Wednesday, July 17, 2013


That's how much chocolate I just purchased.
Guittard chocolate.
A one time delivery.
Half a ton.

It was a huge step for this Girl And Dog.
Was I crazy?
What if cookie sales were to suddenly slow up? 
Or simply... end?

Those thoughts have always been in the back of my head as I forge ahead. 
And they're the same ones that have kept me from ordering this much chocolate at one time.
Doubt (and fear of failing) sure do keep us from taking that next step don't they??

The kicker is the one ingredient that costs the most for me is chocolate.  Mostly because I want to use only the highest quality ingredients in each yummy.
I mean... if I'm gonna make a cookie... I'm gonna MAKE a cookie.
Guittard chocolate is just so good.

Put simply- their chocolate makes every cookie I bake taste just like I ever dreamt it could.

But with quality comes cost... unless you do a little research, call a few spots & discover the wonderful world of wholesaling.
Taking that leap & ordering wholesale is always the way to go- means you get the product for half (or less than half) the retail price.

And talking to the fine people at Guittard was going swimmingly until... the woman on the other end announced that their minimum order was 500lbs.

Silence on my end of the line.
She said it would come in twenty 25lb boxes.
And it could be delivered two days from the day I placed the order.
I sat there with the accounts lady on the phone.
Her name was Maria.
And she was patient with me.
I asked her one more time to repeat the figures to me.

25lb boxes.
Grand total $$$$.$$

That's right- a 4 digit number.

If I had had a beer there on the desk with me I'd have taken a swig just then.
But instead I exclaimed excitedly “Let's do it!!”
She (Maria) said “ok” in a less than enthusiastic tone.
Hey, it was just another day at the office for her, ya know?

All I could think about was that I was going to be receiving just a plain SILLY amount of chocolate in less than 48 hours.

After I stopped worrying about whether I should order the chocolate or not I transitioned right into worrying about where I was going to store it all.
Would the commercial kitchen have room enough?
Who knows?
I guess that's what jumping off the deep end means.
You really have NO idea what's going to happen next.

Kind of fun.
Mostly scary.

Sure enough, 2 days later the driver of Best Overnight Express called to say he'd be at the kitchen in 45 minutes.
I was in between cookie deliveries so I stood there waiting.

Trying to put out the vibe.
Acting like I receive orders this size all the time.
Ain't no thang, right? 

But then I heard the big rig as it backed into the parking lot.
This is what I saw.

My initial thought:


Either my eyes got real big or my stomach dropped to the floor.
Either one would have been correct.

For some reason I reverted back to my childhood imagination.
I really thought for one long moment that the ENTIRE BACK END was chock full of milk chocolate chips and the driver was going to expect me to fit 'em all in the kitchen.
But then I bounced back to real time, tried to stay cool on the outside & said in a matter-of-fact voice

“You can just unload the chocolate & stack it over there, please” (pointing my finger at a space in front of the gigantic freezer we call Big Bertha).

Once he put the first load down & I saw that the 20 boxes would be a totally manageable size to store I got real excited.

This was it.
A big moment for me.
I took pictures of him unloading it all.

Just so I could remember the day I pushed through to the other side. The other side of being a small business owner- the huge moment when I stopped doubting if my efforts were all worth it.

For so long I was expecting the ground to fall out from under me.  Surely people would stop wanting my cookies.  They'd be a fad, a phase, a sweet treat that was good but wouldn't last.

But then no one stopped enjoying them.
And a better cookie didn't come along.
And then Acre Coffee said they'd be opening another cafe.
And it would be 3 times as big as the Petaluma store.
And they wanted Girl And Dog cookies there too.

And THAT'S when ordering 500lbs of chocolate in one go didn't seem so ludicrous.

