Bakery

HALP, people who work from home

There's no school tomorrow. Something about veterans or whatever. FINE. I'll just suffer through an entire day at home alone with these hooligans. 

(I'M JOKING. About the veterans. I *am* on my ninety-third WWII book. But I was not joking about the hooligan part.) 

ANYWAY. I am a teeeeeeny bit freaking out because even though I brought my computer on the retreat I volunteered at this weekend, I didn't crack it open at all (SHOCKER) and I feel BEHIND. I am behind on personal things, like responding to emails and evites and updating my calendar so Phillip knows what the heck is going on around here and figuring out when we're going to see grandparents and what's going on at school ETCETERA ETCETERA. And I'm terribly behind on WORK stuff, which is super not good. I am terrified of the day I forget about an order that's due because I just didn't update the calendar or bother to tell Katie or something else completely stupid. And also I really want to get that online store up and running before it gets much closer to Thanksgiving and I just don't know how it's going to happen. I can get SOME stuff done in the gaps when the kids are in bed or Phillip is doing stuff with them, but what I really need is some good several-hours-long chunks of time when I can concentrate and test things and THINK. I'm finding that I can DO stuff with kids around (package things, print out postage, tie ribbons) but the THINKING and PLANNING with kids around is beyond me. And if I don't think and plan, we don't grow. Blargh. 

And tomorrow everyone is home. Plus my sister-in-law and her three kids will be here most of the day since they live a few hours away and are in town so my brother can go to a nearby interview. So they can maybe move closer. I love having people around, but it's not like I'm going to get any work done. I need to get work done. Ack ack ack. 

I also see that I am making two meals this week for a friend who just left the hospital, I have a birthday get together, I have a cookie delivery, and possibly meeting up with a brand new friend so I have to put a little more effort into Having My @&%$ Together that day. CAN I DOOOO THAAAAAAT?

When Phillip and I created this joint desk thing in a very public area of our house I made a big stink about how I was going to insist that he keep it clean and looking nice and picked up and now I'M the one with a giant unopened pile of mail, a bajillion bakery Post-It notes, scattered pens, hand sanitizer, nail polish, all the fancy camera paraphernalia, printed out spreadsheets, receipts, cards, magazines, and for some reason the tongs to the cocktail ice bucket. I don't know. Now accepting applications for Personal Assistant. 

I'm going to sit down and do the thing that is probably least important, which is stamp and address my Christmas party invitations, not that I have any idea when I will have time to actually think about what we're going to have for the party this year (do you want to come?)

Wait. First. People who work from home. Do you use daycare? Family? Mother's helpers? Babysitters? My mother-in-law retired this summer and seems to be more than willing to come up whenever I ask and watch Emma. I think this is my first and easiest option, though I can't make it a regular thing. I mean, even if it turned out that she came up one day every week, I'm not going to ask her to COMMIT to that. (No. Don't tell me I should just ask, because no.) So while I have that option, it's not something I can necessarily plan around. Other options are: finding a daytime sitter and then escaping to a coffee shop? Once a week? I'd rather not work with someone else in my house watching the kids. My sister could? Sometimes? But definitely not something I'd ask her to commit to doing either, just on an as-needed basis. There's preschool too, but that seems even more expensive than a sitter, only a few hours, I'm not excited about the for-sure unpleasant adjustment to going somewhere without me, and also the going back and forth in the car is my least favorite thing ever. HOW DO YOU DO THIS? WHAT IS YOUR PLAN? 

When we were trick or treating I found out there's a CHINESE DAYCARE down the street from me. Like, I can walk there. They would feed my kid good food and teach her Chinese. I should do this, right?! Maybe? Ack. 

Maybe my biggest hurdle is admitting to myself (rather than the blog) that I really do need one or two days a week to do Work, on my own, no kids, get it done, focus, then close the computer and let it go. I answer email all the time, I talk to Katie all the time, I update the calendar all the time, but I'm talking website and marketing and planning stuff. Just a few hours a week. I need to commit to finding that time and making it happen. Right? (ACK)


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.)

 

 

 


In which the bakery requires clonazepam

HELLO THERE!

Things are getting better. Thank you for thinking good thoughts about me, because I've needed them. And I still need them, but things are getting better. I'm not going to say more about that because many years of internetting have taught me that declaring something online means the opposite will be true the next day. SO. 

