Wrapping it up

GiftWrap

How do you wrap? Are you a themed wrapper? Do you just use what’s on hand? Wrap with a roll until it’s over and then move on to the next? I pretty much stick to a theme, although some years are waaaaaay more elaborate than others depending on my mood, time and if gifts will sit around under the tree or not. I am big fan of kraft paper and my pinterest board of gift wrapping ideas will attest to that! I find it the perfect blank canvas and it can be made more fun for kids or glammed up a bit for adults. I’m really into the live greenery on gifts for this year, but almost everything will be sent by mail, so I don’t think that will translate very well. Hmmm, the possibilities are endless!

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Thanksgiving for makers

Thanksgiving2015_1

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday when you both manufacture and sell your products retail via online or shows for your business. If you do shows, it’s the middle of show season and often a time when you’re exhausted from the work of setting up/breaking down, being “on” while at shows and then going home to make more product before the next show. If you sell online, you are shipping, trying to be incredibly present on social media and making, making, making. You are also about to deal with Cyber Monday which is the biggest online shopping day of the year. Thankfully, wholesale orders are for the most part filled by now, but small stores usually throw a few rushed orders at you so you have to be ready for them. It’s a wonderful and exhausting time of year. This year, I made the decision to not do any shows of any sort. No holiday pop-ups, nothing. I am really, really happy with this decision. Being focused on e-commerce for so long, I have plenty to do here in the studio. It’s lovely to be able to simply focus on that.

Thanksgiving2015_2

When I lived in NY, Thanksgiving was easy. I would show up for dinner, usually with my computer, eat and be merry for a couple of hours, help clean up and get back to work. It was very helpful at these times that family was both so close and understanding. As we are now flung around the country and all career absorbed, we have agreed to have holiday family time in October, so I at least don’t have to worry about even thinking about traveling. My first year in Austin, Adam convinced me that it would be ok to travel from Wednesday to Sunday for the long week-end. The stress and amount of time I spent dealing with customers on spotty wi-fi as a result of that decision made him, never, ever again bring that idea up again. That year my hard drive also crashed on Cyber Monday, so I think he is so emotionally scared by that who week that he shudders if he thinks about it.

Thanksgiving2015_3

This year, I made plans with friends to share the cooking and have the dinner at their house. It was a wonderful plan and by Tuesday I had all the ingredients for mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, that yam/marshmallow dish that everyone loves and stuffing. Ahhhhh, this year was going to be easy peasy! And then. The cold came along and knocked down all three members of our friends family. As they deal with online AND shows, we agreed to cancel the feast. Sad face. I told Adam, who immediately said we were not having it here, that we should go out. I thought that was a great plan, suggested he pick a place and innocently went off to girls night. Wednesday I asked if had a place in mind knowing that in Austin you will not get in without a reservation or a two hour line on Thanksgiving (or any other day for that matter). Not only did he not have a place to eat, but he had been inviting people to a non-exsistant meal at our house. Ummmmm. By 8pm Wednesday night, I was panicking. My hostess with the mostess self was freaking out that we had no where to eat, 7 people to feed and that Adam was insisting that we would find some where to get take out when they all arrived at our house. At 9pm I finally caved and explained to Adam that you cannot invite people over for Thanksgiving dinner and not feed them said dinner. It was just not right. So to the store we went.

Adam snapped this of me flinging rosemary and thyme around the kitchen.
Adam snapped this of me flinging rosemary and thyme around the kitchen.

Fortunately, there were thawed turkeys or I don’t know what I would have done. We bought the bird and everything else to complete the other half of the meal and headed home. Adam called all of our guests and told them to bring pie (as the thought of adding dough to my list made me want to lie down) and I brined the bird and made the schedule for the next day. On Thursday, instead of my nice and low key day, I was in the kitchen from 9am until 6pm. By the end, all of our guests were full and happy. As they were all men, I sent all of the left overs home with them and it was like it never happened. Th only proof that I did it is that I have refused to wear anything except jammies and have happily not left the studio the three days since. I figure it’s only fair.

 

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Deep thoughts on seasonal candy

Easter  3Musketeers Marshmallows
I will always remember the Spring of 2015 as the time of the 3Musketeers Marshmallows.

If you are a candy lover, you already know how exciting seasonal candy can be. Every holiday brings with it both the well loved standards and new exciting things to try. It’s pretty amazing, and kind of helpful that not all candy is available year round because, well…I have no self control when it comes to sugar. I will now try and make everyone reading this a seasonal candy lover…or at least feel for me that sugar has such a strong hold over my mental state.

