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, May 20, 2009

This I Know For Certain

I owe my kids and my readers the official triplets birthday post... which, while their birthday was last Sunday, will surely get published by next Sunday. My parents have arrived Down Under and enjoying their company has proved more compelling than blogging, but I figure you all might like some sort of update on my ever so fascinating life.

DS went and had the jillion dollar testing....and loved it so much he keeps begging me to go back and see the lady again. He wants to go every week (!) because it was fun and interesting and he loved it and "OH MUM IT WAS GREAT!!" At $500 a pop, he's going to need to find a cheaper play date partner. When I picked him up from the testing,I found him doing the high school level testing... for fun. Oy. Interestingly I was telling my Dad about this whole palaver and he tells me that his childhood was filled with much the same behaviour. Apparently a teacher noticed this and took steps to keep my Dad occupied, and to this day he is grateful because he says that without intervention, he too would have ended up in Juvey. Lovely. "Sorry, Mrs Boring Teacher! He's not throwing fruit out of boredom, it's genetics!"

I was actually happy with the finished product birthday cakes (and yes, I'll post pics for your viewing pleasure soon enough.)

I'm enjoying the moonlighting gig... my first pay check came through and there was celebrating all around (probably including at the bank's mortgage centre, too). The only part I'm not enjoying is the psycho Head Chef (and aren't they all psycho?) who decides when she is going to show up and when not, and in between has crises of self esteem which I need to manage. Oy! And they wonder why the hospitality industry has such a high turn over rate!

DH is also enjoying his new job ... but he has yet to convince them to let him take the dog to work. It's only a matter of time, me thinks.

...and the new stainless steel benches? I think I'm in love!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Third Option

In my earlier posts about the future of my business, I've always implied that there are only two options - expand or quit. Expanding, sadly, is not an option I can entertain at the moment. Quitting is not something I would consider because it would result in an emotional train wreck. Besides, I'm nowhere near achieving my goal of a cake empire yet ... for now I have only a small village, and I've got heaps of conquering to do!

Recent time to think (and complain, as per usual) has meant that I've realised there is actually a third option to my business dilemma - and this option is to ADAPT. Given that I cannot currently afford to move from the premises I am in, the next best thing is to make the space more usable to me. I need to be able to produce more product in the same amount of space, and yet I cannot tear down the walls (much as I wish I could) to create that space. The business is almost literally bursting at the seams.

So enter the lateral thinking. When I moved into the kitchen there was a massive 4 burner cook top and oven combination placed right in the middle of one wall. A cook top which I almost never use (except for boiling cream or melting chocolate, both of which can be done via other means.) To date I've mostly used it as a spare bench top for putting finished cakes. So after weeks and weeks of wheedling my landlord, he got rid of the stove. (Note sparkly clean floor is thanks to DH!)

....and I moved in a brand spanking new work bench, plus a decent (eg: safe) bench for my beloved mixer. Then, I utilised my married-an-engineer-with-spatial-skills magic and got him to figure out how to best use that space. The answer was to move everything over a bit, turn the freezer around, and VOILA! Instant space. For the cost of about $800, I managed to increase my work space by 50%. Next up on the agenda is a reorganisation of the dry store area, which I'm hoping will mean I'll be more able to actually find the stuff I already have instead of spending too long looking for it (or, being too lazy, actually just buying more.)

My fabulous FIL and DH's cousin putting together the stainless steel fabulousness.

Finished product - look! More bench space and even a shelf or two!

I'm sure you're looking at these photos and wondering what the big woop is....and the big woop is that the business can actually afford these new shiny benches, will work better because of it, and the biz will live another day in cake land. So Option Three ...to adapt, is A HELL of a lot better than quitting, and is a good stepping stone to getting to Option One of WORLD DOMINATION BY CAKE.

You may now all stop drooling over my most fabulous oven.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Worky Worky Mummy Mummy

So it's been 10 days since I entered the wonderful world of people who moonlight. Does anyone still use that word - moonlight? Seems so arcane given that in this shit economy everyone is working multiple jobs or angles in order to get the bills paid. So it's been ten days of working for me and working for them, and I thought I'd update the 3 of you reading this blog.

