How are you ever going to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going? ANother example, going for a drive without having a destination in mind. Sure you might see some nice things along with way, and there is something to be said about going on instinct and feel and at times this can turn out to be the most awesome adventure.
My time away from a career and spending all this amazing time with my children has been like going on that long drive without a destination in mind, and yes I have seen and experienced some pretty amazing things over the past several months. Time that I would not trade for anything, but now that we are a good month into 2018 I’ve started to feel the call back to work, being productive and being a little social as well.
My exercise for the week in my men’s mental health group is creating a wildly important goal, and leads you through the process of getting it accomplished within a certain time frame. We will be doing this exercise twice, the first time through as kind of a test run if you will to completely understand the process, and then again over a longer period of time. I’ve decided to use the first run through for my side hustle as advertised below, my online bakery.
The past week I have been using Facebook and Instagram to advertise, and the business has gotten some great exposure. One of the ads has more Instagram likes than I have ever gotten before, but this has not yet translated into any orders. The site only has Valentine’s Day cookies for sale, as this is the next holiday I am looking to capitalize on but there are many other special days throughout the year, and countless baby and bridal showers, birthdays, special events, you name it… I would very much like my website to reflect all the cookies (with photographic evidence) that I can make. When I counted I actually have about 180 different shape cutters to use.
I honestly believe that some Valentine’s Day orders will be coming, and us men are notorious for waiting until the last minute to take care of things, I would like to be ready for repeat and referral business after Valentine’s Day has come and gone with products ready for the rest of the year. I believe that one sale leads to two more, and then five and so on, I really do and I want to be ready for WHEN that happens.
I am sending out my first package through the mail today to see if the product survives, I have packed them safe and secure and now it’s on the post office shoulder not to destroy my work’s of art. Years in the comic book business should help with this! But over the next four weeks I will be baking and decorating a portfolio of cookies, and I really look forward to it! A month from now I will have an awesome website, my decorating skills will have improved ten times over and I will be ready to turn my side hustle into a full blown business. I cannot wait… well two more minutes anyways before the timer in the oven goes off. Hmmmm, delicious!
So for the first time in maybe forever, although I know I did some crazy things while Ironman training a few years ago, today I did my second 10 km run in as many days. I had every intention of doing a nice and easy 30 minutes job on the treadmill at the YMCA while the kids ran around the gym downstairs with there hair on fire (not literally).
Perhaps it was the fact that I actually only ran 9.96 km yesterday and not the full ten that kind of bugged me today. I have OCD and I felt I needed to fix that, or perhaps it was the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt advertising my start up baking company for the first time…
And I figured that the longer I ran the more advertising I would be getting. Is it wrong for me to have parked myself in front of a few out of shape folks sweating away and working hard? And here comes some in shape triathlete running for an hour advertising a bakery company right in front of them.
I ordered a bunch of items from Vista Print including a banner for the outside of my house, business cards, car magnets for my doors and the aforementioned t-shirts… I have high hopes that this business venture allows me to remain at home longer with my younger kids to continue to enjoy he magic of their childhood.
Tomorrow will definitely be no longer than 30 minutes or 5km, which ever comes first!
Does anyone have any tips for muscle and leg recovery that I might use? After all I still have 89 more runs to go!
Despite the occasional box cake mix, and lets get the joke out of the way right off the bat, I love to bake. It comes from being my mother’s faithful kitchen assistant growing up and helping her in the kitchen, that love of baking has really blossomed over the past six months. There was a run there for a few years when I was really into making cupcakes, and would often involve Emily and Megan in these projects.
It only makes sense to me to serve up my children delicious creations from my own kitchen as opposed to store bought delights filled with an endless number of preservatives. Jennifer and Austin also love to help out in the kitchen everytime that we make cookies and it is another great way to spend time together as a family.
The one item I seem to make most these days is Banana Bread, and I’ve been slowly perfecting the recipe over the past few months. Most weeks I make at least two, and a few times I’ve made as many as five in a single week. The kids devour them (I give them to neighbors) and even as I type this Megan is asking when I am making another one as it is her favorite snack…
Beauty of a blog post, it can be paused and picked back up (banana bread made, and in the oven!)
Ahh now I can smell the deliciousness in the air of a banana bread baking away in the oven, amazing. Always a great smell in the house when I have something cooking. The other reason that I love baking so much is that I find it very relaxing and a chance to practice some mindfulness.
I can turn everything off and forget about the rest of the world for a few minutes when I am making a tasty treat. The whole process can be equated down to Love vs Science, a post I have recently written about. I have always been a very scientific baker as it helps sooth my OCD a bit, however I have recently been schooled in the ways of baking with love (not the love ingredient I previously mentioned) but actually LOVE and being slightly less concerned about perfect measurements across the board.
After some debate I had to agree that cookies made with love rather than pure science seemed to taste a bit better when eating them.
