Previous month:
April 2014
Next month:
June 2014

May 2014

Help me and my IRL buddies raise money for adoption

Friday night I'm hosting a party where the main events are: 

  1. trying on Noonday Collection accessories
  2. nibbling from the very first Thumbprints dessert table (or gobbling, that's ok too)
  3. hanging out with super fun ladies, and 
  4. RAISING MONEY FOR ADOPTION

Internet, you KNOW that if you lived anywhere near me I would invite you and you could ogle necklaces, eat macarons, and meet all my awesome real life friends. I would LOVE that! But since you probably don't want to shell out for the plane ticket, you can still participate by checking out the Noonday goodies HERE and making a purchase BECAUSE 10% of all sales go towards the last chunk of fees for a new adoptive family.

You know I would never ask you to consider something NOT AWESOME or to raise money for ME. Usually at these buy-something-at-a-party parties, the hostess gets that 10% or some percentage to get herself some free stuff. I AM NOT GETTING FREE STUFF. I mean, if you thought I was hitting you up so that I could get more jewelry, then that's pretty lame. But I am hitting you up because I want to be able to hand this family the biggest check we can provide. (I don't know them! That means I'm even more shameless!) 

SO! Gawk at pretty necklaces and earrings and bracelets HERE and if something strikes your fancy and you want to make an order, please choose 'Tarah Voss' as the "ambassador" and indicate 'MaggieCheung' as the trunk show name. 

I JUST LOOKED AND THEY'RE HAVING A SALE

I am super excited to post pictures of the dessert table, but first I have to finish my dessert table assignments (strawberry mascarpone filling? yes?) Do not fear, I will be hounding you via Twitter periodically tomorrow. HELP US OUT, INTERNET! GO TEAM!


In which I am very YAY BUY STUFF!

I feel like life these days is a Giant Bullet List. A big cross between a To Do List and a Calendar and a Stuff I Gotta Get Figured Out list. It exists in my brain (and also on my new whiteboard) and I am mentally checking things off all day long. I'm not sure I'm able to think in formats other than Bullet List, so that is why this post looks the way it does:

  • I HAVE A NEW DESK. And it is an ACTUAL desk! We decided to hit up Ikea Saturday night (after getting up at 6 to take the 7am ferry to Port Angeles A LONG WAYS AWAY FROM IKEA), and buy our new shared office. I am super excited about it. I always thought that when the girls started sharing the big room downstairs, currently Phillip's office/guest room, we'd set up a shared office in Emma's old room upstairs. And stick a daybed in there to help with the guest room situation. But Phillip suggested we create office space in the weird little room off our kitchen which I am now going to call The Office. It's always been sort of the KID office, or at least the place where they do all their cutting and coloring and much of their eating, but now it's decked out in white Ikea particle board and I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT. Desk! Mine! YAY!
  • This is the bakery's best month yet. It is also our most expensive month yet! SUPER!
  • I have to submit the corrections to our Cottage Food application by Thursday. 
  • I have to get ready for a PARTY I'm hosting Friday night. I have a lot to do. That list involves shopping, baking, cleaning, arranging, more baking, and picture-taking. 
  • I'm hosting a Noonday Collection party and YOU CAN COME TOO. Sort of. See, you can host a Noonday party as an adoption fees fund raiser - 10% of sales go to an adoptive family to help with costs, and this is in addition to supporting women artisans around the world with your purchase. I think this is the coolest thing. I asked the Noonday "ambassador" to find an adoptive family for me and because 1) I know you guys love awesome jewelry and accessories and 2) you love to support good causes and 3) you are fans of adoption and 4) I would totally invite you if you lived ANYWHERE close to me, you can participate too! Later this week I'll post the link to how you can purchase online and help us raise money for an adoptive family. I have absolutely no connection to them so I have absolutely no shame in drumming up as much money as possible! You can check out the goods here and I promise to post that link soon. I would LOVE for you to join us. Maybe I can send you a champagne cocktail and mini cupcake in the mail? 
  • OH WAIT! I have reread my email! You can order through that link above! Here it is again! Select 'Tarah Voss' as the Ambassador and 'MaggieCheung' is the trunk show name. 
  • You bet I will be posting this link all week. I feel very fund raisy right now. I keep thinking about my old boss who gently chided me for not being profit oriented. And I keep thinking that it turns out I'm VERY profit oriented - just not for HIS business. HA.
  • I am very excited to watch the World Wars documentary on the History Channel. Obvs. 
  • I am furiously hammering this out so I can go watch the Mad Men half-season finale from last night. 
  • The other Big Huge Thing I've noticed from going off the brain meds is that I am no longer napping every single afternoon. And planning my day around when I can nap. And not feeling like I can't do anything else unless I take a nap first. And SURE, maybe I was just tired because I had a baby, like my brain doctor dismissively said, but MAYBE it was the MEDICINE OMG I KEEP GETTING MAD ABOUT THIS. 
  • However I AM too tired to organize and decorate my new desk space, which is ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. I have too much going on this week! I don't have time to artfully arrange mugs full of colored Sharpies! Have you had your eye on any super cute desk accessory stuff? I loved the Martha Stewart line (obvs) at... Staples? Is that where I saw it? But I didn't have a desk to decorate THEN. I probably need to go back. 
  • OKAY IT'S MAD MEN TIME 

