I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ginbgerbread

Recently I entered a gingerbread man contest....and while I didn't win, I had a pretty good time making them! If you look at the pictures (and winner) at this post, can you guess which ones were mine?! ...and for what it's worth, my favourite of all are the gingerbread reindeer made out of upside-down gingerbread men. I have every intention of stealing that idea for next year!

As a side note, Baking Bites is only of only 2 or 3 blogs which I read religiously - it's fun to read, well informed, has good recipes, and doesn't take baking too seriously. I highly recommend it for both the home baker and the professional.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Tallest Cake Yet


....90 cm/3 feet in height
....6 kilos (13.2 pounds) in red icing
....approx 12 kilos/26.4lbs in weight
....1 kilo/2.2 lbs cocoa powder
....2+ kilos/4.5+ lbs dark chocolate
....8 elephants
....more edible gold balls than I could count
....10 gold paisleys
....3 cans of gold spray paint
....2 trips to the hardware store
...1 metre/3'3" of wooden dowelling

....and one happy, gorgeous wedding couple.


....which is precisely why I love my job.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'z Got Math Skillz


Tomorrow is the kids' last day of school before summer vacation begins. To celebrate the end of school and a successful year in Prep, their class is throwing a math party! A teach after my own heart, really... finding an educational reason to eat junk food! I love it. Anyway my son ended up on the "catering committee" for this event. He and the rest of the committee decided on the menu, wrote out 'invitations' and so on. My 'invitation' asked me to contribute something sweet of my choice (cupcakes, cake, muffins, etc) and a fruit plate.

This is what I came up with - something sweet with a math theme. For reasons I can't entirely explain (other than they look wicked cool with the multi-colour icing), I totally adore these. I'd venture to say they are my favourite cupcakes I've made all year, and I've made a LOT.

For those who care, it's a Devil's Food cupcake with a buttercream icing, and the numbers are made out of dark chocolate. Who says math has to be boring? (We won't talk about how I failed miserably at it for most of my life...and now I use my math skills more than any other in my every day life.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

She's Apples, Mate!

I had temporarily forgotten that this is sorta supposed to be a cooking and baking blog...but then it's a Mommy blog, too - so that's my excuse! In any case here is a recipe to keep you happy for a while.

Apple cake is not something I would normally bake in the summertime. Summer, to me, is cookies I can take to the local pool, no-bake slices, novelty baking (where I try out things I wouldn't normally bake) and baking which involves little effort. Summer is not a time for heavy, cinnamon-y apple things. However, sometimes you just bake things so you can get your hands into some dough to improve your mood. Therapeutic baking is all about the sensory experience. The slippery, shiny bright orange of a fresh egg yolk, the shhhhhhhhhh sound of sugar pouring into a bowl, the glug-glug of oil, the first taste of sweet raw batter, the squishy feel of cold butter between your fingertips. Baking is therapy without the high bills and the uncomfortable couch.

So I found myself on summer eve, with a grumpy mind and a basketful of apples which were sadly beyond their crunch-by date. Hmmmm. I reached for a cookbook I don't use all that often - Bundt Classics (published by Nordic Ware, the makers of Bundt pans!). It should be noted that this cookbook is very annoying. A vast majority of the recipes start with "one box yellow cake mix"...and we all know that NO recipe should ever, ever start that way. It's baking sacrilege! This book also has a number of savoury recipes - like Shepherd's Pie - which you can make in a Bundt pan. Now maybe it's just me, but I don't really want to see what "Spaghetti Florentine" looks like an a floral shape.

There is something very 1970's about a classic Bundt pan, isn't there? To me it just screams "orange and brown curtains in the kitchen!" and Tupperware in a variety of mustard, orange and brown shades. In perusing the book I decided (with DH's assistance) to go with an equally 70's inspired recipe - Apple Streusel Cake. Who eats struesel nowadays? Clearly, the house of emzee does. Damn, but this cake was GOOD. Neither summery nor fashionable, but one worth baking when you find yourself in need of a Prozac and with a bucketload of apples at your disposal.


Apple Streusel Cake
Courtesy or "Bundt Classics" brought to you by Nordic Ware
(Note: Recipe has been given the emzee treatment - in other words, made easier!)

Streusel
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup butter, chopped into small pieces
2 tsp cinnamon

Cake
3 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 T baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
4 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Heat oven to 325 / 160. Grease your best 1970's bakeware (Bundt of course). Put all the streusel ingredients in a small bowl and mix around a bit. In a large mixing bowl, put all the cake ingredients except the apples. Stir it around with a fork for a while, until you get bored or it's all mixed together. It'll be a very thick dough. Plop a scant amount of dough into the Bundt. Layer the apples in the tin (be generous with them, and be as neat or as messy as you like. Makes no difference to the end product.) Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Plop a bit more dough in, do the apple thing, do the streusel thing, and finish with whatever's left of the dough. Bake for 75-85 minutes or until a toothpick is clear or you can't stand the good smells any more and you need to eat some cake NOW.

Cool ten minutes in the pan then turn out and eat warm, so that the bottom part falls off and goes all gooey, like this:


Serve with a tall glass of cold milk, a mug of steaming hot tea, a ball of good quality vanilla bean ice cream... or do all that on the second piece. Just shove the first piece of 70's goodness into your gob right away. It's well worth it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Being A Ballet/Soccer/Gymnastics Mom...

I never in a million years thought that I would end up a Ballet Mom. Or a Soccer Mom. Or a Gymnastics Mom. Or a Cricket Mom, a Yoga Mom, or a any-other-extracurricurlar-activity mom. However this past weekend, when I found myself saying things like, "Would you PLEASE hold still so I can get your mascara on?" to a SIX year old....so I had to wonder if the whole ballet Mom thing didn't creep up on me when I least expected it. After all, I didn't grow up doing sports/activities of any kind until I was old enough to get myself to/from stuff. (My parents ditched the swim team idea once they realised they would actually have to drive me to swim meets. I sucked at piano. I have no coordination. I can't sing. You get the idea.)


We've already established that being a Mom wasn't part of the plan. We've also established that I got here anyway, and I am pretty happy about it (although OPK are a whole 'nother ball of wax.) So having gotten to this Mom state, how did I end up a Ballet Mom? And a Soccer Mom? Cricket Mom, Gymnastics Mom, and so on? I was very, very determined that my kids were not going to be dragged all over town doing a million things. Let kids be kids, I used to say. Let them play outside with dirt and sticks and run around the local park. Who needs expensive classes? Who needs...mascara?!


Clearly, MY kids do. Mostly, it seems, because they ASKED to do all of these things, and I'm either too much of a sucker to say no, or because I can actually find reasonable justifications for these activities. So Gymnastics = another form of OT, necessary for DD1. Soccer, Aussie Rules Footy, Cricket et al = exercise, which DS will need in a big way if he continues to grow and eat as much as he does. Ballet = a natural progression from Kinder Dance, which started this whole madness in the first place. (Yoga? I just caved into the begging. I can't really find a good justification for that one.) Plus all of these things give my kids something to excel at which are clearly done apart from their siblings. As one who believes firmly in the importance of independence, I made the effort to give each of my kids a few things which are wholly and solely theirs. Not something they do with their sibs. Considering that at age six they still sometimes share (clean!!) undies, share clothes, share a room and often share my time, my attention and everything else - I think it's pretty essential that they do at least ONE thing differently.

Other parents of multiples don't feel this way. You know the parents who dress their kids exactly alike (even when the kids are fraternal). I've met several parents that, when their kids were babies, would CHANGE both kids if one of them got dirty. I mean, honestly - what are these people thinking?! Quite often I get asked, "But why doesn't DD1 do ballet?" or "Didn't the girls want to do cricket?" and so on. I'm not sure why these people believe that the kids should be interested into the same things, just because they were born 30 seconds apart. I've made it one of my unofficial parenting goals to ensure that my kids have an identity and a literal and figurative space away from one another. Lucky for me, they've chosen different activities. If they had chosen the same one (as for Yoga) - then so be it. But I'd like to think that I at least gave them the opportunity to find their own way.

