Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yeah, it's like that-

A (somewhat) brief post about who I am.  Not that it matters, but if a reader knows a bit about the writer, they will understand, I don't know….whether or not they want to continue reading, I guess.

With me, everything is a long story.  Usually.  Wordiness is My Thing, I guess (is that a word?)  My life and my interests go all over the place, and since Facebook is *shrug* not all that (plus, there's never enough room to really SAY anything, and it always feels like the wrong, um, platform), and Twitter limits you to, like, 140 characters (oy), I decided it's time to just blog this stuff.  
I could say these are stories for my kids to have for later, or my mom, or whatever.  My mom's like, "Why would you write something that, maybe no one will read? What's the point of THAT?? Why not just write a book?"  and I'm all, "Because this is FREE, and I don't CARE if no one reads it, that's the point of blogs."  And we go back and forth…But really it's just because I enjoy writing (and typing, obviously) about things that I'm interested in (and this is a wide, WIDE field), and the funny things that happen to me along the way.  None of this will ever be made up-- you can't make this stuff up…and I promise, absolutely Scout's Honor, to never ever post a vague FB-like status update like this:  "stayed up too late again last night y'all."  I hate those, but I'll save that for another time.  I could write REAMS on just the topic of Facebook posts, so yeah, that one can wait.
For background, I was going to say I'm a gardener, or a fanatic gardener, or that gardening's my passion, but (…*staring into space*) I'm passionately interested in ALL my interests, if that makes sense.  So, I garden, yes, but I'm passionate about roses, particularly antique roses.  And tulips, and daffodils.  And vegetable gardening!  We have a 5,000-sq foot vegetable garden that has just been re-planted after a brief sabbatical of about 5 years while my life took a detour into the crazy world of high-end wedding cake production.   That itself is another story…
To make a long story…somewhat shorter…I have always gardened and cooked and canned (and painted and cross-stitched, quilted, crocheted, knitted, baked, and read voraciously about history), so when we bought 5 acres in 2000 with pretty much nothing on it, I got my Martha on (Martha Stewart figures a lot in my early 1990's career as a wife and mother, but it's easier from now on if we just refer to her as Martha) and went outside to plant a property to rival hers in all her lovely books and magazines.  
What no one had told me at the time, and of course photos in books are such sticklers for this, was that Martha had…drum roll…STAFF to do all that stuff.  Staff, baby.  Probably a whole hoard of strong-backed men named Renato working feverishly in the background every day, to magically make all this stuff just be.   Unfortunately for all us newlywed wannabe's (or maybe just me, surely not just ME?), we assumed that, sure, it's possible to plant 4,000 new tulips every fall, 150 antique and rare roses, an orchard, a giant vegetable garden, a 50,000-gallon pond complete with waterfall and rock garden and beach area, perfectly manicured acres of lawn, and endless weed-free perennial beds to rival Gertrude Jekyll's English gardens, which bloom continuously and seamlessly all season, while simultaneously 'bringing in the harvest' (love that term), preserving all of it in one way or another, baking a fresh pie or cake or tart everysinglefreakingday, AND have time to knit matching sweater/hat/mitten sets for 50 of your closest loved ones as gifts, complete with hand-decorated boxes, hand-letter and -designed gift tags worthy of framing, and also plan, host and cater the best and most perfect holiday (or any day) parties, and raise two perfect children, all at once.  Oh, and run two businesses, one being a busy wedding cake bakery that required about 16 hours a day on busy summer weekends.  Can you say…NO. LIFE. ?
So.  I planted the 4,000 tulips and the orchard and the vegetables, and … you get the picture.  Then, I brushed myself off and opened a bakery, because I'm a great cook (and modest, haha), while also co-managing my husband's busy delivery business, so I'm answering the phone and scheduling and doing all the books for that, every day.  Oh sure, it started like most bakery businesses do, with me baking and decorating cakes for our kids, then someone said you should totally sell these, can you make my kid's birthday cake next month?  I did, and then someone at that party asked me to do theirs, then a daughter's wedding, and it progressed for years until we were convinced that it was time to build a state of the art bakery, or quit.  Of course, we built it, and they came.  And came, and came…

And it was lovely.  Absolutely any baker's dream.

But, I was living there.  I mean, I never saw the beach, I never felt the fresh air or the sun (and I'm a SUMMER person, so wedding season pretty much killed my summers), I barely ever got home for dinner, let alone fun stuff like gardening, or checking the kids' backpacks to see if their homework was done.

After 4 years in the bakery, I was doing 80-90 weddings a season (by myself) and had scored the name of Best Wedding Cakes in my metro area for several years, and I was one of the "It" wedding vendors in the area.  If you wanted the best, you came to me.  I got to see my cakes featured in magazines and online in national blogs, and was asked to provide the cake for a Fox TV episode of Hotel Hell with Gordon Ramsey (no, I didn't work with him, or even meet him, but that's another story, and possibly one that won't get told), so, as wedding businesses go, I had: Arrived.  My Twitter account had Charm City Cakes and David Tutera (omg! David!) as followers, and I was included in all the Best Wedding Vendor lists in the area.  I have lots of lovely photo shoot pictures to show for it…

However.  Nothing, and I really mean NOTHING was getting done at home.  I had time to mow the lawns (takes about an hour), once a week.  Heck, sometimes I even would weed-eat.  (sarcasm) The vegetable garden area had weeds in it as tall as my shoulder.  The roses were covered in black spot and mildew, and I hadn't sat out there with a coffee in at least two years.  The pond rock garden was re-inhabited by field weeds.  The lawns filled with aggressive clover varieties.  My schedule kept getting busier.

