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September 2014
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October 2014

This post includes the phrase "self absorbed and obsessed with appearances" so, same old same old

The bakery gears are churning again. October was not a spectacular month for us, order-wise, but after weeks and weeks of not feeling sure, I feel very much up and running. I keep reading things, talking to people, snagging advice and connections and ideas. The kids had friends over this afternoon and when the mom (who I didn't know) came to get them, we ended up on the couch talking out our fledgling businesses for another hour. I feel like there is encouragement everywhere. 

Also discouragement. We've decided to set up an online store and it is taking me FOREVER. And I have a million questions about every step and uncertainty about the whole endeavor and bah. We've been prodded to open an online store (as opposed to our current website and order-via-email-conversation system) by more than a few people, but it never felt DOABLE. The biggest thing was just not knowing if we'd be able to FULFILL those orders. When someone orders something online and pays for it right then, they sort of, you know, expect it fairly soon. Our current system allows us to schedule things the way we need them scheduled. Also the shipping charge element is overwhelming to me, I don't know what boxes to check on a lot of these inventory questions, we don't know how to best list our products or even writing the copy BLARGH. 

BUT. This seemed like a DUH kind of thing to do, and we talked over the schedules and availability thing and what kind of language we'd need to include in the listings to make all of that manageable. Some of those questions I'm still working on (shipping! UGH I HATE SHIPPING) but if this all works out? Anyone who's ever visited our site and didn't order something because emailing back and forth seemed like a giant pain in the ass for just sending a box of cookies to Grandma might be more inclined to order. ALSO we're putting together what we hope are irresistible holiday boxes and Christmas is gonna need to pay January's rent. Right? So. That's what I've been working on. (We're using Storenvy by the way, instead of Etsy or whatever else. Maybe more on that later. Thumbs up so far.)

And just in general I feel a little like... like things COULD be spinning fast, but not yet? And the only reason they're not spinning YET is because I haven't got up the nerve to make them spin. Lots of people are offering help and advice and connections and I have yet to really GO there. I should. At some point. Sometimes it feels like we can barely handle what we're doing NOW. But, you know, I like to move forward, always, and we'll eventually take the next step. Whatever that is. 

I think things are going well. Phillip seems really happy at work right now and I'm feeling like a good mom lately. I don't know if it's because they're getting older or if I just have more brain space or I'm not STARTING a bakery anymore or it's a full moon, I don't know, but I'm really ENJOYING the kids in a way I haven't experienced yet as a mom. Of course I've always enjoyed my kids. I mean, I love babies like nothing else and we think ours are the best kids on the planet, like any other self-respecting mom and dad. But they are really FUN right now! The reading, the curiosity about the world, the wanting to play with other kids but still being little and calling me mommy - it's just awesome. Before my grandma got too deep into the Alzheimer's, she and I would still chat a bit and sometimes I could get her talking about HER kids and she'd always say that the days when her kids were little were the best days. I'm sure that's different for different people, but these days when my kids are big but still little and still wanting to spend so much time with their mom and dad are really super great. For me. I'm a fan. 

I ordered Christmas party invitations because OBVS we need to have one. I picked the one day it's possible that ALL my siblings can attend, even my Colorado brother because they're coming out for the holidays. Any ideas for fancy-ish, no-utensils, not TOTALLY bankruptable catering would be very welcome. 

I'm not sure what to do with the blond. I'm not sure why I feel like I need to know what to do with the blond, but it's something I think about on a fairly regular basis, because I am self-absorbed and obsessed with appearances. Keep blonding? Dye it back? Cut it short? Grow it out? I need a plan. PLANS ARE GOOD. Even for hair. 

I've bought over half of my Christmas presents. Katie told me Christmas is a soul crushing time of year for bakeries and I should get as much done ahead of time as possible. So. Oh, I know what I wanted to ask you. If you wanted to float a Secret Santa exchange amongst your siblings who won't all be in the same place until Christmas, how would you suggest picking names? 