P.S. I HAVE A BAKERY WEBSITE. I sell cookies! They are good for teacher gifts and Father's Day!

 

 

 


A long list of Reads and Recommends so I don't have to come up with anything to say tonight

Dear Typepad, 

One more DDOS attack and we're through. I know it's not your fault. I know it can happen anywhere. But one more time and I'm hitting up one of my web designer Twitter buddies and running for Wordpress. And my business website? It's going in the CLOUD. Or something. I don't know. I won't do any of this because 1) lazy and 2) the bakery has no money but MAN DO I FEEL LIKE ISSUING AN ULTIMATUM.

Reads and recommends anyone? Warning: it's been a while, and I have a lot. (These are in order of oldest to newest, I think, if you just want to skip to the end!)

This is Rachel Held Evans on the World Vision fiasco. Remember that? UGH, I DO. 

This isn't about food businesses, but as you are probably aware I've become emotionally invested in Tales of Useless Bureaucracy and here are more: Is Your Fortune Teller Licensed? 

This is an NPR interview transcript with the Frozen composers. (Who are rad. I loved this. I wish I had listened to it instead of read it. I think I want to hang out with them.) 

The New Ugliness of Mad Men - Atlantic. I'm glad someone else thought of this. So much of what I initially loved about Mad Men was the STYLE and the ERA and as its inched ever closer to the 70s I've just been like WHOA, STOP THE TRAIN. 

I'm not sure where I found this, where it was linked, or what, but you HAVE TO READ THIS. It's basically a blog post about going to the Oscars with your best friend, Jennifer Lawrence. Not entirely clear who this chick is (besides JLaw's BFF), but I need her to write some sort of backstage blog, stat. 

For a time I was interested in purchasing a hot pink fainting couch for my living room. And so, A Short History Of The Fainting Couch

This is amazing. (And also: agree agree agree.) Stephen Fry Responds To Grammar Pedants.

I CRIED. Ohio couple married 70 years dies 15 hours apart

Simcha Fisher has a Jewish dad too! (Well, BOTH her parents were Jewish, then they became Catholic, okay, so not the same. At all.) But I loved loved loved this post about how her family celebrated both traditions

@herewegoajen linked to this post on Twitter. I read it. I bookmarked it forever. I almost never disagree, challenge, contradict, issue the opposing viewpoint, ETC. with friends, ever. I just... it's not my thing, and not just because I don't like conflict. I often don't see the point in most situations. BUT. I am a staunch, proud, very vocal supporter of The Internet, whether someone is complaining about people who never look up from their phones or people who "can't make real friends" or people bemoaning what's become of the culture AND THIS IS WHY. THIS IS WHYYYYYY. (I sobbed.)

I bookmarked this to read later and then I didn't! I will! I am very interested! Forcing Kids to Commit to Their Extracurriculars.

And finally, Anne Applebaum on Ukraine. Is amazing. She should just go by Amazing Anne Applebaum. 

I feel like I had more! Oh well. I haven't been reading anything spectacular... I'm in the middle of a book on spiritual leadership (fascinating stuff, let me tell ya) and I keep LOOKING at The Rosie Project and not reading it. I don't know why I'm not reading fiction right now. I used to ONLY read fiction. Something is off in my brain, I agree. 

 


WE'RE LEGAL! Part Two. Where I'm too tired of freaking out to do it again for this post. Sorry to disappoint.

I just wrote a big long Bakery Freakout Part Two (which boils down to HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE MONEY HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE MONEY), but I deleted it. I'm bored with that. Well, that's not entirely true. More like I thought about it nonstop all weekend and am still thinking about it and OH I'm tired, can we talk about how I cut my baby's hair instead? I trimmed her straggly mullety ends and now she looks like a Big Girl and we can't go back. Everything is terrible. 

