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Catching up!

Posted on Oct 3, 2016

Hey there!

I’ve been meaning to tell you about my birthday, the pop-up restaurant, and some other stuff, I just haven’t found the time! Sometimes it takes a while to formulate the thoughts but then it comes screaming out of my fingertips at lightning speed. I’m hoping that’s happening now…

For my 50th birthday I thought it would be fun to have a one-day restaurant and serve Finnish food. My mother had a restaurant when I was growing up in Manitoba called Finn Cafe, and I cherish the memories of working there and living that life. I wanted to give my kids a taste of how hard restaurant work was, so they would appreciate the work that goes into serving us when WE go to a restaurant to eat.

So I found a rent-a-restaurant that cost $400 for 24 hours – including all equipment, dishes, full run of the restaurant, PLUS a room in the hotel upstairs. This place is amazing – the beautiful one-bedroom suite is right above the restaurant so you can party into the wee hours in the restaurant without bothering anyone. The restaurant has six tables for 4, three tables for 2, plus a couch and coffee table. There’s a bar stocked with glasses and 2 beer fridges (empty, natch), plus a flat screen tv above the bar. It’s the classic boutique restaurant, ideal for my purposes!

I spent the few days before it preparing foods that could be reheated in the double gas ovens. I baked traditional Finnish rye bread that took 3 days to make. I practiced recipes, baked pies and cakes, bought serviettes, planned, fretted. The day before the party, I panicked! I couldn’t get anything done at home due to distractions from dogs, family, obligations. So on Friday evening I packed up all the things and I drove out to the restaurant: I set up the tables that evening and stayed in the hotel that night so I could get up early and start baking at 8am!

I baked and prepared like MAD, Z95.3 blaring, until my family showed up at 11am. The restaurant opened at 1 so we got busy – chopping, dicing, baking, cooking, setting tables, preparing salads, etc etc etc. I didn’t even have time to shower before the party, things were SO tight! But when our doors opened at 1 and the first customers showed up at 1:02, we were ready! The cold buffet table was laid out with freshly baked bread and pulla (cinnamon buns), beet salad, chick pea salad, and a meat and cheese plate. Egg salad and pickled herring were there too, to put on the Karelian pies and rye bread.

Each customer got a starter bowl of vegetable casserole (which is a misnomer, since there’s meat in it!). We kept the hot foods in the oven and served people “taster plates” – a scoop of each type of Finnish dish – and they got sour cream pie for dessert. People seemed pleased with the food, and that made me very, very happy.

We busted our butts that day. All of us. My husband cooked, I baked, my brother did dishes, my sister-in-law served tables, my other sister-in-law did prep work, and the kids basically just farted around. They tried to help but then they were just in the way. I think they cleared some dishes a few times, but I didn’t have time to pay them much attention – when their friends showed up, they entertained each other. It was a magical day for me, and I will treasure the memory and experience, and I hope my kids will too. Yeah, it cost me over $900, but that’s why winning that $750 on Jewel was so important!!

A few fans of Contests Vancouver came by to wish me a Happy Birthday. I was SO touched! They brought presents (beer, my favourite!) and some stayed to eat. One person I’d never met didn’t even stay for a bite, but she brought me the best present I have EVER received from anyone (a tangible gift I mean, not the gifts of presence and thoughtfulness, which are priceless to me!) She (we’ll call her J) brought me a gift that showed how well she knew me: noise-cancelling headphones with a built-in am/fm radio. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I didn’t open the present until I got home and I almost fell out of my chair! I was speechless (and you can imagine how shocked I must’ve been to be speechless!!!) I use them EVERY day (and sometimes I don’t even turn on the radio, heh heh) They have lightened the load for my whole family – I don’t have to yell at them to SHUT UP so much anymore (except when I have to listen to more than 2 things at once) and they’ve allowed me to just smile at my family when they are trying to talk to me. LOL!!! I never knew how much I needed them until I had them… they even have a cable that I can plug into my phone or computer so I can hear anything crystal clearly – that ZFX sure sounds different when you can hear every nuance…

September is a time for changes, and especially now that I’ve turned 50. Let me spell that out: fifty. Ugh, it’s just as bad when you spell it out. It’s a milestone year, and it was time to reconsider things. When my littlest was still at home, I had an excuse for not working outside the home. When he was in kindergarten, I was so exhausted I just wanted to enjoy the break. That was short-lived because the birth of 10 puppies ran the following 4 months, and just about ran me into the ground. This year, both kids are in school and there are not going to be any more f**king puppies (what a gong show that was!) Life is settling down, and it was time to make a move: get a job or make some money on the website.

This all came to a head when I went to the courthouse for jury selection. As I sat there hour after hour waiting for my turn to be chosen or challenged, I texted with my husband. He was starting to panic, worried that if I got chosen it would be disastrous for our family. In reality, it would just mean a reshuffling of our schedules, but it would not be THAT terrible. However, it got me thinking: jury duty would not be that different from having an ACTUAL job. I would drop the kids off at school, go to “work”, then hubby would have to pick them up, and I’d be home around supper time. Not that big of a deal! Huh…

So when I considered that jury duty would pay $20 per day for the first so-many weeks, then $60 per day for ensuing weeks, then $100 per day if the trial went even longer – even the $20 per day was more than I was making sitting at home all day! YES! I want to make $20 per day!

But you know what? Despite the change to the website and the “subscribe to see the password protected posts” (which is a measly $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year and you can sign up HERE), I’m probably still not going to make $20 per day. But at least I’ll make SOMEthing, which is better than the NOthing I’ve been bringing in for the past 3 years, despite working my ASS off.

And damn it, I’m worth it!

(I totally stole that from a commercial but I have no idea which one!!!)

Oh look! All that came screaming out at lightning speed! Cool…