May 5th, 2009

Yay! Off to Le Paris this weekend!

The thing about being a working mum is that some things end up being on a back-burner. Be it that towering pile of washing that needs folding or that strawberry plant (looking terribly sorry) which desperately needs watering. I look at these & think: “yes, I’ll do it when I get around to it”, but the fact is, I just about get around to it when it is soooo unbearable to look at, something has to be done or else…
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I think to myself, well, it’s alright, it’s inevitable, they are not nice to live with but I’ll get by. C’est la vie. (D might have a different opinion here…!) BUT! When it comes to spending quality time with my children – well, that shouldn’t get forfeited because of mummy working right?. Surely a breach of unspoken contract. I start every morning with that belief system, but recently… …:
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The other week my son asked me to put together a Thomas the Tank Engine cut-out. It looked really fiddly. I said, “Later, Love. I’m just washing the dishes”. He asked me again on another occasion – I said, “Maybe when baby S is having a nap because it’ll be difficult to concentrate if she’s around.” Then next it was “Maybe after dinner.” And then he’ll say “What about NOW, Mommy?!” I sigh “It’s too late now, it’s bedtime”.

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Thursday, Friday & Saturdays I work full hours +, so by the time I managed to stick together his Thomas was a shameful five days later. I know… I’m crap. And I’m not happy about it. Ever since my second baby is around, I’m just so extra busy, my son is getting less & less of my time. You might say it’s normal, but… when he WANTS TO LEARN how to use a chopstick, I SHOULD be able to spend some time with him to teach, not say “maybe another time…” like I do…

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I just don’t know how I’d cope as the children will need more & more of me as time goes. They’ll need help with homework & general guidance. And I can’t rely on their grandparents to look after them all the time. Something will have to give. Which reminds me of:
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A couple of months ago there were three shops/ restaurants asking me to start (wholesale) supplying cakes to them. Plus, I was invited to participate in a chocolate festival too. It really would have been a wonderful opportunity to expand my business. I’ve heard of success stories of similar beginnings. But HOW could I do it? I’m already up to my neck with everything – with cramming in work, parenting, & housekeeping. I could start employing someone for baking more, & a driver for deliveries. Maybe rent a bigger kitchen. I could even start another market too if I go down that road. I know exactly how to go about it. I could easily double my income. But no. It’s just too much. Too much. I can’t justify giving away anymore Mummy-time.
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These thoughts got me a little depressed at the time. Not sure exactly why. Maybe because it was a reality check that this is as far as it gets… Maybe I won’t be doing the market for long? When I see young families down the market, I occasionally feel wracked with guilt that I am forfeiting Saturdays (a family day) for my work. Maybe I ought to work at a supermarket check-out during school hours instead.
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Anyway, last weekend the side mirror of our car broke off (don’t ask how), & I’m transport-less to the market this coming Saturday.

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And, remember I told you that my brother lives in Paris? Well, it seems like he won’t be for long.

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So put the two together, the decision came about to take possibly the last opportunity to visit him there – with just my son, just the two of us, traveling on the Eurostar train that my son has been obsessively talking about the past two years (boys, eh?). We’ll be visiting Euro Disney! I’m planning on quality time with him all weekend!
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So, no trading this Saturday I’m afraid. Hope you understand…

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(By the way, have any of you been to Euro Disney? Any tips? Like, should I purchase the tickets in advance or just buy it at the entrance?)

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Update 06.05.09:

I just purchased the Euro Disney tickets online!

Update 10.05.09:

Just came back! Euro Disney was great!

37 Comments »

  1. Hi dear!
    Don’t despair. We working moms always have to juggle with so many things and sometimes too much. However I do believe it is all worth it, just hang in there. i too, try to spend whatever quality time i can get with my 2 young daughters and they appreciate it. I am sure your son would have a swell time at Euro Disney. Unfortunately I have not been there and can’t offer you any tips. I would however, recommend that you buy your tickets before your arrival there (just in case there is a crowd or something….).
    I love your blog and am constantly amazed at how much you can accomplish given the little time you have at your hands. Would visit you if I ever get the chance to visit London again.
    Hang in there!
    Love, Jean (in Singapore)

    Comment by Jean - May 5, 2009 2:15 am

  2. Hey Jean, thanks for your kind words…

    Comment by tamami - May 5, 2009 10:33 am

  3. hey tamami. (: it is always a better idea to buy tickets beforehand, unless there is a discount at the gates (which there rarely is).
    i hope your trip to paris is absolutely swell — oh, you lucky girl!

    most importantly, i hope you’ll find the perfect balance for it all, and that you’ll be happy.

