Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gelato Machines & Decisions {Culinary School Journey}

Photo courtesy of mrsiraphol
This past week in school has been full of nerve wracking decisions.

This semester ends the first week in December…then a little less then a month after that, the Spring semester will begin.

The culinary class I am currently in, food safety and sanitation, has been such a wonderful way to start off my week.  Even though it has been lots of studying and reading, I am loving it.

One of the things that I had forgotten about college, is how much you get to know your fellow classmates…and if you are lucky, the wonderful camaraderie you build with your professors/instructors.

Everyone in that culinary class has become like a family in such a short amount of time.  Faces become familiar and you start to get to know them one by one.  These people will be your source of networking throughout your core classes and once you graduate, they will become your fellow colleagues.  My culinary instructor (I call her chef instructor because well…she is a chef and is an instructor…the name just seems fitting) and I have formed a nice bond.  I feel very comfortable and secure with discussing my culinary goals and fears with her, which I have done a few times already.

The bottom line….I love being in this class.

In the other class I am taking, Intro to Computers and Data Processing, I have gotten to know the guy who sits next to me.  He's an Army vet…served 4 or 5 years…went on 2 tours overseas…and is only in his mid 20's.  We have that common military bond and it's always fun talking with him before and after class.  He's majoring in Criminal Justice and has a baby due in December.

I have formed wonderful friendships in this brief amount of time, which is why when Husband Man came home a few weeks ago to tell me that he had to sit down and talk with me, I was caught off guard.

When your husband comes home from work and tells you that he needs to sit down and discuss something with you, it's never a good thing.

He wants to put in for a PCS (a military move for those of you who aren't familiar with the military) and wants to do it as soon as possible.  The earliest he can do it will be February of 2015…which will be towards the beginning of my next semester.

In his defense, he did weigh the pros and cons of it all…and he said the number one reason why he didn't want to do it was because how happy I have been with going back to school.  He said I am flourishing and doing really darn well and it has made his decision 10 times more difficult to make.  I love him so much for taking my goals into consideration.

During this discussion, I had to take off my culinary student hat and put on my military spouse hat.  Together, we both weighed the pros and cons…and at the end of it all, decided that he should put in for  it.  I had to reassure him of a few things though.  I told him not to worry about me and what was going on on my end….and that this is his career we are talking about.  I mentioned to him that culinary schools will always be there and that it is not going anywhere anytime soon.  I said that if we did in fact, have to move in the next few months, that I at least will be certified in food safety, which is the first step in owning my own bakery.  The rest will come with time.

His mind seemed more at ease after the discussion.  The way the military works can be a tedious process.  Just because he puts in for a PCS, doesn't always mean they will grant his request and let us move, but he said he wanted to at least try.  Another words, it's all a "wait and see" type of deal.

So here I was this week…faced with a grueling decision…do I continue on with my goals and plans and register for the spring semester (even though I know there is a chance I may not get to complete it and not get credit for it upon moving) or do I put everything on hold to wait and see what happens?

I decided to go ahead and register.

Yes…it will be lots of money we will be gambling with (tuition, chef uniform, purchasing utensils for my class, etc…)…especially knowing that I may not be able to finish this next semester…however, if it's one thing I have learned throughout my life as a military wife, you don't wait to do things.  If you have once in a lifetime opportunities, you take them.  No questions asked.

Before class, I told chef instructor what was going on.  Her response?
"Nooooooooo you just got here! You can't leave us!!"

I just gave her a little smile and said, "I know.  It's the military though."

As class went on that morning and as I was listening to her discuss gelato machines and how they were becoming a hot item in bakeries….I started getting teary eyed and almost started to cry.  I'm glad I didn't because people would have probably wondered…"why is this woman crying over a gelato machine??"  But I was VERY close to letting out the tears.

We may not move after he puts in his request, however, if we do…at least I will have the memories of this experience to take with me to our next duty station.

Oh the sacrifices we make as military spouses.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

A Blessed Life {This Little Blog of Mine…I'm Going to Let It Shine}

Note: Not interested in reading this part of the blog? Feel free to disregard this post.  If you just want the recipes, check out the recipe index on the top menu bar.

Welcome to the conclusion of A Blessed Life, a series on how my love of cooking and blogging started.  To catch up on previous posts, click here.  

In the last post, I wrote about how I got started with blogging.

In the blog's early days, I was only doing it as a hobby.  I wasn't making money off of it and as a matter of fact, refused to place ads on it.  Husband Man kept trying to get me to incorporate Adsense, but I would constantly turn down his idea, saying that it was fine the way it was.  

