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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mother's Day is coming! Best get shopping!

Today the artists formerly known as trees and now known as hordes of junk mail catalogues were literally clogging up our mailbox. I like a bit of pornographic photos of supermarket meat on sale as much as the next person, but what I find most amusing are the endless catalogues full of Mother's Day gifts and wild exclamations. "Gifts she'll love!" "Something special for your special Mum!" "Make her day extra special!" "Wow her with your ability to purchase useless crap!" and so on and so forth.

Every single catalogue is pink, or shades of pink and the fonts are all swirly and curly and vaguely meant to appeal to females....which is odd because I think it's not meant to be the females who buy this stuff, right? The catalogues all feature variations on a theme, with the theme being "masses of shit your Mum will never use." These items include but are not limited to: personal massagers (okay, so maybe I might find *some* use for that one - *wink*), foot spas, electric frying pans, crepe makers, really ugly 7kt jewellery, slippers from 1950 (with blue embroidery, natch!) and popcorn machines adorned with smiley faces.

My personal favourite was an electric egg cooker. Literally a device which can hold "up to seven eggs in one sitting!" and can either poach or hard boil eggs. Not everyone is a cook... but surely this device is really just an expensive version of.. A POT. And as an aside, who knew that eggs sit?

So in thinking about the upcoming holiday (and I use that term loosely), I started to think about what I might like to get for Mother's Day. Of course in my fantasy gift world there is no limit on cost or issues like time, space, or actual ability to get these things. It's just..stuff... I could get if I ruled the world (and if my kids got off their lazy asses and went out to work to earn some real money. Sheesh! What's a girl gotta do?)

Top Ten Things I Want For Mother's Day

10. To pee, all by myself, with the door nailed shut and the walls soundproofed. This way I can pee in leisurely quiet without worrying about anyone coming in, and I won't be able to hear their pounding on the door or screaming for attention.

9. The wind to change at the exact moment my kid pulls a face, and for the wind to actually KEEP their face in that position.

8. Calorie-less ice cream which tastes like the real thing. Regular readers of e&th3 would know that I tend to wish for this rather often.

7. Instant consequence thinker-upperer. One of my parenting philosophies is to never make empty threats. So don't go telling your kid you're going to take them back to the store where you bought them unless you really DID buy them at Wal-Mart. The problem with my "no empty threats" rule is that I never have good consequences on hand when I need them. I end up saying, "The next time you wipe your dirty hands on the chair I'm going to....and I... umm.. well..." and I am left looking like an idiot. (Siderbar: Can someone please tell me WHAT is the appropriate consequence for that?!) Hence, I want the magic ability to instantly always come up with a really good consequence when I need one.

6. Instant consequence reality. Let's say #7 comes up, and the instant consequence is, "If you don't stop wiping your dirty hands on the chair I'm going to... make you go out into the forest and build me a new dining suite using only a toothpick and a etch-a-sketch" then I totally want that to happen, RIGHT THEN AND THERE. Can you just imagine the power this would hold? I also want to stand there and cackle as they do it.

5. The Sci-Fi channel banned forever. I am a Sci-Fi Channel widow, and I've bloody well had enough of it. Sure, Buffy and that blond chick from Stargate are kinda cute, but I could use a bit of action around here, you know?

4. I want my kids to never think that hugging their Mum in public is embarassing, because I plan on doing WAY more embarassing things than that.

3. I want my friends to stop taking those ridiculous quizzes on facebook. I do not give a shit what kind of soda you are, what your hippie name is, what your five favourite pizza toppings are, what kind of Barbie doll you are, what bands you have seen in concert, what kind of chocolate you are, what your white trash name would be, what colour you are, and how many kids you may or may not have. People, stop the stupid quiz madness!

2. First Class round-the-world tickets for a foodie tour of the world. I want to eat fresh baguettes in Paris, gelati in Milan, chocolate in Belgium, falafel in Israel, bangers & mash in the UK, cous cous in Morocco, hot dogs in NYC, sushi in Japan, pfefferneuse in Germany, coffee in South America, tea in Sri Lanka, curry in India, croquettes in Holland, pierogi in Russia, and so on and so forth. I also do not want to gain a single ounce while I am doing this.

...and the number one thing I want for Mother's Day is...

