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October update!

I promised updates, so here’s the first one! A lot has happened since I last posted and I figured that an update was due.

First off, for those of you who are new, or who just don’t know, 9944 is short for 9944 Confectionery, my soon to be baking business. There’s a long story as to why I chose that name, but I’m keeping that secret until the time is right.

update!

update!

I’ve been budgeting and figuring out all of the details that go into each step of the registration process, which is insanely difficult. This has been the most troubling part, mostly because it can be very defeating. I’ve battled against the self-doubt, and I have gotten the majority of it figured out. Thankfully, I’m in a great Facebook group that has been incredibly helpful and have clarified a lot of the questions I had so I’m relatively confident that the last thing I have to do is call the city’s Planning and Zoning Department to find out what information they will need to complete that part of the puzzle… now, to get the courage to do so.

In between all of these things, I have been researching and investigating different ovens and refrigerators because both will be needed in order to start this (not so little) endeavor. After going to a large retailer’s appliance showroom with my mom (it is her house after all) we determined what refrigerator we wanted to invest in, but were unsure about what oven and dishwasher we were interested in. A couple weeks later, the refrigerator we were interested in went on sale, and we took advantage of it. We’re hoping to have it delivered in about a week, but we might postpone it so we can make sure our kitchen is ready for it. I’m doing a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge, so that’s taking up a LOT of time and I haven’t been home as much as I would have liked. One more week and I’ll be done, so that’s good news. I can’t wait to have it delivered and to pick out the oven we’re going to get. There are going to be so many things made, it’ll be awesome.

I have my Tax ID number, which will help me open up my business bank account, which hopefully will happen in the next couple weeks! In case you were wondering, getting your Tax ID number is free, takes about a minute to get online and is incredibly painless. Also, Kayla the Great is still working on my logo, we’ve made headway on a couple things and are super close to finalizing the design and I’m SO excited! She’s an amazing friend and doing great things for me. I can’t wait to see the final product, and all of the branding that comes with it. Once that gets done, then comes the website, business cards, labels and stickers.

So there you have it! There’s a few more things in the works, guest blogging, a cooking bucket list, and some more food related posts, but those will come later. I’m very excited for what’s going to be happening over the next couple months, I have a HUGE secret that I’ve been keeping and can’t wait to announce it once I’m officially official!

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9944

I honestly don’t remember learning to cook, to bake or to feel comfortable in a kitchen. I remember spending time next to my mom, my grandma and my aunts following along while they were making dinner, standing around talking about my day at school while dinner was being made, the first batch of cookies I made and how I fell in love adventuring with food and recipes while in college. I vividly remember a conversation I had with my Mom and Grandma when I was younger, telling them that we should have a family restaurant because our family is full of good cooks… I put that idea on the back burner for a long time, until the kettle it was in whistled louder than any other idea I’d had.

I finally took the leap in July to start my business. I posted a picture of my filed Fictitious Business Name paperwork on my Instagram, but other than that, I didn’t make a big deal about it. I was afraid that I would want to back out and not go through with a dream I’d held onto for so long. When I decided to start this blog, it was going to mostly be about the trials and tribulations that occur when you’re starting a business, but somewhere along the line I got distracted and made the choice to start writing about more personal things. This wasn’t a bad thing at all, just not my original intention (don’t worry, I’m totally going to write random posts about things.. especially if Brittany Gibbons continues to come up with writing prompts!). Yesterday I skyped with my friend Caitlin and told her that somewhere along the line, I started evading the idea of posting progress made toward starting my bakery; mostly because it would mean that I have evidence of what I’ve done and I’m accountable for it. It’s quite a scary undertaking and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to actually do it. We talked about it and I decided to throw caution to the wind and post about my progress.

IT'S HAPPENING

IT’S HAPPENING

In short, there it is. Each piece of that multi-colored pie is something that I still need to do to get this business off the ground. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but each step has a lot that goes into it. The diagram reminds me of a Trivial Pursuit game-piece, and I guess in a way that makes sense. It can be difficult to collect each little wedge to fill the pie, but those who do win, and I like winning. I’m nervous, and I’m scared, but I know I’ll be able to cross off a couple things in the next month or so, and I promise that when something gets crossed off, I’ll post about it.

On top of being nervous and scared, I’m also insanely excited. I have great friends who are more than willing to help me along the way. Kayla Ihrig is designing my logo, Caitlin is most likely going to help out with my website, people are signing up left and right to taste-test and I have support coming out of the woodwork. I think that’s part of the anxiety, I don’t want to risk letting these people down. I know, I know; if I don’t try, it’ll be a bigger let down than failing.

