A Goodbye of Sorts

May 4, 2015

Anyone who operates a home based baking business, be it cookies, cakes, or any other sweets knows full well the highs and lows that go along with doing so.  There’s the excitement of the ringing phone with a client calling providing you with an opportunity to create a new design, or a new email from a customer telling you how happy they are with their order.

However, you work alone, your schedule is not dictated by the times stated on a store-front window.  You can pass hour after hour with the only conversation being the one you are having with yourself.  The only interruption being the beeping of the oven timer.  There is no one handy to advise or critique you so you often turn to social media to break up your solitude and perhaps receive validation.  You post a picture of your latest creation on Instagram and quickly you receive feedback from cyberspace.

Your spouse, partner or children can be your greatest fan club and at times perhaps, your greatest distraction from keeping yourself on schedule.  There are so many other things you have to keep running smoothly besides your business and it’s all on your shoulders.  You don’t have an inventory manager to keep your baking supplies stocked and ensure ingredients are fresh.  There is nobody making certain that your packaging, ribbons and stationary are at adequate levels.  No secretary shows up every day to answer your emails in a timely manner, there’s no putting a customer on hold while you make dinner, fold loads of laundry and clean all your baking dishes and there’s no ghost writer making sure your blog is current and up to date.

Yet, because you love what you do you continue each day, to run your business and your home life and through dedication to both your family and your enterprise you make it all work.   Your family, your business, they are your loves and your passions.  Then one day you can see that things are starting to are move along at such a pace and in a direction that dictates you need to makes some changes to keep everything in balance, to keep yourself balanced.

Today is that day for me.  After having been baking and blogging here at The Vanilla Bean Baker since 2010 I have decided that it is necessary to go in a slightly different direction.  I knew it was coming when I started my candy and confection cart rental business, The Treat Trolley and over the past several months I was determining the best way to make the needed changes.  I simply don’t have enough hours in my days any longer to dedicate what is required to keep this blog running as it should.  I never posted more than three times a week and mostly posted less than that.  With both of my businesses operational now I know that I won’t have neither the time nor the energy that this blog site needs.  It is time for The Vanilla Bean Baker to become primarily a business site with the occasional blog posts.  This site will remain up until August 31, 2015 but today is my final post here.

I’m excited about what lays ahead for both The Vanilla Bean Baker and for The Treat Trolley and I as move forward with both these home-based enterprises, I want to thank all of you so very much for your years of loyalty here.  Your visits here have encouraged me, inspired me and humbled me.  I have met and made some priceless friendships through this site and I shall continue to treasure them and foster them through my Vanilla Bean Baker Twitter, Instagram, etc.

My new business site still looks somewhat familiar with my header and butterfly cookie logo and once I start posting a blog or two there, I hope you will visit from time to time.  If you want to order custom decorated cookies, please do so at my new site. Thanks again to all of you and I wish each of you much continued success with all of your endeavors.  With much gratitude and love…Paula

P.S.  I can’t post without a picture!  With the maple sugar season having come to an end for another year it’s time to purchase a few litres of maple syrup and bake yourself this Maple Mousse Butter Tart.  I made this for our ladies golf group while we were still in Florida and they all loved it.  I’m pretty certain you will too.  The recipe is Jennifer MacKenzie’s from LCBO’s Food and Drink Winter Holiday Issue.  The butter crust is lovely and comes together easily. Though the recipe has a few extra steps, trust me when I tell you that they are worth it.

Maple Mousse Butter Tart


I cracked my laptop screen a month ago while we were in Florida.  Upon our arrival back home in Canada at the end of March I packed it up and shipped it off to Acer for a screen replacement.  It just came in today and I’m so happy to be blogging again from it as I have some baking recipes to share with you.

First of all, back to Florida and the day I had the pleasure of meeting up with Merry-Jennifer for the first time.  You know how after you’ve been reading someone’s blog, following them on Twitter and Instagram you begin to know without a doubt that if you ever had the chance to meet them in person you’d not miss the opportunity to do so?  You just know that such a meeting would be a high point for you because you already love the person behind the wonderfully touching and expressive stories they’ve shared on their blog and spending some time with them would only serve to validate that your initial on-line impression of them was right on.

