Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WTF is Going On Here?

My boss never showed yesterday. It's past noon now, and that bitch hasn't poked her wigged head into my cube yet. As it turns out, she emailed almost everyone last Friday, asking if they would be in on Monday, and everyone who got the email had the same gut-wrenching reactions of- "OH FUCK! WHAT 'S GOING ON?!?!?!"

It's not excusing my deplorable, irresponsible behavior at work. I'm talking about coming in late, not finishing my tasks on time, and getting distracted to easily by the web, the movies, the music and anything else that buzzes and steals my attention.

I made it to work on time today. If I get a stay of execution, it's going to be very different. No more eating out and movies and concerts...More money thrown at the debt monster. Finish my personal projects and triple my cake efforts.

I was thinking of doing a special holiday label for my Seasonal orders this year- something that will match my box decor better than my regular purple square (which I LOVE and will probably never replace). I just think I need something a little more eye-pleasing to go with all the effort I put into the ribbons and scarecrows I do for Thanksgiving and the ribbons and charms I do for Christmas/Chanuka. I was thinking something similar to my label design with colors more indicative of the season? Do you think that's too much work to do for such a short period of time?

Did I mention that besides the new laptop, I also bought a $200 photo printer, scanner, copier, Fax? Oh, yeah. That's still getting paid off, too. It was certainly an impulse buy that I thought I needed to get my shit done. I can't always order labels from a pro weeks in advance. Sometimes I need things right away.

Well, I'm going to do my best to concentrate and get some shit done today before my next 2pm meeting. I'm leaving early tonight.....I'm having dinner out and then hitting up the Duran Duran concert at MSG.

OK, well I said no more eating out and concerts going FORWARD!!!! I can't do anything about tickets that have already been bought!! Also, I've dreamed of seeing them live for 25 YEARS!!! Better late than never.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ready or Not

I'm not sure whether or not I mentioned that my boss in DC sent me a rather cryptic email last Friday, asking if I would be in on Monday because she was coming into town. I don't know what's up, but I have a feeling in the back of my mind that big changes are going to happen.

I've written a lot in the past that I think I'm about to get axed. I still feel that way. Even though this new system has come out and I'm pretty damn important right now, I've still been coming in consistently late. My boss inside my office (the government Boss) doesn't say two words to me. In fact, he NEVER says anything unless it's bad. He eyed me signing in at 10:15 on Thursday morning, after I called out on Monday. Suddenly, my DC boss is heading into town after she was just here less than a week ago?

I tried not thinking about it too much. If it's the end, then it's the end. I can't say I'd miss the job; just the paycheck. I almost feel as though I've shot myself in the foot agreeing to be in this wedding. I depleted my Get the Fuck Outta Dodge Fund. I'm not really prepared for it since I've had all this other bullshit at work going on. I have a wedding card box that is no where near finished and I know my friend is pissed as hell that I haven't answered her emails asking me where the pictures are.

If I lose this job, I'm going to be in super deep shit. I've only been in the position one time where I couldn't pay my bills and the bill collectors' phone calls made my stomach bleed- literally. I dropped so much weight so fast because the worry and the stress wouldn't let me eat. I know I can probably get a little unemployment, even though I've never been on it before, and it would leave me more time to solicit cake jobs. It would probably also free me up to take a part time cake position at some bakery for cash. But, not having a DECENT steady check really shakes me up.

I am holding way too much liability and I need to unload. These fucking timeshares need to go. Period. I'm probably down to about $15,000 on the mortgage for it, but what good is a vacation destination with no one to share it with? And it's not like I have the time to step away from work to go enjoy myself. It seems like I haven't had that time for a long while now.  The credit cards have inched up because of this wedding. Then there's this laptop that I bought that I probably should have held off on.

So, I'm going into work extra early in the morning. I'm hoping to clear up any loose ends I have, and I'll get another jump on clearing out my cube of all the stuff I've collected in there over the past 7 years. Christ, has it been that long? I don't know what's in store. By this time tomorrow, I may be on the unemployment line for government cheese.

