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March 2014

You know how people say this is hard? IT'S HARD

Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh I have Bakery Stress. It is the stress that comes from things working out? But bringing new complications? Mostly financial ones? 

We have an offer for a rental kitchen. I have liability insurance all lined up and ready to go as soon as I pay for it. This means we could move on to the never-thought-we'd-quite-get-that-far step of contacting the health department, submitting a "plan" for "review", and getting the kitchen inspected for our own use. And then we'd be - dun dun dun - LEGAL. 

This is not the church kitchen. I'm not entirely sure what to do with our church kitchen situation. I am a card carrying 'Fraidy Cat, so just hanging out at the church kitchen doing our little baking project sounds a lot better to me than renting space at an Actual Factual Bakery Kitchen where we'd be paying some serious rent and hoping against hope we find a regular source of orders. I'm smart enough to know the church kitchen option, even though it is Practically Free, is not the brightest one if we want to be a big girl business. But... I'm pretty nervous. 

Here are some things I've learned in this process so far:

  1. No one is going to tell you what you need or how to do it. 
  2. Applying for a business license and establishing your type of business (LLC, sole proprietorship, etc.) is the easy part. 
  3. You are expected to file taxes, but you will have no idea what those taxes are for, or what you owe.
  4. Should you be so stupid as to start a food business, you will figure out what the health department requires by trial and error, fortuitous googling, website forums, Facebook comment sections, Twitter, returned phone calls from unpleasant government employees, and panicked perusing of small print. 
  5. If you somehow manage to figure out what the health department requires, do not expect it to be logical. 
  6. It appears that many of these rules and regulations are in place not for protection of the public, but to collect fees. That sounds cynical, but that's the only reason I can find for needing to have an established and permitted bakery's kitchen inspected an additional time for our use. 
  7. You need money. Even if you are not opening a storefront and going to bank for a loan, you will need money. You need money for: state business license fee, LLC formation fee, city business license fee, Cottage Food application fee, new food business in your county application fee, insurance, and bank fees. 
  8. After that you need money for and/or will be using money you've earned for: inspection fees, supplies, equipment, PayPal fees, rent, marketing materials, promotional product. 
  9. If you are a person with a skill or trade, but no extra income or savings, you cannot start a business. You can't. That sounds cynical too, doesn't it. But I estimate that just licensing and application fees alone have cost us $500, and we aren't even finished with those. You need a bank loan or generous family members or a money tree to ESTABLISH yourself, long before you start doing the thing you're hoping earns you some money. 
  10. There ARE people who want to help you, but you need to be proactive and look for them. 

I COULD KEEP GOING. I have a friend coming to get me in 20 minutes for therapeutic shopping and conversation. (She's shopping, I am enabling. I gave up spending money for Lent. TERRIBLE.) So I have to go. But while things are moving forward and we have a huge opportunity in front of us, right now I'm feeling a little bowled over by what it costs to get started, and what we're risking. I knew this going in, but now I really know it. You know? 

Thanks for reading. Your encouragement on this subject has been huge for me. 


Roar

Tomorrow morning Katie and I have a meeting with a real live coffee shop owner, the sort of coffee shop that bakes all its own treats. I think it's a family business, it seems to be successful, and they have a great space that I've visited many times. I have every reason to be nervous about this meeting and I HAVE been nervous in the two weeks we've been trying to schedule it, but right now I'm not. I think I should just happily accept that fact and move on. 

If I'm not sure I'm going to ace something, I usually won't want to do it. Which is why I still wonder how I got so far into this little bakery project. Me? I have made self-deprecating jokes about my English major, not-profit-oriented, SAHMness for so long now that even I can't quite wrap my brain around the fact that I am sitting here with calculators and bookkeeping software, editing photos of muffins, and looking up websites for other local bakeries to see what the competition does. I'm talking to people I don't know about things I know almost nothing about. I left a stack of business cards in a hair salon last night. I'm psyching myself up for the day I carry a bunch of cookies around to local coffee shops and try to get them to stock our stuff. WHO AM I?

Today I decided that this is yet another thing I can blame on anxiety. HOW CONVENIENT. For ten years, TEN, between the ages of 22 and 32, I developed this whole narrative for myself. That I was an un-ambitious, un-goal-oriented, not particularly interested in challenges sort of person. AND THAT WAS OKAY! I spent lots of energy telling myself that this was okay. At the time I think a lot of it was even true. My struggles with anxiety had so beaten me down and exhausted me that I didn't have a lot left over for big ideas. At the time I was just so happy to be married to Phillip, living in our little apartment, hanging out with our friends in the evenings, thinking about maybe buying a townhouse, maybe having a baby one day. Really calm simple things that everyone else was doing. I was HAPPY. I really was. I was extremely horribly anxious, but I quite liked my life. One day I would feel better and everything else would get that much better. 

