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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Shoemaker's Children

Have you ever heard the expression that, "The shoemaker's children go barefoot!" Never was this saying more true than in my house last week. Last week, for anyone living under a rock, was my 33rd birthday. I know, I know, I only look 21. Anyway - given the state of my wallet, er, the economy, I didn't really want any big gifts this year. I ended up asking DH for something useful which would cost him about $10, and a birthday cake. In previous years DH and the kids have baked me a cake (with a bit of unsolicited advice from me.)

This year, after baking hundreds of cakes for everyone else, I asked DH to get me an ice cream cake (because I llluuurrvveee ice cream). I specified the flavours (with back up options) and said I didn't care what store it came from as long as it wasn't Dairy Bell (grossest ice cream ever) and wasn't vanilla (I hate vanilla.)

The morning of my birthday, I say to DH, "Oooh, I'm so excited! Ice cream birthday cake which is not vanilla and not crappy Dairy Bell!" at which point DH looks a little sheepish and says, "Yeah. Well...ummm...about that..."

Those of you who are into foreshadowing will know what comes next, but I beg you to stay with me so I've not written this blog post in vain.

Turns out he outsourced the buying of the ice cream cake to his brother. This alone pisses me off, because I gave DH several WEEKS to get organised. Anyhow, I've already told him off about that so no need to do it again here, tempting as it is. (You all should feel free, though, to admonish him in the comments of this post.)

So DH gave his brother the requirements (only TWO requirements, remember) ...and then when DH called to check that his brother had bought it, his brother says, "Yeah, I ordered it from Dairy Bell!" DH choked when he heard that, but then he found out it was vanilla, DH knew that he should dig out his combat gear. He also hoped like hell that I'd have a sense of humour about this...because let's just say that normally these kinds of things cause me to go, well, TOTALLY APESHIT. Seriously, people. I rarely ask for stuff...and he farked this up as royally as one can.

I should also say at this point that my DH has the dubious honour of giving the most crappy gifts. His heart is always in the right place, but he falls over totally when faced with the stress of having to find something which I might like. Over the years I've gotten all sorts of weird stuff - giant illustrated religious texts (what the...?), all manner of ugly jewellery and so on. I've learned to just tell him straight out what it is I want. Sadly, as evidenced by this story, I don't think that method is working! (Although he did get the present right.)

Back to the story. DH (claims he) was totally befuddled by this, especially since his brother asked about alternative flavours, and told DH he would get it from ColdRock (Australian equivalent of Cold Stone Creamery.) Neither he nor I are entirely sure what went wrong there...and DH is much too nice a guy to let me call my BIL and ask. It should be said that my BIL is a very nice chap, and does all sorts of nice things for us and the trio...and while, for blogging purposes, I really want to know what went wrong, DH didn't want to embarass or upset his brother.

(Fair enough. BIL, if you're reading this, we all love and adore you...but seriously...you think I could let this incident go by and not blog about it?)

By then they couldn't do really anything about it (late Xmas Eve) so they were stuck with it..and DH, well, I like to think he lost at least a little bit of sleep over it. In the end I just laughed and laughed and laughed...because not only was it vanilla, from the crappy ice cream store, but it was the most Mo-Fo-Bugly cake you have ever seen. It was iced with this mint green and cream combo, and on top there was a little swirl of cream coloured icing and two...wait for it... pale blue silk rosebuds and plastic leaves stuck in it. Yes, the kind I've not seen since 1975. The year I was born.

Bwahahahahahahahaha! Worst cake EVER. Falls short of being a cake wreck (because it was at least presentable) but man, it was bad. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. The cake was not dissimilar to the picture above, which was stolen from the DB website. I was truly heartbroken that my camera was out of comission, because it really needed to be seen to be appreciated in all it's 1970's glory. For those who are curious, I did actually eat it (because I really did feel bad for DH) but I did take the time to slather it in Ice Magic to mask the totally disgusting taste.

Lesson learned - next time, I'm ordering my own cake!


Apparently the new buzzword for those of us too broke to actually go somewhere tropical this festive season is STAYCATION. As in, a vacation where you stay exactly where you are instead of enjoying drinks with umbrellas stuck in them. As in, a way to make us all somehow feel better that we are such shit money managers, we can't afford to actually GO anywhere but to the corner shop for yet another Slurpee.

Here's the part they don't tell you about staycations: they're just as expensive, if not more expensive, than real vacations. Then there is the fact that frankly, there is nothing at all relaxing about sleeping in your own bed and cooking your own food. First there is the inevitable question of, "What the hell are we going to do with ourselves?" In order to figure this out, you need to first find things you like doing. So, as a family, when on vacation we like to:

Go to the movies.
Eat nice meals out.

