Geeky Squee

Posted by Sweets under Photos, Random
Thursday 16 June 2011

Simon Pegg came to town, and of course we had to go and see him, we even got to say hi.. he told DmentD to take care of me *grins*

There was a collective “awww” when he snuggle with a baby that someone had brought with them, you could almost hear all the hormones of the women in the room bubble away!

New Photos

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos, Pup
Monday 4 April 2011

We had a pleasant afternoon sat in the garden, DmentD with a beer and a book (which admittedly he didn’t get to read much of), me with a nice cold juice, and Esme with her favourite toy ever – a yellow rope!

Check out Esme’s gallery for all the photos.

In more general Esme news, on Wednesday she’ll be allowed out in public places, hurrah! Next week she’ll get her last puppy injections and will be good for the year.

One Week On

Posted by Sweets under Domestic
Tuesday 15 March 2011

Last Tuesday I would have told you that this week, today, could not come soon enough. Last week we were tired, stressed and figuring out how to manage our lives around this new addition to the household.

One week on Esme has settled in, she has her puppy exuberance back (it’s not unusual for a puppy to become lethargic with a change of homes, and add kennel cough too and you have one mellow pup!), she’s used to us and is (hopefully) learning her place. We are more used to her, we know better how to deal with her. The number of house training accidents is reduced and she is doing well in her crate.

Tonight, in just over an hour, we start the puppy classes. This is what I was waiting on, banking on last week. But since then we’ve not done too badly. She came to us knowing “sit,” she’s mastering  “down” and “shake” and making some progress with “come.” We really need help with getting her to behave on a leash. But on the whole she’s doing well.

She’s settling in, we’re doing well. We’ll get there!

Esme The Pup

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos
Sunday 6 March 2011

We came back from England on Friday, arrived home about 6pm (more on the trip when I’ve sorted through the thousand photographs!) and slept lots. We planned a lazy day for Saturday but after making breakfast and realising we were out of milk we decided a trip to grab a few essentials was needed.

We’ve been talking and planning on getting a pup since before Christmas, we were putting it off until after the trip (for obvious reasons) and so we decided while we were out to stop by the pet store to start collecting essentials.. all the bits and pieces that aren’t dog specific. This ended up being the first stop on our list of errands.

As we were coming out one of the local shelters had set up outside. You see them around town, outside supermarkets and pet stores, typically fund raising, and if possible, finding homes for some of their pups.  They are one of the rescue shelters that often takes dogs from the one “kill shelter” in town to keep dogs from being put down just because they weren’t adopted in a timely fashion. We, being in a particularly doggy mood, decided to stop and say hello to some of the dogs.

It seemed the usual compliment of slightly older dogs, until we got down to the end of the line — there, playing together, were two young pups.  They had to be from the same litter, as they had the same brindle coat (brown with black tiger-like stripes), and similar features — they seemed to be a mix of catahoula, terrier, and a pinch of some breed of hound.  One, the male, had a black nose with a white bib and feet, the other, the female had a white nose with a white bib and feet.  The second we reached in to pet them, they took note and started licking our hands, happily sitting calmly to let us scratch their ears and chins.  They were energetic, but not hyperactive, playful, and had a good spark of intelligence in their eyes.  We asked the keeper how old they were, and she told us they were about 2 months.

DmentD and I looked at each other and knew that we had both fallen for the same one, the girl. We spoke with the keeper to get more details.  The pups were spayed/neutered already, were as up-to-date on their shots as they can be at this age, had been de-wormed, and were perfectly healthy — we have paperwork on every veterinary procedure performed (shots and all).  They would come with a 30-day “insurance” plan, and the shelter would always be available to take any of their adopted dogs back should adopters ever decide we’d rather not keep them.  We filled out the paperwork, went over a zillion details on what vet procedures were needed (booster shots, and once she’s of age, rabies/distemper/parvo shots, etc), heartworm, training etc.  We paid the nicely inexpensive fee, and we had ourselves a new pup.  *grins*

We put her in a shopping cart, and promptly went back into the store to get the rest of the necessities.  She was well behaved, and was showered with attention from everyone we passed.  We brought her home, and  bonded with her all night.  She’s very mellow with bursts of puppy enthusiasm, and will roll over to have her belly pet if you so much as look at her.  She’s starting to get used to the leash… a bit, anyway.  Someone has taught her to sit, as she does it frequently in response to treat offers or going outside.  She’s got no problems being handled or touched — I’ve played with her feet, ears, mouth, tail and she hasn’t so much as twitched.  She’s a relatively quiet pup too.

Today she sat, mostly quietly, in the yard while we cleaned it up and made it pup-proof.

She’ll grow to be a little bigger than we had originally decided we wanted a full-grown dog to be, but not much more… we estimate she’ll be in the 40-50 lb range, maybe a little smaller.  Her shelter name was “Rosie”, but we think she’s going to be “Esme” (after Esmeralda “Esme” Weatherwax, one of the witches in the Discworld series of books).  She’s absolutely adorable..

We’ll be off to the vets this week and plan on starting puppy classes as soon as possible, as much to help us as her! Stay tuned for more photos!

Lauren Kitchens On The Texas Bakers’ Bill

Posted by Sweets under Uncategorized
Wednesday 23 February 2011

I saw this statement go up on Lauren Kitchens’ FB page, it’s such a thoughtful and generous piece for the community trying to pass the bill that I had to copy it here for all the people who haven’t seen it or aren’t on FB.

It’s never a fun thing to have to set the record straight, to be misquoted or misrepresented.

But this is where I find myself. An article about the Texas Baker’s Bill was recently published in the Houston Press and Dallas Observer, which unjustly claimed that I do not support the bill. That claim was false and careless, and the newspapers have posted corrections. But too little, too late.

