update

I imagine that starting your own business is somewhat similar to being a first-time parent. Before the baby comes, you find yourself with hundreds of expectations and you daydream about how your life will be different – maybe even magically different – very soon. And then the baby arrives and it’s pretty much nothing like you anticipated. The challenges that crop up are things you didn’t even consider planning for and the ways in which it sucks and is awesome are surprising and new every single day. So it is with starting your own business, except there’s less crying – hopefully.

We’re all up in it. Bakin’ cakes, sweets and chocolate treats. We still haven’t officially opened yet. All that really means is that we haven’t had a moment in the last few weeks to take a deep breath and get our ducks in a straight enough row to begin encouraging orders from whomever wants a treat. (And it turns out everyone wants treats!) We have, however, been taking orders from anyone who asks to place one. I’m not actually sure how that’s any different than being officially open for business, but IT JUST IS, OKAY?

I was home in the Chicago ‘burbs (Crystal Lake, to be exact) this past weekend for my Aunt Lisa’s surprise 50th birthday party. It was great to be home – I always love hanging out with my mom and stepdad and slowing my pace down for a few days. They’ve done so much amazing work on the house I grew up in, it’s almost unrecognizable compared to how it looked when we moved in in 1989. Walls have been knocked down, rooms have been gutted – it’s now a great big comfy place.

While Faryn was back in New York making cakes and learning lessons, Kevin and I were in my mom’s kitchen baking ourselves crazy too. We spent hours and hours stirring, melting, icing, ruining, re-making, and taste-testing hundreds of sweets. We made a big party-assortment for my Aunt Lisa’s party, a special scandalous cake that’s too crass for me to detail on this blog and a bunch of sweets wrapped in their official packaging to share with my mom’s co-workers at the high school. (A handful of them read this blog. Hi everybody!)

Kevin was incredibly helpful, giving up lots of his vacation time to bake cookies, ice cakes, rearrange furniture and run errands. He actually has a real knack for baking (and rearranging furniture and running errands)! I was pleased with how well all the baking turned out and we’ve since gotten complimentary and constructive feedback from people, which is so important. I know hope that I will get better and quicker at making these sweets the more often I do it. And I cannot wait for that transformation to take place.

My Aunt Lisa’s surprise party was a huge success. She was completely shocked and so happy. Three of her four daughters live out of town and they all came home for the occasion, including the youngest who is currently studying abroad in Scotland! My uncle, my mom, my stepdad, my cousins, my grandparents and Lisa’s friends all did an incredible job of putting the whole event together: there was a delicious catered spread from Portillo’s, colorful party decor, a lot to drink and plenty of great conversation to go around. It was a crazy, loud, fun night that she will remember forever, I’m sure.

The rest of our time at home was spent relaxing, chatting with the family, eating and sleeping. I got very little exercise in, aside from an amazing hot yoga class my mom and I took together. (More on that tomorrow…) I also had some good conversations with my family about starting a business, including a really helpful talk with my stepdad, Tom, who has an innate understanding of this stuff. I plan to check in with him a lot along the way and I’ve already got some ideas brewing based on the facts and figures we discussed. Thank god Faryn and I have so many smart and generous people in our corner.

Kevin and I landed safely back in New York on Monday afternoon and I was as surprised as always that we didn’t die in a fiery plane crash. I’m chronically certain that every flight I take will be my last. I realize this is simply tempting death, but I can’t help myself. If death is planning to come find me mid-flight, I at least want him to know that I knew he was coming. So I rewrite the headlines in my head, “Young Woman With A Full Life Ahead Of Her Dies In Fiery Crash On Her Way To Visit Family / Attend a Wedding / Perform Sketch Comedy / Christmas.” Come on, like you don’t?

Anyway, here’s one last bit of news: My aunt’s friend and former co-worker really liked the Fanny & Jane spread at the surprise party so she placed an order with me for next week! Her daughter, Lisa E. Scott, wrote a book called “It’s All About Him” which is a self help book about “How to identify and avoid the narcissist male before you get hurt.” (The cover of the book is so cute and it looks like a fun and interesting read, so I’m going to order a copy.) The book is being officially released at a party in Chicago next Thursday and Fanny & Jane will be handling the desserts! We’re also making cakes and cake bites for a couple more parties here in New York, which means we’re looking at another very busy weekend…Yay!

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kaia

We chose a name! Meet Kaia.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that the name they gave her at the adoption place – Kai – fit her well. She’s definitely a unique little creature and a standard girly name like Daisy or Belle didn’t seem quite right. As I mentioned, my mom’s name is Ky, so it seemed odd to keep the name Kai for our new kitten, but Kaia is perfect.