    I hope you won’t mind me saying God bless you; you’ve been a great blessing! ^^

    Comment by kim - May 5, 2009 11:25 am

  4. Hello Tamami,
    Fret not..everyone goes through this time.
    You could try 5 minutes of meditation either before going to bed or in the morning to clear your head.
    About Euro-disney..make sure you get your hands on the FAST-PASS..it assures you priority access to the rides. That means you can bypass the long queues (which can be really long and irritating). The FAST-PASS is free, so make sure you go for it. I have been thrice to Euro-disney and discovered it only the third time (still feel like an idiot).
    –Thanks a million times for your lemon drizzle recipe which uses clarified butter looks awesome. Did you know that it i also called ghee in India ? It is as important to Indian food as olive oil to mediterranean cuisine. You eggless chocolate cake which uses vinegar and soya milk was a big success too.
    These days i m trying to replace most of the all-purpose flour by whole-wheatflour for health reasons.
    Have a great weekend with your son.

    Comment by Swati - May 5, 2009 11:39 am

  5. take heart, t! one of the best ways to ‘cope’ is not to wonder how to fit everything in–instead close your eyes, open your heart, & just do it!! thinking about it all will just freak you out. perhaps soon your son will be able to help you with some simple things in the kitchen :) soon enough the kids will start pre-/school & they will want to hang out with thier friends & volunteer mum to bake goodies for the boy/girl-friend in thier lives ;)have fun at euro-disney!

    Comment by petoskystone - May 5, 2009 12:16 pm

  6. たまみさん、

    I am cheering you on since that’s the only thing I can do, and I’d like you to know that you are a souce of my inspiration. いつも応援してます。

    You and your son will have a fabulous, fantastic, incredible time at Euro Disney
    (and on the train to get there).

    Comment by cocopuff - May 5, 2009 4:42 pm

  7. Thanks guys, I’m gonna look in to getting the tickets in advance – hopefully over the internet? And thanks for the great tip about FASTPASS – that bit of information is seriously gonna be useful & timesaving!!!
    Indeed, I need to find the right balance for me. It’s weird, normally I don’t sound so weak – I chug along with life quite well normally – Maybe I need this holiday as much as my son needs it!
    - Thanks again girls for your lovely comments. It means a lot to me than you realize! xxx

    Comment by tamami - May 5, 2009 6:45 pm

  8. Dear Tamami

    Would hiring even some part time help give you more time?

    It seems like you have a great opportunity to grow your business, but that requires you to work more hours or clone yourself. Til the scientists figure out the cloning thing, maybe getting some extra help in would be good? With the state the economy is in, it might be possible to find some bright young (or older!) things who would be willing to take on some interesting part time work in a growing business. I guess it will take work to get staff (and trust is always difficult) but it might help you reach some of your other goals – like being able to devote time to your family and seize these opportunities that have presented themselves?

    I mean this to be supportive and helpful – and really hope this comes across right. I send my best wishes as you grapple with these difficult – but very important – choices…

    kind regards

    Lucy

    Comment by Lucy - May 6, 2009 1:17 pm

  9. Hello Lucy, thank you for leaving your comment – I’m so seriously lucky to have someone like you that would spend time to think for me! THANK YOU.
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    I have been giving it a lot of thought about hiring part-timers. My idea was to hire mums in the neighbourhood – there are lots of mums desperate to find work that is just school hours y’see.
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    But it boils down to ‘trust’ as you have pointed out. I am a control freak!! And I’d hate it if they decide to quit on me OR simply don’t turn up – leaving me in the lurch. On the flip-side, I won’t be able to take a weekend-off on a whim like this time, if I become responsible of paying someone’s weekly wages.
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    Also, one of the charm points about my stall is the “I make it all by myself”…?
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    Oh I dunno… On one hand there is me wanting to be a perfect/ attentive mommy, & then there’s the super-eager busy-working-bee in me…Last week a place I know won the contract to supply wholesale cakes to a super huge department store. – It certainly made me think.

