Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I Know...

Now that a new year is about to begin, it's only natural to reflect on the previous year and contemplate what the new year could possibly bring. I've never been a fan of resolutions, in fact I've never really liked New Year's Eve and all the hype that goes with it. Call me a party pooper, but for as long as I can remember, people, myself included, have held New Year's eve as this magical night that will change them forever. It rarely ever does.

There is something to be said about HOPE, however. Hoping the next year isn't as crappy as the last year. Hope that you can finally kick that nasty habit. Hope that you'll finally achieve those goals you've been reaching for. I can dig Hope. It's that we pin it all on one single night that bothers me. I reflect on my personal life on a daily basis and try to tweak things here and there any chance I get. I set goals and reach goals every week. I'm always placing new limits on what I want to achieve, regardless of the date on the calendar.

When we place all those Hopes on one single single hour, we are doomed to be let down. It's similar to starting a fasting diet on Monday and wondering why we can't make it to Tuesday without caving in. We think that if we don't make all those goals and changes on the first day of the new year, well, then the rest of the year is screwed. There's always next year!

What I think I want to do today, is take stock in who I am now. Look at what I want to achieve in the future, and what I think I'd like to work on changing. And try to find peace within. I might not succeed at every single thing on my list, but I might also achieve more goals if I don't put that pressure on myself. But I'm certainly not going to quit trying, just because I fail on the first few days of a new year. I'm going to pick myself back up every single day and keep trying to grow and learn from my past mistakes. I'll get there eventually...with or without the crazy hat or funny noise makers.

Maybe everyone should look at each day as a new day...a new year....and resolve to be the best person that they can possibly be.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sometimes, this is hard.

I've been enjoying the time "off" that I've had over the last few days. The curious case of strep throat that I got Christmas day sort of forced me to sit down and not move for about 24 hours. Then, a few times, I even consciously CHOSE to just sit down and do nothing except watch the kids play. I've been reminding myself that this time in their life is so very fleeting, and I don't want to regret missing it. I have a tendency to carry around my iPhone and I'm catching myself more and more staring at it and doing work or other random tasks on it, instead of watching my adorable kids.

So, yesterday and Saturday I spent a great deal of time sitting on the sofa watching Joshua play his video game that Santa brought, and then I would switch gears (and seats) and watch Jacob play our home computer. He's only recently taken interest in games, and is surprisingly good at it. It is fun watching how well they adapt and learn these technologies. is Monday. I have work to do. But they don't understand that, so all morning I have been telling them "No, I can't watch you." and it's breaking my heart....and theirs. They just don't realize what Mommy actually does on a day to day basis. They think I should be allowed to just sit and watch them all day. Hey...why aren't I allowed to just sit and watch them all day? This isn't fair! Waaahhh..

Plus, it's actually kind of frustrating. I have a morning routine, and it's completely off today. I just want to go hide in a closet with my cup of frickin' tea that I should totally not be drinking in the first place. CAFFEINE! DAIRY! SUGAR! But, look, here I go....mmmm. That's some damn fine tea.

And not to mention this weight I've gained. FUN! Blurg. I just need a minute or fifty to relax and recuperate from these FESTIVE HOLIDAYS!!!! Blurg.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Those dancing days...

As I've expressed on here before, I really dig music. And lately I've been inspired to jot down lyrics that at any particular time might ring true, or stand out for some reason. So, yesterday when I was listening to a song that I've heard a hundred times, and a certain verse caught my ear, I knew I had to share it. As I go through new and introspective phases in my life, I turn inward and look at what is going on within myself to see if anything is missing or lacking. These lyrics pretty much sum up my current view.

Slow down, please slow down
I need to find peace, anywhere in me
I feel like I'm under water struggling to get air
I feel like I'm lost in this body, trying to get inside my head
I wanna know, what I'm thinking what I'm feeling
What I want my life to be
I wanna know how I like to plan to make things easier
For everyone but me

-Those Dancing Days "Hitten"

And the full video, if you so's a brilliant song.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old country for new pretzels

A week or so ago I was called by a DJ for the local country station K105. They wanted to interview me on air for a few minutes on the Tuesday before Christmas and discuss my pretzels. At first I was a bit unsure, and nervous about it, but ultimately decided to go for it. I've been on the radio before with no problems, but this would be the first time I've actually been in the studio. I assumed that would make me that much more insecure and lead to stage fright. But I couldn't say no, this was free advertising after all.

