Friday, June 27, 2008

Literacy pretzel gets the seal of approval.

My Literacy Speaks! pretzel, which was initially intended to be given out to speech conference attendees, has become a bit of a wild card.

The owner of Literacy Speaks! and I had discussed the idea of donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of the pretzel to a literacy organization, similar to what I do with the Jubilee! pretzel and cancer research.

A local Women's Initiative division of the United Way was first on our list, as they work tirelessly for those less fortunate, struggling to meet the challenges of school, specifically to close the gap before the third grade.

Quite surprisingly they took this idea and are running with it. Several ideas were tossed out, and it seems like their goal is to get this pretzel to everyone they can.

I will keep posting news as I get it. We haven't ironed out the details, but hopefully the little pretzel that could will make its way into the news and get lots of interest, so we can donate some money to a great cause. Making a difference in the community is one of my goals for this company, and this could be just the stepping stone we need. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cooking class $40, High Quality chocolate and vanilla $40, Free gas...priceless!

So, I had my Williams Sonoma class the other night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I ate every morsel of food placed in front of me, as a sign of respect (yeah that's it!) and didn't bat an eyelash.

Knowing full well that at least half of what I was eating was a big Candida no-no, I ate it anyway.

Like a magic trick that only Criss Angel could perform, my abdomen bloated to at least 3 times its normal size within minutes of leaving class. And hand to God, that bloating did not end until about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

It was painful and frustrating and I still don't know what caused it. Was it the white flour in the mini buns, or the vanilla cake that was served as an afterthought? Was it the flour tortillas or maybe the pound of cheese on the portobello mushroom? There could also have been a preservative in the "natural" liquid smoke that was in several of the items. Maybe it was the Golden Skirt Margarita and ginger ale drink they served, non alcoholic of course.

All I know is I greatly appreciate that experience and am documenting every detail. I know that if I can find the foods that trigger these occurrences, I am that much closer to gaining the health that I deserve.

Of course that won't stop me from eating every morsel at the next cooking's about Provence, are you kidding me! I'd endure 5 days of pain for that. But only for Provence...not for, say, Luxembourg. I'm not that crazy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And here it is...

I have officially finished, well sort of, the new website design. I have the main components redone, but I don't have all the sub pages done, such as all the flavors and policy/allergy pages etc.

But, for the time being, if you are interested in seeing the new design for the main index page, then click here. NEW FRONT PAGE

To compare the old design to the new, click here for the old front page.

You will not be able to click through, or at least if you do, know that you won't find much. Some of the links are dead because I haven't published those yet, and some just take you to the old design.

Please give me your feedback. Is this better? Does it make you want to buy? Are the pictures attractive? Do you feel like the layout is user friendly? What else do you notice that could improve the look or function?

Submit a comment and let me know. I appreciate feedback, good or bad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I had hoped to have the new web design up, but that is not the case. We ended up going to the lake this weekend for a few hours, and I'm afraid the site design was re-prioritized.

I am very close, and will soon post just the front page for you to see. I'm happy with it for the most part, but my skills are limited and so until I can have it done professionally, with flash and java and all the bells and whistles, I'll probably wish it looked better, but it will do for now.

On the fun side of things, however, I attended my first ever cooking class at Williams Sonoma, and let me tell you. It was fun. We observed a chef make 4 different meals, all of which were very tasty.

They started with a chicken kabob that was rubbed in a curry-ish style seasoning with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin etc, and served with veggies. Next was an Italian burger with a great pesto and onions. The pesto was unique in that it also had cashews in addition to the more traditional pine nuts. Very tasty, and served mini style on tiny buns. Thirdly, and my very favorite was a shrimp taco with lime slaw. Good lord where do I start? The slaw was the best, and very fresh and zingy. But what made the whole thing was the way the chef did the taco shells. He very simply and lightly deep fried flour tortillas and placed them over a rolling pin until they set up and created the shell. The difference between these and the more typical corn tortillas was brilliant. The flour tortillas were much lighter and had a nice crisp without breaking into shreds on your plate. I can't wait to try these myself. I will definitely post the full recipe then.

Finally, we had a baby stuffed portobello mushroom with egg plant, sun dried tomatoes, black olives and smoked mozzarella/sharp provolone on top. These were tasty, except for the liquid smoke that I don't really care for. I prefer my smoke taste to come in smoke form, not so much the liquid variety. But, if that's your thing, you would love these.

Oddly enough, I ended up walking out with ingredients that had nothing to do with what was made. I purchased some Scharffen Berger cocoa for some ridiculous cupcakes I'm going to make someday for my cheat day, and a set of 3 different kinds of vanilla from Nielsen-Massey. A Mexican, a Madagascar Bourbon and a Tahitian. I have no idea what I'll do with those, but I can't wait to find out.

I am looking forward to my next class where we focus on foods from Provence, the first place on my list to visit someday when I'm rich and don't have tiny kids that scream and don't take baths. :)

But for now, I am still doing well on my candida food plan, feeling stronger each day, so stay tuned for more recipes and tips on that.

Hopefully tomorrow I will have the new site up for feedback...I want your feedback. Please?