I've always believed in this cookie baking/apron making business.
And while that's a critical part of sticking it out in the tough, less than exciting, downright disheartening times the REAL success comes down to discovering if OTHER people believe in what you do.
By supporting.
By purchasing.
By sharing the experiences they've had with your product with others.
By believing in your creation... almost as much as you do.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be doing what I do.
Thankful I've got the support of family & friends.
Thrilled that Abe (my black lab) continues to demonstrate total commitment to the cause.
Excited that I can purchase 500lbs of chocolate & fall asleep at night feeling it was a smart move.
In the right direction.
In an effort to make this dream of mine happen... one handcrafted cookie at a time.

And perhaps it goes without saying but- if anyone needs a cup of chocolate chips for their baking needs- just ask.  
I've got a few to spare these days  : )  

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Tasty Tragedy

After all was said & done the chocolate dipped shortbread were a one day sensation.

They were beautiful & tasty but ultimately too darn temperamental.

When sitting in the cool commercial kitchen they were great but the minute they warmed a bit- either in transport to the cafe or while displayed in the (warmish) pastry case- it was all over. 

The guys & gals at the cafe said every shortbread that left the shop went away in a bag smeared to high heaven with chocolate.  

Now I don't think that's SOOOOOOOO bad.  

I mean- in the big scheme of things- chocolate dripping off a deliciously decadent shortbread seems alright but- I could understand their resistance to the whole idea.  

Cookies- just like coffee- should be enjoyed without a mess.  

We all agreed that if they were set up with a refrigerated display (or as they call it in the biz a 'cold case') to keep baked goods chilled we would have been in business.  

But they just don't have one.  

So I sat down to have a good think.

Decided to try a cocoa shortbread.  

Cocoa powder & a touch of vanilla added to my standard recipe.


Melt in your mouth.

Mmmm.... like a cup of homemade hot chocolate... but in a cookie.  

Wait- does that sound good to anyone?  I thought it did but maybe not...

Here's the real kicker though.  The cocoa shortbread- as opposed to the chocolate dipped number- is SO much easier to prep, bake & deliver.  

And that right there was my answer.  

Reckon if you continue to fail at the same thing over & over again then you gotta try something new & different.  

It's a fact- the right things- the ones you know you should put your energy into- are just plain easier.  

Voila- the Cocoa Shortbread was born!

Fingers crossed it's a wild success! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh Shortbread...

They say it's more about the journey than the destination.

Who are “they?”

“They” must have been cookie bakers because- I'll tell ya- it's always quite the journey when coming up with a new cookie recipe.

One of the cafes I deliver to requested a new variety.

So I set to work on something fun & exciting.


A solid favorite amongst most.

Now... baking cookies for family & friends is awesome... and everyone loves you.

When you try to bake cookies and make it your own personal, small business... consistency comes into play... and if you drop the ball & a cookie looks different or (god forbid) tastes different your customers will tell you so... or the cafe carrying your cookies will tell you so.

I didn't want to go too crazy here with this new challenge.  

Shortbread seems like a super easy cookie to make right?

I'll just say, everything seems easy until you actually do it.

Try figuring out how to make the same shape, the same thickness, the same 'look' from one batch to another.

This past week was all about all of those things. And to top it all off I wanted to try dipping it in chocolate for a little panache- reckless courage.

Reckless courage indeed!

My first attempt went like this:

Roll out a specific amount of dough (1200 grams) onto a cookie sheet.
Cover & chill for a long while in the refrigerator.
Cut into squares.
Melt chocolate.
Dip shortbread in chocolate.

Easy, so easy.

Except it totally wasn't.

My time in the commercial kitchen these past few mornings could be likened to that episode of “I Love Lucy” when Lucy & Ethel were trying to figure out how to box those chocolates on the conveyor belt. 

Remember that one? 

At one point the chocolates kept coming and they had nowhere to put them except in their mouths.

I wasn't stuffing my face full of shortbread & gooey chocolate but I was running around like a crazy person once the dipping began.

I googled (what I thought was) a good recipe for dipping chocolate.

It involved chocolate chips, butter & a microwave.

Luckily I had the chocolate and butter and the kitchen had a microwave.

I stirred throughout the microwaving process but found that it never really melted all the way- never got silky smooth- just kind of stayed thick & heavy.