Let's consider the relative costs of these, shall we?

Movies = 5 tix x (average) $12 = $60. This excludes the petrol to get there, the inevitable popcorn, and the desperation you feel when the kids' movie ends after 90 minutes and yet again you are left with nothing to do.

Meals = 5 meals x (average) $18 = $90. This excludes the petrol to get there, the arguments over the type of food to have, the whining from the kids that they are bored (on the way there) and bored (on the way back), and yet again you are left (after LESS than 90 minutes) wondering what the hell to do with yourselves. Plus there is the joy of DD1 telling the waitress that her lasagna is the "WORST EVER!" (and she wasn't all that far from the truth.)

Swim = $10.70 family swim pass. Relatively cheap, so this one is okay although that price excludes the icy poles, the fortieth pair of goggles your kid breaks, the 5 sets of swimming suits, the time finding the lost swim toys, the endless bottle of sunscreen AND the sixteen bags of fruit and crackers required to keep hungry swimmers happy.

Read = Free, thanks to a library card. This is the cheapest of all, but it excludes the cost of petrol to get there, the fighting over the one TinTin book left on the shelf, the demands for sushi (10 handrolls x $2.50 = $25) AND the cost of the band aids after your kid falls and hurts themselves when they fall off the crappy library play ground.

Ergo, the staycation = the expensive option. If I were at, say, Club Med...well, this would all be paid for in advance, so I wouldn't notice the cost if the kids wanted to eat out (again), go swimming (again), see a movie (again), or read a book (again.)

This staycation, I was determined to get out and about with the kids and do some stuff which I've not had time to do when I am up to my eyeballs in cupcakes. So I can report that we've done a massive house clean up and throw out of random crap, we've done a day trip up to Echuca, we've rented some hilarious videos, we've had a few pajama days, we've visited with friends, been to the beach, and even gotten a few minor house repairs done:

(DH, finally giving in to my incessant nagging about the screen door being broken...and with his beautiful assistant, the self-titled "Handy Girl" AKA DD2.) (and note, this photo was taken with my digital camera, now fixed thanks to the Canon gods. Sadly they cannot fix my shit photo taking skills.)

Things at Casa Verde have been pretty good, actually...as long as you forget about my grandfather passing away,The Neighbours moving away (to a house about 10 minutes away, but it feels like miles and miles), Jewel and her DH moving across the freakin' globe and various other things which have conspired to make my staycation pretty bloody miserable. That being said, I've spent the last week surrounded by a loving husband and kids who use every opportunity to break into song. So it can't be all bad, right?

Sure, I'm broke, I'm bored, I'm tired and frankly, I'm bloody over it..but strangely, I don't really mind. I still wake up every morning with a smile (thanks to DH's, err...waking me up skills...oooh, I think I just over-shared) and my kids are all happy, healthy, and they know all the words to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack. Life is pretty good...even if we are enjoying the National Lampoon's version of a staycation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In For A Penny

Recently I started reading the blog Badass Geek ... mostly because I love that the title in a total oxymoron. Most of the posts are great, but I was particularly struck by this one, entitled In Which I Change My Ways. The author comes up with some ingenious ways to save money in these uncertain economic times, and his commenters come up with some even better ones. Go on over there and have a look and a laugh.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Love, True Love

So a woman calls me today, wanting to order a cake for her boyfriend for Christmas. She wants the full deal - custom figurines, a 3D Chritsmas tree cake, presents under the tree and so on. Several minutes into the conversation she then decides she wants cupcakes..which is totally fine by me. Her boyfriend, however, is allergic to nuts, eggs and dairy. I explain that our 3D cupcake decorations are in fact made with egg whites, so I'm going to go with something different to what she has seen on the website.

After much ummming and aaahhhing and hmmming, she decides that I SHOULD use the full-of-egg decorations, and that she'll just pick them off before he eats them. "Yes," says I, "But how severe is his allergy? Because for some people, having an egg product touching something they eat can cause a severe reaction. I don't want something to happen to your boyfriend."

"Ummm," says girlfriend, "One of his allergies is, like, really bad, but, like, I don't really know WHICH one it is. He's got a lot, you know, and I can never really remember. It's cool, I'll just pick them off before he eats them."

"Yes," says I, "But what if egg IS the really bad one? I don't want to put him in danger."

"No," says girlfriend, "It's fine. Whatever. His allergies are SO annoying! He'll live."