There's a whole bunch of stuff I can think of to write about or ask you about or whatever, but I'm soooooo tired. Do not recommend Pumpkin Carving as a playdate activity, especially if the playdaters are finicky mess-avoiders. Weirdos. 

 

 


Why don't you all come over and we'll eat our way through the bakery leftovers

I thought the anxiety was getting better, and I think it WAS, for a while, but not so much anymore, and I don't really know what to do about it. I mean, eventually I will call my doctor and she will probably put me on something else because I'm at the max dose of this one, but I sort of dread making that call and it will take a few days for me to actually do it. That call means the thing I was most nervous about is the thing that happened - that the meds wouldn't work, that I would still be anxious months out, that I have to start over on something else, that maybe NOTHING works - and I haven't wrapped my brain around it yet. 

In the meantime I am making lunches and going shopping and shipping cookies and writing emails and having friends for dinner. I can do my life. It's just in the quiet alone moments my body is on big time high alert and the rest of me is totally stymied as to why. As long as I don't think about it too much, it's only a massive drag. If I think about it too much, it becomes something a lot worse. 

I feel like... well, if I'm going to feel like I'm about to go on stage at any moment or give a very important speech, I would like to, you know, ACTUALLY GO ON STAGE. Because 1. there would be a reason and 2. I've always wanted to be a Broadway star. 

That said, anxiety has rarely stopped me from doing the stuff I want to do. There was that one time where I didn't quit a job I knew I should quit, because I needed that safe, predictable, known place to be every day. But that was a million years ago and now I just DO stuff because no way is anxiety going to shut me down. I mean, it might, maybe, but this is why I carry a bottle of Klonopin everywhere I go, right? HA. 

So I am looking at invitations for the Christmas party we throw every year, even though 1. I will probably still be anxious come Christmas party time and 2. isn't the holiday season a manic time for bakery owners? I've heard this is the case! Perhaps I should not block out an entire week in December for decorating my house! But I think I would be tremendously SAD if we canceled the party this year, even if we just turned it into a, I don't know, an Ides of March party or whatever. This probably means that I will for SURE bust the party budget because dudes, we ARE going to be bakery busy and in order to pull off a party I must HIRE OUT. (Not that I have a REAL problem with this. It just looks bad on the Excel spreadsheet.) 

And also I continue to book social occasions for myself, along with Asking Random People To Do Them With Me. The great testimony of my life, as I see it, is that once I was a desperately lonely and unhappy 15-year-old, crying in her closet from the shame of eating lunch by herself every day, praying for just one single friend, and now I am abundantly miraculously blessed with the most amazing friends I could ever hope to have. Ever. I swear it. Plural! MANY. And where it seems many women my age are despairing about making new friends with other adult women, I am supernaturally driven to seek out Potential Friends and pester them until they break down and hang out with me (out of exhaustion? perhaps.) I say "supernaturally" because OH MY am I NOT AT ALL "naturally" outgoing or extroverted or brave or confident in knowing other people want to get to know ME. I think better of myself than I used to - I suspect this is a product of getting older and I enthusiastically welcome it - but I am still wracked with insecurity when I meet someone new. ...it's just that I then invite them to a party. HEY. PARTIES ARE FUN.

I say that I fake extroversion well? But really I just honestly do like KNOWING people and I very much enjoy GATHERING them, especially if wine and snacks are involved, and when it seems like someone should enjoy something I enjoy, I compulsively invite them along. Sometimes this doesn't have the desired results. See: my OB and my hairstylist are not my best friends. I've had to get over that, alas. And sometimes it does. See: I agonized over how to invite my kid's teacher to a thing and then I just finally DID it and she immediately and excitedly said yes and omg we are totally going to be besties. 

