Tag Archives: Baking

Where Do We Go Now – My Professional Life Set To GNR

I would like to think that Axl Rose was tapping in the aimlessly wandering minds of millions and not trying to figure out where to score late night munchies while stoned when he sang the line, “Where Do We Go Now?” I’d also like to believe he’s still his thin, lanky late 80’s self as much as I’d like to believe I still look like I did in 2003 (oh my early 20’s prime!).  Well, we can’t turn back time but we can certainly reinvent our personal road maps.

It’s funny how the tides ebb and flow in our lives.  For the majority of mine, my romantic chapter has been a mess.  Not like a I didn’t sweep the floor this week mess, more like an episode of Hoarders Greatest Hits.  So many dysfunctional relationships shoved in such a small space!  Now that there is finally peace and balance in that section, fung shee has wavered in others.  I’ve not necessarily ignored it, but more so thrown my hands up in the air and said helplessly, “What can I do?’

Like a poison upstream, the toxins will eventually flow to other estuaries.  The deadly mental goo wasn’t quite like Roundup with overnight conquers, but more like that houseplant that your aunt gave you that you tried your best to water weekly but instead watered it daily, then forgot to water it at all, and finally overwatered it like you were on an episode of E.R. – The Houseplant Files.  (Get me a gallon jug of H2O – stat!)

I’ve not wanted to deal with this in public, but I feel like it will give me a sense of accountability.  Like Stella got her groove back, I’m going to get my life back.  My professional and my creative life.  You will be my witness and that will drive me to victory knowing someone is watching, waiting (Not creepily.  That sounded creepy.)  It might be an ugly no-holds barred fight to the end, but I’m coming in this like Napoleon Dynamite and planning on leaving like Hulk Hogan.  (Or the Rock.  Isn’t Dwayne Johnson to die for?)  Yes… let’s make that ‘I’m coming in like Napoleon Dynamite and going out like the Rock!’  Do you smelllllllllll what the Rock is cooking?  (PS- for years when I was in the ugly romantic phase of my life I had hoped that was a personal dinner invitation to me from the Rock.  No luck.  Turns out he wasn’t asking me out.)

I’ve not been able to put my finger on one thing that caused it because there are many contributing factors.  No one thing did this alone.  While beach erosion can be caused by one massive washout of a hurricane, it can also be caused by one lapping wave at a time.  Time marched on and waves slowly washed away the grains of sand in my professional happiness.

Truth be told, I have not had the easiest transition from independently owned to corporate life.  Though some can march on seamlessly, it has been different for me.  It took away the feeling of ownership for me.  I didn’t personally own my place of employment, but when you work at a ‘mom and pop’ kind of business you feel like your voice is strong and loud, heard clearly at all times.  In the corporate world, it has given me a sense of verbal meekness. I’m not trying to go all Stefanie Williams here because I still get my bills paid and I don’t think it is causing financial suffrage in my life.  I’ve gone from being a fish in a little pond to a fish in an ocean. I just feel like I’ve moved from the driver’s seat to the back bench seat in a mini-van.  I’m obviously still along for the ride but my voice doesn’t carry well over the radio and the people in the middle row.  Those people closest to me can hear me, but the people up front probably forgot I was even back here.

Presleigh’s death was so overwhelming I sometimes have a hard time placing its impact.  Was I like this to begin with?  I’d always felt 110% committed to my job.  Volunteering to cover empty shifts, coming in after hours when I wasn’t on call, skipping lunches, clocking in early and clocking out late were all part of my commitment.  The being there all the time and the wanting to be there not as much blend together with her death, the corporate buyout and honestly the healthy relationship.  Why would I want to spend long hours at a place that was causing me self-doubt and discontent when I was so much happier at home where I feel appreciated and loved?  Up to Presleigh’s death, I felt like my career had my back.  I had the training, the tools and the staff to make magical phenomenons happen.  Then my own dog died.  All of those times I was part of what felt like miracles and she perished in less than twenty-four hours.  There were so many thoughts that could basically be summed up as, “If I couldn’t save my own dog, what business do I have working on yours?”  I remember having such a sureness in myself.  I knew I completed task and that I followed through on instructions.  I double checked myself but never anything like what I do now which is like a quadruple check times fifty.  I miss my confidence.  People believed in me.  I believed in myself.  Was Presleigh dying the beginning of burnout/compassion fatigue or had it been slowly adding up all along and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