Finding a hobby that allowed me to stay home with my babies and use up all the creativity that stewed inside of me was enough to keep me content for ages.

And let me tell y'all….it sure did make for some interesting conversations at the dinner table on some nights:

"Husband Man: Today, I made my guys test this missile out to make sure it's ready for whatever comes our way.  I also ran 3 miles and worked on an EPR for one of my Airmen.  How was your day?
Me:  I tried to subdue our son's temper tantrum after he woke up in the middle of the grocery store, while teaching our daughter how to pick the right apples from the produce bin.  I did 3 loads of laundry, cleaned both bathrooms, and finally had a chance to whip up that apple sour cream pie for dessert tonight…and blog about it.  Did you know that my recipe for butter cookies has gotten 100 views so far??  
Husband Man: No…but that's awesome!"

I knew nothing about food photography or how to plate certain dishes.
All I wanted to do was cook, take a picture of the dish, post it on the blog, and write a paragraph or two about whatever came to my mind.  If you look through the archives, I left some of these early posts up, mostly as a reminder as how far this blog has come.  
(an early picture of our family's butter cookies…post can be found here)

When it came to family and friends, they didn't quite understand the purpose of it.  If you have ever seen the movie, "Julie & Julia" and remember the parts where Julia's mom didn't take her blog seriously, that was how it was for me as well.  No one really understood the purpose of what I was doing and every time I would mention that I wrote another recipe post, their response was, "Oh…that's cool I guess.  Anyway…back to what I was saying earlier…"  For some of them, it took a while to learn that the blog was just like a website or a digital magazine.  

Husband Man on the other hand, was on board with the entire thing…all the way from the beginning (kind of like Julie's husband was in the movie).  He was my cheerleader and the one who kept encouraging me to stick with it, even on the days when I wanted to just delete the entire thing (and there have been plenty of those days).  He did have to adjust to how time consuming it seemed to be, but he always remained supportive.  

I started to realize that with my food blog, I could still create sweet treats and dishes for everyone, I just wouldn't be able to charge them like I would if I worked in my own bakery.  

It was that conclusion that kept me working on it.  I was able to stay home with my children, be there for all of their firsts, and at the same time, pursue a hobby that I really, truly enjoyed.  Life really couldn't get any better ;)  

There were even times when I incorporated my children into the blog posts (mostly my daughter because my son didn't really show an interest in it):
As soon as word got out that I started a cooking blog, I started making friendships within the community….mostly with other fellow military spouses.  We all discussed how fun it would be to have a few cooking classes over at my house one evening.  I loved the idea and after some careful planning and prep work, I hosted a Thanksgiving cooking class (click here to read that post) and a Christmas cookie baking class (click here to read the post).  
One of the lady's I knew informed me that the city's local mommy magazine was looking for recipe submissions.  I contacted the magazine's editor and explained to her that I had a food blog.  She had me submit a few recipes for their November and December issue…and then contacted me for their January issue.  It wasn't long before she contacted me again for their February issue. 

I started noticing a pattern of sorts so I bought the idea up to her about having a food column in the magazine.  Before I could even blink an eye, the Cooking with Libby column for Red River Moms Magazine in Shreveport, Louisiana was born. I wrote for them for 3 years:
Opportunities started coming out of the woodwork after I started with the magazine, including teaching a cooking class for a local children's summer camp program.

Not only this, high end companies started contacting me…asking for product reviews and sponsorships.  After about the fifth company, I finally decided to take Husband Man's advice and incorporate Adsense into the blog to start making a little bit of income.  
The journey has been uphill ever since.  I've been a food columnist for a few national military spouse networks and also recently started writing again for a local magazine here on the base that we are currently stationed at.  

When I look back at all the years past, I can't believe how lucky my family and I have been.  It has been a rocky road, but it's also been a blessed one.  All I really wanted to do was stay home with my children.  As a result of that, I found a hobby that I loved doing that has blossomed into so much more.

My kids are older and are in school full time now, so I figured it's time to pick up where I left off all those years ago when I was working at the library.  Except this time, a career in library science is not what I'm aiming for. 

I'm aiming for an Associates in Culinary Arts with a baking and pastry concentration instead (read more about my journey with that HERE).  Maybe my dream of owning my own bakery/cafe' will come true afterall??  We'll just have to wait and see.  

So there you have it folks….that's how this blog came to be.
It started with a little spark all those years ago…hitting some bumps along the way…that soon turned into a hobby…that, in turn, blossomed into a little career of sorts.  It seems to be the direction my life is taking now…and that is fine by me…and fine by Husband Man as well!

God has blessed us in more ways then one and I am ever so grateful for that!  Thank you for reading along ;)   

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