Monday, June 23, 2008

DipSticks at The Emporium!

I am pleased to announce that we will very soon be selling our Gourmet Pretzels at The Emporium, which is part of Joseph Decuis, in Roanoke.

They intend to sell them in their beautiful shop, as well as at some Farmer's Markets in Carmel, Zionsville and Roanoke.

Please stop by and support us by buying a pretzel, or letting them know you're glad they are carrying them.

We look forward to working with The Emporium, and hopefully bringing even more stores into the DipSticks family.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Working furiously on new site design...getting very excited. wishing someone else was doing it though. is that wrong?

check back next week for hopefully the full site re-do...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bathroom emergency. Backup requested.

Dear Internet, I need your help.

My almost 3 year old son Jacob has developed an acute fear of the bathtub. It may or may not have something to do with with potty training, and/or a battery operated fish.

Several months ago, great progress was being made on potty training him. We let him run around the house in his birthday suit, and he told us when he had to go. He even told us sometimes when he had a diaper on, or would take off his diaper and pants and head to the potty.

I thought a miracle was occurring, because his older brother was almost 4 before he was fully potty trained. Then, for some odd reason, out of nowhere, when we would put him in the bath he would freak out, grab his johnson and get out of the tub to sit on the potty. I thought at first he just had to go really bad, but now every time we take off his diaper he freaks out and grabs the goods.

I have even gone so far as to get in the tub with him, but this does nothing but get me soaked while he screams at the top of his lungs. He went almost 2 weeks without a real bath. We just washed him down with a rag. And his hair...forget about it. When I wash his hair, I wait for the pounding of the CPS to come knocking on our door. It's that bad.

A probable cause is that some soap got in some nooks that didn't feel so good, or maybe that my older son terrorized him with the battery operated fish. But, shouldn't those memories be gone by now? We've eliminated the fish, and any "soap in unwanted nook" sting should be gone by now too.

So, what do I do? I've tried being funny. I've tried easing him into it by giving him a bath in the sink. I've tried bribes and new toys and soothing words, but none of it is working.

I assume he will eventually grow out of this, but until then, how do I explain the smell?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Broccoli is green

Joshua: Mommy, I want some food.

Mommy: What kind of food?

Joshua heads out to the freezer in the garage where nothing but organic bread, organic veggies, homemade soups and of course, ice cream reside. It doesn't take much to figure out which one he's heading for.

Mommy: Joshua, you can't have Popsicles. Or ice cream.

Joshua: But, mommy, I just want some food.

Mommy: But, Joshua, there's nothing out here that you want, trust me. And no Popsicles.

Joshua: But I want some new food. Not Popsicles.

Joshua looks in the freezer: "Broccoli"

Mommy: Broccoli?

Joshua: Yeah. Broccoli. I want some broccoli.

Mommy: You do know that's green, right? It's a vegetable. It's not broccoli ice cream.

Joshua: I know. I want broccoli.

After picking myself off the floor from fainting...I go make some broccoli. My lobotomy theory has been proven.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Losing it.

Not sure if anyone cares, or if anyone can relate, but I am seriously, seriously, losing my freaking mind.

I don't know what happened between last week and today, but I'm leaning towards the possibility that my kids also got a lobotomy while we were in the hospital for their strep throat. I can't prove it, but that's the only logical option.

Since they started feeling better they have been nothing but ungrateful devil children put here on earth to see to it that I eat chocolate and shoot myself. In that order, of course. What would be the point of shooting yourself and then eating chocolate? That's just stupid.

To describe their behavior would take much more effort than I am willing to put into it this morning, but let's just say I am being pulled in twelve different directions by two tiny little humans who consistently piss each other off in ways that no one understands. Screaming and crying and hitting and whining. All, not on my list of fun times.

"I want food!" "I want juice!" "Spongebob!!!" "I want my computer!" I want more food!" "Apples!" "Crackers!" "Juice!!!!" "Jacob, stop hitting me!" "Jossa (jacob's word for joshua) AHHHEHHHEHEHEH!!!!" "

And now that summer is here, screaming at them is a bit more challenging. I'll say something like "What is your problem!? Why are you being such a pain?" only to look out the window and see my neighbor standing outside...through the open, screen window. Hmmm, can't even imagine what's going on in her mind. Perhaps, "Who to call? who to call? Child protective services or 911?" So, now I have to be more aware of the window situation, and before I let out a blood curdling screech, I quickly glance up at the windows. That determines my noise level.At least in the winter there's a slight barrier of glass to muffle the screeches.

Not that my kids even hear me. I say the same thing ten times in a row. "Joshua, don't swing that around in the house, you'll hit the dog or your brother." While Joshua is still swinging said object, "Joshua....I just said not to swing that." Swinging..."Joshua!!! What did I just say?!" Still swinging damn thing...."Joshua, I'm going to count to 5 (swinging) if you don't stop swinging that thing (swinging) by the time I get to 5, I'm going to (swinging) send you upstairs for the rest of your life." 1....2......Swinging, swinging, swinging, now I've lost it. I don't even get to 5. "Give me that thing right now," I say in my deepest, most evil voice and yank it out of his hands. Then let the waterworks begin. Hurray! More. Freaking. Crying.

