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    November 18, 2014

    Macarons and fat pants

    Got an email today that made me panic for a second. It contained this sentence:

    You must complete the permit process prior to operating a cottage food operation. 

    But then I saw that it was addressed to a "Michael McKinsey" and it was from a guy purporting to be from the Fresno County Department of Public Health. So. I'm guessing it's kind of spammy? But still? Weird? There was an attachment that obvs I am not clicking on, but now I'm like even the spammers now how to give me anxiety attacks. Of course I am all ready to hit back with, "THIS IS WHY WE RENT SPACE IN A LICENSED KITCHEN, [INSERT FAMILY UNFRIENDLY TERM]", but I think I'll just ignore for now. Or furiously google the guy who supposedly sent it. 

    It did make me remember the cottage food process we DID undergo and how I was going to write a Sternly Worded Letter to send to allll my representatives.... yeah. I AM still frustrated and irritated and a tiny bit super angry defensive about that, but I don't have TIME to take that on. I AM VERY BUSY BLOGGING OKAY? And other things. 

    Tonight the "other things" began to take on a distinctively egg whitey glow... MACARONS. So Katie's husband is a manager for a catering company with a big time corporate client. And because 1) we have a connection and 2) Katie makes awesome treats, we ended up on the official Holiday Menu that all the corporate clients (who pay for things with corporate credit cards, ahem) see when they are choosing their Holiday Soirees. Or Holiday-Themed Meetings. Or what-have-you. Although it was kind of a bumpy start (FOOD BUSINESS PEOPLE. ALL NUTJOBS.) (DOES THIS NOW INCLUDE ME?) we already have 6 orders for December. Kind of a big deal for a teeny tiny upstart baking company who celebrates 6 orders in a month. Except, it's only mid-November. And these are for a Major Local Corporate Behemoth. And now we are freaked out about HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE ALL THE MACARONS OMGGGGGG. 

    (Do you like how I always say "we"? Like I have ANYTHING to do with making macarons? I WILL, for your information, be making a bunch of things for the "assorted cookie platters" which are also on the official menu, but macarons? HA HA HA NO.)

    On the other hand! WE MIGHT MAKE MONEY IN DECEMBER! THAT WOULD BE SO NOVEL! (No really, that would be... amazing.) 

    The only thing I don't like about this deal is that they aren't advertised as THUMBPRINTS macarons/assorted cookie platters, we're just contracted through BIL's Catering Company and so no single person is going to look us up later and order her own macarons. But whatever. I'm not COMPLAINING or anything. 

    I've also finished all the listings for our online store AND figured out the shipping questions. I'm not sure I answered those questions WELL, but I did my best, and we will see how it goes. IF anyone buys anything through our online store. Which I haven't put up yet. Because Katie still has to go through it and say things like, "Um, no, I'm not doing that." But soon! (I hope. All I really feel like doing is sleeping. But. Sigh.)

    The sleeping? I am just going to hope that this is because I have not been religiously taking my iron pills. Back in August when my mental health had gone seriously south and I was Distraught and Desperate and DONE, when I started the new SSRI I stopped taking all the [expensive] [gigantic] vitamins and supplements my naturopath had me taking. I mean, they obviously weren't HELPING, right? And no medical insurance was paying for THOSE pills [lots and lots and lots of them] so I just stopped. I WAS ANGRY, OKAY? But I also stopped taking the iron (I wasn't in the best head space, you understand) and now I'm wondering if the iron actually WAS helping me or I'm in an especially tired place right now or WHAT IS WRONG JEEZ. I wake up exhausted. I spend my whole day wondering when I can sit down and conk out for a minute. And Sunday morning at the retreat I went to last weekend I woke up with this super weird back pain thing and now I'm Fatigued AND Falling Apart. IT'S TERRIBLE. 