Our power came on Monday night at 6 pm, and we packed up our stuff and moved back into our frigid home, unpacked, got organized, and in bed by 11 pm. I woke up at 6 am the next day to blizzard conditions and really dreaded going to the interview. I went anyway, and got there with no problems. Although I nearly bit it about 5 times walking up to the covered parking lot with snow to disguise it...a nice touch.

Once inside, the DJ's made me feel comfortable as I attempted to slice pieces of pretzel using a plastic knife. When this was clearly not going to work, they upgraded me to a butter knife. Not much better, but oh well, they got to taste some, which was the main goal.

It was kind of a weird interview actually. The previous radio spot i did, was full of questions and took about 5 or 10 minutes. This one was different in many ways. To begin with, one of the DJs asked me several questions off air, right away. I answered them. Then, once on air, he asked me those same exact questions. I assume it was so that I would relax knowing that I had the answer on the tip of my tongue, but seemed a little unusual.

Also, they asked me questions in between commercial spots and songs, so my on air time was fairly small. We did a give away of one of my gift boxes, and that was that. They said they loved the pretzels, and I got a lot of traffic from K105 to my site, but no orders. I hope it's because I mentioned that people should go to Hallmark or Espresso Gallery for a quicker turn around, and not because they didn't think they were worth it, but I might not ever know.

Ultimately I left feeling pretty good about it, and with a huge stash of tshirts, cds and was well worth the frosty drive.

Friday, December 26, 2008


i have pretzels to make. i have strep throat. i have one child getting over strep throat. i have a messy house, and lots of laundry to do. i have a christmas luncheon to prepare for that was postponed due to said strep throat. i don't want to do anything.

sometimes i miss being a kid...


A week ago, Friday, the power went out at our house, as it did in thousands of homes across our county and surrounding areas. I didn't think too much about it at first, because we've lost power lots of times over the years for various reasons, and never went more than a few hours before it came back on.

This time was different. The cause of the power outages was due to a layer of heavy ice that had coated the wintry trees, allowing them to all crack under pressure and cave into homes and onto power lines. We awoke to a huge *bang* Friday morning, and found a very ginormous limb of one of our maple trees lying just perfectly across our garage roof, and down onto our deck in the back yard. First appearances indicated no real damage to our home, except that it made for quite the obstacle course for getting our golden retriever out to potty. She's lazy though, so it was a good change of pace for her. (although the next day, as Joshua was looking into our garage and saying, "Look! A tree branch!" we realized another limb had found its way through the roof on the other side of the garage...)

As evening approached i was hearing rumblings that power wouldn't be back on in some parts of the city until Christmas Eve. I still didn't worry...that wouldn't be us. But, at this point, most of our friends and relatives were also out of power, and the prospects of it being on by morning were looking dim. So, we took the high road and went to New Haven to stay with Mark's aunt and uncle. We packed enough for one night.

The following day didn't bring much better news. Three fourths of the city was without power, and the trees were continuing to shed limbs onto recently repaired lines, delaying the efforts even more.

So, we trekked back home to check on things, and gather more goods to bring back with us to our temporary home. It was dark and cold and ominous there, and it honestly felt a little like the end of the world. Our street was lined with cold, icy trees, and cold, icy cars. There were no sounds, no lights, and no people. The only sound I detected was our neighbors generator. Other than that, it was a very creepy stillness. It actually reminded me of that Spongebob episode where Squidward goes into the future and everything is spray painted chrome, except in this case everything is spray painted with heavy ice that puts major kinks in holiday plans.

By Sunday, we were still without power, and had no idea when it might come back on. Lots of people bought generators and kerosene heaters and melted snow over gas burners to wash dishes, and roughed it like true survivalists. We, on the other hand, were living the high life. A flat screen tv in literally every room, a real live pac man video arcade game, a pool table, and food and beverages out the wazoo. Nice, friendly hosts who catered to our every whim. It was like we were on vacation. Except that I had this nagging feeling that didn't allow me to relax. I felt just a little off. Perhaps it was because we weren't in our own home. Perhaps it was because we were invading someone's routine unexpectedly. Perhaps it was because I felt like we weren't capable of taking care of ourselves. It was like we packed up and mooched off of someone else and didn't even try to figure out how to survive on our own. I know we have two small kids, but still. It would have felt great knowing we could conquer anything as a family, without the help from anyone else. Perhaps that's my type A personality talking. Who knows.

