Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cake: It's What's For Breakfast. And Lunch. And Dinner.

Pros: I work at a bakery, a place of joy and celebration! And not just any bakery, but one holding the absolute greatest baked good creations I've ever had the privilege of tasting. This isn't just your little mom-and-pop shop either. Over the past 9 years, SusieCakes  has made a name for itself in northern and southern California. We are about to open our fifteenth location! And between all these stores, this "bakery" is a multi-million dollar per year business. This is cake we're talking about, people. Millions of dollars in CAKE. (And pies and cupcakes and...well just go on and check out the menu)

Cons: I can't stop eating it.

You know those metabolisms where you can eat whatever you want and you don't gain a pound? Maybe your insides aren't super healthy but your outsides still look fantastic? That has never, even for a passing second, been my life. And you may be thinking ,"Well, just have some will power, for crying out loud!" to that I say- You try being surrounded by wafts of delicious spices and melted chocolate and incredible creations all day long and not want to stick a fork in to absolutely everything.
Even with just those words, I bet you're all ready drooling (if you've even gotten back to reading this after seeing the menu).

It really has been a blast to start work at Susiecakes. The business itself has incredible core values which are almost impossible to find in a professional environment. My co-workers are ambitious, welcoming, hard-working and hilarious. And we give people cake! How great is that? (We also eat the cake, if that wasn't clear before)

I'd love to keep writing but, I need to go walk 500 miles to compensate for the things I ate... this morning....

This is our cute little store in the Bon Air Shopping Center! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Doing The Thing I Did Six Months Ago (Truth Time)

Job hunting isn't exactly something you want to have to do twice in six months... but sometimes, you have to know when to fold 'em and know when to walk away (and know when to run).
   That started out as a song reference but is actually quite applicable here.

That's right folks: I'm back in it. "The Job Hunt", that is. And if you thought it would be better this time around... well, I'm still sorting that out. Although the nature of the internet makes for some to share all their details with little regard to other people reading it, I will not be doing that here. Put simply, I left the position on my own accord and am now seeking other employment.
It's been quite the battle over these past few weeks. Going back and forth from happy emotions to guilty emotions and just trying to make sense of it all.
         I've slept. A lot. It's my defense mechanism.

Just in the little over two weeks since I have not had a job, I've sent in dozens of applications to various administrative positions and am (very impatiently) waiting to hear back. Maybe I don't know what goes in to the hiring process but in my mind, I clearly have a excellent college degree (Go Hokies!), have stellar experience and skills, and great references. What more do you want from me?!
I say this to my computer screen on a regular basis.

But after going through a part of my bible study yesterday, I realized that I had been letting my emotions drive everything over these past few weeks. I've exhausted myself with an inner tug-o-war, by constantly fretting about "What if I never get another job?" (hello, drama) or "What was I thinking?" and my favorite, "I should have stayed in Egypt!" (read the book of Exodus and that will make more sense).

But the truth is, these statements keep me from looking forward.

Remember at the very beginning of this blog when I focused on this word: Grateful.  My previous job was very helpful financially to get us back on our feet after a trans-continental move. I'm beyond grateful for God's provision through that! Now it's time to look forward and rely on truth rather than my crazy emotions.

If you're the praying type, I'd be most appreciative of a few of your sweet words up to our listening and attentive God... to not only heal wounds but to allow truth to dictate this season, rather than emotion.
And of course that I would get a job. Tomorrow, would be great.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
psalm 90:14

Friday, February 6, 2015

Rain, Rain.... I'm so glad you're here

Why am I so happy it's raining today?

Because I was convinced I had sent California into the next massive drought.

All because I bought my first pair of rain boots.

You know how that tends to happen, right? You buy an item to prepare for "the next time", and you end up never needing it. It's life's subtle way of mocking you.  That's what recently happened to me and these boots.

