I’ve been writing you love letters in my sleep, dear readers… penning the most beautiful things I can only half remember once I’m awake. Blame it on the mess of a house, the morning sickness, or just a general feeling of malaise and repetition when I flip on my screen, but I’ve been searching for the spark now for months… maybe a year. Feeling stuck and mostly uninspired… but longing for the same drive I’ve felt so many times before.
While backed up against this roadblock, we’ve also set about searching for our next steps… and though maybe they’ve been clear all along, it took some time before we were ready to accept them and move forward. We stepped gingerly ahead, into a rebranding project we knew was the right move, but kept one foot in the past.
That’s not the plan anymore. The sparks are coming… slowly, and sometimes while we sleep, but they’re there.
I’ve found it harder than usual to put pen to paper these past few months, and I’m not so sure it’s writers’ block as much as pure, unadulterated exhaustion. I’ve been scrambling for some time now. Scrambling to do it all, to make it all happen… to get to a place of rest.
When I finally found that place, I thought the inspiration would flow… finally, the spigot would be freed and we’d all be just a little bit more excited to read what came out of it. Instead, I found the opposite. A brain so tired, so ready to give in…
I must’ve watched a million hours of television over holiday break. Melting a little further into the couch cushions with each passing day.
But at some point along the way, amidst the atrophy and the empty cupboards, I found the quiet.
And I’ll admit, I hate the quiet. I hate to be in the house on a gloomy day with nothing but the sound of the rain and the wheels on the road outside… I hate to leave that house even more, preferring something of an agoraphobic-light winterized version of myself… under the covers, snacking on sad animal crackers meant to have been saved for Austin while binge-watching Mind of a Chef.
But if I can overcome that lonely sloth that lives inside me, eventually I can force myself to face the quiet… and the quiet is where the creativity lives.
We hear nearly every day how our generation is over-burdened by technology. Too much stimulation sucking up the few cells we had left after the pot and the whip-its took their toll… and most of the time I’ll fight for that damn iPhone, because we’re codependent, you see.
I really don’t remember how we found our way anywhere in the age of maps, and a recent experience in Dublin proves we (I, most of all…) can’t go back.
But in the quiet… in the time of the ticking clock and the clicking keys… when I can hear myself think and breathe and be…
I realize just how much I miss the time in between.
Amazing things are happening to the food in DC. What once was a boring, boys club lunch mecca is becoming a breeding ground for all things local and handmade. Incredible kombucha; chocolate from bean to bar; and whiskey barrel-aged maple syrup are just a few examples of the tasty goods popping up every day. And if you follow them all back to their source, you’ll find one kitchen at the helm.
Upon leasing the warehouse that would soon become the growing empire of Union Kitchen, Cullen Gilchrist and Jonas Singer understood that it would be easy to go with the same old rent-a-kitchen model. But why would they want to? It wasn’t working for them, and even more importantly, it wasn’t going to work for the clients they wanted to foster — tracking hours, fighting for time, leaving your clients to fend for themselves, you could find a million kitchens just like that in the area already, and they weren’t doing much to inspire. So Cullen and Jonas set up a new model. Charge a monthly fee for unlimited hours, let clients work together in a shared, collaborative workspace, and provide the mentorship those clients need to get their business off the ground.
I’m guilty of not sharing a real-life update with you all in a while – I’ve been sharing the pretty, easy things instead. But these beautiful carrots reminded me that we’re long overdue.
Our lives are still in limbo, caught somewhere between greatness and complete and total terror… hoping to scratch our way out of the darkness sometime soon.
When we left for Europe, we were certain Mark had a job lined up for his return. But after some time waiting around for the reality to materialize, we’ve found ourselves back at square one. I won’t ramble on about the worry or the stress, because I’m sure you already know. A month, maybe two… that’s manageable. Going on three with no end in sight… suffice to say it sucks.
But, though it might feel a little early for thanks, we’ve also been reminded — so many times over these past few months — why thanks is never really limited to that one day a year.
It probably goes without saying that over these past few months, we haven’t exactly been putting our health first. Dough Uprising, Field + Foundry, this blog, our full-time jobs, keeping up with Austin… eventually something slips, and our “something” has been exercise, eating right, doing things like getting haircuts and cutting our nails (ew, but really).