    And it's just making me aware (as opposed to deliberately choosing NOT to be aware) of how poorly I am treating my body these days. After not eating + nervous tummy during the Worst Week Ever (August 2014), I'd 1) lost quite a bit of weight (silver lining!) and then 2) began to SERIOUSLY make up for it. I mean, after that I was all, "You eat whatevvvvver you want, Body. You just do what feels good." And I did! I don't think I was eating my feelings so much as eating was something I COULD enjoy. So I was gonna ENJOY IT. Bring on the Nutella! 

    But now... hrrmmm. My fat pants are too tight. You see? And while I am in a much better headspace this year re: How I Look, I have enough sense to know that I am not taking care of myself. I am not eating ANYTHING that's good for me. I am not getting outside. I am not getting any exercise. I am sleeping terribly. And even though I KNOW that the longer I keep up this "lifestyle", the harder it is to change, I'm finding it hard to care. My anxiety stuff is not totally figured out. My work/parenting balance is not at all figured out. I sort of feel like... well not that I'm doing the best I can, but that any sort of check on what I eat or how much I move is alREADY setting myself up for failure. You all know how much I love to fail!

    When I mentioned how much I despair over pants, a good friend said, "I don't feel like you should be worrying about that right now." Which is so nice! But the rest of the world says, "If you don't start NOW, you never will!" I feel like the rest of the world is right, and also totally has me nailed. I'm waving at them while I eat another leftover toffee bar from the subscription boxes we sent this weekend. HEY THERE, WORLD!

    November 16, 2014

    I clicked Buy: THE EUROPING

    I'm not sure how long we've been talking about going to Italy with my parents, a few years at least, I think. But the whole time I have STRESSED and STRESSED about how much airfare was going to cost. Even though I knew that everything ELSE about the trip was going to be horrendously expensive as well, maybe I felt like I would have some measure of control over plane tickets? Maybe? That seems silly, but you know subconsciouses, they don't always make sense. 

    Anyway, today I finally clicked BUY. [Insert Appropriate Shriek or Dry Heaving Sound Here.] I went through this big long process last year where I read about how to work the frequent flyer system and I signed up for a bunch of credit cards and I actually DID amass a crap ton of miles. Plus Phillip still has a bunch of miles from his Traveling For Work days (REMEMBER THOSE? HOW ABOUT LET'S NOT.) But you guys, I could not figure out how to make those miles work for us for this trip. I can see how they would have worked if it were just Phillip and me, or if we were taking our whole family somewhere stateside, or wanting some kind of vacation package, but the frequent flyer gods were stubbornly against letting us use our miles for Europe. The best I could do with our combination of miles was getting us a one way flight to somewhere in Europe, but with RIDONKULOUS fees. Like so many fees it didn't make sense to use the miles at all. Not when the fees were ten times smaller to go somewhere like HAWAII. (Look out, Honolulu! You are going to improve my seasonal affective disorder come Winter 2016ish!) 

    Today I purchased a one way flight from Seattle to Venice on Condor Air, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, with a layover in Frankfurt, for less than half of the price of roundtrip airfare to Venice. And then I purchased a one way flight from London to Seattle on Icelandair, with a layover in Iceland, for less than half the price of roundtrip airfare to London. It was still a quiver-inducing chunk of change, but a chunk that was about two grand less than I expected to pay. So. NOT BAD, ME!

    Should you be interested, when I went to the actual Condor and Icelandair websites, the prices were even lower than what was quoted on Kayak and Expedia because CHILDREN'S TICKETS ARE LESS. I KNOW. Kayak sent me directly to the Condor website to book, but I'm not sure about Expedia - I might have done the whole booking process THERE. I paid $400 per kid to fly home from London. That's crazy! The roundtrip flights to London were like $1200! AIRFARE IS SUCH A PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHAT!

    At one point during this process I found roundtrip flights to London for $4045. Total. I mean, it came with terrible times and layovers and extra stops, but still, when you're expecting to pay something like EIGHT thousand dollars, seeing that price helps you keep hope alive. 