1. An electric egg cooker.



Just kidding.

The number one thing I want for Mother's Day is...

1. Peace of mind. On several fronts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Step Back In Time

Recently I got invited to my JUNIOR high school reunion. It's fair to say that, for me, junior high was marginally more bearable than high school. Still, I'm not sure how much I want to go back into the world of really hideous gym shorts and big hair. In any case the really fun part about it is seeing what happened to my old teachers, the ones who were truly inspirational at the time. Connecting with old friends, seeing how we all changed - and discovering that I went to high school with DJ AM. Who by the way was an annoying little git back then. So anyway, it's nice to walk down the halls of junior high memory lane and look back fondly at those years...

Who am I kidding? The fun part is trawling through the others who have signed up and seeing just how many skinny, popular bitches are now in their mid-thirties and SINGLE. Ha! Guess which fat, unnaturally tall and not-so-popular person is loving the karma?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just Add Competence

The good news is - no, the GREAT news is - that I've been offered and have accepted a fabulous job. Close to home, human hours (not usual nocturnal pastry hours), cooking quality products, and being paid a reasonable amount. Plus the days and shift times will allow me to still pick my kids up at school and have a life. Hooray!

The more bloggable news is that I went for the interview with Big Cake Shop today. I figured at the least I'd get to sticky beak around in how other people do it - and they have a showroom so I would get to see some of their work up close. Who would of thought that, within minutes of entering the place, the last thing I wanted to do was get close to these things?

You know how you admire something, or someone, or someplace...and in your mind you've built them up to be this amazing, fabulous, unattainable thing? But then you meet Billy Joel and actually he's a jerk (this didn't happen) or you drink the coffee and it tastes like crap (happens all the time) or you visit Rome and find it to be dirty and crowded (true) and then you come crashing right back down to earth? This happened to me today.

I found myself really nervous just approaching the place. For literally YEARS I have imagined what it might be like to work somewhere like that, to be a part of that creative process, to be associated with a business who charges, at minimum, $500 a cake. For me, this place was the holiest of holies when it came to cakes. It took about 6.7 seconds for my impressions, and my built up ideas of the place, to come crashing down. I'm not sure if it was the inches of dust all over the display cakes, or the fact that the owner I was supposed to meet did not bother to show up, nor tell anyone else I was coming. Maybe it was a bit of both.

After much confusion about who I was and what I was doing there, the owner was called. Turns out she was having a day off, and while she did not forget about my appointment, she just wasn't really feeling well enough to bother coming in. Nor, clearly, was she well enough to tell anyone else I was coming in for the interview. *sigh* Luckily another employee felt sorry for me, and kindly gave me a tour of the place and we had a chat about the kinds of things they do.

There is nothing more horrible than walking into a bakery and realising that there is NOT one egg, no butter, no oil, no flour, no... anything... to be found except for giant bags of box mix. Perhaps this situation is made more horrible by the fact that the employee you're talking to tells you she HATES pre-mix and doesn't know why they sell it except that the POSH but UNEDUCATED clients they get clearly seem to like it.

Oy, oy and triple OY.

At the end of this non-interview, when I tried to get some actual details of the job, it became clear that this place is a little bit adrift. They can't tell me anything about the days or hours they want, nothing about what tasks the person might be doing (other than decorating cakes of course)... really, they just seemed to have no idea what they wanted. In the end she told me they might call on me when they move premises (nice bit of industry gossip there!)... which she thinks might be in September, but she's not really sure, since... and so on and so forth.

Truly, I had walked into the cake twilight zone without realising it.

It did, however, give me one very valuable piece of information: that if these people can make a living out of custom cakes, IMAGINE what heights I will reach purely through means of being competent. The mind boggles.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let the blog fodder begin!

This whole job hunting this is turning out to be quite entertaining... and as I mentioned earlier one of the hidden bonuses of needing a job is being able to blog about it all. So far I've been very amused by how much people will avoid saying no. "I'll get back to you..." "Don't panic if you haven't heard from me in a week or so..." "We have had an unusually large number of applications..." "Our positions usually attract a high level of applicant..." blah-di-freakin-blah. I've only been at this job hunting thing for a week (yes, I'm a prolific application writer, hence why I have so much in the way of bullshit replies) but it's already a source for blog fodder.