ANYWAY. Sometimes the anxiety makes me MORE like that. Because the more time I spend with Other People, the less time I have to sit alone in my house and wonder why I am anxious, which then makes me more anxious. 

Blargh. I just don't know what the next steps are. Try another med? What if that one doesn't work? I know it's bad news to start thinking too far out, but it's HAAAAAARD to keep yourself in check all the time. I am asking for help when I think I need help, I am seeing the appropriate professionals, I make sure I don't spend EVERY day at home with only children for company, I keep myself busy with household stuff and bakery stuff. But I don't feel like I'm getting better. I've always, eventually, felt better. But then I've always, eventually, felt anxious again. And at this point it just sounds EXHAUSTING. And I'm already exhausted. I'm being challenged to look at this as a chronic thing, accept it even, and I'm trying and finding that to be a better perspective than my usual Fight Fight Fight stance. That IS helpful. But I think right now I feel sad about it too. Maybe the other part of that testimony is that God knew what a rough time my brain chemistry was going to be and gave me the people I needed when I really needed them. And they include you guys, too. xo

 

 


Dinner/Bakery/Books/Decrepit Mental Health Update

Dinner Update

Dinner 1: chicken schnitzel type thingies, quinoa/brown rice from Costco (and a nice microwaveable bag), spinach sauteed with bacon and mushrooms. Everyone ate the chicken, no one ate the quinoa/rice except for me, grown ups ate the spinach while the children choked down one bit after considerable wailing and rending of garments. 

Dinner 2: I made a soup with shredded chicken and wild rice. I put heavy cream in it to increase the chances of people under the age of 30 giving it a chance. Nobody wanted to eat it, but I stopped caring since Family Dinner was preempted by my BIL surprise in town for business and stealing Phillip for dinner out. Pretty sure kids ate saltines for dinner. I ate the soup for lunch today, though, and *I* liked it, so there. 

Dinner 3 (tonight): cheese and spinach tortellini with a creamy tomato sauce (basically diced tomatoes, onion, herbs, and cream cooked down and immersion blended into Tasty Sauce of Indeterminate Origin) and sauteed grean beans. Big kids had fourteen servings of pasta, little kid kept shouting, "MORE BEANS! MORE BEANS!" We ate together, we took turns sharing the Good Thing about our day and the Bad Thing, and I felt like I won a peace prize. 

I've spent some time looking at my old recipe book, adding recipes from Pinterest, and planning out meals for the rest of the week. (I know. It's Wednesday. We are starting small.) I am feeling good, but I tend to feel good at the beginning stages of Attempting Success At Something, and we shall have to see how long I am motivated to, you know, keep planning ahead. 

Also, I've read a few responses to Virginia Heffernan's article which 1) take things ENTIRLEY too seriously and 2) do NOT get the "not big on cooking" point of view. But whatever. *I* have a sense of humor even if I am seriously lacking in the ability to roast a chicken department. 

I KNOW ROASTING A CHICKEN IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE EASIEST THING EVER. BUT FIRST YOU HAVE TO TOUCH A WHOLE RAW CHICKEN. NOPE!

Bakery Update

We have a thing or two going on, including a whole big discussion about an Actual Wedding in June, complete with cake and favors ETCETERA. Most of our orders lately have been from (gasp) strangers! And I would like to say that we are getting these orders without me having done a single stupid marketing thing. That said, we would like MORE orders which means I should probably DO some marketing things. So while Katie was doing the wedding discussing and pricing out, I was doing some, shall we say, Market Research. And looking for opportunities to get our stuff out there and after about 20 minutes I just got SUPER intimdated. I was super intimidated by the wedding industry when I was GETTING married, and now it is just as intimidating (if not more so) now that I'm thinking of possibly joining it. I keep telling myself that the four or five dessert vendors that pop up on all the sites are not the only people in the world doing cakes or desserts and there IS a place for us. I keep telling myself that not everyone WANTS a to-scale model of the Eiffel Tower for a party cake and there is a place for our very simple, very clean, very delicious cakes. I also keep telling myself that everyone loves a teeny tiny sister act when it comes to small business and we're nice and fun and cute and willing to do whatever and WE CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN. But sheesh, there's stuff out there that really makes you feel like we'll never belong and shouldn't bother trying. 

