me my books my blog keep in touch

Archive for March, 2010

I’m obsessed with cake right now.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Okay, I admit…it’s not just today. I am pretty constantly obsessed with cake. Hubby #1 loves to tell the story about my college roommate’s wedding when the cake was wheeled out, a hush fell over the room and I shrieked, “Yay cake!” at the top of my drunk lungs. What can I say…cake is important to me.

So, it’s obvious that the cake for Baby #2’s birthday party would be an important decision for me. I went back and forth for a week…make or buy? Make or buy?!? It’s a huge decision. It sets the tone for the party – is this a ritzy affair or a down-home shin-dig? In my pre-baby life I was all about making cakes, from scratch – fancy, delicious cakes from multi-step, complicated recipes. Then Baby #1 came along and I didn’t have quite the same amount of time for baking, but was thrilled to find cake mixes at Whole Foods that aren’t brimming with toxic chemicals. Then as Baby #1 got older and the birthday parties got bigger, I started buying cakes.
Buying cakes is so darn easy, but store-bought cakes are guilt inducing. I want to be the mom who makes the best cakes ever. So, this year I made (from the Whole Foods organic mix) the cake for Baby #1’s birthday party. Actually I made the equivalent of four cakes – I used two mixes to make two 8″ square layer cakes that I pushed together to make a big sheet cake looking thing (which cracked down the middle on the way to the party location) and two mixes to make who-knows-how-many cupcakes. I was up insanely late and was extraordinarily stressed out that the cakes would be raw in the middle or so dry that people would choke. Flash forward three months and it’s time for Baby #2’s birthday. I asked Hubby #1 his opinion – make or buy?

“Do whatever is going to be the least stressful,” he said without hesitation.

I was torn. The cake is so important, and I want it to be perfect! I got a vision in my head of a train shaped cake. I called Hansen’s…a train shaped cake is $432. Hmmm…that seemed a bit steep for a two-year-old’s party. I suspected that even if the $432 cake made me blissfully stress-free that Hubby #1 wasn’t going to be on board. Okay, back to the drawing board. Maybe making a train shaped cake was the way to go? My friend, Shelby had made an adorable train cake for her son’s birthday with a pan from Williams-Sonoma. I called Williams-Sonoma, prepared to buy the pan that makes 9 cupcake-sized train cars, knowing that I would need to make four batches (36 train cars) to have enough to feed everyone at the party. It turns out, Williams-Sonoma considers trains Christmas decorations, so the the pan is not available. I e-mailed Shelby to see about borrowing hers. Before she could e-mail back, I started to worry about where I would have space to line up 36 cupcake-sized train cars. So, I chickened out and decided to order a cake.

There, I admit it…I ordered a cake. I am not super-mom. I am hanging my head in shame. If I was going to buy a cake though, it was going to be the best cake money could could buy – well, the best cake under $100 that money could buy. I remembered a cake from friend’s birthday party a few weeks ago that was good and came from a bakery just bordering ridiculously far away from our house. I packed up both kids and off we went. I got to the bakery and saw that it was cash or check only…I never have cash or checks on me, but yesterday I did. It was a sign! This was meant to be our cake. We tasted the fillings, we picked the flavors, we got them to agree to draw a picture of the train from the invitation onto the cake for $25, and we ordered the cake. Hooray! Success! I was immediately stress-free. Then the man warned me that the fudge filling we had selected had a small amount of peanut butter in it and that I needed to make sure there were no peanut allergies at the party. For a brief moment, I felt my stress-free success slipping away, but I shook it off.

I will make a quick post-candle-blow-out for people to beware of the PB, and I will bask in the tranquility that the store-bought cake will provide. Yeah, right.

My mother is not a fan of my blog.

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I know what you’re thinking…How could anyone not like this blog? I don’t know what to say…it is what it is. In fairness, she’s not such a big fan of my books either.

