible efforts of MANNA Worldwide first hand (school, meals, activities), giving the teens an opportunity to learn a trade skill that can change their lives forever...well let's just run that to the top of the greatest-privilege-to-be-a-part-of chart and suddenly my comfort zone just doesn't really matter so much.
If you are not familiar with MANNA Worldwide, then you don't look around our shop a whole lot! If you did, you'd see the canvas on the wall of the sweet little Mongolian girl. That particular canvas holds dear to our hearts because Chef Ben and I have been supporting a project in the middle of the Gobi Desert through our church. To know that there's an entire orphanage of kids that is fed, clothed, educated, and given hope because of the efforts of one small New England congregation...well it's amazing to feel in some way a part of that. If you look around our shop, you would also find coffee bags! What New Englander doesn't drink coffee?? While we don't brew coffee (yet), we sell it for two reasons: We love a product we can stand behind, and not only is Mango Tree Coffee the only coffee we drink in our home, but it's also the coffee we use in our chocolate recipe. The other reason is that 100% of MTC proceeds are sent to MANNA Worldwide to feed children all around the world. Now that's a coffee worth drinking. In case you're wondering, we are not actually affiliated to MANNA or MTC in any way other than how we support them and try to share information about their efforts so that others can get on board and help change lives. If you stop by this week, you will also notice some tee shirts and coffee mugs! We just added those. Another fun fact about what we sell at our store...we charge what it costs us to purchase and ship the items in. That's it. We don't make any profit from selling MTC products. Our thought is that Mango Tree is already sending the proceeds to good work, so we just want to get the products out there.
 

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Now that you have a little insight on the connection between the products in our store and MANNA Worldwide, and between MANNA and us, back to Thailand. The project we will be heading to at the end of January 2018 currently ministers to about 240 Burmese children by providing two meals a day and an education. Because they are refugees who's parents work in Thailand, they are not able to attend the Thai schools. In addition to feeding and educating the Burmese children, this particular project is also providing 1 meal a day for approximately 80 Thai children. I believe sometime last year the facility received a donation to demo their previous kitchen and construct a commercial kitchen with the plan to teach baking as a trade skill. Well Chef Ben and I just so happened to share a meal with Ryan and Kim Jones who are MANNA missionaries to Asia, and while getting them caught up on our transition from military to bakery, Ryan connected the dots and invited us to join the team travelling to Thailand. I have to tell you how cool the timing was...Chef Ben and I literally had a conversation 24 hours prior about how we want to be able to support global efforts through our bakery, but that we don't have any skills to offer in the mission field so our support would have to be financial only. Well didn't our lunch conversation just knock our oven mitts right off! Go to Thailand to teach teens how to bake?

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 We couldn't be more excited or feel more privileged. 'Give a man a fish, feed him for a day...teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime'. So that's what we're going to do! As we have more details along the way we will post updates. When we travel, we will certainly document the experience and share with all of you.
 

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If feeding kids is something you are passionate about, I encourage you to explore MANNA Worldwide. One of the many things we love about this organization is that they are sending about 92 cents on the dollar to the kids. Because they work with so many missionaries who are supported by local congregations and fundraising, MANNA keeps their administrative costs down which allows more funds to get to the kids. If this project in Thailand is particularly interesting to you, I can tell you that they are in need of additional funding. The number of children they are reaching is growing which requires more funds for food. They are also hoping to add another meal for the kids each day. What would it take to lock in another meal for these kids? About 40 people committing to send $30/month or 80 committing $15/month...all commitments make a difference. I would love to get there in January and find out there's an extra meal to help with each day because suddenly people committed their support. If you would like to donate to this specific project, you can do so by entering MANNA Kitchen CDC (76250) in the Designating - Other section. We're not trying to pitch a hard sell or talk you into something.  Chef Ben and I are just really passionate about these efforts and want to use all of our resources to get people on board too. Perhaps you support other organizations..awesome! We just know that not a whole lot of people know about MANNA and the work they're doing. I will say that MANNA doesn't share your information with people, they don't hound you, and they are so good with updates and information. Ryan Jones has provided answers to countless questions I've had about the kids in Thailand, I love it. There are also ways to get involved hands on with the missions trips. 

Thanks for reading, 

-Team Sweetness