I am SO much better. I am not CURED or FIXED or anything like that, but I am SO SO SO much better and I'm different now. Even if I didn't have the anxiety stuff, I'd be different now. Older, I have kids, I have more confidence, I just LIKE myself more - and that makes a difference. And maybe I wasn't ambitious or goal-oriented when I was 24 and just trying to fall asleep at night, but I am now. Maybe I've always been and it was 24 that was the anomaly. I'm just feeling like I need to tell myself to throw out that narrative. It's no longer working for me. Stop being surprised at yourself, Self. 

I still don't want a Career. I don't want to wear suits and work in an office. I don't want to find childcare for Emma. I don't want a boss. I don't want to work for a product or a company or a cause. Phillip recently went to something at his job that I can only describe as a pep rally. Some sort of huge morale-building event where everyone got t-shirts and listened to the CEO and patted themselves on the back and he is SO HAPPY there, but OH GOD that just sounds awful to me. (For the zillionth time: thank you Jesus that someone in this family wants to earn a paycheck.)

But I so very much want to DO stuff. I want to accomplish things. I want to improve or add or start or SOMETHING. The bakery stuff is a challenge and I'm realizing how much I like having a challenge. And it's a challenge that's FUN and revolves around things I love (my sister, chocolate) and it just seems CRAZY. Like, how far can we go with this? What's possible? What could we DO?! 

I love thinking about that!

I also know that I don't want to do this forever. This is not the Thing I Want To Be or my chosen career or whatever. I don't know where it will go or how long I'll be with it, but at some point there will be other things. I feel pretty sure of this. I feel like maybe I am learning and practicing on the bakery for the next thing. This could go nowhere and I already feel like I've gained a lot of experience. Or it could go totally far and one day I'll have to tell Katie she needs to find someone else to tie ribbons around her macarons because I have to go... I don't know. Start a retreat center or something. Learn to build furniture. Ghostwrite my father-in-law's memoirs. Starting this business has only made me more excited for all the other cool stuff I'm going to do. (I KNOW. AM CRAZY.)

Or maybe the bakery stuff takes us into the church coffee shop stuff and that takes us into something else and then something else and then oh look, I've become a fashion designer!

(AS LONG AS WE'RE DREAMING, RIGHT?)

There are so many good changes in me, because of anxiety. Truly. Which isn't to say I'm glad I deal with it (NO) or that it's been good for me (HECK NO), but I've always been able to appreciate the ways it's made me a better person. I think I'm realizing now that there were/are bad things too. I turned caution and fatigue and fear into character traits, thinking I was happy not to try, not to start or improve or grow or add. I'm trying to shake that off now. Things are different. I think I shall end this post before I start singing a Katy Perry song. 


Kitchen update, for those of you who care

So! Funny thing about our meeting with the pastor of the church with the coffee shop this morning: it was NOT the church I thought I was emailing. There's a church I've driven by a number of times that advertises a coffee shop ministry and I thought I emailed THAT church, but when I couldn't quite find it this morning and we pulled up the emails on our phones for the address... it appears that I emailed a completely different nearby church with a coffee shop ministry. Oops! That means there is a SECOND church nearby with a coffee shop ministry that I can contact about kitchen rentals. 

HOWEVER we may not need to. I'm not sure how these meetings normally go (are these meetings normal?) but ours went pretty well. I'd emailed back and forth with the pastor of this church (a lovely brick Methodist church with a cheery preschool in the basement - another point in its favor, quite honestly). I played up my original coffee shop-as-ministry-to-moms idea and the pastor was all over that, just so encouraging and open and interested in the possibilities. And that's exactly what she was like when we met this morning. She immediately took us to the kitchen, showed us their coffee shop space, talked about the church's efforts in exploring that idea. And she was, well, this is just my impression, I don't know for sure, but she seemed completely ready to let us in and start whatever we needed to start. I like that sort of person! I am that sort of person too!

The kitchen itself is, on one hand, a better kitchen than we were expecting to see. The flip side is that it's small (separate storage space is a requirement for a permit) and the ovens are BIZARRE. So bizarre that the pastor made Katie a copy of the instructions to take home and study. Katie says she's worked with many a strange oven and in pastry school they used deck ovens and just had to keep constant vigilance - oven weirdness is a definite no go for ME, but I am not the baker. ANYWAY. The kitchen itself is a definite possibility for us. 

The rest of our conversation was about legal stuff and taxes. I know what WE have to do on OUR end: there's the whole county permitting process and we'd have to get liability insurance. But because this is a church, they need to find out what it means to allow a for-profit business to rent space, whether or not they have to pay property taxes. I told her that the one and only time I've ever been involved in a similar situation (from my old church committee days) is that our church didn't have to pay taxes on a rental property because the tenants were contributing to the mission of the church. (They were seminarians.) I don't know if that is the whole story or if there are plenty of details (I'm sure there are many more details), but I told her that we would be happy and excited to contribute to the mission of THEIR church. I can even see us helping to run the coffee shop, not just keep it stocked with muffins. 

