Tuesday, December 29, 2015

bakery life

Well, we have survived! The first two weeks of bakery life, that is.

A lot of people told me I was NUTS to try to open a bakery right before Christmas. (They might have been right... but I'm stubborn, and I do what I want. Ha.)

I'd been waiting all year to get this bakery open, so when I received our official license to do business on Monday 12/14, I scrambled to get the doors open Tuesday! Fortunately, we had pretty much moved everything in over the weekend (with the help of my WONDERFUL mom & dad).

Just a portion of the boxes we unpacked. My house is EMPTY now!

Yummy ingredients, all organized in tubs.

First of MANY MANY takeout dinners at the bakery.

He thinks he's so helpful.

Let me just say... I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I had all these plans in place, I knew exactly how things would function! Bahahaha. I have learned SO much just in the last two weeks. That first week was such a hot mess! You wouldn't have known it if you walked in the shop, but I was pretty much in a constant state of panic. 

The very first cupcakes baked in the BEAST (our nickname for the oven). I bought it from a Cinnabon down near Columbus. First couple rounds, everything smelled like cinnamon rolls! Now it smells like cupcakes. :)

We ended up doing about TRIPLE the production I had planned for, and I just wasn't sure how to operate in such large quantities! We kept running out of butter, sugar, powdered sugar, cupcake boxes. How do you sell cupcakes with no boxes??! One of my customers put it the right way - "You've got a tiger by the tail!" We were able to keep up, but not without a mental breakdown in the Meijer parking lot at 2am one night (morning??!) I never knew it was physically possible to work a 20-hour day, but I pulled a few of them in that first week!

I've cracked just a few eggs in the last two weeks - enough to bake 7000+ cupcakes and 2000+ cookies!

After getting a bit of rest that weekend, I was finally able to turn my brain on, and figure out some systems to make bakery life a little easier and much more efficient. We've got a LONG way to go, but week #2 went much more smoothly. We baked & sold a LOT more cupcakes, and worked a lot less. Progress! 

Our seating area. In love.

I am realizing how VALUABLE my employees are, and how much I appreciate everything they do! (Especially the box folding. I am SO glad to defer the box folding to someone else at this stage of life. :-P) 

I also have to thank my sweet, sweet husband of mine, who is the best counter boy EVAH. Lucky for me, his work is just around the corner (quite literally), so he pops in quite frequently to lend a helping hand. 

What about my Jamesy?! He's been enjoying a lot of time at the bakery. He did end up traveling to the grandparents for a few days between Christmas and New Year's because our daycare isn't open here in the Bean Town and my usual babysitter is out of town. So I'm missing him just a bit.

Gourmet breakfast of 'tiny donuts' aka Cheerios. 

Just wanted to give a brief update so I could look back on this in a few years and laugh! I am LOVING every minute of this crazy life. Happy New Year!

P.S. Nice-looking photos credit to Graham Goebel

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

brain dump [july 2015]

It's been a hot minute since I've blogged... life's just a bit chaotic. But life is always chaotic, no? I've coem to learn that in my 27 fine years here on this Earth. I'm learning to embrace the chaos.

I'll try to somewhat break this post up into categories, to at least help me organize myself.

New Orleans: My Business Man & I went to New Orleans for a work conference at the beginning of June. (To clarify, it was a work conference for my Business Man. Sadly there are no giant cupcake conferences. That I've discovered. Yet.) 

Did you catch that?! We went WITHOUT the James-ter! We LEFT HIM! OVERNIGHT! And he survived. (We did, too.) It was actually so strange to be without our little nugget. And after that first night of sleeping 8 glorious hours, it was pretty fantastic. ;) We had a fun little getaway, but definitely missed our little guy.

Highlights of the trip included eating ALL THE FOOD, seeing a random movie in the middle of the day (in a theater!), morning runs through the Garden District, and a hands-on cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking.

We even have the aprons to prove it!
One of the best meals - fresh-pressed muffulettas at the market.
This meal was also probably the cheapest, at just $8.
Visitors: Out of the last 4 weeks, we've had visitors here about 3 of them. Lots of love for Jamesy-boy!

My mom & dad came to visit and we took James to the pool for the first time. He loves the water! He loves to lay back & relax, or lean forward and try to kick himself around. He doesn't really get anywhere though.

Water baby!
We celebrated an early birthday for my dad since we wouldn't get to see him on his actual birthday (July 10.) I made him a homemade angel food cake, and not to toot my own horn, but it was pretty fab.

Just a few candles shy of the 54 that should have been on the cake...

My friend Kristi and her two sweet kidd-os (Cora & Casey) came to visit for a night. It was SO good to catch up! She lives in a remote village in Alaska, so we don't get to see each other often. We got to go for a run, make homemade pizza, and just spend some QT together. We are actually going to meet up in San Diego next month for a girls' trip! Woah!

And somehow this is the only picture we got! Ahhhh. Chaos, I tell you.
Finally, my Business Man's family came to visit for a week! James' uncle Zack has been teaching in Laos for the entire past academic year and just came home in June. So they had never met before! James loved his uncle Zack time. Seriously, James loved to sit and cuddle with Zack for long periods of time. (He never cuddles with me!)

