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Monday, April 7, 2014

Happiness Is.....

Happiness is....

Do you remember that phrase?? It was all over everything, years ago. T-shirts, mugs, greeting cards....

Sometimes we forget, though, what it is that makes us happy. We get very caught up in day to day stuff...obligations, schedules, duties and chores...working, working, working....we forget to enjoy the simple things. Sometimes we forget to enjoy...anything!!!

I don't think happiness just happens. I think you are, very much, in control of your happiness...it IS a choice! Every day we are faced with situations...good, bad and in between...and how we handle those situations makes us who we are...and dictates whether or not we will be happy.

For example...worrying. It really doesn't help. It's not like the more you worry....the better the outcome. Whatever is going to happen...is going to happen. I try to avoid mistakes, make good decisions and stay on top of the things I can control. The things that I can't control...I try to have a plan to deal with them IF they happen...and move on.

That, particular, trait has served me well in this business that I have chosen. When you are in any kind of "service" trade...you have to deal with all kinds of things. Unavoidable stuff...equipment, deliveries, acts of God....people. I mean...come on...there is no doubt about it...people can be exhausting!!! (that was a really nice way of putting it!!!) But....I wouldn't trade, what I do, for anything!!

We had a lot of "new" people, this week. When that happens we find ourselves "telling our story" over and over again. People want to know how we got started...how long we have been in business...etc. To be honest...it's a good story!! (haha!!) I think my most frequently asked question would be..."do I still love what I do??" Absolutely!!

Does that mean that owning this business is all moonlight and roses...absolutely...not!!! It's long hours and hard work...it's dealing with the good, the bad AND the ugly!! There are moments of joy....and moments of biting my tongue (sometimes really, really hard!!!) There are people who are not all that impressed...and people (thankfully many, many, many....) who love us and all that we do!! It means being a part of a huge extended family...watching all of the important events...as well as the heartbreaking moments!! It means putting myself out there...for possible scrutiny as well as positive feedback!! It's all part of being successful....and we have worked really hard to achieve it!!

I am "myself" every day...and I make no excuses!! While I think that trying to please everyone is a huge waste of energy...I do the best I can to make people happy...it's what I do. And, making people happy, makes me happy!!

We have a sign, hanging in the gift shop...it says "Be yourself...no one can tell you you're doing it wrong" I am not sure I agree with that...I'm sure there are plenty of people who will try!! But...be yourself, anyway, and choose to be happy!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Decisions...

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have to make a lot of decisions. It's part of my job description. I make them all day..every day.

What will be on the menus, this week, what dessert selections should I offer in the bakery case? Should I turn the heat up, turn the heat down, change the brand of hand soap in the bathrooms? What new products should I buy for the gift shops? Will they be something that all of you will like? Should we stop hosting showers? Increase prices to try to keep up with the MY prices increasing. Try to squeeze Spring classes into my, already, ridiculous schedule? Should I put a sign on the door..."this does not close itself"!!! Which of the causes should I donate to...because, as much as I would love to be in a position to donate to ALL of them...I can't! Oh...here's a good one...should I just hang up on the attempted phone scam or try to get at least a little justice (even at the risk of sending my blood pressure through the ceiling!!!) so that they can't continue to prey on innocent people!!

"They" attempted to "scam" us, on the phone, twice....yes TWICE this week!! I can't even imagine what kind of a person you have to be to do that!! I am going to take a second and BEG you...if you are in doubt...hang up!!! DO NOT ever....ever....give bank or credit card information...your social security number...or any other personal information...over the phone. If you are not sure who you are talking to....just say...my son, niece, neighbor...is a police officer and they are standing right here...could you please explain all of this to them? They will hang up. I cannot stop any of this....but I can, try, to make sure no one gets "taken".

Yes...this was a very trying week...one that I don't want to see repeated!! Ever.

I have to make a lot of decisions....but....NOT finding that deserted island and heading there....shouldn't be one of them!!

Here's to hoping this is a better week....no phone scams, grumpy people, unsolicited "opinions"...or front doors left wide open!! Here's hoping for some warm weather....a little green...flowers coming up....and a little karma where it's most deserved!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Damage control.....

We all have an "inner clock"...even though this day light savings time thing messes it all up for a few days...we still have it. To everything there is a season...and we know it without having to think about it. Usually, somewhere around the first week of February, you can find me standing at our "full view glass" back door, with an issue of some magazine or another in my hand. It is the best spot for viewing the gardens. I am dreaming. I am thinking about the newest projects...thinking about what I want to do first. It's an uncontrollable urge. I am, simply, drawn to the back door.

Not this year. I wasn't sure why....well, other than the fact that all I could see from my usual vantage point was gross, frozen piles of white!! Surely, though, I could see past that....see all of the beauty that was lying, just beneath the white?!? So why....why wasn't I planning and plotting all of those Springtime projects?

As it turns out....it was because I may not have time for Springtime projects. This year...they may have to be Summertime projects!! It is going to take us all~~~Spring~~~long to undo what that wonderful power couple....Mother Nature and Old Man Winter...has done!!

This amazing, fabulous, much wished for and longed for thawing has started to reveal just how much damage there is!! I have been, fairly, certain what we would find under all of those gross, frozen piles of white...but it may be a little worse than I feared!!

This Spring....will be all about the damage control!!

Ah well....to everything there is a season...and everything happens for a reason. Perhaps it was time for a severe pruning on my boxwoods??? Perhaps I needed to rethink the shape of that flowerbed....or rebuild that wall?? Every gardener who has ever put their faith in the sun and the rain knows...it never works out the way you planned...and the work is never done. It's part of the charm of gardening. I must say, though....right this minute...as I look out of the back door...I am not so sure "charming" is the right word!!

Come on Spring....come on thaw....I need to get out there and start to work!! And....considering the amount of mud....I think a new pair of muck boots might be in order...maybe some of those wading boots that the fishermen wear!!!!  Hahahaha.....


Monday, March 3, 2014

How do you spell relief???

How do YOU spell relief?? This morning....I spell it N-o S-n-o-w!!!!

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!!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

So....snow....weary!!!!!!

Hey....how ARE you?? The reason I ask....I have had more conversations, the last few days, about erratic emotions and behavior and I am just wondering if you are experiencing it, too??

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!!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Obsessions.....

What are your obsessions??

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!!!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter's not so bad!!!

Is it just me....or does it seem incredible that we are getting to the end of January???

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!!!!