People come and go.  Welcome to veterinary medicine.  I always thought what would hurt the most was the people going.  There are so many people who have contributed to my skill set.  This whole section could be like an Oscar acceptance speech that keeps going on even with the ‘hurry the hell up’ music playing.  When people go, you hold on to the good things they instilled in you that made you better.  It’s a bittersweet parting full of sadness and thankfulness.  With all the tearful goodbyes through the years, I never in my wildest imagination thought that there would be people I would regret working beside.  I’m so lucky that in the majority of my time in this profession I have worked beside people who will build others up.  Unfortunately, I finally did encounter those that bring you down. There are people out there who will not only sabotage your happiness but they will lead you to self-destruction. I had never been called lazy in all of my life.  I had never had someone stare me down and insist I do something that was against our standards of quality care (side note: I still stood my ground and reported it).  I could not believe that I was being treated like an uneducated idiot because I was a female with the letters LVT behind my name and not a male with DVM behind it.  (Another side note:  I know good and well I am not a doctor and I fully accept my training/schooling/experience is nowhere near that of a doctor.  This previous sentence is more about respect than education.  Rock on, doctors.)   Unfortunately, all of these bad experiences happened at the same time one of my very favorite coworkers moved on.  The poor beau.  God bless him.  It takes a strong man to watch his significant other cry over another man with a frequency of every night/ every other night/ once a week/ and eventually only occasionally and still manage to get her the Kleenexes every time without any negative feelings.  Lucky for him, me and everyone, the existence of those hateful people were short in my life and I eventually recovered from the work breakup with said fantastic coworker.

To put a spin on Axl’s quote above, ‘Where Do We Grow Now?’  In my downward spiral of not feeling good enough, I began doubting that there were any more steps in my professional growth ladder.  Not to dwell on the subject of The Departure Of Coworkers That Cause Me To Drink Heavily, but there are doctors in this world who will utilize a technician to the fullest and then there are those who treat you like you an illegal citizen who dare not dream of being anything but their personal maid and janitor.  When it comes to the latter I’ve read about them, I’ve heard about them and as admitted above I unfortunately had to work with some of them.  The kick-ass coworker that I sobbed over macaroni and cheese about was the super utilizing kind.  I felt amazing about what I did because of the faith that person had in me and the tasks they trusted on my plate.  Then, the one aspect of my job that I still felt like I was a powerhouse rockstar in, I was pulled from my ‘doing’ position and put in a ‘teaching’ position. In retrospect, this should have been a compliment (and in the end it was a blessing because I discovered it was the repetitive motions of this task that was causing my ongoing neck and shoulder pain).  However, it just felt like being shit on by the man and I took it personally.  Favorite coworker exits, not so great people enter, I feel like shit about myself, I linger on feelings about my dead dog, my work reason for getting up every morning is taken away from me.  It was the Perfect Storm to start asking myself, “Where Do We Grow Now”.  Was this the end for me?  Should I start applying to fast food restaurants and accept that my veterinary technician degree was only suitable now for toilet paper or cleaning windshields (another new career option perhaps?)

I started dreaming of other jobs.  Baking, farming, fishing, Nascar racing, Team Tanqueray’s Official Birdwatcher.

Okay, there is no Team Tangueray but if there was I would totally be their official birdwatcher.

Instead of dealing with the problem head on, I started doing exactly what I used to do in that Ugly Relationship phase of my life.  I copied and pasted.  Something not working out? No problems.  Just copy and paste something over it.  Tada!  Not happy with your current job, dream of another, cut and paste.

It was over a month ago when I recognized the pattern and realized it was Operation Cut and Paste.  I had been cutting and pasting my professional life away.  It was then that I decided I was going to work towards change.  I was going to be better.  I was going to be happier.  Operation Be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was in full effect.
To Be Continued…..

A Little Off The Cuff

I apologize for this morning’s ramblings in advance.