My house looks like a bad Roseanne episode (wow that shows how out of date my TV references are), with dishes sprawled about, usually with the dog licking one clean, and toys that I didn't even know we had have some how found their way onto every square inch of my floor. The sofa cushions have become the best toys in the world, but only if they are stacked on top of each other to jump onto, or leap from. And then of course, all the sofa pillows, from both sofas, need to be placed strategically throughout the house, because if you don't walk on them, your feet will catch on fire.

I send them outside so I can clean up inside, and they inevitably end up whacking each other with a golf club or baseball bat, or a stick. One or the other comes crying inside to me within minutes of being outside. Why is this happening?!

I'm an only child, so having a brother/sister relationship is over my head. Maybe this is normal, but dear god. I should have been given more patience with each kid, not less.

The only solace I take in all of this is that my annoying neighbors who, on the north side of us have barking dogs and screaming kids, and on the south side of us smoke so much that I'm developing second hand lung cancer through my own house, are getting paid back with my crazy, out of control children.

When you find me dead in my house after shooting assured, there will be chocolate smudges all over my face....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


After carefully mailing a box of pretzels, along with a book to sign, to the founder of the blog Dooce, I promptly discovered that she was on Florida. Thanks to blogs, a person can know very detailed information about the goings on in a complete strangers life. A little scary, but comes in handy sometimes.

I then began to worry if the pretzels I had packed would melt before she even got to try them, or if she would even get the package at all. I was just about to call the Utah post office to see if the package was still there, when I received something in the mail myself.

Since it was my own handwriting on the postage paid self addressed return envelope, you'd think I would have immediately known what it was, but NO. I stared at the return address and wondered who would send me something so random all the way from Utah. Then, duh, it dawned on me that it was from Dooce!

After opening the package and finding my book, I was apprehensive to open it. Would she have just signed her name only, or would she mention the pretzels. Would there be something special stuck inside, like she teased on her blog?

Well...see for yourself..
As you can see, she did include something special...a very cute picture of her photogenic dog, Chuck, and a dooce sticker.

She wrote: "To Christy. Holy crap, those pretzels were amazing. Didn't last 10 minutes in this house. Thanks for the treat, I hope you enjoy the book. Much love, Heather B. Armstrong"

I feel slightly like a rock star and a groupie all at the same time. The only other book I've had signed by the author was the time I saw Erin Brockovich at IPFW's Tapestry event about 7 years ago.
I love how the internet has brought people together like this. I have "met" some really nice people through blogs and message boards that I would never have, if it weren't for the internet.

So, thank you internet, for allowing me to look into people's homes and sometimes their souls, without even leaving the couch. And, thank you Heather B. Armstrong and Chuck for being the coolest strangers to sign a book for me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And now, the aftermath

As a stay at home business owner mommy, my work is never, ever, ever done. This weekend was full of crying and messes to clean, and hospitals, and medicine delivery attempts (yes I said attempts....those $%#@# kids are so difficult! it's bubble gum flavored for crying out loud!! What's the problem?)

And of course a tiny little holiday known as Father's Day, that we all attempted to enjoy the best we could. The kids were astonishingly back to normal. (and yes, there was an occasion that both Mark and I dared to wish that they were still sick. we are going to hell in about 5 minutes.) A crazy day filled with joy, laughter and screaming. Ah, normalcy, how I've missed ye.

Which brings me back to reality. I have work to get back to, now that the dust has settled. Things I put off over the weekend in order to deal with my sickies, are now needing prompt attention.

The boys however, have other ideas. They want ice cream, tea and mommy's undivided attention still. And why not? I gave them everything they wanted for 3 days, why should it end. I'm sure any minute now one of them will say "It's not fair!" But hey, life's not fair, and if life was fair, I'd be 5'10", a size 2, and sipping some giant cocktail with an umbrella on a beach somewhere, so get over it.

Now, back to my regular schedule, with the addition of kids hanging from each limb. Wish me luck...

How do you "do it?"

Admit it. You were more than just a little afraid to read this, right? Maybe, you thought, I had decided to scrap the toddler and DipStick talk for something a little more X rated?

Well, have no fear, I have not jumped on that wagon. What I'm referring to is probably the most well known company tag line of my time, which is Nike's "Just do it!"

I was on the treadmill, thank you very much, and was kind of laughing at my routine. If I'm on the treadmill at my house, I have to have my iPod on, while watching the TV, while looking out the window. Is that insane or what? I seriously get bored out of my mind if one of those three are missing.

Now, if I'm at the gym, I don't need the window, because I can see all the other gym rats walking around, which is so much more entertaining than trees and birds, let me tell ya. But the TV and iPod are still a part of my routine.

Or, if I walk outside, I don't need the TV, but, obviously there are trees and birds o'plenty. Again, iPod earphones firmly placed in ears. One great thing about outdoor walking is that if I do get bored (sans TV and all) I can't just stop the treadmill and get off. I have to at least walk back home.