My stomach hurts already. I know I can handle this. Let's just hope the rest of me is aware of it, too.

Friday, October 21, 2011


As nice as beautiful compliments may be, it doesn't buy the sugar. It doesn't pay the gas bill. It can't pick up a crate of eggs. Pretty words just warm the soul. If that's all I needed right now, that would be awesome.

Unfortunately, I have a very expensive weekend coming up next week in Chicago. I am still out nearly $200. Part of that won't be recovered because my uncle is no longer employed and I feel weird asking a retired person for money.

My friends who still owes me a nice chunk of change is already talking to me about catering her baby shower in December. No talk on money, but she's already made it clear her mom is hiring me to SAVE money. And, I shouldn't expect an invitation in the mail because I'm being brought in as "help"....but of course I understand, right?

I'm not someone who really busts her ass in the name of the almighty dollar, but that fucking dollar sure would come in handy right now, and I'm busting my ass anyway.

Things just aren't looking too hot right now, and the busy season is coming. I don't even know if I'll have the initial cash to stock up on my pie supplies.

Speaking of which...Pie anyone?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Balut: Not for the Faint of Heart

As per Wikipedia:

A balut is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell.
Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, balut are mostly sold by street vendors in the regions where they are available. It is commonly sold as streetfood in the Philippines.
This is similar to what I saw that day.
So, back when I was a toddler, I remember being extremely excited when my mom came home with a bag of these bad boys from the Filipino Store. It wasn't often, just once every few months. I remember jumping around excitedly, waiting for it to boil so I could crack it open, suck out the clear broth on the inside, soak the rest of it in the chili vinegar and down it like I was starving!

Sometime when I was about 10 or so, I remember my mom opening one up for me and handing me the contents. Then, I saw it. A DUCK FETUS!!!!! How I never saw it's poor little head all curled up around it's body before that day is beyond me. But, I remember jumping back, screaming, and running away in horror, sick to my stomach that I EVER found this monstrosity to delectable. I felt like a monster...I was eating baby ducks and loving it!!!

Fast forward about 20 years, it's gotten much easier to get a hold of these babies. My mom has bought it several times over, and I can easily find a bowl of freshly boiled eggs sitting on the table. What gives them away and keeps them from getting mixed up with regular unfertilized chicken eggs is that they are slightly larger and have a bit of a tan/greenish hue to the shell.

Monday, feeling a little ill and hungry with nothing readily available to eat at my house, I spotted a fresh pot of balut on the counter. I plopped one in a shallow bowl of water and stuck it in the microwave for 45 seconds. I did this for two reasons. One, obviously, was to warm it up without making it explode. Secondly, I don't know how well they clean the eggs after snatching them from the momma duck. Duck butt, duck poop....no thanks. I'll just have the embryo, if you don't mind.....So the microwave warm up serves to clean it a little further. I also rub the hell out of it with a paper towel afterwards. Better safe than sorry!

We're going to get graphic here. So, stop while you still can!!!!!!

I made a little dunking sauce of soy sauce, chili rice vinegar, and a little garlic. I grabbed my camera and went to work....

The Egg

Chili Vinegar & Soy Sauce w/ the Egg

CRACK! And suck out the soup!
(Probably best if you don't look while sucking.)

First Sight!! Obviously, this embryo isn't as developed
as the top picture. And that's fine with me!

I separated the embryo from the yolk, soaked it in sauce
and then tipped it back. GULP!

This the the veiny, not very appetizing-looking yolk.

I cleaned off some of the veins and separated it from the
"stone". I dunked it in sauce before devouring.