Sometimes it takes a shakeup to make you realize just how badly you’ve been treating yourself… and how neglected you really feel.
So, since we’re about to head out on vacation and I’m suddenly faced with a whole big bunch of time to make a real effort to unwind, and since I usually have a hard time actually doing that, I thought I’d make all of this into a little bit of a game.
A recent invitation to speak made it all too clear that my professional headshot was starting to look a little worse for wear. So Mark and I pulled out the camera, and now my professional Twitter and LinkedIn pages are all shiny and new.
But the process wasn’t easy, so I thought I’d share a little bit a tutorial here. Read on to see how we pulled it off…
What does it mean to be a woman today? That’s a question I’ve been struggling with since I was given the chance to collaborate with Thierry Mugler Angel on their #BewareofAngels campaign. Past campaigns have focused on women’s strength and fellowship in a way I deeply respect, so I want to do justice to the question. But where do I begin?
Being a woman today means being a little bit of everything, and a little bit of anything you like. In many ways, we are more confident and able than ever, with the ability to choose our own future, define our desires, and own our intentions. In other ways, we still find ourselves caught between our past and future selves.
The transformation from just our grandmothers’ generation, some of the first to be born into an America where women were allowed to vote, to our own is almost beyond comprehension. To think that such a metamorphosis has taken place in such a short time, it’s no wonder we sometimes struggle with our own perception of what it means to succeed as a woman today.
I won’t lie, I struggle with blogging a lot… with why we do it and what we have to contribute to the world. I believe in my soul that what we have to give is valuable. I also believe that this is hard work. It takes talent to be a successful blogger (and sometimes years of work to develop that talent.) But many women bloggers, especially those who’ve chosen to be stay at home – or work at home – moms, still face harsh criticism from those who feel they might be doing some sort of injustice to the feminist cause. Or worse, marrying for money and having babies for pageviews. Living meaningless lives on nothing more than rainbows and hugs.
But would you say the same to a professional photographer, writer, or designer?
Meaning is, in many ways, ambiguous. We find meaning in helping others, but we also find meaning in our passions and our pursuits.
If you’re really on top of things, you might’ve already realized that our DU website has been up(ish) for months. But you might’ve also realized that it was a looking a little neglected and glitchy. (Sorry about that!)
Since our launch in May, we’ve been working with our amazing friend Matt Novak (who did all of our awesome branding — which, really, is so perfect — in addition to designing our site) to get everything working smoothly before moving ahead. And now, finally, I’m so excited to share what we’ve done!
Things have been moving along so quickly with Dough Uprising that I’ve barely had a chance to stop and catch you up, so today I thought I’d do just that.
It’s not that we’ve taken any major new steps – actually even our website is still sort of in flux – but after a couple of months at the market, we now know for sure that we have a product we can sell. In fact, we’ve sold out or come close almost every week.
Of course, we’ve also gotten a lot better at guessing what it is we really need. Our first week was almost comical. We knew our current market was small, so we guessed at what small felt like to us, and we were oh so wrong. Turns out small is actually pretty big — close to our capacity in our little home oven.
So when we move to the markets in DC (which we hope to do next season) there’s no doubt in our minds that we’ll need to be cooking in a commercial kitchen.
But that’s where we come to our current hangup. Technically right now we could expand, easily. We have offers from multiple other markets where we’d love to be selling on other days of the week. And if we were to move to those markets we could probably make enough money to allow one of us to take it full time — for the summer.
The problem comes when summer ends. Sure the holidays should be great for pies, but then we don’t have much of an outlet from January to April or May. The reality is that it looks like our next step will need to be open a store front downtown, or open a store front on wheels. And that requires a big investment.
So at this point, we’re still plotting out our next steps… and while I’m sad that it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to tackle that big step right away, I’m so excited to know that it’s even an option.
There are, truly, a lot of ways this could have gone. Mark and I thought our pie rocked, but that didn’t mean everyone else would agree.
We’re lucky that they do. And for now, even if we have to stay small a little longer, I think that’s enough.
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piece of my work, but please do remember to link back.
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