So how do you do it? What's your secret to physical activity? Share with us what you do to keep active.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Update do dah

Whew. Another not so boring weekend around here, unfortunately.

The breathing difficulties ala Joshua ended up being Strep Throat. We did not even catch it until he tried to finally eat, and screamed like he had just swallowed razor blades, which I'm sure is what it felt like.

I looked in his throat, and sure enough, those pesky white spots. Unfortunately this did not get noticed until after doctor's office hours-of course-and I thought I'd wait it out until Monday, only applying some natural aids to comfort him.

This worked for the most part, except he was still not eating. He said, "I'm too sick to eat Mommy. I have bumps in my throat, see...." while sticking his tongue out. He said, "My heart is beeping too fast because I exercised and now my heart is too big." And, "I can't eat until I see the doctors." I giggled at his observations, but still worried a bit.

Then, Saturday morning came with the very hot to the touch Jacob, crying and moaning. I knew what I would find in his throat, but looked anyway only to find that, yes indeedy, he also had Strep.

I wavered about what to do for hours. We ultimately decided to take both to the hospital, and bypassed the stinky after hours clinic. I just couldn't wait until Monday for our doctor.

At the hospital, Joshua was hilarious. He proclaimed how comfy the bed was and thought we should take it to his doctor's office, and began his list of foods he wanted to eat once he was all better. Chips.....Goldfish Crackers.....and Muffins! Muffins with yellow frosting from the food store to be exact. Then, when daddy asked him to bring my purse to me, he said, "But I'm too sick, see...." While sticking his tongue out for proof. He also rubbed Jacob on the head to make him feel better, and picked out a nice stuffed puppy from the nurse's puppy drawer for him.

After assessing the damage, and rambling about third world countries and using big words I'm not even sure he understood, our doctor sent us home with the requisite antibiotic scrip, and we settled in at last in our comfy house. Joshua still wouldn't eat, and kept reminding us of the bumps. "I'm too sick to eat" while he's running around the house tormenting the dog.

I started to worry, as this was the third day with no food for him and he was starting to look a little Billy Bob Thorntonish. Finally, after many trials and requests, he settled on Pokemon macaroni and cheese. The first bite scared him, and I made him chew it like he was 90 years old "Until it's soft and smooth, gramps!"

He cleaned up two whole bowls of it and I did the hallelujah dance of joy. If you know me, macaroni isn't usually something to cheer about around here, but today it was heavenly.

Jacob is still struggling through this. Poor guy is sleeping it off in a big way. I hope by tomorrow their antibiotics will have kicked in and done their job. But, we will be closely following this up with some good quality PRObiotics to get those good germies back where they belong. yin and yang.

The great, great news about all of this, is that the breathing treatments were unnecessary, and that means Joshua may have outgrown his bronchitis/allergy induced asthma/whatever the heck the doctors pull out of their hat syndrome.

It's kind of strange how their illnesses played out so differently. Joshua's developed slowly, culminating with the painful spots on Friday, while Jacob's arose suddenly, on Saturday, which allowed us to treat them at the same exact time. This saved time at the doctor office, and will make it much easier on my ten day antibiotic memory assignment. Things have an interesting way of working out sometimes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Breathing treatments and Brownies

I have been very faithful to the candida diet so far this time around (except that one slip up with the cookie), but on Wednesday night my son had a bout of breathing difficulties that brought back all the stress and reasons for my weight gain. He was in the hospital twice back in the fall of 07, and I promptly stress ate myself to an all new high for me.

So, when my husband called me at work to tell me Joshua was having some problems again, right after the unthinkable fear of losing him to some strange freak disease got out of my head, my thoughts immediately went towards what to cram into my face to soak up all this pain.

I thought about stopping by taco bell, or Starbucks, but ultimately headed straight for home, my priorities are in tact! I was so busy with taking care of him that I never thought of food again, until morning. it was a rough night, but we got through it, and as soon as morning came and I assessed the situation, I felt the stress coming back. His fever wasn't budging, and his heart was racing. He rambled on and on about strange things, and I was really getting scared.

I was pretty sure going to the hospital wasn't going to be fun this time (not that the last two were a barrel of laughs). He knew what to expect, and no video games or nice, free blankets or wagon rides were going to make up for the sharp sting of the needles he got last time. He still cries when he sees me get my blood drawn. He thinks it hurts the same way the very long and painful shot he got did.

After a few more breathing treatments, and a quick call to any friend with kids, and then the doctor's office, I started giving him Tylenol, which immediately brought down his fever, which then brought down his heart rate. Motrin wasn't doing a thing, so this was a relief.

Once this immediate threat of a hospital stay seemed over, I did what any sensible mother would do, and began baking my freaking heart out. He put together puzzles and talked to me about Mario while I whipped up some magical brownies that were sure to save the world.

I knew not to eat any, but seriously, who was I kidding. I intentionally got the cocoa and sugar and eggs and butter...I knew what I was doing, and I was happy about it.

Once the brownies cooled and the frosting set, my youngest son and I dug in. After all of that, I didn't even give any to Joshua for fear of the sweets upsetting his stomach. He didn't want any anyway, so it worked out just fine.