However, all dark clouds have a silver lining, and this event has allowed me to be open and honest about a very delicate issue that I have not thought much about in the past.

The Texas Baker’s Bill is a cottage food bill going through the Texas Legislature that would allow home cake decorators in Texas to operate legitimate bakeries in their home. This bill has not passed the House yet, but support for and against is strong. Many Texas cake decorators have asked my position on this bill and it’s time they knew how I felt.

Upon graduating from college, I was faced with the question all young adults must answer. Now what am I supposed to do? I have always loved decorating cakes, and so I began making cakes out of my parent’s home kitchen.

After a few years, with no responsibilities of marriage or children, I took the plunge and got a Small Business Loan in the fall of 2001. I opened my commercial kitchen/wedding cake boutique in Dallas in the Spring of 2002. I was the beneficiary of perfect timing and opportunity.

In today’s climate, it is next to impossible to get a loan for any business. And with the economy still in the grip of recession, it seems foolish to drop $100,000 to set up a commercial kitchen with no guarantee of success. This should not be regarded as laziness on the behalf of those who do not benefit from the luck of my timing.

Home cake decorators find themselves in a trap. How do I make an income and further my skills as a cake decorator legally? It’s frustrating. I’ve been there. But I had the means to legitimize my business without having to pass state legislation. Most home bakers do not. And for this, I am extremely sympathetic.

Honestly, I had not read the bill until five days ago. And I took no public position on the matter. At first hearing, I thought the bill was a demand for home bakers to slip past the rules without going through the difficulties I went through as a start-up bakery, or the difficulties I go through as a bakery owner today. But upon reading the bill and talking to people all over the state, I see now that it fairly gives home bakers a legitimacy that they deserve.

The bill would enforce several restrictive demands on the home baker. It forces the home baker to become licensed and to pay a yearly fee, as well as a get food manager’s license. The bill forces the home baker to provide proper food labeling for any product they sell, which is something that I am not forced to do. They are even required to label their product as “made in a home kitchen that is not routinely inspected by a local health authority.”

The bill restricts home bakers on how they can sell their product and to whom they can sell it to. There is also a large portion of the bill devoted to whistle blowing, stating that they may easily be held accountable to the state health department.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?

For those in the professional world who ask, why should we legitimize home-based food service? My answer to that is simple. Why wouldn’t we support a bill that legitimizes and regulates food products? This bill sets standards that any food professional would hold important. And, I can say for certain that the Baker’s Bill poses no major competition for commercial bakeries. Not only does the bill set drastic limits on who the home baker may sell to, it also sets income limits. A home baker could never take on the load of a large professional kitchen with its employees, payroll, marketing costs, etc. These home-based bakers do not pose a threat to the gross sales of large commercial bakeries.

Where the client choses to purchase baked goods is essentially up to the client. If the client feels that a home kitchen is unsanitary, they can choose a bakery to purchase product. In turn, if a client feels a commercial kitchen is unsanitary, then they can choose a home-baker to purchase goods from. It’s all about the consumer’s needs, and these consumers are protected in this bill. And there is plenty of business to be had by all.

I am, at heart, a home cake decorator. Home is where I found my passion and nurtured it. Home is where my roots as a bakery owner began. Fancy Cakes by Lauren is a successful small business in Dallas and I am in my 10th year as a proud owner. None of this would have happened if I had not started at home.

We live in a country of choices. We can choose who to vote for, what religion to practice, and we can make life choices that affect our families. The home baker has no choice but to work in the dark. They are screaming for legitimacy and need to be commended for seeking out regulation and guidelines under which they can be held accountable. The bill needs to pass not only for these important standards, but also for these people who dedicate their lives for the betterment of our art. And I am forever respectful of their struggle and efforts to get this legislation passed.

Here is my official stance:

My name is Lauren Kitchens. I am a Texas business owner and a professional in the food service industry. And I support the Texas Baker’s Bill.

In an unrelated note(except in terms of the bill), the bill has gained two co-authors (to a total of three authors now), both of whom are on the Public Health Committee. They are both Republican which makes the bill bi-partisan, in terms of political ‘oomph’ that’s quite significant so our thanks to those guys for supporting the bill!

Here There Be Dragons…

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos, Random
Tuesday 15 February 2011

A look at my latest craft project, I got the pattern from here, and everything else from Joanns Fabrics (except the stuffing which was stupidly cheap at Walmart).

Aren’t they adorably cute! One is a little “special” looking, he was my practice so I could get the second one looking good since it’s a present (it’s alright, she’s only a month old this won’t ruin the surprise for her!).

Stephen Fry

Posted by Sweets under Random, Video
Thursday 10 February 2011

Happy New Year

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos, Random
Monday 3 January 2011

It was a hectic holiday season. Between the two jobs (both of which got busier for the holidays) and making presents and being social and doing all the things we usually do I don’t think I stopped during the month of December at all. It makes me glad they’re over and I’ve had a semi relaxing day today.. still lots of clean up to do but we’re almost there.

Disturbingly, this photo of me pulling faces, is one of the best photos of me from the holidays.. I’m not sure what that says about me!

Earlier in the month we went to Johnson City to see the lights.. they were uninspiring mostly, except for the lights around the electric company.

We got a few new decorations this year.

Christmas day was split in two. For lunch we went and joined one group of friends, for dinner another.

I got a great series of photos of our box of goodies being opened…

And I think the pups were keen on their treats.

There was fun, merriment and food comas all round! I’d call that a successful Christmas!

Hope 2011 is everything you want it to be!

Carol Of The Bells

Posted by Sweets under Video
Monday 6 December 2010

November and December

Posted by Sweets under Video
Monday 6 December 2010