Kaia’s continuing to adjust to life at our house. She and Chawser survived the long weekend without us and didn’t seem to care at all when we got home on Monday night. Pffft.

Cats. Can’t live with em, can’t live without em, am not allowed to have a dog.

Kev and I are leaving work early today and hoppin on a jet plane! We won’t be back until Monday. This rules. We are both very excited to be taking a vacation from work and from the city – like most people, we love to get away and we always come back from trips feeling refreshed. I can’t say too much about the nature of the trip quite yet, so I’ll explain later. I’m sure you’ll be holding your breath…

A few odds and ends:

I got up this morning and went for a run around Prospect Park. I love that park and I run around it a lot, but I never go in the morning. Because honestly? Who’s getting out of bed to go running? (Not me, is one answer.) But Kevin and I committed to helping each other wake up early this morning so we could finish a few last minute things. Once I was outside, I was in heaven. It was sunny, brisk and clear – perfect for running. The birds were cliche-ly chirping away and lots of people were out walking themselves or their dogs. It was a really great way to begin my day.  I hope to continue the trend as the weather warms. Also, the idea of being done with my workout by 8:30am is a welcome change to having to squeeze it into the middle of the day.

The weather in New York this weekend is supposed to be stunning. Mid-80s and cloudless. Can I just say, New York? I’m pissed at you for this. First of all, you know how much I love 80 degree temperatures. It’s the weather of my dreams. When I die, my afterlife will be sunny and 80s all the time except for Christmas time. So why have you chosen the first full weekend of glorious weather to be the one weekend I’m decidedly out of town? Yes, yes, I realize that everyone else will still get to enjoy it, but what about me? Don’t you know I have a blog? Second of all, it was 45 degrees just three days ago. I feel manipulated. That said, I really do hope all you New Yorkers get a chance to enjoy this weekend. This city is going to be delightfully abuzz with people in barely-any-clothing soaking up the sunshine and warmth in a real way for the first time this year. And I’m insanely jealous. Okay. I’m done. I’m done talking about the weather.

I’m going to miss the new kitten while we’re away. She’s becoming very snuggly and social lately. I hope she and Chawser enjoy the freedom from their parents who are constantly smooching them. Also, I am a cat lady. Kevin might be a cat lady too.

Due to the nature of the trip I’m taking, I get to do some Fanny & Jane baking by myself while I’m away. Meanwhile, due to the fact that we’ve gotten another custom cake order which needs to be ready by Friday afternoon, Faryn is also going to be baking by herself here in New York! This is exciting. It’s also a little scary. I enjoy being in the kitchen making sweets – it’s very soothing to me because it’s quiet time during which I’m focused on a singular task, and completing that task gives me a sense of accomplishment. But the planning, especially when you’re doing a lot of baking at once, sometimes feels like a big Rubik’s cube. For this weekend, I wasn’t sure how else to prepare but to make an entire schedule that reads something like “While the brownies cool, make the buttercream frosting. While the frosting sets, melt the chocolate and dip the cake bites. While the cake bites set, make the caramel sauce.” Yikes. Kevin has graciously agreed to help me and I’m giving myself an entire day to make a bunch of stuff so I should be fine. Faryn and I will both take plenty of photos so you can see the simultaneous Fanny & Jane-ing as it takes place.

Check out Faryn’s account of the upcoming weekend here.

in this moment

My friend Blue went to a wellness event in New York over the weekend called the Holistic Spring Fling. She writes here about all the different booths she visited and how she felt about the whole experience. She said:

It’s very important during this big self-improvement phase that I am in to truly understand that I am perfectly fine as I am today. None of these things will “fix” me. All of my various life goals are positive, but I have to remember that no matter what happens or how much I “improve” I am fine just as I am in this moment.

I completely agree. And I’m going to be mindful of that in my own life today.

the little lady

My mom‘s name is Ky (short for Kylene) and our new kitten was named Kai when we met her. I do think it’s a cute name, but it might be a little weird for my mom and my cat to have the same name. Right?

We’ve been tossing around some other names, but nothing’s stuck quite yet. When I got Floyd as an 8 week old kitten, my roommate and I discussed names for several days but couldn’t settle on anything right away. It wasn’t until his personality came out a bit more, as he regularly tumbled off the backs of couches or slipped off the tops of cabinets, that the name Floyd flew out of my mouth. It meant he was a little bit of a clumsy dummy mixed with a little bit of a pain in the ass, but all around a sweet guy. Floyd.

I know our new little one’s name will come out soon, especially since her personality is emerging more and more every day.

When we walked into the Kitty Kind adoption center at the Union Square Petco we were planning to take home an adult male cat. We left with a baby girl kitten. What. Get off my back.