In my defense there was a prepared ‘From The Desk Of The Dog’ ready for release today, but Cody is under the weather.  We argued about it a great deal this morning and finally Cody admitted I was right.  His piece will press tomorrow if he is feeling better.  After an evening of vomiting, he’s exhausted but seems more comfortable this morning.  Fingers crossed, there’s been no more chunk blowing since 8:00 pm last night.

Has anyone missed Cake Of The Week?  Don’t worry, I haven’t been a complete slacker.  I baked 18 ‘gift’ cakes last week, not including the three whiskey cakes that exploded in the oven (or the cookies, chex mix and no-bake pretzel turtles).  I received two recipe books for Christmas, filled with delicious desserts.  Bet your ass I’ll be back at that oven soon!

The beau and I have sworn in our New Year’s Resolutions.  His is to get into shape, mine is to properly measure flour for my cakes.  Seems there may be some resolution turmoil in our future.

I’ve done some worldly pondering in the last few days.  Why in the hell do the flashy rinses only come in juniors’ jeans?  I keep seeing that dark denim with the ‘seriously distressed’ pattern and they only come in juniors’ sizes.  Come on fashion world, only teenagers and models have hips that narrow.  Sir-Mix-Alot says shame on you!  Where’s the stylish pants for us curvy ladies?  

Alright, I have not had enough coffee and even less sleep.  You are on your own from here.  Keep your peepers open for From The Desk Of The Dog later in the week.

Thank you for your understanding and patience… Happy New Year!

PS- Because I love you guys, I’m hooking you up with this link.  The 22 Most Embarrassing Pages of The 1990 JC Penny Catalog!  

http://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/most-embarrassing-pages-of-the-1990-jc-penney-christm

Thank You First

Shit was not going as planned.

It’s the Sunday before Christmas and I was just starting to make my baked gifts.  My pretzel turtles were nearly complete.  I had just whipped up the Whiskey cakes.  I was going to power through this day!

Then, the Whiskey cakes exploded in the oven.  I should have gone with my gut feeling.  The little disposable aluminum pans were too small.  When I bought them from Walmart, I worried that the one compromised inch was going to screw me over.  And it did.

I shut off the oven and pulled my booze volcanos out.  Cake had puddled all over the oven’s floor.  “This shit is not going as planned.”

I needed a breather.  I would go grocery shopping.  I would come back and get some chicken and dumplings going in the crockpot.  I would clean up this mess and get a fresh start.  Everything was going to be alright.

I buzzed through the store quickly, only slowing my speed to chat with my classmate Michelle.  We discussed my cake explosion, which we both agreed could have been worse, and how Food Lion now offers Friendly’s ice cream.  I was then off to the checkout counter to get the hell out of Dodge.

I loaded my cart’s contents carefully on the conveyer belt while I waited my turn.  If you want to see my OCD in full swing, come witness me in the grocery store.  I group my items carefully and pray that the cashier will take note to the organization I have provided them.   You may hear me mutter, “Dairy … meat… canned good.”

I double checked the line of goodies and let a small smile appear on my lips.  I was ready to get wrung up.  That’s when I glanced behind me.

There was a man behind me with nothing but two poinsettias.  This man, for a lack of better description, was special.  I wish I knew the exact terminology for his handicap, but I don’t.  His attention was focused on his plants.

Now I have you know, I was raised right.  I know all about good manners and being kind to those who are who are disabled.  I know that you should always let someone who has a few items go ahead of you when you have a week’s worth of groceries.

“Sir, would you like to go ahead of me?  You just have those two flowers.”

He sized up my order and then his gaze went back to his flowers, which he soon scooped up.  He walked past me and said, “Thank you first.”

“You are certainly welcome.”

He stood silently for a moment and then turned around.  “You are really nice.  Can I give you a hug?”

“Sure.”  I open my arms and accept his embrace.  I have personal space issues, but I make exceptions in certain situations.

“Thank you first.”

“You’re welcome again.”

It wasn’t long before he had turned back to me.  “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Yes.  Yes, I do.”

“You should leave him.  I could be your boyfriend.”

That is when I was for sure shit wasn’t going to go as planned at all.