It can't be "just seeing where it goes" anymore. Now we have rent! 

But we always wanted to 1) see where it goes and 2) go there. From the very beginning. I don't think there was ever a moment where we looked at each other and said, "Yes, let's half ass this." 

I don't know anything about anything. I know less than anything. I know NEGATIVE THINGS. 

A friend of mine, who has strong opinions about food and high standards, who would never give us a food-related compliment she didn't absolutely mean, told me that Ann's Cake (cream cake, passionfruit filling, berry whipped cream, chocolate ganache) was the best cake she'd ever eaten. And then today a mutual friend told me that the first friend had told HER that it was the best cake she'd ever eaten. 

So there's that!

The girl who cuts my hair is sort of the bakery football coach. In my head. Like I sit in the chair and she's hovering over me with the scissors and giving me a pants-kicking pep talk. Get on vendor lists! Get a write up in one of those dumb local magazines! Those local mom listservs do a "feature my business!" post once a month! Network with event planners! Haul those treats around to every coffee shop in a ten mile radius! YOU CAN DO IT! 

But my Three kicks in big time. I hear her and I appreciate what she's saying, but I feel terrified by not having done those things yet, terrified she's disappointed in me for not working hard enough, terrified she thinks I can't do it. THE GIRL WHO CUTS MY HAIR. SOMEONE MEDICATE ME.

I think I'm going to end this oh so fascinating post right here. I am falling asleep on my couch as I type, like a proper old lady. I'm tired. Need to rest up for the big bakery powwow I'm going to insist my sister have with me tomorrow morning. I have an agenda and everything. You know, if ANYONE should be worried about what they've got themselves into, it's my sister. Clearly. You should probably go warn her. 


WE'RE LEGAL! Part One. (Oh yes. There are Parts.)

To cap off my stack of Important Legal-ish Papers, including but not limited to:

  • Washington state business license
  • Seattle business license
  • LLC formation
  • Tax forms
  • and one thick stack of insurance papers

I may now add a signed Food Establishment Inspection Report with the comment: "Approval recommended". You may all have a glass of champagne while I tell you the story. 

SHE WAS LATE AGAIN! Almost twenty minutes late, which was the point where I called her the first time (Wednesday) and she was all, "Huh? I had an appointment with you? For TODAY? REALLY?"

And I got mad. I got really really mad. Which isn't really like me. I mean, I get mad, but I don't very often get curse word-worthy mad, and I rarely direct it at individual people. But I'd just had it! I was so tired! Of being crapped on! At every turn! And I'd been feeling particularly punchy about my time and work and tasks being as valuable as anyone else's, that I'm not just a dumb SAHM with a hobby, etc. etc. I was SO MAD. 

So this morning felt a little anticlimactic. I thought she would show up, be as loopily apologetic as she was on the phone, feel guilty that I had to bring my two-year-old with me, sign the papers will quick, and jet. I would be licensed. The end. Too tired to open the champagne. 

Which is, basically, what happened. With a little extra added bonus. 

This woman shows up almost 20 minutes late and at first I don't suspect her of being the inspector. Because she looks like a very frazzled older-than-me mom. She does not look professional. She carries no air of being professional. The only thing giving her away is a sort of weird metal clipboard, so I let her walk up to the front and ask for me (like the girls serving coffee have any clue who I am) and then I walk over and introduce myself and I am POLITENESS ITSELF. I am still furious with her, but I also just want to get it over with and Being Nice is the fastest way to my license. 

So she sits down with me and she starts to share her frazzledness - I think that if I knew this lady casually, or say she was a neighbor or my babysitter's mom or something, I'd love her. I sort of love flustered crazy people and she is most definitely one of these, but LADY I JUST WANT MY LICENSE, right? So I'm a bit ANNOYED with all her apologies and reasons and blah blah blah. 

But then, out of the blue, she sort of snaps to attention and boom. We are discussing the matter at hand. And the things she has to say to me are 1) GOOD TO KNOW and 2) QUITE USEFUL. Like, instead of telling me that my labels are all wrong and sending me home with my knives and all that, she says, "Okay, so you'll want to make sure you always put MILK in parentheses wherever you have CREAM or BUTTER, I know, it's confusing, they don't make it easy to understand, just make that little change and you'll be fine." It was like that. Telling me something I needed to know, trusting that I would do it, not needing to see proof, talking to me like I was a comprehending half-decent human being. She had a couple more corrections for my labels and each one was "yeah, they don't make this easy to understand, but this is what you need to do" and then trusting that I would do it. 