The idea of opening a shop, at this point, and with everything we've learned so far, is pretty pie in the sky. It would take a lot of money, we'd go into a lot of debt, and even if we were willing to do that, we have NO EXTRA TIME. Our husbands have jobs that make actual money so those come first, and we take care of kids and do everything on the side. From what I know now, there's just NO WAY we could open a shop on our own. That sounds kind of defeatist or down on women or whatever, but it's just truth. But I think... not necessarily the shop itself, but what we would SELL in a shop is what we'd still like to do. We still both really love the idea of having a case of little cookies that people could pick and choose, we'd arrange them on a platter, wrap it in our logo-printed wrapping paper, and they'd take it to the family gathering. Do people do this in the states? I don't know. And God knows if that's an idea that would ever make any money! That's why I feel like we need to explore this wedding and catering stuff. Maybe I need to just make a date with the chamber of commerce folks and let them give me the terrible news so we know once and for all. 

Dudes, who ever thought I'd be all entrepreneuring on my BLOG. 

Book Update

Finished The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Loved it. World War 1, love stories, art, mystery, England, intrigue, did I mention WAR? 

Now I'm reading Zoo Station by somebody Downing... David? Anyway. Just before WWII begins in Berlin. English/American reporter with a German ex-wife and a son. Contacted by the NKVD, the Germans, AND the Brits about spying. It feels a little slow, but I expect greatness. And it's a SERIES. I LOVE SERIES.

Anxiety Update

I am nearing the end of my three-month "your meds should start to work within this timeframe" trial period and I'm feeling a little nervous because I don't feel ALL better. I feel MUCH better, but I feel enough bad for it to be noticeable and something I probably have to talk about with the brain doctor, even though I don't have another appointment scheduled until January. (Because, me, at the last appointment: I'm doing so well! I'm sure I'm on the upswing! I don't need to come back any time soon! HA HA HAAAAsob) That said I've been trying VERY HARD to change my general outlook on Having Anxiety. Like... instead of viewing it as Me Vs. Anxiety, I'm trying to think of it more as Regular Me Attempting To Better Tolerate And/Or Have More Compassion For The Anxious Me, which I'm hoping will create less of the anxiety about anxiety. Which sounds crazy, I know, but sometimes I think the having anxiety about having anxiety is the absolute worst part. 

THE END. (FOR TODAY.)

 

 

 


Family Dinner NEVERENDING FAIL!

There was a time when I made weekly menus, shopped for only things for that menu, and then more or less adhered to that plan for the week. We ate half decent meals and kept to our budget. I mean, I'm no fantastic cook or anything and these were not at all impressive dinners, but it is good to remind myself that at ONE point in time, I WAS capable of making dinner! 

HOWEVER!

I feel like... I feel like my "capable of making family dinner days" were either when the kids were babies or when they were just weren't in school yet. Or something. I don't know. And honestly I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with anything? Although maybe when they were babies I only had to think about Actual Dinner for Phillip and me, because honestly, it's the What Will Everyone Eat that has driven me into a deep and depressing dinner HOLE. 

I flat out loved the NYT article by Virginia Heffernan: What If You Just Hate Making Dinner?  It was hilarious and tongue in cheek and the comment section took her entirely too seriously, but the truth remains: some of us just don't like to cook! I AM NOT ALONE!