1. The minute halloween ends, I begin counting down the days until the good candy corn (brachs) is back in stores.

2. As with all shopping, the exclusivity and time sensitivity of seasonal candy makes you want it more. And makes it taste better.

3. The logic of #2 explains why the changing candy corn flavors every year are the most amazing I’ve ever had.

4. The downside to seasonal candy is that in the excitement, you can way over do it and then never want to see that candy again. Cadbury Cream Eggs, I’m looking at you.

5. Seasonal candy give you something to look forward to and get excited about in the dreary days of winter. Just knowing that candy hearts and white chocolate rabbits are coming has brought me endless happiness while being snowed in.

6. Because seasonal candy is so short lived, there is less guilt on binge eating it. Because you may NEVER EAT IT AGAIN!!!

7. #6 may be a bad thing to some people…not to me.

8. Seasonal candy gives reason to have fun during holidays that you otherwise would not celebrate. Valentine’s Day is in my top 5  holidays for the single fact that its centered around chocolate.

9. Don’t be afraid to try things you may not normally enjoy when it is in seasonal candy form. I for example, rarely eat chocolate and don’t usually go for marshmallows, but this year I am obsessed with the 3Musketeers Marshmallow candies.

10. Even though seasonal candy is around only a short while, I never stock pile it. I eat what I can during its shelf life and then move on. Its a happy coincidence that there are no candy holidays from Easter until Halloween or I would never be able to wear a bathing suit. Sad but true.

Favorite seasonal candies:

Halloween: Candy Corn (brachs only)

Thanksgiving: Harvest Mix (brachs…its a crossover holiday)

Christmas: Peppermint Chocolate. (I prefer the white candy cane kisses)

Valentine’s Day: Cream filled milk chocolates. (Russell Stover makes a box with just creams but its milk and dark chocolate butI just discovered that you can build your own box of chocolates on their site!!!!)

Easter: 3Musketeers Marshmallows (used to be Cadbury Cream Eggs but I ate too many)

What’s your favorite seasonal candy? Is there a holiday I am missing out on?

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Happy New Calendar Day!!

Rifle Paper 2015 Calendar in the Manic Trout Studio
Hanging over the shipping station

I despise New Years Day. There I said it. The whole, “now is your chance to finally be a great person” aspect of the new year is beyond annoying. As are the goals made that no one accomplishes. Ever. Personally, I prefer to take this one day to reflect on how much I did not accomplish in the last 365 days and wallow in it. As most of the world is hungover, and no one does anything of importance on this day, its a nice time for this type of behavior. By tomorrow, I’ll be back to my effervescent self and ready to take on the world, but today: I grumble.

The 5 of the 6 calendars around my desk necessary for managing Manic Trout
The 5 of the 6 calendars around my desk necessary for managing Manic Trout

The only good part of January 1st is that its the day to break out new calendars. As I admitted last year, I really enjoy calendars. Thank you to Thea gifting me the beautiful Rifle Paper 2015 calendar, I have topped 2014 and now have 7 calendars in the studio. Now that is a reason to get excited today!

The 7 Calendars of 2015
6 of the calendars for 2015

In case you are wondering why on earth I need 7 calendars:

1. Austin Events Calendar: For the obvious reasons, also to see holidays and I mark when I go running or work out with red dots to give me a bit of visual encourangement to fill it up with red dots. It hangs on the wall behind my computer so I look up and see it.

2. Rifle Paper Calendar: An unexpected gift from my sister as she knows how much I love both calendars and pretty things. Its hanging above the shipping station which is useful for obvious reasons.

3. Desk Pad Calendar: A recent obsession after I discovered these last year. Great for jotting down notes for the entire week. Sits on my desk to my right.

4: Single page printouts of 2015 and each quarter: Noted are the dates for design and production according to the PR and wholesale schedules. These hang to my right.

5. Social Media Calendar: I actually made this one out of a covered corkboard, paper and post its. I have blog posts, facebook posts, newsletters, twitter and instagram posts all planned out a month in advnace on this. It hangs to my left above the production calendars.

6: Spiral Desk Calendar from Sugar Paper: Where I pencil in appointments, meetings, workouts, lunches, trips etc.  I have given up on the electronic version, I prefer paper. I also keep a paper version of Manic Trout sales in it, I find it easier to flip though to see how the month is going than opening a spreadsheet. Sits on the top left corner of my desk, open to the current month.

7: Pocket Calendar: I am going back to a paper version of what I carry with me too. I can look through and schedule so much faster in paper than I can in my phone. Hangs out in the studio when I’m at home, goes in my bag when I’m not.