Bwahahahahahaha...here honey, have some cupcakes, and anaphylactic shock while you're at it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It Wasn't (Entirely) My Idea, I Swear

The Neighobours are moving away...and I'm so sad about it that I'm trying to pretend it's not happening. It's not like they are moving to, you know, Perth or anything...but they are moving far enough away that we won't be able to call them "The Neighbours" anymore. *sigh* Might have to keep using that name anyway, since I don't know that I can be bothered calling them "The People Who Live Too Far Away To Be Neighbours."

Saturday night The Neighbour's Wife decided to throw herself a "last night in this house" girls night in for some friends. As usual the twin delights of red wine and French cheese were promised, so you know I was going to be there! A couple of days before the event, TNW told me she wanted it to be a Christmas themed Girls Night...and she wanted an activity to do, to kinda jazz it all up.

Every single idea I came up with, she shot down.

Trim a tree? No - no tree in a Jewish household.

Sing carols in the neighbourhood? No, for 2 reasons. 1) These same girls couldn't handle the Sing Star at the weekend away and 2) as Jews, we all only know the first line of every carol.

Make eggnog? No. Too...just... no.

String fresh cranberries? No. No idea where to buy cranberries, and then she had the gall to get annoyed when I didn't know where to buy them either. Apparently any chef worth their salt knows where to buy fresh cranberries.

Make popcorn strings? Also no. Too messy.

I was up against some serious negative Christmas spirit, which is particularly funny because SHE is the one who invited ME to join the facebook group of "Jews who love Christmas." She also had a friend bringing Bing Crosby Christmas hits, and I was bringing along some Reindeer Food. Yet, she totally put the kibosh on all my good ideas. Harumph, Mrs Neighbour Scrooge.

NN and I had planned our Three Sweeties Xmas Dinner for the same night, and it was over a delicious dinner that I told her how my Christmas cheer had been dampened. NN, who is an all around brilliant person, had the idea that we get a bunch of Xmas decorations and trim an OUTSIDE tree at The Neighbour's house. Brilliant! Where, I wondered, does one find tinsel and other shiny crap, at 9pm, in a mostly Jewish neighbourhood?

Easy, says NN. The supermarket.

Is she kidding me? The SUPERMARKET? What dorks buy Christmas decorations at the supermarket, at 9pm on a Saturday night, in a Jewish neighbourhood? Ahem. Yes. That would be me and NN.

WHO KNEW that supermarkets carry this stuff? Even more vexing, who knew that this supermarket would have actual TREES for sale there, too? Of course, these were Jewish trees! On sale! Marked down by $7 to a whopping $13.99 for a SIX FOOT TREE - how could I possibly let a bargain like that go by? Seriously. Much to my extreme amusement, the supermarket had loads of stuff - tinkly balls, really horribly ugly tinsel...and bereft of an angel, we got a light up Santa hat for a tree topper. In lieu of stringy tinsel (the American sort) we bought a bag of party poppers, for popping onto the tree in the hopes that the strings would stick to the branches.

NN and I managed to use $24 and 10 minutes to purchase everything anyone might need to make an entire Christmas tree, decorations and all. (It was only later we realised we should've bought some lights, too...)

So NN and I rock up to the party, coming not only with BYO reindeer food and drinks, but also a tree and the full decorations. We all then spent a hilarious hour or so putting up a tree and decorating it to the nines...and then breaking open Christmas crackers and listening to Bing give us a bit o' White Christmas. Ahhh, contentment...until of course The Neighbour came home, looked at this tree and said, "OH. MY. God. This can ONLY be the work of emzee. Wait till Wife's Mother gets a load of this!"

The Neighbour's Wife then proceeded to laugh her pretty little ass off about the fact that she was going to tell her RELIGIOUS Jewish mother that the tree was totally acceptable, because THE WIFE OF THE TEMPLE PRESIDENT(e.g. me!) gave it to her.

Fabulous. My entire reputation wrecked because of a little tinsel and shiny balls. Oy! Next time, I'm going carolling!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Creepy I Can Hardly Blog About It

First, the backstory: Feet kinda creep me out.

Second, the preface to this story: A couple of weeks ago I noticed my cleaning lady wearing some familiar-looking flip flops. They were, in fact, the exact same design that DD2 has. At the time I didn't think much of it, because I bought these for about five bucks at KMart. I mostly thought it was interesting that they would have the same pair (because these suckers are UGLY). That was it.

The story: Today I get home, and I notice that my cleaning lady is wearing MY SON'S CROCS. I know they are my son's shoes because of the Jibbitz on them. I stand there for a second, and incredulously look at her feet...and then I ran out of the room like a bat outta hell because I was so totally creeped out by this. A stranger is wearing my son's shoes, and she's barefoot in them. Is there anything in the world more creepy and gross than this?