Sidenote: I'm finding myself quite excited about a new job. Meeting new people, getting some actual money in the bank, doing a bit of cooking. I'm no longer sad about it, I'm excited about the challenge of it all. Of utmost importance was to keep the biz running, and that's happening... so really, I don't have much reason to complain (but I'm sure I'll think of something eventually.)

So amusing job application blog story of the week is as follows:

I saw an ad for a position with a, shall we say, very well known cake company. A company who might be in competition with mine, except they have been around a LOT longer and have a great reputation and their prices are easily 4-5 times mine. Anyway, on the one hand I thought it was a bit sneaky to be applying to the competition, and on the other, I figured it would be a great way to learn some new skills and see how other guys do it. Plus if I made it to the interview stage, I'd be upfront about my own interests. It's a small town, you know, and a small industry, and I have no interest in being unethical.


So I sent an email asking about the job, in specific about the hours/days required and I purposely did not attach a resume. A couple days later I received an email thanking me and telling me my resume had been passed on to the person doing the hiring... but no answer to my questions. I wrote back and said, "not sure how you passed on my resume since I didn't send it." and then asked (nicely) for them to answer my queries. At this stage I really was thinking I would be saving them the hassle of going through another application. No point applying for a job I can't actually commit to, right?

The person replied and apologised, saying they had a large number of applications and had mistakenly sent me a standard reply (without really reading my email.) They then replied to one of my questions, which was enough for me to realise they needed more than I could offer. So I DID NOT reply again. I DID NOT send them my resume. I just let it go.

Tonight I get another email from them, saying they are disappointed that I can't be available the hours they need, and asking if they could keep my resume on file. The email went on to say that they were very impressed with my resume, and the owner and person hiring would really like to meet me and show me around the place.

Oy Vey. Seriously? How can you be impressed with a resume you have never seen? Have they Googled me and found me out, or are they just lazy administrators? I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry...

Monday, April 13, 2009

There's Bad News, and Then There's Good News

So in the bad news category, I recently read this post by the owner of Amai Tea House in New York. For those of you who can't be bothered to read it, the gist of it is that Amai has reached a stage where they must either "grow or stop." Is this sounding familiar? The story of their little tea house is one I've been following for years now - they make a lovely, innovative product - and theirs was all about making their dream come true. So here's someone with a) a sellable product, b) a following both online and in real life, c) a hip location and cool store and d) all the things you think you might need in order to be a success. In fact the venture *is* successful, but they've reached critical mass where they need growth to move forward (and make some actual money) or they need to move on.

Yes. Exactly the same situation I am in. The only thing I really get from reading that blog post, though, is how critical it is to get some good financial advice BEFORE making a leap into bigger premises. Now maybe my NY friends did that, I don't know. For me, though, it has only reaffirmed that while I WANT to make a decision based on gut instinct, I just CAN'T. While I am still sad and frustrated and annoyed that my world domination by cake may be delayed by another year ot two, I am feeling more confident about my choice to spend some time and money on financial leadership. (To whit, second meeting with Mr Numbers is on Tuesday morning. More news coming.)

The other Not-So-Great news is how much is sucks to be looking for a job. At least, though, there ARE jobs out there (and I had a great interview on Thursday) and I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I know, you're confused. One minute I'm all 'cake will rule the world' and then I'm all 'so I'm interviewing for jobs.' The gist of it is, I'm not giving up the cake business without a fight ... but my mortgage needs to get paid. So I'm looking for a part-time cooking gig to get us through the next several months, until DH's work gets moving a bit faster (cross fingers, everyone, please). Plus truth be told I miss cooking ... so 3 or 4 shifts a week might make me a busy and tired girl, but it will also mean I will sleep better at night. PLUS I figure it'll be good blog fodder.

And in the Good News category, I saw the below video today and it made me smile a mile wide. Similar to the work done by Improv Everywhere, but made better by the inclusion of Maria.