Overall, okay, it was not as horrendous as I feared it would be. The broth on the inside tasted like mild chicken broth. The emrbyo was gel-like and didn't have the crunch of bones or beak because it was still so young. It also didn't have much flavor, probably because I sauced it to death, and because it wasn't as far along as some of the other balut that some other people look for. The veins were QUITE off-putting, and I'm not a yolk-lover to begin with- chicken OR duck. But, I wanted to see if it tasted different. It doesn't. It just tasted like a bigger chicken egg yolk, which was gross to me because I don't like yolks!! The "stone" is this hard white part that was probably the "whites" of the egg before the fetus developed. It's not edible like a boiled chicken egg white. It's as hard as a stone.

My thoughts that I guess I can handle the funkiness of this very scary-looking food. I just had to keep telling myself that I loved this stuff as a kid! However, I wouldn't go out of my way to seek it out, and I don't think I could do more than one unless I was starving and there is NO OTHER CHOICE but balut.

Be brave and go get your fertilized duck egg today!! ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Elephant Blanket ERROR

Do you know what sucks? Finding a typo on a cake you've already delivered. What sucks worse? Trying to fix it in the picture and TOTALLY FAILING!!!! UGH!!!

Can you spot the error below? Before you all jump on my ass, keep in mind, I tried to fix it with Microsoft Paint, I was using a mouse- not a stylus, and I have shaky hands anyway.....

OH, Katherine.....FAIL!!!!

This is terrible! I can't put these up on my website looking like this, can I? How tacky would that be???

Anyway, take a look at the better shots of my cake!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Close Call

Oh, man. I took off yesterday so I could catch up with my baking and get my cakes done for the baby shower order this evening. I didn't decorate because I fell asleep and I sort of felt as though I was coming down with something- a HUGE no-no with this damn wedding coming up.

I was re-reading the email, wondering how I was going to price this cake, taking a look at the reference pictures they sent me. I thought I had to sculpt a sleeping baby elephant and cover it with this blanket. They sent me a picture of a baby blue and brown polka-dot blanket and a picture of a cartoonish elephant on another brown blanket.

I read the email again, and realized they wanted a cake covered in the pattern of the blanket with a picture of the cute baby elephant, not a sleeping baby elephant covered with this blanket....although I do think my idea is MUCH better than theirs. However, I  can't charge them for the extra work I would have put into the sculpted baby elephant if that's not what they wanted to begin with.

In other words, had I gone and done what I thought they wanted, I would be out a good $30 - $50...more free cake I'm giving away. Well, I'm going to give them what they want, with a few changes I'm making on my own. They said it was my call what changes needed to be made, but with time limits and not knowing whether or not they would pay the extra charges, it's better safe than sorry right now. Also, I am running low on fondant and this isn't the time to go experimenting.

My ride is secure. My cakes are baked. My ricotta is draining for the cannoli filling. The only place I can fail now is in execution. Fingers crossed!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time Is Money

And I have so very little of either!!!!

I shut down my Less Jiggle blog today. I realized that my lack of proper time to work out and my overall lack of enthusiasm has lead to very poor results. Bad eating habits, poor exercise routine and an overall bad attitude pretty much sums up the reasons for failure. I can't blame anyone but myself for it. Whatever. I'm going to be in a wedding where I will be doing a reading at the mass and a speech at the reception, and I will just have a little more chunk on me than I'm comfortable with. Given the other people there, I'm sure I'll look just fine. ;-)

I hate to be such a complainer (because I'm so good at it), but I just got hit with two cake orders the night before my flight. It's family events again, and I feel like these mother fucks really don't show me any respect. They don't bother to ask me whether or not I'm free to do the cake. They only assume I'm going to do it because, hey, why the fuck wouldn't I do it? right?

I'm leaving early Friday morning, and I need to do a huge 18th Birthday cake that won't be served till Sunday! How the fuck am I going to keep that cake fresh and nicely decorated??? Besides that cake, my family is throwing my uncle a surprise birthday / forced retirement party that same weekend, which means I need to do another cake that same night before I leave. I'm not happy about this at all, but it doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to get out of this.

