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, 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



...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


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.