This of course leaves me sadly lacking in a number of Mom skills, which I've had to learn in order to keep up with all these activites. I find myself spending one day trying to figure out how to put mascara on a squirmy ballerina, and the next I am learning how to tie up footy boots, and the day after that I'm applying hair glitter to a gymnast. Being their Mom - being their active, interested, involved, cheering-from-the sidelines Mom ... that's MY extra curricular activity.

If the smiles on their faces are anything to go by (and the glitter all over my hands, the hairspray in my eye and the dirt under my fingernails) I think I might even get the MVP award this year!


Sunday, December 2, 2007

If you don't ask, you don't get!


Dear Channukah Harry,

I've been a very good girl this year! I've blogged, opened a business, raised my children well (I hope...but we won't really know until I get their therapy bills), been a good wife (DH wouldn't dare say otherwise), a good daughter, a good sister, and above all else, I've eaten all my veggies.

Therefore, for Channukah/my birthday, I would like the following items:


1. A new Kenwood mixer for my kitchen. I've decided Kitchen Aids are pretty sexy, but not nearly as powerful as I'd like or need. Red, please. (We all know the colour red makes things go faster!) I don't think this mixer actually comes in red (that being the Pro version you see above), but isn't that why god invented spray paint?


2. Some money for clothes. Fat as I am, there is really no need to compound the problem by wandering around in shmattas. The time has come to throw this crap out and get some new stuff.


3. A new watch. I've not worn one in years, mostly because of what I do for a living. I still want one, though. I want a Mickey Mouse one, like the one I had as a teenager. It was cool then. It would be cool now. (And I promise not to lose this one.) (Picture above is not what mine looked like, but it's cool anyway.)


4. A copy of Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible. I read her blog, and there are a few recipes in there I want to try. The book cannot be found anywhere in Australian bookstores, because it's out of print (or so they say.) Just magic one up for me, okay?


5. A good quality stainless steel rolling pin. Commercial quality. The one I use is wooden. My Mom bought it for me when I was a teenager. The stainless steel bits of it (which hold the handles into the spindle) have broken and are jiggling free, so that the spindle moves from left to right (and back again!). It's usable, but every day I am destroying it more and more. I love it. I want to keep it. I don't want to kill it. If you love something, set it free!


6. Peace and goodwill towards all men... (ha! and you thought I was just a selfish, demanding wench. I can think of others, you know!)...but especially delivery men, who are going to bring me this cool stuff (okay I am. Selfish that is.)

7. My sister coming to visit next North American summer. She hinted at it. She's going to regret it, because I'm going to harass the SHIT outta her until she comes for real.


8. New contracts for my DH. Because my house is literally falling down and he needs to work so we can afford to fix it, and also because I truly believe he is going to be a success. I also know that my life, and my children, are not possible without him. I'm grateful for him every single day, even when I snip at him or complain about him. So I'd like him to get something great. He deserves it. While you're at it, could you make the contract a) worth a kabillion dollars b) take up very little of his time c) not involve morons in Canberra or, heck, in Melbourne (okay, morons anywhere in the solar system) and d) earn him a jillion and one accolades for being the all around clever guy that he is.



9. A subscription to Who Weekly. What? So I like celebrity gossip. Who doesn't? (Seriously, you're telling me you don't know that Paris's chihuahua is names Tinkerbell? OMG! Where have you been? Living in a bubble?)

and finally...


10. I'd like some willpower. Because there are only 413 days left on The Matthew Diet, and I am failing miserably.


Anyway, thanks Mr. Harry. I promise also to be a good girl next year, okay? Just please don't leave a lump of coal in my Channukah slippers, because I might eat it, thinking it's chocolate. And really, that's just cruel. Imagine the dental bills!

Greetings to the Oompa Loompahs from me! (Because, being Jewish, I'm guessing you don't go in for elves and all that.)

Sincerely,

Michelle

How True It Is!



Having recently purchased a kilo of vanilla beans via Ebay, and seriously contemplating buying some random kitchen crap, I can relate to this!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The final SQF

In this post I talked about the SQF = the Slurpee Quantitative Factor. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it's December 1st - officially the first day of summer.

To date, I've had so many Coke slurpees leading up to today that I've actually lost count, which means (according to the SQF) that this summer is going to be:

7+ = Please, God, take me now. Hell would surely be cooler.

So it looks like we are in for a long, hot summer. The only advantage to this (that I can see) is that many of my IRL (in real life) friends have read what I've had to say on this blog about my love affair with the aerated iced confection. So now I get text messages and emails which say, "Can we catch up for a Coke slurpee?"

Bwahahahahaha. I love it.

Go bookmark this now, people. NOW. It's the only way we'll get through. Trust me.
.... and this website is proof that I am not alone in this madness.

(7-11 flavour update: Kiwi Lime seems to have left the building, to be replaced with Sherbet, which is a crappy flavour.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Please, Talk Me Down From The Edge

I don't think one should blog when one is feeling really, really, really irritable. I might end up saying things I don't really mean, or cursing a lot, or just plain old exploding. At the same time, blogging is almost as good as therapy, only a lot less expensive and a lot more socially acceptable.

Things Giving Me The Shits:

1. My kids. Who complain when they wake up that they are tired, complain when they leave school that they are tired, complain through dinner they are tired....and then hit the sack and spend HOURS piss-farting around, picking fights with one another, and coming down the stairs forty thousand times. If you went to SLEEP instead of doing all that shit, you might not be so tired. Doesn't take a genius (or three.) Or maybe it does.

2. My DH's work. He used to make fun of me, when I worked for a large university, that all the work that I did was "more public service than the public service." He used to say it because of all the inefficiencies, all the back-talking, all the games playing. I hated when he would say that, but karma, as we know, is a bitch. Henceforth why he is now dealing with government, and politics, and assholes who tell you "you're doing great" all the way through the process, only to say "actually, you've fucked it all up" 48 hours before you need to hand over your deliverable. While I enjoy the financial benefits of his job, I HATE what it does to him and his self-esteem and to our family life. Yeah. Public service. Hmmm.

3. The heat. Oh god the heat.

4. One of my family members (left unnamed to as not to offend) who seems to think I am running some sort of kiddie business as opposed to a fully-fledged, money making, growth venture. This family member reminds me, continually, in a condescending way, that I need to make sure that the business is making money, that I need to just keep assessing and then close it all down if it's not paying itself back immediately. I'm flattered that this person cares, and that they are trying to be supportive. However the constant reminders and assumptions that I didn't think about these things before I went into business are starting to irk me in a big way. I get it, you're worried. It's very sweet of you, but here it is in black and white: I KNOW WHAT I AM DOING. PLEASE STOP ACTING AS THOUGH I DON'T. For once, congratulate me on a job well done or say, "Wow! That's great that you have so many orders!" and then DON'T follow it up with, "You know you'll need to make sure you have done a proper cash flow report, and that you assess in 6 months and then decide if it's worth going on..." I understand your concerns, but rest assured this is MY business, and therefore I am capable of looking after it. You also know nothing about running a food-based business. I DO. I love you, but you're beginning to make me not want to answer the phone when you call.

5. My landlord, who for all the world reminds me of my Dad with his irritating remarks and his looking at the things I produce and then says things like, "Oh. It's a cake." NO SHIT SHERLOCK, I'm a CAKE BUSINESS. Argh! Plus he (after nearly 6 months) doesn't seem able to provide me with an accurate lease to sign.

6. The lady in the kitchen next to me, who calls me "Mich" without first asking if that's okay. I DON'T LIKE being called Mich, get it? There are a very, very select few who are allowed to call me that. As in, my blood relations and maybe one other person. You? YOU NEED TO CALL ME BY MY WHOLE NAME. We are not, repeat, not on a nickname basis.

7. The couple who had 2 very long meetings with me to discuss the worlds most simple wedding cake. I thought they had a small budget, so I under-quoted them to be nice. I came in on Sundays...TWICE...to meet with them. I bent over backwards providing quotes, providing samples, etc. They then commented that the icing was "very sweet" (umm...really? Were you hoping for SOUR?!) and then didn't give me the gig. God have mercy, people.