This past weekend was spent at Comic Con and at Chix 6. I should be back at work at the day job, but I have a baby shower cake I wanted to work on, and I was up all night baking for my mom's bake sale. My candy apples were pretty damn awesome, even if I do say so myself!! And the mocha java cupcakes were amazing. Unfortunately, it left me no time to bake my cakes for my baby shower cake, and I was pooped.

Not only am I pooped from the all-nighter, but I'm pooped from the entire weekend, which started Thursday night!!

Sometimes I think I'm too old for this...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There Can Be Only ONE

I know I've hinted as possible new opportunities coming up for me, but now they're laying at my feet and I'm at a loss when it comes to what I should do.

I have business in Chicago that could prove to be fruitful. I would have a place to live, people to look out for me, and a chance for a brand new start.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to incorporate these people in the guts of my business. I also worry that my trust and ignorance may set me up for trouble again. I worry I'm going to get taken advantage of and all my hard work will be snatched out from under me.

I also have something a little closer to home in the works. Originally, I was only going to come on as a head pastry chef and consultant to a dessert business that my two cousins came up with for the Washington DC / Virginia / Maryland area. However, their little idea has grown into something more material and concrete. My role went from head pastry chef to partner within a matter of minutes, and it looks like something that may do really well.

The Chicago job will get me out of NY and away from everyone here. It's not that I want to run away from all my family and friends, but part of me is just aching for something new. However, the people that I do know in Chicago are not people that I can really take in large doses. In fact, seeing them more than once a year is really too much for me. I don't know how I would deal with them day to day. I also worry that I will be left holding the bag if the business fails or I'll be left high and dry if it succeeds. I'll always be a little suspicious of someone I don't know all the way. Trust is so hard to come by these days, and even harder to give out.

The DC job will probably get me out of state, but I have the option of staying at home if I wanted to and traveling as needed. Realistically, I should be there on a daily basis if I'm really going to do this right. I guess the only real problem I have is my two cousins. They have both been in trouble for legal reasons, and I know my one cousin has the green to bankroll this plan, but neither one has a formal education past high school or real world experience running a business. I also worry that the little baking front will only be used to cover up a more underground enterprise. I don't want my name associated with a felony!

I've been whining for a long time that I wanted to get out on my own, and now I have several opportunities to do it. I am terrified. I am still swimming in 7 grand of debt, not to mention the 3 g's I ended up stuck with because of the fucking middle child my parent's had.

Things at the day job are busier and my role has been elevated significantly since last year. I'm an important part of the process once again, but despite the steady paycheck and the health benefits, I know this isn't a process I want to stay a part of. I hate coming to work everyday. I perform my tasks through gritted teeth and forced politeness. Whenever I leave at whatever ungodly hour I end up working till, my head is pounding and when I get home, I last thing I want to do is bake or create anything.

What the fuck kind of food artist am I if I don't have the desire to do what I love???

It's this fucking job, but I NEED this fucking job!!! I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a paycheck coming the next week or the two weeks after that. I'm lost.  But, I know my window of opportunity won't stay open for long and I have do make some drastic changes fast.

So, what's holding me back? I'm fucking terrified! I'm scared of not being able to pay my bills. I'm scared of not being stable. I'm just fucking scared, and I hate it. I don't have a partner to back me up if my business flops. It's just me. I'm terrified of ending up like that baker in "Bridesmaids". Her bakery goes under, her boyfriend leaves her, she's forced to room with assholes, and ultimately ends up back at her mom's house after she loses yet another job.

Christ....gotta go. My headache has been upgraded to Alleve level. =(

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pay Me

You all know how much I love to help and how happy it makes me to donate or do charity work through my baked goods. However, there are times when the work and the donation I make is actually more taxing than it would be if I just cut a check.

I did a last minute cake order the night before I left for Chicago last month. I didn't get to sleep and I nearly missed my flight because I was too busy working on this last minute cake. I came back, thinking this person had my money ready to go, but here we are in October and I have yet to be paid for this cake. It irks me. I can't tell you how MUCH it irks me because I actually ended up spending some last minute cash on ingredients for this damn cake.