Some other items I have been working at perfecting are homemade pies and Sugar Cookies. My favorite pie would be a good old fashioned Apple Pie with a slight taste of cinnamon. Granny Smith apples seem to work best based on their texture and slight tart taste which plays great against all the sweetness of the sugar you would add. I’ve also made my first Peach pie, Cherry pie, from scratch Pumpkin pie and even a Chocolate Pudding pie a few weeks ago.
I am also in the process of working on getting an online baking company up and running with the help of Patrick and Kristi we have had a few orders and I look to dedicate a section of my blog site dedicated to this venture next week. This has been focused around Sugar cookies and Kristi has taught me a tremendous amount about how to properly ice these cookies, as well as continuing to bust my chops about using a boxed cake mix.
I’ve had the idea of making a special meal all made with love for several years now, in fact I’ve dreamed about it on several occasions. To every single detail I knew exactly how this meal would go. And while it took several years, and the right timing to actually get around to making it I don’t believe it could have gone off any better.
It was actually perfect…
The preparation for the event started on Saturday with all the baking that needed to be done, first off it was two different types of cookies, a banana bread and my first all love Apple Pie. My goal is always to make sure that items made with love, actually taste good, not to know that even love exists in the product. Home runs were hit with this baking my friends.
On Sunday’s menu was a full Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Again never having made a turkey dinner filled with love before, I was slightly concerned about the deadly combination of tryptophan and love knocking out all my guests. It turns out I would be partially correct with this assumption.
The stuffing was loaded with love butter, more crumbled on top and underneath the bacon layer. As this would all melt into the turkey and help form the base of the gravy that was still to come. This whole meal was done on the dreams and thoughts I had over the past few years, I didn’t consult a single recipe and just whatever felt natural to me.
The gravy came out perfect with the pan drippings of the turkey, plus a roux made of love and might have been the most potent item on the menu that evening. The vegetables were sauteed in love oil, and the mashed potatoes turned out better than I could have imagined. The whole meal from top to bottom was perfect…
We lost Corey early on, almost right after we finished dinner. Patrick also needed a short winter’s nap and Ryan and I were the sole survivors. There were a lot more friends that joined after they finished working to help with the leftovers and to enjoy the warm out of the oven Apple Pie and coffee sweetened with love honey to end the night.
I could feel the after effects of this meal for a few days afterwards, perhaps I was just basking in the glow of a job very well. Ryan won the wrestling challenge that night as we always try and predict who wins each match and got to walk out with the ceremonial title belt. I was able to cross something off my bucket list of things that I always wanted to do. This meal also marked the last time that love was ever a part of my life, and it was a great way to close that chapter for ever.
It was that kind of weekend for me, filled with the highest of highs and at the same time the lowest of lows. These kind of weekends make life very interesting, at the same time can make life difficult to handle. Things started earlier this week when I had to ask Emily to leave my house, giving her until Friday to find a new place to live.
I had given her a reasonable list of house expectations, and while at first she didn’t even want to look at or consider my list, to a few days later saying that what I was requesting was not unreasonable. As she is telling me the words that I want to hear, she is at the same time going to school but skipping every single class. Her words were definitely not matching up with her actions, and when I called her out on it she got angry, pulled back emotionally and did not come home from school on Friday afternoon.
I am trying to work with Emily and have her face her problems, her issues as opposed to running away from them as she has started to do recently. I ran and tried to hide from my own problems for too many years, I hid from them buried under an addiction and I could now see my daughter doing the same thing. It took me the better part of this year to finally exact life altering, and lasting change for the better. This blog being a huge part of that change, the sharing, the not feeling alone, unburdening myself of the giant ball and chain that I have been carrying around for many years.
Sitting around on Friday night, after telling my daughter that she was no longer welcome in my house was incredibly hard for me to do. But I did it, I packed up all her clothes, makeup and personal effects placing them into the garage and letting her know she could come and pick them up whenever she wanted to. That night was difficult, many different emotions ran through me as I sat there and thought about the last few years, and how things had come to this. It was a tough night.
I can proudly say that not one time did I think about returning to my addict ways, to numb my mind and hid from my problems with marijuana.
Saturday morning started the turn upwards towards those aforementioned highs. The morning started with some fun with Jenny and Austin, picking up Megan and starting my weekly 3 hour drive to return various kids to various mom’s. This drive was one of my absolute favorites as Megan and I talked for the entire two hours we were in the car together, not once did she pick up her phone and get distracted. We talked about an eclectic range of topics that included: her first crush, the Christmas dinner and the dress that she wanted to get, Tom Holland aka Spider-Man, her sister Emily, basketball, volleyball and a million other things… It was such an easy back and forth and upon dropping her off I was on the receiving end of several hugs and kisses goodbye as I headed out on my return trip to Barrie.