Oooh. *all over body shudder*

Thing is, this is totally different to the kids loaning their shoes to each other, or even to a friend (like at the pool or something.) This is a total stranger, borrowing our personal things, without asking. It should be said that the cleaning lady is very nice, and clean herself. It's not HER per se, it's the whole other people wearing my son's shoes thing. So I hid in the office for a while, but eventually the need to hurl drove me out to confront her. I wander into the kitchen, pretend to do a double take, and say, "Are those my son's shoes you're wearing?"

It took a supreme amount of willpower not to snatch those babies off her feet and throw them in a vat of acid, let me tell you.

Cleaning lady just laughed and told me her shoes were too tight, and HIS looked comfortable, so she put them on. The conversation then just got more and more wierd ...because I mentioned many, many times that he wouldn't appreciate her wearing his shoes...and yet she made no move to take them off. She claimed to have "loads" of flat, comfortable shoes at home, but admitted she can't be bothered to bring them with her to work. She also said she likes "fancy" shoes, and fancy shoes are not comfortable for working in.

Oh. My. God. PEOPLE! This is so horribly, horribly, gross and wierd and YUCK on so many levels, you have no idea.

*more shuddering and arm flapping*

Literally, we talked for maybe 5-6 minutes, me saying, "I REALLY don't think he would like you wearing his shoes..." I'm too much of a wimp to demand she take them off, and I couldn't directly tell her that I didn't think it was appropriate. I kinda thought by the fourth 'I REALLY don't think.." she would get the hint. She didn't. I went on and on about where she can buy the same shoes, how you can get them for not too much money, etc. She just kept smiling and laughing and not seeing it as a problem.

In the end I had to go pick up the kids from school, and when I finally said, "He's really not going to be happy with this," she said, "I'm nearly done here anyway. I'll take them off before he gets home."

OY VEY. Seriously? You think that hiding your creepy shoe borrowing habits makes it OKAY? I did what any self-respecting foot-hater would do and I ran. Again. Like hell. I then proceeded to call both DH and the Neighbour's Wife and screech down the mobile to them about how utterly freaked out I was.

DH's comment was that this really is about boundaries, and her crossing boundaries, and about how it kinda speaks to her reliability in a way. If she thinks it's perfectly okay to borrow stuff (esp something personal like shoes) and not ask...what ELSE is she going to think is okay to borrow?

Neighbour's Wife very unhelpfully commented that shoes...are a mere tiny step away from...underwear.


My heart stopped beating then, too.

There have been a few other bits and pieces about her work which I don't love, but overall she's pretty okay so I was going to stick with her. This was,of course, before THE SHOES INCIDENT. My plan for now is basically to call the agency and tell them that next week is her last week with us. I'm only giving her one more week so I can get my key back... because the last cleaning lady mailed me my key, only to have it 'disappear' in the mail, and thus costing me $250 in new locks for the whole house.

...and of course, while escaping the hell which is the sight of someone else's feet in my kid's shoes...I realised WHY the cleaning lady's flip flops looked so familiar. People, she's been wearing my kids shoes for WEEKS. Months, possibly.

I'd keep writing this post, but I think I'm going to hurl.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kill 'em With Kindness

I feel I need to admit one of my Christmas/Channukah sins. In the spirit of all that is good and holy and yule-like, I need to come clean.

I love torturing sales people.

Now I don't mean I like to drag them into a small cupboard and make them re-hang six thousand pairs of Size 2 skirts that are too small for the hangers. I just mean that I like to annoy the living SHIT out of them by pointing out (in the most friendly, dripping-with-honey way) that their service SUCKS the big one.

So let me give you an example. The other day when DD1 and I went shopping, there was a sales chick who looked like she wanted to be anywhere other than the kids' shoe department on a rainy Saturday before Xmas. Can you blame her? Probably not, as I can't think of anywhere worse to be, either. Still, she gets paid to do it, and after all nobody forced her to sell kids' shoes. Hell, she could've, you know, worked in a brothel or something instead.

Anyway. So I approach her and I say, "Hi. I'm looking for some party shoes for my daughter, etc etc..." Now I knew she was in for the torture treatment when SHE asked ME what my kids' size was. Yes, of course I know that, because, hell, I measure them every night, don'cha know? She deigns to measure DD1's foot (only ONE) and then tells me there is nothing in the store which will work for DD1. "Okay," says I, going in for the kill, "Can you suggest another store which might have something for her?" "NO, " says ready-to-die saleslady, "I don't. You're not going to have ANY luck ANYWHERE for non-summer dress shoes for girls in that size."

