Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Versatile Blogger

("You like me! You REALLY like me!"-Sally Fields)

A few days ago I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by my dear (real life) friend, Ellen. She also happens to write the AMAZING blog, Life on a Real California Dairy Farm. If you already haven't done so, you should definitely check it out. She writes about her life as a dairy wife and mom. This is something near and dear to me since so many of my friends make their living in the mud and the dirt, at the crack of dawn until way after the sun sets, every day of the year, through rain and 100+ degree days, providing food for (not only myself and my immediate community) but the rest of the world. I am so honored to have received this award and it is a reminder that there are other people out there in Bloggerville that, not only take the time to read my lil ramblings, actually enjoy them enough to call me out. My cup runneth over! Thanks again Ellen.
With this award comes a great responsibility. It is my privilage to pass it on. 
The rules that come with this award are to thank the person who gave it to you, link back to their blog, and pass it along to other deserving bloggers. Then, you must reveal seven things about yourself.

All winners in my book...

I rarely pass up an opportunity to talk about myself (as you have seen HERE and HERE). Lets see if I can offer up any new information:

1. I have an entire shelf in my bookcase dedicated to all things Martha Stewart. The collection includes several cookbooks, craft books, holiday specific books and about two years of Martha Stewart Living (if not more). I also have years of Martha Stewart Weddings and a coveted Martha Stewart Baby from Spring 2001. To my knowledge, it is the only issue ever published of Baby but I would LOVE to see it come back. I adore every thing in that issue. Yes, I am obsessed.

2. I am extremely anxious and terrified of what will happen with Sweet Temper Baking. I am terrified of its potential failure. I may be more terrified at its potential success. 

3. I get ridiculously, grandiose ideas. I have recently determined that it is hereditary. My mother AND grandmother do the same. My mother and I will call each other with the latest hair-brained scheme and spend the next hour and a half on the phone completely dissecting it to figure out how we can make it a reality. Once that is done, the idea seems to pass before it ever comes to fruition. It drives the Mr. absolutely insane. I think he is figuring it out though. I think he realizes that this is just how my mum and I communicate.

4. The latest idea? It has been in my head the last few weeks to figure out how to purchase an inexpensive home in the foothills to make into our family vacation home. My theory is why wait if it might be manageable now? This idea will probably last all summer at least, then onto the next. (A couple of years ago I was trying to figure out how the Mr. and I could manage a 'live aboard' lifestyle on a boat docked in the Bay).

5. I had something a little too honest written out for this one but decided against it. What I was going to rant on about was something that I am guilty of doing as well. I didn't want to sound hypocritical so I left it out. 

6. Ok, ok, here goes. Sometimes I get so restless that I could scream! I don't know if its this town, or if it is indicative to women my age but its something that just drives me bonkers. It is this whole 'Stepford Wife' mentality. Its this image of a picture perfect life. All the play dates, perfect birthday parties, half birthday parties, 'Which formula do YOU use?' 'Oh I would never! I only breast feed', pedicures, weekend getaways, 'my husband grilled this tonight for dinner' or 'I made that tonight for dessert', taking the boat out for the first time this summer, and so on and so on. I brag about and attempt these things everyday as well (did you expect the complete 180 to come so soon after I shared my love for all things Martha? lol) but when I really start to think about it, who am I really trying to impress? When did it become a competition to just LIVE? I like to make things look pretty and perfect and we all have things that we are strong at and things we admire in others, but when did this admiration turn into envy? When did it become 'Look at what she did! Pffft...I know I can do better than that.' instead of 'Wow, she did such a great job. I am so proud to be her friend'? I know if I feel this way that some of my other peers feel this way too. Why, as women are we always trying to one up each other? Why can't we just be honest with each other without feeling as if we were we would be fodder for idle gossip later?
Hmmm... still thinking I probably shouldn't have 'revealed' so much.

7. I love to read and it has helped me through many hurdles in life. I should turn to the Bible more for help but I don't (I do listen for God to speak to me and rely on our 'conversations' to guide me through life though). I make the joke often that I read 'The Rules' and tried them on the first man that I met afterwards to see if they worked. That man was the Mr. I have recently started another book that I am hoping will be the punchline for another huge life decision. I don't want to say too much more on that, but look for that book review hopefully sooner than later. I know that this final revelation might have been a tad vague (ok, HUGELY vague). Sorry about that.

That was my seven things. You might have thought I was drunk or high when writing those out but I assure you I wasn't. Just perhaps a little too revealing. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How NOT to waste a day in the Valley....

(Pretty much...)