My friend Emma told me that was because I was essentially making a ganache.


Never mind though.

I had a bunch of shortbread squares & I'd melted a pretty hefty amount of chocolate.

Even though this whole thing wasn't looking too promising I was going to do it anyway!

That was the first problem.

The second problem was that- because I'd (sort of) melted all the chocolate at warp speed in the microwave- the minute it started to cool down it got even chunkier.

The third problem was that when I cut the sheet of baked shortbread into individual squares it messed with the integrity of 'em.

Meaning that once I started dipping them in that heavy chocolate concoction some of them just wanted to bend & break.

Not ideal for trying to sell at a lovely little coffee shop.

Imagine this- I tried dipping one in chocolate.

That worked but then since the chocolate was cooling down it got thicker & less 'dippy.'

I started this pattern of running from the counter with the cookies to the microwave to reheat.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I tried so hard to keep one hand free of chocolate goo so I could dip the next shortbread in line.

That lasted about 3 seconds because of my haste.

I think I remember laughing at one point.

I think I remember cursing at a few more.

They were SO heavy, SO thick with chunky chocolate, breaking, bending, messy.

I knew I had a lot of work to do.

Back to the drawing board after I'd washed my chocolate covered apron & had a good sleep.

I was talking to another gal who works out of the commercial kitchen- telling her all about my shortbread & chocolate woes.

That's when Eliza suggested the best idea I'd heard yet.

Maybe try chilling the dough & cutting squares BEFORE baking.

Huge improvement!

Only problem was I had to do two batches.

The first set of chilled squares were the size I wanted as the finished product.

Depending on the dough you're workin' with sometimes when you bake it can double (or triple!) in size.

That first batch certainly did.

Realized I couldn't very well take 10”x10” shortbread tiles to the cafe so I started from scratch once again & cut squares HALF the size I wanted as the finished product.


Not too fast though... there was yet another attempt at making the dipping chocolate that inevitably failed real hard.

I was through with the microwave.

I knew a double boiler was the answer but the kitchen didn't seem to be stocked with one.

What does any problem solving Girl Scout do?

She improvises by using a jerry rigged one.

One banged up pot on top of another banged up pot.

I figured that it was virtually a double boiler because the top pot was just a tad smaller than the bottom one.

This might surprise you but that idea didn't really work out.

Again, the chocolate never totally melted all the way- never got silky smooth- just kind of stayed thick & heavy.

Again, not ideal for dipping.

Not to be deterred though.

Since I had finally gotten the shortbread part all dialed I decided to stop screwing around- for my last & final attempt I found & used a bona fide double boiler.

More success!

After a week of trial and (a lot of) error I was chilling, cutting, baking & chocolate dipping shortbread squares like the best of 'em.

My favorite author was just writing on his website- thanking all his fans for their continued support- apologizing for being unable to get right back to all the emails & letters that had recently come his way.

He said although he was unable to return every correspondence right then he appreciated 'em.

He wanted to assure all that when it comes to his work & his writing "there's a lot of heart at the heart of it” and he asked for patience.

That totally spoke to me.

There's a whole lotta heart at the heart of this cookie baking/apron making business I've got.

Those shortbread certainly didn't just appear out of nowhere.

There was time, success, failure, laughing, cursing & more laughing again with this latest creation.

And the cafe that requested a new treat to offer at their shop was patient enough to see it through- to allow me to work out the kinks and finally come up with something worth the effort.

I reckon 'they' are right- it IS more about the journey than the destination. 

If for no other reason than to see just how far you've come.

Now let's just hope the folks out there like these little guys!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Henry Cooper... The Adventure Continues!!

Lucky enough to have spent another couple of days with my best friend Sarah & her baby boy Henry... who just turned 2 months a couple days ago.

I went up to Washington for the first part of the visit & then they decided to head back down to California with me... on the plane... Henry's first flight!

Obviously, some anxiety about the unknown here...

Sarah was worried because she's the mama. 

