Sometimes ideas incubate faster than the present technology allows. Videos and full page bleed images on the web come to mind. When I discovered the Steller App last week, I think I squealed. Now, you all know I am not the squealing type (usually), but I’ve been wracking my head trying to figure out the best format to use for a little side project that I’ve been wanting to explore. It involves video, so when I saw that Steller combines video, words and images together in a beautiful storytelling format I literally squealed, I’ll admit it.
So, I can’t help but question whether this is perhaps another nail on the coffin of blogging as we know it. I’m guessing blogging will be around for awhile, but there are so many other ways to share content now and interact with people (probably the biggest cause in the drop in comments on blogs). After a little cooling period, I’m back in love with instagram again. A few months ago I did pull back on all social media, particularly twitter and it felt good, but as a small business owner it’s near impossible to drop out completely. You have to play the game.
But this storytelling app? It seems made for the kind of stories I want to tell. I spent the weekend ignoring everything on my to-do list and made 2 stories instead. There was a bit of a learning curve, but it’s fairly simple to use. The only frustrating thing was that I couldn’t control the type as much as I wanted, but I understand why there are limitations and this is just the annoying designer in me talking. Some of the stories won’t be new if you’ve been reading here awhile as I plan on translating a few posts into storytelling format, but I have some new stories to tell as well. It’s amazing what a little app can do to reinvigorate things, isn’t it?
Story 1 and Story 2 can be seen here, but it’s best viewed on the iphone or ipad.
Posted by Jenna | 22 Comments
Owning a baking company requires consistency in product quality in every batch. Mark does admit to getting bored sometimes when he has to bake the same cookies day after day. There isn’t much time for experimentation when he’s busy fulfilling orders, but he likes to play around in the kitchen when he does find a little free time. Lately, he’s been making Rice Krispie treats. You’ve seen these if you follow me on Instagram and they’ve been selling out at the Brooklyn Flea every week. Last weekend he made S’more Krispie Treats, a variation on the open faced S’mores that he’s made for years, but we haven’t brought these to the Flea in 5 years. He was pretty excited to be torching up marshmallows again on Saturday.
My personal favorite, however, are the Brown Butter Toffee Rice Krispie Treats. Made with whisky marshmallows, they’re blended with pecans and house-made toffee. So good! He’s also been baking other large cookies that are exclusive to weekend markets – a Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie and an Oatmeal Date Pretzel Cookie. All have consistently sold out this month by the end of the weekend.
We get asked periodically why we still do the Brooklyn Flea after all these years. Sometimes we question it ourselves after a slow day. We aren’t one of those food stands that have crowds and lines of people all day, and it can sometimes be deflating when your booth is next to a vendor that does, but without a retail store (and with no plans to open one) the Flea continues to be a valuable opportunity to meet directly with customers and for Mark to get out there and represent his products. These past few weekends, however, have been golden and with the addition of these newer products, our booth has been getting steady crowds all day. It’s been a good feeling to be that booth for a change.
We have one more weekend to go for the weekend Flea in Williamsburg and then we’ll be off for a weekend until the Flea goes back outdoors on April 5th.
Oh, and press. A huge photo of our Massaman Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies in Food & Wine. April issue out in stands now.
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I had lunch with a friend last week and it was one of those situations where you look around and see just how unbelievably crowded a place is midday on a Thursday and you think to yourself (or to each other with just a glance), who are all these people? Do these people have jobs? Or is this a leisurely lunch break? Of course the irony is that we were there too in the middle of the day, not working at office jobs, having a leisurely lunch, but we couldn’t help but feel like we were pretending to be someone other than ourselves and not the moms of 2 kids from a less hip Brooklyn neighborhood. So dumb, I know.
I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the reaction of my friend when I pointed out that someone else was wearing a matching fake furry vest similar to hers. To her dismay, it wasn’t on any of the numerous young fashionable people in the restaurant, but worn by the only other woman who was older than us in the room – and probably by a good 20 years. She didn’t find any consolation when I told her my 10 year old also owned a fake fur vest (sorry M, I had to tell the story. So funny).
But…the light. I do feel like I see it, finally. I think I’ve been buried under darkness for too long. Work has been a good distraction, but also part of the problem. One of the reasons why I’ve been saying yes to everything and working as many hours as I have the last 8 months is so I can build in a cushion to enable some positive changes in my life. You can’t sustain that level of crazy without going crazy yourself, but the process of digging yourself out of that dark hole is slow and the hurdles are entirely mental and emotional.
It’s like when I turned to Mark a few weeks ago and said, “money isn’t everything, you know” when he wanted to add 8 more weekend market dates to this month when in the past we took the month of March off from markets. I wanted to do more things as a family, go on day trips and such, but that was the right call as far as business is concerned; we’ve been killing it every weekend even though it’s meant that Mark hasn’t had a single day off in a month. You do have to seize the opportunities when you see them and he’s been bringing the girls with him on Sundays to spend more time with them, so it hasn’t been all that bad. But I’m very much looking forward to the days ahead. There’s a lightness to them that I haven’t felt in awhile.
