• Not Quite Perfect

    If you've checked my blog anytime in the last few weeks, you'll realize what a fitting title this is. I've been trying to finish this post for the last couple of weeks. I keep rescheduling the date when the post will appear to give myself more time to come back and work on it, yet I keep forgetting and it keeps publishing incomplete. 

    As most people with small children learn rather quickly, life changes drastically after the baby arrives. I've been trying to be okay with how things get done these days. Like incomplete blog posts. Like constant piles of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, piles of clutter. But the most important thing is that my little girl is happy and thriving. She doesn't care about the mess. And it's a good lesson for me. It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay just to be.

  • We're Coming Back!

    After a rather long hiatus this summer, I am looking forward to returning to the markets for the holiday season. My little girl is over five months old now, and I'm incredibly lucky to be able to spend so much time with her. However, I miss baking and I miss seeing my customers every week! It'll be great to see everyone soon.

  • Why I Like Making Wedding Desserts

    I love working with brides, and I love making desserts for weddings. On the day of a wedding that I'm catering, I think about my own wedding which was nine years ago this past July. We had a rustic affair, the ceremony and reception at a local non-working farm, in a barn that was painstakingly cleaned and fixed up for the owner's daughter's wedding the year before ours. We had the ceremony at the top of a small hill. There were sweeping views of the Pownal valley and hay growing high around the mown path. We wrote our own vows (I guess a cliche these days!) and had both of our sets of parents speak about their long-running marriages. It was one of the most beautiful days of the summer, perfectly warm with low humidity and a cool evening. The barn looked magical with soft lighting and purple hydrangeas that my mom lovingly picked from her own garden and brought up with her. I remember how excited I was that day, how happy I was to have my family and very closest friends surrounding us with their love. It makes me feel honored to make desserts for someone else's special day because I know they will treasure the memories with the same dearness as I cherish my own.

  • Boston Cream Pie

    I have a July birthday, which I loved and hated when I was a little kid. It was great because parties could be outside and include ice cream cake, but I could never celebrate by bringing cupcakes to school to share with my classmates. For years, I requested a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Then, we moved to a new area and didn't have a ready source of ice cream cakes. At that point my most-requested birthday dessert became my mom's Boston cream pie. This misnomer of a dessert is actually a cake, stacked with vanilla custard between two layers of cake, topped with a chocolate glaze. My mom's particular version used hot milk sponge cakes, homemade vanilla custard, and melted chocolate chips that solidified into a solid cap of brittle semisweet chocolate on top. There was always a little custard left over from making the cake that my dad and I would share. It was his favorite cake, too. Even now, my birthday still makes me think of Boston cream pie, hot summer days, and the wild orange daylillies that seemed to magically open right on my special day. 

  • Experiments: Chocolate Granola

    I'm supposed to be taking it easy at this point. I am nine months pregnant and taking a little break from farmers' markets now, but I still can't stay out of the kitchen! Part of the reason is that I've had chocolate granola on my mind for the last three months. 

    Sometimes people ask how I get ideas to make new things, and this is how: I get obsessed with an idea until I make it. And the idea is usually quite specific—I imagine chocolate granola, but not just normal granola with chunks of chocolate in it. I know that I want it to have a depth of chocolate flavor without being too sweet for breakfast. I know I want it to include cocoa nibs. And it needs to be crisp with some sort of nut.....almonds? sunflower seeds? I draft a version of the recipe to start. I try to make a relatively small amount in case it's a total disaster. As I'm putting it together, I make careful revisions to the recipe in a notebook. Then it bakes and cools, and I taste it. I form my own opinion, and then have my husband taste it without telling him what I thought about it. We compare notes, I make notes, and then it's ready for round 2 of testing. Usually, there's some lag time before I make it again so I can decide if my initial impression was right. 

    In this case, my chocolate granola was nearly right on. I would change a couple of things when I make it again, but I'm thinking it will join the ranks of my maple and olive oil granola when I'm back at the market. Keep an eye out for it!

  • Thanks For A Great May

    I feel so lucky to be starting my fourth season at the Walloomsac Farmers' Market this year. It honestly makes me so happy to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning (really!), start up the oven, and bake tray after tray of scones, sugar buns, galettes, and whatever's on the menu for the week for my customers. I love catching up on the week's news with the other vendors, and seeing my customers (many of whom feel more like friends) and getting feedback on last week's treats. The market is such a wonderful community of people, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. I'll miss everyone while I'm taking a little break....but don't worry, I'll be back before long!

  • Changes

    Spring always brings to mind change more than any other season. Its arrival is dramatic in New England; snow melts and gives way to countless colors of brown and mud, which eventually gives way to piercing emerald greens and bright blossoms. It seems to take forever, but then one day when you wake up, it feels like the green came in just overnight. Every year, I wonder if it's possible that the hills were this brilliant last year.

    In farmers' market news, the outdoor season starts up in two weeks, on May 4th! Farmers have already been bringing spinach, Swiss chard, and arugula to the markets in past weeks. Potted basil from Wildstone Farm showed up last week, as did candy-colored French radishes from Mighty Food Farm. I love to see more and more variety appearing every week. 