The same week, I left work early, bought a ton of butter and other ingredients to crank out 150 cupcakes all in one shot. I negotiated a price of $1 per cupcake so that they can earn money reselling it and some of my costs would be covered. Once again, I'm sitting here two weeks after the event still not having been paid.

I know these people will pay me if I get very aggressive about it, but I can't tell you how unnerving it is to shake someone down for money they know they should have given me a long time ago. All in all, we're looking at about $200 here, and that's not a whole load of cash in the grand scheme of things, but it's a cell phone bill or a couple of credit card payments I can knock off my list of things sucking me dry.

It's times like these when I really hate working with friends or family. They are always the LAST people to pay me, and I almost always get screwed out of some type of monetary compensation.

Last year, I dropped a couple of hundred dollars on a huge Thanksgiving order I was banking on. A few days before the order, the person had a sudden death in his immediate family and had no choice but to cancel. Those are circumstances that can't be helped or complained about. Shit happens, and that last thing you would ever want to deal with is a sudden death. However, I was still out all the money I spent and had to hustle, cutting my prices, negotiating deals, and allowing credit accounts in order to make up the money I was potentially going to lose by overbuying due to this cancelled order.

In the end, I made out good. All the extra work my mom, my friends, and my family put in to help me pimp out my Thanksgiving Pies really pushed me over the top and I had one of my best seasons to date!! Let me also add that none of my close friends even bothered to try and order a pie from me, but fuck them. I made out well with my regular customers, as well as my new bunch.

This year, I want to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I haven't been able to do it in years because I've had my pie rush in the days leading to the big T-Day. Not hustling would mean little to no holiday shopping money. Thankfully, this year, I'm relieved of the burden of buying for boyfriends, fuck-buddies, families of said boyfriends or fuck buddies, and a whole slew of other people. Not that I didn't enjoy doing all that at the time, but I'm not a person who shows any restraint when it comes to presents and I was deep over my head the last couple of years. Another lesson learned.

Many artists I know often just make something when gift-giving time comes around. Yes, it's super-personal and such, but I've been the recipient of stock-pile art as gifts and that sort of takes the cherished moment out of it, if you know what I mean; especially when they forgot they gave it to you and mention that it was something they had laying around collecting dust in a closet for a couple of years. =[

Last year, I gave a couple of pies to a co-worker for her kids. She was going through a divorce and was asking me for some money-saving recipes so that the holiday season wouldn't seem so skimpy compared to years past. As a thank you, her daughters made me little friendship bracelets. They didn't cost much and are clearly the artwork of tiny creative hands, but I think the gesture was so moving. Kids these days are never taught to say thank you for anything. Even if I got nothing back, I know my co-worker was grateful for the pies, and she has been my biggest supporter at work since then. A little kindness goes a long way.

My closest  friends will get cookies or pies and a bottle of my "Cold Cocoa Sipper" which is a Bailey's-like chocolate/caramel creamy liquor that I discovered a recipe for last year. I tweaked it several times over, and I now feel like it's worthy of gifting to my best buds! I had a shot of a homemade Bailey's drink a few years ago, and it was really good. It prompted me to look up some recipes last year, and this is my favorite. Like I said, I tweaked it a little to make it a little more "Holiday", but I absolutely love it, and I think my friend's will, too!

I have a lot of things I want to do this year. I want to cut out a lot of the commercialism as possible with the store-bought crap that everyone is after, and I want to hand out things that I make with my own two hands. I think it says a lot when someone takes the time to make you something from their heart. That's not the kind of thing anyone can buy from just anywhere.

Yes, I make my spending money from my baked goods. I'm good at it. I'm not going to feel badly about that. But, I do a lot of good with my baking, too. And I'm not going to forget that, either.

With that being said, these fuckers really need to pay me my money!