    I chose to do the one way flights mainly because of the Venice to London situation we'll have to do in the middle. A round trip to London would have involved a round trip (or two one ways, depending) to Venice, but the layovers, the possible overnights, and traveling between different airports in London was not worth the couple hundred dollars I MIGHT have saved. So. 

    We fly to Venice on May 20. My parents will pick us up and take us to their rental house in Sacile. The only for sure while-in-Italy plan right now is to go to Venice on the train as many times as we can stand. Which is probably a lot. But we'll also probably rent a car (I am expecting the car plus gas to cost as much, if not more, as our plane tickets, sob) and take the kids to see castles in Austria, maybe go as far as Munich. Also Phillip and I recently watched Band of Brothers and Phillip might need to see Berchtesgaden (as do we all.) 

    I mentioned the just-us getaway to Paris, right? Yeah. I mean, we'll see. But we have GRANDPARENTS. IN EUROPE. THINGS NEED TO BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. 

    And guess what. The OTHER set of grandparents are coming too. I know. Maybe the universe is all, "Poor Maggie had a REALLY shitty July and August and we need to make it up to her." I know some of you aren't big on your in-laws, but mine are pretty spectacular and also retired and big time travelers and HEY, WHY NOT. My mother-in-law's sister lives in France, so they're thinking they'll go visit her, then spend a few days with us in Italy (our parents get along! They like each other! It's adorable!) and then spend probably the whole week with us in London. SO YOU KNOW. I don't have to fret too much about taking 3 kids around London by myself while Phillip's at the office because I'll have Fantastic Grandparents tagging along. I am seriously giddy, you guys. Right now I cannot wait to take FIL to the Chinese restaurant in the small town my family lived in Italy, not because he'll like the food (I can pretty much guarantee he will not) but because he is Mr. Outgoing and makes friends wherever he goes and he will be delighted to meet the Chinese family living in Small Town Northern Italy. 

    Also! Also! Phillip's work, when he asked them if he could work, say, a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, and then, say, come back on Monday, thereby requiring a WEEKEND STAY, was all, "Sure!" Which means we have a whole weekend! With Phillip! To do stuff! By which I mean spend more money! 

    Oh man I am so freaking excited. 

    I wonder what it means for the bakery that I'll be gone for three weeks. 

    OH WELL!!!! 

    Actually, tomorrow is cookie subscription mailing day so I, uh, better get on that. Instead of yammering on here. You are probably super annoyed with all of my stars aligning I'M SORRY I'M JUST SO HAPPY FOR ME. 

    November 10, 2014

    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)

    November 01, 2014

    And I shall eat my weight in tortellini with cream sauce

    The last time I was in Europe I was pregnant with Jack. Younger Me is heartbroken over this terrible fact. Present Me is resigned and accepting. Future Me is horrified at how much money Phillip and I are going to spend to go back. 

    OH YES. For YEARS now my parents have been talking about going back to Italy to see their godson graduate high school. Quick back story for anyone new around here - my parents MET while teaching elementary school on American military bases in Europe, then they went back to the states and had a bunch of children, then they went BACK, taking us with them. I was 10 and starting 5th grade when we moved to Sicily. Two years there, then three years at a base on a 12x18 mile island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, then three years (for me) at an Air Force base in northern Italy, about an hour north of Venice. I graduated from high school there, then went to college in Seattle and, as you may have deduced, stuck around. My parents were there, what? 13 years? And moved back to the states 5 weeks after I had Jack. And they haven't been back since. 

    So it's kind of a BIG DEAL. And when they started throwing around the idea of going back, I started throwing around the idea of going WITH. Because OBVS. Right? Right. 

    Except DEAR GOD has anyone checked the prices for transatlantic flights these days? Pass me my smelling salts. I used to mosey on down to STA Travel on the Ave and sit jealously while a tattooed and pierced and clearly well-traveled young agent found me a $700 ticket to Venice. Flights are now TWICE THAT. And my family has MORE than doubled in size. 