8. The hideous amount of spam I am getting from companies trying to get me to advertise with them. This is due in part to my other website going live and getting listed on a jillion and one search engines. I'm glad about that part, but not so glad about offers to reach "8,000+ people a day for only $50 a month." Yeah, right. I read the small print and discover you also want my first born. Leave me ALONE and stop flooding my inbox, okay?

9. The fact that I am way behind in articles for my other gig, and yet I am having a hard time summoning the energy to write anything. Not sure why that is, which in itself is an irritant.

...and the very last thing which is irritating me:

10. My favourite squishy yoga-esque pants have developed an inoperable hole, in an conspicuous place. I know the pants are ugly. I know they are unflattering. I know I shouldn't wear them...and now, sadly, I can't even if I want to. Don't advise me to go and buy more. It just wouldn't be the same!

It goes without saying that there are loads and loads of things which are making me very, very happy today. In fact on most days, I can do that positive thinking exercise where you think about at least ONE good thing a day which has happened. This website is very good at that. I often read it because her positive thinking thing makes me feel a little less, well, scratchy.

So I could, and probably should, write a blog post about the things which are making me happy. But somehow that's just not nearly as much fun.

(Ed: LOL. I just Googled "irritating" to find a good image to put at the top of this post. All I found were loads of pictures of creams and lotions which claim to be anti-irritating. Maybe I should get myself some of that stuff!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

I am, you are, we are Australian....

This past weekend was election weekend, where everyone in Australia buys a sausage in bread for $2.50 at their local primary school. And oh yeah, they (compulsorily) vote as well. If I ever wondered what the cultural differences were between the US and Australia, the weeks leading up to an election are a great time to observe these differences in action.

Instead of writing a witty, interesting post about that, I'm going to tell you about something I hear on the radio a few weeks ago. The breakfast radio people were talking about the definition of "Australian" and what, exactly, it means to be Australian. To me this is a pretty simple thing. Either a) you were born here or b) you have a passport from here or c) you've altered your American accent enough and thrown in enough slang that people have stopped asking you if you're "...here on holiday, luv?"

So listeners had to call in and finish the sentence which began, "You know you're Australian when..." The answers were all pretty funny. "...when you drive to work and pick your nose unashamedly..." "...when you think a snag in bread is a complete meal..." and so on and so forth. Sadly, none of the answers were very insightful. Since then I've been thinking about the whole country and identity thing. I've mentioned before that I don't feel particularly patriotic to the US, nor to Israel, and not really here either. (....the day after the election I was asking, "So who won?") What, exactly, makes us part of the cultural landscape of our countries?

Is it the accent?
The ability to fit in?
The way we look?
Social attitudes?
Is it our ability to drive and nose pick?

I'm not really sure, you know. Let's examine me as a case in point and put these to the test.

SUBJECT: American born to Israeli parents but living in Australia.

Accent: Somewhere between Aussie and American. Reverts to American within 24 hours of hitting US soil. On any given day I get, "You're American? Really? I couldn't pick it." and "Wow, your accent is still REALLY strong." RESULT: Inconclusive.

Ability to fit in: Into my little Asian import car, I still (mostly) fit. RESULT: Inconclusive, although a new car may be in order.

The way I look: Ummm, pretty much unique, just like everyone else. RESULT: Inconclusive. Couldn't pick me from a native Australian in a line up, as long as I kept my mouth shut.

Social attitudes: I do think a sausage in bread can be a full meal (Aussie culinary icon), but only when joined by a Coke Slurpee (American culinary icon). Result: Inconclusive, although possibly Australian as I am embracing American concepts (while still pretending to hate America.) Possibly also American by virtue of eating something high fat on nutrient-devoid white bread.

Drive and nose pick: No probs there. RESULT: Citizen of the world, really.

So. Anyone of my non-commenters want to weigh in on the debate? No? Well, then let's just say that our cultural identity can be summed up in one sentence:

You are what you are and that's all that you are

....mate!

Or

...dude! (Do people in the US still use that word?)

Cooking with Kids

People often want to know what kinds of things I cook at home - am I whipping up Cordon Bleu masterpieces? Is foie gras a normal menu item? Do my friends hate inviting me to dinner out of fear I will be unhappy with their own cooking prowess? Allow me to burst your bubble here and tell you that while I have produced some bloody brilliant meals at home, a vast majority of them are quick, simple, tasty (edible) ...and that's it. No magic tricks. I have in fact been known to invite friends to dinner and serve them nothing but a salad and old-fashioned mac n' cheese (with real bechamel and all, but still mac n' cheese...which my DH made!)

Of late, I've been encouraging the kids to do a bit of cooking, with an eye to my future retirement. I figure that if I arm them with a bit of knowledge and cooking skills NOW, then in about...18 months time - they can do the cooking. One night per kid, two nights for DH, a couple of weekend nights where we eat leftovers = free and easy for me. To that end I started them off with simple stuff - eggs. With eggs you can make a myriad of things. Omlettes, quiches, scrambled eggs, frittatas...the list is endless, really. So they can now make scrambled eggs and simple omelettes, I figured I'd trial out a few other versions before moving onto teaching them the methods.

Now, of course, the little buggers are getting kinda picky about it all.

"Mum, my scrambled eggs were way too dry. They need to be, you know, gooshy."
"Can I have mine poached? Poached is so much nicer."
"Did you forget the salt? These were nicer last time."
"Too much pepper. WWWWAAAYYY too much pepper."
"Can mine come with some slices of avocado and just a sprinkle of sea salt?"

Sheesh. Everyone's a critic!

Lately they are so into the egg thing that we're literally burning through a couple dozen a week. This past weekend DD2 (of the "cooking is gross! You get all dirty and stuff!" fame) helped me to make some sautéed mushroom and thyme tarts (yes, eggs involved.) Having eaten variations on this dish before, she was very keen to help - knowing full well she would 'earn' one to try at the end. Tonight, I had some mixture and pastry left over and she got to choose which flavour tart we made for dinner. DD1 was complaining about the "wierd" filling so DD2 looked at her and said, "Oh come on! It's just, you know, eggs, cream, some grated cheese, salt..." DD1 wasn't to be persuaded, so she flung her filling onto DH's plate, who happily gobbled it down.

DD2 turns to me and says (in her best pre-teen voice), " Is she SEER-ious?! That's the best part!"

It would seem I have created a monster. Which, given that DD2 isn't a huge protein eater (until said run of eggy goodness), is probably a good thing.

In fact you might even say it's eggcellent!

...and eggciting

...and ... best I stop now before I get egg on my face!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crazy (to be doing this) Eights

I won't mention that it's 10:45 in the morning and I have a Slurpee. Best to avoid that topic. Instead I'll succumb to Frances's request that I do this meme. FWIW, I didn't know that it's NaBloPoMothingiewhatsitwhatever. I'm just going to do this anyway.

8 things I am passionate about:

* Food
* My Family
* Giving back to your community at large
* Coke Slurpees (here I go again! sheesh!)
* My DH's ability to succeed
* Honest parenting and telling it like it is to those who ask
* White sport socks but scrunched down not up to my knees
* Appreciation, and showing it

8 things I want to do before I die:

* Invent calorie-free butter-based pastries that taste like the real thing
* Be a bridesmaid at APM's wedding
* Bungee Jump in New Zealand, but I need to be thinner
* Finish The Forty List
* Create a 'nursery' kitchen where people can come and start their food-based businesses who otherwise can't afford a whole place of their own. Sort of like a kitchen co-op.
* Run, walk, or stagger through a half marathon
* Meet Billy Joel
* Go on holiday with DH where we spare no expense - first class air, penthouse suites, etc.

8 things I say often:

* Have you thought about dinner?
* It was HILLLL-arious!
* Are they/you fucking kidding me?
* Uch, she/he/it drives me crazy!
* WHY do you guys have to fight over the most RIDICULOUS things?
* Re-LAX, Kiki, you'll get a turn soon
* Davey? I think I need a Slurpee.
* But I don' wanna...(get out of bed)

8 books I’ve read recently:

* Actually I've read the first eight books of the MYTH series by Robert Asprin.
* Before that I read three of the Phule books, also by Robert Asprin.
* The user manual to my sexy-as-hell industrial oven.
* Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent by Lauren Child
* Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers

(the above equal 14 books. I think I'll stop now.)

