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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shared Knowledge

Biz Guy recently told me he thinks I am a (insert fancy business lingo here which I can't recall) - it basically means I am the sort of person who has a lot of networks, and who not only uses that network to gather information but is also a network SHARER of information. Meaning I tell people (loudly) what I like and don't like, do and don't do, and all that - and in turn they tell me, too, and I grow my network. It was all very flattering, but all I really get out of this is that I am lazy (rather ask than figure it out myself) - and overly talkative (excuse me while I over-share)- in the extreme.

Of course it sounds like I am being negative about this - when in fact it's exactly the opposite. Now more than ever I am understanding the great value to be had in being an extreme sharer AND an extreme listener, and the value to be found in the people you know.

The kids have been learning all about different cultures, and they had a project where they had to create something related to their assigned culture. A part of this project was the gathering of source material from books, fiction, the web, whatever. DD2 was telling me about her assigned culture (India) and asked if she could Skype a friend of mine whose cultural heritage is Indian - so they had a good chat and not only was my friend flattered, but DD2 probably got a lot more out of her chat than she would out of a book. DD1 lamented that we didn't know anyone from her culture that she could chat to (Hawaii) until I reminded her that last year, we went and saw my college room mate, who was born and bred in Hawaii. So off went the email. Lastly was DS - who didn't (strangely) ask me if I knew someone from his culture. When I asked him why, he said, "Because we won't know anybody from that far away, surely!" His country? South Africa. Lineage of the Mother of one of his best mates? South African.

Then take tonight's "it's a small world" experience. I've been decidedly crumpled this week, and since for me therapy=cooking, I've been doing a lot of it. I decided to try and tackle pistachio nougat (again.) I had this whacko recipe which made NO sense but I decided to try it anyway (against my better pastry chef judgement.) So I made it..and along the way I'm thinking, "Hmmm...this doesn't look right..." and then PING! went the light bulb over my head. It occurred to me to ring The Ninja, who among other things is a kick-ass chef/pastry chef and also Italian and therefore genetically enhanced to know how to cook torrone. Wouldn't you know it? I was right, the recipe was crazy...but she gave me a recipe for one which she promises is both easier and will actually work. I'm going to try that one next week, by which time I will be thoroughly sick of all things sweet and nutty (except for my kids, of course, who also fit that description.)

I love this aspect of me, and I love this aspect of my life. That I surround myself with people from interesting places, with interesting skills, who themselves have what to listen to and what to share...well, that's just totally fabulous. My world manages to defy the bounds of time and space and somehow manages to get smaller and bigger all at the same time (a bit like my torrone!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Really Wanna but Canna

I have not been avoiding this blog, I promise. I've actually been spending the last week or so percolating on a number of possible blogging topics, and none of them have made me happy enough to even give them a go.

Kinda sad, that.

So while I'd love to say I came here to blog about something fabulous and funny and eye-opening and just altogether freakin' brilliant, I can't. Because I've got nothing at all.

Here's hoping inspiration strikes soon, otherwise I'll lose my two readers!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Parenting Home Truths

A common complaint I hear from my peers is that their parents had it much easier than they did. This is because "back in the day" parents did not have to deal with the minefield which is the internet, did not over schedule their kids as much as we seem to (much as we pretend to try to avoid it), didn't have the financial pressures we are all collapsing under (hello suffocating mortgage). Life was somehow simpler than it is now, and so we all wander around (and by 'we all' I mean my generation of 30-something parents) and bitch and whine about how hard we've all got it. We're tired. We're stressed. We're broke. We don't know why our kids are fat. Everything is just all so hard, you know? And so on and so forth.

Well, my whining and bitching friends, here's a newsflash for you.

Parenting now is no more or less difficult than it was for our parents. The pressures are different, yes - but the basic idea that parenting became somehow harder or easier over time is a load of crap.