The pastor offered the kitchen to us on a "trial basis" for now. Katie can test it out and get used to the ovens, and if we needed a space to bake a ton of croissants or a full sheet cake or something like that, I can see them happily allowing us to use their space. That's still not LEGAL, however, and we ended the meeting on the assumption that we will all keep moving towards that goal. With us filling out all the paperwork for permits and getting insurance and with them figuring out their own legal and financial stuff, as well as getting approval from other church folks. 

My impression is that the pastor saw us as a way to move her coffee shop vision forward, while also aiding and encouraging a pair of women embarking on a truly small business endeavor. Bonus heaven points!

THAT SAID. We are trying to set up a meeting with an actual owner of an actual coffee shop. She was introduced to us and volunteered to meet with us sometime - I'm not sure if she wants to offer her kitchen space (I've been to her coffee shop many times, it'd be perfect), or just give us some general assistance and advice, which would obviously be super welcome as well. This wouldn't be a mutually beneficial arrangement like it would with the church, unless the coffee shop is looking for a little extra income. Our baked goods wouldn't "work" at this shop, for various reasons. I was hoping to meet with her tomorrow morning, but she hasn't got back to me so I'm not sure what's going on with that. The pastor this morning also told us about another community center type place that had a caterer renting their kitchen for a while. So I do feel like I have a few leads and all is not lost and something WILL turn up. 

In the meantime we are getting orders here and there (two cakes this week! one cake and one cookie tray next week!) and that feels good. We are still unsure how you write a business plan without having any idea what you can DO - something the pastor this morning totally understood when we told her we just need a kitchen to TRY our idea. 

So there's your update! The end! Cross all appendages!


Thursday Afternoon Reads & Recommends

Let's kick things off on a cheery note and wonder What If The Germans Had Won The First World War? As @hopejumper said on Twitter today, the treaty of Versailles ruined everything. 

Just as cheery- Ukraine: Is This How The War On Terror Ends? 

Okay fine, how about something ACTUALLY uplifting? This is the best thing I've read on the internet in a long time. Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney

Study: Milennials Deeply Confused About Their Politics, Finances, Culture. This study made the news outlet rounds about a week back. Did you see it? I am actually only interested in milennials so far as wondering if I AM a milennial - depending on who and what you read, the cut off birth year is 1979 or 1980. As a July 1979 baby I'm either a verrrrry old milennial or a verrrrry young Gen Xer. I find this annoying, because even though I scoff at attempting to define an entire generation, I would still like to know what people define me AS. (This one defines Milennials as between the ages of 14 and 34. I am 34 and a half. So.)

I have not bugged you about the enneagram in a VERY LONG TIME. Let's amend this right now as I send you off to read this series on the enneagram and blogging. (How does a Three blog? OH SO FASCINATING!)

May I recommend this orange chocolate chunk (with ginger) quickbread

And THIS... THIS seems to me to be a VERY convincing theory for Who Is Don Draper. Seriously. I'm only vaguely aware of the D.B. Cooper story, but IT FITS! Doesn't it? It totally does. Either way, I love this idea. (If you're not a Mad Men fan, you can skip it.) (Why aren't you a Mad Men fan?)

Right now I am reading Venice: A New History by Thomas F. Madden. SUPER READABLE. A lot of times these things are not, so I'm just letting you know. I'm not deeply enthralled, but I have learned two things. Donna Leon, author of the Brunetti mysteries, stole 'Falier', the last name of Paola's parents and fancypants Venetians, from one of the first doges, and 2) can you even IMAGINE escaping to a marshy lagoon ahead of the murderous Huns? (This is how Venice was founded.) For the gazillionth time: thank you Jesus for letting me live in 2014 Seattle, Washington. 

Which brings me to Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder. I've been trying to figure out what I want to say about this book for weeks. I think the thing it makes me think is: I don't even know what to think anymore. I thought I knew all about the worst of what happened in Eastern Europe but nooooo I did nooooot. Reading Inferno made me wonder why God didn't just send another flood. Reading THIS made me... I don't know. Something worse. Maybe it was reading about the collectivist farm famines in Ukraine knowing that soon my own country would team up with Stalin. Which had to be done, and yet. YET! Ugh. This book made me DESPAIR.

GLAD TO PASS ON SOME FUN READS, INTERNET! 


On having lived a good and full life

I went to my great-aunt's funeral today. I got there forty minutes early and thought I'd go get a coffee or something before it started, but when I drove by the church there were already people going in and the blocks around it were lined with cars. I had to park several streets away and I'm glad I saw my aunt and uncle walking by and jumped out to join them because otherwise I would have never found a seat. The church was bursting, there were another couple hundred people in the basement watching on a live feed, and then the reception was insane. There were so many people. And I KNEW my great-aunt and -uncle were the sort of people everyone knew and everyone loved, but it was still overwhelming and speechless-making to see the crowd that turned out on a Tuesday afternoon to honor my great-aunt. 

