Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Underwhelmed and Overfed

I'm right in the middle of my annual meat-detox and I've made some drastic changes to the way I do things. Being older, in the worst shape of my life, and busier than I have been in past years it's difficult following a strict diet. I've had to give myself chances to "cheat" or add a little meat to a meal; especially when I started to feel ill or unwell. I've found that these minor indulgences has helped me stick with my overall detox better with less infractions where I go on an all-out pig-out on all things carnal.

Since I've been more forgiving of a taste here and there I realize I don't crave the meat or alcohol as much as I used to. I don't feel as badly when everyone else is gorging around me. I don't feel the need to a must-have drink just because everyone else is. It's been great and the weight has been trickling off in bits and pieces. Not as fast as I would have liked, but it took 2 years to gain it, so I can give myself a little time to lose it.

I was on a lunch date the other day with someone from "On-Line" and he happened to pick an awesome place that was serving duck for lunch. I wanted so badly to give into my hunger and order a nice medium-rare duck breast in a fig and balsamic compote, but I went ahead with a delicious pumpkin and chanterelle ravioli instead. Rather than getting a glass of a fantastic looking German Riesling or even that delectable Rioja tempting me from the bar, I went with some ice water with a twist of lemon.

My dining partner went all out. Beef cheeks, a side order to truffled mac and cheese, and ordered an entire bottle of some heavy Bordeaux, thinking he could entice me to drink with him. I did take a sip of it, and while I could imagine it would have paired well with a skirt steak (or his rich beef cheeks) it was much too heavy for my duck and I didn't feel badly about not getting  a glass of wine with my meal.

We talked about many things right down to dessert, which I was not skimping out on! I went with a fairly light berry crumble topped with a cloud of meringue, a very similar dish I had a Blau Gans. He looked disappointed, as he tried to talk me into getting the green tea creme brulée. I explained it was something I could make with my eyes closed so it wasn't very enticing to me. He ordered the chocolate fondant- a rich chocolate dessert which is a vamped up version of the famous Molten Chocolate Lava cake that you can get at your local Friday's for around $6.99. His version came with a house-made honey and vanilla bean gelato and the chocolate used was a high-quality semi-sweet blend that tasted like Guittard. After taking a bite of my dessert he conceded I had the better choice. His was just very, very rich.

He said he was a little disappointed. He thought I was going to take him down a culinary road of discovery. He felt like he got the light version of me. I pointed out that I did pick out his appetizer- a stunning beef carpaccio, which he adored.  And I steered him towards the beef cheeks when he was trying to zoom in on the foie. Another dish he couldn't stop raving about. He explained that he was hoping I was going to indulge, just as much as him.

While I do love a power lunch in a restaurant I probably couldn't afford on my own, I don't do it in the middle of the work week when I have to go back to work and try to crank out some big numbers. I'm also in the middle of my detox. The food I ate was rich, but I held back where I could. I didn't sop up the light butter sauce on my ravioli with the warm bread on the table. I didn't order soda. I opted for a light strawberry, walnut & blue cheese salad instead of a heavy appetizer. And besides the sip of bordeaux, I didn't go near the liquor. I got the lightest dessert available, and I stopped eating when I was full.

My date may not have been impressed with my own choices, be he loved what I told him to get and he had such a great time he wanted to set another date on the spot. I told him I would get back to him. I love eating these fantastic foods, but I know I can't really do it the way I used to without a better lifestyle. I'm proud of myself.

As for the date, he was fun. I guess I'll go out with him again. It's not often you meet a gentleman caller who still insists on picking up the bill. Fair as always, I bought the coffee and cookies for the walk back to the office. Damn pride..... ;-)

Monday, March 26, 2012

NY Craft Beer Lovers

I've gotten a bunch of people asking about the beer people I meet up with. If you're in the NY/NJ area, then check out my buddy's meet-up group. Steve is all kinds of fun on a bun with the energy of the Energizer Bunny. For a good time, check this out:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saying No

It would be fitting that the next post I have is about turning down a gig so I can go on vacation. I went on and on about being responsible and putting my priorities first; even the shitty jobs. But, we all have our weaknesses, right?