*8: Doesn’t really count as its not in the studio, but we keep a big magnet dry erase calendar on the fridge too with all meetings, travel and important dates. Adam still forgets everything anyway, but at least I can say that it was up there.

Hope you are enjoying New Years Day the way you want to and Happy New Calendar Day!!

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Laboring on labor day

La Canzone Del Mare: Nadja Bender, Dalianah Akerion And Kinga Rajzak By Boo George For Vogue Japan October 2014
La Canzone Del Mare: Nadja Bender, Dalianah Akerion And Kinga Rajzak By Boo George For Vogue Japan October 2014

I’m spending most of the day in the studio today…what? Did you really think I would have it any other way? I’m actually really enjoying the quiet that comes from a holiday on a Monday. The lack of emails, calls and things that come up that have to be dealt with right this very minute!! is amazing During the last few weeks of August, when the internet is a sleepy place as everyone fits in one last vacation and gets ready for the hustle of fall, be it back to school or to a regular work schedule, I had a crazy idea to get some major behind the scenes work done. It is coming to close just in time for early noise of the holidays but there are still a few loose ends to tie up. A quiet weekend was exactly what I needed to sweep up the last tasks and get myself ready for the months ahead. Speaking of planning for the busy season, it seems my sub conscious has also decided that preparing means buying endless notebooks, pads of paper and the like because I have been hoarding these things like crazy! Does anyone else do that?

The weekend has not been all work though, I spent the afternoon visiting with cousins on Sunday, had girls nights both Thursday and Sunday nights and went for a wonderful run on Friday evening. But mostly I have been treating this weekend like I too am heading back to school tomorrow. Which it seems is exactly what I needed as I feel calmer than I have in weeks. Hope you had exactly the Labor Day you wanted and enjoyed every minute of it as much as I did!

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Deep Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

candy hearts

A few weeks ago I was all, “Yay, I love Valentine’s Day, woo hoo!!”. Now, on the actual day, after I have seen nothing except for hearts and handmade cards in my pinterest feed and blog reader for 6 weeks, “I’m all F-U stupid holiday!!”. So I thought to myself this morning, am I too jaded by the pinterest version of the holiday to write deep thoughts? Nah…its the perfect time…

1. As one of the Candy High Holidays of the year, I have to love Valentine’s Day on principle. I mean come on, any day that has candy created in it’s honor if pretty fabulous.

2. As much as I love one day out of the year to honor romance, the amount of perfect card/gift/flower receiving expectations rival Christmas. Its insane. Adam has strict instructions for no flowers on this day. I do however encourage as many gifts made of candy as he can carry. Which brings me to:

3. Candy Hearts

4. Some girls detest Valentine’s Day and some love it. If you love it, own up to it and make that declaration known by your loved one. You’ll be taking a giant leap towards not being disappointed on February 14th if its known that you expect it to be celebrated.

5. The amount of disappointment felt by women today is probably triple the amount who are pleased by it. This is similar to what so many feel on New Years Eve. (see #4)

6. Did I mention Candy Hearts?

7. The need for every couple in America to go out to dinner tonight makes it so that no restaurant can possibly offer great service, food and ambiance because of this. As a nation, we’ve collectively killed the idea of a romantic dinner for two actually happening tonight.

8. On that note, no one said you have to celebrate on the actual day. At our house, we tend to celebrate all holidays on days besides the actual holiday. I don’t know how it began, but it’s now how we roll. So if you can’t get a table at your favorite restaurant on the 14th, do it next week, it’s the idea of being all romantic that’s fun, not the date.

9. The unofficial role of Valentine’s Day should be like Mother’s Day but for married women without children. It’s the day our husbands have to be all sweet and romantic and shower us with flowers, chocolates and jewelry as a thank you for all we do for them. Think of it as a mandatory day of pampering to thank us for doing all of the laundry, cleaning, errand running, managing of the finances and generally running of their lives for them…while working full time. Or better yet, we should get our own day…Wife Day. Who do I have to talk to about getting Wife Day printed on calendars?