Then she did the inspection. She put on her little Inspector Coat and walked into the kitchen. I walked over to the counter to get Emma some water. By the time I came back, she was done. "Looks great," she said. 

She had a few more questions to which I answered, "well, we haven't quite figured that out yet" BUT she was satisfied that we knew the rules and that was it. Fine by her. 

I KNOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

And I don't even really feel like she was a lazy or bad inspector, which is the general perspective I HAVE on food inspectors based on many many stories. The building the kitchen is in is only 3 years old. I know our kitchen owner keeps everything to code. It's a small space. We are making VERY unhazardous foods. (Or maybe I'm just feeling generous because this was MY inspection. Possible.) 

So then she's filling out the paperwork for the license and because I sense she would be TOTALLY open to shoptalk I casually say, "We tried the Cottage Food process first..." I mean, you could HEAR the dot dot dot. 

And she looks up from her paperwork with narrowed eyes and says, "What. a. joke."

Oh you guys, it was lovely. It was so validating. So affirming. So HELPFUL. Without slamming any one person or any one agency, she easily and intelligently ticked off every ridiculous problem with the state cottage food law and wondered aloud about the POINT. "They've made it SO CUMBERSOME," she said. "It's RIDICULOUS."  "They have DESK people reviewing those applications, not INSPECTORS." "It's so EXPENSIVE." Then she looks up again and says, "Did you already pay for it?" I nod. "Well. Then this is what you should do." 

I am only telling you this because she didn't SAY not to tell anyone she said this. But basically what we should do, and what we are TOTALLY GOING TO DO, is cut out all the recipes except for our four or five most basic and most requested ones. Like chocolate cake. Vanilla cake. Plain, boring, building blocks for other good stuff. Fill out everything exactly the way they say. Get those approved. And then... just, you know. Go and bake safely. Ahem. AHEM. 

This was the advice I received from a state food establishment inspector. I may have to delete this chunk of post in the future, but I just reeeeeeeally wanted to tell you. I WAS TOLD TO BREAK THE RULES.

I mean, this is what people MUST be doing, right?! This is the only way! But still! To be ADVISED TO DO SO! 

Also, SHE would be my kitchen inspector. SHE would come to my house and check us out. SHE gives me the final stamp of approval. She agreed that supplementing our four hours of kitchen time per week with a cottage food permit was a great idea. The only thing she was firm about was not wholesaling things we make at home. That's against the law. But I can quote her about not giving a flip about how much flour we use to dust the work surface. 

And so, all is forgiven. I no longer hold her personally accountable for all the strife we've experienced over the last six months. The kitchen owner celebrated with me after she left - this woman, you guys. We are SURELY a giant pain in the butt for her. She is not getting enough money out of us to make dealing with my constant emails worth it. But she is SO encouraging and flexible and easy and trusting and happy to help and excited for us and I'm not sure there is a better kitchen landlady on earth. We talked about our first night at the kitchen (next week!) and how we'll pay her and alarm codes and copies of insurance information and OH GOD THAT'S WHEN I STARTED TO HAVE MY FREAKOUT. 

So. About five minutes of champagne-worthy elation? And now a freakout. Which I will save for later. Part One was the fun part. Brace yourselves for Part Two, where I grab you by the shirt collars and shriek WHAT HAVE WE DOOOOOOOOONE!!!!???!!!!?!??!!


Less than Outstanding

This evening, after a day full of Other People Suck AND, AS A BONUS, I Myself Suck Too! I log onto Facebook and see that someone from high school has tagged me in another high-school related person's post and OH. An old teacher is looking for an update from all of us named Outstanding Student Of The Year from 1978-2014. My name is on that list. IS THIS GOD'S IDEA OF A FUN JOKE? 

I think if it had just been the morning when the food processor license inspector lady stood me up for our inspection, then heck yeah, I'd be all "HERE'S MY UPDATE. AM STILL FULL OF AWESOME. BUY MY COOKIES." But there was such a large helping of CROW today too, so no, there is not going to be an update. Ever. Oh Facebook, you so funny.

I want to tell you all about all of my disasters and near-disasters, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to post all of your small business start up woe to a blog? I mean, nothing is wrong with the COOKIES, but these stories sure don't make the cookie SENDER look very good. As my dad would say (over and over and over) think of all the things I'm learning! And this is true. I have nine frillion things to add to my Things I've Learned List. About half of them have to do with the post office. And there are more things I'm still in the process of learning, or in the process of developing a process. "How do I not do THAT mistake again" sort of things. Humbling, aggravating, tiring, embarrassing, BIG FAT BUMMER.