I actually tried to write something here the other day, but then I accidentally yanked out my power cord. And ever since I doused my laptop with a giant glass of water in July, the battery no longer works and if my computer isn't plugged in, it's dead. As soon as the power cord disconnected, my [boring] [pointless] blog post went kaput. I took this as A Sign. 

But whatever, the kids are in bed and I have wine and Phillip is making a mental health run to Costco (do YOUR husbands need retail therapy like mine?). And also I've been sitting here clicking refresh refresh refresh because Thumbprints just received and confirmed and invoiced our first wedding order in the last two hours - a bride called and ordered 12 dozen macarons for Saturday. THIS SATURDAY. Poor Katie. We pushed back the cookie boxes a week (sorry) because we were busy this weekend, and now this week we're doing cookie boxes AND 12 dozen macarons. And I should say KATIE is doing those. I am... sending emails. Poor Katie. Did I already say that? 

On one hand: SUPER BIG FAT FIST BUMP because DUDE! Our first wedding! It's not a HUGE order, by which I mean we are just delivering 12 dozen macarons, not boxing them up for favors or setting them out on a buffet table. But still. It's our third in a row of Orders From Total Strangers and that makes a new business owner feel pretty darn good. I don't know if I told you about the event we did with the catering company? I have a friend who's an event planner at a catering company and they do vendor open houses once a month. So we got in for September (along with a DJ and a photographer and an invitation-maker) and got some serious interest and great feedback. That was a bad week for me, so I was glad to stay home with Temperamental Niece while Katie did all the work. But a lot of times Katie isn't around to get the feedback so this was fun for her! (At least, this is what I told myself while I sat at home watching TV.) 

On the other hand: OMG SO MANY COOKIES. I mean, this is good! Very good! Go us! But whoa, there are only two of us, and only one of those two knows how to make macarons. (Or anything else, really. I am in charge of red wine brownies. Everything else I make may TASTE okay, but looks like garbage.) I am also sitting here thinking about how busy we were at Christmas last year, when we were NOT official and had NO website and NO customers and NOTHING and... well, I guess it's good that I still have a mostly-full bottle of horse tranquilizers, yes? Enough to share with Katie, even. 

I REEEEEEEEEALLY want this to be REAL. You know?! Like a THING! A real THING! A BUSINESS! And at the same time I am all... how? HOW? 

I guess we just keep going. And then at some point I write a business plan. My excuse up to now has been, "But we don't even know what we want to do! We are EXPERIMENTING!" Eh. (This website is not responsible for inspiring YOU to leap ahead without a business plan. We exempt ourselves from any inspiration that is not Responsible and Sensible.)

Anyway. I miss you, Internet, and I feel like I have a lot to say, but it's only bakery stuff that's coming out. Hope that's ok for now. 

 


An inelegant attempt at moving the plot forward

What's happening with the new bedroom?!

Nothing! The bed arrived - though it was delivered to a different house in our neighborhood, whose address is not at ALL similar to ours, BUT the house belonging to neighbors we know the best, TOTALLY RANDOM - and we put it together and it's not the BEST quality, but it's cute and it will do. But! But! When we put the full mattress on, it didn't fit! LIKE DOESN'T FIT AT ALLLLLLL. The mattress is too long. We smashed it in anyway, which was stupid because now the not-great-quality wood is dented and paint worn off in some places - and then I took it off the next day because I couldn't tuck sheets around it anywhere. So! Annoying! Yesterday I ordered a cheap-yet-super-high-rated mattress (with a shorter length! did you know full size mattresses can be different sizes? does this make sense? no! it does not!) and it should get here tomorrow. In the meantime, there is no cutely made up bed in the girls' new room, nor is there any other furniture moved in on account of not having anywhere to put the OTHER mattress OMG THIS PROJECT. 

I am hoping that we can do most of the rest of the work this weekend. Each day this week I've been moving and sorting things from Emma's closet upstairs and the huge walk in closet in the new bedroom, where we've stored things like computer cables and Phillip's musical instruments and all my party stuff (not the Christmas stuff - that has its OWN storage closet) and old journals and out of season coats and UGH, so much stuff. Moving a lot of that upstairs or into Goodwill piles, and all of Emma's things downstairs or into Goodwill piles. Yesterday I took an entire back-of-my-van-full of baby things to Goodwill. It was actually pretty hard. I finally got to the point where I could say: it is better for a family who NEEDS these things to have them, rather than me hoarding them for the slight possibility we have another baby OR foster a baby OR adopt a baby, right? WHO KNOWS ABOUT THOSE THINGS. But for SURE another family could use our double stroller during the time it is gathering cobwebs in my garage. If I ever need a double stroller again (PLEASE GOD NO) I have the resources to buy or borrow one myself. STOP HOARDING STUFF, ME. 