Such was it for me on a sunny and warm Thursday when I travelled from our rental in Brooksville to meet Merry-Jennifer for lunch at Chuy’s, just off I-75 North in Gainesville.  I arrived a little early and seated myself in the waiting area of the restaurant.  To my utter embarrassement, a young lady with dark hair and hospital scrubs walked up to the counter.  Seeing her from the side, I assumed it was Merry-Jennifer and I jumped up from the leather couch and said *Hi, it’s me!*  The lady turned to look at me with a startled and somewhat dumbfounded look which immediately told me that she was not Merry-Jennifer.  I apologized for mistaking her for someone else, returned to the couch with my cheeks flaming red while the young man working at the reservation area had a good chuckle.  In my weak defense, Merry-Jennifer was working that day and I thought however wrongly,  that she would be making a dash from the University Hospital to Chuy’s without taking the time to change out of her scrubs.  Given that she is an Assistant Professor of Medicine it never occured to me that she most likely wears a white lab coat at work and not scrubs when making her rounds.  I continued my wait and decided that I would not jump to any more conclusions until I knew for sure that it was the real Merry-Jennifer entering Chuy’s.

I didn’t have to wait long.  A few minutes later in she walked (no scrubs, no lab coat) turned to the couch, looked directly at me and asked “Paula?” to which I replied “Yes, Hi!” and after an exchange of warm hugs, we took our seats at our table and began what for me was the highlight of my two months in Florida.  Our time together was  relaxed, warm and wonderful.  Merry-Jennifer exudes warmth and she possesses a quiet grace that I quite admire.  Conversation between us was easy and I only wish that we could of had extended our time together.  I am so glad that we were able to meet, to talk, to share.  There is so much depth behind her large dark brown eyes and if you ever question the adage, “the eyese are the window to the soul” you just need to peer into Merry-Jennifer’s to understand that it is so.

Merry-Jennifer and I March 2015

Our luncheon together went by far too quickly for me but as I said earlier, Merry-Jennifer was kind enough to make time in her schedule for this get-together and though I wished we had hours more to visit, it was time to say our goodbyes.  I just hope that for anyone reading this, if there is someone you’ve met on-line that you would love to meet in person, if the opportunity ever presents itself to do so, grab it!  Life is too short not to make meaningful connections.

I made some cookies for Merry-Jennifer, Dr. Emoji cookies.

Dr. Emoji Cookies

Her patients are blessed to have her caring for them.  I am blessed for having met her.



Dry Roasted Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

February 27, 2015

In this house we love nuts!  Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate covered, you name it. Ron is a hard core peanut lover, shelled or unshelled.  He has (O.K., we have) been on a kick lately with dry roasted peanuts with sea salt.  So good! We also both love a soft and chewy peanut […]

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Toonies for Tummies

February 21, 2015

In November of 1989, the Canadian Government unanimously agreed to work together to end Childhood Poverty by the year 2000. That goal was not met then and here early into 2015, it’s not even close to being met. In fact, since 1989 though our economy has doubled, childhood poverty rates (according to Stats Canada) has […]

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Baking and Blogging from Florida – Easy Appetizer & Chocolate Cake

February 17, 2015

There are now five of the seven couples we regularly golf with who all live in the same community here in Florida.   Three are from Quebec, one is from Alberta and we of course, are from Ontario.  This year before we arrived, the group decided to get together every Friday evening for T.G.I.F. Each week a different […]

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Baking and Blogging From Florida – Bacon & Cheddar Biscuits

February 9, 2015

On our way to Florida there was a Ruby Tuesday’s right across from the hotel we stayed at on our second night.  We chose to eat our dinner there for convenience sake and while we were waiting for our main course to arrive, the server brought us warm cheese and garlic biscuits. They were very tasty […]

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Baking and Blogging from Florida!

February 4, 2015

Many of you know that Ron and I are currently in Florida and while we are here for an extended visit I plan on keeping in touch with everyone via Twitter, Instagram and of course, your blogs and mine.  We arrived at our rental last Tuesday after a two and a half days drive which […]

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Pet Lovers Valentines

January 21, 2015

The grand-girls were here this past weekend.  Friday was a PD day so I picked them up late Thursday afternoon.  We declared Friday to not only be a PD day but a PJ day as well!  Ella and Sophie were happy to not only be off from school but to not have to get dressed and […]

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Good Morning! Have a Piece of Cake…

January 15, 2015

On Monday I clicked on the link from a tweet by 100% Canadian Milk *…easily portable Breakfast Sunshine Cakes are a great alternative to morning muffins.* and when I saw the recipe they were promoting I bookmarked it, knowing full well that it wouldn’t be long before I tried it. Ron is a morning person and after reading his […]

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Holiday Wrap Up

January 7, 2015

It was a Christmas holiday to remember and in case we forget it over the years we do have lots of pictures!  The decorations and the tree were taken down on January 1st with help from grand-daughters Ella and Sophie and now here we are, a full week into 2015 already.  Is it just because I’m turning […]

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