This whole 'working two gigs' thing has it's positives and negatives. The positives are of course the money, the opportunity to cook good food again, the challenge of constantly coming up with new dishes, the excitement and rush which cooking professionally gives me and of course the bonus of getting to show off a bit (why, yes, I DO know how to make 20 different products in just under 7 hours. Who's a clever girl then?)

The negatives are getting up when it's still dark, always feeling like I smell like roasted pumpkin even when I don't, realising how hard I work for how little actual money, and trying to find enough hours in the week for all the things which demand my attention.

Still, I think I'm ahead of the game in so far as I'm managing to keep my head above water, and this is a good thing. Of course, finding out this afternoon that I had an order for 100 cupcakes (plus all the aforementioned cakes and blah-di-blah) kinda threw a minor spanner in the works, but I'm nothing if not resourceful. For example, this Thursday my parents arrive for a visit.

My Mom, who is quite capable of ruining a box cake mix...and my Dad, who as we all know thinks that baking is just a ridiculous thing for people to do at all.

Well, I'm hoping they're fast learners on the ol' piping bag.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mum By Any Other Name

I was in the car with DD1 today, and she was telling me that while I was at work (I know! All mothers who are chefs should not work on Mother's Day feeding other people's mothers! So unfair!) she was making me some mother's day cards. DD1 is a particularly prolific writer and artist, so it's not unusual to get about a half dozen cards from her for any occasion, from Mother's Day to birthdays to Hooray It's Monday! to Sorry You're Broke. She is a child who is filled to the brim with enthusiasm and love, and her cards are always filled with heartfelt sayings and pictures of either her or me as a princess with long hair (of course, because there is no such thing as a short-haired princess) and loads and loads of love hearts (her most favourite thing.)

I got home and one of the cards she gave me is the one you can see above. Words can't really express how much I adore this card (really a piece of paper) from her...and all because she used our favourite nickname. When she was in prep (kindergarten for you Yankees) they had to memorise a Yiddish poem all about Mothers. They worked on it for weeks, but all she could ever remember was that one line of it had a part which referred to "mein mama-she." Ever since then, she's called me Mama-She and I've called her Lola-She (Lola being yet another of the five jillion nicknames I have for her.)

I'm not entirely sure why I just adore the nickname she's given me- maybe because it's exclusive to DD1, or because it reminds me of a time when she was younger and more innocent, or maybe because every time she says it, she smiles at the end. Either way, I just find it terribly endearing and every time she says it, I want to give her an extra big squeeze and tell her just how totally gorgeous she really is. So today, when I got my "Happy Mama-She Day!" card, I did exactly that.

To which she said, "Oooh! You're squeezing me too hard, Mama-She!" ... which of course only made me hug her that much tighter, smiling all the while.

...and here she is, hugging her Tiger-She!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Zombie Chicken Award

Lisa over at Lisa Wants The Floor recently awarded me the Zombie Chicken Award!

Officially I got this little beauty for this reason:

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all..."

....and unofficially, I got it because I'm sarcastic and she is too. Sarcastic? Me? *looks around innocently*

I'm paying a zombie chicken forward to the following five bloggers:

1. Robin at Around the Island... because I like seeing her lovely photos, hearing about her home, and in general it's just nice reading.

2. Natalie at Just Gotta Hang On... because she's brave enough to video blog, and I just like her and so you should, too.

3. Joy the Baker... food, photos and a sense of humour. My kind of chick.

4. Amanda at Is This Thing On? for lovely food and words blogging but especially posting the cat on the sled cookie.

5. And lastly, I'm awarding this blogger, for finally succumbing to "...that whole blogging thing." I think she should blog more often, so I'm sending all of you over there to exert some influence. (Poppet's Mum, don't tell her! She'll kill me if she knew I "outed" her. Pretend you don't know.)

Birthday Cakes

For anyone reading this and wondering why I bother with 3 birthday cakes... my philosophy on this is that my kids share everything else in their lives. Having their own birthday cake is a pretty simple indulgence.