    And in more personal news, my expanding belly will soon bring about a sizeable transition to my home and business. We are working hard to cull our own belongings as new things arrive every day for the little one. It's an exciting time for sure, but slightly anxiety-ridden to imagine what life will look like from the other side. But that's the nature of change—you never know exactly what will happen until it does.



  • What We Are Capable Of

    I was watching a reality show about the Amish the other night, mainly because Saturday night television leaves much to be desired. But something about this particular show was incredibly riveting. The episode followed a man who had left the Amish community and had unresolved issues resulting from that separation. He had experienced abuse growing up, and in the Amish way, he had never discussed it with anyone before. He was aware that these secrets were affecting his current relationships with his own kids and wife, and he was also concerned that there were many young people in his own community who had left the Amish community and were in similar situations. So, he set out to explore methods of healing through faith and counseling. It struck me how beautiful this humble man was, looking to be a better father, husband, and member of his community. He had to overcome great hurt, and he had great difficulty in revealing the emotional life that he had been forced to lock up for so many years. It reminded me of the great power that we all possess to be the people we want to be. The mind is powerful, and the will to overcome is unrelenting.

    IMG_0253 Reminiscent of turning lemons into lemonade....

  • Letting Go

    P1080257Lately, I've been asking myself why we get so emotionally connected to objects. I need to make a little more space in our house, and it hasn't been easy. I had somehow convinced myself that it was mostly my husband's collections in the studio/spare room that we're trying to clean out, so I had been waiting for him to get started. The other day, I took a closer look. When I scanned the room, from the bookshelf to the two desks, my heart sunk a bit because I realized it was all my stuff. It was a collage of my many hobbies over the years. It was a sobering thought that I was going to have to filter through years of creating and collecting—and that a good amount of it needed to go completely.

    I decided that for this process to work, I would take one look at an item, and then close my eyes and throw it away unless it was something that is useful to me right now. In this way, stacks and stacks of old magazines, paper, and collections of things like Altoids tins have made their way to the trash. And it feels liberating. I still have a ways to go, but I am prepared to face this new challenge with vigor and optimism.

  • Reflections

    P1080302I'm the type of person who likes to start a New Year with resolutions. These thoughtful musings have contained echoes of the same basic elements over the past decade. Most, if not all, of these new beginnings have included wanting to find my ultimate career or job. This year is different for me in several respects. First of all, we were just back in the US on New Year's Day from Scotland and England, and my brain was still absorbing the trip. I've been jet lagged and scattered since and not in the best state of mind to be resolute about much of anything.

    The second and more important difference is that I'm coming into 2013 with a real career plan. When I officially started my business in April of last year, I felt good. And I've continued to feel better and better about the choices I've made this year. Me and Paper Cake Scissors are ready to embrace another busy and profitable year. Instead of having to reinvent what I'm doing this year, I can fine-tune: make goals, look at financials, and brainstorm new ideas that I want to incorporate. This is such a relief after circling around and around the career question for too many years. And as a result, I feel ready to look outside of myself. I can stop being selfishly engulfed in the What am I doing with my life? question. I can move on.

    I'm especially happy to have this clarity now, because I know that 2013 will be one of the most challenging, satisfying, and rewarding years yet for me, my business, and my family. Happy New Year.

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First gelato of the season

There may be an absence of pictures in the next few days---I’m waiting for Windows to arrive so I can download PhotoShop onto my new computer. Yes, that’s right….I’ve been typing all these fabulous entries on my MacBook that was an early birthday present to myself. It’s so cute, all white with rounded corners, and sweet little icons—as my brother says, “I just want to give it a hug before I go to bed.” It really is that cute.

We’ve been enjoying the warm summer weather. I broke out the ice cream maker for the first run of the season last weekend. I’ve been dreaming of ice cream sandwiches with all kinds of combinations between cookies and cream. My first 2008 gelato was fresh basil. I could tell Matt had some trepidation about my choice. I could see him thinking, but there’s so many normal flavors out there, why’d you have to start with basil. It took him a couple of spoonfuls until he was convinced. My ultimate sundae with this flavor would be olive oil tortas from Spain (crisp sugary cookies with just a hint of anise) and a thick balsamic reduction. A dessert Caprese….Last night I made chocolate lavender gelato, which was good. Of course, Matt thought it was too floral at first, but was again converted with a second helping. I have a pretty decent herb garden, so the flavor possibilities are endless…..although maybe I will just do a plain ol’ vanilla bean and of course, homemade hot fudge.

Matt and I were invited over to our friends’ place last night for margaritas and nachos. She apologized by saying, “I don’t feel like making dinner.” To me, it was better than dinner. I’m a big fan of having people for non-dinner courses, like dessert and drinks, or football and snacks, or movies and popcorn. It was a beautiful night with a nearly full moon and rustic country garden. We were sitting in an old chicken coop that was converted into a three-sided lean-to, with a tiny bubbling fountain right beyond the concrete floor, and your choice of views; mountains and the field, the garden, and the yard back towards the house. Before the nachos, we picked red currants, bags and bags of them. Apparently, they fruit every year and go to waste, so I couldn’t let that happen. That’s going to be my Saturday project, making red currant jam.

I wish summer went on for six months instead of three.

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