So Emma's room is currently a giant mess of empty Rubbermaid tubs (bye bye baby girl clothes, SOB) and stuff that is too heavy for me to move by myself. The downstairs room is a giant mess of one massive bunk bed frame, one delinquent mattress, and heaps of things that need to be moved elsewhere, but can't quite yet because their future places are not cleared out. Did I mention I have houseguests next weekend? THIS HAS TO GET DONE ASAP. 

In the meantime I have conned my mother into making curtains out of the elephant fabric - she's going to add some solid navy fabric to the tops and bottoms to make them long enough. I'm eyeing the white and navy polka dot duvet covers from Garnet Hill, though I'm not totally convinced, also $$$ (at least, it's $$$ when I already have things I can use at home.) There are a lot of accessory things I want to buy, but I'm telling myself not to, not just because I shouldn't spend the money, but because I have a habit of buying house things in advance of actually being able to use them, and then changing my mind once I have everything ready. (I bought some canvas prints at Ross a few months ago in anticipation of the New Girl Room, but now they are sort of the wrong pink. WE CAN'T HAVE THE WRONG PINK!) 

How are those kids doing anyway?!

They are great! I want to say that we've had the sort of perfect lazy weeks you're supposed to have during summer, except that I hate lazy weeks and I'm mega anxious and I'm constantly feeling rotten about all the sitting around and MInecraft playing. That said, Jack did an entire week of soccer camp, Molly and Emma got a spectacular grandparent weekend to themselves, we've done the spray park and the science museum and crafts and puzzles and making houses out of cardboard freezer boxes and yesterday we spent absolutely forever at our friends' house with the backyard trampoline. We are reading a lot of boxes and grudgingly liking it, we are watching movies while we eat pizza dinners, we are picking out our own horrifically hideous backpacks at Target and talking excitedly about when school starts. SO YOU KNOW, it's summer and we go to bed too late and everyone is filthy and FINE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS. 

And don't you have a baking business? 

I do! Right! Things have been, for me, mercifully slow this month. This is, of course, not good for the business, but I do feel like I've gotten my breath back from July and now when I think about the big food and gift show in September I don't want to dig a hole and hide. Katie's husband is in the catering business and his new employer wants samples, so that's good, right? (They tried some of Katie's brownies a while back and HECK YEAH those brownies are FUDGY NIRVANA. They have requested more, and different. We'll see what happens.) Also we're doing an open house tasting thing for a catering company where a former rec league volleyball teammate of mine happens to work. They're big on brides so that may get us some possibilities too. For that one I think we're going to do a spread of tiny desserts instead of Wedding Cake. I feel like there are a lot of Wedding Cake people in town and we can CERTAINLY do wedding cakes, but we can ALSO make a gajillion teeny little super cute tarts and treats and favor boxes. So. And then the food and gift show, which has me a little confused. I am just not sure who our customer is. It's NOT a holiday show - end of September, too early - but we sell PERISHABLE COOKIES and who is going to be buying a box of fancy cookies at a food and gift show (for which you must pay admission!) in late September?! Usually Katie is the one who can't believe people are buying/paying for what we're selling, but this time it's me. I think I need to sit down with a catalog of Fancy Gift Boxes to get some inspiration. (For this show we'll be selling three or four different sizes of cookie assortment boxes - I think a 3 dozen, a 2 dozen, and a mini box with just one type of treat inside... but how it should look, what to display, etc., I'm not sure.) 

So school starts in...

TWO ETERNALLY LONG WEEKS, PRAY I MAKE IT THAT FAR.


And now for a very long nap

After some messy conversations and a day of rest, I have pulled myself together and will Keep On Keeping On. Even though I feel guilty/wussy/lame/embarrassed to say so, the last six weeks have done a number on your trusty blogger and, in the words of a good friend, I am BURNED OUT. 

So when it seemed like the obvious next step for the bakery was to sign up for a bigger, longer, faster, more intense fair - a FOOD AND GIFT SHOW IN AN ARENA OMG - well yes, I did lose what little sanity I felt I had retained. It was basically me making nine million excuses for why I didn't want to do such a thing and my sister and my husband and my mother and everyone else saying, "...but..." 