My grandmother's family is Italian and her younger brother and his wife, whose funeral this was, are/were the most Italian of the bunch. My great-uncle is small and wiry, laden with heavy gold jewelry and a pinkie ring. He's loud and boisterous, he tells the best stories in the best ways, and his wife was a beautiful lady with perfect makeup and a touch of perfume and always called you "dear" and wanted to know what you'd like to eat. For a long time they ran a catering company and between that, the church community, and some other business ventures they seemed to know practically everyone in Tacoma. For SURE they knew every Italian. 

I think they were alllll at the funeral. 

I am only one quarter Italian. My kids know Daddy is Chinese and Mommy is Italian - they say this because I lived in Italy with Grandma and Grandpa when I was little, duh. But I'm only one quarter. My Italian grandmother married a German. And my dad is... Polish? Banished beyond-the-pale Jew? Who knows. So it feels a little strange to call these vehemently Italian people my family. They are, at least, the extended family I know. The embodiments of stories my mother told us about her growing up years. And they may not know my name, but they know I'm Mary's granddaughter, and how am I "dear", and did I get anything to eat yet? 

(The Italian Italian relatives were there too, the ones who speak with an accent. Their son looks like he walked straight out of the show Boardwalk Empire. Even as a kid I was fascinated by these people and their clothes and their jewelry and their red Alfa Romeo with the gold interior and the hood ornament that honked if you tried to pull it off. Don't ask me how I know that.)

I left the reception thinking how blessed I would be to have a funeral that runs out of space and food. You know what I mean? 

I wasn't close to my great-aunt, though she passed my bakery business card to her engaged granddaughter while waiting for surgery in the hospital last week. Most of the people I saw at her funeral were people - my mom's cousins, mostly - I hadn't seen in years. But they knew me or they knew who I was and I just felt so lucky to come from this crowd. I come from other places too, but I also get to claim this one and the lady whose funeral it was was the lady who "won" my bouquet at my wedding, because she and her husband had been married the longest. 

She won it again at my sister's wedding nine years later. 

I spent the rest of the day at my parents' house, just talking and talking and then I drove home and now I'm here, in my own house, with my own little Chinese Italian Jewish Eastern European family. I hope we touch as many lives as my great-aunt did. 


Outgrowing

I did a bunch of things this weekend that gave me a whole bunch of thoughts and part of me wants to record them all here and part of me is totally over blogging. Weird, huh? I think, at this point, it makes more sense to just keep a journal, but I've grown accustomed to the Typepad interface and also the occasional interaction. I never got tons of comments here, I was never Popular, and I no longer think about how I *could* be Popular - that seems like an era of blogging that is long over. (Is it?) And now so much of the "community" takes place on Twitter and I love Twitter. I am constantly defending Twitter to the people who are all, "No one cares what I ate for breakfast!" Whenever someone busts out the Internet Is A Dangerous Place thesis I am quick to announce that the internet can be used for good - in fact, I have heaps of personal experience. Would they like to hear my stories?! Which is weird, because I am rarely quick to defend anything. That's one thing I could never quite do when I was considering shooting for Internet Popularity. Having opinions is something I do much better one on one, or in my own living room. Never on the internet!

But here I am, because I just can't QUIT you, Typepad, and I think about how Third Baby will have ninety-five percent fewer stories than her siblings. It's not like I keep an ACTUAL baby book. Also I worry that if I stopped writing here - and I don't think it would be a sudden stoppage so much as a drifting away and forgetting - I would lose contact with all of YOU. I am better at reading Twitter than participating, and Facebook isn't the nice self-selected group I have here... you see what I'm saying. 

A few weekends ago I visited Blondie and Blondie is one of the very first people I ever wrote about on this website. I STARTED this thing one million years ago when Phillip and I went to China for three weeks. It was my excuse to start my own blog. Blondie was a friend of friends and we were basically going to China to keep her company while most of her coworkers (our friends) were on vacation and that sounds really weird, I know, but it worked. INSTA-FRIENDS. Maybe the three of us were absolutely determined to like and enjoy each other. Maybe we somehow knew there just wasn't enough time to do the usual get-to-know-you type stuff. Whatever it was, it worked, and those were three of the best weeks of my life. In no small part due to Blondie. 

(I call her Blondie because she's, well, blond. A super white blond girl who spoke fluent Chinese. In China.) 

BUT ANYWAY. She lives stateside now. She's married with two kids. Life is SO DIFFERENT. For both of us. That WAS ten years ago and we sped through those ten years in the two hours I spent at her house. We are older and tired and even though hanging out with her was, again, the easiest thing in the world, those ten years had made a difference in us. 