Wishing you and yours a completely fabulous Passover and Easter...and for the record, Neighbour's Wife wants to know if there is such thing as Kosher le Pesach Easter Eggs. Hmmm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Resolution Check In

So I know it's now April and we are all busy eating crappy quality Easter eggs and too much cream cheese on matza...but if you can cast your minds back to January, a whole bunch of us made some totally achievable New Year's Resolutions. I thought it was high time we check in and see how many of us have stuck to our guns. Since I'm the brave one, I thought I'd step up to the mic and be the first to report on my resolutions, both successes and failures:

  1. Never agree to making another pig cake. Or really any barnyard animal.: EPIC FAIL. Last week I had a request for a birthday cake from a lady who was "desperate" (and aren't they all?) because she was going to make her daughter's cake... "even though I'm not a cake baking type person, so I don't know WHAT I was thinking." She then of course chickened out (ha! farm reference!) and called me. As soon as she said the party was being held at a farm, I knew what was coming. I am ashamed to admit that I DID in fact make her a pig, but it was a) different to that other sorry excuse for a pig and b) I threw enough pink glitter on it so as to make it entirely emzee-like and not at all Drama Queen like. I still thought it looked naff, though.
  2. Order my own birthday cake. - My birthday is in December. Stay tuned.
  3. Bake some cupcakes. - I think it's fair to say I have achieved this, since from January to now I estimate I have baked and decorated somewhere in excess of 3,000 cupcakes.
  4. Decorate some cakes. - I think it's fair to say I've achieved this one, too...and I even posted photographic evidence to prove it.
  5. Continue to celebrate ice cream o'clock without a skerrick of guilt, but possibly try something other than cookies and cream once in a while - well, tonight I found myself eating (gasp!) vanilla, and some weeks ago I ventured into choc mint (ugh, yuck, and gross!). Current frontrunner for ice cream o'clock favourite is Sara Lee Moconna Cappuccino Indulgence. Oh my goodness gracious, that stuff is orgasmically good.
...and as for the rest of you....

Sheri - How is your gym avoidance going? You're not getting any excercise I hope!
Kristin - Have you bought impractical shoes? More than one pair?
Dani - Have you left plenty of crumbs for the ant population to feast on?
mrd - Is the cleaning lady still coming?
Carol Anne - Have you been through the drive thru to escape cooking dinner?
Mary Ellen - Does the local Chinese take out know you by name yet?
Kim - Have you been using your Blockbuster card so much it's melted?
Robyn - I know from facebooking you've been keeping ALL your resolutions. :)

Go on, I'm dying to know! (and in exchange, I'll scare up a pic of the second horribly awful pig cake. You know, pigs should just NOT be made into cake. You would think I'd learned my lesson by now.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How I Love Thee Oobleck

My lack of blogging is directly correlated to my extreme...irritation? sadness? frustration? hysteria? [insert suitable adjective] mood over my finances, the future of my baby business, and all other things. None of these things are helped by the upcoming 8 day carb-free torture which is the Jewish Festival of Dusty Farts, also known as Passover. Give that I'm in a pretty shitty mood these days, I've spared all of you the endless whining and complaining and have left my blog to wither.


In the spirit of making the most of it, I'm here to share with you that you can be broke, have 3 kids, over an hour of free time, sixteen complaints of "I'm bored" and "she hit me" and be ready to kill either yourself or them...

and then you can discover this fabulous thing called Oobleck. Credit where due, I learned about this stuff via Jen's facebooking about it, so we can all thank her now. THANK YOU JEN. Okay, so the kitchen looked like a multicoloured bomb went off, all of us still have blue hands, and several of our bowls will never be the same - but seriously? More fun than you can possibly imagine. SO fun, in fact, that it made me forget about our debt, my business, my fat arse, our self-imposed super budget staycation and a whole bunch of other things which are upsetting me right about now. Here are some details on how to make it...and here are some photos of us having a ridiculously good time. Such a good time, in fact, that the kids are still talking about it, and DD suggested I give DH the recipe "for the next time we're bored!"

DD1 making a suitably "ooh, how gross!" face (entirely made up..she loved every second of it.)

Notice how clean we all look? I took this picture ten seconds after we started.

And because I am all for shameless promotion...

How cute is this cake? It's a technique I've not used in ages - piped chocolate 'plaques' - but I like how it came out. Simple and pretty and fun to eat, and... I dropped it about 10 minutes before the customer came to pick it up (and about 10 seconds after this picture was snapped.)

Yes. Best go back to thinking about Oobleck.