We signed up. I had a furious email discussion with the producer of the above mentioned food and gift show re: discounts and electrical outlets and booth size and boom, I paid the money, we are IN. 

And actually, having made the decision, I feel much better. I am still burned outy and PMSy and slightly anxious ETCETERA, but I feel good about signing up. I think one of my big fears was that if we signed up I wouldn't have space to stop being anxious. I don't know if that makes sense. I was looking forward to getting EVERYTHING off my plate, summer- and vacation- and family- and bakery-wise. I thought if I had that week or two to free up my brain, I might actually be able to DEAL and GET OVER IT. (Maybe.) (Not that it ever really works that way.) And even though the food fair isn't for SIX WEEKS, I would start thinking and planning for it NOW. (Obvs. Have we met? I like to plan.) But now that we made the decision and it's set, I feel good! Decisions are good!

But I was also super mad at myself for wanting to work around my stupid anxiety stuff. I AM VERY AGAINST THAT! I mean, I feel like there's a difference between making choices about what would be best for my mental health and what would be anxiety running my life. And to choose not to do something because I might be anxious - when the thing in question is totally a RIGHT AND GOOD THING - isn't really like me. And I knew that. And I was ashamed of that too. 

This is why I have People. I have to ask Phillip and my friends and then I call my mom and all these people said the same thing: "yeahhhh you should probably do it AND WE WILL HELP YOU."

It was the "help" part that was the kicker. I thought: ok. I can do this. 

Anyway. We are doing it. And I feel pretty good about it. Talk to me again the week before the show. 


STREET FAIR RECAP WITH LOTS OF CAPS

I am DYING to write the "what do we do next" post, but if I do that I'll never get to the street fair recap post and then my mom will be mad. So. 

THE STREET FAIR. 

The street fair weekend was: waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, hauling a 10 x 10 foot tent, four folding tables,a mini kid-size folding table, tablecloths, dishes, jars, signage, bunting, a banner, tape, pens, a toolbox full of one dollar bills, paper bags, wax paper, plastic wrap, wooden display crates, toothpicks, washi tape, scissors, cinder blocks, baskets, business cards, a framed "This Is Who We Are" info sheet, a hastily made photo album of the bakery's greatest hits, AND TEN TONS OF BAKED GOODS to our site. Having never done this before and being the sort of person who absolutely HATES looking like she's never done something before, I was pretty nervous about the Load In and Set Up situation. This, however, was cake. CAKE. We were set up SO EARLY. We did have to make two trips - I fussed with tablecloths while Phillip went back for the nine million sheet pans of merchandise - but it was actually totally easy. It is my favorite thing to set a table and decorate and FINALLY WE HAD COME TO THAT PART. 

My next door neighbors were three burly bearded dudes selling delicate silver jewelry and a local TV news reporter selling candles that looked like slices of pie and root beer floats and dishes of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I was in awe of these [EXTREMELY REAL-LOOKING] candles while also wondering who in the world would BUY these candles. (Lots of people, as it turns out. My bad, local TV news reporter. I bow before you.) Across the street we had a nearby church handing out information about their preschool (this would be the preschool Molly dropped out of at age 3) with lots of sidewalk chalk and jump ropes and kid-friendly stuff, and something called Combat Flip Flops. I was APPALLED when I found out their flip flops were SEVENTY DOLLARS DEAR GOD and then totally, completely, overwhelmingly sold when one of their sales dudes (he was SUCH a dude) came by to buy a brownie and tell me their story. You should really go read their story. I'll wait. 

Anyway.

The day amounted to a million frillion "Yes, you can EAT ours!" in response to the million frillion people who saw the candles first (omg, it was like they all thought they were the first one to say something so clever), collecting amusing and sometimes appalling data on how people partake of your free samples, and saying, "The internet!" in response to "Where are you located?" 

Saturday was the busier day. This was a new street fair in the least cool neighborhood in Seattle (I can say that because I live here) and we had no idea how many people or what kind of people. Although that would have been true of any street fair we did, I suppose. WE KNEW NOTHING. We totally guessed amounts of food. (We guessed perfectly. More on that later.) There were lots of families, lots of Weird Older People (omg, the weird older people), lots of funny people, lots of parents who let their children touch allll the samples (OR THE STUFF FOR SALE WITHOUT BUYING, UGH), lots of friendly folks who wanted to know a little about us, some people who wanted to know a lot, a handful of people who were very interested in ordering cakes in the future, and a few who asked if we "do events". We got one girl today who spent a long time talking to us about different options for her wedding other than cupcakes and this was super exciting because 1) A WEDDING FOR 200 PEOPLE and 2) WE DON'T LIKE CUPCAKES EITHER, YAY!

