Mixed Bakery and Brownie Bar Play Dates


I once had a close artist friend tell me that the best way to get out of a creative funk is to collaborate. It’s hard to do that sometimes when you’re in a low place and you think everything you do is crap and no one would ever want to work with you but the reality is you are just tired of you own stuff and you need to be around other people to see your own work from a new perspective. It’s magical to create with someone else and mixing your ideas can spin you off in so many new directions.

This post isn’t about all my low places I’ve been lately, (Though I’m brewing on that post so don’t worry, it’s coming.) but it is about collaborating.

When the royal flop cake happened, I realized that I’m never going to be able to bring my visions of perfect cakes alive so I reached out to a friend from my old neighborhood who has a really great instagram feed and Facebook page. Her name is Elyssa Fournier and she recently started her own baking business called Mixed Bakery out of her home. I look at her beautiful baking pictures every day and wonder why I can’t create like that. I marvel at how perfect her cakes are and how pretty her frosting is and curse my inability to follow directions. But instead of dwelling on my failures I thought about HOW I could fix this problem. And so I asked if she wanted to blog with me.

Elyssa has been baking for 17 years. She used to be a third grade teacher and she even specialized in junior high math for a while but she found herself going home and baking to relieve stress. She loves to bake. She loves to follow directions and be precise. She is exactly what I am not. I hate math and I can’t seem to remember directions long enough to follow them. She decided to become a professional baker and worked in New York for many years as a pastry chef. Then she moved to California and had a family. Her husband is a professional chef so you know they’ve been collaborating for years.

You can guess the rest. We had a blast collaborating! We got together in a coffee shop and dreamt up the idea for a Father’s Day brownie and some other ideas too. I think there will be many collaborations in my future. It just keeps things fresh and if I can’t master baking, why not just ask for help?! What a concept.


Since I wasn’t running around the kitchen trying to burn everything, it gave me a chance to step behind the camera and capture a little more than I usually get to. Elyssa is so good with kids. She was patient while they cracked egg after egg, sometimes getting a little more on the table than into the bowl. Every one got in on the mix. There were a lot of kids there so it was a bit of a mad house but she handled everything with a laid back calmness that only seasoned third grade teachers seem to have.

What I really loved about this shoot was how Payam’s daughter participated. Bug gets tired of having her pictures taken sometimes, plus her dad lives down the street from Elyssa so she wanted to run off and see him. I don’t blame her. It was great to be back in the neighborhood and I’ve been shooting her since the day she was born. It’s more work than play for her sometimes. I can’t force her to be photographed though sometimes I want to. Believe me, I’m not above bribery.

I have to honor Bug when she doesn’t want to participate. Unfortunately that sometimes leaves me looking for other children to ham it up and that can be a bit tricky. Not every kid is photogenic or knows how to follow directions.  So I was super thankful for Payam’s daughter. I haven’t really come up with a nickname for her yet but I think I want to call her Hannah-joon. That’s what her dad calls her. It’s Farsi for my dear, Hannah which I really love. Joon is a super common nickname in Farsi but for me it’s Hannah’s nickname.

So as you see her popping up in more pictures, know how it warms my heart to have other children open up to me and my camera. It’s not always easy and I’m super thankful to the kids that do. Elyssa’s kids too!


Brownie, brownie, brownie…sticky gooey yuminess… Yep. You get the picture. We had a lot of fun making some crazy brownies.


We might have even had a smidge more fun making these brownies than the fathers who are actually going to eat them. Heh. But you know what I always say, it’s all about the process! Who cares that there are chili peppers mixed with sprinkles in your brownie? I think Fathers will take one for the team on this one.

And speaking of father’s day crafts and taking one for the team. I thought lately, I’ve been doing a lot of these dad crafts! I should write a book or something! Well, I’m not writing a craft book (yet) but I am working on another Little Hoo book. Little Hoo is going to have a birthday. And my beach Little Hoo book is out too but the cover is whacked. I’ll link that when it’s fixed. I seriously need to promote it but I am lagging badly.  See above brewing post. Much is on the horizon soon though so don’t worry too much about me. Things are changing and not all for bad. :)

So how about a SAJ Father’s Day crafting round-up? It is that time to make something for Pops! Snap. Snap!