8 songs I could listen to over and over:

* Leningrad, Billy Joel
* If I Had a Million Dollars, Barenaked Ladies
* The Special Two, Missy Higgins
* Big Girls Don't Cry, Fergie
* Video Killed The Radio Star, can't remember the band name
* Forever Young, Alphaville
* Downeaster Alexa, Billy Joel
* Kol Nidre, Dudu Fisher

8 things that attract me to my best friends:

* Gossip (the activity. By this I really mean just random chatter)
* Shared love of food and food experiences
* Laughing over stupid stuff, or just laughing for the sake of it
* Forgiving one another our faults and faux pas
* Their patience
* They don't care if I'm fat or thin
* They come from all walks of life
* Their support - either with the trio, my business, or life in general. I'm blessed.

....and I'm not tagging anyone. I know, party pooper! I just don't think I know enough bloggers who have not already done this anyway!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Groundhog Day

So you know there is this place somewhere in New York, where on a certain day a groundhog comes out of a hole. If he sees his shadow, it's going to be a long winter. If he doesn't, it's going to be a short one. (Or something like that. Go Google it if you really care that much.)

Anyway I've devised my own way of knowing if it's going to be a long, hot Australian summer or a long, not-so-hot Australian summer. Truth be told, I love the summer here. Long days, short nights, endless trips to the pool, BBQ dinner every night, my beloved desk fan...there is a lot going for summer. Perhaps the only bad thing is that my innate bitchiness factor goes up exponentially once the mercury reaches anything above about 25C (about 80F). Heat and I, we just don't get along. Mostly it's the whole fat thing - when it gets too hot, even the most fashionable of fat chicks looks terrible. Doesn't matter if you're wearing Prada and MAC lip gloss, your thighs are chafing and you're feeling sweat run down between your big boobies.
Fat People + Heat = Yeeuucchhh. Nothing like seeing a guy's moobs (man boobs) dripping sweat off the nipples. Oh the imagery! It's not at all pretty. (Although when I was thinner I didn't really cope with the heat, either...and I still had the sweaty chest issue. )

I digress. So - like the groundhog, I have my own method of determining the heat-ness of an impending summer. I like to call it the Slurpee Quantitative Factor (or SQF, not to be confused with SPF, which is a whole 'nother summer thing.) The theory behind this is simple, to whit:

1. I love Slurpees.
2. I only drink them when it's a) stinking hot or b) I'm feeling bitchy, which means it's stinking hot.
3. If it is hot enough before summer actually starts (official first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere is December 1st) to warrant my drinking a Slurpee, then the SQF factor begins to be calculated.
4. Count up the number of Slurpees I drink prior to summer starting, and this gives you your SQF, which follows this table:

Where Number of Slurpees = Type of Summer
1 = Very Mild
2 = Mild
3 = Middling
4 = Only Just Bearable
5 = Man, It's Getting Hot In Here
6 = Fark, it's HOT!
7+ = Please, God, take me now. Hell would surely be cooler.

As I send DH off to 7-11 for Slurpee #6, and it's only November 18th, we're in for a very, very long summer which is very, very, very blood hot. This in turn means you are all in for a very, very long summer which is full of very, very bitchy and complaining posts about the heat.

You can't say I didn't warn you.

....and for what it's worth, the Kiwi Lime flavour at my local 7-11 totally ROCKS.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In Awe of Motherhood

Yesterday morning I got a call from the Poppet's Mum. "It's the call," she said, "the call you've been waiting for." I knew what to do. I bolted out of bed, threw on some clothes, and drove as fast as was legal to go get her and bring her to the hospital. Through a series of crazy circumstances, I had the most incredible good fortune to be there at the birth of her daughter. My life is changed forever, now. I have new-found respect for women everywhere who go through this experience. It was truly, truly awe-inspiring. I have never (and suspect will never) seen anything so amazing, dramatic, gorgeous, traumatic...and just...well, miraculous. I feel incredibly honoured to have witnessed such an incredible event.

emzeegee & the hungry three welcome with love:

Shira Ellie
Born Monday, November 12 at 10:09 am
8lbs (3.66 kilos)


....so I suppose now I'll have to call her "Poppet's Mum ... plus one."



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Overwhelmed

It's 7:48 pm on Sunday, November 11. I am sitting here overwhelmed by a number of things. Given my penchant for to-do lists (lists in general, really) I thought I'd jot down the things which are overwhelming me in this moment. Not in order of importance, just in order of what comes out of my head and onto my hands.

I am overwhelmed by...

1. The generosity of my friends, who have spent all day today packing, wrapping, sticker-ing, ribbon-ing and praising my seemingly endless pile of Three Sweeties products. Really, I have no words.

2. The fact that one of said friends (Poppet's Mum) was wrapping biscuits... while in the early stages of labour. No, I'm not kidding.

3. The fact that The Baker's Wife is still giving so much help and support, when she's just entered into her own pastry business venture. She doesn't have to (and has far more important things to do)...and yet she does.

4. My friend Nicole, who has literally given me DAYS of her time and BUCKET LOADS of her talent to help me get through this mountain of pastry production. I didn't ask her to come - but she did. For 4 days now...and she brings lunch! She talks to me. She keeps me sane. She listens to my carrying on, and she tolerates it. I am completely overwhelmed by her support, especially when I know the true good deed in this is that we are 'curing' one another's kitchen loneliness.

5. Fighting my control freak tendencies to completely freak out over the market this week and the future of Three Sweeties' products.

6. My children's ability to get me to dance at their playroom disco for over an hour, when my feet are already on fire. When ABBA is playing "Mama Mia" and you're wearing a green glow-stick bracelet, somehow doing the tango with a six year old makes your feet feel a whole lot better.

7. The sense of achievement I have about all this, and how proud I am of myself. Fact is - in real life I have pretty low self-esteem. Yes, I'm loud. I'm outgoing. I'm a scary overachiever. I'm a classic Type A personality. A vast majority of the people I meet/ know would even say I'm completely full of myself. None of it is really true. I actually suffer from extreme self-doubt. Today, however, I enjoyed a little internal smile every time I got to give someone a tour of my (one room, tiny) kitchen. It was just...WOW...I DID this? No way! Yay me. :) (and then in came the rushing thoughts of failure and hysteria and worry...but for a fleeting second I had a YAY ME moment.)

8. Summer is coming, and for the last 2 days it's been nothing but sunny skies and warm air and the need for my most precious and beloved night table fan. Somehow I manage to hate the heat but adore the summer. No, it's not worth figuring out. It's just another strange thing about me.

9. My DH finally getting the idea that dinner needs to consist of something other than just a main serving of protein. He seems to be grasping the idea of side dishes! Or rather, SIDE dish (singular)! Can you believe? I think this chef business is rubbing off on him. Perhaps next year he'll graduate to side dish-and-vegetable. (Love you, deegee!)

10. Spring Racing is over for another year and somehow, it wasn't all that terrible. Annoying, yes - but not as time consuming as last year. Also made infinitely more tolerable by the presence of workmate Jewel, who always makes everything work related more tolerable.

11. My blog posts have become a lot less funny, and this is overwhelming me. I feel a need/desire to be funny, but somehow can't get that to come out on "paper." I am wondering if this isn't because my blogging mo-jo is lost, and if I shouldn't just stop now and end this blogging biz.

12. My best friend Alexis has a really awful disease which seems to be killing her slowly, and every single day I worry about her. It's one of the very few situations in my life where I not only feel completely helpless, but I also wish I was the kind of Jew who believed in the power of prayer.

13. I miss my sister. A ridiculous thing to be overwhelmed by, but there you go. Worse than that, I miss her kids, too...and as we all know, I don't really "do" other people's kids so much.