Friday night, the Mr. convinced me to unwind by throwing back what was only supposed to be 'a couple of cocktails'. Needless to say, the stress of work last week took complete advantage of me and because I thought that Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum had an adorable design on the front of the bottle (completely disregarding the fact that it was a very potent alcohol at 92 proof, in comparison to Captain Morgan only being 70 proof) I was paying the price the next morning.
I like to unwind a bit but the older I get the more I find that I no longer look forward to the weekend as a time of getting 'wasted on white zin' as I made a habitual practice of in my early 20s. Everyone has the same wistful story. The 'when-I-was-young-I-could-drink-all-night-pass-out-at-3-AM-and-be-fine-to-work-a-couple-hours-later' story. You know, the time in your young life when all you needed was a venti of whatever with an extra shot of espresso and a couple of aspirins to be right as rain? Oh get off your know EXACTLY what I am talking about.
Saturday morning, I couldn't force myself to get out of bed and  get dressed until noon...and that wasn't even a terrible hangover. Sheesh.
At this point in my life, I hate hangovers. Not necessarily because of how miserable they physically make me feel (just you body's way of paying you back for treating it like sh*t), I hate hangovers because they make me useless for the next 12-24 hours. I absolutely hate wasting a day off.
When I was finally feeling as if I could face the day, behind a dark pair of sunglasses of course, my mind wandered on what I could do to not feel as if I missed a day of my weekend. I settled on a little trip to my local used bookstore, Yesterday's Books.
Yesterday's Books is somewhat of an institution in my hometown. It was been in business since 1980 (a year younger than myself, if you are counting...don't try too hard to figure out the math) and has outlived many of its neighbors on the most popular strip in town. I have a feeling its in part to the ever changing, thought provoking quotes posted on the large wall on the side of the building. A favorite of mine from last month? 'A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit' (Richard Bach). I love getting lost in the aisles, always finding something unintentional. I found one of my most prized possessions there, a first edition reading copy of Fitzgerald's 'The Last Tycoon'. I always find something that I never knew I wanted but soon realize that I never could have done without.
Saturday I went in, thinking I would find obscure books on local history (which I did) but left with a handful of classics. 'The Bell Jar' (Plath), 'Death in the Afternoon'(Hemingway), 'The Dangerous Summer' (another Hemingway) and 'Philosophy in the Boudoir' (Marquis de Sade) made its way into my shopping bag for the bargain price of around $20. That's about as much as I spend on one brand new book.
After meandering around the bookstore for a couple of hours, I made my way to Old Plantation Coffee. Again, this is another long standing local business that has ten times more the charm than those cookie cutter coffee houses. I walked up to the counter and ordered an iced mocha. I was fully expecting to pay the already reasonable full price when I was gently informed that it was 'Happy Hour' and that my order would  be half price. Awesomesauce! I reached in and pulled out the ol' plastic swipe card but, because of the great 'Happy Hour' deal, wasn't spending enough to use it. 'No problem, I will take that delicious looking chocolate croissant you have in the case'. (By another sure to be a fast favorite, Pure Love Baking)
I sat down with my pastry in front of me, my mocha in one hand, the Marquis de Sade in my other and caught quick glances of the Giants easing their way to another win against Chicago on the television above.
I am so glad that I didn't waste my precious day off.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sensing Sunday: May 15, 2011

( could have been with THESE guys today)

Hearing: Still on the Adele kick...I can't help it.

Seeing: Indulging in one of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities, real estate shopping on the internet. Note to self; look into getting pre-approved for a home loan soon, very soon.

Smelling: My 'Downtown Amber' candle from the Target Collection

Tasting: A 'Strawberry Short Kook' Otter of my guiltiest pleasures.

Feeling: Even though I didn't make it to the 100th Bay to Breakers this weekend (very sad indeed), I am still feeling somewhat accomplished. I made a little trip to the bookstore yesterday to stock up and I purchased another couple of books online. I finished 'Men and Dogs' by Katie Crouch in, oh about, 2 days! Next up 'Death in the Afternoon' by Hemingway. Walked the 6.5 miles with dad and the dogs this morning. The Mr. went to lunch and now I am blogging away. I have a couple of other posts to write up (about yesterday's trip to the bookstore and last week's trip to the baseball game) and then a little bit of laundry and begin prep for my gigantic cake order next Saturday. Wow, after thinking about all that, all I want to do now is take a nap....zzz....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sensing Sunday: May 08, 2011

There's a storm a comin'...

Hearing: After reading a magazine blurb, where the writer mentioned what was on her kids playlist at the moment, I have had Big Rock Candy Mountain in my head for the past two days.