Who am I kidding? I haven’t even started making my dad anything either.

But if you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got the Father’s Day Massage T-shirt with iron on decals. Hemp and bead bracelets for Dad. I love Dad temporary tattoos. A How-to-tie-a-tie printable that’s for young Dad’s and grads. A Father’s Day coloring sheet printable card, of course. A Father’s Day photo cube car for the automobile aficionado dad and the camera cube “Daddy Cam” for the photographer dads. Some cd-covers for good old-fashione mixed-tape style cd’s for groovin’ dads. My most favorite craft: the tiny toolbox for handy dads and last but not least, the monsterized phone-cradle for charging dad’s phone.


Caught in the Riptide of Change


Warning: This is a ranty-mc-venty-pants of a post so please click away or do not click over if you are not in the mood for such nonsense.

Lately, I feel like I’m lost in a current of changes. It’s like I’m out in the surf and there are giant waves looming over my head. Whenever I least expect it, a huge wave crashes down on me and tumbles me around so that all I can see are bubbles and I don’t know which way is up. It’s like I woke up one day and suddenly everything was going too fast for me to keep up. I’m not crying about being old yet. I know I have so much ahead of me and so much to be happy and thankful for, but my deep fear is that I am getting old and it’s the beginning of the end. I feel like it’s happening.

It started out with a hard drive wipe in April. My laptop never really recovered from the hard drive crash of 2013. Things were wonkey so I let Toby borrow my laptop and wipe it clean. I’m so glad that he still steps in to be my IT guy now and then. I figured a fresh start might fix the spinny wheel problems and the email clunkeridge  that was plaguing me. Oh, apple email is just the worst lately.

When I got my laptop back it was all new and different. I had a new operating system with all kinds of whistles and bells that were frankly annoying. Of course I have no time for watching videos to educate me about all the new changes. Nah. I just wing it and figure things out as I go.

One of the new things about this operating system is that all my devices are linked whether I want them to be or not. I’m sure this a good thing but half the time I can’t figure it out. The icloud is like an evil overlord who likes to share things I don’t want shared and won’t let me get to things that I do want to share.

I cannot get my pictures from my phone to open on my laptop in photoshop.  I use photoshop everyday. It’s what I do. So why can’t I just download my pictures and open them the way I used to? No! It’s like Apple put a protective covering over my photos like my car company puts a protective plastic covering over my engine. What if I don’t want to go to the dealership and I want to change my own oil in my driveway?!! I can’t get to it?

Seriously, I plug in my phone and my pictures start automatically downloading but they go to some kind of mystery land hidden in my computer that I cannot see outside of the magical apple-picture-viewing center. I can order prints and make coffee table books. I can even edit pictures with some fancy filters BUT I CAN’T OPEN MY OWN PICTURES in photoshop. I think Adobe and Apple are having a war and I am stuck trying to make them talk to each other. I’m having no luck. Sometimes I try to email pictures from my phone to my laptop and even that is impossible, or at least nerve-wracking.

Email. Groan. Where do I even start?

I have switched completely to gmail because my apple email program is just beyond me. It has become the new trap for spam and I’m sure it’s silently turning into a black hole. I’ve given up. I’m so sad too because I use to be the queen of email organization. I had folders and everything was filed according to subject or client. I kept all my receipts for business write offs in one, important password emails in another, sentimental emails in another and important banking and legal emails in another. It was a tight ship. Then in the main browser section would be all my current emails to go through. Sure things got a little out of control in the main section but I knew that I could wade my way through to the bottom. Everything was chronological. First come first serve.

Now I’m living in the land of google mail and threads and conversations. Nothing is organized. It’s a big huge pile of random emails. There is no hope for ever getting to the bottom. In fact it just doesn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe that’s better but I constantly feel like I’m not remembering to get back to everyone. I can search my giant pile of emails and find things but there is no hope of organizing it, ever. Is this the new way? Is this how the kids do it? Is google just going to keep everything I ever do on file in some vault in the mountains somewhere? Is Google Mormon? Are they the beast? Are they going punch a microchip into my forehead someday?