10. Oh, and I case I forgot…Candy Hearts.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

 

p.s. this is from the Manic Trout newsletter this week:

Every year I get all sappy mid January for the idea of Valentine’s Day. Then I spend the next four weeks seeing nothing but hearts on every single blog, pin and social media site and by the 10th, I want to pop every single one of those heart balloons and rip up all the stupid handmade cards. Ok, it may not be that extreme but really, can there be one pin this week that does not involve a handmade card? As much as it even pained me to use the V word in the title, it was necessary for the point I’m making. You want something pretty, frilly and girly? Don’t bother waiting for cupid to deliver and go on out there and treat yourself. I’m giving you permission. My personal spurge was a bit of new makeup from Sephora. It made me feel nice to buy myself a girly gift. If that pretty, girly thing you have been wanting is from Manic Trout, then all the better…I’ll even give you 20% off so you feel warm and fuzzy about not only treating yourself, but getting a good deal. Consider it my handmade card to you…xxoo

Save 20% of your entire order at Manic Trout through Feb 14, 2014 with fromyouwithlove at checkout. Only one use per customer, not valid with other offers. Exp at midnight CST on Feb 14th. Go on, be your OWN Valentine!

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Farewell 2013 and Helllloooooo 2014

Happy New Year!

I’m not that much of a big celebrator of New Years Eve, but I love the ringing in of a new year…blame it on my love for Mondays, but I see it as a huge empty canvas of possibilities ahead. I have also always had a thing for calendars, there are 5 around me right now and each one has a separate function. So you can image that a new year delights me to no end for calendar shopping alone!

sisters
The obligatory holiday sisters photo (Sierra, Gillian, Holly & Thea) 

The end of the year has been pretty spectacular.  Manic Trout finished 2013 with a bang and right on the heels of the holiday season finishing up, my mom and 3 sisters flew in from all over the country just in time for Christmas. Months before all of this chaos, I thought it would be a great idea to throw a party Christmas day. In that month, the list grew and grew and I think for the first time in my life, everyone showed up. There were about 30 of us crammed into our home and it felt so wonderfully Christmas that the exhaustion that followed was worth it. Every time my sisters are around, I end up pretty sad that we’re not near each other all the time. Talking to my sister Gillian in person about her upcoming wedding and being able to help her find her wedding shoes hit hard on how much we miss out on in day to day life, but for now, being in NYC, Austin, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz and with my mom in Virginia it will have to do. At least we all live in awesome places to visit…that’s my silver lining and I’m sticking to it!

Sisters, Christmas, 1984
Christmas, 1984 with my sister Gillian, who is a soon to be Mrs.

After Christmas everyone flew back to their lives way too fast and I have been in the confused state that the week between two holidays on Wednesdays causes. Today is Tuesday, what!?! Adam is working downtown tonight and I have been so excited about getting to spend NYE alone in the studio, we all know I’m a total nerd, why hide it. Tying up all the  loose ends from the last year and unwrapping all the new calendars…oh who are we kidding, I already opened them and have had them ready to go for days! We had an epic game night last night, so my rowdy night of fun with great friends was had and now…now I get to think up all of the wonderful things that this year will be. What are your plans for tonight? Whatever they are, I wish you the happiest year ahead!

Happy New Year!!

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How Thanksgiving kicked my butt

The to do list on Thursday...and my amazing timer that I'm in love with
The to do list on Thursday…and my amazing timer that I’m in love with

Two weeks ago, Adam and I decided that as my crazy season kicks off the day after Thanksgiving that we would just go with flow that all the plans we had half made for Thanksgiving had fallen though and kind of ignore the day. I had to get ready for the weekend anyway. Then three days before the actual day, there was a conversation between Adam and one of his friends who had custody of his son for Thanksgiving this year, and a turkey in the freezer, that we should have it together. This could have been a simple decision and we should have just made a few side dishes and called it a day.

The Turkey brining, cranberries boiling, green beans draining and pie dough ready to roll
The Turkey brining, cranberries boiling, green beans draining and pie dough ready to roll

 

However, 10 years ago I had hosted my first Thanksgiving and decided to fry our turkey. Unfortunately, no one thought to check the fryer box after purchase (because who does that?) and when we went to set it up a few hours before dinner, realized that a crucial part was missing and no stores were open to get the missing part. There were many methods attempted to rig it, which all failed and my mom ended up hacking off parts of the raw turkey and microwaving them…which was as bad as it sounds. My ego would not let another horrible Thanksgiving dinner ever happen again on my watch so last week I went into hyper crazy holiday mode.

Chilled pie dough about to be rolled out
Chilled pie dough about to be rolled out..this is my first attempt at pie crust and making an apple pie!

I started planning out the timing for cooking the many, many dishes (that I had never cooked before) being prepared with one oven and braved the grocery store with the masses. I asked Adam what had to be present to make it feel like Thanksgiving, and he listed every generic dish there is and insisted that they should all be prepared from canned goods. Um, no. We compromised…I made all the dishes he wanted but with no canned goods…because ew, they’re like 88 cents a lb, thats cheaper then a can of them! Anyway…I had researched and found recipes for everything and had them all printed out and everything ready to go on Wednesday night. At about 5:30 after I got home from my run, I popped into the kitchen to brine the turkey. That’s when I realized what a mammoth challenge I had taken on.