There are a lot of good things happening! I got the vibe that my inspector lady will go out of her way to legal me up on Friday BECAUSE she spaced on me today. I'm serious. And Friday is not so far away, not when you've been working since October to figure out how to be legal. The weather is gorgeous. I invited a ton of people to a buy-something-at-a-party party (for a good cause!) and I've had a lot of people say they're excited to come. (I'm inviting you too. Stay tuned.) Katie and I have some new ideas for things to sell. Our kitchen landlady is super flexible. Phillip got some potential good news at work. I'm making friends at the kids' school. I found a great eyeshadow primer! 

But MAN the screw ups leave me burned and dazed and foolish. One of my customers asked if she could leave a Yelp review! So I went over to Yelp and submitted my business and then I became absolutely paralyzed at the thought of our first bad review. Which is inevitable. WE WILL GET A BAD REVIEW. But I don't think I can read it. It would leave me paralyzed. For weeks. Why am I doing this?! I could be sitting on my couch eating watermelon (Costco has some GREAT watermelon right now) and reading my new Entertainment Weekly and totally not putting myself out there to make heaps of public mistakes. 


Dirtball: A Pictorial

FIRST. The birthday boy.

Jack's Birthday 2014 009

Being shy at school.

Jack's Birthday 2014 018

Sir Jack

Jack's Birthday 2014 020

My mom MADE those felt "knight tunic" thingies. Plus, like, eight more. Anyone want to come over and play Medieval Times? Also, those party hats? I paid Top Dollar for those suckers and NO ONE WORE THEM. (Except Phillip. Phillip wore one all through the entire party. Only Phillip. Who is 35.5 years old.)

MY KIDS ARE FREAKING GINORMOUS AAAAUUUGGGHHHH

All right moving on. The last two days it's been 1) absolutely fabulous weather and 2) empty of bakery tasks. So! I've been working on the outsides of my house. Specifically: The Deck.

The TRUE outsides of my house, ie: the YARDS, fill me with panicked woe. They aren't huge, but they are bigger than anything I know how to handle, and both front and back yards are brimming over with giant overgrown plants that worry me. They COULD be beautiful, but I would have to learn how to MAKE them beautiful and I just haven't yet. Last year I dug out a giant space in the backyard to start a garden, but about two days after I planted all my seedlings, some horrible rotten animal came along and ATE THEM. At least, all the seedlings were TOTALLY GONE. It didn't matter anyway, because we decided to spend the kids' college money on rebuilding the deck and my "garden space" was turned into "the place where the deck guys cut all their boards". 

My plans for the yard, at this point, involve a lot of digging and a lot of spreading of wood chips. My friend's husband has turned HIS backyard into a veritable ORCHARD and I have solicited him for ideas. (They all involve wood chips. Sigh.) 

BUT THE DECK. 

Okay, so first I told Phillip to let the kids pick out plants for me for Mother's Day. So I started with a couple little vegetable plants and then these beauties:

Photo (16)

Please don't make me turn these right side up. I'm sorry. This shows you how much I care about my website these days. UNROTATED PICTURES OMGGGGGG

Can I keep a hydrangea in a pot?

But I spent most of my time setting up three containers with beans and snap peas against the deck wall (MY DECK HAS WALLS, I KNOW) and filling the rest of the container with flowers. I FEEL SO PINTERESTY.

Photo 5

No seriously, this is annoying. Why are they rotated correctly on my computer? And then not rotated correctly when I upload them. ANYWAY. There is a sideways planter. 

Here is a sideways upside down tomato plant.

Photo 4

That looks super weird. It does in real life too. That planter is $5 at Home Depot and I thought: Why not? We'll see if this little trick is worth it. 

Also, see that little black smudge on the white trim? That would be a caterpillar. I'm going to have to buy some sort of Bug Hellfire Spray for my deck. I am SO tired of all the ants and spiders and creepy crawlies everywhere I look. This is what I get for buying a house in the middle of nine thousand trees. 

Speaking of trees:

Photo 3

This one can BITE ME. I hate it hate it hate it. We have three large trees in our backyard. One is a pretty cypress. The other is a small evergreen. THIS one is a MASSIVE GODZILLA of a tree and it's one goal in life is to drop its @#)*%@(#%*@#(%&@ needles all over my deck. $2K to cut it down. (Another $2K to chop its evil twin in my front yard.) Maybe I should draft a Kickstarter? 