My original and main reason for wanting to do the street fair was to get our name out locally. WE LOVE YOU, TWITTER, but we do not want to be shipping boxes of cookies forever. And I feel like we did a good job of that this weekend. I did take a quick walk through the fair and except for a chocolate maker selling truffles (who was SO GREAT TO US, YAY VENDOR CAMARADERIE), we were the only people selling treats and as far as I could tell, we were pretty popular. The second day we got a lot of people saying they'd heard about us, or we had people saying they saw someone eating a whoopie pie and they had to have one too. There was not one single person who tried a sample and made an involuntary grimace, you know? We got SO MANY positive comments and lots of raves. (I can say this because I'm not the baker!) I know these people aren't special foodies and standards are low at a street fair (omg the people buying end-of-day-2 whoopie pies yuck) (I mean, thank you for buying them) but STILL. It felt pretty great. Also great were the number of people-my-parents'-age asking us who we were and how we're doing and capping off our chat by saying, "That's wonderful, good for you guys, good luck!" because I EAT THAT PARENTAL AFFIRMATION UP, PEOPLE.

Saturday morning I was a huge stress ball. Saturday afternoon I was on my zillionth hour of standing and saying "THESE are edible!" and passing out samples to people who wouldn't buy anything and I was LOOPY. Saturday evening I consolidated our leftovers, repackaged some things, printed new labels (DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THE THUNDERSTORM THAT DRENCHED EVERYTHING HA HA) and basically reworked the plan for Sunday. (Phillip washed dishes, God bless him.) Sunday we thought the fair started at noon until 10:10am when Phillip was looking at the website and said, "Um, I think it started at 10" and we BOOKED IT to the fair to set up. (We live 3 minutes away. So.) We set up in amazing time and people were immediately buying things and I have to admit, the last week, which I haven't written about yet and this blog post is already SO LONG) just floated away and I was all Bakery Bad Ass. And when an elderly gentleman came along inviting us to be in the Everett Food and Gift Show for a discounted rate and blah blah blah I was all YEAH, TOTALLY, WE ARE ROCKING THIS. 

By Sunday afternoon Katie and I were donnnnnne and had knocked most everything down to one dollar and we were hollering at the teenagers walking by, "HEY, THIS WHOOPIE PIE IS ONLY ONE DOLLAR YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT." It was hot, the food was looking disgusting, it was a LOT slower on Sunday... yeah. But you know what the great thing is about selling food? (The only great thing.) You don't have any left when the fair is over! Or if you do, you give it away to the nice ladies at the church tent. We were practically giving things away the last hour and then, at 5 when the fair was officially over, for real giving things away to our vendor neighbors. Except for three whoopie pies I saved for my kids, we took nothing home. THAT WAS AWESOME. So it took us, like, negative four minutes to take down and load the car. WIN.

I think it was probably a good fair for our first fair. It wasn't crazy like some of the summer street fairs around here, and mostly regular people strolling about instead of, say, the crush of street urchins at the U District street fair. We sold about two thirds of our stuff on Saturday and opted not to make more for Sunday (because we were exhausted) and good thing, because Sunday was MUCH slower and we probably only sold most of it because we discounted so much. 

Even with the discounts (and the piles and piles of cookies and brownies we cut up for samples) we came out ahead. Even when I factor in the freezer and sheet pans and other things we will use over and over for other orders and events besides the street fair. If we were just doing it to earn money we did not make NEARLY enough for all the time and effort to feel worth it, but in terms of Trying To Get Other People To Hear About Us? Yes. It's hard to say whether all of that will turn into people actually ordering things, but right now I'm optimistic. Not to mention all the people who assumed we had a store, wondered why we didn't have a store, thought we could TOTALLY have a store, who misunderstood me and thought they could get our stuff from the bakery where we rent the kitchen and they'd buy our scone there, and the president of the North Seattle Chamber of Commerce who gave me some Real Talk about opening a store and how his organization could help. (He was hard for me, since he was completely lacking the Cheery Affirmation Vibe, even though the content of his speech was TOTALLY affirming - do you know what I mean? It was like my volleyball coach saying my serve is great, but COULD be awesome if I did this and this and that but I wasn't sure if I WANTED to do this and this or that and what if I don't have time or how much will it cost omg this is suddenly moving too fast - wait, did I lose my metaphor?) 