After about 3 bites my stomach was saying, "No more, woman! Can't you control yourself even for a few days?!" I cleaned the dishes, and wondered aloud if this made me feel any better. And you know what? It did.

The mixing and the blending and the cracking of eggs, honestly made my mind stop wandering and creating worst case scenarios. I cried enough that day, and the few minutes of fixing these brownies halted all those worries. The taste of the brownies was so sweet to my newly cleansed self, but were just what I needed.

I packed the rest away, and immediately drank 4 more glasses of water and exercised my heart out. I think I'll be okay, and actually feel stronger than I have in the past when I've cheated. It helps that things seem to be looking up for Joshua. But, this time I want to gain strength by being healthy so I can be around for them when they need me the most.

This needy goes both ways.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear Dairy

It's becoming more and more apparent to me that I need to address issues far bigger than just dairy. I had eliminated dairy, wheat, sugar and caffeine (and soy of course) with absolutely no increase in energy, and very slight weight loss. At first, with the withdrawal symptoms, I thought it was the dairy, but now it seems dairy is only part of the equation.

The energy increase I have seen lately is due to my finally taking some iron and multivitamins to address my pretty bad case of anemia.

However, I knew I had to still do something with my food to make me feel better, so I got out my handy dandy binder full of Candida information to see what the heck I did back then that made such a huge difference.

The first glaring thing I noticed was the AVOID list which included Dates, Cashews and wonder I like those Lara bars so much!

I knew to avoid fruit, but ate that anyway, telling myself that since God created fruit, how could it be so bad, but ultimately, the fruit sugars are just too much if you're struggling with candida.

I also realized that I hadn't been drinking near enough water, and had totally eliminated the fresh squeezed lemon from any water that I was drinking. Upon researching pH balancing, I learned that fresh lemon in water really does a lot for balancing your body's pH and restoring it to a more desirable alkaline state. Lemons are also a diuretic, which helps release a lot of water I've been retaining.

So, on Monday I began (AGAIN!) this candida thing. I had to go all out, no more "kind of" and just really do this the right way. I drank at least 8 glasses of water, each with fresh lemon. It's actually very refreshing, especially on these tropically humid days we're experiencing in the Midwest.

At the end of day 1, I had such a massive headache that I went to bed at 8:30, and didn't wake up until almost 8 a.m. My body was getting rid of some massive stuff apparently, and needed the extra sleep for the challenge.

Day 2 hit a bit of a tiny snag, but one that counts nonetheless. I caved in and ate a cookie around noon time (my will power is astonishing), and then promptly read some message board posts on the candida site I frequent, only to find a wonderful post from a girl who said "After being on this candida diet for 5 months, I will never eat sugar again, thanks to how great I feel." I immediately starting crying and self loathing for being so stupid.

When I followed the candida diet back in September, I truly did feel better than I ever have, so I know exactly what she is saying. Ironic how your mind tricks you into craving foods you shouldn't have instead of reminding you of what living feels like.

Sugar is an evil thing, and something that I may not ever overcome, but I will die trying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So, like I mentioned, there's this large, regional grocery chain I've been trying to get into. The one that turned us down twice so far.

I mailed a package a few weeks ago, only to find out there was a new candy buyer in the corporate office. I hadn't thought to call to find out who the candy buyer was because the old candy buyer had been there awhile, and I had just communicated with her before Christmas. But just in case, I called to make sure the new person received the package.

She hadn't gotten it yet, and I was more than a little anxious because I had overnighted it a week earlier with ice packs since their headquarters is in North Carolina. Needless to say, I justified that expense the first time around, but to do it again wasn't exactly top on my list.

I called today, and luckily got through to the actual person, instead of the waste land that is voice mail, and spoke with her regarding the package. Luckily, she had gotten it.

However, they are not interested at this time. What were the reasons?

1.) The pretzels don't have UPC codes, which is a requirement. Here's the tricky part about that statement. UPC codes cost over $700, and that doesn't count all of my product, or the special program you need to do your own UPC codes. And, this particular company is the only company to request UPC codes, which makes it a bit of a gamble. Now, of course, having the codes would enable me to pursue other stores, but most are too big for us right now, like Target, Borders, etc, so this was the smallest big option we had. If we got the codes and they still turned us down, then that money was spent for nothing. (for now anyway)

2.) They have two pretzel lines already that are doing well, and don't have room for another one. Now this I can understand. But, I had to ask them if these pretzels had caramel on them. All she could say was that they do a variety of things. I know what pretzels she is talking about and they are nothing like ours. You have no idea how many times someone tells me, "Oh, so and so sells a pretzel now, and it's EXACTLY like yours." I rush right over to see who my competition is and guess what? There is a scrawny pretzel rod, barely covered in chocolate with a few haphazardly dropped confetti pieces on them, usually sold 2 for a dollar or something like that. The weight of two of those is usually less than half the weight of one of my 4" pretzels.

