Monday, March 3, 2014
The last couple of weeks have been rough. We finally got the snow (and ice) piles removed from the front of the building....and really started to "feel" a little bit normal...and "they" started to talk about the "storm of storms"....again!!
It gets to the point where I am not sure which is more exhausting...the weather...or EVERYONE talking about it!!!!
Yesterday, as I was getting in the car to go to work, I really took notice to how much melting has taken place...and how much better the conditions were. I thought to myself...I hope they are wrong!! I hope we miss this latest round because, if we do, I believe the end is in sight!!
Well...the end is in sight!!
It's time...time to, REALLY, start to plan! Time to figure out which projects are going to get top priority. Time to look at all of the damage that this Winter has caused...figure out a "plan of attack" to fix it...and, most importantly, time to welcome Spring!!
I realized, this morning, how much stress all of this has caused!! The tireless, relentless cold, snow and ice....the worry about lost business, property damage(to TWO properties!!!!), dangerous driving conditions. It has, really, been depressing. Not something I, normally, suffer from....but there hasn't been anything "normal" for months!!
Yesterday...as I was getting in the car to go to work...I noticed more than the melting and improving conditions...I felt better. I felt like all of this was, finally, coming to an end!! I started to think about what I wanted the arbor, that my husband said he would build for the shop garden, to look like. I started to think about where I wanted to plant the "fundraiser" flowers that I bought from my niece. I started to think about packing away the snowmen and snowflakes...and getting the Spring and Easter decorations out!! I started to think about my first (of many!!) trip to the greenhouse...and how I can't WAIT!!!!!!!!
This is not a Winter we will soon forget....and I took lots of pictures to make SURE that I don't!! When the temperatures are soaring...and I am uncomfortable ( I DO work in front of an oven all day!!!) I am going to look at them...and remember the dismal days that we have put up with, this year....and keep my mouth shut!!!
This Winter will stick around, in our memories, for a very long time....but it's, almost, at the end of it's reign of terror!! And I, for one, am over the moon!!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, March 03, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
Even if you haven't been experiencing it....I am sure you have noticed it...it's the weather!!
This Winter has been emotionally, physically, monetarily and mentally exhausting. Eventually....even the sweetest, most calm, people you know are going to crack!! Between the relentless snowstorms, the constant bitter cold and the grey, dreary overcast days...we are all on the brink!!!
I am trying to look on the bright side of things....but it is NOT an easy thing to do.
We are located in a small town...full of history and charm....and SNOW!! It is piling up, everywhere.....and I mean everywhere!!! The only way to deal with it...is to scoop it up and cart it away. We have had storm after storm...and, at least out in front of OUR place, they have only done this removal....ONCE!!!! We have tried to keep, at least, one or two areas open for our customers to get from the street to the sidewalk...but they keep plowing them closed. We have spent a small fortune keeping our parking lot plowed (and it's getting harder and harder to write those checks....because the plow operator is a rude so-and-so......) and salting our sidewalks....but the alleys you need to use to GET to our parking lot...are AWFUL!!!! Main Street, itself, is, actually, dangerous...the road is "shrinking" and it's a very tight squeeze for two cars to pass each other....and if a truck is coming (and it probably is...it is a MAIN road!!!!!) you, almost, want to close your eyes and hope for the best!!!!
I know....and understand...what a nightmare this is for road crews. My husband was a landscaper for years....and this is what they "do" in the winter months. Many, many, many snowy....CRAZY snowy.....hours we (the kids and I...) were alone to deal with whatever came our way while my husband was plowing. I am not asking for a miracle....just some snow removal!!
This last storm battered everyone's Valentine's Day celebrations. The newspaper headlines talked about the florists and the jewelry stores....but the restaurants, card shops, candy stores and small retailers ALL took a hit!!
We are very lucky. We have AMAZING customers who come and visit us....no matter what...which was very evident by the number of people dining...the shopping that was going on....and all of those white bakery boxes heading out the door!! Thank goodness (and thank you!!...you all know who you are!!!) Did we take a "hit"....of course we did...but we will be OK. I am not so sure that is the case for everybody. There are a lot of small businesses that are struggling, right now, and I am not sure they will be able to make it through this.
All throughout this Winter social media has been "something to do"...a diversion. Everyone is voicing their opinions...talking about the weather. I have seen SO many comments from people who LOVE the snow...and wish we would get more. I have seen comments from people who say they are just going to stay in the house until May. I am going to ask all of you to take a second....and think outside of your box.