I think I would do this again? This morning I would have said MOST DEFINITELY NOT. This evening looks better? I don't know. We're in talks with the TV news reporter because if we use her referral for the Everett Food and Gift Show we both get $100 off the booth fee and I told her we'd decide in the next day or two and I DON'T KNOOOOOOOOOOOW. See! That is the post I have to write! The post about What If We Keep Doing This AND IT WORKS?

Maybe before that I have to write the post about how this month nearly did me in. Managing anxiety AND prep for your first street fair kinda sucks. You=so excited for THAT post, I KNOW. 

 


Street Fair: Ready Set Go

Before I left for Edel, Katie and I tried to have a Street Fair Meeting and I say "tried" because we ALWAYS have at least two children underfoot, if not my big kids as well, and also it's not like we're in an office or something. It's HARD to have a focused and productive conversation about ANYTHING, let alone the fact that your baby baking business will have a booth at a street fair in one week and GUESS WHAT WE HAVE NEVER EVER DONE THAT BEFORE. 

I was nervous on the plane, is what I'm saying. 

But this morning I dropped the big kids at VBS and MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES, Emma and Rosie, my sweet yet terribly temperamental two-year-old niece, played together. Away from us. There is no way I can overemphasize the hell-freezing-over that is Emma and Rosie playing somewhere other than where their mothers are, let alone PLAYING TOGETHER. I MEAN. But Katie and I had been hauling ASS through our street fair agenda and suddenly we were both like - huh? wuh? And we spy EJ and Rosie in Rosie's room, trying on hats and laughing. For the teeniest tiniest second it seemed like we could actually pull this off. 

Our street fair "menu" consists of things we rarely sell and, in one case (whoopie pies), things we've NEVER sold. And this is because of time and storage and lack of refrigeration at the site and whether we want to individually package things. We are not selling cupcakes because we have Opinions about how cupcakes should look and we can't manage cute cupcakes that are also fresh and soft and not dried out with the amount of time and storage space available. (Hence whoopie pies - cake and frosting, just in a different order!) And we considered selling SLICES of cake, but the difference between selling someone a slice of cake and selling someone a slice of cake with a plastic FORK so they can EAT it is (dum de dum dum) sales tax. WE CANNOT BOTHER WITH SALES TAX. (Also, yes, this is the rule. Baked goods sold with UTENSILS must include tax. Baked goods tossed in a bag and thrown at the customer do not include tax. BEATS ME, INTERNET.)

So. We are looking at some scones and quickbreads, our sugar cookie rosettes frosted in rainbow colors, whoopie pies, brownies (s'mores and raspberry), and little bags of mini espresso shortbread and almond bars. Not at ALL what we first came up with to sell, not a selection that necessarily speaks to who we are, but we can 1) DO THIS and 2) STORE IT. I'm hoping to have enough time to put a photo album together of the fancier stuff we've done and set it out next to a stack of business cards and some of those foam shapes from JoAnn's frosted like a cake. I have the tent set up on my deck, I'm borrowing some tables, and this week is basically daytime: street fair practice/setup/prep and nighttime: baking. 

Anyway. I am feeling more confident than I was last week. I mean, I ALWAYS believe we can pull something off, it's the just QUALITY of what we pull off, right? I have no doubt in my mind that we can DO IT, but will it be GOOD? Now I'm feeling like HECK YEAH, this is going to be awesome. 

Of course my sister, Miss Pessimist, is looking at her list and saying, "We're just going to SIT THERE and watch people just WALK BY". And here I am Miss Eternally And Maybe Occasionally Foolishly Optimistic saying, "But we're the ONLY booth selling SWEETS! We will make a KILLING!" 

(I mean, if the fair is attended entirely by people with my sort of palate, yes, we will make a killing.) 

(I just want to break even at this point. We had to buy a FREEZER. It's our first fair! We'll make money at the second one! Maybe!) 

I mean, I am not wondering how early I can start drinking! This is good! Things feel POSSIBLE!

This has been the busiest month of my entire life, you guys. Well I don't know, maybe not, but in my own personal recent history, this has been the BUSIEST MONTH and part of me is totally digging it and part of me wants to lay down and sob "uncle". Power through! Power through! 