As it turns out, Joshua became ill with Strep throat and it was quite the blessing to have a nice warm home for him to recuperate in. I am very grateful for that. Luckily, too, my orders had all been completed and shipped out on Thursday just before Armageddon hit, so at least my business didn't suffer any. And, power finally came back on Monday night, so i spent Tuesday putting our house back together, and Wednesday wrapping presents and prepping for Christmas like a mad woman. Only to get strep throat myself come Christmas morning...a day spent in bed, ahhh the memories.

So, what lesson to learn from all of this? I don't know. Maybe take stock in what kind of emergency preparedness plans we should have lined up for such an occurrence in the future. Maybe just be freaking glad we have amazing relatives who don't mind a crazy family dropping in on them for 4 days. Maybe just be thankful our power is finally on, as many across the area still do not have any, not to mention the thousands of people across the world without a home at all.

The true meaning of Christmas, perhaps.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Feeling Good

Over the last few weeks I've received orders from a variety of sources. Local customers who might have seen our pretzels around town, wholesale customers who order year round, and internet customers who happen to stumble upon us.

But it's always fascinating to me that anyone feels like my little old pretzels are gift worthy. I had a lady order a gift box a few days ago, and the gift tag read "Enjoy these sweet treats made right here in Fort Wayne!" It gave me a little tingle to know that a grandmother wanted to send my product to her grandchildren, and that she made a point to say they were locally made.

And, yesterday, when I dropped off some pretzels to the Anchor Room, a lady who saw me placing the pretzels in their basket, said, "Do you make those?" And after I told her that I did, she responded, "Oh, those are just wonderful. Weren't you in the mall too?" And that led to my discussion with a complete stranger about my tiny business and our retail adventures. Her comment left me feeling warm and fuzzy though. When people mention they remember us from the mall, I know we made an impression on them, which makes that whole crazy experience worth it.

In a weird way, it's like I'm making lives just a tiny bit better by having created this little business called DipSticks. All across the country (I've shipped to california, florida, las vegas, missouri, utah, arizona, kansas, alabama, new york, & north carolina just in the last week!) people are opening shipping boxes to reveal a nice little chocolate gift that a loved one sent, or that they ordered for themselves, and this all happened because I developed a few crazy pretzel flavors.

I'm not saying that life wouldn't go on without them, or that I'm eliminating global warming or something, but it is pretty cool anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the season!

Wow. I can't believe how fast this holiday has flown by. It seems like every year I am surprised by this business and what all it entails.

This year, given the economic uncertainty, I really wasn't sure what to expect. I assumed sales would be down, and had kind of relaxed a bit. But it didn't really work out that way.

I usually get a huge influx of wholesale orders a few weeks after Thanksgiving, and then again just before Christmas. And every single time I feel like I'm not capable of doing it all, but somehow we manage to get by unscathed. And then, just when I least expect it, come the internet orders!

I don't actively market my web site for various reasons. First of all, I am a one man band for the most part, and keeping track of multiple internet orders is more time consuming and stressful than just one or two wholesale clients. And, secondly, I do my website myself, which limits some of the options that most retails sites have. So, until I have someone more capable managing my site, I will always downplay it a little.

Inevitably though, each Christmas, the masses find me despite my lack of marketing. On Monday I received 6 nice sized web orders, and Tuesday had several orders as well. These are usually very welcome orders, as they are retail, meaning full price, so we do make more profit on those orders. But, they are also the more time consuming orders too. Some people place orders for 1 each of several different flavors, which can take as long as doing 100 of one flavor. Some expect immediate turn around, not realizing they are dealing with a mom and pop shop. And, of course, I do my best to fit what they need, because the last thing I want is for any customers to be upset at our customer service.

I'm not even remotely looking this gift horse in the mouth though. I actually look forward to a day when I can handle hundreds of online orders with no stress at all.

Perhaps when my youngest son is in Kindergarten I can donate more of my time and energy to that, but for now I'm okay with the way things are going.

We'll be on a local radio station in a few days too, which is going to be fun and a little nerve wracking at the same time. I always get nervous, but things tend to work out just fine. It's been a great year, and I look forward to what 2009 brings.

Happy Holidays to you all, and have a blessed New Year!