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So, here’s the thing: you can spend your time lamenting over how a certain thing in your life isn’t making you happy, or you can actually do something about it. I decided that Thursdays are my “recharge” days – a day to see things, go to places I haven’t been before, or work on projects that are only my own. I know that some days there will be deadlines that are too pressing to ignore and I’ll most likely be playing catch up in the evening hours, but I’m going to try and keep this commitment going. Ain’t nothing gonna change by simply sitting around wishing I had more free time.
Yesterday I went to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. It’s been on my list forever and it was a spontaneous, get in the car kind of outing with a friend. I’m glad that my first experience here was without the kids. There’s a tranquility to the space that is translated through the sculptures and the Japanese-influenced aesthetic of the museum design; it was so quiet. We had the whole museum to ourselves for awhile. It was nice to sit on a bench, watch the light filter and shift, and just talk for hours trading stories of travels and people that we used to know.
By 3pm, we were back in our neighborhood facing the frenzy of school pickup, surrounded by hundreds of other kids, parents and caregivers. By 3:30 I was back at home sorting through my inbox which was flooded with emails, but it had been a good day. I needed that reminder that these breaks are important.
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Spring-like weather on the weekend had all New Yorkers out enjoying warmer temps. Mark had a killer day at the Flea Market, the best we’ve ever had, and I spent the day with the girls walking around Brooklyn, having brunch and stopping at various playgrounds. At this point, the girls often eat more than I do, but I still don’t understand how a little 50 pound kid can eat plate sized pancakes piled three high. Or maybe I just don’t have much of an appetite these days. Pancakes with maple syrup is oddly sounding really good to me right now at 10:30 at night though.
Felt like all of New York was shedding a piece of themselves from the winter. Ironically, sitting on a park bench allowed me to think a little more clearly than sitting at home by myself. Funny how a change of scenery will do that. Changes your perspective. So it was good to sit on that park bench watching the kids play, watching other families play, and see the city collectively let go of whatever needed to be let go, if only for those few hours in the sun.
It’s hard to see a loved one suffer. Even harder still to be 3000 miles away. I’m hearing myself say words that I struggle to believe myself some days, but there’s validation in knowing that you make a difference in someone else’s life. Shouldn’t everyone have people they can lean on? But sadly I know that’s not the case for some. No, we’re the lucky ones.
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Lately, Claudine has been going around the apartment saying how much she likes our home. When I ask her what she likes about it, she answers that it has everything we need. Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
I’ve been thinking about our home a lot, now that we’ve been here 9 years. At this point it’s the longest we’ve lived anywhere, including our childhood homes. I think it’s fairly accurate to say that New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate in some capacity or another, whether it’s dealing with crazy rents, pining for more space, navigating a competitive seller’s market, ogling other people’s apartments, or scheming an escape out of the city altogether. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t count my lucky stars; a combination of good timing, good fortune, and a rather risky leap of faith allowed us to buy an apartment 10 years ago. It couldn’t have worked out better than it did considering we wouldn’t be able to afford this neighborhood if we moved here now, but we didn’t know that back then. I do sometimes wonder though if we’ll ever own or live in a house – you know, with a yard, a driveway, maybe a second floor and a pantry.
I seem to know a lot of people who are renovating old houses here in Brooklyn, the Hudson Valley and other areas of the Northeast. I look at their progress photos and admire the beautiful period details, the decorative fireplaces, the crown molding, the original woodwork, and all the charming and quirky features that our home doesn’t have. Sometimes the house envy kicks in and I find myself thinking, “wouldn’t that be nice…” A music room? A library? A garden? A huge walk-in closet with ample space to organize everything? Yeah, it would be nice.
But we decided that we’ll be in this apartment for the long haul because we see no real compelling reason to move as long as we’re here in NY, which means that this will be the only childhood home that the girls will ever know. Sure, we could use more space and I would love a new kitchen and bathrooms, but when I look at it through that lens, it hits hard because it seems like a such long time to live anywhere. This is the place that the kids will remember when they think back to childhood memories, the home they’ll come to when they return to visit from college. Maybe not quite what I envisioned considering we sacrificed charm and period details for price and a bit more space in a neighborhood filled with brownstones when we bought this apartment. I’ve never lived in a place that resembled such a box devoid of any architectural interest, but I’ve come to realize that these things don’t make a place a home – your memories and family do. So, I look forward to making this our home for awhile with the perspective that it’s “good enough”.
With the decision to stay long term comes the reality that the fabric of our community will change the longer we stay. We’ve already seen it in the past few years as some of our fellow neighbors have moved on to bigger houses, neighborhoods or the suburbs. In their place, a new wave of neighbors are moving in, most with young children or babies not yet born. And then I realize that we were them 10 years ago – young homeowners who were just starting families. Has it really been that long? Are we really the older ones in our building now? Because it doesn’t feel like 10 years have gone by, I tell you that.
With the way 10 years have flown, I can’t help but wonder where we’ll be next. I know that we won’t stay in this apartment forever. Whether we stay in the city is another story, but that little seed about eventually leaving the city that I wrote last year has taken root and I find myself daydreaming about houses again, our “live there forever till the end” house. I’m reminded again that perhaps we’re meant to be in certain places in our lives. Maybe “good enough” is the right place to be in order for us to figure out what we want and how to get there.
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