Every single weekend in April is booked. I have weddings, baby showers, and a couple of birthday parties. These are not MY social events. These are events I was hired for. April will be a very important month because I am counting on ALL that money I make to go towards that zero percent interest loan that is set to expire in a couple of months.

My friend who just moved to VA suggested I come down and stay with her for the weekend. We settled on the end of the month, and even made plans for zip lining, checking out the new Spy Museum, and dining at a bunch of fantastic DC restaurants together. We've been counting on this for nearly a month now, and I couldn't be more excited!

Well, earlier last month my old boss came around to tell me her daughter's Sweet 16 was coming up and she would love it if I did the cupcakes. She couldn't help but throw out a little dig about me giving her a good price because she pushed me so hard about getting my business off the ground. Admittedly, she was a loud advocate of my cakes here at work at the day job. However, since we've parted ways, she's been a real bitch.

Not for nothing, but I don't want to give her a discount. I don't want to do this party because it will fall on the same weekend as my VA trip. I can count on making at least $100 of it, but I don't think this woman is worth me giving up my vacation. I also don't think the $100 is worth the aggravation of dealing with her. On a side note, I happen to know her ex-husband is about to get canned. He is a former employee of mine, and he's a dick.

I have the moral dilemma of feeling like I owe her a little something. I also know her child support is about to get cut because her ex is about to lose his income. I don't have anything against her kid. And I didn't have the VA plans when she first mentioned this party to me.

However, I haven't heard from her in weeks so I assumed she went with another baker. Maybe she realized that pastry chefs are not so fucking cheap, even in Jersey City. But, I heard through the office grape vine that she is trying to get a hold of me so we can discuss this party.

I have a few options.
  • I can cancel my plans and do this party. 
  • I can turn down the party and go through with my plans.
  • I can agree to do the party, bake the cupcakes Thursday, and hand them off to someone else to deliver on Saturday.
  • I can agree to do the party, bake the cupcakes Thursday night, and deliver them early Friday morning before I leave for VA.

I'm shooting for the latter. I'd have to ask Joel to help me, which means I'm going to have to pay him for gas and tolls. That's fine, but that means my profit is going to get cut and I will need to rethink how much I charge her. Maybe if I give her some crazy price she will go with another baker.

I really sound unprofessional right now, but after all the shit jobs I've taken the last month I was really looking forward to hanging out with my friend and enjoying life again. Granted, the shit jobs have paid for lunch, bought metrocards, and bought a night's worth of groceries. But, I'm running on less than 2 hours of sleep each night (if any), and the stuff I'm cranking out doesn't really serve as blog eye-candy when it comes to posting it on my website. It's filler.

The only good thing is that taking this job would entail creating another gumpaste mask, and I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't be excited about that.

Business or Pleasure?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Every Sinner Has a Future...

I wish I could say that I enjoyed my time off and managed to reflect on my life, thereby sorting out all the knots and coming to an epiphany. I want to say my mom and I bonded and she is a stronger woman for it. I also want to write that I stepped up in stellar form as the first born and handled each crisis efficiently and effectively.

I can't really write any of that.

Let's face it. The root of the problem was the need of A LOT of money as soon as possible. I took out another monster loan to put out the immediate fire, and that was like putting a tee shirt over a bullet hole. It may staunch the bleeding, but the wound would still need to be cleaned out and stitched up right.

I ordered my mother to get a therapist immediately. I lectured her about what a selfish, egomaniac my father was, and that she's been mentally abused for YEARS. We all have. Where do my own trust issues and insane sense of pride come from? This fucker right here. I can't trust anyone to have my back therefore I must be the one to do everything for myself- no hand-outs or hand-ups. Had I accepted a couple of hand-ups throughout the years, I probably wouldn't be in the mess that I'm in now.

That's neither here nor there. It's water under the bridge and I have to keep this train wreck moving.

I gave her all this money. I have done all the cooking and grocery shopping the last month. My brother has pitched in with that, as well as picking up on the missing income needed to get bills paid. He's the most unselfish person in my entire family.

Even with all that, it wasn't enough.

I still needed to take orders. I took every order- big and small. I took things I never would have agreed to because of logistics or design or just good taste in general. I also ended up asking for help from people I didn't want to go to, but I needed their help in order to make this money, and I needed this money! No. My family needed the money. Frankly, I could do fine without the money, but this particular crisis wasn't my doing, was it?

