Archive for April, 2010

A little blue

I’m having one of those days today. I wish I could describe it. I’m tired, my mind is just emotionally drained, and everything feels wrong. It’s not a major depression day where I feel like my whole world has fallen into pieces, but I just feel… so… blue…

Yesterday I took the kiddos to the park. It was a beautiful day and I know how the kiddos enjoy getting out of the house and using up all their endless energy. There were lots of other mothers and their kids there, and while I was so happy that my kiddos had others to play with, it’s so difficult for me to see other mothers. Three’s and fours’s, groups of women sitting and chatting, doing all those things I so want to do. If only.

You know those days where your coming down with a cold or virus and just as it begins, your depleted of all energy and you just want to lay down and take a good long nap. Be lazy. Do nothing but crash in front of the tv and feel sorry for yourself. That’s kinda what it’s like for me on these blue days. And they habitually seem to follow days where I’m standing behind an imaginary glass wall, just wishing I was a part of those groups of laughter. Conversation.

Today is hard for me because on days where I feel it coming, I usually take the kids to the park or to the mall. Sometimes we even go ride a little outdoor train near us. Just anything that involves activity, sunshine, and adds brightness to my day and theirs.

I’ve got a lot to do today with cake weekend looming. Think 4×6 boxes, wrapped in glittery black scrapbook paper with a bright pink logo, boxes filled with chocolate cupcakes topped with pale pink icing and edible sugar flakes. It really lifts my mood just thinking about how cute these things are going to be when I finish, but it’s difficult for me to force myself to actually work when I’m in such a blue mood.

But if there is anything that I’ve learned these past few years, it’s that I have to be incredibly proactive and almost aggressive in pulling myself out of these moods. If I let myself sit around and entertain the blue, I get pulled into an even deeper depression, making it that much harder to climb out of.

One day maybe I’ll find a book or write a list of things to do to change my mood. Until then, I’ll take a brake from baking and go soak up some sunshine with my kiddos.

The case of the stolen photo

I’ve always been a pretty creative person. In college, I majored in Interior Design and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, but I’m fairly certain that my parents wasted about fifty grand on a degree I’ll probably not use much. The area I’m most creative has nothing to do with paint and drapes, and has everything to do with food.

I decorate cakes. As a little girl I remember watching my mom every time she decorated a cake for someone’s wedding, anniversary, birthday, or any other type of milestone. It’s a dangerous business to be in. I think I’ve made a few friends and family irritated at one time or another because once you learn to decorate really good, all those friends and family come out of the woodwork to ask you to decorate a cake for them, their friends, their friend’s friend, and their cousin’s aunt’s sister’s grandchild. Or something like that.

The great thing about doing those for family is that they make easy portfolio pictures. And through the years, I’ve had tons of practice. TONS (big family). So much that this year I became a full fledged legal cake business. My website is a mess because I haven’t had time to get even half of my portfolio pictures on it, but hopefully I can get time this weekend to fix it.

Now it’s incredibly ironic, but my husband came up with the name Loud Cakes some time ago, and the name just stuck with me. We had originally come up with that name because I wanted a very unique name, my own dot-com, and I wanted it to send a message. A person’s wedding cake says a lot about her as a person, right? Well of course it’s weird that I don’t hear, and I choose that name, and it’s even weirder that I never even thought of it. But there it is, in case you wondered.

So yesterday as I’m checking my email, trying to get some wedding cake quotes out to a few brides via email, and I received an interesting message. A lady had emailed me and informed me that a bakery was using one of my portfolio pictures as one of their own. I’ve seen this happen before and it’s really not a big deal, but I did decide to look into it. I don’t mind anyone using my cake images, just give me the credit for it.

Here’s the picture of my cake.

When I went to the bakery website, I was really just a little annoyed, but more flattered than anything. When I realized they were located in Orlando? Then I was REALLY flattered. How on earth did someone in Florida find my website when I haven’t advertised one iota? No clue on that.

So I emailed the bakery and the owner actually responded very kindly, apologizing, because they had hired a cake decorator who had come with her own portfolio, which the bakery posted on the web, and didn’t know until a few days ago that some of the photos were not actually cakes that the employee designed. Or rather I should say ex-employee. She was fired a few days ago before I even knew about my photo.