And my great-aunt passed away last week and my mom is calling me and talking about Big Stuff and getting older and I keep wondering what I'll be thinking ten years from NOW. And ten years after THAT. Jack is going to be seven in May. Seven! Remember when we were all having our first babies and writing about the horrors of breastfeeding and how to get them to sleep and baby gear and whoa. Sometimes I think that if Phillip and I were to have another one (CALM DOWN, PHILLIP CHEUNG, IS RHETORICAL) I wouldn't even know what to do. And my youngest is only 2 and a half! I just feel BEYOND that, for some reason. Ready to bring on the big kid activities. We went to Molly's dance studio's "Afternoon of Dance" today and it just felt like YES. This is what we do now. We do this. 

Blogging isn't the thing it was when I started, but I'M also totally different. If anything I'm MORE open and transparent and not at all bothered by anyone knowing any of these things I write about myself... I just don't know if I need to write it all out anymore. I don't know if I always need to explain myself to me, or hope that the comments section reflects me back to me. I've wanted to be funny, I've wanted to be a terrific writer, I've wanted to have Deep and Amazing thoughts, and maybe I've been all three of those things at one time or another. But mainly what I've done here, I think, is write everything out so I know what I think. I might be doing that now. I guess the difference is, this isn't the first place I think of or need when I want to do that. Not anymore. 

I hope this is a nice big sign that I Am A Grown Up. I was thinking that in my 20s I was still the same person I was when I was 16 and 17, I just had much better friends (and a boyfriend, heh.) But in my 30s I think I'M different. I have those same friends (how great is that?) (and the boyfriend stuck around), but *I* am different and by that I just mean I've shaken off so much of the stuff I tried on in my 20s. Turns out I like makeup and I have an appointment to light-ify my hair. Turns out I don't need to read every important book and see every important movie. I have politics. I have opinions. (I just don't write about them!) I care SO MUCH LESS about what people think of me. 

(Since I cared SO MUCH, this is still not enough not-caring. But it's a start.) 

(And is this a reason I'm not compelled to blog every night?)

I have less time. That's the biggest reason. But you make time for the things you want to do. I keep surprising myself at the things I choose to do over sitting down at the computer. And you know I'm not saying that all the reasons I write here and all the reasons I'm not writing here so much are also YOUR reasons. Right? I would very much like to read your blog posts about how and why you started and why you're still here. I find this fascinating! 

I was going to write "I am just finding myself LESS fascinating!" Except, GOD, would that be the lie of the century. Surely that is not the reason I am slowing down on the blog front. It just must be that I am finding other ways to navel gaze. Or other ways of navel gazing are a better fit for me at this stage of life. God forbid I ever stop poking around for lint, right? 

 


That time I fell asleep on the couch and didn't pick my kids up from school

I was never a napper - I was actually an ANTI-napper - until I got pregnant with Emma. I had horrible problems falling asleep AT ALL let alone in the middle of the day on a couch when there were THINGS TO DO. I was an early-to-bed morning type of person. If I was tired, I went to bed when small children went to bed. Naps? Noooo. Naps were unproductive and anxious-making, and if I ever did manage to put myself to sleep in the afternoon I woke up horribly groggy and cranky. No, thank you. 

But then I got pregnant with Emma and daily life turned into a matter of making sure I got my nap every afternoon. Molly was still taking naps, but Jack, horrible child, had given them up. But his sainted grandparents had given him an iPad for his 4th birthday (SPOILED) and that was how I got my nap: we both got in my bed, he played a game or watched a show and I snoozed. Bliss! That entire year is a blur of falling asleep to the grating tune of Busytown Mysteries. 

I did not give up my nap habit after Emma was born. At first this was clearly because she was our worst sleeper. Jack took forever to PUT to sleep, but once he was asleep he was down. Molly was our dream baby. I will never forget putting infant Molly in her crib and WATCHING her slowly close her eyes and fall asleep on her own. I DIDN'T KNOW BABIES DID THAT. Emma, on the other hand, only slept if she felt like it. Which was almost never. At some point we'd just decided that Emma didn't NEED as much sleep as a regular baby. HONEST. That is what we thought. Sometimes we still think that. Remember that month Emma woke up every hour on the hour, every night, for a month? OH ME TOO! FUN TIMES! 

So yeah, I was tired. It wasn't because I had three kids. I had two big kids who were getting more and more self sufficient and who also were, by that point, excellent sleepers, AND I had this non-sleeping version of a baby and THAT was why I conked out on the couch every day. 

But now... okay, kind of a guilty secret, but I still do take naps. A lot. IS THIS A GOOD THING? I don't really think so. I think it makes my nighttime sleep not so great, for starters. It's very hard to keep up an exercise routine when you would rather use one exercise time slot for napping. And unless I sleep for at least two hours, I wake up to my phone alarm (because I have to pick up the kids! on time!) groggy and annoyed. Yes, sometimes I will nap the entire time Emma naps. Three kids and nearly seven years into this parenting gig and I finally figured out how to do that! 

