Friday, December 09, 2016

COVERED IN COOKIES

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It might be safe to say that I am drowning in cookies.  I wish I had kept track of how many I've done this month, but I haven't.  It's a lot - especially since being a baker/decorator isn't exactly my full-time gig, unlike how it feels at this moment.  I can say that as of right now, I've been through about 14 pounds of powdered sugar with plans to use more.  😝  And I'm not sleeping enough, and I wake up thinking about cookies, so I may be a hint out of balance. 😁😳😂

Restarting Willflowers Bake Shoppe has been such a whirlwind, and I'm so thankful for all of the kind people who have ordered cookies or said nice things about them.  It means a lot, and it is thrilling to be able to delight people with this quirky talent of mine.  When I'm in the thick of it, I think in cookie, and everything I see inspires a new idea.  Friends and strangers (or as I like to think of them "new friends") have placed orders, and it is so fun to bake, knowing that the little treats will be well-enjoyed by the eyes and the mouth.

However, I've also disappointed people this month.  I quickly realized that I would not be able to fill all of the orders that would come in based on the interest I saw, so I put a cap on it.  I had to.  But, it is hard and sad for me to tell friends and potential new friends that I can't bake for them.  I don't like doing it, and while most people have been incredibly gracious about this, I can also tell I've sincerely disappointed a few.

As I've thought about the hows and whys of this all, I've realized that at the end of the day, I would rather disappoint people that live outside of my home than people that live inside my home.  I know I've written this before, but it rings true now more than ever - I am the only person that can be John's wife and Lily, Bella, Violet and William's mother.  Other people can bake and decorate cookies, but only I can give my family the kind of December that we need, and that will mean shutting down the cookie operation by the time the kids are out of school for the holiday break.

There are so many things that I struggle with in life, and God is so gracious to use experiences like this to refine me.  Running a mini-business out of my home has so many fun aspects, and the great feed-back is a shot to the ego.  But - it is also exhausting and time-consuming, and at times, I wonder why I am doing it at all.

I feel like I've been given a gift, and I want to steward it well.  I want to use it to bless others.  I am delighted that I will be able to write large checks to organizations that I care deeply about, because of all the cookie purchases.  But after that, I will need to curtail the cookie craziness for a while.  (I do ❤️ alliteration.)  I'm still trying to best work out how to proceed so that cookies don't take over our family, and since I tend to go all out on all things, reigning myself in is a challenge.

If you've gotten this far in this rambling cookie post, I thank you.  Thanks for hearing my heart and knowing that there are lots of ways that I get things wrong.  I'm so thankful for the support of family and friends and ultimately for the grace of God that covers up the messes that I make regularly.

And now I have to go work on the 34 dozen (or so. . .) cookies that I've committed to people in the next week. 😳😂👊

Monday, December 05, 2016

WEEKEND O' CHRISTMAS FUN

It's December, so it would be safe to bet that every weekend will bring some kind of Christmas cheer.  December also brings it's fair share of Christmas chaos, but that is neither here nor there.  (Actually it is, but I'm focusing on the cheer today.)

Friday night, we took the kiddos to the Inflatables House in North Little Rock.  (We also went last year, so for even more pictures of this local phenomenon, check out this post.)  It is for sure a favorite of our kids who always ask why we can't do this to our front lawn and garage. 😂😳😂  The girls wanted us to all wear our matching Christmas jammies, and John and I joyfully complied.  John really is a champ about this kind of stuff, and I'm so grateful, because we certainly looked like a circus parading around the inflatables.

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(They were so excited beforehand!)
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It's a lot to take in.  #understatement

Since we were nearby, we decided to also swing through the Sherwood Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights.  The weather was just warm enough that we could have our windows open, and this was another delightful venture.

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(I do not know how it happens that the one time everyone is looking and smiling is when we are practically in pitch black.  But I'll take it.)

John worked 11 hours on Saturday because Christmas at the mall and tis the season and all that jazz.  We ate lunch at CFA to be able to see him a bit.

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And there was the requisite room destruction during "nap time" at home.