I actually felt sorry for the bakery, but at the same time I did view the girl’s portfolio and I know for certain that I’ve seen several of those other cakes in various ads. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for the bakery for getting duped or for being so uninformed in the cake world.

All I know is that after waking up in the middle of the night to change my 3 year old son’s sheets, give him a shower, and change his clothes, I’m pretty darn worn out. So cakes this weekend get put aside, and this blog gets put aside while I go crash while the kiddos are napping. Well either that or make a big pot of Starbucks coffee. Yumm.

SmashBurgers with a side of music

The other day my husband and I were about to walk into Home Depot to purchase some paint, and as my husband pulled into the parking lot, which is next to a fast food joint, and my three year old son said, “Daddy, I’m hungry. You want to buy me something to eat at Wendy’s.”

Now I’ve been pretty strict lately on us, cooking at home nearly every night of the week, and only eating out roughly once a week. But when my three year old recognized that Wendy’s sign, I was a little appalled and wondering why I hadn’t cracked down on us earlier. Say a year ago.
Anyway, I don’t like the kiddos to go hungry, and we knew that mixing ten cans of paint might take a while in Home Depot, so we went searching for somewhere to eat. Just not Wendy’s.

We found this place. SmashBurger.

I’ve never been before and I don’t think it’s been open for more than a year in my suburb in Texas. My husband said he’d heard of them, so I figured, sure why not? If we’re going to clog our arteries, at least we know the place tastes great.

There’s really nothing to say here other than yumm.
I chose the smallest burger they had, which was unfortunately still a 1/3 lb burger. If there’s ever a next time, I’d try ordering a kids meal. We ordered one for our kiddos and split it between them, but they still didn’t eat it all.
Here’s the burger and fries.

Those fries were dubbed SmashFries and probably the best I’ve had in a long time. I say that probably because I don’t eat fries too often anymore, but still, they were great. Better than the burger even. Think french fries fried in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and a bunch of rosemary. I’ve already decided that I’m going to have to create them at home, only bake them in the oven instead of deep frying them. My husband thinks fries are supposed to be seasoned only with salt and dipped in yellow goo, but he’s just weird like that. When we got married he also didn’t like any kind of cheesecake except the Jello no-bake “cheesecake”. He’s been enlightened since then.

One credit I do give SmashBurger is the great atmosphere. You can sit inside of course, but they have a nice little patio outside to sit and enjoy your artery-clogging burger and fries in the sunshine.

Apparently they also play background music outside. We weren’t sitting there for more than a few minutes before my husband started asking me who sang “Collide”. Oh do I love that song. And darnit that song has been stuck in my head for days now.

One thing you should know about me. I love love LOVED music. Well actually I still do, I just can’t hear it. My mother forced me (and nearly pulled her hair out while doing it) to play the piano from the time I was twelve until I entered college, approximately six years of lessons if you don’t include a few short breaks. I hated pretty much every moment of it until I was actually good enough to play some contemporary pop songs as a teenager. But even at that point, I barely enjoyed it despite the fact that I considered playing through college. And now? I’d give a lot to hear one of Mozart’s Sonatas again.

When my husband asked me about “Collide” while we sat at SmashBurger, I couldn’t immediately remember that it was sung by Howie Day, but believe me when I say that I remembered every single word to the song. I can even remember sitting on our living room sofa late one night, about to head to bed, when Jay Leno introduced Howie Day as the music guest. On the album, the song actually has strings and other backup instruments, but the way that Howie Day sang it that night was simply with his just his acoustic guitar. And it was so simple, so clean, and so uniquely beautiful, that I looked the song up the next day and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. I don’t really know any of his other songs, and I’ve never followed him as an artist, but the song just sticks out in my mind so much because it’s one of the last few that I heard before losing enough of my hearing that I couldn’t really understand music melody.

I have such a long list of to-do items once I receive my Cochlear Implant this year. Toward the top of my list? Buying an iPod and listing to Collide over and over again as I did so many years ago. And, Mom? Watch out because I just might try piano lessons again.

Dinner dates and a yawn

I love my husband. I really do. So much that I periodically agree to go out to dinner with him and another couple, people I don’t know, when he needs to conduct a business dinner. Tonight is one of those nights, and my first thought about it is that, darn, I shouldn’t have planned on driving out to my mom’s today so that I could get a nap in before tonight.

