There are those weeks in life where days go by and it feels like we’re merely passing time – accomplishing the day’s tasks, sure, but doing what we need to do to maintain status quo. There isn’t anything wrong with that and I’d venture to guess that we spend most of our days in this state. But then there are weeks that surprise you with a little spark. The sparks that linger and won’t leave your mind are the moments in life that make you feel the most alive.
I’m not sure if there is a better adrenaline rush than the feeling of possibility. It’s a combination of uncertainty, hope, potential and a little bit of fear, but of the giddy kind. Even if nothing ever manifests from that seed of possibility, to feel like you’re on the brink of something is a good feeling.
I’m coming up on another birthday this month and it always turns into this time of reflection, whether I want it or not. Can’t help but think what another birthday means. Maybe this is why I’ve made a point to catch up with friends who I haven’t seen in years. The easiest of friendships just pick up where we left off. We shake our heads in disbelief that we are the age that we are, that it seemed unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago to be here. We think about our grandmothers who are in their 90s, not only still alive, but living life. It boggles the mind that we can live another lifetime equivalent in years to the one we’ve lived so far. Well, if you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense as to why so many of us are questioning our lives and what we want to do with it.
Posted by Jenna | 7 Comments
How do you answer this question when it’s asked by your 10 year old? Especially when you were raised in a pretty typical Asian-American household where average wasn’t acceptable? (There’s a reason why those Asian parent memes are funny) Because truthfully? Despite how I was raised and despite whatever struggles I have with it myself, the answer is…nothing. There’s really nothing wrong with being average. So I did the only thing I could when I was caught off guard when asked that question point blank during a confrontation about homework – I didn’t answer, mostly because I didn’t know what to say at that moment.
Raising a kid who has an entirely different temperament and personality than your own has its challenges, though I suppose on the flip side of that, I can argue that it’s equally hard to parent a kid who is exactly like you. I have one of each. At least you have some knowledge of what you’re dealing with in the child that is very much like you, but the other requires stepping out of yourself to try and understand the child that is different from you so that you can make the right choices and decisions for her and not ones that you would make for yourself. I’m not even sure if my Type A, perfectionist personality is a direct product of my upbringing or whether that is just ingrained in who I am and always was. Even though my knee-jerk reaction to her question might have been similar to those Asian parent memes (what do you mean you’re fine with being average? Why even think that way?) I know that it’s a very narrow (and often unhappy) way to live life.
Given how hard my brother and I were on ourselves when we were kids, to the point of ulcers and severe anxiety, I always wondered what kind of parent I would turn out to be. I didn’t want that kind of stress and pressure, self inflicted or parental, on my kids, but now that I am here where grades and test scores are starting to count, I’m finding that it’s a lot more complicated. What makes it worse is that in NYC, kids start taking standardized tests in 3rd grade which causes anxiety at such an early age, and middle school applications are competitive. It’s simply not a matter of going to your neighborhood middle school; you need to tour, rank, and interview at your schools of choice and hope that you get in. This year, 4th grade, is when the tests, grades and attendance count. If you’re thinking this is a crazy process, then you’re right. These kids are 10.
I reread that Tiger Mom post I wrote 3 years ago because I remember asking myself that very question when the girls were just starting school. What kind of mom am I going to be once school grades start carrying weight towards their academic future? Turns out I’m that mom who gives her kids extra writing assignments during school vacations and downloads practice tests to complete on the weekends leading up to the state tests. Really didn’t see that coming, but I still don’t consider myself a “Tiger Mom”. I think there is a line between encouraging your children to do their best and pressuring your kids to succeed beyond what they’re capable of, and I don’t plan on ever crossing it. But I’m still trying to figure it out and I’m sure I’ll make a few mistakes along the way. What worked for me, how I was raised, and how I performed in school are the not the standards that I should hold my kids to because the girls aren’t me. I do, of course, want my kids to do their best and succeed, but by whose definition of success am I measuring? It’s different for everyone, isn’t it?
Posted by Jenna | 24 Comments
A weekend back to normalcy of sorts. I think we’ve turned a corner, permanently (though I might eat my words) on winter and suddenly life feels lighter. Mark had a weekend off too, and his first day off in 5 weeks. He spent some of Saturday at a party with friends and we all cheered because that seems to be a rare thing these days. Life can’t be all about work, it just can’t. I spent some time with old friends too this past week and it just confirmed a million times over that relationships are what’s important.
We were in the burbs the rest of the weekend, doing all the things we do when we spend a weekend at my parents’ house: eating at Shake Shack, shopping at Target, Trader Joes, and Fairway, but this time piling our carts with little regard to sticking to a budget. It was just that kind of weekend. The shelves upon shelves of Easter candy and Easter-related holiday items made the girls giddy in anticipation of the candy hunt. They’re pretty mum about whether or not they still believe in the Easter bunny, but I know that they know it’s me who hides the candy. Mark thinks they just like to go along with the fantasy and pretend that the bunny is real. Good, I say. There’s too many external forces these days rushing our kids to grow up too fast. We can’t let go of the magic of childhood so easily. Maybe in a way, they sense it too.
Posted by Jenna | 3 Comments
It’s so boring to keep talking about the weather, I know, but it’s 1 step forward, two steps back with this Spring. Didn’t I say that March could be cruel? But it’s also been the perfect analogy for the month I’ve been having (and maybe for some of you out there too, from what I read). Highs and lows, progress and setbacks. In the end though, things eventually normalize and settle. When you find that you’re still pointed in the same direction that you were headed before the most recent wave of events flung everything up in the air in a moment of confusion, then it should be confirmation enough that you’re headed in the right direction.
Self doubt and the fear of the unknown reveal the ugly side of self employment, at least for me. On the other side of the mirror, constant questioning and a future of possibilities puts a positive spin on those same states. Really just depends on which side you’re standing.
But there are signs of life and regrowth and spring if you look carefully. Never thought I would be so happy to spot the tips of bulbs pushing their way up from the ground, or the snowdrops that I would have missed if I was rushing around as usual. I don’t mean to sound like a self-help booklet, but sometimes it’s hard to keep pushing forward all the damn time, particularly when you’re not even certain where it is you’re suppose to go. But I tell you what…the grass is always greener – always – but it’s not all that it seems and often, it’s just a projection of what we want to see. I think it’s human nature to yearn for the things that we feel we are missing, whether it’s real, imagined or something that we just want. Sometimes you’re reminded of just how great your life is by other people who may yearn for something that is different in your life than what they have in theirs. By all accounts life is great, that much is true. But the constant quest to fill the holes that we perceive to be the keys to fulfillment and happiness is the fire that keeps us pushing forward. For some people, that fire burns too bright to ignore.
What I know for sure is that we all need people. We can’t do it alone. Even the zombie apocalypse tells me so (a Walking Dead reference, naturally).
Now, how’s that for vagueblogging?
Posted by Jenna | 8 Comments
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.
Posted by Jenna | 10 Comments