Sure - in their generation, women did not always work and so the pressure of childcare was not as immediate as it is for most of us. But those who did not work in a paid capacity worked a hell of a lot harder in an unpaid capacity. And sure - in their generation, houses were less expensive than they are now - but then salaries were a lot less than they were now, too. Honestly, I think my life is truly insane sometimes. I look at my life and I think, "Geez, I'm exhausted!" - from running a business, and a family, and looking after my health and well being, and in general I think my life is harder because I am trying to achieve way more than my Mom ever did at my age.

Except that...wait a second. At my age, my Mom had three kids, one of whom was my toddler brother. She was working full time in my Dad's law firm (so they were small business owners, too). She was running a household, looking after her own health (which was pretty precarious at the time) and I'm willing to bet she had her own concerns about money and lack of time and being exhausted all the time, too.


Not so different then, is it? Now granted my siblings and I did not have mobile phones, computers, or fifty thousand activities to be shunted to which would have complicated her life. We also did not have food with more chemicals than actual food, did not have a world at war both within it's geographical bounds and within it's celestial bounds. Many, many things about life were simpler then - but parenting, and money, and becoming a grown up - those things have not changed at all. They are as hard or as easy as they ever were, it's just that my generation is a bunch of self-centred brats who think it's all so much harder for them than it was for others. I'm willing to grant that some things might be harder now, especially the rise of the cost of living versus the salaries we get- but I think some things were harder then, too. Consider that same woman who at that time chose to work - like my Mom. How easy was access to childcare for her? Probably not easy at all, and probably expensive proportional to her earning ability. Wait a sec. Same problem AGAIN.

Parenting is hard work no matter what generation you are in. Kids are kids are kids, with their differing personalities, needs, wants, demands, and overall care required being basically the same for generations and generations. Mortgages are mortgages, weight loss still sucks up a lot of time and energy, households still need to be cleaned, dinners need to be cooked, and so on.

Whoever told you that parenting was easy for our parents lied, and whoever told you that we have it harder than they did lied as well. Parenting is, plain and simple, damn hard work. The sooner you accept that, the sooner drinking vodka at noon won't seem so unreasonable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Change Your Flight

It's entirely possible that I watch far too many rom-coms and I read way too much crappy chick-lit, because every time I fly somewhere I am convinced I will be seated next to someone who will change my life. I've been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit, but just my luck, I always seem to end up seated next to people who have...issues. Or *I* have issues. Me and flights just have a very strange relationship.

For example:

- I once sat on a flight next to a kid whose arms were covered in bleeding, puss-filled open wounds. He was in the middle seat and I had the window. I was fatter then, so I spilled over the armrest, which meant that basically he could not help but be touching me the entire time. I spent the whole flight trying not to hurl and causing myself great discomfort by tucking my elbows into my ribs and pushing myself further into the little window hole. To this day I do not know why I did not just ask to move seats.

- I recently sat on a flight that when I woke up after dozing for a few hours, found our row was surrounded by paramedics and doctors. The kid of the parents next to me was apparently suffering from some sort of swine flu or something. He looked like shit (and clearly felt like it too) and I was just left wondering how on earth I slept through the commotion. They eventually moved him to First Class. Good thing, too, because the rich people can afford to get swine flu and take a day off work. Me, not so much.

- I was on a flight once sitting next to this young lady who told me she could afford Business Class (I couldn't, I got put there through dumb luck) because her boyfriend invented some sort of app for facebook which was going to make them jillionaires in the near future. I've never heard of the app since then and I suspect she's crying over her Visa bill as we speak. Business class doesn't come cheap.

- On a flight to Sydney I was sitting next to Frank Costa - and I had no idea who he was but we had a lovely conversation about food businesses, family, football, and life in general. It was only once I got off the plane and Googled him that I realised I'd been sitting next to a legend.