And it's not that I HAAAATE cooking or that I'm particularly terrible at it - there are times when I quite enjoy it and there are meals I think I pull off pretty well. But the neverending undying FIGURING OUT OF WHAT EVERYONE IS GOING TO EAT is a massive weight I drag around every day. And I suck at it. I think of myself as someone who doesn't wallow, who makes a plan and follows through and gets it done, but DUDES. Every day. 4:00 PM. I open the fridge. I peek in the freezer. I open the pantry door with a heavy sigh. I wonder what in the WORLD I am going to make for dinner tonight. 

My other issue is this: The kids usually want to eat between 5 and 5:30. Phillip doesn't get home until 6. There are some days the kids are hounding me for dinner at 4:30 and I throw a frozen pizza in the oven because come on, and then Phillip and I forage for sustenance after they've gone to bed. There are days I've thought ahead and planned a family meal and Phillip texts me at 5:55 to say he hasn't left the office yet. SOME DAYS I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WIN. 

But I've been feeling like... I mean, I WANT to have family dinner. I would say it IS very important to me. I just feel so DEFEATED by it. I mean, no one else in my family is really cooperating, right? My kids pretty much never want to eat anything grown ups want to eat, so I know a Half-Nutritious Dinner With Vegetables is going to be a Spend Half An Hour Insisting They Try One Bite Of Squash Dinner. Not particularly motivating! And Phillip isn't super reliable about getting home on time. It is so eeeeeeasy to set the kids up with chicken nuggets or macaroni or pizza or something else reliably eaten, along with a for-looks-only side of broccoli, and pass out on the couch until Phillip gets home and we eat leftovers. (Or rather, he eats leftovers and I eat cereal. Which is another one of my problems: I DON'T CARE ABOUT DINNER. Seriously, give me a bowl of cereal or a pile of sliced apples and a spoonful of peanut butter or a hunk of bread, some cheese, and a glass of wine - DINNER!) 

I was whining about this to a good friend, who happens to be a terrific cook and for whom food is joy, and she gave me some tips for making quick easy weeknight dinners. And all of these tips were TERRIBLE for the sort of person who is 1) not a terrific cook and 2) food is a slog, seriously, except for the one where on Wednesdays you can get an entire cooked family meal at Whole Foods for fifteen dollars. Sold. 

I think I need to make a list of dinners that all of us are willing to eat, or at least choke down with minimal fuss, and tape them to the pantry door or something so I am not starting from scratch every night. I think I need to stop worrying about trying to eat fewer carbs or less red meat or whatever and just aim for Balanced Boring Family Dinner. Whoever is attempting to "eat healthy" will just have to be responsible for doctoring their own dinners, right? (This is usually me anyway.) 

THEN I think I need to make sure I always have the components of those boring family dinners on hand. Pasta. Canned tomatoes. Ground beef. Chicken. Broccoli. Rice. And cheat where I can. My in-laws bought us a bunch of garlicky quinoa and brown rice that comes in packets at Costco? That stuff is YUMMY. And cooks in the package in the microwave in 2 minutes. 

THEN I will try to feed my kids a giant snack after school and not go crazy waiting until six to feed them dinner so we CAN all eat together. Because I really do want this. This part is just me wanting to shear an hour off the dreaded afternoon/evening shift by sticking them at the dinner table and escaping to watch the local news until Phillip gets home. I'm not sure how crazy it will make the evening/bedtime, but we need to try. It's not like we can just keep waiting until they get older - I hear that when they get older they start having things like after school activities (shudder) and are never home for dinner anyway.

AND if all else fails, make sure I have a stack of cheese pizzas in the freezer. 

(NOTE: the "cook all day on Sunday and pack your freezer full of casseroles for the week" is not a gamechanger for me. I hate doing that much cooking all at once and my kids will eat, at most, two varieties of freezer casserole type meals. I'd much rather spend half an hour every night throwing something together. And! I do have a crock pot and I do try to use it, but I have yet to find a truly awesome slow cooker recipe that everyone enjoys. I feel the "meal that everyone enjoys" only exists at restaurants anyway, where we all get to pick what we want.)