Learning how to watch Netflix on the iPad. Bahaha.
Michigan: Before my in-laws came to visit, we met them up north for a weekend in Michigan. Of course, in our favorite area! We stayed in Saugatuck at a recently remodeled retro motel - the Starlite Resort. It was cute, clean, and had a fun pool! All our requirements were met. :)

First overnight at a hotel for James... "This bed is all for ME??!"

They had a few hammocks, too. We thought it'd be great to try to get a cute pic of James on the hammock.... ummm yea.

"Sit here on the hammock," they said, "it'll be fun!" LIES!

Much better in Mom's arms.

First family selfie!
My Business Man & I even escaped for a date night to our favorite restaurant - Salt of the Earth. And devoured the toasted s'mores dessert. Omg, so good. Take me back.

Mmm, that salted caramel sauce. When will they invent tast-o-vision for the computer screen?!

Cupcakes: The business is booming, which is great. I've got lots of exciting things on the horizon, but not really able to say anything yet. God is good. :)

Fun birthday cake!

Gorgeous wedding set-up.

Whimsical smash cake.

Other random pictures:

I've been obsessively buying all the new varieties of Oreos
that now exist, so thought this was fitting.

James LOVE yogurt!

And he hates shopping at Wal-mart. You and me both, buddy.

Happy boy sitting on his couch!

With that, I'm off to pack for another adventure! We are headed to Door County, WI for a fun-filled week with my parents. Bring on all the trail runs, cherry salsa, and ICE CREAM!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kalamazoo Marathon 2015

So... last weekend I ran a marathon. It was hot and hilly. Should I end there?! Haha.

I mentioned back in February that I was toying with the idea of a spring marathon... but wanted to wait and see how things shook out before I really committed. After a couple good weeks of training, I decided to just go for it and signed up for the Kalamazoo Marathon in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

All smiles before the start.
I've actually been working with a coach for a few months now. One of my Business Man's friend's wife's brother (got that?!) is a supah-fast triathlete and has been dabbling in the coaching realm... so I decided to give it a go! Let me say, it has been SO nice to not think about what I'm going to run, how far I'm going to run, how fast I'm going to run. We kept my mileage pretty reasonable, and I'm only running 4-5 days a week. (Which is all I can handle schedule-wise right now... long gone are the days of running 6-7 days a week!)

My training was pretty consistent, minus a few blah weeks with sickness, sleepless babies, and crazy cupcake baking schedules. I only did a few really long runs - a 16, 17, 19, and 20-miler, but they all had some element of speed mixed in. 

I was feeling pretty good and feeling like I could come close to a PR (3:20), but my main goal was to run a BQ (3:35). I figured I could run a qualifying time this spring, and then hopefully run a PR in the fall at Columbus. I also have a tendency to blow up in the last 6-8 miles of a marathon and I was afraid to go out at a 3:20 pace only to blow up in the last stretch and not even get the BQ.

So, the marathon. It was on a Sunday and I had to work Saturday... so I closed up the cupcake counter early at 2pm and we hit the road up to Kalamazoo so I could pick up my packet. It's a smaller hometown event, so that was a breeze. (They even offered packet pick-up on race day morning, but I didn't want that added stress!)

My parents met us up in Kalamazoo for the weekend, and it was SO nice to have them there to help out with James and to cheer! We rented a house through AirBNB and it was a great experience. We had a 2-story 3-bedroom house to spread out and settle in for the long weekend.

Anyways, back to the marathon. My race plan was to start with the 3:30 pace group and then pick it up throughout the race if I felt good. The weather forecast predicted heat and sun, and I knew that would probably affect me a bit, especially since I haven't been training in the heat at all yet this year.

Action shot taken by my Business Man. Those compression sleeves were a bad choice... SO HOT!

I started with the 3:30 group and things were super easy and fun. The pacers started talking about all the hills to come, especially on the back half of the course. Hmmm. I hadn't thought to check the elevation. I mean, I looked at it, but it didn't look too bad! (Guess I should actually look at the numbers, not just the squiggly lines...)

My boys having fun during the race.

We hit a lot of too fast miles the first half of the race... they wanted to 'bank time' for the second half of hills and heat. (Which I sort of understand. But if you're pacing, shouldn't you pace evenly?!) We hit the half around 1:42.

I saw my family right around mile 14. (Right after the BACON STATION! Sadly, I did not partake.) The house we stayed at was actually just half a block from the route, so they just walked over to spectate! How cool.

Seeing the family was a good boost about halfway through the race. I felt ok, but was drinking a TON of water. It was warm, and the course was pretty much full sun. Around mile 15-16 I started to drift ahead from the group, and just went with it. In hindsight, I should have stayed back. Turns out there was a big gradual downhill at this point, which would explain the cruisin'.

Awesome part of this race = free race pics!
Somewhere around mile 18, my left quad started to feel pretty much dead. (You know the feeling? Super heavy with every step.) That's when things started to go downhill. I started to get super hot, and every step was a struggle. I convinced myself to get to mile 20 and then see how I felt. 