If you are wondering about the slide, the slide is fine. Maybe a little perturbed by the children who insist on climbing IT instead of the stairs to get to the deck, but hey, that is a slide's cross to bear. Building stairs off the deck continues to be a smashing idea, if also a painfully expensive one. When I get super mad at my gross tile countertops I blame the deck. Dang it, Deck! If it weren't for you I could have counters that don't have 25 years worth of grit and grime in its many grouty crevices! 

All right, I have to quit complaining. I'm quite excited about my deck! I have a friend coming over Thursday morning and I'm already planning the deck snacks and mimosas. 

NEWS REPORT: I am meeting with the Food Processor License Lady, the person who gets to decide whether or not I am legal, TOMORROW MORNING. I'm a little nervous because the coffee shop owner (whose space the inspector will be inspecting!) will not be there, and because she's not so hot with email, I'm not even sure if her employees will have a heads up! I really do think it will all be okay, and if there are any problems I'm expecting them to be small ones that can be figured out that day or this week. The licensing lady gave me absolutely no reason to think we wouldn't be approved that day, but still. It hasn't been my experience that anything in this process is easy and I would still appreciate some good thoughts sent my way. THANK YOOOOOOOU


My seven-year-old can't even get his own birthday post without me yammering on about the bakery

There are a bunch of Young People sitting in the backyard adjacent to my backyard, with a pile of takeout between them, and beer bottles, and they are laughing loudly and all right, fine, maybe I'm a smidge jealous of their evening. 

Although I bet none of them have a seven-year-old. I do. We threw him a fairly large shindig on Saturday, his actual birthday, and I'd post pictures except they all have Someone Else's Child in them and that just doesn't feel right. So, hey Mom? Can you email me some pictures? 

Because they're pretty freaking cute. Jack asked for a castle cake and from there I thought we'd do a little, you know, medieval theme. Except we had a pretty crazy bakery week and I was hanging on by my toenails and my mother pretty much did all the work. She made these little knight tunics for all the kids (who didn't wear them, of course) and found a whole bunch of toy swords at three different stores AND bought the dragon pinata. I... ordered some stuff off Amazon. It was the first Jack party we've had that wasn't nice enough to really play outside, so the party itself felt more crowded and chaotic than I'm sure anyone wanted to deal with. But I think people had a good time? I hope?

Jack's birthday is right when the weather starts to get nicer and we haven't HAD any parties in a while by the time his birthday comes around, so it's always an excuse to invite all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and all our best buddies and HEY, THE CHEUNGS LIKE TO HAVE PEOPLE OVER. And you guys know that I prayed and prayed for the biggest house we could afford in Seattle and we GOT it so I just feel like I have room for everyone! Invite all the people! WE'LL FIT!

We did. It was just... I don't know. I think I had a hard week. I did not feel so confident in my making-people-comfortable abilities. But whatever, the birthday boy, who the party was FOR, enjoyed himself immensely and got some pretty great presents and holy cow he's SEVEN. I know I do this every year. I have a FIVE year old! I have a SIX year old. But PEOPLE. Seven seems old. Officially not Little Boy anymore. More like... Boy. ACK.

After several weeks of bakery insanity (good insanity! we're just not used to it!) we have a week of NOTHING. Which is half depressing and, honestly, half a relief at this point. I need to get my bearings. But then today something happened. 

I already had a meeting planned for tomorrow morning with our Coffee Shop Owner, the woman we're renting space from. We're going to sign some little printed-off-the-internet contract and I am going to haul in my 9000 pages of liability insurance documents to prove I bought it and then we will have a Real Live Actual Factual Kitchen! Woo! Too bad we don't have anything to bake there!

BUT THEN! This morning I got a phone call while I was driving and when I listened to the message I about dropped the phone. The OTHER department at the WSDA, the one that reviews and approves Food Processor permits (which is how we are classified), was calling to make an appointment with me to, and I quote, "getcha licensed!" 

WHUT

I called her back and she said she could do the inspection this week, did we have time, and I was all, UH YES, and so we are meeting at the coffee shop Wednesday morning (if that's okay with the Coffee Shop Owner, fingers crossed) and I'm supposed to bring a couple examples of labels we will use and she'll poke around the space we'll be using AND THEN SHE WILL ISSUE US A PERMIT. LIKE THAT. 

I said, "Are there any corrections we need to make to our application? Anything we left out? Anything we need to do?" And she was basically like, "Uh, no?" Actually what she said is that if there IS anything awry we'll just discuss it Wednesday morning, no biggie. 