Anyway. Today I considered dinner at 10am rather than 4pm. I took some chicken out of the freezer to defrost. I fed the kids a giant snack. As soon as I finish this blog post I will get started on pounding the chicken flat for panko breaded pan fried chicken, which I will serve with a packet of the above mentioned quinoa and rice, and some sauteed spinach with bacon, which requires no skill or time yet is 1) green and 2) delicious. We will all sit down as soon as Phillip gets home and I will insist on one bite of spinach, but otherwise not engage in a food battle. We shall see how it goes. PRAY FOR ME. 

 


The only thing that really matters in this post is that I placed my first Boden order YAY

I bought a Rainy Day Mac, you ENABLERS!!! I have never ordered anything from Boden, but it helps that 1) I've always wanted to order something from Boden and 2) they were having a sale. I mean, it's still a pricey rain coat, but I LIVE IN SEATTLE. Right? Right. Sad part is that I bought the plain black one because: cheapest. But still. Black goes with everything! AND I ordered two clearance dresses. I told myself that this is my Does Boden Work For Me order, since that's what has always held me up before. 

(You know, like J Crew? J Crew does not make clothes for people with my body shape. I mean sometimes? If I get really lucky? But otherwise, they're a big nope. I strongly suspect Boden requires a JCrewish body, but WE SHALL SEE!) 

It's been a weird day. I took a very long nap. Even though I didn't really NEED to nap or WANT to nap, it just sort of HAPPENED. And then there was the whole "what huh smrph" jolted wake up when my alarm went off. (I have an alarm now. Remember when I slept through school pick up? I told you about that, right? GAH) And then Emma has been Constipated (and yes, with her it is a capital C) meaning that the phrase "I mixed her prune juice with Miralax" was uttered at dinnertime. The kids are on a big string game kick and ate dinner an hour later than usual because they were busy making videos of themselves demonstrating Cup and Saucer and Cat's Whiskers. Dorks. 

I had a weird cake order today too, with an out of state customer wanting it delivered to someone who just happens to live in my neighborhood and the phone kept cutting out and I was toeing the line between Cheery Positive No Problem! and OMG GET THIS OVER WITH. Also I continue to feel like I pull information out of my ass. How much? What flavors? UHHHHH. I need to make myself some sort of cheat sheet and tape it directly to the wall above my desk. It's embarrassing. 

Katie and I met up yesterday to talk about Halloween treats. We're pretty sure no one will order them, but we need some new fun pictures for the website. I don't think anyone's ordered cupcakes from us (are we coming off the cupcake trend?) but we're going to do a bunch of Halloweeny ones and they're going to be SO CUTE. We also thinked up the menu for a tasting we're doing for another catering company this month and staaaarted talking about Christmas. Right now we are just ASSUMING Christmas will be nutballs, but as soon as we start talking about how busy we'll be, we're both like, "Oh, but maybe no one will order anything from us and we'll feel REALLY STUPID." So. Super professional over here, making all the right businessy decisions, totally prepared, extra chipper. That's us!

Oh, I wanted to tell you that we went to the Home Show over the weekend because (VERY EXCITING) we are probably going to remodel the kitchen in the next two years (okay, maybe that isn't that exciting, two years is kind of a long time, EXCEPT I CAN COUNT IT ON ONE HAND I DIDN'T THINK I'D EVER GET TO DO THAT) and Phillip was curious. The Home Show was not half as fun as I thought it would be, more boring convention than crazy people state fair, but we did pick up a whole bunch of flyers and business cards and got some good advice. Like no one would think we're crazy if we called them 6 to 9 months before we wanted to start our project. And also that we should probably start thinking NOW about what we want. I mean, beyond a Pinterest board. So. Right now all I've got are solid slab of something countertops and an undermount sink. Did you remodel? Is there a feature you cannot live without? Like one of those hidden mixer cupboards with the shelf that moves up to counterheight? SO COOL.