After the downpours we got in December, I decided it was probably time to stop risking illness due to   improper footwear (and, ya know, be an adult). I found some cute but classic rain boots at DSW and, as you guessed, it hasn't rained a drop since that day.

Think I'm being dramatic about this? Where I can see you may think that (as I've proved it over and over again in life), check out this excerpt from
     Not one drop of measurable rain fell on city streets in January, 
the first time that’s happened in recorded weather history, 
which dates back to the Gold Rush. 

The Gold Rush, people. These are some seriously powerful rain boots.

Ironically, I don't want to actually use my rain boots today. I'd much rather stay warm and dry in my apartment with some popcorn and a movie. (But really, don't we all want to do that?)

Except mine aren't red.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Two Thousand Fifteen

I've lived in the Bay Area for six months now.

That seems unreal to me! I find myself telling people, "I just moved here!" but then realizing that it's not true. I've been here for a half of a year all ready. And I've observed some things, none without bias, that I may help recap the last few weeks since the previous post.

1.) It's beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. The weather, the water, the classic "San Francisco sites". It doesn't get old driving over the gorgeous red bridge (and singing the Full House song in your head... every time) It's pretty great to go to the beach on Christmas Day (which we did). It's breathtaking to sit on the top of Twin Peaks and watch the sunset (which looked like a Patagonia commercial). I understand why people want to live here. I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to do so.
2.) It's expensive. Outrageously expensive. We went out on a date this past week & splurged a bit (as in we didn't go to In-N-Out this time), and when the check came, we couldn't help but laugh. In Blacksburg, a nice date was out to Lefty's for dinner (still one of our favorites!) and maybe a $30 check with tip included. Here? You can double that and then add some more. This is why we try hard to get creative with cheap dates and celebrate when coupon codes are involved (Thank you, RedBox).
3.) The food.  I know that I just said it is expensive, but friends, you don't even understand how good it is. All of it! We haven't had a bad meal in the past six months, and my enlarged hips don't lie about that.  We all ready have favorites, not limited to the following: Sol Food, a mouth-watering puerto rican restaurant in San Rafael; Dipsea Cafe, a way more expensive version of Gillies and with bacon; Ghirardelli Square, because we love ice cream and chocolate; and all the coffee everywhere.
4.) The weather. Love and warm hugs to all my friends freezing in the arctic tundra of winter right now, but without reserve, I do not miss it a single bit. I can't even fathom what below freezing temperatures feel like anymore, when just a year ago we were huddled in our Blacksburg apartment as the inside of our windows had frost on them due to the -18 degree wind chill. No way, JosĂ©. I'm good with a light jacket on 50 degree "winter" day.
5.) It's expensive.  Did I mention that?
6.) There are terrible drivers everywhere. I mean truly terrible, and I learned to drive in South Florida and Northern Virginia: the two extremes of slow, old people who can't see over the wheel and crazed businessmen who must-get-to-the-Pentagon-immediately. Californians are worse. I don't know what it is that makes you take a full five minutes to comprehend the fact that a merge situation is inevitable. I also don't know why you refuse to turn on your blinker and then gradually change lanes and slam on your brakes. My assumption is a combination of arrogance and cell phones. I can't tell you how many times I've honked my horn because the doofus in front of me is looking down to fiddle on the phone! Let's just say that my road rage has exponentially increased since July.
7.) In-N-Out is beyond amazing. 
8.) Surely you're no longer paying attention to this list... eight items is just way too many.

There are a few other things I know, like the fact that my husband is not only charming and handsome, but also very smart and hard working. Taking on five masters-level classes this past semester, he managed to crush out a 3.7 GPA. Dats my Boo.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Part Two: The Feast (and the Unwelcome Trash-Can Dwellers)

A successful Thanksgiving is in the books!

I (along with my ever-helpful husband) pulled off a delicious Thanksgiving meal which we celebrated with our friends Erica and John. What a fun day! And I gotta tell you, not all that difficult.