Anyway, I have been trying VERY HARD to kick my nap habit. Most days now I go watch Veronica Mars on my treadmill instead of napping. Some days I just CAN'T - stuff to do, you know. But there are still many many days, like today, when I've done my kitchen chores and I did my exercise, but I still have an hour or so before I go get the kids and maybe I'll just sit down and watch my DVRed politics talk show and maybe scroll through Twitter andzzzzzzzz. IT JUST HAPPENS. It's like my body is all: couch! zebra-stripe blanket! no one singing Let It Go! SHUT DOWN!

This past summer I nervously asked my brain doctor if perhaps the Pr0zac had a, you know, Napping Side Effect. Because, and this is as true as I can discern, once I was on my full dose I was 1) tired all the time 2) gaining weight (or having massive trouble losing it) and 3) having WACKED OUT DREAMS. I was also not anxious! So didn't really want to mess with it, obvs, but while my brain doctor agreed the meds could be affecting my dreams, he pooh poohed my other concerns. 

I am still on a [low] dose and I have an appointment to get me off of it completely (the methylfolate supplements are working well, so far) and I'm interested to see what life will be like then. And maybe it has nothing to do with it! I don't know! MAYBE MY LIFE IS JUST THIS EXHAUSTING. 

All that to say (seriously, ALL THAT) I have a SYSTEM for napping. And today I didn't follow my system. And I slept through a phone call from Jack's teacher saying, "Uh, your kids? Are still here?"

OMG

I did a bunch of stuff this afternoon AND I exercised. It was not going to be a nap day! After I finished everything I ate lunch in front of another Veronica Mars episode (I am never going to finish by Saturday). When it was over I had about 10 or 15 minutes until it was time to wake up Emma (because I always have to wake her up now) and pick up the kids. I knew it was bad to be all snuggled up under my blanket. I knew I shouldn't close my eyes. I especially knew I should go find my phone and set my alarm JUST IN CASE. But I was so sleepy, so warm, and it was SO QUIET. And I fell asleep. 

I woke up once or twice and eyed the clock, just to make sure I hadn't overslept. And I hadn't! Until the THIRD time I opened my eyes, looked at the clock, and promptly lost all sense of time and space because WHAT THAT CANNOT BE THE RIGHT TIME OMG OMG WHATTTTTT.

I woke up at 3:10, exactly twenty minutes after the school bell rings to let the kids out. 

You guys, I thought I would die. DIE. I dashed into Emma's room, ripped her out of bed, grabbed my keys and my phone, flung the baby into her car seat and zoomed out of my cul de sac. I wanted to DIIIIIE. And then my phone started ringing and I knew it was the school and I had the actual thought: I don't have to answer that. BUT THEN WHAT KIND OF PARENT WOULD I BE? AN EVEN WORSE PARENT! So I answered the phone with, "I will be there in 30 seconds!" and they said, "Okay!" and I RACED TO SCHOOL. I drove the wrong way into the parking lot, left Emma in the car, and dashed inside. Where Jack and Molly were looking at me curiously, all, "Where WERE you, Mommy? " 

I couldn't TELL them. They would REPEAT IT. TO EVERYONE. 

I yelled a thank you to the school secretary and beat it out of there before any teacher or other staff person could see my shame. When I hustled the kids back to the car I noticed I had a MESSAGE on my phone, from Jack's teacher. I had to ACKNOWLEDGE it, right? So when we got home I quickly wrote a groveling and massively self-deprecatory email, eager to do whatever it would take to expunge my name from the Unfit Parenting file they probably keep in a locked cabinet somewhere. 

DIIIIIEEEEEE. 

My kids were fine. I felt bad about them, but I mostly felt bad about SCREWING UP and SCREWING UP IN SUCH A PUBLIC WAY. Also, as the daughter of two public school teachers I have heard practically every Stupid Parent story in the universe and OH GOD I HAD TRIED SO HARD NOT TO BE ONE OF THE STUPID PARENTS!!!! I actually had to call my parents, because I can't do a single vaguely screw uppy thing without instantly confessing, and request absolution. Which my father gave, but not in a very nice way. "Oh, I'm sure something else will come along that will knock this episode out of the water!" THANKS, DAD! 

Jack's teacher responded in a VERY kind and sweet and "SERIOUSLY NO BIGGIE" sort of way, and I believe her, which is why I am not STILL flogging myself five hours later. 

This IS the sort of thing that WILL kill me one day. It's not the big heavy serious stuff, it's the stupid little screw ups that make me look like an irresponsible idiot. I am not an irresponsible idiot! Ever! Except when I AM! WOE. 

(Isn't it terrible that this isn't about my kids? Ugh, I am such a THREE.) (SORRY. I CANNOT HELP PERSONALITY TYPING EVERY ASPECT OF MY EXISTENCE.)