She was just Little Miss Sunshine, let me tell you. This one was totally ripe for the torturing. I say to her, "Well, then let's have another look together, shall we? Maybe there is something which will work. Let's go look together." Ahh, yes, and the torture begins ...because now she knows she is NEVER going to get rid of me, and certainly not as easily as she'd hoped.

The basic torture method is this. 1) Make your voice all sweet and smarmy and oh-isn't-this-fun. 2) Make it really fucking clear you're not going anywhere until you get what you want and 3) pretend to symapthise, while giving them a clear message that their service sucks. So in the above paragraph you can see #1 and #2 in action. Let us proceed to #3.

She reluctantly goes to see if she can find the right size in stock (and believe me, she's cursing me all the way into and out of the stock room.) DD1 sits down, sales lady sits down, I sit down. I turn up the charm and head in for the kill: "You must be SO busy today, what with Christmas at all. It's must be kind of getting to you?"

"Ummm..." OH SHIT, thinks saleslady. I was rude to this lady and my boss is RIGHT OVER THERE.

"Actually, it hasn't been too bad."

"Oh, really? I'm suprised to hear you say that, because when we first came in you looked quite frazzled and stressed out. In fact, you looked pretty OVER IT. *big dramatic sigh to add to sympathy factor* Christmas is just so hard, isn't it?"

ZING! Got her right between the eyes, I did. The key to this is to really sound sincere - to look and act as though you give two shits about this lady, when in reality you're giving her a swift kick up the bum.

"Oh? Did I? No, I...*stammer* *stammer*...were you needing some party tights to go with those shoes? Because they're not on the shelves at the moment but I'm sure we've got some out the back which will look great with the shoes and...."

The girl nearly tripped over herself with trying to be nice. Seriously. She spent the rest of our time in the store being attentive, friendly, overly helpful, and kissing my big white ass. I just don't understand why people get jobs in a service industry when they have no desire to actually give service. Of course even the best sales people have bad days, and have days when they are tired and stressed and they've had enough of screaming children and pushy parents. I get that. Know what, though? When I come into your store, I don't care what your day has been like. I care that you're going to help me get what I need, and then get the heck out of there. I care that you'll do it in a polite fashion. I don't think it's too much to ask, is it?

Now you've got the method. Go on, try it out on some unsuspecting terrible sales person and see what result you get. I guarantee a total 180 turn around in terms of the service they greeted you with versus the service you get after employing the technique...and if all else fails, you can just shove them into a cupboard with the skirts and hangers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You've Got To Be Joking

One of the more annoying habits of the kids these days is their telling jokes. Not just one or two, mind, but lots and lots and lots, all in succession. Some of them they don't really understand the punchlines, but they just go ahead anyway. Several of them they have wrong, so the punchline ends up not making sense AT ALL...and yet they persist. Of particular annoyance to DH and I is that they tell the same jokes over, and over, and over, and over again...ad naseum until we beg them to give up. PLEASE. For the love of god, PLEASE stop telling those damn knock knock jokes.

Every once in a while, though, they come up with a fantastic gem. Not unlike my favourite genre of "man with no arms and legs" jokes, this joke is one which makes me giggle and snort like an idiot, every single time. Now I realise you're going to read this joke, and instantly lose all respect for me. That said, I think you should wait a few days, and then come back and comment on how many times this stupid joke makes you laugh when you think about it. Go one, I dare you.

Without further ado, here is my current favourite kid joke:

Q: What's brown and sticky?

A: A stick!

(Bwahahahahahaha...even as I type this I am laughing. Oy. I need to get out more.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Which I Go Shopping and Survive

In case it hasn't already been made obvious, I'm not the kind of girl who likes the shop. In fact, I LOATHE shopping with a similar amount of hatred that I save for people who "forget" to eat. Unfortunately for me, we're headed Up North to attend my nephew's Bar Mitzvah, and this event requires some serious shopping. Actually what this event requires is months and months and months of my Mom annoying the shit outta me (Hi Mom, love you, Mom!) about the clothing for this event. What will I wear? What will the children wear? I will surely DIE unless you tell me you have clothes organised, because OH MY GOD WHAT WILL YOU WEAR? Why are you not shopping yet? YOU NEED CLOTHES, MICHELLE. I AM SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. (Okay Mom. Love you, Mom. Now go away, Mom, because I will not be naked and neither will my kids. Love you, Mom.)

I've been avoiding this shopping business like the plague. Add my avoidance combined with the frenzy which is pre-Xmas shopping, and I'm pretty much curled up under my desk, rocking back and forth and refusing to open my eyes. Today I happened to have some free time (a rarity in my life) and a free child (another rarity) so I thought I would take her to buy some fancy clothes and more importantly, some fancy shoes. She is cursed with the same feet as her mother - e.g. they would do as water skis if you were in a lake and lost your first pair.