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Sunday night, we went and saw Elf at the newly renovated Robinson Theatre with two other couples and had such a fun and festive night!  We did laugh heartily at dinner when we received our entrees, and those of us who had ordered the "small" portions ended up with plates smaller than an appetizer.  I feel like we should have been warned.

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But, we did LOL, and the play was charming and fun.

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All in all, the weekend held a lot of fun seasonal highlights, and I'm so grateful for the time together as a family!

Friday, December 02, 2016

BEHIND THE COOKIE SCENES

I've had a little tunnel vision with cookies for the last week.  I had known about the possibility of a pop-up shop for several weeks, but we only got the real all clear for it about two weeks before last night.  And one of those weeks was Thanksgiving, so it's been a little a lot intense on the cookie front for the last five days.

But - the Pop-Up Shop last night was a huge success!

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When Mandy (from Milk and Honey Tees) asked if I wanted to do it with her, I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off.  It's a lot of work, and it's also fairly nerve-wracking.  What if no one comes?  What if everyone comes, and I don't have enough cookies?  What if I break all the cookies on the way there?  What if no one likes the cookies?

Putting yourself out there is hard.  It was a good reminder to me that anytime I see anyone online who is selling something handmade or creating content or running any kind of business themselves - there is a huge backstory behind that, and it includes lot of hard work and a lot of wondering whether or not what you are doing is worth anything or will be well-received.  It's intimidating, and all week, I was so thankful for the positive feedback in the midst of trying something new.

Thursday night, I sold two different sets, as well as individual cookies. I felt like I was throwing a big cookie party.

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Working with Mandy and Audrey (of Ridgewood Shop - you need to check out her amazing, hand-lettered signs.  She's SO good!  And does custom work!  And ships!) was such a privilege.  They were so gracious with me as I was figuring out how to take credit cards and add a business Instagram account, among other things.  Plus, we had a total blast together!

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I need to give a MASSIVE shout-out to my hubby who so very graciously rallied behind me every step of the way with this venture.  We have a *few* other things going on in life, and he threw all of his support and love behind what I did this week.  I'm so thankful.  Last night, he helped me set-up and tear down, helped restock cookies, brought me water and became the hero of the night when he brought sushi back to all of us.

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Thanks so much to all of those who came to support us last night or wrote messages of support.  It means the absolute world to me!  I feel like God has given me this unusual gift, and it's so fun to use it.

Now, I have to address my kitchen, which currently looks like this.

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And the laundry and a bunch of other stuff that I neglected all week while focusing on cookies.  On the bright side, I listened to two whole audio books and discovered tray lunches for the girls, so those were both wins!

If you are reading this and hoping for cookies this month, I am planning to regroup and do one more cookie offering in the coming week that will include limited shipping as well.  I will be posting about it mainly on the Willflowers Bake Shoppe Instagram account - check it out if you are interested!

Monday, November 28, 2016

SWITCHING SEASON FUN

After Thanksgiving, it is officially Christmas season in my book.  John had to work a lot of Black Friday (downside of owning a mall store), but we still managed to work in some fun with our guests and kiddos.

In the midst of everything else going on, we actually closed on a house Wednesday of last week.  Don't worry - we aren't moving (not that that would worry you, but it would worry me!).  This house is going to be a rental for John's parents to live in starting sometime in 2017.  We took everyone to see the new home while they were in town.

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After the tour, we hit up the park near the house for some solid playtime.

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(her snot is legendary.)
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On Saturday morning, I made cinnamon rolls (with enthusiastic help!) and everyone enjoyed hanging out in Christmas jammies celebrating the start of the season!

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(Smiles for Smarties!)
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(Being Christmas Trees.  Naturally.)

We are still trying to recover from a busy week, but there is a lot coming up, so we tried to get Christmas decorating mostly done yesterday.  The girls were surprisingly VERY helpful, making the process go more quickly than it ever has before.  Plus, they were so excited, which makes it more fun.  I LOVE their ages.

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(These two found love on the tree.)
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Looking forward to celebrating our Savior's birth all month and trying to savor the sweet moments!