    But I've never been one to let a silly thing like MONEY stop me! I did spend my entire savings on a European Tour the summer before my senior year of college, not knowing quite how I'd PAY for that senior year of college when I returned. (The answer: a better paying job than the year before, trimester-long "emergency loans", and the fact that tuition at that time did not require signing over your firstborn, sheesh.) 

    (Phillip, on the other hand. Pray for the ulcer.) 


    Basically all we REALLY decided was 1) my parents are renting a HOUSE and if there is ANY time to take your family to Europe it's when your parents are footing the bill for LODGING and 2) hey, maybe Phillip's job could assign him to one of its European offices for a week? Maybe pay for a plane ticket? Hmm?

    Anyway. Weeks of me furiously pecking at my laptop and Phillip having breezy oh-so-casual conversations with his superiors has resulted in the following (though, to be sure, no tickets have actually been purchased yet):

    Taking a one-way flight from Seattle to Venice in mid- to late May of next year. Yes we ARE taking the kids out of school. I felt very anxious about this until I started pricing things out and decided to take extreme advantage of my parents' generosity.

    Hanging out with them for a week and a half to two weeks, depending. In a house that they have rented. With enough room for my family AND my sister-with-the-new-baby's family. We shall take the train to Venice and drive to Austria and get fat(ter) eating all the things we all miss and probably go to Venice again and THEN...

    Because Phillip will be super irritated with me if I drag him to Europe and he doesn't get to go to Paris AGAIN, we will probably leave the kids with my parents for a night or two and take a cheap flight to Paris and blow whatever we were going to spend on their combined orthodontic work. Again, I am banking on the extreme generosity of my parents and also our good friend who is an orthodontist.

    AND AFTER THAT. We will take everyone on a cheap one way flight from Venice to London because Phillip's job was all, "Sure, yeah, totally fine if you want to visit the London office, we won't pay for your plane ticket because we're not SENDING you there, but we'll pony up a generous amount of pounds for your tiny business traveler hotel room OR, say, a three-bedroom flat you find on, whichever works!" So we're talking 4-5 days in London, maybe more? Depending?

    Second week of June-ish we take a one way flight from London to Seattle. The kids will have one week of school left if they'd like to return for the festivities, IF they recover from the jet lag fast enough... And summer will have barely begun.


    I have to tell you guys that the only way in the WORLD we can pull this off is knowing that we don't have to pay for a hotel or vacation rental. If we had to do that there is NO WAY NONE. I'm still not exactly sure how we're going to make it happen what with renting a car and the price of gas and how much food my second grader now eats on a daily basis. I've priced out flights and WOULD YOU BELIEVE that it is CHEAPER for us to fly one way to Venice on a Wednesday than it is for us to use my [many] FF flyer miles on Alaska Airlines on the one Sunday they have an award flight? The fees are RIDICULOUS. It's even worse flying back from London. With miles. Flying out of another city actually made it cheaper all around, since Venice is such a pricey spot. And easyJet and Ryanair flights are dirt cheap making it easy for us to GET to London in the first place. (And Paris. Ack.)

    It's been nebulous and free floaty for so long that I have to write this all down to quite believe it might happen. We've been waiting to see what Phillip's work would say about overseas travel, expecting that they would agree, but not with the crazy flexibility. I mean, Phillip is basically going to tell THEM when he's going. That's the other thing that makes it possible - because he'll be working (for real!) he won't have to take a whole three weeks of vacation time. (Uh, all his vacation time for the year. Maybe some from the next year too. Oops.)