I was worried because Sarah's one of my closest friends & I know she worries.

To be sure... seats 14A & 14B were filled with two stress balls... plus a baby.

What if he cries?

What if he SCREAMS?

What if he acts like he can't get enough breast milk?

What if he poops his pants?

What if we have to change those poopy pants right there in our seats?

Don't worry about it. All those things happened.

Here's the play by play...

Made it through security without a hitch!

Then loaded up and- thanks to some advice from fellow mamas- Sarah put Henry straight to work- meal time for the little guy- all in hopes of distracting him from the fact that we were about to be catapulted into the air.

That worked for a minute but then- once there was no turning back & we were already 10,000 ft in the air- he started doing the crying/screaming/gassy thing.

And there was really no consoling him.

Bless her big heart- Sarah went back & forth between boobs to try to appease him- giving him the chance to burp in between feedings.

Henry was up, he was down, he was sideways... but never comfortable.

All I could do was- not much- except assure her that everyone was plugged into their computer or their iPod- unable to hear the crying baby.

Sarah's cheeks were so red- worried that we were disturbing the peace.

But see- that's just it.

Everyone on a plane should realize they're all in it together- all piled into a really long tube trying to get from point A to point B in one piece.

A certain level of patience is required I feel like- not from babies perhaps but definitely from adults. 

So I was of the mind that all we could do was try to settle Henry down but for the most part not worry too much about the crying. 

This is coming from the person who's NOT the mother of the baby!

Anyone remember my buttered popcorn reference when talking about baby poop? It didn't take long for us to start smelling that certain smell.

And there was SO much of it... poop that is.

Of course he'd set the record on the plane!

While Sarah held him in her lap I grabbed a fresh diaper & a few wipes & set to work.

And work it was!

We're talking so much poop that it somehow escaped the diaper & went up his back!

To put it lightly- he was a giant mess.

But fear not!

Best friends (the fairly decent ones) remain unfazed in times like these.

We simply roll up our sleeves, hold our breath & git 'r dun.

Quickest diaper change in the history of diaper changes!

After ALLLLL that he slept like a little lamb in our arms- even through the landing & deplaning process.

When she & I debriefed on the car ride home about it all we decided he was pretty unhappy for the first ½ of the flight but then gosh darn comfortable for the remainder.

In my mind- it was a huge success.

In Sarah's mind- maybe still a little traumatizing.

She finally regained normal complexion once we were standing on solid ground again... and after a few passengers from our flight came over to her & reassured her they had a perfectly delightful time on board.

I think it was just the right kind of 'first' for them. 

If he had been a mellow baby the whole way she wouldn't have had to problem solve through the first part of the flight.

If he had been fussy/crying/screaming/pooping the entire time then she'd never take him anywhere until he was 15.

And I couldn't be happier about having this opportunity to learn from such a great mama.

Sarah's the best, most patient teacher.

And the awesome part is that she's not the hovering type.

If Tim or I had Henry & he started to cry she would just stand by in case she was needed- never swooping in right away- so we were able to learn from our experiences with the little guy.

So good.

Once safe & sound- home from the airport that day- with Tim, Abe & Dixon waiting for us- we laughed about it all.

Then had a beer.

Good work Sarah & Henry.

Good work.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Henry Cooper!

Babies are funny!

They're so small.  

Little humans- that- for the most part always smell good.

Like warm skin & spring & clean clothes fresh out of the dryer.

Until they poop. Then they smell like buttered popcorn.

I'm serious.

Has anyone else made this association between the theater treat & a newborn baby's nappy?

It's crazy. 

But it's just one of the things I learned while staying with my best friend, her husband, their dog & their brand new baby Henry Cooper.

Henry made his entrance from the warm watery womb to this world of ours in just about TWO hours.

Sarah said there were moments she thought she might just have him while on the road to the hospital.


Although I know Sarah would have rocked it if she needed to give birth right then & there on the shoulder of I-5.