All of us are experiencing at least a little cabin fever...no matter how much you love (???) this weather. Go out and spend some time in your favorite small businesses....they need you!! Please stop talking about how much more snow you WISH we would get....somewhere there are people missing work...and a paycheck...who are, really, worried about paying their bills...and they don't need to hear how elated you are!!! And....most importantly....please, please figure out the FASTEST, most efficient, way to get rid of this snow. You can get home to your families....and WE can drive through town without hurting anyone, walk down the sidewalks without winding up in the emergency room, maintain the small businesses in town...and, perhaps, even entice new ones to come and join our community (I am going to be honest...if I were looking for a location...I would "pass" on our town, right now....can't even keep the streets clean!!!!) which....I thought....was a priority!!
The "ever-the-optomist" in me....30 days until Spring!! Do I, realistically, think that will mean warm temperatures and flowers will pop up all at once....no...but it DOES give me something to look forward to....and we ALL need that, right now!!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, February 17, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
You know what I am talking about.
That thing....or things...that you think about all the time. For some it's decorating and re-decorating their homes. For some it's flea markets..."treasure hunting" if you will!! For some...it's reality TV...or purses...or shoes....or visiting Sweet Memories!!! (wink...wink....)
We all have SOMETHING....some of us (like me....) Have LOTS of somethings!!
One of those "somethings"....is cookbooks. I have them EVERYWHERE....and can't help myself!! I don't just buy them for the sake of it, though. I am very picky with the things that obsess me!!! Some people might say that my collection of cookbooks is a "tool of my trade"....and, of course, they would be right. After all....I bake and cook (among other things...) for a living!! Looking at new recipes (or....even better OLD recipes!!!!) certainly gets the creative juices flowing!! There is nothing I enjoy more than "tweaking" recipes to fit Sweet Memories style!! Just about anything can give me an idea for just about anything else. For example...I might see a recipe for a casserole and think....hmmm...some of those ingredients would be a great start for a new soup!! It doesn't matter if the obsession is "justified", though...it's still an obsession!! One that I am, currently, trying to find more room for....although, lack of storage will never be a good reason NOT to buy another book!!
Quite a few of my obsessions are evident when you visit Sweet Memories. Some show up in the gift shops...some in the restaurant....some in the decor, itself. After all....every square inch of the shop is an extension of me. The one that is the most evident...because it is in that big, lighted bakery case that draws you like a moth to a flame....is baking!!
There is no part of baking that I don't love! I love the process as much as the results. Baking is very different from cooking....much more exact!! It's creative, though, too...and I think that's the best part!! More than anything...I love "old-fashioned" recipes. The fondant/ too much/over-the-top stuff has it's place (I guess...) but the very best baked goods (in my opinion) are the ones with sweet memories!! I love to make cupcakes (even before they were "in"!!!) and brownies (the day I finally perfected THAT recipe was a happy one....but I am STILL tweaking it!!!!) cookies...big, small, plain and fancy...and, of course, cakes. However...if I had to pick one thing that was my "favorite" to make...it would be pie.
There is just something so comforting and old-fashioned about a homemade pie. The images of them cooling on the windowsill....you can, almost, smell the apples!! How many times have you seen big slices of pie served in old movies and TV shows?? Even Wilma Flintstone was known for her pie!! Homemade pie is not something you see very often, either...it's a lost art!! Too time consuming...too much work...and too many people "afraid" of crust!! That's OK, though....because having it in the bakery case at Sweet Memories is one of MY newest obsessions!! If you haven't tried a slice of our pie....maybe you should visit us....soon....then they can become one of YOUR obsessions, too! After all....shoes and purses go out of style....but a big slice of chocolate peanutbutter cream pie....that just has obsession written all over it!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, February 03, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
On the one hand this month has gone very quickly...on the other hand...it can't go quickly enough!!!
It has been rough...in the weather department...around here. Weather issues always trickle down and create more issues. The heating bills, the snowplowing bills, the lost business. It is very easy to find yourself complaining....but I feel like that is a huge waste of time and energy. So....instead of complaining...I am trying to put a positive spin on the situation and make good use of my time and energy.
So...what does that mean?? What have I been up to?? Well....I have decided to continue the "revitalization" movement, downstairs, in the restaurant area of the shop. I have picked out some new colors for walls....and other things. Decided to look for new material for the "windows" in the small dining room (I "settled" before....what I used wasn't what I wanted!!) I think my "new" idea will give me the look I am after!! I have been exploring all kinds of new avenues for merchandise for the gift shops....and I have been "playing" with new menu and bakery items!!
Does this make Spring show up faster...no!! In fact...it seems very, very far away (if you watch the news and weather....which I am seriously considering NOT doing, anymore!!!) indeed. However....while Spring may not be RIGHT around the corner...new paint, new curtains, new merchandise and new goodies will certainly give me something to look forward to in the meantime!!