    Comment by tamami - May 6, 2009 11:34 pm

  10. Hi Tamami, sorry to hear you feeling so down. Not being a mum (yet) I can only imagine how you feel, but I do understand your frustration. The only bit of advice I can think of is… could you see about moving to a market that operates during the week? (Like Borough Market? Your stuff is as good as, and in some cases better than, pastries I’ve bought there, and I’m not just saying that to be nice!) That would at least free up your weekends a bit…

    Sounds like the weekend in Paris will do you good. Hope you have a great time and come back feeling better! xx

    Comment by Rachel - May 7, 2009 3:37 am

  11. Thanks Rachel!! I’m off in a mo! so just a quick thank you note! xxx

    Comment by tamami - May 7, 2009 11:43 am

  12. Hello Tamami-san

    Hajimemashite!! Got to know your blog through Nordljus, and I am really grad that I clicked on your name in the London Market comment section. I lived in York for about 1 year and I travel to London & York almost every year . Never visited Hackney unfortunately (Japanese guide books kinda advise against it) so I haven’t got a chance to go to Broadway Market yet, but I’ll definately put the place on my where-to-go list!

    I *really* love your writing and look forward to the next post!

    Comment by Yumi - May 9, 2009 4:03 am

  13. Yumi san,
    Arigatougozaimasu!! Giggle! Funny that Hackney is not recommended in the Japanese guide books…! I guess it’s rougher than, say, posh areas of London. But I much prefer Hackney – it’s where you’ll see people with charm! ロンドンに遊びに来る際には是非ストールに寄って下さいねっ!
    珠美

    Comment by tamami - May 10, 2009 6:02 pm

  14. Hi Tamami, hope you’ve had a great time in Paris and you feel newly inspired and refreshed…but probably quite tired as well after a busy time no doubt! As you offered such kind words and advice when I asked for it i feel i should join all the lovely people on this blog who’ve offered you the same at your time of need. If you remember when I last blogged i was about to set up a stall in Derbyshire…I have taken steps like practising my recipes, registering with the council etc. but keep having severe doubts how I’m actually going to work everything inc. weather to use a child minder for just a few hours a week before and after school. The guilt about trying to be superwomen and juggle children, work etc I think will always be there and I think it just means we must be conscientious mums who want the best for our kids, which can’t be a bad thing eh? Sometimes though it’s just hard to make decisions for feel they might be wrong,but i think your kids will learn a lot from their creative hardworking mum and I’m sure wahtever decision you come to will be right if you think about living for the moment because that’s all we trully have.(sorry for any really bad spellings, i’m in a rush…to get to school!) xx Sara

    Comment by sara davies - May 11, 2009 2:10 pm

  15. Sara, thank you for taking the time to write me a comment.

    Isn’t it just amazing that there are people like you out there that would spend the time to write here for me. I’m awe-struck…

    You are in the same shoes as me. I feel exactly the same – ‘living for the moment’ is a motto I’ve been trying to do – but like you say there is always that nagging ‘guilt’ element, right? I guess all we have to do is to march on never-the-less! It’s not like as if a million pounds is gonna fly itself in to our pockets! – Good luck with your business, I sincerely hope it works out for you. xx

    Comment by tamami - May 11, 2009 9:56 pm

  16. Thanks Tamami and I really must try and practise what i preach! Looks like i was right,that you gained plenty of inspiration( and goodies!) from Paris and no doubt the time away will have given you some space to think. Like other people on this blog have already said, children and their needs change all the time.We only have 1 daughter(nearly 7) but still find it difficult to fit everything in as my husband works full time,I have 2 part time jobs at the moment (inc. working saturdays and one of which will have to go if the stall takes off! ) so it must be very difficult with a baby as well for you.A very creative(she’s got to be in every sense of the word!) photographer friend of mine has a 6 yr old and a 2yr old and she is trying to get her photography business off the ground(we also have an allotment together which is seriously neglected at the moment!)but she often struggles juggling everything like us but it’s good to know we’re not on our own,and I’m sure you have many friends in the same boat.You’re an inspiration to us all so please find continued strength!x Sara

    Comment by sara davies - May 12, 2009 10:07 am

  17. Hi Sara, thank you for your kind words. It gives me strength. – I’m hoping that maybe when the little one goes to 9 – 3.30pm schooling at age 4 I’ll look into doing more challenging things.
    As for you, I’m impressed that you hold two part-time jobs! And yet, you want to do more for yourself! WOW! xx

    Comment by tamami - May 12, 2009 10:47 am

  18. I often feel like you do … and I’ve only one HoneyB. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you esp. since it is busier you are getting.