I was going to the bakery at 4-5 in the morning, working on edible works of art, (and yes, I LOVED it, don't get me wrong), and sometimes getting home at 10 to 11 p.m.  The peak (low point? I don’t know) was last year, when I left the shop at 1:15 a.m., drove 15 minutes home, couldn't sleep for an hour, and was back at the shop at 5:20 a.m.  So, you can see this is heading for burnout.
Long story short-- I did love it, and (modest as I am) I was really, really good at it, but when you burn out, you burn out.  And when you have a hefty mortgage, a hefty SBA loan, and a hefty BMW payment to go with the business name, you can't, you know, just chill for a while.  You maintain the pace, for, well, EVER.  So I stopped.  First I shut off the phone, because I was turning down 2-3 wedding orders a day.  Then I shut off the website, and I don't mean "suspended" it…I released the domain name or whatever, so that final *click* with the mouse on the "do you really want to cancel this domain?" was pretty final.  Then I pulled the FB page, got rid of the bakery and the BMW, took a breath, and took my life BACK.

It's odd to pull the e-brake on life when you're going mach-5 with your hair on fire in an industry that forces you to either keep up and keep your name out there all the timeallthetimeallthetime, or you disappear, because you know there's always that NEXT, super-excited newbie wanting to step in and be the next It Girl in your place, so it's been a little strange to see how fast I have disappeared from the wedding industry in my area.  It's funny because sometimes it seems like my vendor acquaintances must think this whole quitting the business stuff is, like, contagious or something.  It's not.  But that's ok, because most days I don't think of them either, except while I've been puttering in the vegetable garden or the roses all day,  or cross-stitching on the back deck with a lemonade, listening to the waterfall and the birds (we have tons here), and then I look up and think last year, right now, I was working on FIVE weddings for the weekend!!  And I look up at the sky, and I smile.  Lord help me, but I do miss that damn car, though--selfish, proud human that I am…
So, this, will be my journey back to my Real Life, where the roses will be smelled and enjoyed, and the vegetables will grow, be harvest and preserved, and the cross-stitching can happen on days that aren't Sunday, and I can take my two girls to the beach (yes, today) or the store for science fair project supplies after school, randomly, without watching the clock and without freaking completely out that I've just used up an hour driving around and now I have to get up at (letmethink) like 4 freaking a.m. tomorrow to get the cake stuff done that I skipped today to drive you guys around. (no guilt there…sorry girls!) 

Every day now, in this new life, I work outside for hours (or not, hey, there's always tomorrow and my schedule's wide open now), and I conquer a little bit more of our 2 acres of landscape that need pulled back from the brink of does anyone live there anymore? But it's fun to watch it improving, and I'm recording it here because Facebook, like I said, is not the right place, and besides, posting pictures of roses and gardens being renovated just looks like bragging, when it's on Facebook (doesn't everything, really? Check out my kickass life, it all seems to say).  My garden (and kitchen) triumphs and failures can be recorded here without my 'friends' chiming in to my husband to say, "Wow, I see you planted squash today", and he's all, "What? Why is this news?"
Ok, that's enough for now.  But I know people are visual, so here are some pictures of what I was missing, and why I'm so glad, I mean in my heart, just GLAD, to be home.

Got the gazebo up just before Memorial Day, but…the view from inside was, uh, not being all it could be:

So, I spent the afternoon crawling around in the gravel, until it looked like this: 

Ahh, that's much better.
The vegetable garden went from this (we just added the boxes):

To this:

And here's some of the roses (I won't bore you with ALL of them, there are 70-100 varieties):

 Louise Odier

Belle de Crecy

Souvenir de la Malmaison



                                                                            Jack-- my favorite cat EVER
And, to be fair, here's my other favorite cat EVER-- Louis:
Ok, that was SO not a brief post, but just, whatever.




  1. Congratulations on deciding to take your life back, i know it's hard to do and to just make a huge change but you are doing it. The garden is heavenly and i wish you all the best.

  2. Is there a "LIKE" button for this post? ;) Saw your farewell at CC and popped over to check out what happens when the baking ends...I can see it's lots of really great stuff! Thanks for sharing and wishing you all the best...

  3. Hi guys and THANKS! I had no idea how many visitors would show up over here! I am so happy and relaxed now...yes, there is life after cake (and BMW's).

    I think the only way to "like" these is to Google 1+ them. I'm still new at this though. Stay tuned :D

  4. I'm so happy to know that you are happy and at peace with your life. That's what really matters most. I may not have Had the chance to know you and talk to you on cc but i know you now and i look forward to hearing all about your new journey. God Bless.

    1. Thanks Brenda! If you've checked back; I did write a mid-summer update, and life at home is just as great as I remembered it, and I love it!