- I once sat on a flight next to my husband. It was an Air France flight and he insisted on the bulkhead seats (which I HATE with an extreme passion). The seats there were much narrower (because the tray table is in the armrest) and my hips were much wider then. I literally could not fit in the seat unless I angle-wedged myself in there, and then the pressure (and thus pain) on my hips literally made me cry. I only WISH I was kidding about this. I spent almost the entire flight either standing up at the back, or sitting on the stewardess's seat. I have yet to forgive him for this, because he had no sympathy at all and was a shmuck about it. NB: He was no skinney minney either and was none too comfortable himself but won't admit it.

So even with all these crazy flight experiences, I still love to travel and love to fly...and I still think I'll meet someone in that plane who will change my life. Of course, being the stuff of fantasy land, I always assume that person will change my life for the better. Isn't that weird? I also find that when I travel, I walk taller and with more purpose. This is especially true when I travel by myself - it's like I turn into this smarter, fitter, more self confident version of myself who strides down long walkways (never take the people mover belt) and generally looks so damn self-assured it's as though I was born to hang out in airports. Of course I am missing the casually draped pashmina, smart looking leather briefcase, and swarm of papparazzi - but it's as though all those things are there anyway.

You know what? I think that *I* am the person I need to meet in an airport who will change my life. Or rather, the version of me I behave like in airports and on planes is the person I need to meet who will change my life. I've got to learn to BE that confident, long-strides person ALL THE TIME, not just in transit. And, bonus, she won't take up the armrest or have scabs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


As part of a project she is working on, a blogger I admire recently asked me to answer some questions about my career change. One of the questions was, "How do you measure success in your new profession?" I wish I could find my emailed reply but it has disappeared into the abyss. I'm fairly certain that it said a bunch of things about success for me being measured not only by money (although let's face it, paying the bills is fairly essential) but also about being a part of the milestones in my client's lives, making people happy, and being a good example to my children of a capable, happy working mother and wife.

Since I answered the question, I've had it rattling around in the back of my brain - because while all of those things are true, I'm not entirely convinced I gave her the whole answer. I started thinking about the people who I consider successful - the ones who I look to for inspiration and motivation. Where this gets a little hairy is in the reason WHY I think they are successful - meaning I admire some for being successful mothers, some for being successful business owners, some for being just generally clever and capable, and so on. Since the question asked about measuring success in my profession, I really had to focus my thinking on those who I admire for being successful in food and/or business and what I think makes them (and therefore might make me) successful.

Not surprisingly for a thinker like me, I eventually had a whole long (mental) list of things which I think define success for business owners. Money - of course. Profile. Having time time and means to be socially responsibe both as a person and as a business. Remaining in business through difficult economic times. Retaining and valuing staff...and so on and so forth. At the moment I have a few of those things already going for me, and I'm working on most of them every day. But does not having the big stuff exactly right mean that I'm not successful yet? Of course not. Or rather, HELL NO! Until I've got the "big stuff," I've come to realise that it's the ridiculously small things which are defining success for me at the moment.

Success is all about the ridiculously small things like....

- unlocking the door each morning and pausing for a second just to breathe in the shop smell, which for now is mixture of fresh paint and fresh baking.
- Being able to afford new uniforms for me, my staff, and my students ...and it's all got my corporate colours and logo all over the place. Logo and colours which I chose.
- Being able to type this at work while wearing my new coat, and looking down and seeing that it's got my name embroidered on it as well, and everyone knows it's only the most important people who get their name on their coat. :)
- Standing in my beautiful commercial kitchen and thinking, "Good lord. I DID THIS." and being just that little, tiny bit in total awe every single time I am in there.
- Smiling every time I look at the magnetic knife rack which is in the kitchen, because having one of those on the wall was always on my "someday, when I have a kitchen, it's going to have a ... in it" list.

...and on and on. Today, as every day, I am absolutely revelling in all the little things which mean that I am slowly but surely on the road to creating something which is much bigger than me. Of course, I have yet to pay back the loans, get a decent salary, or really test the nettle of this new premises...but for now, I'm calling it a success - if for no reason other than I'm sitting here in what is quite possibly the cutest chef coat you ever did see.

And as everyone knows, it's only the most successful people who get to wear cute chef coats. With pink buttons and all.