The important thing is that she & her husband Justin were both present for the birth of their baby boy... at the hospital & not on the road.

And he is out of this world! So stinkin' cute.

When I got into town & first arrived at their house (3ish weeks after he was born) he was placed in my arms. Up until then I always assumed I'd break a baby. Somehow- without even trying- an arm or leg would just fall off. So I was super tentative to do much of anything except stand statue still with him. 

But then Sarah said I could sway back & forth.

Oh no! That's it!

I'd move, he'd cry & then he'd break into pieces.

But he didn't break! Not at all!

And I could move him around from one arm to the other & talk in a normal human voice to Sarah & Justin. 

He didn't stir, he didn't cry. 

Just nestled in for a long nap between feedings.

Which is another thing. 

Babies eat a lot. 

And most of the time. 

Every two hours was his schedule when I was there. 

The signs to decide whether he was hungry or pooping or just happy to be there were so fun to watch & learn about.

And when he was hungry he'd squint his eyes.
Or start suckling his fingers.
Or just pucker his mouth.
Or he'd simply turn his head toward the person holding him & start rooting for... you know...

Anyone other than Sarah would get to make the 'sorry buddy- no milk in there for ya' joke while handing him off to mama for the meal he was looking for.

By then they decided he wasn't much of a multi tasker. 

If he stopped feeding chances were he was trying to poop. One time with me (feeding him a bottle of mama's milk) he stopped sucking & then immediately cut the cheese... or pooped. Maybe even at the same time? It was awesome. Buttered popcorn smell soon to follow. 

All systems are a go on that boy!

When he's just there happy to be alive he'll yawn, smile & frown all at the same time.

Then back to his quiet sleep with just the hint of baby breathing sounds- so adorable.

What's not adorable is a wailing baby. But that's to be expected. And really they don't mean to cause such a scene. They just want you to know something's amiss. 

Hungry, wet, hot, cold. 

All possible options.

Sarah was so good about telling me everything she was learning about her experience. It was a huge gift to me because someday Tim & I want to start trying for a family.

New parents- I see now- need strength- so much strength to weather the storms of those first months as moms or dads. 

Because there's no handing the baby back to someone else when things get hairy. 

There's help- sure- but once the little guy is there he's THERE.

When I got home to Tim I just described- wide eyed- how much work it's going to be if (when!) we welcome our new little baby into the world.

Sleep? HA!

Think again.

I mean- there's sleep but- especially for mamas- it's only when baby's sleeping. 

Moms are the captains of those ships.

All others are mere deckhands.

I wanted so badly to help out with Henry while I was there. 

I soon realized the best thing I could do was give Sarah & Justin a chance to simply slumber.

One night all three of us were sitting on the couch (I had Henry) with the intention of watching a movie. Before any of the actors even had a chance to say their first words all three- Sarah, Justin & Henry- were out cold. So I sat with their sleeping baby, watched the movie & imagined Tim & I in their shoes in the (hopefully!) not too distant future.

I left their house exhausted. Which is kind of ridiculous since I wasn't up NEARLY as much as Sarah or Justin.

But I also left with a whole new respect for parents. 

And especially moms. 

The changes the female body goes through while pregnant- Sarah briefed me on them ALL- are incredible. 

Then during labor & delivery & those months after baby is born- Sarah told me ALL about those too.

Are you joking me?? 

It's awe-inspiring... and terrifying.

I heard a male ob-gyn say that the reason women have babies is because there's no way a man would be able to recover from the trauma of it all.  Likely true!

Women are STRONG! 

Not only do they carry the child 9 months in their bellies but then they become the baby's source for life sustaining food.

Sarah & Henry are coming for a visit in a few weeks & I can't wait to see how much they've both grown. 

Henry will literally be bigger and Sarah- she'll have even more experience under her belt. 

Already I hope someday to be a mother as great as she is to her baby boy.

The adventure continues!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Growing Up

Over the last little while I've been piecing together what it means to grow up.

It doesn't mean life is less fun.

It means you're able to handle more... all at once.