These two reasons are way better than if she would have said, "I've had better candy from a vending machine!" but they still mean we have some work ahead of us before we play with the big dogs. Not a horrible position to be in, but darn it wouldn't it be so much fun to not have to work so hard at something??? That's a joke. I know things worth having are worth working for, but haven't I worked pretty hard at this one account? OR maybe these no's are telling me that this isn't the direction to go, yet.

We're pretty busy as it is, and with no actual employees, it's kind of amazing we do this much. Maybe once we have a few more vendors added to our growing list, we'll be in a position to hire full time people, which would ultimately allow us to get bigger accounts.

Who knows what is going to be that thing that takes us to the next level, but we're looking for it any place we can.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thank you, Goblins!

My 5 year old son, Joshua loves LOVES anything related to computers. At first I took pride in this fact, dreaming of the day he becomes the next Bill Gates. He has been a natural computer whiz since he was 3, maybe even earlier.

He now installs things on his computer and knows how to find what he installed, and then start playing it... sometimes to the chagrin of his parents. He knows the words download, install, delete, mouse, cursor, dot com and Internet.

It really wasn't until he started waking up talking about certain games, or telling me about dreams that had specific computer game references in them that I realized he was probably on the computer too much.

It started out, simply enough, as a way to have him learn how to use the mouse, and to learn from Teacher Dora, his colors and ABCs in a way that I couldn't teach him. It morphed into hand held video games when he was hospitalized for a breathing problem, and daddy wanted him to feel better. It most definitely did the trick, and that video game came in handy for many doctor appointments, and one more hospital stay. Well worth the expense.

However, as many parents do, we found ourselves in this never ending pattern of letting him play the video game all the time. At first it was the computer he was addicted to, now it has become this tiny little magical device known as Nintendo DS lite. Most days I would let him play for more hours than he didn't play it. I felt guilty for sure, but when I took it away he freaked out and cried and screamed and lost his mind. I knew deep down that was a sure sign of that we needed to break pronto, but I had my own issues to deal with as well as a business that won't run itself, and needed the very elusive down time that that video game gave me. I succumbed to the "computer as babysitter" method of parenting.

After a few months of this, I noticed my son was losing his personality and just wasn't fun to talk to any more. Every question to him followed with an answer that didn't match. I would ask him how his day was at school and he would say, "And then these big guys would come and I would get them!" Stunned, I nodded my head and said something like "That's nice Joshua, now mommy needs to go put herself in time out for being a horrible parent."

So, this is when I invented the Goblins. The Goblins are these evil creatures that live in the ground and take little kids' video games. When he wasn't looking my husband or I would hide the video game, and when Joshua would inevitably start crying about where his video game was, we told him the Goblins must have gotten it. At first this didn't go over very well. He cried and wanted it back and stomped around, but after this happening a few weeks in a row (magically the goblins return his video game to some random spot in the house on Saturdays or Sundays) he started to play along with it.

Now, when he gets his video game back on weekends, he says "Mommy. I am going to sleep with my video game so those Goblins can't take it away." And, as any wonderful mom would do, I say, "That sounds like a fantastic idea Joshua, you are very smart!" Of course in a few hours one of us finds the video game lying somewhere out of sight from Joshua, and Viola! it comes up missing again. Darn Goblins.

So Saturday came and daddy was out of town and it was crazy yucky outside, so I decided the Goblins should make their return. We were upstairs and I said, "Did you hear that? I think I might have heard the Goblins downstairs, Joshua." He ran to the top of the stairs and listened and said, "I heard them again, Mommy! The Goblins are here!" And, he ran downstairs and saw his video game on the kitchen counter and yelled, "THANK YOU GOBLINS!!!"

These Goblins are becoming as sacred as Santa around here, and I'm thankful for it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Let the melting season begin!

Over the last few years my summer orders have increased....and so have my anxiety induced headaches.

I cannot tell you how many times I ship a box with ice packs and just cross my fingers. Luckily a customer has never received a box of melted pretzels, that I know of anyway.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean things haven't gone horribly wrong. Back when I used the printed labels on the bags, they would get wet from ice pack condensation and either slide off the package or the ink would run, rendering them unreadable. This seemed to always happen with one particular client of mine, Everything Indiana. I am so thankful that she's is the most awesome person ever, because she would just have me ship her more labels. But still, not the most professional occurrence.

Then, there was once when I shipped a box to a candy blogger in LA. This was in December. I did not even put an ice pack in because it was freezing here, but guess what? She described them as "pretzel soup." (note to self, LA can be hot even when we are cold) Again, luckily this wasn't an actual paying customer, but still, not the best impression to leave on someone you are really hoping will review your product.

So, Tuesday was a big shipping day for me. I had 110 pretzels to ship to Everything Indiana again. I was so worried if they would melt, because these were for a big client of hers, with no time to spare. I took extra care to place very large ice packs in them, and place several sheets of butcher block paper in between and bubble wrap to prevent any condensation damage (i learned that lesson quickly!) So, when I got the email from her that they hadn't melted I was so relieved...followed quickly by "Oh Crap!" as I read the rest of her email informing me that BOTH ice packs leaked their entire contents, and that once again I needed to send her some hang tags.