Seeing: Headed over the Altamont tonight to take my brother back to the BART station for his train to San Francisco, we witnessed the most beautiful show of swirling dark storm clouds hovering over the mountain ridges. It was a sight to see.

Smelling: The Mr. just scrubbed down the counters in the kitchen. Its smells like some sort of cleaning supply, I just can't pinpoint which one.

Tasting: A lick of Dulce de Leche cupcakes I made my mum for Mother's Day...per her request of course.

Feeling: Strange, and exhausted (seems to be a theme on my Sunday posts). I had a Mother's Day heart to heart with my mum on the drive and it opened my eyes to things I am capable of and what might be in store for me in the future. Its strange to think in the terms that we talked about tonight. It wasn't a surprise though, I knew I would have to start dealing with some things that I have tried to manage through the motions of or ignored completely. I was just a little surprised that I was able to just take a deep breath and confront some reservations I have had. I still can't say what the future might hold for me but at least I feel I am moving forward again after feeling stagnant for so long.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sweet Temper Baking

(a cake fit for a princess)
I have a friend that, after much debate and personal soul searching, has decided to accept another position with another company that will give her more flexibility to spend time with her family. I am very much a firm believer that family and personal connections should come first and a career should come second. I have had money and have spent freely. I have made peanuts and have pinched pennies. When it comes down to it, you make do with what you have. When I think of my past, I remember the moments I shared with the people I loved. Not once does an eight hour shift pop into my head. I can't tell you how much money I have made and spent in my life.
I can't say that money doesn't matter at all, that would be silly for me to say. Without money The Mr. and I wouldn't have been able to spend a weekend celebrating our anniversary last year at the beach. Without money I wouldn't be able to buy my cake supplies to indulge in the hobby that I love. Which brings me back to my original story...
Today, when talking with my friend about the new adventure in front of her, we got into the discussion of where I see myself going, career wise. I told her that if given the opportunity I would go back to school, get my degree in business and open a bakery and cafe.
I have been trying to perfect sweet treats for about three years now. It all started when I took a beginning cake decorating course through the local community college and it took off from there. After spending a couple of years focused mostly on cupcakes, I have now turned my eye to tiered cakes, pies and cookies as well.
Lately it has started to take on a life all its own. I was compelled to take it to the next level.
Sweet Temper Baking was born.
Right now I am working on small batch, made to order desserts but my future goal is to turn it into more of a thriving business. I ultimately want to open a shop to include coffee service, a lunch menu AND a tea menu.
I am confident that one day soon I will pull it off and the line of making a living and doing what I love will be happily blurred.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sensing Sunday: May 01, 2011

(crowds cheer tonight at Ground Zero)
What I am:
Hearing: When my brother and I were younger we spent hours and hours listening to my dad's records that he had left at my mom's house. We listened to Simon and Garfunkel and wore out the Bill Cosby comedy records. Our absolute favorite was Don McLean's American Pie. We committed every song to memory without fully understanding the true poetry of every lyric. We really impressed our father by being able to sing the entire version (all 8 minutes and 33 seconds of it) of American Pie. On the way to the store tonight, it came on over the oldies station in reaction to Bin Laden's death. I sang every word.

Seeing: The horrible, ignorant reactions to Bin Laden's death online. Some coming from my close friends.

Smelling: Ugh, the acidic smell of vinegar and hardboiled eggs. The Mr. is making spicy pickled eggs and just finished the marinade they will sit in for about a week. Good thing he is keeping his little project in the refrigerator outside. I want absolutely no part of it.

Tasting: A little sip of Diet Mountain Dew. I am going to try to go off soda (and coffee, and alcohol...) starting tomorrow. Wish me lots of luck, I think I might need it.

Feeling: A huge mix of exhausting emotions. I am so proud to be an American tonight and beaming with pride for our dedicated, unrelenting troops and our stoic President. While watching a shot of Ground Zero on the news, tears welled up in my eyes at the sting of the memories I felt the day the towers fell and the collective fear we had ten years ago. We stood by each other then, hand in hand and stood strong behind our President and each other that day and the months following. We let the enemy know that we would not be taken down.
I am sad and disgusted today. The immediate response by many that I consider friends has been unnerving. Statements like ' would think that the President went in and killed Bin Laden himself.' or 'We got one terrorist tonight lets work on the next one, Obama' make me sad that some of my fellow Americans chose to use their freedoms that our troops (and our President) work so hard, and sometimes give up their lives to protect. I cannot imagine that they are proud to serve for the purpose of Americans spitting such ignorant commentary.
My response to those cackling voices tonight...
'Tonight goes above political party alliances. Tonight we should all be proud to call ourselves Americans and stand undivided'
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