Most people assume that my kids have the most fabulous birthday cakes of all time. One of my earliest semi-pro cakes was actually my kids' 2nd birthday cake - if I can dig up a photo I'll post it here, but suffice it to say that it was bloody fabulous (and it brought me to tears. All that damn piping!) In the intervening years, the kids have wanted pretty simple stuff - edible image cakes, that sort of thing. There were a few memorable moments - DS's full edible 3D elephant (complete with party hat!), DD2's "wedding cake" birthday cakes, the igloo with the penguin figurines and so on. On the whole, though, they've been much simpler than I would like.

Most years I find myself short on time and long on impatience so I end up creating things I'm not really all that happy with. My kids don't mind, though - because they get to pick the flavour and the colour/theme, and as long as I deliver on those fronts they are pretty happy. Personally, though, I'm always vaguely disappointed when we get to the big party and I'm looking at these cakes and thinking, "Eh. Could've done better." Every year I swear to myself that the next year I really WILL do better.

This year I have a secret weapon - namely, no party to worry about! Or, more correctly, a party which MIL is taking care of and my only official job is cake. In specific 4 cakes, as it's the kids cakes plus one for the grandparents (whose birthdays at at the same time of year, hence the shared party this year.) I asked the kids what they wanted, and all of them gave me very definite choices about flavour: chocolate/chocolate chip, coffee and chocolate, and caramel respectively. When it came to design, they all had minor requests - DS wanted a photo cake with him, his lovey and his dog... DD1 wanted something pink, DD2 wanted something with her beloved hoppy* on it, and the IL's didn't care as long as it involved fruit cake.


All simple, right?

So can someone tell me how I've now ended up with 2 x 3 tiered cakes, and 2 x 2 tiered cakes? Yeah, I'm not so sure, either... but I think it might have something to do with that whole over achiever thing I've got going on. Either that, or I'm making up for lost time.

*Hoppy: DD2's much loved, now almost transparent bit of rag that she's dragged around since birth. Called "hoppy" because it's covered in little white rabbits.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Smarty Pants

Since the beginning of the year, my most fabulous and precious of sons (okay, my only son and therefore most fabulous and precious) has been something of a pain in the ass at school. Remember we talked about the whole fruit throwing incident? Since then the teachers have instituted what they call a "communication book" but really it's subtitle is, "A list of bad shit your kid has done lately." This was supposed to be a book which I got every day, which listed all the things which had happened that day - good OR bad. Instead it appeared about once a week, with really helpful commentary like, "J was whistling in class today and would not stop when asked."

Really? I don't give a shit, other than I'm kinda proud he has learned to whistle.

The official straw was last week when his PE teacher wrote, "J's behaviour was OBNOXIOUS today! He did not line up on time and... blah di freakin' blah." Obnoxious? Really? Here's the thing. I know my kid can be a major pain... but I don't really think it's in his best interest to be using language like that. Plus, newsflash, he can READ so now he knows that his PE teacher thinks he is obnoxious. Fabulous. WAY TO GO for solving the problem, and WAY TO GO for telling a 7 year old what you really think of him, only in a suitably passive aggressive way.

Needless to say I took a deep breath, calmed down, and then ripped the school a new one via e-mail.

Heh. I don't do subtle.

I have to say, his teacher really took my, ahem, freak out really well. She got right on it and called a meeting with the head of curriculum and the head of the wellness centre and so on and so forth. They really took some notice of my email (which, in my defense, was nice and not at all accusatory for once). End result is, nobody is really sure why DS has been such a pain, and nobody really knows if he is even being challenged at school. DS is precocious to say the least - by no means a genius but certainly ahead of his peers. He's been in the accelerated learning program since he was in kindergarten/prep (I know, honours kindergarten, right? I feel ridiculous even typing that.) While he enjoys it, I'm not entirely convinced it's doing much for him from an academic point of view.

DS himself claims that a lot of his acting out is just because, plain and simple, he's bored and being naughty gives him something to do. I'm not entirely sure of that excuse, though ... because being smart isn't really a good enough reason to act like a shmuck, is it?