I’ve decided to start Autumn working towards the loudest whistling dream and taking a HUGE step forward in building the life I want because no one else besides me can do that. Here goes nothing.

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“These are five of my favorite things..”

Self care is insanely important and it’s something that a lot of us avoid, intentionally or not. Brittany’s prompt for this is to talk about five things that we can prioritize and treat ourselves with. This was harder than I imagined it would be. 

1. Go to yoga. 

I have been telling myself to get off my ass and I go to my Bikram studio for a couple months, I mean, I’m paying for it anyway.. but I haven’t been able to step foot inside. The last time I went, I thought I had eaten enough during the day, but apparently I hadn’t and ended up dry heaving and laying on the tile floor of the women’s locker room pounding a coconut water and snacks. Today will be different, I have all my stuff with me and I’m prepared. I’m hydrated, well-fed and excited to sweat out the last few months.. I won’t be surprised if I end up crying at some point, luckily, tears and sweat look a lot alike. 

BetterNotEasier 

2. Cook.

My sanctuary is a well-stocked kitchen. When I eat well, I feel a lot better about life, so it’s a good thing that I’m a good cook. I grew up in the kitchen learning and helping my mom, my grandma and my aunts. I’ve laughed there, cried there, and talked about life’s greatest mysteries while eating cold spaghetti sandwiches over the sink… To say it’s my happy place is an understatement. The more I’m in the kitchen, the healthier I eat and the better I feel. Makes sense, right? Of course it does. 

3. Did I mention yoga?

Before I could afford a subscription to the bikram studio near me, I started doing yoga in my backyard. I knew it would help my back/hips by strengthening my core and I figured since it was summer at the time that I could help my ever-deficient Vitamin D levels by being outside. I didn’t think it would change me the way that it has. My body shape changed, my outlook changed, my breathing changed, my stress level changed, my posture had changed and I felt more comfortable in my body than I ever had. I sound like a hack when I gush about how much I love and need my practice, whether in the backyard or in the studio, but I do. I need it and I need to make sure that I don’t just say I do yoga to make myself feel better for not being as dedicated. My body needs it so that I can stand up straight. I have to make a better commitment to myself.

4. Gardening

Last summer, my mom and I started an edible container garden in our backyard. Tending to that, growing new things brings out the wonder in me. I noticed that we had carrot sprouts this morning and proceeded to happy dance around the backyard while I was doing laundry. The more I can grow and learn about, the better I can cook. Lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, herbs galore. It’s our baby farm and I love it. When I care for it, it cares for me, so I need to make sure that I do a better job watering, weeding and trimming things back when it’s needed. 

5. Writing

The timing of this challenge could not have been better. I needed something to encourage me to write more, to explore more and to feel more confident in my own words so that I can further pursue my dream jobs. The more I write, the calmer I feel, so it seems that writing is yet another form of therapy for me. I have great friends who write a lot, and I never thought I would be among them, but here I am. I’m proud of that, and grateful for their encouragement as well as the CGG empire.

Despite my insecurities, I like who I am and who I’m becoming… the more I take care of myself, the more I grow, so I have to keep fighting towards the life I want. 

Expectations

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27.

There is less than three weeks until I turn 28.

I won’t lie and say that 27 was easy, it was anything but that. To put it lightly, 27 was:
– scary.
– an adventure.
– hilarious.
– terrifying.
– sleep deprived.
– the worst.
– not so bad.
– a learning experience.
– stupid.
– funny.
– stressful.
– enlightening.
– annoying.
– eye opening.
– frustrating.
Most of all, it was a year for me to grow. It has been my year to figure some shit out, to explore, to experience, to learn, to get rid of the things (and in some cases, people) that made me feel awful, and it’s been the year where I’ve really learned what I like about life, myself and those that I choose to spend time with.

It hasn’t been my favorite, but it’s been a hell of a roller coaster. My birthday is May 1, but the real roller coaster started in January of 2013. Here’s a quick run down of the last 15 months:

January 2013: got fired on my Tia’s birthday from the place I worked at for almost 3 years for reasons that baffle me still.
February/March (it all blends together): went to a lot of basketball games, had fun at the LBSU men’s basketball end of season banquet, and was removed from a bridal party for reasons that still don’t make sense.
April: finalized all my plans and bought all other necessary things for my NYC/Euro-adventure. Panicked about the trip. Went to Jewels of the Night and had an interesting time, but it was fun nonetheless. Switched from android to iPhone.
May: turned 27, had a nice dinner with family, prepped for the trip. Got scared about the trip, wondered if it was even a good idea anymore, worried about money, stressed so much I caused spasms in back that we’re so debilitating it hurt to breathe, and then I flew to New York City on the red eye out of Long Beach on my Mom’s birthday. Spent four amazing days with The City. Went to The Great Googa Mooga festival in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Saw my friend Kristin and my old teammate Roy. Explored with my German housemates. Got blisters. Lots of them. Flew to Venice, Italy and arrived to a happy Jen and Scott who housed me for a week and showed me parts of the world that I continually long for. Saw and tasted Parma, Bassano del Grappa, Marostica, Vicenza, Verona and Venice before flying into Alicante, Spain on May 30. Surprised my friend Elissa for her hen night. Made amazing international friends, saw people I hadn’t seen in 15+ years, laughed, had awkward conversations, used more Spanish in two days than I had in 15+ years of bilingual-ness, ate, and drank amazing things.
June: saw Elissa marry the most excellent man, danced, ate, laughed, drank (a lot – hey, it was a wedding), fell in love with rosé, went shopping, hugged and loved the family I felt like I lost for what felt like forever. Panicked over inaccessible internet and train tickets, stopped sleeping well. Took a train up the coast of Spain from Alicante to Barcelona. Freaked out due to exhaustion, being alone in a new city, and a fiasco involving my phone not working, the keys to the place I was staying and communication that wasn’t working. Met my new hosts, talked about Vampire Weekend over dinner. Explored nearly all of Barcelona on foot, took a bunch of pictures, realized I was okay on my own, fell in love with speaking Spanish and in turn lost my thought that “I wasn’t good enough to use the language.” Bought a second suitcase, packed and flew back to NYC after 4 days in Barcelona. Ate/drank the most delicious burger and beer in T5 of JFK while waiting for my flight. Got home to Long Beach late and was hungry (I know, right?)… Went to IHOP and devoured an omelette. I missed American breakfast. Slept off my jet lag, came down with a serious case of wanderlust and discovered Bikram yoga and the amazing benefits of it.
July: relay for life. Andy and Tori got married!
August: went to Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Summit, met amazing people, realized that I needed to work somewhere or do something I loved. Figured out what I’m scared of overnight. Reconnected with the best gal pal a girl could ask for in Andrea, net Thomas, (Andrea and my 18 year old boyfriend at 4E), met someone I looked up to and established a great friendship and semi-mentor. Got a job supporting video games via social media. Loved the social media side, hated the hours (graveyard), the dead-end-ness of the job and the content and attitude of the games and the customers.
September: renewed my season tickets for LBSU men’s basketball, worked, understood how offensive some people are in the gaming industry, started job hunting again, became better friends with an old coworker from the bookstore.
October: slept 10 hours over the course of week, had a migraine the majority of the month, went to Artisinal LA and had a blast, met The Fancy Boyz and made fast friends with them and other bakers. Realized that the money I had put away to help me start my baking project was still there and it was there for me to use to build my dream. Slept, worked. Realized that just because you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, you’re not exactly obligated to stay friends with them when your life goes different directions or your belief sets don’t really match up.
November: basketball season!, homecoming, spent more time with friends, went to San Diego and realized how awesome Meg and Jake are, slept, worked,
December: slept, worked, looked for jobs, did yoga in my backyard, went to basketball games, Christmas, realized that missed enjoyable holiday celebrations, my friend Scott passed away.
January 2014: worked, slept, went to basketball games, went to San Francisco for Scott’s funeral and was lackey enough to have one of my best friends go with me, had incredible amounts of fun on the first roadtrip I have taken since the car accident in 2004, sent a really dumb text message to the wrong person and inadvertently found out where I stood with them, was let go from work, job hunted full time.
February: more basketball, met one of the dad’s of a player when he was trying to upgrade his ticket and I had extra, had fun, did yoga, looked for jobs, didn’t get a job because they thought the reason I was fired a year ago was weird, was reaaaalllllyyy mad/pissed/frustrated/annoyed that place was still haunting me.
March: basketball! Went to the Veronica Mars PaleyFest panel and then went to opening day of the VM movie the next day with Latoya, laughed a lot, watched more basketball, left for two weeks in San Diego house sitting and hanging out with Sabrina, Meg’s daughter.
April: reconnected with basketball teammates from high school over great food in San Diego, came home from SD, saw my cousin, his wife and their daughter while they were in town for a Disneyland trip, had a promising interview and hung out with Latoya, all in a matter of a week.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to a graduation party, a bridal shower, Artisinal LA, applying for my DBA for my baking project and getting the ball rolling for the job I WANT while searching for one that I need to pay my bills. Then I turn 28 and open myself up for even more adventure, travel excursions, fun and whatever else might come my way. I’m looking forward to this year a whole bunch. I hope it’s as good to me as this last one has been.