“Can we get two? Or six?” wasn’t met with a pleasant response from the boyfriend.

While some of the other cats were very eagerly sniffing at us through their prison bars, she kept to herself. But I’d learned my lesson with Floyd. When the woman who was helping me choose him opened the kitten cage, the tiny black cats fell all over each other, barely able to stand up. All but one. He darted out of the cage and immediately began climbing up the wall. I should have known what was in store. He broke stuff, demanded things and plotted his escape daily for the next 5 years.

But our new kitten, who is 6 months old, was minding her own business when we saw her at the store. She looked very pretty and a little bit lonely. She was timid and gentle when we picked her up and despite her fluffy coat and big poofy tail, she felt like a bag of bones. I wanted her. When the adoption center guy told his colleagues we were adopting little Kai, everyone lit up and said “Ohhh, that’s so wonderful!” Either they say that for every cat who gets adopted or this particular cat had been passed up by lots of potential parents. I was really glad that we’d chosen her.

She was terrified once we got her home. The first night, she did nothing but lay in my lap like a fuzzy lump. (It was actually my dream come true.) The next day, she wouldn’t come out of her carrier. They warned us that she’d prefer to be kept in a small space for the first few days, but I was still worried. She eventually became curious about life outside of her cage and our bathroom, but only so far as to hide in the very back of the bedroom closet. (I will say, there’s nothing cuter than pulling back a row of shirts to see a tiny little kitten head staring up at you from the darkness.) She was afraid of us and of her new big brother. He, on the other hand, was noticeably enamored and dying to get a little face time with her, but she wouldn’t let him get within five feet.

Now, a little over a week later, she’s a lot more comfortable being part of the family. She sleeps in our bed at night, loves to play with a long feathery string whenever we’re willing and she even followed me around the house this morning while I got ready for work. She’s also graduated from hissing angrily from afar at Chawser, to letting him chase her around the house and  engage her in a little spat. This is good because it means they’re establishing a hierarchy.

We do miss Floyd, who was a huge presence in our home, but having the little one around is a lot of fun. Like most girl cats I’ve known, she’s bitchy and moody and will scratch the hell out of you if she’s pissed. Good for her, I say. She’s also affectionate when she wants to be and is incredibly cute, as I’m sure I’ll mention repeatedly from now on. She’s going to be gorgeous when she grows up. She’s a Maine Coon, which are known for their distinctive appearance, intelligence and gentle personalities. But with their pointy ears they look like they could take your life in one swipe. So, we’ll see what becomes of little Francine Harriet Marge lady kitten.

payday

It’s been a while since I’ve done a payday segment! Today’s is about one of my very favorite people in the world, my cousin Trisha. She’s the beautiful young lady in the front row. The other girls in the photo are her sisters. From the left: Kalan, Mallory and Leia. They’re obviously enjoying the hell out of some yummy frozen drinks in New Orleans…

My mom’s oldest brother, Kel, is Trisha’s dad. Kel and his wife, Lisa, have four daughters who are all very close in age and who lived across town from my mom and I when I was growing up. They joke that I’m their fifth sister.

When we were kids, my mom, her brother and his wife all relied heavily on each other for guidance and support in being young parents. (And they’re all still best friends today.) So we five girls spent a ton of time together when we were little – most weekends, every family holiday and hundreds of very long car rides to Grandma’s house. We invented secret games, fought relentlessly, hit and kicked each other, laughed hysterically for hours, made each other cry, teased each other constantly and tattled on each other until our parents told us they only wanted to hear about it if one of us died.

Now that we’re all older (I’m still the oldest, Mallory), we are all great friends. I have wonderful memories of them as little kids. I remember when each of them was born, what their hair looked like when they were 13 and how they felt about high school. But I’ve also had the privilege of watching them grow into really cool people. I am regularly impressed and amazed by the women they’ve become, especially when I think about what funny, weird little kids they were.

Trisha is easily one of the people I enjoy being around most in my life. She’s brave, brilliant, hilarious, easily excited and a fantastic listener. She’s also really warm and caring and has a contagious grin. She has some really weird quirks too. I cannot write about Trisha without mentioning a classic anecdote in our family: When she was 2 years old, Trisha put an entire dead baby bird into her mouth.

She’s now in her mid-twenties and lives in Kansas with her husband, Ben, and their adorable puppy, Claire. Trish and Ben were married at the very end of 2007 in a beautiful Christmas wedding. Her three sisters and I were her bridesmaids and it was the first wedding of the grandchild generation of our family. It was a great time.