Growing up means learning how to create a balance.

It's about knowing that things could get bad but then they can also get good again.

This past weekend I got another lesson in what it means to grow up.

My dog Abe got sick. He got real sick.

And I felt helpless.

We were out for a good romp on the beach with him & our new bub Dixon.

It was such a great day- a little stop at our favorite bakery, sun out, cool breeze blowing, dogs running around like 5 year olds on Christmas morning.

Just a few minutes in however, Abe started to favor his left side. He wouldn't turn his head- and if anyone came near him he'd turn to the right & keep going.

I investigated as best as I could.

He whined & winced & arched his back. 

He was in so much pain & it broke my heart.

And it confused me too. How could a perfectly healthy dog all of a sudden be broken? How did I miss whatever it was that made him hurt? And more importantly- what could I do to help him?

By the time we got back to town & took a look at him in the back of the truck- he was a mess. He was completely out of sorts & even more painful than before.

Tim & I whisked him away to an emergency vet (it was the weekend... it's always the weekend when things are closed that bad things happen right?)

Once there the vet decided he'd done something horribly wrong to his neck and the pain was traveling down his spine.

While his reflexes were normal- he clearly was not.

They gave him a shot of morphine (or something darn close to it) for immediate pain relief & sent us home with 3 different pain meds & muscle relaxers.

We felt good. We knew he was going to be ok.

But then he didn't get better. If anything he just got worse once home.

Short quick breathing, a whistling whine with every exhalation & trembling all over were just a few of the many outward signs I knew my dog was not happy.

And I cried.

Abe has been my best friend for the past 8 years.  Even when he wasn't with me- when he was off getting all trained up to be an assistance dog for somebody else- he was always my guy.

I can look at him & he can look at me. With one little raising of an eyebrow he'll start to wag his tail.

He knows me & I know him. We have always been two peas in a pod.

It's just one of those things.

My eyes stayed locked on him for those next couple of hours. 

His pain never subsided- just worsened. 

Left Tim & Dixon at home & took Abe back to the vet- a 24 hour clinic thank goodness!

Ended up leaving him overnight (not as expensive as you'd think come to find out!) so they could administer some more high powered injectable pain medicine.

While I was waiting for the vet tech to take him away that night he continued to shake, continued to whine with every breath, refused to turn his head even slightly to the left.

I looked into his big brown eyes & told him I loved him.

And that I would be back. I would be back.

His eyes stayed fixed on mine. 

There's nothing like a lab. Even in the throws of absolute pain they're more interested in making YOU feel better.

If he could have wagged his tail even just a little to calm my fears I know he would have.

Soon enough the nurse came in to take him away for the night. I gave him one last 'I love you' & walked out to the truck. And cried again- the heaving kind- the kind you did when you were a kid & you thought nothing would be ok again.

Not knowing what's next for someone or something you love is one of the worst feelings in this big giant world.

When I got home in the middle of the night I just sat there. Tried to shut the worried part of my brain off & imagine him healthy & happy again.

That's when I realized I had grown up just a little bit more.

All I wanted to do was crawl into a hole & stay in there until I knew he'd be ok.

But- you see- you can't do that.

Maybe for a minute but not for long.

Life keeps on moving.

And there's a kind of beauty in absolute sadness.

It allows humanity to come through in a big way.  And for the ones you love & who love you back to do the same. 

Although I didn't go around telling everyone the next day that my dog was really sick- and I felt awful- I was given a few warm smiles at the grocery store & had some light hearted chats here & there.

Tim checked in often while we waited to hear how Abe was doing. 

I was given the opportunity to think about better, happier things if just for a little while.

Then I got word.  Almost as quickly as he'd been in horrible pain he was better again- or on the way to better anyway.

The veterinarian said he'd been given the injectable pain medicine overnight & that he was fairly comfortable that morning.

They said I could pick him up!

So we were home again in a flash- with strict orders to keep him calm & comfortable- minimal activity- just resting. Hard for a lab if anyone's wondering : )

Dixon knew right away that something was up when we returned though- such a good boy!