The kids are eating lunch and watching some DVRed Ruff Ruffman and I don't have anything I absolutely have to do this second so I might try to pound out an Edel recap over on the Catholic blog. I'll let you know. (And by "recap" I mean "the processing of an event entirely as it pertains to MEEEEE" so, you know, possibly not full of the recappiness you expect of an ACTUAL recap. FYI.)


Being an anxious and blond small business owner

This has been a REALLY weird week. And I think we should, in part, blame it on the weather. For two days now it's been pouring like it's November or something and it's VERY disorienting. More disconcerting than the rain is the DARK. It's DARK and I don't LIKE IT. 

But also this has been a hard MONTH and I am feeling it. I'm not sure if you're allowed to say you've had a hard month if part of your hard month was a week-long expenses-paid cruise to Alaska. Still, it's been a month (more like six weeks) of tough conversations, lots of business decisions, hard work to keep that business going, no routine, and lots of things keeping me and distracting me from things I want to focus on. It's no big shocker that my kids are pretty awesome at Minecraft at this point. 

AND I'm anxious again. Super! I am disappointed - I was hoping more than I wanted to hope that the supplements I'm taking for the MTHFR mutation were the Magic Cure. Then again, the anxiety I'm experiencing this month is so fantastically different than the anxiety I experienced even two or three years ago, that I can't sit here and say Oh Woe Is Me, Everything Is Back To Horrible. Because it's not. Even the handful of days of spectacularly bad anxiety this month have only been a handful - it used to be weeks upon months of this. But today I feel SO much better than I did yesterday, so much so that when I'm anxious now I have to say to myself, "Self? Don't decide anything today, wait until tomorrow." And it won't be just something I say to keep going, but something that is truthful. Yesterday I wanted to call the nearest quickest easiest doctor and beg for horse tranquilizers. Today I think, "Eh! See how it goes!

The way my body does this anxiety nonsense is SO much clearer to me now. I feel confident explaining how it works - IN ME. When you're in the middle of it rational thinking kind of disappears and I rely on my people to cheerlead me through it. But today I can look at yesterday and go, "Okay, so this is what was happening: X, Y, Z." And know that if the conditions are right, it can and will happen again, but that those conditions tend to improve and dissipate. 

It kicked in the night I bleached my hair. That night my hair - and I know this is stupid, but it's true - came to represent the stress of things that happened in the days before. I went to sleep feeling off and uncertain and woke up a few hours later, drenched in fear. It's so chemical! And fueled by circumstance! It's just awful. And the next day I could barely function, knowing that I had to go on a cruise in a few days, I had to pack, I had to take care of my kids, I HAD TO DYE MY HAIR BACK because every time I looked in the mirror I saw shame, guilt, irresponsibility, all sorts of terrible things. Everything except HAIR.

My friends prayed for me, that all the stuff that wasn't biochemistry would just leave me alone. And also that my biochemistry would start behaving. And it did. But this month has been so crazy that The Conditions are still "right" and there's been a low anxiety buzz in the background for weeks now. It kicked in again yesterday, and I think I know why, but it doesn't really matter, and I can't really control that anyway - what I can control is putting myself in places where managing it is easier. So I've been doing that. I've been a little bit worried about traveling to Austin tomorrow for the Edel Gathering (the gathering of Catholic lady bloggers, and while I am all those things, I have never been in a Just Catholic Lady Blogger setting, eep) but you know what? Today I feel fine about going to Edel. I am armed with sleeping pills, two different herbal remedies for anxiety that don't work but make me feel like I can take something to help, and also roommates who will take care of me if everything goes wrong. Except nothing has ever gone so wrong that I can't hang out with my friends and drink a glass or four of wine. 

This weekend is Edel. Next weekend is the street fair. The next weekend is the baking of 700 some cookies for our second subscription box mailing. I am OVERWHELMED. Katie is too. This is so so much for two moms of young children who have a million other responsibilities. Today we sketched out what we want to sell at the street fair and the menu is SO different than what I thought we'd do, but the reality of time and storage space and capability and heat etc. compelled us to choose items that would be gentle on our souls, instead of Presenting A Picture Of What We Can Really Do. 

And this weekend while I'm gone I might send Phillip to Costco with the bakery debit card to buy a chest freezer, of all things, because there's no space in our rental kitchen freezer and not NEARLY enough space in our home freezers and when I started a bakery business this is not something I thought about. 

OH THE THINGS I SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT!