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Ovenless, Sin horno.

December 2012, the weekend before Christmas, my oven decided to die a slow death. I was in the process of making three types of muffins as part of a gift for my aunt, five types of cookies and my mom and I were making the different parts of the enchiladas we were taking over to my cousin’s house. No big deal, right? Just the main course and dessert for our Christmas dinner.

As I was baking late into the night, all the cookie dough made and chilled, the muffins cooling, the oven slowly began getting colder and the smell of natural gas arose. My mom and I had noticed that our oven was being funky and wasn’t getting hot like it used to, but we could always get it to work. Luckily, I was just about done baking for the night and we turned the oven off. Over the next couple of days, the oven took longer and longer to get warm, and would not stay hot for very long. I was able to finish the rest of the cookies, but that Christmas was the Christmas our oven died. After looking into it, we found that as that model ages the heating element that ignites the fire in the oven goes wonky and decides to quit.

Since that December, I have found approximately 2,904,785,249,852 different recipes that I want to try, but it seems at least 90% of them have something done in the oven. The challenge over the last year or so has been to either learn to adapt recipes so that they don’t have to go in the oven, or find delicious things to make in our dutch oven, slow cooker or on the stove top. Fortunately my mom and I are resourceful and have done a great job doing this, but there are sometimes when I just want a batch of homemade cookies or to roast meats or vegetables for dinner. These are the moments where you realize how lucky you are to have such a problem, but these are the same moments that make it frustrating when you’re trying to start your own home baking business. We’ve been saving, so hopefully a new oven is in our near future. Until then, it’s experimenting with all the different things you can make outside your oven.

In the mean time, I’ll leave you with this beef stew/pot roast goodness that makes your house smell really good, and while it is made in the slow cooker, it heats up your house rather nicely. In writing this recipe down, I realized how freely I cook, not really knowing how much of different things are added to a dish, so here’s my rough version. There’s a lot of flexibility here, add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Make it so that you like it and so that you’ll eat it. That’s what makes food so magical. (Oh, this recipe uses two dried gravy mixes. I’m working on a way to make my own dried gravy mix so that I can control what goes into this a bit more.)
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Pot Roast!

Get a package of stew meat. We usually get about two pounds of meat (the family pack size) so we’ll have leftovers. Just get as much as you need, you know how much you eat.

Beef stew meat
1 brown onion, cut into 1-2″ pieces
3-6 celery stalks, cut into 1-2″ pieces
3-6 carrots, cut into 1-2″ pieces
(I added a yellow bell pepper and a tomato cut into eighths because they needed to be cooked, but it’s still good without, basically whatever veggies you want)
2-3 dried bay leaves depending on how big they are
2-3 garlic cloves, or dried garlic
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Whatever spices you want
Brown gravy and Onion gravy mix (or two brown gravy) for this amount, we use two of the little dried packs.

Enough water to cover about 2/3 of the stuff. Probably about 2-3 cups of water. If you want to get a fair amount of gravy, add more water.
Cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 8-12 (depending on your slow cooker and the amount of food)

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4 months later.

Well, that was an unexpected break from this thing, but a lot can happen in 4 months.

I decided to give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a go… whoa. I wrote about 30,000 words in a month, while working graveyard and barely sleeping, so to say it was difficult is an understatement. I have a beautiful half written story that would be somewhat of my fairy tale life, but it doesn’t need my attention right now.

I went head first into college basketball season and loving it and my team is doing really well. Work was awful, and I barely slept most of the time, so November through January was kinda awful other than basketball. I did a lot of friend, and regular housecleaning, and since then I’ve felt a lot better about things. And as of the end of January, I’m no longer working…. again. So, 2014 is yet another adventure, but an adventure with lots of goals and a good outlook.

Here’s my list of goals for 2014:
– write more
– cook more
– write about cooking more
– go on adventures, near and far
– write more about cooking without an oven
– budget and use some of the money that I’ve saved for the baking adventure to get it off the ground
– get tattooed
– get a new oven
– bake and bake and bake some more
– secure a fantastic job that makes me happy and isn’t an awful environment
– do really fun things and write about them
– get a new computer and camera

I’m actually really excited about this year. It didn’t exactly start off the way I wanted to, but I truly believe that things happen for a reason and it’s never for the reason you believe or when you want them to happen. I have working and researching for the last 2 years what it will take to get this baking excursion off the ground, but it hasn’t happened yet, much to my dismay. However I know that it will this year. I’m hoping to have it going by the holidays so I can provide delicious things for lots of people.

Here’s to starting the year in March and not paying attention to the actual calendar when you’re pursuing dreams.