The fine print said 4 to 6 weeks. She called us back in 2. It cost $55. Total. She's going to give us a permit. We will be legal. THIS WEEK. WE COULD BE LEGAL THIS WEEK. 

(If she's cool and we hit it off, I'm totally going to ask her about the cottage food nonsense. Not her department, but still. Totally asking.) 

Katie and I are both kinda apprehensive. We've been trying to figure this out since October. OCTOBER. Sure, we could have decided to rent a kitchen from the get go, but even the process of FINDING the kitchen and then figuring out what sorts of permits we need for THAT was long and confusing. To have someone call us up and say we can get it done this week feels surreal. We are suspicious, but I'm also just sort of... you mean we don't have to deal with this anymore? WHATEVER WILL I DO WITH ALL MY TIME?!

What this DOES mean is that we now have to figure out to make money. Like, on a regular basis. Enough to cover our overhead. BECAUSE WE HAVE OVERHEAD OMG. I'm all YAY EXCITING MUPPET ARMS!!! and also oh dear God what have we done. 

 

 


Example of a WSDA Cottage Food Permit application response with corrections

If you found this post by googling "Washington State Cottage Food permit" or "WSDA Cottage Food Law application" or "experience with WSDA Cottage Food process" or any variation thereof, please read on.

I am not sure how I'm going to respond to our Cottage Food Permit application corrections just yet. I am mulling all of that over, wondering what would be meaningful and/or useful, and what I specifically want to communicate (and to whom). The one thing I definitely know, at this point, is that I'd like to be a resource for other applicants - at least be a pit stop in their googling for information. And so I present the entirety of the WSDA's response to our permit application. This is a 17-page PDF. Even without a copy of the application this document references, an example of the corrections and comments would have been immensely helpful to me when I was preparing our application. 

For the record: 

  • We are not moving foward with the Cottage Food Permit. We have chosen to rent commercial kitchen space and are now applying for a WSDA Food Processor's Permit. We decided to do this before we received our response from the WSDA.
  • We are not contesting any of the mistakes, errors, and omissions on the list of corrections needed. We acknowledge and fully accept that much of what we submitted did not meet the published criteria.

I think what I need to do is read up on the motivations of the lawmakers who unanimously passed the Cottage Food Act, as well as find out who spoke against it and why. Then I will know how to frame my feedback, and who should receive it. 

 


On the application we should have never filed in the first place

Earlier today I received an email from the cottage food law office or department or whatever it is, saying that our application had NOT immediately gone into the dustbin like I was assuming, but was, indeed, Reviewed, Considered, and Sent Back For Corrections. And just so we're all on the same page before I start ranting, we realized BEFORE we mailed it in that just a Cottage Food Permit was not going to work for us. But we'd already done so much work on it that we figured it could supplement renting a kitchen for when we got busy. I'm not entirely sure if that's kosher, but I dare anyone to tell me why we couldn't do such a thing. 

And the REASONS a CFP wasn't going to work are reasons they themselves made very clear: you had to send in EVERY recipe you EVER wanted to use, EVER, and no "optional ingredients" or "variations" would be allowed. There had to be a separate recipe for every single blessed product AND a full ingredient label, with ingredients broken down into sub-ingredients. For a business that wanted to be able to make whatever a customer wanted, this was going to be tricky. Which is why we sent in as many recipes as we did. We were trying to cover as many bases as possible, knowing we'd have to make up for it in a rented kitchen space. We worked hard on that application and gave it our best effort, truly. I even reread it three or four times looking for errors! I DID!

It turns out we have a lot of errors. A LOT OF ERRORS. And some of them are pretty egregious, I suppose, if you are the Head Cheese at the Cottage Food Office. Katie and I, apparently, get a big fat F minus for our complete inability to list ingredients by weight. And in many places we listed ingredients that did not make it into the label and vice versa. We didn't list "parchment paper" in our list of equipment. We never added "extract" onto the end of "vanilla". Some of our recipes called for "sticks" of butter and we needed to write out the exact measurement. Things like that. Annoying, but we can't say we weren't fully briefed on the annoying things we'd have to do. 

But... okay, here is where I should start ranting, but honestly, my delighted faux-rage is, at this point, rapidly decreasing and in its place is tired, half-disgusted, stressed, is-this-ever-going-to-work-ness. I shouldn't be this way. We don't need this stupid permit and I'm not going to follow up on these corrections and I'm going to eat the $230 fee and MOVE ON. We have a new and more doable plan. This ultimately DOESN'T MATTER. 