Not that I am regretting anything. Not at all. I think what we are doing is NUTS and perhaps not good for my mental health or the cleanliness of our houses or having time for absolutely anything else (I MISS MY FRIENDS), but it's also been amazing. I mean, if we were to shut everything down today, it would still be amazing and one of the experiences I'm most proud of. I mean, WE KNOW NOTHING. But we've done THIS. And God knows what our street fair booth is going to look like, but dammit, WE ARE DOING A STREET FAIR BOOTH. 

Also? I freaking love my blond hair. I just do. It is not natural-looking, it will grow out, it has completely damaged the front chunk of my hair, but I REALLY LIKE IT so there. 

 


I updated, meh, why am I even bothering OH LOOK COOKIES

Oh HELLO THERE. I am feeling crankypants towards the blog - I wrote this super huge post last week - a post I actually tried to WRITE WELL and put THOUGHT INTO - and Typepad ate it. @)#%*#$)%*#!)%$!)#*!)@#*%!#()_$*%

And having to rewrite an already perfectly written blog post is a HUGE BUMMER so I didn't bother. And now you will never know all the GOOD things that happened on my Colorado trip, you only get the return trip drama. And I suppose you only get that if you follow me on Twitter. And now I wonder how many sentences I can start with the word 'And'? Clearly I am not working hard on writing THIS post well and/or thoughtfully. 

I suppose my Colorado post boiled down to the following points: 

1. Always, ALWAYS, meet up with your internet friends. @kate_welsh and I had a great time in a hotel bar in Charleston, but now we've had a great time at a restaurant bar in Denver and now I want her to live next door. 

2. Hanging out with 9th Grade BFF was exactly what I thought it would be, only a frillion times better. I am not kidding. I was weirdly un-nervous (I AM ALWAYS NERVOUS!) but it honestly never occurred to me that seeing her again would be anything but fantastic, and I was right. I love being right! I'm a quasi-military brat, she's a true one, and it was so fun for both of us to realize that HEY we DO have someone who "lasted". I am busy getting the guest room ready for when she visits. (WHEN ARE YOU VISITING?)

3. Colorado Springs is a WEIRD PLACE, YO. I don't use 'yo' lightly, but there's really no other way to say it. What a weird WEIRD place. I felt that way the first time I went, about 8 or 9 years ago, but it's exactly how I remember it. Only more of it. It might be my inner city girl, but I swear it's not just me. 

There you have it. Only there was a lot more in my previous post. Perhaps you are relieved. 

As I type this out, all my internet buddies are retweeting my super casual comment about Thumbprints introducing a monthly cookie subscription box. And... well, my corner of the internet has proved its extreme awesome over this last week, but I never dreamed they'd love the FPC's and my little bakery as much as they do. There's no way I could have started a bakery without you guys and you're showing that there's no way we'd be moving forward without you either. I planned to do some obnoxious tweeting tomorrow and the next day, some Facebooking, etc., but you are doing it for me. I'M GOING TO CRY NOW.

ALSO today is Father's Day. I suppose I should write something shmoopy about fathers. 

I know I've told you this before, but I'll tell you again. When we were in college, Phillip and I did a camping trip with some other friends (possibly the last time I went camping). We weren't dating yet. In the morning I crawled out of my tent looking and feeling like Death On Toast. I caught Phillip's eye - he was looking at me kinda weird, but never said anything. A few years into being married he told me that when I crawled out of that tent I looked like a mom and he'd had this flash of some day in the future when we'd be camping with all our kids. (ALL OUR KIDS. HE SAID THAT.)

I COULD have taken that the wrong way, but I didn't. And I'd always sort of known he'd be an amazing dad to the bunch of kids we'd have. In the future. When we got married. If we ever started dating.

As for my adopted dad, the sainted FIL, not sure I know a cheerier, friendlier, takes-care-of-absolutely-everything-you-need sort of person. Really. I mean that one zillion percent. 

And MY dad... I would write something about him, but that would probably make him feel WEIRD and while he thinks it's lovely that *I* have internet friends, he's not sure that HE wants internet friends and could I just please leave him alone in his library? Unless I would like to talk about the article on Ukraine I just read, or Israel, or have I read that book he gave me about education yet, did I see what so and so wrote about that, maybe we just need to sit down and discuss what is wrong with US foreign policy? That sounds good. Do we have an entire afternoon? Did I bring enough Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars? Excellent.  

 


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.