You know I’m joking but sometimes I just wonder.

So since I’m officially out of love with Apple. I decided to give them the finger and get a new phone. I don’t really care about all my music in iTunes and pictures in the iCloud. They’re sharing 57 selfies Bug took on my apple tv screen saver but yet I can’t get an instagram photo that I want to blog about to download to my pictures folder on my laptop. So I said screw it. Since I’m all google now with my calendars and emails I might as well have a google phone too.

And that is part two of the many many changes that make me feel like I’m under water upside down with bubbles. At least I can still see the light, it’s just very very bubbly and I’m spinning. Maybe I’m a little nauseous from all the spinning.

The new phone is very pretty. It’s gold and it has a pearlized cover that makes it seem like a piece of jewelry. The sales woman at Verizon said that nine out of ten apple users return their droid phones and go back to apple. I’m determined not to be one of those nine. But I’m telling you, the newest operating system on the new phone is almost going to break me. Lollipop my ass. I feel like lollipopping Samsung for being such idiots. I don’t know why it’s so bad but it is constantly downloading something in the background and my battery lasts from 8am to 12 noon. Yeah. I can’t work like that.

I popped into the Verizon store the other day to ask if there were any tips or tricks to make my battery life last longer and they had no solutions for me. Everyone just kind of hung their head and said, Yeah. Lollipop sucks and we don’t know when they are going to fix it. They don’t tell us these things. Really? That’s the best answer they have for me? Surely that can’t be very good for sales. So some things I really like about the new phone but this is kind of a huge drag.

Especially when you are driving somewhere, using the your map app to get there and your phone starts turning off because the battery is overheated. I had the worst day yesterday. And I found out how much I have to pay in taxes because I finally filed them. Worst day ever.

I’m done complaining. I’m just tired. I think it’s hormones.


Hahaha!! Let’s talk about another big change in my life: Hormones.

You know how you go through all kinds of hormonal changes when you are a teenager? Guess what? It happens again when you get into your 40’s. I was a late bloomer hitting puberty so that means I’m an early bloomer to leave my reproductive years. I guess God just didn’t think I was much of a breeder. I’m okay with that, mostly. I’m just not okay with having so many mood swings. I’m falling apart all the time. I cry all the time. I finally get a good guy in my life who I really really love and want to spend time with and I’ve become this wretched emotional mess. I’m afraid I’m going to scare him away.

I have less patience with Bug. I’m struggling every day to be happy and kind and not snap at the littlest things. Some days I wake up and feel like a complete failure for no reason at all and I have no energy to fight it. I just want to hide away and not show my face until this passes. But I can’t do that. I just have to put on a brave face every day and hope I can duck away when the cracks start showing.

So I cut my hair. Because that’s what you do when you feel crappy about yourself. But now I miss my long hair. I think I look even uglier with short hair which I know is silly and ridiculous. My new short hair is cute and I’m learning to do it in fun new ways. I do like that it’s something different to work with everyday. But I miss my old long hair.

I’m so sorry to go on like this. But I know there must be other people out there struggling too and maybe you can help me. I’m desperately looking for help. I can’t afford doctors. That’s a whole other sore subject. I’m trying black cohosh today for the first time. I’m hoping it works. My mom says it does. She had a hysterectomy at 40 so can’t really help me but she says it’s helped a lot of people she knows. I don’t usually buy into herbal holistic cures but I’m pretty desperate.


And lastly, Bug. She’s changing too. Not bad changes though. Just, you know, typical pre-tween changes. She’s such a pre-teen even though she’s only nine. She acts like she’s 15 with all the attitude and trappings but then I’ll catch her playing with her beloved Shopkins and acting out the voices when she doesn’t know I’m listening. It warms my heart when she still acts like a little girl. I know even bigger changes are around the corner so I’m holding onto these last days of little girl-hood as best I can.

When I do bob up to the surface for air I look back on the beach and long for those days when we had all the time in the world to sit in the sun and make sandcastles and I didn’t even have a phone to check.