    When I was growing up my parents were busy running a business … and now that I’m all grown up with kid of my own, I look back with total admiration and pride at their acheivements, 4 loved children and a successful shop.

    I’m about to read your Paris post … I bet that you have been revitalised!

    Comment by gillian - May 13, 2009 12:56 pm

  19. Hi Gillian.
    I get tonnes of help from my parents & if they can’t, I ask my local mum-friends for childcare. My mother was a stay-at-home type – always good food on the table, everyday. Now that it is my turn, I realize how tiring it all is. Cook, no, shop first, then cook, feed, & wash the dishes… Mind you, thank goodness for dish-washers!! ^^

    Comment by tamami - May 13, 2009 8:40 pm

  20. Dear Tamami. What a wonderful blog/website so interesting and helpful to us starting up! I am just setting up a small trufle business and it’s hard work but with your tips it makes life much easier to know there is someone who has been before you.Perhaps you can help me what can I charge for a 100g box of truffles,and I also use Keylink! and I agree with you on El Rey, and Valrhona if you want something a little special. I am tempering my chocolate and it is trial and error, but stick with it practise make perfect! Like you I am doing a Farmers Market to get myself known, and it does help. I admire your determination, and your blg is one of the best I have seen around relating to people sarting up, thank-you so much.If in future I need some help can I get back to you is that ok? Take care and look forward to hearing from you Jane/Cacao Brown.

    Comment by Janie - June 10, 2009 1:03 pm

  21. Hello Janie, thank you for your lovely comment!!
    How many truffles can you get in a 100g box? I think pricing can be trial and error – for example, I can probably get away with charging 20p more per truffle if I were to trade in Chelsea…

    Comment by tamami - June 10, 2009 3:08 pm

  22. Dear Tamami, Thanks for getting back to me. I am sorry to hear that you havn’t been too well, do take care! In a 125g flat box I can get6 large truffles, I always put a ribbon around the box and my label.In this area the price seems to be 8.99, I certainly don’t want to over price but I want to be fair, what would you suggest I charge in your experience. Anyway enjoy to-day as the sun is shining.
    look forward to your reply. Best wishes Janie.

    Comment by Janie - June 14, 2009 10:12 am

  23. Hi Janie,
    I see, 6 truffles. To give you an idea, I sell 12 truffles in a quality canvas box (with my label) for £10.50.
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    It is probably a lot cheaper than you thought – & THAT is exactly the selling tactic. When you’re not so established, you want regular customers who’d come back to buy more – you want them to think it is good value for money – At first, they don’t know how good your stuff is, so how can they spend their hard-earned money on it? The answer is to be accessible – & THAT leads to good customer relations = regular customers.
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    Hope this helps! Good luck!

    Comment by tamami - June 14, 2009 10:52 pm

  24. Dear Tamami. Thanks for getting back to me re prices. I had thought of what you had quoted but needed a bit of help! and I do see the logic behind the psychology of it all. Out of interest when you first started how many boxes did you put out on your stall, I always tend to put out too many and land up with a lot afterwards! but I suppose that comes with practise.I am going to use some El REY chocolate to day and as I have never used it before it will be great to see how it turns out. I suppose choosing which chocolate to use for which truffle is a personal thing. I know some people choose milk chocolate to make brandy trufles instead of dark, there seems to be no hard and fast rule, would you agree with that?Anyway it is so nice to be able to email you , and get fed back from you. Again I think you blog is just great and it’s nice that you are there! and we have somewhere to turn to in times of what do I do now!situations. Look forward to hearing from you, best wishes Janie.

    Comment by Janie - June 18, 2009 10:09 am

  25. Hi Janie, sorry for the late reply – I often can’t reply on Thursdays & Fridays, & sometimes Saturdays because I’m busy…
    Anyway, about your boxes conundrum…
    I have one filled up box on display (lid open). And some (2 or 3) filled up boxes that are shut. If the customer wishes for his/her own choices, I fill boxes ‘on the go’ (put the truffles in the boxes in front of the customer – they can pick & choose).
    - I think Janie, it is best to just do what ever you want to & adapt as you go along…

    Comment by tamami - June 20, 2009 8:57 pm

  26. Dear Tamami. Thanks for your reply. I do understand how busy you are. Yes, I agree one has to find one’s own feel about things! I did Richmond F Mkt yesterday and we had a really good d ay , I kept within your price list to get the feel of things, and it worked. Like you I love working with chocolate ,and also love putting a lot of work into the presentation. I have a long way to go, but we are geting there. Thank-you for being there. Wll be in touch! adios Janie