In my head, I had a cute little pair of patent leather Mary Janes. In my car, I had a kid with SIZE 4/5 WOMEN'S feet...and a very defined sense of style. Hmmm. Yes. As 007 would say, "Good times, good times." I should also mention that today in Melbourne (and yesterday, and tomorrow) it is raining cats and dogs. It's also cold, windy and altogether horrid ... which means everyone and his asshole cousin is in the mall. After 30 minutes (seriously) of looking for parking I'm hoping not to find (because then I can go HOME and forget this shopping crap) I find a spot. Damn.

It took about 4.5 seconds from the time we hit the front door to the time we paid for DD to find a really cute, dare I say practical, fits her well and a little bit sparkly pair of black shoes. Perfect, right? Get this - leather and all, and forty bucks. DD and I were rockin' the whole party shoe buying business - she liked them, I liked them, they fit, we're buying them. Okay, not quite the Mary Janes I wanted, but pretty close and she loved them, so like hell was I going to leave those babies behind.

Then we decided to go looking for a dress for her, because we need loads of them and I wanted to have a back up or two on hand. Let's face it, 7 year old girls are not only fashionistas, they are fickle as all hell - so what they like on Monday they will hate on Wednesday and then adore on Friday, only to hate it on Sunday. Thus began the dress-finding expedition. Truth be told, there were actually quite a few lovely things to be had, and DD1 is blessed with a gorgeous figure, so most things fit her and are flattering to boot. She had a pretty good selection to choose from. The only real trouble was that everything is summer oriented, and we're heading into the North American winter...but even that can be overcome with a cute cardy, so we're good, right?

Surprisingly, it took only a few dresses to find her something which was truly perfect. It fit her like a glove, it was pink (and thus immediately the "most beautiful dress in the world!") and what's better, it was age appropriate and even within my price range. Better still, it has a lovely floaty swirly skirt which fans out all princess-like and yet does not expose her smalls to the world. YAY ME and YAY her, because we both managed to get through this with a minimum of tantrums (me) and complaining (me) and begging to go home (me) and demands for food (me).

Problem? The shoes don't match the dress, and even fashion-ass-backwards me knows you cannot possibly wear black shoes with a princess pink dress.

Damn. And there I was thinking I had this whole shopping thing...in the bag. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Product Endorsement

You know when you see those ads from overseas with famous actors and athletes promoting stuff? Every time I see one of those, I wonder if the person really likes what they are pushing...or if they just see it as another way to earn money. Does George Clooney really drink Nescafe? Hmmm. When someday I am rich and famous, I think I'll only endorse those products which I actually use. Okay, products which I've actually tried. Okay, okay, products which look like they just might taste okay. Wellll... if I'm broke maybe I'll endorse stuff with cool packaging. Who am I kidding? I have to be rich and famous first!

Today I'm neither rich nor famous, but I'm quite happy to be plugging the recent launch of the local version of allrecipes.com I use the allrecipes website pretty much weekly - as an inspiration for dinner, as a way of checking if the recipe in my head will actually work, and sometimes just for the sheer entertainment of seeing how many things people make with chicken and pineapple. When they asked me to come over and write a guest blog for them, I didn't hesitate. Not only do I actually USE the product, but the packaging is sexy, too.

Go on, endorse ME and go read my guest post.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy is as Happy Does

After a crazy busy weekend, I've got at least five things which I am feeling hugely self-satisfied, proud and excited about...I spent most of today just grinning (although I also managed to get some work done!) Since I'm not one to be shy and retiring, you all get to celebrate right along with me:

1) The official site of the Send-A-Sweetie service is now live and operational! After endless requests from customers (and bucket loads of self doubt), I decided it was time to head online with my cupcake deliveries. Go on, you know you want to send some! (If for nothing else than the ridiculously cute name I gave the concept.)

2) This cute little cupcake tower. The client wanted a smaller version of something similar I did a few weeks back. DH and I had to drive about an hour to get to the venue, through some beautiful parts of Melbourne. Well worth it when the chef ran after us (as we were leaving) to tell us she thought it was beautiful. Sometimes it's the simple orders which make me the happiest. In an interesting change, I had NOT ONE single pink cake this week!

3) My gorgeous DD, who has worked so hard to overcome her demons and become not only the recipient of a big school award recently, but also recipient of an award at her gymnastics end of year display. She got an award for "improvement" ...which for her is a HUGE deal and it left her with an enormous sense of pride (as it did for the rest of us...as evidenced by the above photo.) In the photo she's wearing her brand new club t-shirt (sized for sleeping in of course) and her medal, plus she's holding the present her coach gave her and her certificate of achievement. YAY MY DD!

