How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have 2 boys, Lucas and Jacob. Lucas is 14 and in 8th grade. Jacob is 10 and in 5th grade. Big changes are coming up at the end of this school year as I will no longer have a child in elementary school and will have a high schooler! Time has flown by and the saying “the days are long, but the years are short” is so true.
How long have you lived in the Columbus area and what brought you here?
We have lived in the Columbus area for just over 14 years, but have lived in Ohio for almost 20 years. While my husband was completing his residency and fellowship in Cincinnati, we visited Columbus for a wedding and knew that someday we would love to raise a family here. Fortunately, everything worked out and my husband found a job here. We have no regrets about moving to Columbus. All the family activities, sporting events, and four seasons Columbus has to offer has made this the perfect place for us to raise a family.
What does your family enjoy doing together in your free time?
With two boys very active in sports, a lot of our free time is spent watching them compete in their sport(s) of the season. On the rare occasion we have a free weekend, we love to go apple picking (the apple cannons at Lynd’s Fruit Farm are a must for us!), go on long bike rides through various metro parks, stroll through Farmer’s Markets, and of course family game night at least once per week is a must!
Tell us about your business, Sweets By Christa, and how you got started.
About 15 years ago, my husband and I suffered a terrible loss. It was a very dark time for me and I felt like I was just going through the motions of the day. At the time I was a pediatric occupational therapist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. During one of the treatment sessions, the child and I decorated sugar cookies. Nothing fancy, store bought premade cookies with icing in a tube. I remember, as I was decorating the cookies, that it was the first time since the loss that I felt joy in my life. I went home and dove head first into the world of baking. My kitchen became my happy place and so began my hobby of cake decorating. Baking and cake decorating saved me from a very dark time in my life.
When we moved to Columbus my baking hobby grew, I had my two boys, and soon I made the decision to stay at home with them. When Covid hit, I realized that now was the time to officially start my business, Sweets By Christa, LLC. My purpse of my business is to spread joy in my community through my bakes. That is where my saying, never underestimate the joy of sweets comes from.
What are your favorite things to bake?
I love to bake French Macarons, custom cakes, and cookie cakes. I love being creative and trying new cake decorating techniques and flavors. My creativity for flavors and decorating led me to starting Macarons of the Month Club. Each month, people who belong receive a dozen of in season macarons. This is where I try out new flavors, combine flavors, and explore some macaron art. I do not like to bake what everyone else is baking so each year I am constantly changing up my offerings, but macarons, cookie cakes, and custom cakes are the main focus of my business.
What was the application process like for the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship?
Being on Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship was a dream come true! However, it did not come easy. I have applied for various Food Network shows over the past several years without luck. However, I never gave up on my dream and I made it on a show. The interview process was long with many interviews with different people. I would do an interview and then have to wait to see if I made it to the next round. All the hard work, late nights, and sacrifices I made to improve my skills paid off when I received word that I was 1 of 12 people to compete on Halloween Baking Championship!
What were some of your favorite moments from being on the show?
My favorite moments were just being on the set and seeing all the producers, camera people, and learning the lingo that goes along with the production of a show like Halloween Baking Championship. Whenever I was on set I would practice living in the moment. I would take a conscious look around and take everything in because I never knew if that day would be my last day of filming. I remember there were times during a bake that I would be at the microwave heating something up and while it was heating I looked around in awe thinking “OMG I did it, I am here filming for Food Network!” I allowed myself to have a brief freakout moment, then the timer on the microwave would go off and I would go back into competitive mode to bake.
I also loved how I got to know the other contestants so well. We were never out to sabotage each other. It was quite the opposite! We helped each other out on and off set. We wanted everyone to be able to do their best because we all knew in the end the best baker would win. We all became very close and now I have this baking family that I know I can contact at any moment and they would be there for me.
What did a typical day of filming for the Halloween Baking Championship look like?
The days of filming were long, but I did not care. I was just so grateful to be there. Each day consisted of baking and interviews. Filming was probably one of the most challenging, but coolest things I have done. Each day I had to be on the top of my game because any little mistake could send me home. I am a self taught, home baker who never went to culinary school competing against people who are professional pastry chefs with formal culinary training. Each day I had to be confident in my skills and abilities or else I would not make it to the next episode. I ended up placing 5th out of 12 bakers and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
How do you juggle work and being a mom?
Juggling work and being a mom is a constant work in progress for me. I have days when I feel like a superwoman and days when I feel like I failed as a mom. The biggest thing that has helped me with balance between work and family, is setting boundaries. I am most productive during the hours of 9 AM to 1 PM. During this time I try to get all of my baking and cake decorating done so that leaves me the afternoon to get more of my “mom tasks” done like, run errands and housework. Most days I try to take an hour to put my feet up for some self-care. This can be an hour of catching up on a show, reading a book, or even taking a short walk is enough to recharge me to get through the afternoon of running my boys everywhere. Over the years I have not taken time for self-care and it has taken a toll on me physically and mentally, therefore, I try most days to take that self-care hour.
As my boys are getting older they also have more responsibilities around the house. My 8th grader is washing and folding his own clothes each week and he is able to start some dinners (pasta night and taco night) if my husband and I are not home. The same goes for my 5th grader. He has to fold his clothes each week and he helps out with the dishes at night and cleaning on the weekends. By allowing them to start participating in household chores, I am teaching them basic life skills while also relieving me of some of the daily “mom” chores.
What is a piece of advice you have received from another mom that has stuck with you?
This might sound cliche but I remember when my youngest was a baby another therapist who had older children told me to cherish the moments with your kids because they grow up so fast. I try to keep this in mind when I am taking on new orders. My family comes first so I make my baking career fit around my family’s schedule. I also keep this in mind when we are doing family activities by practicing being present and living in the moment.