I don't want to write an angry letter - I'm not angry and I don't really have anything to be angry about. I KNEW AHEAD OF TIME. I knew the rules about buttercream and cream cheese frosting and not selling anything that would need to be refrigerated. I did a lot of research and I knew this was going to be a giant PITA. I KNEW. 

I do sort want to write a PSA for future cottage food permit applicants. I do wish I knew enough about SEO to make this website be a stop on someone's way to getting their permit, because we are an excellent example of a business that at first SEEMS like a good fit for the CFP but is most definitely NOT. I would like to recommend the Cottage Food people post a little paragraph on their website about who a Cottage Food permit would benefit. They SAY it's for bakers, but while bakers get a bad rap for being "scientific" and "precise", I feel that this is a little TOO precise: 

Are you greasing both the cake pan and the parchment paper with the

cooking spray? Please clarify.

Also:

Please provide the exact measurement of the sugar used for sprinkling.

And this:

In step #4 you turn the dough onto a floured surface. Please specify

how much flour is used on the surface and add it to the ingredient list.

I feel like the favorite social media phrase "I just can't with this" was invented for these statements.

I think there are two things I want to point out about this whole process and the first and least important and most snide of me is to say: THIS IS SOMEONE'S JOB. We sent in something like 50 recipes. There are corrections on EVERY RECIPE and they are written out in a Word document and not in a uniform way - someone was clearly typing up her comments without a form or a metric or anything. 

Step #4 says to “Press each side of the cookie in sugar, which has

been mized with the orange zest, if using…” Optional steps/ingredients

are not allowed. IF you are going to be using this step it must be done

every time the product is made. A separate recipe may be submitted

without the orange zest if you wish.

And

Since you have milk listed twice in the ingredients please specify how

much milk you are using in step #2 or state that you are making scones

so that it is obvious to use the amount of milk you have listed under that

section.

You add milk in step #6 but the milk was already used to mix with the

lemon juice. Did you mean the milk/lemon juice mixture? Please clarify.

Step #7 say to “Use flour to prevent sticking.” How much flour? This

will need to be added to the ingredients.

Step #8 – please specify that you are making the garnish so that it is

obvious you are using the ingredients listed under that section.

 

I mean, is she sick of reading our stupid application or what? "IT'S LIKE THESE IDIOT WOMEN THINK JUST ANYONE CAN MAKE A SCONE!"

The part that underscores the horror/disbelief I have at the fact that this is someone's job is: THEY CANNOT ENFORCE ANY OF THESE REQUIREMENTS. They can't even MONITOR them. I could make every correction to their exact specification, get my kitchen inspected (which I hear is the easy part) and then go off and make whatever the hell I feel like making. 

I am NOT anti-regulation. But I do think I am anti- stupid regulations. And the requirements demanded of a CFP applicant are ABOVE AND BEYOND what is requested of us on the permit we need for someone using a rental kitchen. And we are making the same foods. I definitely get why it's okay for us to make a cream cheese filling in a commercial kitchen and not in a home kitchen. I am eye rolly, but I get it. But the requirement to measure the amount of sugar I will use for dusting? Why is THAT needed in a CFP application but not in the other? Needing to list the ingredients to the degree that you are adding in the extra flour used for dusting the work surface? I understand why I need to turn in every recipe, but why do the CFP folks need to see a copy of every single LABEL when the regular food processor application only asks to see an example? And SURELY whether or not I spell "flour" correctly has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to safely bake at home.

Please correct the spelling of flour in step #2.

Now we're just being bitchy, right? 

AGAIN. I am no longer going this route and I have no intention of acquiesing to any of these demands and SO LONG COTTAGE FOOD PROCESS. You are ridiculous. But it bugs me that you're ridiculous. And because I so often obsess about motivations, I can only conclude that you don't REALLY want people to do this. I don't know, maybe you were badgered to death about getting a cottage food law enacted in Washington state, but you were bound and determined to make it as hard as possible to get. I think this permit is possible if you make four kinds of jam and want to sell them to tourists getting off the ferry in the San Juans. Or maybe ten kinds of trail mix at farmer's markets. But bakers? I know there are bakers who have passed this crazy test, but not for one second do I believe they are sticking to the rules. Or that they CAN stick to the rules. What baker hasn't looked at her frosting and thought, I need to add a little more milk/cream/powdered sugar/vanilla/ETC. YOU ARE LYING if you follow recipes exactly every single time. And I think it should be okay if you don't exactly follow the recipe every single time, YOU CAN STILL DO THAT SAFELY FROM HOME, so what are we trying to achieve here, Cottage Food Law? 

(I suspect as little as possible.)