I think she found my first book, Not Quite a Bride (available on Amazon, just in case you don’t already have it) acceptable. She read it (I’m pretty sure she read it) and she didn’t have anything bad to say about it. Things went downhill with Not Quite a Mom. Her first comment to me was that she was about shocked at how much sex there was. I’m going to assume that you’ve all read it (but if not, Amazon), and therefore know that the book has far less sex that most in its genre. I pointed this out to her and then I brushed off her horror that one of her friends might read it and think less of me. I have already told her that when Book #3 is published that she should probably skip it. I remember reading an interview with Kristin Davis when she was doing Sex and the City where she explained that each week should would call her family and tell them if they should watch the show or not. It seemed like a very smart plan to me. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Knowing that dear Mom isn’t a fan of my writing, I didn’t mention to her that I had started blogging. Then yesterday I got the following e-mail:

Hi Sweetie:
My day has been interesting and even had a few surprises. For example, I always thought your shower was a tight fit for one person and today I learned that both you and Hubby #1 manage to shower at the same time. I am definitely not going to envision this, but I can’t say the same for Friend of Mine #1*, FoM #2, FoM#3, your children’s friend’s parents, strangers, etc. And by the way, I know who Hubby #1 is, but how many others are there and will I be meeting them?
Hope you are having a good day. Talk with you later.
Love, Mom

*Names have been changed to protect my relationship with my mother…I think she can only take so much from me.

Apparently she had discovered the blog. Oops. I’ll admit, my first reaction was a little like a high schooler getting caught having sex on the family room couch (which never happened to me…my mother would literally have died of a heart attack and would never have even gotten to enjoy – or dislike – my fabulous writing) – I was a little embarrassed. I wrote back a short e-mail basically saying, that I hadn’t invited her to read my blog because I didn’t think she would like it and that I was sorry. A few hours later, I realized that I wasn’t sorry…I’d done nothing wrong. As always, I think of the perfect retort way after the fact, and I wished that I could change my answer to: Not only will you not be meeting Hubby #2, sometimes I’m sorry I ever introduced you to Hubby #1. I know, too mean…good thing I’m not a quick retort thinker.

Instead, I decided to share her discomfort with the world – or at least the fraction of the world that reads my blog – and hope that she is able to keep her sense of humor (because she actually has a really good one) and that she is grateful to learn that while my husband might think about getting in the shower with me once in a while (which if she’d read carefully she would know that he doesn’t actually do) she’ll know that at least I never had sex on the family room couch.

I hate garage sales.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Garage sales suck…they really do – for everyone involved. It doesn’t matter if you are the buyer or the seller, nobody is going to have a good experience at a garage sale.

Why it sucks to have a garage sale:
As you all know, I recently moved. Pre-move, we undertook a giant clean-out, figuring that the fewer items we had to pack up and move the happier we would be. Definitely a good theory. Then, instead of just packing up all our unwanted items and generously dumping them on Goodwill, we got greedy and decided to have a garage sale. A friend of mine told me she had made over $1000 at her garage sale. Who wouldn’t want $1000 for their junk? So, we got up painfully early a few weekends before our big move and carried all our junk out to the driveway.
Then we sat there in the sun and watched people sort through our wreckage. As miserably bored as I was, I can’t deny that it was somewhat fascinating. The items I thought would go fast, like board games, sat there baking. A stack of baby blankets that I thought nobody would want were among the first to go – go figure. The part that was unbearable was the haggling:

Fictitious Garage Sale Customer: “How much for this brand new frame, still in wrapper with the $15 Aaron Brothers price sticker on it?”
Me: “$1″
FGSC: “Would you take 25 cents for it?”
Me: “Why don’t you take for of them for $1. I don’t really want to deal with coins.”
FGSC: “Would you take 75 cents?”

I’m serious! This is how my day went. People were haggling down to the nickel. It was ridiculous. And to top it off, at the end of the day, we still had a driveway full of stuff that had now been man-handled by every garage sale shopper in town. In the end, we canceled day #2 of our sale and donated the (many) remaining items.

The flip side – why it sucks to go to a garage sale:
Now, I know what you are thinking. If I know garage sales suck, why would I go to one? This is a very valid point, but there is a tractor-beam-ish draw. I cannot help but think one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I don’t go to garage sales often. I would say two a year, three tops. I don’t read the Penny Saver to see where they are and I don’t drive around looking for them, but occasionally if I am walking around my neighborhood and I see a big, handwritten sign promising treasures galore, I can’t help myself. I fell into the trap this morning. I spent a few minutes of my life looking at the piles of garbage that had been thoughtlessly strewn onto a driveway. I can’t deny it was interesting to see the items they were willing to part with – a florescent pink padded bra, a bamboo bong and a Jonas Brothers beanbag chair among them – but alas, their trash would have been my trash too, and I so I walked away feeling a bit sorry for myself that I had wasted my time and energy looking for the pot of gold that doesn’t exist and a bit sorry for these people who are going to spend the rest of this beautiful Sunday sitting around while people endlessly haggle.

