Lessons in Less

When I launched Hurley House, I had no idea what to expect.  I was armed with fresh ambition and a well-worded vision statement, but that didn't give me more counter space or a bigger oven.  Our home kitchen is tiny, the tiniest we have ever had out of the seven homes our family has lived in over the past sixteen years.

I had a choice.  I could complain, or I could push up my sleeves and make it work.  I decided to make it work.

As Hurley House took off at a pace I never anticipated, things got really complicated really quickly.  Where do we store all the pans?  Where do we store all the ingredients?  Where do we store all the supplies?  How do I bake 200 cookies in this silly-small oven?  Where do the cookies go to cool?

The challenges were numerous, but I am nothing if not creative.  Cute rolling carts were purchased to house a growing collection of sheet trays and cake pans.  A second (and eventually a third) refrigerator were moved into the garage to store ingredients, and our laundry room became my dry storage space.  Our front living room became our packaging warehouse.  Folding tables were set up to provide space for cooling and assembly.  The dining room table was a second work station.  And the oven ran CONSTANTLY.

As for the kitchen itself, I had to make the best of a challenging set up.  In the beginning, honestly, I was annoyed, entitled, frustrated by my lack of counter space.  Slowly, I began to find the gifts waiting for me in the challenges.  

I learned that scarcity breeds creativity and tight quarters teach efficiency.  I learned how to maximize vertical space.  I learned how to break a task down into its components and work systematically.  I learned which tools were must-haves and which ones weren't worth the space they took up.  I learned the value of cleaning as you go.  I learned that in fact you CAN churn out hundreds of cookies and cakes and cater meals for hundreds of people when you work smart.  

For three years I turned our kitchen a factory, and besides my children's bedrooms, there wasn't a room in our house that didn't contain something related to Hurley House. 

The greatest lesson I learned in working with less was gratitude.  When we finally did find a bigger space and purchased commercial equipment, I could not have been more grateful.  I knew the value of being able to bake 192 Sparkle Sandwich Cookies at once instead of only 24.  High caliber gratitude for the thing you've longed for only comes with longing for something...for a long time.  

I look back at photos from the days when Hurley House was in our home, and I sincerely wonder how we did it.  The answer is easy.  We made a lot out of a little, and I wouldn't trade those lessons for all the oven space in the world.