How the box didn't completely disintegrate before it got to her I have no idea. I guess the pretzel gods were out that day, but what a headache for her! Now she has to re-tie several (luckily not all!) of the pretzels.

I also shipped a package to Salt Lake City, UT that day. This time to a different kind of blogger. The woman behind the famous blog "Dooce" is signing her book for those who wish to send it to her, so I mailed my copy of her book "Things I learned about my therapy" along with a small gift box of pretzels as a thank you for the signing. I put an ice pack in and said "Good luck little buddy". I may never know how those turned out, but I suppose if her dog Chuck shows up on the site with melted chocolate pretzel pieces on his nose, I'll have a bit of a clue.

These things must be learned and I am ridiculously lucky to have learned them the easy way. To have mailed a giant box to a new customer, or to a large wholesale company or someone who doesn't take the time to understand that I'm a small company, would have meant bad impressions and probably no further orders from them.

But, the great people I have working with me now understand that I'm a work in progress, and so is DipSticks. They help out when they can, and supply me with great feedback about how to package things without breakage. (thanks to my client Two Cookin' Sisters, I've learned that 8" pretzels take a bit more cushion when shipping, cold weather or hot, and they gave me lots of packing tips that I use all the time).

However, shipping in 90 degree weather is no picnic no matter how prepared you think you are, especially when shipping to the West Coast. But even shipping within Indiana is risky.

It's not bad enough to wish cold temps all year long though...that's just crazy talk.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A good feeling, indeed

Wow, what a difference a few weeks make. I haven't been eating as well as I should be, but now that I'm addressing my iron deficiency, things seem so much better. My energy is returning, which is resulting in my desire to exercise. I'm just going to go with that for now, and hope the food thing follows.

And, a huge feeling of accomplishment has swept over me all day today. Not only did I get through the craziest week ever, especially for being the summer, but I've also continued to send out packages and complete orders this week.

I sent out a very interesting package to a popular blogger (not perez, FYI) as a thank you for something, and who knows where that will go, but the feeling of sealing that package and sending it in the mail was so fulfilling.

Some of my marketing pays off, and some of it goes nowhere, but just the fact that I'm doing it is a win win in itself. To sit back and do nothing would be worse than putting my product out there and getting turned down.

I'm still waiting feedback from one huge vendor. I've been turned down by them twice now, but so far, I haven't taken no for an answer. When we make improvements, or when they get a new manager, I just send some more product. Someday we'll have the right combination and they'll say "Yes"...but if not, I'll keep plugging away.

A few weeks ago, in the deep crevice of my misery, I would have done all of this (the vera basket, the huge hallmark order, the new marketing shipments) and felt nothing. I would have thought "Who cares, it's all going to end someday." But thankfully, with a better outlook and a clearer head, I can see all of this for what it is.

It's a feeling of accomplishment. A feeling that I'm making a mark on the world. A feeling that I can be proud of myself. A feeling that my two boys can be proud of their mom someday for standing up for something she believes in and working hard to give them a legacy.

The knowing that I haven't quit this business and that I've created something unique from nothing but creativity and a little maniacal energy, is very fulfilling.

Some days are better than others, and some days just suck the life out of me, but I wouldn't keep doing this if it wasn't part of my soul. I chug through the hard work on days when I'd rather be six feet under, and relish in the minor accomplishment of finding a great basket on days when I feel like I'm on cloud nine.

My ups and downs may not be typical of an entrepreneur, but it's my path, and I'm carving it bit by bit...even if it is with a spork.

Friday, June 6, 2008

ABCs and 123s

Amongst many other things that I accomplished last week, were these adorable custom pretzels for a company called Literacy Speaks! They design and publish speech and linguistic studies for teachers around the country.

Their plan is to use mini pretzels to give away to attendants of their lectures, as well as some of the 4" pretzels to key people involved in the entire production of their promotions.

The mini pretzels turned out adorably. They are basically the same as our dippity do dahs (i'm calling them mini pretzels though, due to logistical space reasons on the hang tags) but I placed the wet chocolate on top of an alphabet pretzel, using it as the bottom of the pretzel. When people pick them up, they will find a little surprise.
Each mini pretzel is dipped in our usual caramel, and rolled in honey nut cheerios.

You can also see the Alphabet and Numbers confetti I sprinkled on top too. The colors are chosen for the primary colors, and they also match the Literacy Speaks! logo.
The 4" turned out well too.

They chose the yellow one, which I agree with. The white one is nice, and accents the bright primary colors, but the drizzle hides the letters and numbers, and makes them almost pointless.

In a few months (sometime around October) they will begin handing these mini pretzels out to thousands of people in states all across the nation.

I have no way of knowing where this will lead, but I can't help but be excited.
As with my Jubilee! pretzel, I will also be selling these Literacy Speaks! pretzels on my website with a portion of the proceeds going to a literacy organization to be chosen by the owners of Literacy Speaks!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Merchandise from the Vera Basket

Once again, not my best photographic work, but I wanted to get a photo of the logo merchandise I included in the Vera Bradley donation basket.

I order my items from a company called and have been very happy with their work. The photos don't do them justice, but they turned out very nice.