If the "Winter blues" or "cabin fever" are getting you down...pick a project and accomplish something. It will lift your spirits!! With any luck...February will be a little kinder to us than January has been!! Of course....you are always welcome to skip the work and come in and view the progress we are making with OUR projects....and get yourself something in the gift shops (which are full of all of those NEW finds!!!!) and treat yourself to some of the new menu and bakery treats. Like I said....weather issues always trickle down and create more issues....like getting busier because you guys can't stand to be shut in the house any longer and really, really want to treat yourselves!!!! Hahahaha.....hey....that's what we're here for!!! Besides....I'd like you to try the new peanut butter cream pie with the chocolate crust, that I have been working on....see....Winter's not so bad!!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, January 27, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014
Earlier this week...I posted something on Facebook about being an optimist. It is true...I am. I was referring to the weather...and trying to look at the "bright" side (even though it was really hard to see!!) It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, though....I am still an optimist!! I believe that dwelling on negative situations (and people) is a waste of energy. This belief has served me well. Regardless of who you are dealing with...coworkers, "friends", strangers, customers.....heck even "family"....people can be very trying!!! I hate to say it....because I am afraid it will sound negative...but it is only getting worse!!
I try to find solutions to difficult situations...or problems...quickly. Then I try to let it go!! Most of the time this works. Sometimes, however, the universe has other plans. Sometimes we blame it on the full moon...sometimes the weather (I feel like we can blame a lot of life's problems on the weather....) but...we can blame it on anything we want to...the bottom line...people can be rude!!!
My philosophy has always been to handle situations with humor. I would much rather fashion myself after Erma Bombeck than a long winded, opinionated (usually annoying) political commentator, for example. I feel that humor...and "killing them with kindness" goes a long way. Every now and then, however, it is just SO hard to do...it's almost painful!!!
I had one of those weeks. One difficult situation right after another. People giving their opinions....like anyone cares...people thinking the sun rises and sets on them....thinking that rules are in place simply to annoy everyone and that...because THEY are SO special...the rules do not, in fact, apply to them!!! Oh yes...it was one of those weeks!!!
I am sure you are thinking "hmmm....that's too bad....but it isn't my problem!!" but it is!! Because...while my encounters were with people who think they can buy all of the desserts in the case (even though we ask you to order large quantities!!!!) and try to pay with $100.00 bills (even though we have more than one sign that says we don't take them....and, by the way, you should ask the bank NOT to give them to you...NO small place wants to change those big bills....and "they" have figured out a way to bleach $5.00 bills and then print over them so that the "pens" don't identify them as counterfeit!!! **deep breath**) and tell me what they think of the Byers' Choice Carolers...(FYI...I don't really care what your opinion of them is....) and even a few people telling us they bought candles at the Thrift store (or worse....the Big Box store!!! Good for you....but I don't see why you would tell ME?????) they are all rooted in the incredible rudeness that is overtaking the world!!!!
At any point, this week, did you find one of your coworkers or Facebook "friends" bragging, stretching the truth, being a hypocrite, commenting on something you said...and, basically, making an idiot out of you?? See....it IS your problem, too!!! What ever happened to "if you can't say something nice....don't say anything at all"???? I'll tell you what happened....social media and the internet!!
Don't get me wrong....I am on the computer as much as the next guy.(occupational hazard) However....I have never, NEVER tried to hurt someone, make someone feel stupid (which, by the way, would be really easy....because NO one knows the difference between to, too and two....among other things!!!) push my beliefs, retaliate against a place or a person that I have a problem with (read some "reviews" some time....who the heck made those people authorities?????) or, basically, stick my two cents in where it doesn't belong!!!
I try my best...to be my best me...every day of the year. I, frequently, allow people to go in front of me at the grocery store, hold doors open for people, I say excuse me....all the time...even though 99 times out of 100 I am ignored!!! I try to "donate" as much as I can to as many good causes as I can....we, as a family, have even been known to "pay it forward"!! I filter everything before it comes out of my mouth....and, for the most part, it has kept me out of trouble!! Hey....I have opinions!! Those who know me WELL would even call me "opinionated"....but, sometimes, it's just not appropriate to "say" what you are thinking!!!!
So....what is the solution?? I don't know. What I DO know....I am going to continue to be the best me that I can be...I am going to continue to run my business...and my life...as an optimist!! I am going to continue to treat situations with humor....and I am going to continue to kill them with kindness!! Most importantly, though, If I don't have something nice to say....I am going to keep my mouth shut....unless I am having one of those weeks. If that is the case....I am going to get on my soap box and put my 2 cents in on the computer!!! Hahahahahahahahaha.....Here's hoping for a great week ahead!! I can't help it...it's the optimist in me!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, January 13, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
We packed up all of our Christmas decorations, here at home, today. I love my collection...and I will miss it....but it's time to move on.
A few weeks ago I was dreading having to put it all away. I love Christmas and I love how warm and cozy the house is when it's all decorated. I love coming home from work and turning on all of the lights...it's like a big hug!!