You can see mile 20 is where things went downhill... or I guess it was uphill... bwa ha ha.

And then I walked. Haha. I just felt so hot and my quads hurt so bad. I didn't have it in me mentally that day. (And I was so far off from a PR that I kinda figured, 'what's the point?' That's not the best attitude to have.)

I allowed myself to walk from 0.0-0.1 and 0.5-0.6 of each mile remaining. It was the only way I could mentally get through the race. I think my run portions were still pretty consistent around 8-8:30ish pace but those walk breaks gave my quads a break. Especially since we climbed about a billion hills in the last 6 miles. 

This was me every 30 seconds during the last 6 miles. Are we there yet? NO! Are we there yet? NO! Haha. 

The 3:30 pacers passed me around mile 21.5, so that was pretty depressing. The group had been about 20-25 people when I left, and at that point they had ZERO so that made me feel a little better.

I did run the tangents really well! Only ran about 0.1 extra throughout the whole course.

I did make myself run the entire last mile. I finished in 3:32:54, which at least got me my BQ. I was also 5th female overall which was a nice surprise. (Small race... winning female ran a 3:19. And just a note - all the women ahead of me had a nice positive split as well, haha.)

"Why are you hobbling like an old woman, mom?!"

I was so glad to be done! Lol. I enjoyed the race experience and am glad I ran it... just wish I would have been more prepared for the hills and the heat.

After the race, it was time for FUN! My Business Man and I absolutely love the area of Michigan near Kalamazoo, so we had a blast the rest of the weekend with James and my parents.

I can't get over the baby shades.

On Sunday, we headed to Holland for the Tulip Time Festival. Supposedly, there were over 6 million (!!) tulips in bloom. We started counting, but gave up around 2.2 million. ;)

We spent a lot of time walking around town, shopping, gazing at tulips, and eating delicious food.

We even got to introduce my parents to my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world - Salt of the Earth! I had a wood-fired pizza with bleu cheese, buttermilk sauce, onion jam, and honey. Alongside a glass of SOTE punch. Totally hit the spot after a long day. We also took home a loaf of fresh-baked bacon bread, which made killer BLAT's the next night.

I've already re-created this at home and it's officially my new favorite pizza.

The highlight of the weekend had to be the gorgeous weather. While 75*F and sunny is NOT great marathon running weather, it is awesome weather to be outside! We just enjoyed soaking up James time outside... and he enjoyed soaking up his Grammy & Grampy time.

Such a fun weekend... can't wait for Door County vacation later this summer!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life lately, according to James... [March 2015]

Well it's been a hot minute since I've blogged! I just don't know where the time goes. :-P

We are lovin' life with our little Jamesy-boy. I don't really have any coherent thoughts to share, so I'll just photo dump a glimpse into our days.

I'm still obsessed with baby hoodies. I just can't get over it. He will probably be wearing hoodies well into summer.

He has turned into such a HAPPY boy! Not that he wasn't happy before, but he is just SO smiley & giggly. He's become much more alert and aware of his surroundings the last few weeks and it's been so much fun.

I'd be this happy too if I got to take 4 naps a day.

I had some Babies'R'Us bucks to cash in, so we got him this exer-saucer toy. It's beach-themed. He's still not quite big enough to play in it and gets confused... which makes it all the more fun.

Ummm... and what am I supposed to be doing?!
A few weekends ago, we traveled to Indiana to visit with some of my Business Man's friends from college. There are now two babies in the mix, so that was super fun. This was one of the only pics I snapped from the weekend. 
NOT a fan of Daddy's piano skillz.
Last weekend, my in-laws came to visit. We headed to Fort Wayne for the day and spent some time at Sky Zone - an indoor trampoline park! (It has been my life dream to get a trampoline for the backyard... this was heaven! I can't wait until James is old enough so I can buy him one for his birthday or something.)

I only peed a little. Having a baby really does a number on your bladder. ;)

I got to dive headfirst into that foam pit. SO FUN!
James had his 4-month well visit last week. He is now 25 inches long and a whopping 16+ lbs! The doctor said he's doing great. Puppy came along for moral support... (shots). James has really taken a liking to Puppy. His favorite is when Puppy 'licks' his face.

He's entered the stage where EVERYTHING goes into his mouth. Fingers, hair, hoodie strings, mirrors from the activity mat. Bahaha. He even attempted to suck my nose when we were cuddling.

The doctor also gave us the go-ahead to start using the running stroller! We went a solid 4.5 miles on Saturday, and surprisingly I wasn't too sore! Unfortunately, we now have 2 inches of snow on the ground so it'll be awhile before we bust it out again.

He's getting close to rolling over! He loves to get up on one side, chill there for a minute, and flop back down.

Not much else to say, except that we've settled into a pretty good routine. He's still not quite sleeping through the night (gets hungry once around 4-5am), but hopefully soon. He's taking 3-4 naps a day, sometimes 30 min, sometimes 2+ hours! (Those are definitely rare.) 

Looking forward to a trip home to visit family this weekend!

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