May. 13th, 2007 04:35 am
Mother's Day chocolate sales went well. Not quite as good as Easter, but certainly respectable. And I was really pleased with how all of the flavors turned out - I think this is probably my most consistently high quality collection yet. The texture on the ginger is not quite right, but I've no idea how to fix that. And the flavor is great.

Friday night I did a chocolate tasting at Nicola's Books here in Ann Arbor, in conjunction with an author talk by Sarah Zettel. We had around 10 or 11 people in attendance. It was a great experience, getting a feel for what worked and didn't worked. It really helped to have [livejournal.com profile] shadowriderhope and [livejournal.com profile] sazettel in the audience - they were my shills who weren't shy about coming up with aroma and flavor words, which got the rest of the group talking. Plus Hope passed the chocolates for me, which was really helpful. I sold a couple small boxes, and then left a few more at Nicola's, which was down to just one small box. I'm so pleased that the chocolates are selling at Nicola's! From what I know, the buyers are maybe entirely people who read my LJ, but hey, it's something. I had some leftovers when I got home, but put out a notice to the Great Oak mailing list and found buyers for most of the rest of them.

Next up in chocolate land, I'll be making 200 chocolate puma bars as a giveaway for the U of M Natural History Museum. Making them will be work enough, but then I also have to foil wrap them all! Depending how awful that is I may end up having a foil wrapping party - let me know if you'd like to come and help with that. I'll feed you - chocolates for sure, and probably dinner too. And lest you think I'm taking advantage of your free labor, I should note that I'm doing this work for the museum for cost of materials. We will also be offering a fancier gourmet chocolate puma collection for sale, with boxes of gold brushed truffle filled pumas and some assorted other chocolates. That's a fundraiser for the museum - they'll get a cut off the top, but I'll actually make some money on them. And the marketing potential is huge - getting my name and website in front of that many eyes will hopefully pay off in the future! Current thinking on the flavors is raspberry, fresh mint, cardamom and sea salt caramel. All classics that people like and I don't require any development time on my end. (Although I don't like the texture of my raspberry recipe, so I may do some experimenting with that one.)

Saturday afternoon I got my Mother's Day present, which was Eric watching Liam while [livejournal.com profile] netmouse and I went out shopping. I got one pair of really wonderful pants and a bunch of shirts. But given how long we were out (almost 5 hours) and how many things I tried on, I really should have ended up with more than that! I still have a pair of pants and a shirt on hold at one store, and need to decide if I'm going to buy them. Today during Liam's nap I'm thinking I might go to TJ Maxx and see what I can find there. If it seems like I'm buying a lot of clothes lately, I am. When nothing you've bought in the last 10 years fits anymore, you need to buy a lot of new clothes!
So, today is my truffle making day. I picked up my chocolate last night, but needed to grab a few other things this morning, including passion fruits. Back when I decided on my flavors for this round, I picked passion fruit because I love it. But passion fruit puree turned out to be elusive - only available online, in too large quantities, and needing to be shipped overnight. But I read how to make my own juice/puree, so I figured I'd be okay, since Whole Foods carries passion fruit.

This morning I arrive at Whole Foods only to discover that their passion fruit is completely unripe.

The customer service desk was very helpful, calling every specialty grocer in town. No luck. Not ready to give up yet, I went looking for a shop the produce guy at WF had suggested - ZZ's Produce.

This place is rustic - it's not too far removed from the old farm stand it appears to have once been. But they not only had ripe (overripe, probably) passion fruits, but they also had a bottle of passion fruit juice concentrate. Score! This is exactly the sort of thing that would be perfect for truffle making, and way better than having to strain puree through a sieve.

And not only did they have passion fruit juice, but they also had all sorts of other obscure produce and grocery items. I think they may be ostensibly a Mexican market, but they a wide range of ethnic items from Thai to Indian to Chinese. 4 different types of pickled mangos, each for a distinct cuisine. Mountains of plantains, some of which I bought to make tostones tomorrow. Canned mangosteens in syrup. The special Mexican cheese I need to for my tortilla soup. Fresh epazote, an herb called for in the soup that I've never been able to find before now. Avocados two for a dollar. What a find!

Now, I'm sure the produce is about as far from organic as you can get. I know I said "rustic" above, but really, the place is downright grungy. But if you're looking for an obscure fruit or vegetable, chances are they've got it, or would be able to get it for you. ZZ's Produce is on Packard past Carpenter. And their minimum purchase for credit cards is $10.