No, we won’t be staying out late, but I can just imagine how tonight will go. We will get to the restaurant, introductions will be made, we get drinks, we order, and now I’m very very very bored. Did I mention I’d get bored?
Now there are probably quite a few people who don’t really know how much I don’t understand. I’ve gotten pretty good at pretending like I’m paying attention. I watch the tennis match of conversation as it bounces back and forth between players, smiling when they smile, fake laughing when they do, while I’m thinking, I wonder how I can get those red fingernail polish handprints off my bathroom door that my son made a few months back?

But the biggest thing I really try not to do is yawn. I mean, is it me, or does that just seem incredibly rude when you’re talking to someone (and keep in mind that the other couple does think they’re talking to me too) and in the middle of the story, they yawn and seem to lose focus on the whole conversation? So while I don’t really pay attention to the conversation for the most part, I really do try to keep an active mind, make lists if necessary, and do anything… anything but yawn. Because that would be just plain rude. Just don’t hate me for not mentally paying attention, because lets face it folks, I wouldn’t understand ya anyway.

The camera is dead. Again.

When my husband and I got married in 2000, we bought a cheap film camera for about $100. See, we were broke like most all newlywed couples are, and since we were both moving from our parents house to an apartment, we figured we should spend all our money on furniture. Digital cameras were pretty darn expensive back then, and we didn’t actually purchase a digital until sometime in 2006 before our first child was born.
This is the camera we bought for $300, which can actually be bought for $150 at Amazon now. But I don’t recommend it.

While this camera was great for taking pictures of our kids, it’s very very small. About the size of my hand. And one day it was sitting on our table (which is bar height) and somehow or another it slipped off the table and made a pretty hard landing on our tile floor. Can you believe that it would work quite right after that? Something was off with the focus.

My husband, being the fix-it-all person that he is, took the camera apart. Now he’s never attempted to fix a camera for us or anyone before, so after the took the cover off he pretty much just blew on it, tapped on it a few times, looked at it real closely, and (from my viewpoint) just pretended like he knew what he was doing. When he starts putting it back together and I asked him if he fixed it, he just shrugged his shoulders (which is his usual response to things). Hmm.
But believe it or not though, it really was fixed. For a couple months.
A couple weeks ago it was sitting underneath something on our counter and when I was wiping down the counter, I couldn’t see it and it fell. Again. On our tile floor.
You might think I’m pretty irresponsible at this point, but I should make a point here to say that I do own a SLR (film) camera that I’ve never ever dropped in the entire time I’ve owned it. The problem with the digital camera is it’s way too tiny for it’s own good. Or that’s how I like to justify my irresponsibility anyway.
So that story is to just say that we’re looking at cameras now. If you’ve read my first and only cooking blog and seen the photos with our crazy broken camera, you can probably understand why.

Here’s the camera that I want. Isn’t it a beauty? It’s a Digital SLR camera, the Nikon D5000 to be precise. I’m so in love with this camera already and I don’t even own it yet. But that’s because My husband wants a different one. He’d prefer this bad boy here.

The Nikon D90. Be still my heart.
This puppy is actually better than the D5000 (and more expensive) because it has video. And the auto focus is in the camera body and not the lens. Not that I really know WHY it matters where the auto focus is. Heck, I really don’t know much about these cameras other than they have great reviews and take really really good pictures. I also see a photography class in my near future. But regardless, they both got a two thumbs up from my media savvy husband, so I’ll be happy with either of them.

So EVENTUALLY I’ll be cooking and baking more. Here’s some stuff I’ve done before, and I don’t just mean taking the picture. I baked and slaved over the decorations on these things. Did I mention I’m deaf? That translates to mean that I’m an incredibly visual person. And somehow perfectionism got thrown in there too. I really have so many recipes and ideas that I am just so excited to want to share. Just as soon as I get my dream camera.

Sonic Drive-In and the misadventures of a deaf girl

Sonic is the one fast food joint that I avoid like the plague. Every few months my family might eat from Sonic, and even after so many years of being hearing impaired, and nearly two years of being deaf, I still have to remind my husband that I do NOT and I mean I do NOT order from Sonic. If we eat from Sonic, it is his sole responsibility to bring home the food. End of discussion.