    I have no qualms about taking my "young children who won't remember" on such a big and expensive trip. I think Jack and maybe Molly WILL remember. And also I'm the person who took them to Disneyland when they were BABIES because *I* would enjoy it. Heh. Having my parents there for two thirds of the trip will of course make it easier to have the kids along too. My mom is already talking about taking the kids to all the places where she used to go on field trips with her class.  I speak and understand enough Italian to order in a restaurant and read road signs and get on a train. The airplane ride is going to blow. The jet lag will be awful. The figuring out logistics on site with my husband will of course be nightmarish. But we are SO. EXCITED. Way back I gave Phillip an out, telling him it was TOTALLY OKAY if he didn't want to stress about the money or take the time off or whatever, but he was more into it than ME. If we don't go when my parents are offering us FREE BEDS TO SLEEP IN, when would we go?!

    So. There's your heads up about this blog turning into a bakery slash Europe trip planning blog. Not sure if it was possible to get MORE boring, but I'm trying my hardest! Oh, also consider that a desperate plea for any and all Budget European Travel Tips & Advice THANK YOOOOOOU

    October 29, 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. 



    October 20, 2014

    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.'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



    October 15, 2014

    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. 


    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. 





    October 13, 2014

    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! 


    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. 


    October 07, 2014

    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. 

    September 30, 2014


    Phillip is making me dinner tonight. Phillip! is making dinner! It's 8pm and the kids are in bed which is how this can possibly happen, but YAY and ALSO! Let's look at what else is on my wishlist! 

    The Lorac Mega Pro Palette


    Swoon. I forget when I bought the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette (earlier this year I guess). I was ashamed to spend that much money on MAKEUP, but YOU GUYS, I will never buy drug store eyeshadow again. For serious. And since eyeshadow is really the only kind of makeup I like to play with, and cool purples and golds are made for ME, I think I need this Lorac palette. @temerityjane, Queen of What To Buy At Sephora, highly recommends and yeah, I just think this should be mine. I am happy to work with one blush, two mascaras, a handful of drugstore lipglosses I almost never wear, a few different shades of foundation, and my trusty Maybelline dark circle concealer, but I NEEEEEEED nine dozen flavors of eyeshadow, yes? 


    Rain Boots


    I've lived in Seattle how long? but only bought my first pair of rain boots last year. And guess what. They don't fit around my calves. I ordered them with points from Amazon and I was too embarrassed to send them back and maybe I would lose a few pounds and WHATEVER. I need rain boots that don't cut off my circulation when I stuff my legs into them and dash to school pick up. These LOOK like they'd be forgiving for the wider-calved ladies, but looks are deceiving and also they are seventy dollars NO. But cute! 


    New Countertops


    I know I should just be happy I have a house with a functional kitchen and it IS functional and it WORKS and except for the doll-sized oven all its issues are cosmentic but I HAAAAAAATE the tile countertops. Hate hate hate. I didn't hate them until I began to use the kitchen and who in the WORLD thought a countertop with a million little grooves in it was a good idea?! OR the oak trim at the edge and the oak trim "backsplash"? I'm not a germaphobe at all and I'm seriously grossed out thinking about how many years of crud have built up in the teeny gaps and grout lines. UGH. My kingdom for a solid slab of SOMETHING with an undermount sink. The above would do quite nicely. In fact that whole design and look would fit my house perfectly. Now to harvest my money garden! 

    A New Winter Coat


    I love this coat. I stared it a good long time when Garnet Hill was doing 25% off women's fashion. I LURVE IT. But... not really sure how this would look on someone with boobs and no waist and ill-fitting rain boots. So I let it go - SIGH - but I actually really do need a winter coat. Last year when I was so angry and upset with myself for gaining weight, the only coats that fit me were the two puffer jackets my FIL of all people had brought home from two different trips to China. One was a knock off Prada! FAWNCY!And I wore the HECK out of those coats (the biggest size, because I am much bigger than Chinese ladies remember), so much so that I broke the zipper on the one I liked best and I can't wear it anymore. I NEED a new coat. And I am maybe five pounds under what I was last year, but! I am not (as) angry and upset and I FREAKING NEED A NEW COAT SO FIND ME ONE, INTERNET!

    All right, I could go on, but dinner (rice noodles! YUM!) awaits. What would YOU like to spend your imaginary money garden money on?!