Feb. 5th, 2006 09:08 pm
I think I've bought more shoes in the past 3 months than in the last 3 years. Back in December I bought the boots that turned out to be a little too high to wear comfortably on a regular basis. Since my ankles have recovered from the abuse, I can wear them occasionally with no ill effects, like on snowy days (which is why I bought them in the first place, really).

Yesterday I went out to replace my extremely worn out running shoes/sneakers. I pronate (my ankles turn inwards) so I tend to wear out shoes pretty quickly, especially running shoes. When my shoes wear out, the pronation gets worse. And pronating is bad for my legs and hips and back. So, I should really replace running shoes about every 6 months. These had been at least a year, potentially more like two (not sure I got them before or after Liam was born). So I got a new pair (and wearing them was making my legs hurt from being in the right position, it had been so long!).

While I was at the store I decided to take a look around from some slip on loafer type shoes. I have tended to treat my runners as my default shoes, since I basically had only two categories - dressy and runners. That meant that a lot of times I was wearing runners with pants that deserved something a little less downmarket. And because I'm in and out of my running shoes so often, I've tended to treat them like slip ons, which they are not, so I break down the heels, and they're never quite properly tightened, etc. So, even though I wasn't really intending to spend quite that much money, when I found a nice pair of brown leather slip on loafers that looked great with jeans and will look good with my khakis too, I decided to splurge and buy two pairs of shoes. I'm already loving have a pair that I can just slip on and off.

At some point I need to replace my dressy shoes. I love them a lot - they're my power shoes - but they are showing their age. And I don't actually have anything I can wear with a dress. Not that I wear dresses that often, but occasionally I might like to. I'd likely do it more if I had shoes to go with... And summer's coming up - I have some Teva sandals that I love, but I can't wear them with everything.
Who knew? I think I haven't had this much fun clothes shopping since high school.

A while ago I asked my coworker/friend Kathy to come out shopping for me. I need moral support and fashion advice, so I don't feel so fat and unfashionable. We've been having trouble getting our schedules to work for an evening out, so we took a "long lunch" today and went to the mall. Specifically, to Chico's.

Yes, [livejournal.com profile] kgkofmel, I have seen the light. Chico's rocks.

Kathy and I spent almost 2 hours in and out of the dressing room. We had a very enthusiastic saleswoman helping us, and bringing new things to try on all the while.

I got an absolutely gorgeous brown raw silk shirt with embroidery on it. It's the thing I'm most excited about, and it was on sale! It can be dress up (with the scoop neck camisole and flowy black pants) or dress down with the jeans. I also got a silk/cotton blend turtleneck in a burnt sienna color that's absolutely perfect for my coloring. Eric and I are going out for dinner tonight, so I even have an excuse to wear one of my new outfits right away.

There was only one glitch...Girly TMI (period talk) behind the cut )

But besides that small difficulty, I had a great time, and got some great clothes.
What a concept!

I'm not a good shopper. Shopping makes me feel fat and unfashionable. But I need a new winter coat - the zipper on mine is broke two different ways so I have to step in and out of it. And in keeping with the trying to look more grownup and professional that I talked about in my other post, I needed some winter boots that I could wear with dressier clothes. (I don't really have any real winter boots right now - just some hiking shoes).

I figured finding boots was going to be hard. I wanted something warm, dressy, and with a non-slippery sole. I can't wear pointy toed shoes without lots of pain, and I'm awful on pointy heels - I look like a little girl in her moms shoes. So imagine my surprise when I bought the first pair of shoes I tried on!!! They're black leather, and go to an inch or two above my ankles. A chunky 1.5 inch heel. Nice wide toes, which means they're not as fashionable as they would be otherwise, but I have my limits. They're not especially warm, but probably no colder than the sneakers I've been wearing so far. And best of all they have a rubbery sole. Not much a tread, but should be much better than what I have been wearing. And they fit and they were on sale. Go me!

Took me a little more shopping to find a coat, but only 3 stops. I love the look of classic wool coats but a) I'm sensitive/allergic to wool, so wool coats irritate me tremendously at the neck unless they have the right kind of lining and b) I hate winter, am constantly cold, and need something that's really WARM. So despite being drawn to all the nice wool coats, I ended up getting a down coat. But it is black, anyway. And not overly "sporty." And also on sale, for nearly half price.