“You know, he really depends on me to cook dinner for him.  He’d be really sad if I wasn’t there to make his dinner.”

“You should still leave him.  I could make you dinner.”

Oh dear.  What have I gotten myself into?  “It’s a lovely offer, but I’m going to stick with what I got.  Thanks.”

The cashier now has his poinsettias, so his attention is focused elsewhere.  “Those are two for ten, right?”

The cashier responds, “They are five dollars each.”

“The sign says two for ten.”

“Yes, they are five dollars each.”

“But the sign says two for ten.”

Yes… this went on for a while.  Finally, it was settled and the cashier gave him his total.  “That’s going to be ten dollars and fifty two cents.”

The man looked down at his money.  He held two five dollar bills.  He hadn’t planned on the tax.  There was a silent showdown between customer and cashier, until a solution came about.

The man pointed back to me and said, “She’ll take care of the rest.”

Startled, all I could do was raise my eyebrow.  People were staring.  All they could see was that mean redhead that wouldn’t loan the special guy fifty two cents.  No one was looking when I let him cut line or when I hugged him.  I pulled my bag up and started sifting through.

“I’m going to look, but I gave my loose change to the bell ringers yesterday.”  I dug and dug, shook and shook.    I had no change.

The man shrugs and pulls out his wallet, where he had a giant wad of currency tucked in.  I’m not sure how long my mouth hung open.  This man almost swindled me!

After another heated moment involving his desire for the plants to be bagged, he finally headed to the exit.  He stood for a moment and turned as if he was searching the horizon.  Then this man, who had to be in his sixties started yelling, “Mom!   Mom!”   Then, he headed for the door.

I thought to myself, Dear God, this trip couldn’t have been any weirder.

Wrong answer.

As the cashier started on my groceries, a tall slender woman approached the register… and by approached I mean she bypassed the conveyor belt with all my groceries and started piling hers up on the ledge used for check writing convenience.

Was she trying to skip me in line?  My invoice was open!  It wasn’t like I could let her step ahead of me now.

“Hey, beautiful!”  She said to our cashier.

No response.

She turned to the cashier behind us and repeated herself.  “Hey, beautiful!”

No response.

I knew that this left only one person for her to converse with.

Me.

She leans down to me and whispers RIGHT in my ear, “I’m seventy seven years old.”  She leans back up so she can survey my expression.

“Really?  You’re looking good.  I would have never guessed that.”

“Well, you should have!  I have kids, grandkids, great grandkids.”  She’s  back down to my ear and says, “I have a boyfriend, but I’m going to get three more.”

“Good for you!  Doing better than most of us then, aren’t you?”

She nods.  “I bet you have a boyfriend.”

“Yes, I do.”  Is this dejavu?  I’m seriously thinking about making that boyfriend come with me to the store for now on.

She crouches down again, blatantly unaware that my personal space issues have been infringed upon WAY TOO MUCH today, “I’m sixty four years old.”  She returns to her standing position and she is just as proud as when she was at seventy seven years old two minutes ago.

“Really?”  Dear God, save me from this madness!

She bows down (for the final time, thank you sweet Jesus!) and speaks these words.  “I’m going to get three more boyfriends and make them all drop their drawers for me.”

How do you respond to that?

You respond by violently swiping your method of payment with little regard to the total and you get the hell out of that store!

I did see her before I made it on the road that afternoon.  She pointed at me and yelled, “There you are again!”

This type of ordeal happens to me all the time.  I’ve never quite figured out why.  I want to blame it on genetics, for my mother is also victim to these situations.  Is there something in my mannerism that suggests I’ll pick up the tax on your purchase?  Can people see that I strive to be a good person?  Or do they just like pushing the obsessive compulsive personal space complexities to the max?

I’m uncertain.  When given the opportunity again, I would probably react the same way.  Be kind, be courteous, be patient … and sometimes, you have to be all three.

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Thankful Today, Back Embarrassing Tomorrow

Wooo!  Getting a little dizzy thinking about it.  I can’t stop scanning my kitchen counter trying to figure out where that yellow masterpiece is going to go.