But, right on cue, the first of January arrives and I am "ready" to put everything away until next year!!
It always seems to go by so quickly. It seems like you just get the tree up...and you turn around and it's time to take it down!! I am really, really glad that I decided, a few years ago, to decorate early in November. With our schedule...it just seemed logical!! At least we get to enjoy the season...and not feel as though we blinked and missed it all!!
Not only do I love to decorate the house for Christmas....I love to collect NEW decorations!! This year I found myself looking at the "vintage kitchy" things....I picked up old plastic cupcake picks and cake toppers....some old paper houses...even an elf on skis!! I never would have thought I would be interested in them....but I was fascinated!! All of my "treasures" found a home mixed in with my kitchen display!! It was fun...but it has me wondering what I will find myself interested in, next year!!!
So...now that Christmas 2013 is just a memory...was it wonderful??
I think, sometimes, we have great expectations for the day...we want everything to be perfect....just like a Christmas card!! But, it doesn't always work out that way!!
I have learned to stop and smell...the gingerbread (hahahaha....) and really enjoy the whole season. By the time Christmas day arrives I have, already, enjoyed "weeks"of Christmas. The music, the lights, the decorations. I try not to have "expectations"....just roll with it and enjoy what comes!! Striving for that "Christmas card" is just not realistic!! It's also....exhausting!!
I hope your Holiday season was "Merry and Bright"....but I, also, hope the year ahead is awesome!!
I know a lot of people made their "New Year's resolutions" but I don't believe in them...I just try to do my best. Treat people the way you would want them to treat you (.....an awful lot of people should learn that one!!!) believe in yourself, try to remember that the world doesn't revolve around you (again....an awful lot of people need to learn THIS one, too!!!!) don't count on other people to make you happy...(it's your job)...and get out there and find those things in life that make you smile....like "kitchy" elves on skis!!!!
Happy, Happy New Year....time to get the snowmen out!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, January 06, 2014
Monday, December 30, 2013
It's hard to believe that we will be welcoming a new year in a couple of days!!
I would like to take a second, though, before we do, to thank all of you for 2013!!
It was quite a year!!
Personally...our youngest daughter got married, our oldest daughter..engaged. Our Grandson is growing up (way too fast!!!) and I hit a "big" birthday (although...it's just a number!! I am more interested in gaining wisdom than years!!!) But 2013 was a spectacular year for Sweet Memories!! For this I would like to say "thank you"!!!
We are very lucky. The restaurant and bakery side of our business has grown and prospered throughout the entire 18 plus years that we have been in business. We have remained true to our original goal...and we continue to make all of our food, everyday, the exact same way we have always made it. Although the temptation to "mass produce" (or take short cuts!!!) may be ever present...it's just not what we want!!
But, there is another side to our business...and that is the gift shop. The Christmas season starts, really, at the beginning of November...and it was off and running, this year, right from the start!! Now, with it coming to it's close, I must say it was wonderful....and I have all of you to thank for that!!
Running the "food" side, of Sweet Memories, is second nature....I can, practically, do it with my eyes closed. But, the gift shop.....that's another story. There are so many different lines, so much merchandise available....in so many different styles...sometimes it's a bit overwhelming. Sometimes....you start to doubt yourself. Should I change everything....go in a completely different direction?? Should we be all country, primitive, shabby, cottage??? Am I carrying merchandise that is "trendy" enough....do I want "trendy" or should I leave that for everyone else??
I have to tell you...I have done some soul searching, the last few months!! Eventually, though, I came to the conclusion that I can't...CAN'T....carry merchandise that I, myself, don't love. I have to put my heart and soul into the gift shop...just like I do the restaurant and bakery....or it just will not be Sweet Memories!!
And...you know what?? We were busy...really busy!!! Yah!!
I know that online shopping is easy. I know that the big box stores are convenient (and cheap....but, you get what you pay for!!!) But all of us...the little independently owned shops....need you. We need you to come in and check out our inventory and purchase your gifts (and gifts for yourself!!!) from us!! I don't want to turn this into a soapbox session....I just want to take this opportunity to say "thank you"!!
To each and every one of you who made a purchase...and you know who you are....you made our Christmas even merrier!! The income, of course, because....after all...this IS our "paycheck"...but, more importantly, the vote of confidence. I am heading into 2014 knowing that you all love our gift shop as much as I do...and that makes my "job"....awesome!!! I am heading in to the shop, this morning, to do a little rearranging...and to get ready for all of the new merchandise that's on it's way!! If you are not one of the people that I am thanking, this morning....if you bought your Christmas gifts online (or from a corporation...) that's OK...we will forgive you. But make it a point (or a resolution...although I don't believe in those....) to "shop small" in 2014....we would love to see you!!! And....I think YOU will love what you see!!!
Posted by A piece of cake at Monday, December 30, 2013