Even so, I decided NOT to put the brakes on my own financial plan and I've been making all the same escalated payments I've been doing the last several months so I can keep on track with my debt reduction. Even with this new loan, the payments don't effect my monthly expenses much because the loan officer extended the loan I was supposed to finish paying off next month. So fucking close, but still so fucking far! The extra couple of hundred I would have had on hand to pay off other things will still go to this loan...for another 4 years, unless I pay it back earlier.

Besides that pain in the ass, I have another loan that I need to pay before July or I get charged the interest. It's nearly 3 grand, and I have a very strict payment plan to get it done, but this fucking crisis throws a monkey wrench into my plans. I decided to revamp the credit card budget and just concentrate on getting this off my plate on time. I don't fancy a thousand dollars worth of interest being dumped on top of the original debt to begin with. The idea of it makes my stomach lurch, but I've been doing great with my financial plan and I don't intend of slowing down for anyone.....even a fucked up family.

My hiatus ended up being a "slumming it" period. I've done some pretty shitty jobs, but damn. I feel like some hooker who just gave a bj for $20 because I needed to buy a metrocard home. Ashamed to say it, but I've also gone on a few horrible dates because it would lead to some paying gigs. ( IN CAKE; NOT THE BEDROOM!) I picked up nearly $500 in jobs due to those dates, and I got some nice fancy meals out of them. What did I sell to get that? Several hours of mundane conversation with men I had no intention of having a future with, a couple of unwelcome ass-grabs, and one asshole who tried to stick his tongue in my mouth when I turned to say goodnight at the subway. Was it worth the $500? Yeah, I'm sorry to say that it was.

Do I feel like I've sold my soul to get what I needed? Absolutely. I feel dirty, and no amount of scrubbing will make me feel clean. However, if it means the difference between begging someone I know for money and pimping myself out for money I can earn in my kitchen- I'd do it my way all over again.

Damn pride. 

Fuck you, dad. I hope you're happy with the monster you created.

When it came to money, Joel and I never fought. EVER. When I started to stress about bills or money problems, he would stop me mid-freak out and say the same thing- Money comes when you least expect it. He didn't mean you would stumble on a wallet full of cash and all the magic money monsters would go away. I say that because my ex-husband and ex-mother-in-law used to say to one another, "I hope I walk outside and find a wallet full of money. Then, I'll be happy and my problems will be gone." No. That's like those crazy Evangelicals who think they will pray their problems away. If there is a God, I would imagine this being would want people to fucking get off their ass and solve their own problems for once. What Joel meant when he would assure me that money would come was that an opportunity would present itself and I had better take it. And for him, no matter how dire the situation was; the opportunities always came. We would be short on rent because his ex demanded some crazy money for a kid emergency, and after a day of my stomach tied up in knots worrying about it - we would book some great paying gig and the problem would be solved. He always had faith things would be fine, and it always worked out for that fucker financially. I envy his faith. I wish I could close my eyes and feel at peace that the money problem won't be a problem for long, but I can't do it.

With that being said, I've had opportunities to make money come my way left and right, and I was not foolish enough to turn it away. And, for once, it's working out. It's not easy. I'm working a lot harder for it and I feel like a beggar picking pennies out of a fountain, but the bills are getting paid and no one is hungry.

Maybe I'm doing something right.

I've had nights where I though my eyes would pop out of my head because the headaches were so intense. They came from worrying about everything happening right now to me and my household. They came from not having a friendly voice on the other end of my phone, assuring me that I'm doing the right thing and I'm not a bad person for doing it. They come from self-doubt, and constant anxiety that it will all become too much for me to handle. But, people keep saying that strength in adversity will only make me a stronger person. How much stronger do I need to be?

So, that's me for now. I don't know where this fucked up ride will end. I'm just trying not to fall off.

Ooh! I nearly forgot! I did have someone ride in on a white horse and offer to take me off into the sunset. Fuck them all, he told me. They're adults. Let them sort out their own mess! I could go with him. He would take care of me. I wouldn't have to work. New state. New life. No looking back. The problem with that? I'm not the type of girl to take that kind of offer....I'll admit that I did consider it. I know.....But as they say; every sinner has future and every saint has a past. I think I'm somewhere in between.