A khaki canvas logo hat

A nice, heavy ceramic logo mug

My favorite, a logo T, with chocolate colored cap sleeves. The back has a picture of the cross section of our pretzels with the website address.

I picked these three because I had no way of knowing who would inevitably win the silent auction. I also assumed whoever (or is it whomever, Julianne? hee hee) got this could also give a friend or family member something if it didn't fit, or wasn't right.

Overall, the printing of these looked great, and would provide DipSticks with more "advertising" if this person wears our items. So, if you see someone wearing (or drinking from) something with our logo on it, who isn't me, tell them thanks for their donation to breast cancer research!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Finally...the Vera Bradley donation basket

After weeks of waiting, the time finally came last Wednesday to gather items for my Vera Bradley donation basket for the annual golf outing benefiting breast cancer research.

I had a dollar amount in mind, and knew that I wanted to put a little bit of everything in the basket, including some logo printed merchandise.

After scouring for just the perfect basket, I decided on this unique chest. It had a faux crocodile finish on the outside, with buckled leather straps and a sturdy brass lock closure. I liked that this one had the cloth straps inside that attached the lid to the base, which enabled me to design this without worrying about where to put the lid or if the lid would fall down onto the other items.

The basket included 2 caramel apples, lots of marshmallows and twenty four 4" pretzels, in addition to two 8" pretzels, a half pound of S'more Pretzel bark, a t-shirt, mug and hat with the logo.

Specially created pink chocolate marshmallows and dark chocolate marshmallows with pink chocolate ribbons drizzled on them were my favorite part. I tied them with pink ribbon too, which really stood out amongst all the browns.

I lined the basket with a rich espresso and maroon diamond pattern fabric instead of any paper filler. I was surprised at how well the colors all went together.

You can click on the photos for a closer look, but it was hard to capture the entire basket in one shot. Hopefully you get the basic feel.

I'm curious to know what it went for at the auction. Just because I put my heart and soul into it, doesn't mean someone felt the same way about it. Either way, it was for charity, and it was worth every penny and every second for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Coming to a "gallery" near you...

So, the biggest news of the week is that one of the places I called a few weeks ago said "Yes!" to selling my pretzels. Soon, we can officially add FOUR new locations, all of which are the Espresso Gallery coffee shops here in Fort Wayne. The original Espresso Gallery, on 14, near Scott road, and the 3 new locations, formerly Aspen Coffee Houses, at Georgetown, Dupont Road and Jefferson Road.

We are in the middle of finding displays that will fit their decor, which is a beautiful contemporary look. Once that is completed, we will officially be selling our little 4" guys in their shops.

I am going to find a dark metal display that holds about 9 pretzels at a time, and they can place several of them around where they have room. The pretzels hang from the loops in the raffia bow, and look nice all lined up in rows.

The Marshmallows and 8" pretzels will be considered around holidays, and we are talking about creating an Espresso Gallery pretzel using their very own in house roasted coffee beans. That will be fun.

So, all the nervousness of calling and all the hard work of this week have totally been worth it. We have a whole lot of room to grow still, which means a whole lot of work ahead for us too, but I feel more and more each day that this is what I'm meant to do.

Now, having my own retail location with built in kiddie rooms would make this much easier, but I'm not complaining.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A week in hindsight

As I mentioned ever so briefly a few times last week....that was a darn busy week.

To give you a slight idea, here is just a portion of the tasks I accomplished in 5 days:

200 4" pretzels in ten different flavors
50 8" pretzels in four different flavors
90 Jumbo Marshmallows
12 pounds of S'more Pretzel bark
12 pounds of Toffee Pretzel bark
2 Caramel apples

Some of the pretzels were for a custom order, which meant designing a custom hang tag.

I put together the Vera Bradley donation basket, which required shopping for the right basket and material and arranging the items at least 3 times before finally liking the way it looked.

On Friday, I delivered 2 of the Hallmark location orders (my husband delivered the other two), as well as the Literacy Speaks! order and the Vera Bradley basket. That was more than half a day right there.

Add to this a few birthday deliveries, billing and follow up phone inquiries.

In between DipSticks work, I also had Joshua's last day of preschool at the zoo, which took a good part of a day. I also work part time in the evenings at a non pretzel related job four nights a week.

Writing it all down like this makes it not seem like such a big deal, but this was the first huge order for the marshmallows and bark that I've had, which left lots of room for error. I ran out of chocolate and bags at one point, and had to order more and/or do a quickie stop at Country Kitchen, which is like 2 to 3 times more expensive than my wholesale place. Oh well, live and learn.

Then, there was the packaging of all that bark! Holy. I have made bark for years for family, but never had to weigh each bag to make sure there was exactly the right amount, and then heat seal and tie each one. They looked great though, once they were done. I just underestimated the time and ingredients it would take for that much.

And of course there's the never ending reading/researching trial and error that is my health. I am gaining some ground in that area though, which is nice. Monday I just wanted to sleep all day, but by Friday I was beginning to feel like my old self again.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and for voting in my poll. Looks like you want to hear my ramblings regardless if it's pretzel or health related. I look forward to more busy weeks like this very soon...