I stopped at the YMCA for a great 2 hour workout, after signing up for an Ironman race, I have found it has given my workouts an extra layer of focus, and taken them to the next level. I have already started to the see the results in the mirror which is always a bonus, vain yes I know… This time around in the Ironman triathlon the goal isn’t just to cross the finish line it is to cross that finish line strong and at the front of the field. I have no illusions of winning the race but a time of or under five hours and top ten in my age group would have me literally jumping for joy again. Have 7 months of great training ahead!
When I was done the gym I headed home to an empty house, as is often the case on Saturday and Sunday’s. I full custody of my four children pretty much Monday through Saturday morning, and then get to live the single man’s lifestyle on the weekends. You know hanging out at bars, and hitting on the ladies… throwing wild and crazy parties in my kid free house… actually none of those things at all. I am the opposite of 99% of men, whom are kid free on the weekend, I was going to have a glass of wine, listen to some music, dance around my kitchen and do a whole lot of baking.
My friend, Tiffany was having a bit of a rough day so I invited her over to help and to help take her mind off things going on in her own life, and over the course of a seven hour conversation I learned a whole lot more about her. She carried most of the conversation and I think just needed to share and unload some of the crazy events going on in her life. Just sitting there listening, and I mean actually listening to another person is such an amazing thing, She had my undivided attention, not interrupted by checking cell phones, a tv on in the background or any combination of kids running around. We eventually did get around to baking and that was another whole adventure.
I know that Tiffany wasn’t impressed when I pulled out a boxed cake mix to make some cupcakes, and when I saw the expression on her face I kind of got nervous. From my point of view I do almost all of my baking for my kids and using a box cake mix is simple, quick and easy, makes a decent cupcake as well. I think when I mentioned baking she was thinking, flour, sugar, eggs, etc. To be honest it threw me off my game and I ended up making the worst batch of cupcakes I ever have made. They were too big, the frosting was far too sweet, the candy canes I put into the icing you couldn’t see, and the colour scheme was all wrong. Just not happy with the finished product…
Looking back, I was nervous, and the results showed that. This was the first time I had ever baked with another person. And I got into my own head a little bit, we both talked and laughed about the results and what had gone on over the last hour. In good news, the banana bread we made was absolutely delicious. I sent that home with Tiffany to enjoy and heard it was quickly consumed. Before heading off to bed I thought about things and what I would do differently the next time we got together.
That turned out to be Sunday! The sugar cookies I had made a few weeks ago, has led to another job and five dozen Christmas sugar cookies and I was going to make another batch on Sunday to both perfect the recipe and send to school today with Jennifer for her class to enjoy. I asked Tiffany to help me out on Sunday, as on Saturday we talked a lot of baking, and icing and how much she enjoyed the whole process.
Sunday was the exact opposite from Saturday night. There were no nerves involved whatsoever, and I was totally able to be myself. On came the awesome 80’s tunes, one of my favorite songs, Doesn’t Really Matter by Platinum Blonde to which every single time I hear this song, no matter where I am have to air drum the drum solo midway through the song. I found myself singing out loud, which I never have done in front of another person before, as I do not have a voice for it at all. I played my best air drums using a few wooden spoons in my kitchen, it was epic.
Over the course of several hours we talked, we laughed and we had a great time. Tiffany and I worked very well together in the kitchen, instantly had an unspoken language while making these cookies. Several times throughout the process we were helping each other without having to say a word. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before working with another person. A communication without speaking a very rare thing indeed.
From the low’s of Friday night, to the learning curve of Saturday to the pure fun that I had on Sunday all came to a head Sunday night as I drove Tiffany home and picked up Emily who had finally decided that she wanted to stay at my home and we had our best talk in a long time while driving down to pick up Megan from her mom’s house. Sitting in the car with Emily, just being open and honest and not being afraid to talk to my daughter was the most powerful hour of my weekend. I truly believe that in that hour I was able to reconnect with Emily in a way I had been searching for these last few months.
I wasn’t nervous or afraid to open up and bare my soul to her, to share with her the experiences from my past that parallel exactly what she has been going through. I believe we came to an understanding about each other during that car ride and have taken the first few steps towards regrowing the bond that should exist between a father and his daughter. We still have a lot of work to do, together, being able to talk to be open, to share with each other one day at a time. One thing at a time. Baby steps, one after another and over time we will have climbed that mountain. Together.
I’ve learned so much about myself on this journey, this weekend in particular was one of learning, growing and most importantly being myself. Even with small periods of nerves spattered throughout, I was able to adjust, to learn on the fly and to grow one small step at a time. It taught me that I could take what I experienced one day and could directly be applied to the next day making it a wonderful experience.
I will leave you all with this thought for the day, each day that passes for me is one step further away from my old life and one step closer towards the man I am truly am meant to be. It’s still is amazing to me, this journey has been so wonderful. Each day presents to me such beauty and wonder in every situation that I have the pleasure of experiencing both good and bad. I will continue to learn, to grow, to evolve from each experience and shape my life, the life of my children and those I am lucky to call friends so much better.