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That’s right ladies.  My man has upped my game.  I have been moping for months about my mixer and how it has been becoming more handicapped after each successful recipe.  I was raised to be grateful for what you have and use something until it was at the point of no return.  I would mumble that the old mixer was just fine.  I just had to hold one of its beaters in place to keep it from falling out.  (Warning:  I do not recommend holding a beater in place ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a fair bit of callous on the tips of your fingers.  It isn’t quite as bad as rope burn, but not pleasant all the same.)  Then, this would be followed with a wide range of cuss words in the kitchen and the occasional clunk-clunk-clunk.  Not to be outdone though by, “I’m fine.  Everything is just fine.”

With the approaching holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, I was starting to get worried.  How was I going to make my St. Patrick’s Day cake without an operational mixer?  This isn’t just a cake.  It’s two cakes and a cheesecake layered to super green perfection.  It’s work, but totally worth it.  Except maybe if you have to hold a beater in place for two consecutive days of batter and icing whipping.

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(Recipe here: Green Velvet Cheesecake.  You’re welcome.)

The anticipation was already heating up.  My sister had text me about the cake.  We are less than 30 days from St. Patrick’s Day.  When I responded that as long as the mixer held in there, cake would be made.  She responded with ‘YIPEE!’ and I’m sure fainted with excitement after that.

Later in the day, the cake had come up again when I was visiting with my mother.  We were discussing the portion size that her household would need (she’s requesting a quarter, but my lard-ass is going to be shipping her a half of it).  I mentioned that this all depended if Ole Sally would be feeling up for it.

I have no idea where the name Sally came from.  Just now I felt she needed a name.  I guess I’m feeling a little bad that she’ll be heading to the take-it or leave-it pile and the dump.

Mom gave me the KitchenAid mixer pep talk.  I nodded, but modestly said, “I don’t know where I would display it.”  If you own a KitchenAid mixer, you know you don’t store that thing, you show it off like a damn floor model.  I laid out all of my excuses.  Just wasn’t the right time for that kind of investment.

That’s right.  I said investment.  If you don’t own one and you’ve never priced one, you should right now to understand what I mean when I say INVESTMENT.

Mom ended the conversation with, “Well, you have to eat.”

So, when I came home and started cooking dinner, I did my usual downtime ritual.  Check Facebook Fanpage, check my blog, and check the book sales.  Then, I did the forbidden.  I got on the Kohl’s website and looked up KitchenAid mixers.

It was like a sign from the mixer gods. That baby was on sale!  YES!  SALE!  I could hear Sally screaming from underneath the counter in overwhelming sadness.  I whispered, “Stop it, Sally!  I’m just looking!”

The beau, “Did you say something, Shuga’?”

“Me, no.  Nothing.”

When the beau walked into the kitchen, he saw the screen.  He grinned at me, for he has seen that same Buttercup Kitchen Aid mixer on the screen a hundred times.  We ate dinner and then I was back in front of the screen.  I probably resembled Orphan Annie dreaming of that old bald guy coming back to get her.  Oh, the hard knock life with Sally Sad Mixer.

“Are you getting it?”

“It’s a hundred dollars off at Kohl’s right now.  I have ten dollars in Kohl’s cash.  There’s a thirty dollar mail-in-rebate.”

Sally whispers from underneath the counter, oddly in a Sméagol voice, “What about your credit card debt, Precious?”

My head hits the keyboard.  I can’t do it.  It doesn’t fit into my plan for my credit cards to be paid off by September.  Sally Sad Mixer is right.

“There will be no green cake this year.”

I don’t know if it was because I was so pitiful or maybe the beau can’t imagine surviving St. Patrick’s Day without green cake, but he whipped out his bank card and told me to get it.  I waved him off for a minute saying I couldn’t let him do that.  There’s no way I could accept that kind of gift.  I’m surprised he could hear me over the wailing in the cabinet.  Poor Sally.

He loves me.  And that green velvet cheesecake masterpiece.  There will be green cake this year after all.

PS – If you are zipping off to the Kohl’s website at this moment to buy one of these lovely mixers… you’ll also want to use the ANSWERS15 promotional code.  Another fifty dollars off.