    Comment by Janie - June 21, 2009 10:51 am

  27. Hello Janie. Wow! I’m glad to hear things went well at your market! Good luck with your new venture, & do let me know how it pans out! xx

    Comment by Tamami - June 21, 2009 11:22 am

  28. Dear Tamami. Will do, and thanks for being there! janiexI will keep in touch.

    Comment by Janie - June 23, 2009 12:25 pm

  29. Hi Tamami:
    I know *exactly* how you’re feeling right now. Stretched to the limit, and frustrated, too! I have four kids and I started my own baking business when the youngest was two. The business took off and the demand for the products (mostly gluten-free baked goods sold through stores and every sort of custom dessert sold through my website) grew so huge that I had to make a tough decision – expand, scale-back, or shut down. I could barely keep up with the orders that were coming in and couldn’t face the prospect of disappointing my customers.
    I am also a bit of a control freak and I didn’t want to take on bakers who would do all the baking. I did hire occasional help to work *with* me, baking and packaging. Because I love to bake, I didn’t want to leave the baking to focus on the business/finance/marketing side of things that major expansion would have required. Yikes! I did shut down the business to focus on being a full-time mum again, and after seven years, I started working as a baker for someone else, three days a week. Regrets? Yes, a few, but I had to trust myself to know what was right for my family. If I have any advice for you, it would be not to expand too big too quickly. Keep up what you’re doing, just find a way to make it work better, if possible. Maybe a babysitter on Fridays? Your kids will grow up very quickly (I always say, “The days are long, but the years are short.”) and THEN you can take over the baking universe!

    Comment by Heather - July 4, 2009 1:34 pm

  30. Hello Heather.
    Thank you very much for your insight on your experiences. I’m so glad you wrote to me – like you say, you are (or were) in the same shoes as me – but again, like you say, I believe ‘family’ has to come first. I think I’ll have more ‘regrets’ if not, y’know? – Maybe I’ll follow in your footsteps, I don’t know. Right now, I’m in a process of setting up ‘something-else’ that can also work alongside being a mum. i don’t want to build an empire like Martha Stewart – not remotely anything like it – but I do have a burning ambition to be a little bit more that a market stall holder…
    Anyway, thank you once again for writing here!

    Comment by tamami - July 4, 2009 8:40 pm

  31. Dear Tamami. How is it going? Each week I home in on your blog and am fascinated by what you make and how you do it! RFM is great, and now getting some good results and feed back from people. Perhaps you can help, what would you charge for chocolate tarts and also a slice of chocolate brandy cake? and also can you tell me where I would buy small price stands like yours. And Last wek I popped into Artisan du Chocolate in Sloane SQ all I can say is AMAZING! anyway keep up the good work, love Janiex

    Comment by Janie - July 20, 2009 10:19 am

  32. I’m glad to hear you are doing well Janie. Re: price stands, I really can’t remember but it was online… & as for prices, I sell my small heart shape tart at 3 pounds, & slices are from 2 to 2.50. Obviously, we have different sort of crowd though, & you have to figure out how much it costs you to make it, etc to work out if it a good margin…

    Comment by tamami - July 20, 2009 11:39 am

  33. Dear Tamami. How are you and how was saturday? Your Flourless moist chocolate cake I would love to make, is it just as you say or is there more to it? Another thing, is it worth being vat registered? at the moment I am only dealing with individuals and not companies. Do you ever come over this way? AS IT WOULD BE GREAT TO MEET YOU.Anyway look forward to hearing from you. best wishes janiex

    Comment by Janie - July 27, 2009 12:14 pm

  34. Hi Janie, Saturday was good! Vat thing, up to you. Choc cake, I’m sure you’ll find similar recipes online. I never get to venture out to anywhere nowadays!!! If you ever have a free Sat, you can see me at my Market?

    Comment by tamami - July 27, 2009 9:45 pm

  35. Dear Tamami
    Thanks for repyling back to me. When I have a free saturday I will pop over to see you,I know that part of London quite well.
    Anyway I hope things keep going well for you, all the best Janiex

    Comment by Janie - July 31, 2009 12:27 pm

  36. I’ll look forward to seeing you one day then! ;)

    Comment by tamami - July 31, 2009 4:55 pm

  37. Definately .

    Comment by Janie - August 14, 2009 9:30 am

 

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