Good shopping day.
Today we went off on a long-awaited excursion to a restaurant supply store. Our nearest is in Dearborn, about 40 minutes away.

It was really fun to see all sorts of wild things. Many of them things that I'd never need at home, of course, but it was just neat to know you could buy them if you wanted to. I did get an extra big, extra long potato masher for the common kitchen, though.

Other than that, we bought two half sheet pans ($5 each), a pizza cutter, a bench scraper, and two clear plastic squeeze bottles. Oh, and a chef's hat.

As we were leaving the store we went to, we passed another one just a couple blocks away. Called Restaurant Depot, it seemed bigger and snazzier, and maybe more targeted at consumers while pretending to be a real restaurant shop. But it was late and we didn't stop, so I'm just guessing. Next time I get out that way I'll take a look.

Edited to add - A web search reveals that Restaurant Depot is actually a cash and carry food service provider. They have some equipment stuff, but that's not their main thing. Hmmm - must investigate.
You'd think what with the sleep vacation and all, I'd feel really well rested today. Not so much. For one, I didn't actually wake up significantly fewer times than I normally do, I just didn't have to nurse when I did wake up, and generally went back to sleep a little faster. And then there's the being so chronically sleep deprived that when I finally start getting sleep, my body's not quite sure how to handle it.

Plus we were out running errands in the heat, and that's going to make anybody feel tired. First Bed Bath and Beyond for a new pillow (speaking of sleep), then Toys R Us for various Liam things (spoons, childproofing equipment, etc). Then two stops to get wine for my wine club meeting on Monday. It's a Cabernet Sauvignon, so my first stop was Trader Joe's for my ringer bottle of Two-Buck Chuck. Then Big Ten for some more, ummm, "refined" wines. Plus some cheeses, since the wine club members have asked that we start experimenting with wine and food. I figure we'll have everyone taste the wines on their own, as we usually do, then again with food, and see if their preferences change.

By the time we got to Big Ten, Liam was starting to get fussy and hyper. He didn't want to stay in the sling, and they had a little kids shopping cart that he merrily pushed around. I managed to keep him from breaking any wine bottles, or cracking his head open on the marble topped table that was the perfect baby head height.
Sad to report that I'm still feeling under the weather. But managed to have a good Mother's Day anyway. Went to bed early last night, so got up with Liam at 6:30. Around 9 he was tired but not going down for his nap, and I was too exhausted to hold him, so I went upstairs, collapsed into bed, and let Eric take over. Slept until 11 and felt much better.

Decided that I wanted to celebrate Mother's Day by getting a hair cut (it's been months), so after Liam woke up from his nap we went off to the mall, where I'd made an appointment at a salon. Did my part to support consumer culture, buying 10 t-shirts (one in every color of the rainbow, plus some), 2 nursing bras, and an awesome nursing tank top with Got Milk! written on the front of it. Spent about $150 - which sounds perfectly reasonable until you realize that I spent $100 on the bras/tank top, and $40 total on the t-shirts. We also went to Chez Pierre, a rather bizarre new addition to the Ann Arbor mall scene. It's a store specializing in food and wine imported from France. I got a random bottle of Cote du Rhone rose that caught my eye, and Eric got some salt caramels. I nearly got sucked in by a little jar of truffle mayonaise, but at $22.50, I managed to resist. Pierre himself is very charming, with a thick enough French accent that it can take some work to decipher what he's saying.

The haircut turned out pretty well, I think. The stylist took me seriously when I said wash and wear and no products - I just don't have time, let alone inclination. Sometimes it's hard enough just to get a shower. Anyway, it's very short and closely cut on the neck, short above the ears, has a little more length and body up top, and swoopy bangs. I'm trying to get better about keeping up with my hair, so I made an appointment to see the same person in 6 weeks for a trim. I haven't had a regular hairdresser in years, so hopefully this one will work out and I'll keep her.

Home to Great Oak for a tasty dinner. Sadly, I'm having an issue with food right now. In addition to being exhausted a bunch of the time, the other main symptom of my being not quite healthy is that my stomach gets mildly upset about 15 minutes after I eat or drink anything. I still get hungry, and food still tastes good when I'm eating it, but I just feel gross after. Very annoying.

And now we're in the midst of the nightly struggle for to get Liam to bed, something which has begun getting harder and more time consuming of late. Must revisit what we're doing and see if it's time for a new approach.
After a couple of busy weekends, Eric and I had very little planned for this past one. Friday night saw our first grilling of the season - cheeseburgers, served with steamed broccoli, salad and oven fries.

