Monday, 2 September 2013

Aaand...I'm back. Again.

Looks like it's my annual fall review, where I reconnect with my blog. As the new school year starts, it always feels like a new beginning. Nevermind January 1st, give me the first week of September and I'll show you a plethora of resolutions. Well, let's give it a go again, shall we?

Here's what's happened since last we met...

Last December was a pile of endings including, but not limited to, Mr. Puss passing away right before Christmas and being given notice that I had to vacate my bakery. Add a little Christmas cheer to that stress level and maybe you can imagine the miasma.

Just accept change as a part of life. It's inevitable—don't fight it. Give it a chance. #life #quote #success

In the new year I had to take a long, hard, look at my business and decide what to do. With the help and focus of my ever-supportive Man, I decided to go retail. Gah! If I thought December was bad, it was nothing compared to January and February. The permits, the construction, the politics, oh my! It was a step I didn't think I was ready for, but there you have it: when a door closes, a window opens. Luckily there was a ladder provided by my family and I didn't have to jump out and land in a splat.

#quote #success #life

In March we went to Europe, because we had planned [read: paid for] this trip back in November and we weren't going to deny the kids the chance to see their grandparents because of a little thing like opening a store. While I was away for 3 weeks, preparation went on without me. When I got back, everything was [almost] how I wanted it. Again, thanks to the incredibly hard work of my family.

I officially opened the new door on April 19th, 2013 and after a couple weeks I was even able to keep food down. The first weekend of May brought the Girl's First Holy Communion. A party for 40 that was planned in less than 3 weeks. Way to go me. But it got done, and She was so happy for it.

With May being the "official" start of wedding season, it was just a blur. I don't even know how I got to September. Where did the time go? Thank goodness we had the Man's cousin come visit us for a month in July/August. She was able to watch the kids for me while I was working. With her help and the help of my friend's teenage daughters, my kids only had to spend 1 day with me while I was working which was a step up from every day last summer.

Soooooo much has happened, but I finally feel that I can breathe again. There's only about 6 weeks left of multiple weddings/weekend, I have hired a competent employee with whom I get along and understands the culture that I want to create. Because of the added help this summer, my Man and I have been able to connect to each other more often instead of being passing ships in the night.

I'm still working 10-12 hours a day, but I've limited my Sundays and Mondays to only what's necessary so that I can spend meaningful time with my family (Sunday) and now that school has started, I can spend some meaningful time for me (Mondays).

Bring it on, Autumn. Let's do this. Again.

The First Step is Always the Hardest.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Advent Countdown Activity : Trim the tree!

I love Christmas. I really do. I love the decorations, the parties, the entertaining. I love the preparation and the anticipation. I try to do something a little different every year. Some things don't work out so well [I'm talking to you - all-handmade-gifts-idea/insanity] but some things do. This year, my difference will be in the way we trim our tree.

I was trying to think of some way, other than the same-old chocolate advent calendar, for us to mark the days until Christmas. At the same time, the kids have been badgering me since Remembrance Day to put up our tree. Putting up the tree is something I especially love to do. It's not the best tree - we bought it 10 years ago when we first moved into our house and expecting the Boy. It's lost a lower branch, and I need to string it with lights every year, but I can't bear to part with it just yet. We have a set of about 30 red "filler" ornaments and every other ornament we have is a "special" one.

Every milestone in our family is marked with a Christmas ornament. The easy ones, like going on a trip, or a new baby, and the trickier ones like my stint as a school bus driver, family baptisms, opening up my business.  Yep, there's an ornament for that.

So, when we trim our tree, I like to reflect on these moments and tell the stories that go with them. Like a scrapbook that's taken out once a year. However, after 11 years of marriage, you can imagine that we have quite a few stories to tell on our tree trimming day. So, I'm spreading it out.

I took 24 paper bags, numbered some Christmas labels and let the kids go to town decorating them.

I had to let go of my perfectionism here. In my head I pictured pretty kraft bags with bows and ribbons. Beautifully numbered etc. But this is a family activity. I just stepped back and let it happen.

The kids absolutely loved this idea. They were excited to decorate the bags and even more excited to "start Christmas". It kept them busy for a good half hour. :)

Once they were done, we lined them up on our buffet behind the table. I didn't fill them that day. I waited until they went to school to put all the decorations into the bags. I put some of our filler ornaments in each bag and then parceled out our special ornaments. I also added a few surprises in most of the bags - little chocolates or candies, little toys - nothing huge, but just an added surprise. 

These are the latest addition to our scrapbook tree! Can you guess where we went?

The newest ornaments will go into the last bag, where we also have our old tin star. It doesn't quite fit, but it works for this year.

I don't know who's more excited for Saturday to come around, me or the kids! For now, our little tree is up and lit and waiting patiently for our first bag of goodies to be opened up. Hurry up, Christmas!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Most Popular Post: Elmo takes the cake

I like looking at stats. Numbers. All so orderly. It just gives me chills. As I look at my blog stats every few days, there is one thing that is consistent. The number of pageviews I get from a single post: my How to make an Elmo cake post. It is ALWAYS the highest ranking, and has been since I published it. I'm guessing it is because my post title matches so well with search criteria. The most popular being:

  1. how to make an elmo cake
  2. how to make elmo cake
  3. how to make a elmo cake
Coming in a close fourth is "wedding cake disasters" search keywords which leads me to my second most popular post of a wedding cake delivery gone terribly wrong for me. Very little writing, but in this case, the picture told it all. It's still painful for me to look at. I guess a lot of people like to look at painful things. 

So, what's the point of this little exercise? At first I thought maybe I should change how I write my blog post titles, and even the subjects, to garner the most views and bigger audience. I could research trends and write that way. But I don't want to do that. I don't write this blog because I want a huge following. I write because I find something that interests me and if it interests someone else, that's all good. I like to share what I know, and start conversations. I believe that information should be free. It's why, to the chagrin of many of my colleagues, I don't mind giving away the "secrets of the trade" or sharing my recipes when someone calls to ask me. Don't get me wrong, I expect to be paid for teaching a class because I'm preparing and delivering information in a specific way, but my advice is free. 

Does that mean I'll stop looking at stats. Absolutely not. I still love the chilly feeling of looking at numbers. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Let's do the time warp, again.

I like all kinds of music, but I mostly have two channels: oldies and modern rock. Oldies are good to sing along to, clean the house, work, listen in the car with the kids. Modern rock I love for hard beats, edgy tunes. You know, modern rock like Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, The Tragically Hip, hey...wait a second.

Where exactly did I lose a decade of my life? Ok, to be fair, the Hip are still around and awesome, but if I look at a list of my go-to songs, I realize that most of them are from over 10 years ago, a lot over 20. What happened? Did I step through a worm hole and disrupt the time-space continuum? Did I watch too much Star Trek? Apparently, I've just been a mother for the last 10 years. Losing track of the little things to take care of other little things.

I assume the next time I wake up will be when the kids are in university. Mumford and Sons better still be popular! Help me catch up. What's in your Walkman? ;)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

New look!

Hee hee! It's finally done. So.... what do you think? About my new blog look, that is.

I do so like to mess around with different looks, and changing up a blog template is a little frightening, if not downright terrifying. I was afraid I'd lose all my information, that I wouldn't get my widgets back. [Who likes losing widgets?] But it's over now, and I can breathe.

My design came from here: Very straightforward instructions, but you need to be a teensy tiny bit tech savvy to troubleshoot any issues.

My follow buttons came from here: Super easy and no registration needed, unless you'd like to track results.

Cost: Free (unless you count the hours searching online for usable tools that I actually like.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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