I can tend to be a little dramatic (I prefer the word theatrical) and so, yes, I felt that this was a daunting task. What if I ruined everything and there was nothing to eat? What if I timed it all wrong and we were all just staring at each other and waiting? What if there really was a neck in the turkey and it made the rest of the bird taste terrible? Oh, the potential disasters that were brewing in my imagination. (Dramaaaaaa)
      But, as it turns out: It wasn't that hard!

Truly! Although we did the prep work that you may have read about  2 days in advance, on the day of I didn't start cooking until the afternoon. We had a relaxing morning and then a very casual: "Ok, time to get the thing in the oven then sit back on the couch." How great is that? And not to mention that Barefoot Contessa did it again: her recipe turned out utterly sensational. It could have been the 1/2 stick of melted butter that topped it all off, that sure didn't hurt.
      We had sides of (super easy) mashed potatoes and (super fast) stovetop stuffing from Trader Joes. I could honestly write an entire blog devoted to my appreciation for and allegiance to Trader Joes. How did we live without one for so long?!

I think some of the highlights of the evening, aside from the excellent and entertaining company, were the almost-but-not-quite raccoon attack and the sawing of the apple pie. (That's right... I also made fresh apple pie)

But let's talk about these raccoons. Around this area, you are considered a societal menace if you harm animals. Obvious adorable creatures like dogs, cats, etc should be included in this level of care but I'm talking about every animal, including but not limited to the demonic raccoons that live all around campus. I hate them.

I understand this is a strong word (as I mentioned, I'm theatrical) but it is the truth. These mangy creatures live inside and around the trash cans and they are pure evil. One of the first things we were told upon arriving on campus in July was to not take out your trash at night.... because the raccoons will fight you. They know you can't harm them- so they stare at your with their beady eyes and wait for you to drop your trash and run. And run, you will.
    A few weeks ago, I was trying to explain the hellish nature of these mongrels to Erica and suffice it to say, she didn't believe me. When she generously offered to take (our first round of) trash out after dinner, we pleaded with her that it was not a good idea. She is so kind and really wanted to help... so she heads out the door up to the garbage cans when she hears a rustling that she mistakes as another neighbor taking their trash out.
(appearance of evil creature, surely with demonic background music playing)
"OH S%^T!!!"
and she ran into back to the apartment.

Hate them.

The apple pie story isn't nearly as good as that one. Basically, I just cut through the $2 foil pie pan and got pie insides all over the table cloth. It was fine and we finished the pie anyway.

See, I told you the raccoon story was better.

I forgot to take a picture of the tasty bird after it was pulled from the oven, oops.
This is mid-carving.... which we also googled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014, Part 1: The Preparations

This is the year.
I'm making, from start to finish, my first full Thanksgiving meal. Oh, the joy!
Oh, the hilarity.

Since we are across the country and have only 36-ish hours off from work, we knew there was no way to make it back east for the big schmorgazborg. Which is a real shame, because both of our families really do up Thanksgiving. What can I say, we like to eat.
Ryan and I thought this year would be a great opportunity to make our holiday ours. It's a special day no matter where we are or who we are with. So, we invited one of my coworkers and her fiancĂ© over and then I realized- Oh shoot. I gotta feed them.

When it comes to celebrity chefs, my heart belongs to Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa. This lady is the jolliest and classiest lady on the Food Network (and beyond) and not one of her recipes has ever steered me wrong. So naturally, if I'm taking on a turkey, I'm consulting Ina.
I found a tasty sounding recipe for the turkey in her Foolproof cook book and I thought: I can do that!
Buy the bird.
Defrost the bird.
Put some seasonings on the bird and throw it in the oven.
Not so scary!