If you’re not deaf or hearing impaired, you might ask why I don’t like ordering from Sonic. Heck, my husband still asks me that. He wonders why I can’t just tell them to send someone out to take my order. Well today I tried that.

I’m in Woodlands, TX, today for a conference that my husband’s work is hosting and because he is one of the directors at his work, both he and his spouse (that would be me) were paid for. Now I like to at least make myself useful (on occasion), so I offered to go grab lunch for my husband and one of the other directors who were both working on set-up for the conference. It just so happens that the freeway near to where we are contains virtually no fast-food places other than….. that’s right, Sonic.

I drive into Sonic, take a brief look at the menu, but I already know what the guys want. Two number one meals with fries and drinks. No problemo (I like to pretend I know a little Spanish since I live in Texas). I push that big red button near the speaker and pray very hard that I can do this. And at this moment I realize that there is a LOT of road traffic. I turned off my car to make it quieter, but all I hear is a lot of white noise from the freeway that’s a couple hundred yards away. There was also a semi trailer going down the street next to me too. And turning. And taking his little time while I’m sitting here wondering, did someone just say something from the speaker? It’s been about a minute. What if they already said something and I missed it?

I really thought I might have heard the speaker crackle with a voice saying “blah, blah, blah” (or something like that) so I say, “I’m sorry but I’m deaf. Can you send someone out to take my order?” This is what my husband always tells me to do at Sonic, so I’m finally taking his advice.

Now I’m waiting. And waiting. No one is coming out. So I guess no one was really saying anything? Or maybe they said something AFTER I did and I didn’t hear them, and they didn’t hear what I said? Arg! This is too tough!

At this point, I’m about to cry. I can feel the burn in my eyes as the tear ducts attempt to accumulate moisture and I try really really hard to hold back any tear that might possibly sort of be forming. I can sit at a fast food place and order my food. I am fully capable of doing it on my own despite my teeny tiny disability. It’s not that hard. I’m not going to cry when those people are looking at me. I can do this. I can be deaf and not be miserable. Right?

Crackle. Crackle. “Bla-blah-bu-bu-ba-blah-blah?”

I hear it loud and clear! Ok, well not loud and clear because I couldn’t understand what the guy said, but I distinctly hear the sound of SOMEONE saying something out of that darn speaker! Whew!

Yeah so that’s why I don’t go to Sonic. Too much emotion that I know this girl can do without.

Shoe Shopping

After my experience yesterday with the swing, I was in a better mood needing to get a few things done.

A few weeks ago my son had an “accident” in his pants, meaning his mother forgot to tell him to go to the bathroom so he went in his pants. He’s almost four so I feel as though it’s his accident more than mine, but let’s move on. After having this accident, I quickly realized that not only were his underwear and pants wet, but so were his shoes. His good shoes. Now I’m not one of those mothers who buys ten pairs of shoes for a child who outgrows them in less than six months, so he usually has a pair of sandals, a pair of cheap play shoes, and his good shoes that he wears when we go somewhere other than the park or backyard. And even though I may not buy ten pairs of shoes for him, I love buying him a good pair of shoes that are trendy. His dad is very picky about the clothes he himself wears, so I think it’s fun to try and find clothes and shoes for my son that mimic his dad. I was a little annoyed at having to go find shoes for my little boy again, because let’s be honest here. They do NOT make trendy clothes and shoes for boys nearly as easy to find as they do for girls.

So I went shoe shopping and I found him these. Payless always has cute shoes for boys that don’t include action heroes and funny lights or sounds. Call me a mean mother, but I can’t stand those light up shoes. But these shoes are really cute.

And the BEST thing about shoe shopping? Finding shoes on sale of course. His super cute shoes were on sale and Payless was also having a buy one get one half off sale. I looked for my son a pair of sandals for the summer since the second pair would be half off, but they didn’t have any cute ones in his size. Nor in my daughter’s size.

But they did have these.

Let me tell you, there’s just nothing that’s easier than bringing a girl out a blue mood like a pair of cute shoes.

The next time your child needs a pair of shoes, make sure to check out Payless. After all, if they’re practically giving away the second pair, what’s a girl to do?