4) My DH, who completed a six month training/fitness thing - it's the first time I've seen him excited about physical activity (other than sex) in a loooonnnngggg time. It was painful, uncomfortable, difficult and often unpleasant - but on Sunday he 'graduated' and I couldn't be prouder (or more amused at his endless complaining about being sore.)

...and finally...

5) I'm proud of me. This is a pretty big thing for me to admit, actually. I'm looking at the year ahead and I'm seeing only positive things - growth for the business, growth for my kids, and just lots of...good stuff! In January I am returning to Los Angeles to see my family - we're taking the kids and heading off for 3 weeks of adventures. This time I'm hoping there will be fewer tears on the flights, no throwing up, and in general travelling with some reasonable children rather than unreasonable toddlers (which is what we had all the previous times.) I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, reconnecting with new ones, and in general having a relaxed time.

That's it. Not the world's most exciting blog post, but it counts as stuff I'm happy about..and as Karen blogged about recently, sometimes the best thing about being happy is just remembering to spread the love a little bit.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Curious Story of the Business Card in the Nighttime

A client came to see me today about making some sweets for her daughter's 21st birthday. Chatter, chatter and she was on her way out the door. As she was leaving, she says to me, "You know Michelle, it's fate that I ordered from you. Fate!"

Fate? Dude, is this lady serious?

"So I had already decided that I was going to order from you, because of the website and our phone conversation. I looked at a bunch of websites, and yet even without tasting I knew you were the one who was going to make our cupcakes for us."

All together now: "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" You just got a warm fuzzy, right?

I nodded politely and thanked her for the lovely comments. She then said, "But that's not the fate part!"


"The fate part is that yesterday I was walking my dog in the park...and while he was running around I noticed something on the ground. I picked it up...and it was your business card! Tatty and muddy, but I recognised the colours and the logo so I knew it was you, as I had just seen your details on the 'Net. So I picked up the card, brushed off the mud, and there it was. A SIGN. Finding your card in the mud at the park was true fate. I was meant to be here, ordering from you."

She then showed me the card - dirty, tattered, and missing about a third of one side. Unmistakably, a Three Sweeties card. Apparently this card has been living as a hobo in the park near this woman's home, which for the record is a good 20 minute drive from my kitchen.

How crazy wierd is that? What are the chances? I asked my IL's (who live in her neighbourhood) if they had started some sort of viral marketing campaign by throwing my business cards into local parks. Apparently not...so this really is a case of strange coincidence. She was convinced it was 'a sign' that she should order from me. Me? I think it's 'a sign' they need to clean up her local park more often. Either way I'm glad for the business...so thank you, business card distribution fairies! Thank you!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Crisis Of Tiny Proportions

My most favourite cake toys these days are not toys at all, but rather cake bling. I've gotten right into all the edible glitters, shimmer dusts, petal dusts and all things shiny and pretty and ooohhhh- would-you-LOOK-at-the-sparkle! Central to this love of all things shiny and cake is cachous (pronounced 'cashews'.) I adore these freakin' things, and usually have several pots of several colours and sizes. They are an easy, relatively inexpensive way to "zhuj" up a cake or cupcakes.

For weddings I tend to use a heck of a lot of silver ones, so I keep a pretty hearty stock. Several weeks ago I noticed I was running low so I ordered a bunch. I got back a "not in stock" slip from the supplier. I waited a week, ordered again, and again got a "not in stock" list. Hmmm. I ordered them from a second supplier, and then a third. ALL of them had no silver cachous for me. After copious complaining, one of my suppliers said that apparently the importer (of whom there is only ONE in Australia...) "forgot" to put silver cachous on his last shipment. As a result, there is an AUSTRALIA WIDE cachou shortage while we all wait for this moron to get his next shipment. There are no cachous to be had. NONE.

I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. I made half a dozen phone calls to suppliers as I watched my cachou stash grow ever smaller. I spent a lot of time yelling (nicely) at NN to, "Stop being so wasteful with the cake bling!" as she threw them onto cupcakes with gay abandon.

Desperation has start to set in, as I've got 2 weddings and about 10 other clients this weekend alone. I NEED my shiny balls, people. NEED. NN suggested I go to my local supermarket, since they often have small (hideously overpriced) cachous in the baking aisle. I tried two supermarkets and only managed to get ONE little lonely tube. FOR SEVEN DOLLARS. To put this into perspective, I usually pay about $3 for a big pot of them (like the one in the middle of the photo above.)