But tonight, I began "The Preparations". Below is an inner monologue account of what went down:

  • Get thawed turkey out of fridge: At least I did one thing right so far, it's not frozen.
  • Read recipe twice (I've been studying it all week)
  • Oh no... Kosher salt? I was planning to use sea salt! How did I miss that?! Can I substitute? Will I ruin it? Oh no, I'm gonna ruin it. "Hunny, can you google something for me?"
  • 15 minutes later, I'm sticking with sea salt and adjusting quantities. Moving on. 
  • Realize the sink is full of dishes: That's fine, right? I can wash the turkey over here in this little corner where nothing is touching... that's fine.
  • Oh my word, this little guy feels heavier than 11 lbs
  • Re-read recipe
  • Dang this thing is gross. And my hands are freezing. Also covered in turkey juice.
  • Last week, this turkey thought he was having the time of his life. Poor guy. 
  • Ok, it says here to take out the bag o' junk and the neck from the body cavity. Got the bag, that's pretty obvious. But the neck... hmm, the neck. Where's the neck? What's the neck look like? "Hey hunny, can you google something for me?" 
  • "I'm really not understanding this, can you Youtube something so I can see exactly what it looks like?" Wait, what is this... a woman on a farm with her baby on her back gutting a turkey with her bare hands? What is this?! Gross. 
  • I see no neck. No neck anywhere. Should we just conclude that maybe this was the one from the factory where they all ready pulled out the neck, or should I keep staring at it for the next 30 minutes?
  • Re-read recipe.
  • Wash gross, cold, neckless turkey with water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • You've used an entire roll of paper towels in this bout so far. Sorry, California. 
  • This home-made brine smells pretty tasty! There's another positive. Stay with the positive. Don't tell anyone how oddly this is going or that you spent 20 more minutes on Youtube than necessary. 
  • This looks like it will fit the turkey so it can sit overnight. Now for the plastic wrap. Oh, how I loathe you, plastic wrap.
  • After three layers, I quit. That's tight enough and you're going back in the fridge, you little jerk. 
  • Spray every surface in kitchen with disinfectant. Spray body with disinfectant. 
  • "My hands will never be clean again."

Here's our little guy, hanging out in the fridge. And yes, that's a clothespin keeping the plastic wrap together. 
Don't get me started.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sweater Weather

I definitely did not bring enough warm clothing with me.

People warned me about the weather in the Bay Area, and you have my sincerest apologies for not fully believing you.

Now people back on the east coast (at least the northern part) are probably scoffing. You don't know what cold is! And actually, I do know. Having lived through the past 9 winters in the Appalachian mountains, I'm familiar. I'm not saying this weather is anywhere near the polar vortex of last year where the inside of our closed kitchen window was freezing over (Day After Tomorrow, anyone?). That is cold. I'm not trying to compare the two. I'm simply saying I probably shouldn't have purged my wardrobe like an eskimo preparing for island life.

In my mind, I thought heck yes I'm moving to California. Good-bye thick sweaters and overcoats! Hello year round open-toed shoes and 3/4 cardis.

That was a mistaken mindset. That is southern California. This is definitely not southern California.

Where those items work about nine times out of ten, you pretty much need to prepare for all weather types in this area. It's a confusing place, meteorologically speaking. It's actually a confusing place lots-of-ologically speaking. But apparently, there are tons of micro-climates that can change within mere miles. So if you're coming from a few miles north of the bridge, where we live, and are planning to head just across it, you need to bring warmer clothes and definitely a coat. But if you're planning to go even 2 miles further in to the city, you need a less heavy coat (and walking shoes- these hills are killer). If you're going to the airport and further south, tank top weather.
We've been told by multiple people that they have a second mini-waredrobe they keep in their car to be prepared for all weather at all times. I'm beginning to the think that's not such a crazy idea.

I have to be honest, I don't know whose genius idea it was to build a major metropolitan city on this land. The weather is unpredictable, the elevation changes will make you dizzy, the land itself is mostly reclaimed (meaning, it's not actual earth... the financial district was built on sunken ships in the late 1800s!), and OH YEA, it's also on a major fault line. Seems like a plan to me...

But, as I've said before, it sure is pretty.

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge for the very first time to get to our new home!