I played chicken with Gerard* from the Crate and Barrel…

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The game began on December 26th. Hubby #1 and I were invited to our very good friends’ engagement party that evening. Unfortunately, with all the insanity leading up to Christmas, I had overlooked getting a gift for the honored couple. So, bright and early, and not quite recovered from all the wonders of Christmas Day, the whole family bundled up and headed to The Grove. We were early enough that the post-Christmas shopping frenzy hadn’t really begun. First stop (well, only stop): Crate and Barrel, where our friends had registered. We had called ahead and placed their desired cake plate on hold. This could become a world speed record for gift buying. Then, I ruined it. I was like the runner in the relay race who drops the baton.

“We should look at dining room tables while we’re here,” I suggested.
Hubby #1 had a sense that we should flee before the crowds came in, but he gave in. We were already there, after all.
We took the escalator to the second floor. The baton officially hit the ground.

We walked around looking at all the tables – too big, too small, too round, too square. No luck. Then, I saw the Morris table, shoved in the corner of “AS IS” furniture. It was a little too skinny and a little too light, but we’d been looking for a table for a long time and the Morris table was the closest we’d come to agreeing on something.

“Let me know if I can help you,” Gerard* approached us.

Gerard was a small man in neatly pressed, pleated khakis and mid-nineties Cole Haan loafers. He wore small, round tortoise frame glasses. I quickly felt the salesperson – customer bond happen.

“We’re interested in this table,” I told Gerard. Gerard confirmed that it was a great table. “But this one is scratched,” I said. He explained that it was (as the sign explained) “AS IS.” “Can we get a new one?” I asked.

Gerard scurried off to his computer and quickly returned with the ominous word. There were only four new Morris tables left in the entire country.

I gasped. “Four?!?”
“That’s right. If you think you want one, you should buy it now. They won’t last through today. It’s going to be a very busy shopping day,” Gerard explained knowingly.

He told us that we could buy the table (and six matching chairs, of course) and then take our time to think about it. The process was easy. They would be ours, safely stored in a Crate and Barrel warehouse until we were ready to take delivery. Or we could cancel the whole order over the phone. It sounded perfect. With only four left in the whole country, I couldn’t risk that the next day I would realize that the too skinny and too light Morris table was the table of my dreams only to have it gone forever.

We quickly paid Gerard and left the Crate and Barrel with a color print-out picturing our table and chairs. (Side note: buying a table and six chairs is enough to get you free parking at The Grove.)

In the weeks that followed, we showed everyone who came to the house the picture. Pretty much everybody seemed to like the set well enough. I was ready to pull the trigger. True, I hate making decisions, but I also LOVE new things. Hubby #1 is less swayed by the excitement of brand spanking new stuff, so we held off.

Then the phone calls started. The first one came when I was home, but I saw Crate and Barrel on the caller ID and didn’t answer. I believe in avoiding confrontation whenever possible and I didn’t have an answer for Gerard about whether we wanted the table or not. He left a message asking me to call him. I didn’t call him back. A week or so later, another message was left, again asking for a return call. Again, I ignored Gerard’s request. Around this time, we started leaning away from the Morris table – it really wasn’t quite right. Then, a note came in the mail. It was handwritten on lovely, fold-over Crate and Barrel stationery. It said:

Dear Kirsten,
Could you please give me a call to set up delivery for your table and chairs. I do not want anything to happen to them.
Thanks, Gerard

Was Gerard now threatening my table? What would be the next step? Was I going to find a chair leg in my bed?!? Gerard was upping the stakes, but I held my wimpy ground – our game of chicken continued. I still wasn’t ready to make a final and permanent decision.

Gerard wasn’t flinching. Two weeks later, on a Saturday, the phone rang and the caller ID said Crate and Barrel. I didn’t answer. Instead, I stood next to the answering machine wondering what threats Gerard was going to hurl. It wasn’t Gerard though… it was an automated message confirming delivery of our table and chairs for Tuesday between 11am and 2pm!

This had gone too far. It was time for me to take a stand. So, I made Hubby #1 call Crate and Barrel and cancel the order. (Making someone else handle the confrontation still counts as taking a stand.) Our money was refunded and the table was gone, which I’m okay with because it really was too skinny and too light.

Bawk-bawk, Gerard. I win!

*names have been changed to protect the innocent – or guilty.

My car is parked outside…

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Oh, my friends, bad news to report. My car is parked outside…

After all my hard work, the rain came and flooded my picture-perfect garage. I still love the rain, but I’m a bit angry with it right now. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Don’t worry though, I am still woman hear me roar.