Lucky for me NN lives and works in a neighbourhood where these things are under appreciated, and her supermarket had plenty. AT SEVEN DOLLARS, but plenty.

I nearly had a heart attack today, over the country-wide shortage of silver balls. Who the hell knew that something so small could bring a grown woman to tears? You know your obsession is bad when you're begging your "supplier" to give you the number of his "dealer" so you can go and break his kneecaps for forgetting to put the order in.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I need to get this off my chest

Dear Bra Manufacturers,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michelle, and I have big bazoombas. Yes, I know, you love people like me, because it's people like me who keep you all in business. Let's face it, the flat chested women of the world don't really NEED bras, do they? They can wander around all day in their tiny little t-shirts and tank tops, without a single scrap of material between them and their oh-so-cute spaghetti strapped top. They don't need a bra at all, but they wear one for decorative purposes and to make themselves feel more like proper grown up ladies. These women are the ones who can buy a bra ON SALE. You know the sales where there are thousands upon thousands of cute, fun, colourful bras in a giant display for $9.99 each? Yes, those bras. The ones you put zero support or effort into making. The ones that people can do silly things like colour-coordinate their undies to.

The bras that I wish I could buy.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that bigger bras can never be $9.99, simply because of the amount of man hours which go into engineering them. I'm glad I am supporting the lycra industry. Heck, I don't even mind supporting the lace industry, the hook-and-eye industry, and even the team of Support and Lift Engineers you employ. What I DO mind, however, is that you people seem capable of only achieving one thing at a time. In my own industry, it just wouldn't do to make a beautiful cake which tasted terrible, nor a delicious cake which looked like a cake wreck. I have to go to work, every day, and MULTI-TASK. Yes. I need to have at least two client needs met: taste and appearance. I don't see why highly qualified professionals like yourselves can't do the same.

Let us look at your industry for a moment. For years, us big bazoomba'd ladies had to deal with the world's ugliest (but best engineered) bras. They only ever came in white, that horrid tan colour, or black. They had industrial looking straps, ugly flowers, and even poor old Aunt Beatrice didn't like them...which is funny, as they were designed for 80 year old ladies with hair on their chin (which she is.) Then you all got hip and wise and realised that big boobied women are people too...and so you started to make all sorts of cute, sexy, big bras. Shiny ones, lacey ones, diamante ones, ones with smaller straps and cute colours. You know, for a short while there, I was even PROUD of you all.


Well. It was short-lived pride.

Seems as though you left one one major design flaw behind in all those adorable bras. Comfort. Now I am guessing that a man is designing these over the shoulder boulder holders, so I'm going to try and describe for you what an unfortable but adorable bra feels like. First, I want you to take two small medicine balls and duct tape them to your chest, but only with one piece of duct tape. Then I want you to attach that woolen gardening twine (you know, the hard, painful, scrape-your-hands sort) to the medicine balls at the front. Sling the twine over your shoulders and attach the ends to your back with another piece of duct tape. Now take the duct tape off your chest and let the string hold the medicine balls in place. Great! Now run around - go to work, pick up your kids, go to the gym...tell me how your shoulders feel and look. Red? Raw? Burning? Excellent. Welcome to my world.

Now let's up the ante, because all those cute bras are usually underwire. Take a wire coat hanger. Bend it into a U shape and cut off the ends so there are two hard, sharp metal ends poking out on either side. Now do a second one. Place both of them under your medicine balls. Go about your daily business. How does that feel, especially when you sit down? Isn't getting stabbed in the chest and armpits a great way to stay awake at meetings? I think so!

Here's the thing, Mr Bra Manufacturer man. I want a bra which is BOTH comfortable and cute. I know, I know. Us big bazoomba ladies are SO demanding! Here's the thing, though...it's your job to make bras. It's your job to make bras which fit. Bras which are comfortable. Bras which do not require danger money to wear them.

I know what you're going to say. You're going to say that if I had my bra fitted properly, NONE of these things would happen. Here's the newsflash, buddy boy - I havd subjected myself to stinky old ladies in shops called things like "La Figure" and "Battleaxe Bras" on more than one ocassion. I've even allowed said old dusty lady to touch my ta-tas in ways I don't let my own husband has. I've pushed, pulled, prodded, stuffed, adjusted and wiggled my way into hundreds of bras. End result - either I look cute and feel like a trussed turkey, or I feel good and look like Aunt Beatrice. No, I don't think those are pretty visuals, either! At least we are on agreement on one thing.

Please, please, dear Bra Manufacturer Man, take pity on my big bazoomba'd soul. All I want for Channukah this year is a bra which is comfortable AND cute. I've been a very good girl, I promise!


Michelle in Melbourne