14. Exhaustion. I'm not actually all that tired - and I'm doing a good job of pacing myself (!!) so I don't have back issues or sleep issues or over-work issues or ANY issues, really. It just seems like no matter how much sleep I get, I'm still feeling like I could sleep for a week. Or two. Me thinks it's time to check my iron levels.

15. The fact that in about 6 weeks, it's Christmas. Which means it's my birthday. Which means I will be 32. I never thought I would make it to 32. I don't know WHY I thought that, I just did. But then I never thought I'd be married with kids, so clearly I was just a wee bit hazy on the whole 'my future' thing.

16. The taste of the lamb kabana from the Grand Vewe cheesery in Tasmania. The fact that I can still 'taste' it in my mind several weeks later is overwhelming. A foodie experience I won't likely forget.

Hmmm. Sixteen things in my life which I find overwhelming, in this very moment. Maybe it's time for a Coke Slurpee.

Friday, November 2, 2007

How Much Is Too Much?

At the moment I find myself living in a bit of a moral/social/ethical dilemma. It's Spring Racing Carnival time.... the time of year when all of Melbourne goes just that little bit crazy for horse racing. (You can go back to blog posts in Nov 2006 for more detail.) For some reason, this year it's really getting to me.

Thousands of people pay literally millions of dollars to spend 4 days tottering on high heels, eating food which is either a) gross, b) so overpriced as to be obscene or c) overrated. The same people are drinking to excess, betting to excess, and in general being concerned with image, image, image. Dahhhling, it's all about the dress. the shoes. the hat. the bloody chicken sandwiches.

Don't get me wrong. I like a bit of bling too...especially food bling. At the same time, I'm finding all of this somehow...well...just grotesque. Seriously, it makes me vaguely ill to think about how much time, money and resources are being spent on this carnival of overindulgence. Imagine if all this energy and finance was put to better use... IMAGINE the chance these people have to divert all of this to something more worth their time. More with SOCIETY's time. People, we are talking about horse racing. Not just that, but a vast majority of people attending these events don't give a flying shit about the horse bit of it. It's all about the racing. Racing to be the most grand, the biggest, the brightest, the best at fake tanning, the one with the largest hat feather, the one with the most.... racing to prove that my filly is better than your filly. (I'm not talking about the horses.)

Herein lies the dilemma.... because all this frivolity? It's creating a LOT of jobs for people who otherwise wouldn't have any. It's earning money for small businesses like my own. It's improving the economy in a time of severe drought. It's making a whole lot of people pretty happy, even if it's only happiness that lasts until they throw up into the gutter while swinging a hat from one finger and a pair of Manolos from the other finger and then staggering away. It's bringing a sense of fun and adventure to the City of Melbourne and it's reminding us not to take life too seriously.

At the same time...I can't help wondering - isn't there a point at which it all just becomes TOO much?

As someone working on the pointy end of this spectacle of conspicuous consumption (fancy speak for I am working like a fucking dog)...well, I just can't help but think it's all a big ball of bullshit. Seriously.

Call me a party pooper if you like, but this all this just seems....a little bit excessive.*

____________
* Note, I may be feeling a little bitchy due to spending two entire DAYS sticking ribbons onto boxes just so for clients who will never see the damn things. We're doing it just in case someone sees those boxes and thinks - for a fleeting moment - that they're pretty darn sexy. You'll pardon me if I can't help thinking my time might better be spent doing just about anything else.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

...and one more!

Peppermint Bay - a half hour's drive outside of Hobart, accessible by car or by boat. An experience so life-affirming, so utterly gorgeous...a real feast for the tummy and a feast for the soul.



More Hobart Foodie Experiences

Down a long, long street, across a long, long ocean front, around a long, long corner, up a tall, tall, tall hill, up a jaysus-christ-this-is-one-heck-of-a-hill hill, through a pretty, pretty neighbourhood, down a narrow, narrow street, around a small, small corner, down another narrow, narrow street, one will find Jackman & McRoss. And there, my friends, you will find Nirvana:




...and clearly, no self-respecting foodie would have a meal without a lime spider! (Well, DH, anyway!)

The Great Tassie Fish & Chip Roundup

Ahhh, the sea! There is just something about ocean towns which makes one want to run out and eat hot, crisp chips while the sea air blows and the seagulls shout "more! more!" DH and I, being avid "chiss and fipps" eaters in many an ocean town, were very excited to see not one or two but FIVE fish and chip purveryors on Constitution Dock. All of these were within about 15 feet of each other.

Since we were planning on being in Hobart for five days...and there were five such shops...well, stands to reason, doesn't it? This required a one-a-day habit, surely? To do a proper blog-worthy round up, we had to first establish The Rules. Rule One: The order had to include one serving of calamari and chips and 2 pieces of prawns. Rule Two: Regardless of what else we ordered, we could only judge on those items. Rule Three: When placing the order, DH had to verbally say, "Please cook the chips to well done. Hot, crispy, crunchy, WELL COOKED chips." So onwards we embarked, with a specific baseline established (for comparison purposes.)

Mako's was the first one we tried. We had high hopes - it was the closest (geographically) to open water. Sadly for us, Mako's was more like Flop-o's. Cons: pre-crumbed calamari from a bag, processed prawn cutlets, chips not well done *and* the damn chips were thin sort of shoe-string type (a pet hate of DH's.) Plus the tartare was one of those horrid plastic square thingies from Heinz. Pros: Tartare and wedge of lemon included, and interesting menu items like coriander mayo. Overall score: 5

Second up was Fishy Business. They won some bonus points with us! Cons: That crappy Kraft tartare sauce again, chips decidedly average. Pros: Real prawns (not processed), calamari still pre-crumbed from a bag but obviously a better supplier. Lemon and tartare supplied. Overall score: 6

It was at this point that DH and I came to a somewhat sad conclusion. Fish purveyors numbers three and four were actually selling fresh fish, not heart-attack-on-a-plate fish. DH's sunny attitude had him saying, "Ah well, at least now we have an instant short list!" I on the other hand, was irritated at the whole plan being wrecked. 5 shops, 5 days - it was perfect! *sigh* Onwards and upwards, we decided to try Number 3 (previously No. 5) which was the furthest away from open sea.

Flippers has a sense of humour - the pontoon built in the shape of a fish is pretty funny, you must admit. However, a GSOH never cooked fish, obviously. Pros: Best calamari by far - plump, tasty, crisp! Prawns were real, not processed. Pineapple fritter on the menu, which the guy offered to make up fresh for us. Cons: No lemon, no tartare provided. Worst con: Chips so disgusting, DH and I didn't finish them. Seriously, these chips were gross! (and I for one believe that at heart, all chips are good chips until proven otherwise.) Overall score: 6

At this point DH and I were feeling very dejected. NONE of these sea-faring fish and chip pontoons were good. In fact they were all really average. So we did what any self-respecting foodies would do, and we headed to the middle of the dock for the most expensive fish and chip shop around - Mure's. It's been there for 20 years, and it's not floating on a pontoon...so surely they've got to get it right?



Firstly, take a look at that menu. "From the wok" ... seriously? For a fish and chip shop? It gets better. This place also has a choose-your-own toppings oyster bar, a formal upstairs dining restaurant, a gift shop, *and* they sell fresh fish. In fact, you can PICK what fish you want from the display and they'll cook it right then and there. With all that in mind, the Cons: You can't order just one of something (like one prawn). The price is a good $2-4 dollars more expensive than the other places. No tartare provided. Pros: They LISTENED about the chips! They were crisp, well-done and seriously good. The seafood is REAL seafood. As in those were fresh calamari and fresh prawns. The real deal. (See picture at the top.) Overall score: 8

Sadly, though, DH and I were left very unsatisfied by the meal at Mure's. It's not really a fish and chip shop. It's a restaurant that serves fried stuff. While we enjoyed it, and the quality was great... it just sort of lacked character. Like the fifth tasting sense of 'umami', fish and chip shops clearly have another facet to the experience: character. There is just something so wrong about eating fried fish out of a basket. On a fancy chair. A chair which sits on a clean floor. There were even leather couches to sit on, if one so desired.