Saturday I took Liam to his friend Maya's first birthday party, and while we were out of the house Eric got a start on changing the fish tanks. Saturday night we got together with Scott and Sue for our second grilling of the season - asparagus, zucchini, portabellas, salmon, and some pan roasted potatoes. Yum. We had intentions to play a game together, but Liam continued his recent trend of not falling asleep easily at night, so instead we just had strawberry shortcake and came home.

Sunday more fish tanks were cleaned, and we tackled one of our long list of organizational tasks - organizing the utensil drawers in the kitchen. All the other drawers and cabinets also need organization, but there's only so much you can do during one baby nap. We met up with [livejournal.com profile] netmouse and [livejournal.com profile] murphyw for dinner at Shalimar - it was nice to see them, and nice to go out. Liam was an absolute joy - he was the cheeriest I've ever seen him. After dinner we walked around downtown a little bit, stopping into Afterwords, and the Sweetwaters so Eric could get a cappucino. To go, as we had to get the baby home to bed. Picked up a bunch of books for Liam at Afterwords - at $2.98 each, it's hard to resist. In three of them the artwork is paintings by famous artists - we got A Magical Day with Matisse, Dancing with Degas, and A Picnic with Monet. Alas, there were no copies of In the Garden wth Van Gogh (referenced on the back of the other books). But still - neat! We also got a Touch and Feel bedtime book, because he likes those a lot, and then a neat little book called Grow Up!. Each page has a different baby animal and a peekaboo window - what does a kitten grow up to be? And then you turn the page with the peekaboo window and there's a cat! Etc. The last page of course has a baby growing up to be "me!" with a little mirror. Very clever - I think Liam will like it a lot.

All of the excitment may have been too much for Liam, though. He insisted on nursing for a long, long time when we went to bed (I didn't succeed in unlatching him until close to midnight, I think). And then around 2 he woke up but didn't want to nurse. I managed to settle him by patting his back, but just a few minutes later he woke up again and barfed all over the bed. Nice thing about cosleeping - I was able to pull him out of it and settle him before he even had time to get upset. Bad thing about cosleeping - having to change the sheets on a king size bed in the middle of the night. He managed to settle down and go back to sleep really easily, but both Eric and I lied awake for a long time. I think I finally got to sleep around 3:30. Luckily, Liam slept well after that. Even when he woke up he didn't want to nurse, so it was fairly easy to settle him with just a hand on the back. Left me awfully engorged this morning, though.

Just like with a fever, he can't got to daycare if he's been vomited within 24 hours, so I'm home with him today. But I'd already arranged to give a neighbor a ride into work today, so after Liam woke up (he slept in for a while) I loaded him into the car, dropped Katie off, and took him into the office. Figured I'd grab some work to bring home. But I realized that the main thing I needed to do was get a mailing out the door, so I figured I'd see how much I could get done before he got too unhappy. He was really good - I got quite a bit done, and then when I was about to give up, I found someone to play with him and give me the extra 20 minutes I needed. (One of my coworker's adult daughters was visiting for a while before heading to the airport and was happy to play with him.)

All of the excitement meant he missed his usual morning nap, but he feel asleep the *instant* I put him in his car seat to come home. Luckily he's gotten really good at staying asleep from the car to the house, so I was able to put him in the pack-n-play, eat lunch, and compose this LJ post. Now I'd better go do some laundry before he wakes up!
I had a devil of a time buying pants when I wasn't pregnant, and I'm still having a devil of a time now. The only maternity store in the mall only carries pants up to XL - which to them equates to 14/16. I was hovering between 16 and 18 when I got pregnant. So none of the pants there will fit me. I did get two nice white dress shirts which will work to dress up a couple pairs of nice black overalls I have, though, so that was good. And a couple of long sleeve shirts - one an incredibly soft fleece, and one a nice cotton sweater. I ventured down to Sears to see if they had anything. Despite their maternity section having a grand total of 3 racks, they did, in fact, have a pair of full panel maternity jeans that fit! So now I just need to find some dress pants, and maybe eventually a couple more dress shirts, but might as well wait until closer to when I need them so I have a better sense for fit.

And I got my hair cut. Not a bad cut, actually, for throwing $30 at the first stylist I saw when I walked in the mall.



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