 


Shower finished! Sort of! And bathroom update plannnsss!

Long long long long LONG ago Phillip and I decided we were going to retile our shower and everyone knew this was a bad idea, but everyone was nice about it anyway. It was a mostly miserable experience and I don't think one single part of it was easy or straightforward AND the project as a whole is still not FINISHED per se, but hey, we took showers in it this morning! 

Photo (9)

Photo 3

Do I know why these pictures are different sizes? No I do not. At least they are right side up, okay? ANYWAY. AS YOU CAN SEE: this shower is lacking a door, which we must special order and which will most likely cost as much as we paid to redo the backerboard and tile. It also looks dark and dreary and SAD, so I am calling it The Prison Shower Cell. This is most definitely not the shower of my dreams, but HEY, it was 1) CHEAP and 2) no longer rotting behind the tiles! I think that's definitely a win. You can probably also see those red edges... THAT, my friends, is a product called RedGard, which is basically a liquid plastic that you paint onto the backerboard to waterproof everything. It takes the place of putting waterproof plastic over the studs. (I think. Who really knows?) When Phillip was taking off the tile at the very beginning, we needed to basically cut off giant sections of drywall (THEY TILED ON DRYWALL, EVEN I KNOW YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT) and so what you see there is the leftover area where we ripped off drywall, but didn't tile over it. Maybe we should have? Actually, that would have greatly complicated the tile pattern (since you can see we used GIANT TILE)... What we really should have done is not cut off so much drywall. Or used small tiles and tiled everything. But oh well! C'est la vie! The plan for that is to put up super thick white trim and just cover it up. You don't need to comment on it because THIS IS GOING TO WORK IT HAS TO WORK THE END. 

BESIDES. One day (when I'm seventy or eighty) we're going to split this bathroom into two and we'll wall off that doorway and professionals will have to deal with it. SO THERE.

Here's what faces the shower:

Photo (10)

Why the wall and pocket door here, house builders? (OH I WON'T START THAT AGAIN, SORRY.) Anyway, Ikea shelf from our first apartment, wire baskets I picked up at Fred Meyer this afternoon, random picture frames I collected from around our house and decided they don't go so I just left them there...

And here's where I have BIG! PLANS!

Photo 2

Oh hello white vinyl cabinetry matching all the other white vinyl cabinetry in the rest of my 1980s house! HERE ARE MY PLANS (brainstormed with EBJ, obvs). 1. Sand down the wood trim around the counter and under the mirror and either leave it an unstained lighter wood or paint it white. 2. Frame the giant mirror with white trim a'la millions of Pinterest pictures. And 3. paint the wood drawer and cabinet trim a DARK TEAL to match ... (dum dum dum)

Photo 1

...that little pendant light I picked up at Target a few weeks back knowing I would have to find SOMEWHERE to hang it. So this is opposite the sinks. Until this afternoon the tub was overflowing with tools and thinset mix and broken tile and ARGH. But now it is sparkling and beautiful and MINE ALL MINE. I hung the fabric covered canvases I used to have in my living room (before the gallery wall) and putting some color in there was JUST THE THING, Internet! I feel like if I paint the trim a color and frame off the mirror I might be able to stand my bathroom until we remodel! When I'm seventy or eighty! 

Does the shower match? NOOOOO. I'm hoping that when we remodel (when I'm 70 or 80) each bathroom will look right, but for now OH WELL. Prison Shower Cell and teal pendant must coexist. (My future dream shower is all glossy white/glass/aqua, OBVS.) 

Anyway, I'm super excited because PROJECT! And not a big horrible one either. A couple bucks for a quart of deep teal paint. I will have to deal with the shower and door trim at some point - that RedGard can't stay forever alas. But I can use my bathroom again! And it will be colorful! And HAPPEEEEEE. 

(Please, someone pray we get a commercial kitchen lined up soon so I don't start going ape over my house again aaauugghhh)

 

 


More bakery crowdsourcing! Thank you!

While Katie and I wait for one of our feelers to produce something on the commercial kitchen space front, help me think out wholesaling. 

Actually I think you can only technically call this wholesaling, but what we'd like to do is have a collection of coffee shops and cafes that sell our cookies. I envision it working this way: Katie bakes the treats on Monday, I spend my Tuesday morning delivering the treats, we get paid, and it starts over the next week. Assuming that's a workable possibility, here are my questions. 

1. What do we try to sell? Because we can't afford, nor do we WANT, to bake and deliver every morning, we're looking at treats that will last a few days and don't need to be fresh baked to taste good, like a croissant. The two definites on our list of goods are shortbreads and biscotti. I'm also wondering about your standard Big Cookie, frosted sugar cookies (themed shapes even? Bunnies around Eastertime?), and maybe some Small Cookies directed at the shorties who come in with their moms. (I don't know, maybe it's just Katie and me who are constantly giving our babies cookies. THEIR MOMS OWN A BAKING BIZ. COME ON.) We aren't going to do muffins, croissants, coffee cakes, other pastries, anything where time is of the essence. We just can't manage that right now. 