The bottom of the pie crust laid out in the pan
The bottom of the pie crust laid out in the pan

Let me preface this by saying that in my family, I am the cleaner. My sister Gillian is a chef and cooks everything with my mom, with the help of my other sisters, Holly and Thea. I help clean as they go and then organize/clean the entire kitchen at the end of the night. I do nothing with the food. Wednesday night I realized this and started to panic. I ended up making the pie dough, apple pie, cranberry sauce and green beans for the casserole that night. I also laid out the buffet table, decided on serving dishes and set the table for our 2pm dinner. At 1am, still in my running clothes I finally left the kitchen.

Laying the top crust over the apples
Laying the top crust over the apples

Adam got home 20 minutes later just as I was getting out of the shower and said that our friends who were on the fence confirmed that they were coming the next day as well. Then he let me know that 3 others were coming as well. I kind of freaked out at that point and started texting his phone with things that he had to buy first thing in the morning so we had enough food as we went from 4 to 9 people.

My first apple pie, ready to go into the oven!
All ready to go into the oven!

I also was going to have to unset the table, take down the buffet as it was blocking the door to the garage, bring in our bigger table from the garage and redo everything. Lets just say that I couldn’t even pretend to sleep that night, I tossed and turned and kept texting his phone so I could double the potatoes, make another pie…etc. I got up at 8:30 to start cooking the next morning (I usually get up at 11, so that was ROUGH). I cooked the turkey, made a pumpkin pie, reset the table, cooked 2 types of stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and candied yams. I set the table and set up the buffet again. By some miracle, everything was ready at exactly 2pm and perfect!

I am so proud of my first apple pie!!
I am so proud of my first apple pie!!

The only down side was the 3 guests who we had to move furniture for canceled at 1:55. They will not be invited to dinner ever again. No matter, we had a lovely time without them. Our friends 3 year old son terrorized Faye, the guys watched football and the massive amounts of leftovers due to 3 people not showing up were forced on our friends when they left. I was in the kitchen cleaning until about 9pm and then had to work for a couple of hours.

We brought in the big dinning room table and it looks so pretty set for dinner
We brought in the big dinning room table and it looks so pretty set for dinner (excuse the photo)

 

Lets just say that this weekend was spent in a zombie state, which is unfortunate as I was so busy with holiday orders coming in (yay!). Fortunately though, I think after a good long sleep last night  though that I am finally recovered…and have started planning the party for 25 at our house Christmas night. You can start thing positive thoughts for me now please…

Quite the spread!
Quite the spread!

p.s. don’t forget to checkout Manic Trout for the perfect holiday party accessories and presents!

 

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Sum it up

My 2 year old self...just chillin under the tree on a bear skin rug (procured by my paternal grandfather)
My 2 year old self…just chillin under the tree on a bear skin rug (procured by my paternal grandfather)

Its been a looong week…one where I wish each day was filled with moments like the one above instead of working like a mad woman in the studio for the last push of the year.  My 2 year old self really knew how to kick back and relax in style!  However my 35 year old self chose to have the girls over and eat more cookies while chatting away for hours on end mid week instead.  I can confidently say that it was just as fun as laying naked on a bear skin rug!

WORKING ON: Holiday production is done!!! I have the last market for Christmas tomorrow, and then all focus is on finishing the Spring/Summer 2013 collection!

THINKING ABOUT: If all of the Manic Trout packages will arrive on time for Tuesday…fingers triple crossed.

ANTICIPATING: Adam coming home from snow boarding tomorrow, my mom arriving Sunday and my three sisters on Monday!!

LISTENING TO: Its embarrassing, but I’m still on the Bird and The Bee Station.

EATING: Cookies…and cookies…oh and these white chocolate and candy cane Hershey Kisses that are amazing.

THANKFUL FOR:  My wonderful friends who I have been having a ball with and my awesome family who I get to see so soon!

PLANNING FOR:  What to do when family is here…2 have lived here and 2 have visited, so all of the normal “you have to see this when your in Austin” stuff has been done. Hmmmmm.

READING: Rock On by Dan Kennedy, about working for a record label…it’s pretty great.

WATCHING: Damages in my studio…Glenn Close plays evil oh so very well and Freaks and Geeks as my watch an episode at 1am when I leave my studio guilty pleasure watching….because it’s that good.

Have a great weekend!

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