And he stayed near Abe- on one side of the gate

while Abe slept on the other  

It's a tough deal watching a dog suffer. And the emotional roller coaster you go through is intense.

Abe's SO much better now- even after 4 or 5 days- a far cry from his miserable state of affairs this past weekend- and I am grateful.

He's been released from his little corner there in the bedroom & now we get to sit & listen to both dogs snore comfortably in the living room.

We've somehow managed to adopt two incredible dogs over the years!

Earlier this week- while I watched him like a mama bear for any signs of discomfort- my friend sent me a package.

She had no idea Abe was a mess but there it was- the thing I had been slowing realizing- what I think  it means to grow up- artfully displayed on a throw pillow. 

It's not about waiting for the storm to pass.

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Dixon and I have gone on a few great jogs while Abe stays home & continues to improve.

I was given the chance to let Tim take care of me in a big, big way by helping me through the sad moments there.

I was able to realize how nice people can be just by being them- the smiles at the grocery store & the friendly chit chat walking down the sidewalk.

Those were all my opportunities to learn how to dance in the rain.

I am grateful for two healthy pups.

Grateful to have a husband who loves me AND our 4 legged friends so much.

And grateful for my dear friend too for sending such a timely gift our way- a reminder to appreciate all things- even when the chips are down. 

Here's to health & happiness this holiday season! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

By Golly!

Have a holly, jolly Christmas this year!

We're about to go pick out our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  

Hoping for a sparse, slightly crooked, broken limbed tree. 

The more awkward the better.  

Keeps the holidays in perspective I think.  

There's always the pressure to make things perfect.  

To find the perfect gift.  

To make the perfect meal.  

But anyone who's lived a little knows that the holidays are never perfect.  

Because life is never perfect.  

Nearly perfect perhaps but not absolutely 100% perfect all the time. 

So the gangly tree we bring home that leans a little to the left & has a branch that's broken is just the ticket to keepin' things real... and light  : )  

A reminder to just enjoy what you've got, appreciate the small things, tell people you love 'em.  

Stuff like that. 

And folks!

How many of you have thought about giving gifts this holiday season? 

Who's heard those ads for Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

Those scary times have passed right??  Please say they've passed us by already.

Here's my (2nd annual!) plug for buying local during the holidays.

It's a weird thing for me. 

Because honestly- I'm not sure anyone really NEEDS anything. 

Food in the belly, a roof over the head(s), friends & family to love & be loved. 

Those are the things everyone needs... and deserves. 

The other stuff- just fluff as far as I'm concerned.

I wish we could do an experiment.

I wish that if we were all to purchase gifts for those near & dear to us that we'd purchase only those goods made in the country we currently reside in. 

Even better- only goods made within a 50 mile radius of our respective homes!

What do you think that would look like? 

How would that work?

I think it would be incredible.

Handmade? Yes.

Local? Could be.

A gift with thought behind it? Has to be!

As a (very) small business owner I will say that sending a box of handcrafted cookies could be a winning choice for anyone with a family member or friend who likes sweet treats.

And they ship well!

But to be serious- a gift from someone's hometown (or homeland!) would be wonderful wouldn't it?

Not only shows you love the person who's receiving the gift but you love where you're from- and you want someone to enjoy something you enjoy yourself.  

And you could even MAKE the gift you'd like to give.  

How about just a sweet card with words of love inside? 

Hey!  I'll be the first to say a piece of paper, a glue stick & glitter can go a long way  : )

And people keep stuff like that.  A lot of other gifts either break or disappear into the backyard shed. 

How about something small & meaningful this year?  

One more plug for A Girl And Dog here... if you WERE to send a box of cookies they'd be eaten & enjoyed & then gone.  No clutter around the house- just a lovely memory of some delicious treats sent by someone special.  

Did I mention they ship well? 

Have a very happy Christmas this year everyone.  

And remember- those trees with broken limbs & crooked trunks need love too  :  )