Sorry to say, dear readers, but fish and chips in Hobart leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe the problem is that we picked places in a touristy area. Maybe we should have gone further inland? I guess I never thought it would be quite so hard to cook chips properly - so thanks, dear Hobartian fry cooks, for teaching me that there is an art to your craft. Sadly, an art you need to practice just a smidge more. And please, please, GET RID of the disgusting Kraft tartare!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ten Tasmanian Truths

10. Just because it's an island (and therefore surrounded by water teeming with fish), doesn't mean you can get a decent fish and chips to eat. (What part of COOK the chips is so hard?)

9. Someone from the City of Hobart is called a Hobartian...which rhymes with martian. I wonder how much of a coincidence that is.

8. You can get years and years of storytelling out of one stupid bridge falling down. People, it's time to get over it.

7. Nine o'clock at night is considered late night....for everyone. It's like a ghost town. It's very eerie, being the only human awake for miles and miles. God help you if you want something to eat or drink at that hour.

6. There is nowhere else in the world so green. It was worth the trip just to appreciate the natural beauty of this place.

5. By virtue of the conference being here, the Jewish population of Tasmania increased by some 1000% in one fell swoop....but Hobart is home to Australia's oldest synagogue. Go figure.

4. There are more foodie shops per square metre than any other city I've been to....and none of them carry the products I'm planning on selling. This can only be a good thing. It's also a good thing that the service is so crap, nobody noticed me openly taking photos of their products (research purposes, I swear.)

3. The Tasmanian Devil exists... and while everyone claims they are in the wild, I've only seen them on postcards.

2. For a state mired in politics relating to the timber industry, and the cruel destruction of the old growth forests by way of logging...there is a hell of a lot of timber crap for sale. Everywhere. I even saw a thin scrap of wood turned at each end being sold as...a chapati (!) rolling pin. For $18. THIS is what's wrong with the whole idea of environmentalism in Australia.

....and the number one thing I've learned about Tasmania....

It doesn't matter what city in Australia you're in....there will always be someone wearing beach thongs in a rainstorm. And I love that about this place.

Hello from Hobart, Day 3 & 4 Roundup

Those of you who doubted my ability to relax (ahem, the baker's wife) will be happy to know that I didn't blog yesterday because I was too busy (!) ....

...lazing around doing a whole lotta nuthin'. Seriously.

DH and I woke up early to take in the sights of the Salamanca Markets...and then his conference obligations and my laziness obligations sent me back to bed. I came back to the hotel room around 11am, changed back into my pyjamas and went back to bed. There I stayed until DH encouraged (read: forced) me to get up and dressed for dinner. There is just something so scrumptious about being in bed in a sloppy PJ while the air conditioner gently blows across you, while you lay in the warm and squishy bed with a new stupid chick-lit novel ($2 at the market) and your biggest problem in life is whether or not you can be bothered to get out of bed to eat a slice of Jackman McRoss cheese and chive sourdough topped with a slice of Heidi Farm Gruyere. (Hint: no, you can't be bothered.)

Geez. It's a hard life.

I will admit to doing some work this morning (ahem, I said I was relaxing. I didn't say the capricornian in me had DIED, you know.) However I followed up the morning's work with a glorious DH-n-Me afternoon. Fish and chips on Constitution Dock (numbers 3 and 4 in a series...photos and points awarded. Keep an eye out for the great Tasmanian Fish and Chips Roundup post soon!) This was followed by a vaguely brisk (read: not at all brisk) walk to the movie theatre. Saw a cute movie (Stardust), played some video games (I sorely need to work on my shot-'em-up skills, but I got to Level 3 on Dance Dance Revolution...and of course got a sore back as my reward), and then walked right back into the theatre to see another flick (Death at a Funeral.) We tried to make it a movie three-peat, but there wasn't anything on we were interested in...see? Plenty of relaxing. A walk home in the misty rain, a hot pizza cuddling with DH on the couch, a quick blog post and all is right with the world. Today was the kind of day I needed to restore my faith in my ability to relax.

Tomorrow we're planning a visit to a sky walk thingie (marketing speak for a bridge over a forest), a visit to "the world's fifth best model train" (DH's choice) and a tour of the Cadbury factory (my choice.) We might even manage some lunch...and maybe a bit of relaxing to boot.

....but I'd be lying if I wasn't also planning on making a few phone calls and checking a few emails. I guess some things never change.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Greetings from Hobart, Day 2

The only problem with this whole relaxing business is that it's kinda boring.

Yes.

Boring.

Today I spent a vast majority of the day lounging about in bed, reading the books I brought with me, dozing, and lamenting my haircut which I've now decided I hate. When that got boring I went and walked around down town Hobart for over three hours. That is a LOT of walking...but I really enjoyed it. Nobody tugging on my arm, no fear of cars careening around corners and collecting small children on the way, nobody saying, "Come on! It's time to go!", nobody even giving me a second glance as I sat down in the bookstore and browsed page by page through some gorgeous cake books. I didn't have to eat when I wasn't hungry, didn't have to see the inside of every toilet for ten blocks. I was just me. Alone with my thoughts and the new hair product (*shudder*) I bought. Actually, make that me alone with my thoughts and the new product I was forced to buy in the hopes that it might improve the hair situation.

But I digress. After covering almost every corner of this place, I meandered home to the hotel room, where I read more, showered (in order to try the whole hair product thing out, I needed a clean slate...er...scalp), lounged around and...well, was kinda bored. This is the thing about relaxing. It's not all that interesting. I actually came here armed with a whole lot of work to do as well - and I've been dutifully checking my emails and sending out cake info - but I can't muster to energy to actually DO the work which I need to do. This is so bad. I'm having a hard time learning to relax, and an equally hard time getting down to business.

Ah.

Well.

Only one thing to do then, I suppose.

*shuffles back to bed*

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Greetings from Hobart, Day 1

Day One of our no-kids mini vacation away and already DH and I are "remembering" what it's like to be a foodie couple on the prowl. I suppose it's a bit like riding a bike, in that you never forget the lure of 16-hour organic sourdough artisan baked bread... hot, crispy, fresh calamari served on a pontoon.... how to buy ridiculously priced Lescure butter (for afore-mentioned bread), feta-stuffed red peppers and...best stop now before drool short circuits DH's laptop!

I'm having a hard time controlling my mouth, though... not so much from an eating standpoint (okay, that too) but from crowing (to all within earshot) about the fact that I don't have to do conference-related stuff and he does, neener neener neener! I've worked terribly, terribly hard today - from a huge stroll around the harbour with DH, the amazing snacky-lunchy at the bakery recommended by The Baker's Wife, the stacks of trashy mags I bought at the airport...and shortly I'm heading into my first hot shower with the stupidly priced shampoo I bought at the hairdresser's yesterday. Yes, I did it again. Cut my hair off (mostly) and dyed it a ridiculous colour (go fast red stripe...all over!). I won't mention how it is that could-care-less about things like (*shudder*) hair "product" me got sucked in to buying the French shampoo/conditioner combo. Must've been some stray girlie estrogen hanging around the place that made me do it.

Haven't decided what to do tomorrow...but contemplating a movie tonight, the Salamanca markets on Saturday, a Cadbury factory tour on Monday...and plenty of sleep, crusty bread and *wink**wink**nudge**nudge* in between conference shin-digs.

Anyone who has been to Hobart before, post foodie recommendations - this whole damn place is on a hill, so I need to find places which make the climb worth it! I've been taking pics as well, so expect some food reviews, pastry dissertations, and random pictures of pretty trees upon my return.

Oh, and did I mention I've booked 2 big cakes in the past 18 hours? Who says I'm not working hard?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

10 Things In My World

5 things which are seriously irritating me:

1. Adult acne. Fer' cripes' sake, enough already!

2. The fact that I wrenched my back while my wiping my ass. I only wish I was kidding about that. Okay, you can stop laughing now. It fucking hurts, you know.

3. My de-lurk day failed miserably.

4. Finding packaging for my Three Sweeties gourmet line of products. All the sexy packaging is either too expensive or not air tight. *bangs head on wall* Ideas welcome.