So long story short, the school have asked that DH and I have our kiddo academically tested (read: IQ test for kids) and behaviourally assessed (read: psycho head shrinking for kids). The theory is that once we know the kind of person he is (type of learner, areas of strength etc) then we can all work together to find a way to keep this kid from turning into some sort of Dogbert type. In theory I actually think this is the right way to go - because, hell, for all that money I'm paying private school, I think they should be teaching him at his level of ability - whatever that level might be. I also think it's difficult to solve a problem when nobody is really sure what the problem IS, so everyone is hoping that this testing will give us some insight into what makes his brain tick.

Problem? This shebang costs $500.

Seriously. $500! For them to tell me my kid is smart.

I'm thinking I'm taking it out of his first paycheck (which at this rate he'll get when he turns 9). (Because he IS smart, making all these adults run around when really all he's doing is being a pain in the arse....and getting away with it.)

Know Your Victim

This morning I opened my hotmail account to find something like 50 messages in my inbox. Considering I checked it last about, oh, 10 hours ago, that's a heck of a lot of emails to get in such a short period of time! Turns out some asshole hacker/spam maven got into my account and sent a message to my entire address book.

In addition to a whole bunch of "unable to deliver" postmaster messages were about a dozen messages from well meaning family and friends asking me if I knew my account was sending out spam. I've had that account for about 12 years, and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened. Funnily enough, Mr Moron Hacker Man sent ME a copy of my OWN spam. Gotta love it. So I opened it to see what it was all about, and at this point nearly fell on the floor from laughter.

What's so funny about spam, you ask?

Seems "I" sent out a spam to my friends telling them to go shopping for electronics at some random web based electronics store. Those who know me in real life know the following to be true:

1) Shopping goes against all I believe in, I'm sure it's against my religion, I avoid it at all costs, shopping sucks and DOWN with shopping I say. Web based or not, shopping and I are not the best of friends.

2) Electronics are not exactly my forte, which is probably why every device in my house is flashing 00:00 all the time, and every time the power goes out I'm shouting, "DH! Come fix all these freakin' clocks!" I can barely change the batteries in a remote control, people, let alone go shopping for electronic devices.

3) The email was titled "hello,friend," and I am nothing if not a grammar and punctuation Nazi, so if it WAS me I'd be mortally humiliated by that complete lack of capitalisation and incorrect use of commas.

4) The body of the email was all spaced incorrectly, in random bouts of italic and bold, and altogether messy as hell. Ahem. Yes. Jewel claims that all my emails (personal and otherwise) sound as though they came from some fancy shmancy business somewhere, and look like it too. Plus I am one seriously lazy bitch. So this one is clearly not sent by me because I can't be bothered with italics and bold and when it comes to email, I don't do messy.

Let this be a lesson to you all. If you are going to engage in hacker-esque activities, I suggest you learn more about your intended victim before you go sending out emails all willy-nilly. Either that or learn to spell the word "electronics."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creepy Baby Talk

When I was pregnant with the trio, everyone and his cousin used to ask me if I knew what "kind" of babies I was having. Tongue firmly in cheek I used to say, "Well, I'm hoping for human!"

Recently I met two women who are pregnant - and in each case, they know the sex of their baby and the full name (first and middle) of their unborn children. In the case of one woman, I stood there listening as she said, "OOh! There goes Bob kicking again! Bob doesn't like it when I bend that way!" (Bob = nice name which I'm using in place of the freaky name she really picked.) I found this whole name and talk to the unborn baby thing really weird. In my case we choose to find out the sexes of our babies, mostly because after the shock of triplets not much else can be too exciting. Plus I wanted to plan (as much as one can plan for a hurricane of babies) a little bit, and be somewhat ready for them when they came.

These women, though, are having single babies. And maybe they're total stress-heads and just kinda needed to know about the sex of their baby. But, naming it, and then using that name all the time, before the kid is born? Talking to and about this child as though its right there with you in the room and can hear and see you? Soon after we found out the kids' sexes we decided on their names. Actually, in the ultrasound room we decided on two of them and the third would come later. But we certainly didn't talk to them by their names, didn't tell anyone else their names, or even really used their names until they were literally kicking and screaming.

Talking to little Bob before he's born?

Weird. Totally, utterly, unquestionably creepy and weird. What say you, Internet?