She answered my payday questions:

1. How do you earn a paycheck?
I work as an Admissions Representative recruiting students!

2. Do you enjoy what you do to earn a paycheck?
Yes…I love working with high school students and I love my university…so it is hard work but well worth it.

3. How did you get the job?
I’d heard about it as an undergrad and applied senior year.  It was sort of a dream job at the time.

4. Did you go to college and if so, what did you study?
Yes, Spanish with minors in Women’s Studies and Leadership Studies

5. If you could have any job in the whole entire world, assuming you’d instantly, miraculously possess the the training, opportunities, and expertise to excel at it, what would you do?
I would be a teacher…at the collegiate level.  I would teach courses on Leadership, service learning, community engagement, etc.

6. If you didn’t have to earn a living – money was no object, but you had to be productive for 8 hours a day, what would you do?
TEACH!

7. What are your hobbies and interests?
Running, reading (I love the Twilight series) and yoga.  Practicing Spanish is also a big one.

8. How do you spend your free time?
Running, reading, yoga and working with my Spanish partner! But to be honest, I work anywhere between 60 and 70 hours most weeks so free time is not always available.

9. What do/did your parents or guardians do to earn livings?
Teach…work in schools, teach yoga, teach about parenting, etc.  I guess teaching is in the blood.

10. What was the conversation or climate surrounding work and work ethic in your home when you were growing up?
Very positive, we shared a lot of stories as a family about work and I can always remember my parents having at least two jobs at a time.  They were always focused on the value of working hard and keeping a steady job.  My mom (more than my dad) really pushed us to do what we loved…my Dad was a little more practical about getting a steady job but both have always been incredibly supportive of me.

11. How does your family feel about how you earn a living today?
Proud…worried about how much I work.

12. Do you have siblings and if so, what do they do for a living? Do you have a personal reaction to what they do, like maybe you’re envious or inspired?
Two that have jobs, one in the school system the other in the corporate world.  They both love their work but I wouldn’t trade places with them. I think we are all three in the perfect settings for our personalities.  My heart is at the university and I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

13. Generally, what time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up?
Up around 5 or 5:30…asleep between 10:30 and mid-night.  I keep a crazy schedule because I travel with my work so the hours I sleep vary.  Ideally I would get to bed by 10 and be up at 5.

14. Do you want to leave your current job for something different? If so, can you imagine yourself doing this? If so, will you do it?
I would really love to teach everyday.  That would be the one thing that draw me away!

15. What is more important to you in a job? a big paycheck or personal fulfillment.
If you knew what I make, you would know the answer.  Fulfillment is the number one thing.  I won’t even look at what a job offers when I apply, I care about what I will gain more as a person then the money.  I know that bothers my family a little…and seems crazy to some of them, but the experience is the real value in any job.  Not the paycheck.

16. Do you think your idea of personal success has changed since you were 10 years old? 18 years old?
No…I can honestly say I have always had a commitment to service.

17. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hmmm….can’t remember….a social activist?

Update: Just a few months after answering these questions for me, Trisha emailed me to tell me that she landed her dream job – she’s going to be a full time teacher!!!! This is such great news. At my request, she wrote a little follow-up about it here:

So, the dream job came true!  I am going to be starting a new position (still at Kansas State University) as of July 1.  I will be working as an Instructor/Program Coordinator for our School of Leadership Studies.  The School of Leadership Studies at K-State is the largest of it’s kind in the nation.  Their mission statement is, ““developing knowledgeable, ethical and caring leaders for a diverse and changing world.” They are AMAZING.  Leadership Studies was my minor at K-State, it is an incredible group of faculty and staff and students from all around the country and world.  Some people may wonder…how does a program like that happen in the middle of Kansas..because Kansas ROCKS!  I can not wait to get started, I will be working with about 800-900 incoming K-State freshman.  (Many of whom I am currently recruiting to attend K-State.)  We will be teaching lessons on inclusion, diversity, conflict resolution, living in a global society and more.  This is a job that truly, 100% aligns with my personal beliefs and values.  Not only do I spend my time teaching…but more than anything I truly believe I am going to learn…learn everyday and be challenged in my own beliefs and values.  I feel like I am going home and I am so excited.  To me this jobs reminded me that when you send out something into the universe,  (such as needing to make a life change personally, professionally, etc.) you will get your answer.  Sometimes not when you want it or even how you might expect it…but the universe always provides the lessons and opportunities we need…precisely when we need them.  I am so joyful to take this next big leap and discover just what the world has waiting for me.  (Oh, I still get to work with the International Service Teams and possibly even more community service focused programming!)

To check out where I will be…http://www.k-state.edu/leadership/

Yay yay yay!

(Congrats, Trishie. So excited for you and proud of you.)