5. The cook in the kitchen next to mine who keeps coming into my kitchen and saying, "So what did you make me for afternoon tea, hmmm?" Umm, that would be a big fat NOTHING, ya biotch. Now get out of my kitchen!


5 things which make my life worth living, other than my children, husband and chocolate:

1. The gourmet line of Three Sweeties products are seriously, seriously good. I've got nothing to put them in, but as products they are exceeding my expectations. Three words: Vanilla. Bean. Marshmallows.

2. This week DH and I are going on a mini-vacation for 5 days (which I can ill afford the time, but we planned it ages ago.) This is the longest we've been away from the trio. I'm thinking of indulging in three things: 1) sleep 2) uninterrupted sex and 3) breakfast which does not involve cereal. Repeat.

3. Tomorrow night I'm going to the parents' association meeting with the express purpose of kicking ass about a number of issues which are really irritating me. Frankly, I love a good fight. Especially one which I plan to win.

4. My DH has a cute butt. Which I'll get to admire on vacation, without a kid yelling, "Gross! Dad! I can see your BUTT! Ewwwww!"

5. DD1, who would normally have a very hard time performing, stood up in front of a theatre full of people, in full costume, with bright lights shining in her eyes and loud music playing.... and SANG. With hand motions. Something she previously could not do without needing to cover her ears and hide in a corner and sing to herself. She did it. On TWO nights. I have never been more proud of her. Sometimes it's the little things.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Great Mofo Delurk 2007

I'm blaming the fact that I missed this event last week on time zones. Nobody can ever figure out the time difference between here and anywhere else, so it stands to reason that I might miss out on an important blogging event. Besides which, I've been a bit busy at the moment. So you'll forgive me that this post is technically 6 days late. According to my site stats, you people are all over the world...and since I don't know anyone currently living in Malaysia, here's your chance to say hello. De-lurk. Come out of the "I can't possibly leave a comment on emzee's blog!" rut and press the comment button.

Introduce yourself! I don't bite.

___________
Ed's note: for what it's worth, I don't write this blog for comment purposes. In fact several times I've outright asked for commentary and haven't gotten it. I don't take it personally, especially since I rarely comment on other blogs myself. Still, it would be nice to know which if you is hiding in Dubai.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ownership

Because I by-passed the whole single living thing, there is very little in my life which is all mine. As a kid I never had to share a room, but I had siblings. Ergo I had people sharing stuff - clothes, books, toys, space, whatever. When I moved away to college, I still had very little stuff which was mine. I didn't own a dodgy futon, IKEA bookcases, lava lamp (okay, I had one of those), plastic storage crates or a bar fridge.

Tangent story: I also shared a dorm room with a complete psycho who had herself convinced I was a black kid from the 'hood before I even got there (by virtue of having come from Los Angeles, where of course everyone is the same, right?) . Some months later she was also (wrongly) convinced that I was eating the (disgusting) Little Debbie snacks her parents sent her. Umm, hello, Psycho Bitch. A) Your Little Debbie cakes are gross. I KNOW because I stole one *after* you accused me, and I ate it, and I thought it was CRAP. B) It's totally freaky that your Dad sent you bags and bags of Little Debbie cakes because your name was Deborah, and frankly you NEVER ate anything anyway as you had some serious anorexic tendencies and C) It's weird that you lived in a dorm 20 minutes away from your parent's house. Oh, and by the way, finding you in our room, in the middle of the day, wearing a bright sunshine yellow slinky matching short and top PJ set, smoking (who knew you smoked?) and saying, "My biggest goal in life is to be the other woman" would freak out ANYONE, even a liberal like me.

But I digress. So anyway I shared a lot in college, and straight from college I got married so there was more sharing happening there (although, *wink* *nudge* some of it was quite nice.) The one thing I currently own which is MINE, entirely all MINE, is my car. It's a little green box. It's kinda too small for me, legs and big bazoombas wise. It's totally impractical for kids. It still has a tape deck and the radio button is either quiet or loud but never off since it's broken. The trunk is filled with more junk than you can imagine, including about 100 (literally) blank pads of paper. Until recently it also had a croquet set. My car is all mine because I bought it with money that my grandmother left me. It remains the single most expensive thing I ever purchased, and I bought it with money all my own. I think of it as my little slice of freedom. I adore my car...as in, really love the damn thing {insert adoring swooney puppy dog love look.}

One of the more exciting parts about the business is that it's now the second thing which is mine. All mine. It was me who decided to follow this crazy route. Me who made the phone calls. Me who bought the equipment. Me whoe wrote loads of spreadsheets, and even more "To Do" lists. Me who harassed friends, tested recipes, doodled cake designs on napkins, read a lot of how-to books, ate too much butter cream and me who decided that yes, cupcakes are annoying but have a high profit margin. So I was (as per usual) gloating about all this to DH. About how the biz was all about me, me, me me, me.

The gloat lasted about 24 hours, and if I'm honest it wasn't as satisfying as I thought it was going to be. It was {maniacal laugh} MINE. ALL MMMIIIINNNNNEEEEE. But somehow it felt a little bit hollow. What I've realised since then is that while my name is on the lease, my name is on the business card, my name is on the website, and my name is all over the damn place....it actually belongs to a whole LOT of people.

  • DH: who babysat the kids while I went to culinary school, who ate endless rounds of cake (I know, not exactly a sacrifice), who continues to be patient while my too-tired self ignores his 'but what about me?" needs for kisses and cuddles
  • My IL's: who also babysat kids, ordered cakes, talked me up to their friends and anyone else who would listen
  • My SIL & BILS: Who offered advice, tasted and tried to be polite about yet more cakes, and who continue to be as supportive as their busy lives allow
  • My own family and siblings: Who, by virtue of their wanting to be here (so they can order, taste, and talk me up) are with me every single day even though they don't feel like they are
  • My kids: Who start asking what kind of birthday cake they're going to get...the day AFTER their birthday
  • My friends, both here and overseas, in real life and on-line: Words couldn't express. I mean, really. Extra special thanks to Alexis, Martene, Sez, Wends, Sacha, Joshua, Rubina...(real names used to expose the not-so-innocent. You guys rock.)
  • ...and all those people who, in the past 3 years or so, ordered stuff, ate stuff, talked to me, taught me, suffered my talking back, and in general helped me build this thing called Three Sweeties. (doncha love my gratuitous linking?)
Maybe I should have named it A HUNDRED Sweeties - because that's about how many it took to get this far.

In any case, I find myself thinking only one thing: I've never been more happy to share.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I Have A Name (Revisited)*

In this post, I talked about how I have a name. A name which is NOT "the triplet's Mom" or "the triplet lady" or anything like that. My name, for the purposes of that blog post, and my day-to-day life, is Michelle.

However (!) today, I'd like to re-christen myself. (So to speak. Jews don't do christenings.)

I hereby christen myself:

Your friend Michelle. You know, the one with the:

REALLY FUCKING AMAZING CAKE BUSINESS.

*(Alternative title for this post: If you build it, they will come.)

PS Full site coming soon....I'm busy writing content. In the meantime, enjoy the pretty pictures.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hobbies I Have Known

One of more interesting (to me) facets of my personality is that I can flip-flop between being very right brain oriented, to very left brain oriented, in a matter of seconds. Often I can use both sides to my benefit, with interesting results. It's a big part of why I love my job, and I think I'm pretty good at it. Right brain emzee loves the formulas of pastry - the one part this to four parts that plus 1/8th of a cup of something warmed to X temperature yields Y texture and WOWEEE! flavour. The left brain of me loves mucking around with piping tubes, and icing of differing consistencies, and colourings of all types to come up with fun, unique cake designs. As a friend eloquently said recently, "You love all that frou-frou cake crap." (I think that was a compliment.)