2. How should it look? My idea for finding clients is to basically just travel around to all the local shops with a bunch of free treats. Katie says people would do this sort of thing all the time at the bakeries and shops she's worked at. I'm thinking I would pack a box or tray with the things we're interested in selling, but I'd also like to show how we could individually wrap things, if needed. Maybe the store owner wants to put biscotti in a glass jar, but sell individually wrapped sugar cookies? I feel like I should have some examples of how we package our items. 

3. Oh God, how do we price these things? I HAVE NO IDEA. I have a really hard time pricing anything. Katie does most of that. Basically what we do is use a rule she was given in pastry school, come up with a number, think: "would WE pay that?", and then either go ahead with that amount or knock it down a few bucks. It's so hard. We want to charge the going rate for where we live and we think our products are worth the money; at the same time you totally understand people thinking, "Uh, $2 for an itty bitty macaron?" Wholesaling is a completely different beast, though, seems like. You're selling in bulk and that person is going to mark it up. So... we're going to have to do some homework. I'm ASSUMING I will need to bring some sort of marketing materials with me when I drop off our cookies. A price sheet at the very least. SOMETHING NEEDS TO GO ON THE PRICE SHEET!

4. I'm going to have to call people on the phone, aren't I. That's not really a question. More a statement infused with dread and desperation. 

Here are my other ideas for hopefully making some money at some point: 

Investigating how to get a booth (and how many $$$ it requires) at a wedding expo. Cakes, of course, but we think it'd be rad to do dessert tables. 

Figuring out how and where to advertise us as people who make sweet, delicious, and perfectly packaged party favors. 

ooooh, we are going to be late to ballet (ballet!) if I keep writing so PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN THOUGHTS AND IDEAS BELOW THANK YOU KISSES FOR EVERYONE.

 


Lent is here AGAIN?

Yesterday I went to World Market and came home with a wine rack. A serious wine rack, with room for 25 bottles and hanging glasses. A piece of FURNITURE. As soon as I brought it home it became apparent that I have no PLACE for a serious wine rack, no matter how industrial-chic and desperately needed I think it is. I'm going to return it this weekend, if I can force myself to do it. 

And this is what happens, folks, when there is a Lull. I think I have identified the last week and probably the four or five upcoming weeks as a Lull and I HATE LULLS. Lulls are the worst. There's no big baking holiday to slightly push (slightly on account of being ILLEGAL, STILL) and I don't have enough pictures to update the website yet and we're having trouble finding the just right commercial kitchen space to rent. So the baking is sort of sitting right now. Annoying. 

No vacations any time soon, no important weekends or birthdays. No big plans of any sort, no obligations, and I'm starting to get itchy about my house again. I'm eyeing the downstairs bathroom and telling myself I'll go ahead and paint the cabinets now, why not? I want to rearrange furniture and hang a light fixture above the bathtub and press BUY on the bed I've picked out online (which I can't do yet because we're potentially spending Bed Money on Getting Rid Of Bats In Our Eaves instead. WOE.) 

I don't do well without purpose. I just sit and eat too much and refresh Twitter every five seconds. It's terrible. I also sit and stare blankly at the Typepad compose page. HMMMM, WHAT DO I SAY NEXT? 

Lent starts tomorrow. OF COURSE IT DOES. I have to say, I was greatly cheered by my friend Dr. Maureen who recently confessed that she ALSO dislikes Lent and that she's stopped trying to get something OUT of Lent and is content to suffer through it instead. This was so helpful for me. Every year I think: I should try and have a productive Lent! A meaningful Lent! A purposeful Lent! But Lent, for me, always seems to be a depressing Lull. 

I'll take Emma with me to the 9am Ash Wednesday service. We'll go to the church near my house and all the schoolkids will be there, which is good because that means the homily won't go over my head. And I will be thinking the whole time that I need to give something up and what should I give up (because we all know I won't be able to come up with anything BEFORE Lent) and I'll probably settle on doing something positive, knowing I'll crap out towards the end, or giving up something delicious, knowing that I'll most likely cheat. 

Daily I will send up "God, Lent is just so... LENTY" prayers and feel guilty because GOD KNOWS, you know, HE WAS THERE. I will attempt bouts of grown up spirituality, perhaps some important reading here and there, a group discussion if I'm really proactive. But mostly I will sulk and count down the days until I get to eat Easter candy in public instead of hidden in my bedroom because IT'S STILL LENT, FTLOG.

So! I wouldn't recommend this website for any great and holy Lenten insight these coming weeks! But if you're into complaining about Lulls and wondering if it's time to eat candy yet, I'm your gal.