So for the past 31 years or so (give or take a few of my formative years, when I wasn't much use to anyone), I've always had this weird smart kid/hippie kid thing going on. The person who was happy to discuss heavy topics like genetic engineering and stem cell research while wearing my Birkenstocks and thinking about what one might do with a spare piece of felt and a glue stick. I will admit that since meeting DH, a lot of my hippie tendencies have gone by the wayside. My plans to join the Peace Corps kinda disappeared. I'm (well, DUH) no longer anti-marriage. I'm no longer a vegetarian. I gave up my nose pierce, plus the second and third earring holes in each ear. I don't write letters to foreign governments on behalf of Amnesty International, I no longer volunteer for things like AIDS Project LA, I'm not a member of Greenpeace, I haven't bought any patchouli or raspberry incense recently, and I don't own a wallet made of hemp and a handbag sewn in the hinterlands of Chile (although I still own my rainbow Peruvian knee socks). I don't know why, but this has been on my mind recently. More specifically, the fact that I've lost all my creative hobbies has been on my mind. I don't take photographs any more (even though I did a minor in Photography at college). I no longer muck around on a potter's wheel (even though I think I've done about half a dozen short courses in it). I don't draw or paint (although those were fleeting interests, along with sculpture, set design and scenery painting.) I also don't act any more (plays and musicals in high school, doing lots of backstage stuff in college). Hobbies these days are reading totally shit novels, and being on the parent's committee.

How. Fucking. Boring. And *sneer*, how very, well, thirties of me. Blech.

The rebel hippie in me is dying, and I've got to find a way to save her. Seriously. The only photos I take are of cakes (okay, FAB cakes, but still.) The only thing I throw on a potter's wheel is a wash cloth (just clean your face a bit there, dear). The drawing and painting are with Disney Princess colouring books (or for real fun, Transformers ones). The sculpture is with mashed potato (every dish looks better with some height). The acting and theatrics are saved for my kids (Oh yes, boogers are really cool!) or other parents (Isn't your little Jimmy just gorgeous?).

Seriously. I need to fix this. Filling up our recycling bin isn't doing it for me. My Birkenstocks are strictly standard-issue chef gear (read: not hippie chic at all), I don't own a pair of Crocs (or shoes from hemp, or anything at all made in Boulder, Colorado for that matter). My Peruvian rainbow knee socks are now on permanent loan to the dress-ups box. My hair is pretty short (and [horror!] mostly brushed these days). I have only one ear piercing in each ear. I am seriously, seriously normal and I have no creative hobbies any more, or any great causes to fight for. I've not held up a sign going either for or against something in, well, a loooong time.

UUUGGGHHH. Where has hippie me gone? (Answer: to a parent's association meeting.) I even find myself doing really naff, everyone-is-doing-is things like be on Facebook.

I've become...you know... suburban...and therefore....fucking boring.

I need to start making some placards which say: SAVE EMZEE FROM EXTINCTION*!

(*Note to self: Use recycled paper and spray paint which is, at the least, CFC free and in a recyclable can. Also for wooden pole, do not use recently felled timber, and for stapling it's best to use staples made from old keys which have been melted down expressly for that purpose.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

When The Cat Is Away (again)...

The mice play (again.)

Which is a nice way of saying that DH is out of town again, for about 4 days. Now normally I'd use this as an opportunity to stage a mini-revolt. Regular readers of this blog know that I use my DH's work travel as an opportunity to either turn into Slacker Mom, or just plain Crazy Mom. So, you know, I might throw out his t-shirts from 1964. Tidy up his side of the room, because he really won't miss that issue of "Submarine Monthly" from 3 years ago that he swears he is going to read. Or I might change jobs, cut my hair off, renovate my wardrobe, paint something, acquire a pet (or two), acquire a piercing (or two), let the kids play hookey from school and watch TV all day, have pizza for dinner several nights in a row, not bother to do any housework, buy a new car, acquire a tattoo (or two) ... really, there's a whole list of things I tend to do (or want to do) while my DH is away. Now it should be said that he really wouldn't mind my doing those things while he was in town. He might raise an eyebrow, but in general he's so sickeningly supportive and lovey-dovey and just plain nice about everything, that he takes my craziness in his stride. Bless him. This whole quiet normalcy thing is probably why I tend to break out the wierd stuff while he's away. Because, you know, it just might get a reaction out of him.

It never does. Partially because the show-off in me feels it necessary to blog about my exploits, and DUH, he reads my posts when he's gone. So the surprise factor isn't really there. Partially it's because he's my best friend, so I call him within ten seconds of committing some (minor and petty) craziness and say, "GUESS what I've just done? Can't guess? Okay, I've [insert minor and petty craziness]!" Partially it's because I attach more value to these things than he does - what I consider a big deal, he considers an "Eh, so?"

For the last couple of days I've been trying to think of craziness I can commit while he's away. This coming Wednesday is his birthday, so there were some good opportunities there, as in, "I got this tattoo just for you, sweetie!" I wonder, though....isn't it a bit control freak overachiever of me to be PLANNING my madness? I can totally picture this as a "to do" list:

  1. Go crazy
  2. Do something which you think is crazy
  3. Blog about it
  4. Call DH and tell him about it
  5. Realise you're being silly, it's not that crazy at all. Start again.
  6. Go crazy.
  7. Repeat steps 2 -7 ad naseum until you come to the conclusion that you're so normal, and so straight, and frankly so bloody mother-of-three-in-the-'burbs that you're never really going to do anything all that bad in the first place, so might as well give up now.
So after several days of trying to come up with a craziness-to-do list, I'm still left with nothing. Seriously. Maybe this is because I have tons of normal stuff to get done. You know, like open a business (T minus one week), do mountains of laundry (currently, literally, to my knees), take care of three energetic, what-are-we-doing-today-Mum kids who are on Spring Break, buy an oven worth $6,000+, go to work, finish two giant school assignments, and oh yeah did I mention open a business?! Minor stuff, you know.

So maybe this is a week for calm rather than for added madness. Now there's a crazy thought.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bedtime



This one is gorgeous, and so very true! I know there have been a lot of kid-related posts lately, and officially speaking I'm not a "mommy blogger" so some of you might be bored. I promise to get back to food, and work, and school, and the other Three Sweeties news soon. In the meantime, enjoy this bit of fun ... and if you've got a recipe for French macarons which actually WORKS, please send it on.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Sweet Memory

Yesterday my friend Dr J called to wish me and my family a Happy New Year, as today is Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year). I like this holiday, especially since it's one of the few happy holidays in the Jewish calendar. Plus the traditional food of Rosh Hashana is stuff I like - apples, honey, sweet challah - basically all things round and sweet. So Dr J called, and after he wished us a Happy New Year he also said, "...and a couple of days early, Happy Implantation Day!" He had remembered what I had forgotten - that 7 years ago, in the middle of services at Temple, I had to run off to a doctor's appointment. An appointment were they were implanting the three embryos which are now better known as The Trio.

At the time I thought it was very appropriate time of year. These potential lives were being given to me in the period of time in the Jewish Calendar where it is decided who shall live and who shall die, who shall be forgiven for their transgressions, and who maybe needs to work a bit harder next year. We talk about being "transcribed in the Book of Life" for the coming year, and that's exactly what I asked for as I walked out of that Temple that day. I nervously, quickly, quietly walked out of there, ...and right before I walked out I turned around, faced the bimah, and said very quick, silent prayer. "Please," I said, "Please, please, please inscribe at least one of these babies in the Book of Life."

I'm not a terribly religious person. I would describe myself as more of a cultural Jew than a religious one, so it was a strange thing for me to do. Still, I figured I needed all the help I could get - if medical science couldn't solve this whole infertility thing, maybe a helping hand from the Man Upstairs would. Hey, at that point, I'dve stood on top of a mountain and howled while turning slowly counter-clockwise, all while wearing pink stripey shorts, if I thought it would help. Frankly, IVF sucks.

Anyway I walked out of that Temple, drove to the doctor's office, and two weeks later had the life-changing experience of the nurse on the phone telling me that my HCG levels (the hormone which indicates pregnancy) were totally through the roof. A mere 2 weeks after that, I got the thrill of seeing three tiny flickering heartbeats on a monitor.

So we could say that it worked - that my silent prayer got answered. They *were* inscribed in the Book Of Life. Or maybe it was just coincidence. Either way, I couldn't be more grateful on this Rosh Hashana eve.

May your days be filled with sweet reasons to celebrate. Mine are filled with at least 3.