Happy Friday, darlings! Brown Butter Bits is my weekly roundup of things I’m loving this week, things happening this week, things I’m interested this week…well you get the point. Why “Brown Butter Bits”? They are the best parts of browning butter.
-The sunsets here in Arizona have been amazing lately! Take a look at the picture above.
-I’ve been researching gardening, fruit trees, and flowers for when we get into our house. My favorite flowers, ranunculus, supposedly do well in the Arizona weather. The yard I once thought was so small, now seems enormous when I think about all the plants, pavers, and garden boxes we will need…yikes.
-I’m reading a number of cookbooks, but also picked up Chip & Joanna Gaines book. Pretty good. All about how they met and started their now empire. I think when we see people who are on the upswing of success, we often think it was incredibly easy. In this book, the Gaines are very honest about their challenges, and it’s refreshing. Plus they are an adorable couple.
-Hulu has all season of Golden Girls, which I spent a couple weeks re-watching, and now I’m watching Wings. I know, insane. But I was not really at an age when these shows were on where I really watched them let alone comprehended them.
-Amazon Prime Day for the win! We got a great deal on a Ring doorbell. No more answering the door for us.
-I am loving cooking in my own kitchen again. It’s so nice to have all my cooking equipment back in one space. It’s just a little strange, as always, getting used to a new kitchen space. Check back here on Monday for a new recipe. :o)
Originally this post was stuffed full of wonderful photos I had taken of the new home we were in the process of purchasing. It was situated on 1.4 acres of land in Phoenix and we were so excited. A new home for Christmas and the bebe’s first Christmas to boot!
We sold our house in Gilbert, packed up all our belongings and hauled them to storage, moved into my parents living room with our Tuft & Needle mattress and a few boxes of our belongings for a couple weeks until we closed. And then the appraisal happened.
If you don’t know, the appraisal is the part of the home buying process where a 3rd party you hire comes and evaluates if the property is worth what you are paying for it. They save this inspection until last, and our sweet little house with the red door and the 1.4 acres of land appraised $30,000 less than what we were paying. The sellers didn’t want to drop the price, and asked us for a week to take all the bills for the money they had spent to remodel the house back to the appraiser to see if that would bring up the price. We saw this sinking ship before us and decided to jump back into the house hunting pool.
Quickly, we came upon another house. Back in the area we wanted to be in, and plenty large enough for us to grow into. There was no 1.4 acre lot, but we fell in love with the house and the neighborhood. And there was plenty of room for me to have some backyard chickens and citrus trees. And then the inspection happened.
A bunch of little things came up, but two big things, the pool they supposedly had replastered (unfortunately, it had not been and would have cost $6,000 to redo) and the roof, of which we needed a whole new one! We went back and asked for the $10,000 to re-roof a brand new house priced at the top of the market for the area. This afternoon they told us no way. We walked away.
To say we are crushed is an understatement. We had fallen in love with both houses. And now we have no home and no prospective home. To the greedy grinch house flippers of the world, I say bah-hum-bug! Do things the right way and make the house safe, then add some nice touches to it. Do a good job and people will pay you top dollar for the houses you rehab.
I honestly don’t know what we are going to do now. Retreat. Lick our wounds. Figure out a game plan. Head back out into the fray. There just seems to be nothing we like anywhere in the area we would like to be in (and it’s a rather large area). It’s discouraging, but I do believe we will be in the right place for us. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later. Send us some good vibes and let me know in the comments below if you have a really insane house buying story. I could use some commiseration or a good laugh right about now.
And now for some food business…
I’m looking forward to getting back into teaching some cooking classes, probably in the middle of the new year. I’m currently working on the curriculum for the classes. Every class I teach I learn something more I want to expand on or add or edit out.
I am searching for a great location to teach the classes, so let me know if you know of a great space or see anything while out and about.
I have also started to freelance again. The goal was always to get back into writing more, and now writing seems to fit into my schedule a little better than baking full-time.
You may notice that everything on the Pistol Whipped Pastry website, with the exception of some apparel items, are listed as sold out. Since we just had a baby, and it’s her first Christmas, I am taking a break for the holidays. We will be updating the website with some old favorites, new products, and some new branding (woot woot!) come February.
Lets leave this kind of sad post on a happy note, and feel free to comment below with any of your holiday baking questions. I will be more than happy to take a little time in another post to try to answer and help you all out with your holiday baking projects.
Before we go, you should definitely go check out the interview I did recently with my friend Marlee for her blog, I Just Make Sandwiches, where I answer baking questions from her readers.
Lastly, send us some love and cross your fingers we find the right house soon, as I desperately need to have my own kitchen again. Bakers gotta bake. Am I right?
There is something about the beach that makes you want to write bad poetry about waves being metaphors for life, have a clam bake, and drink copious amounts of wine or coffee while plucking up seashells. The sound of water and gulls, the smell of sweet salty air, the waves crashing and rolling up to engulf your feet and the sand squishing between your toes.
I’m not a sun-worshiper. Being fair and freckled doesn’t make for good sunning. But hitting the beach at the tail-end of the season, is perfect. Less crowds, cooler weather, lots of long walks on the beach with Mr. PC, seashell hunting, and tumblers of wine sipped sitting in the sand, watching the water.
Mr. PC signed us up for his family vacation to Corolla, North Carolina on Duck Island. In past years, when his aunt and uncle rent a beach house for a week, we have been unable to attend. This year, knowing my business is picking up and that he has some big projects that will prevent us from traveling, we made the trek to the east coast.
I baked a bit on this trip, stowing away a baking pan, scale, measuring spoons and microplane in my luggage. Cinnamon rolls, a German chocolate cake, and pineapple mojitos. It’s actually a lot of fun to go into a kitchen and not know what is in there, and then figure out how to make what you need without the typical tools. Some of the best restaurants or coffee shops I’ve worked at have been those that don’t have large budgets and where we have to get creative when it comes to tools or baking vessels. It pushes you to be inventive.
Everyone contributed a little. Paella was whipped up one night, someone brought BBQ from a restaurant in Memphis, others picked up pizzas and champagne. As each bottle of alcohol was emptied, they were placed up on window ledge in the living room, over the sliding doors – a remembrance to the good times had by all while partaking.
Mostly, this trip let me recharge a little. I read magazines and cookbooks. Daydreamed new pastry and cooking class ideas. Walked on the beach with my hubby. Drank (we brought Sand-Reckoner, Pillsbury, Dos Cabezas, and Arizona Distilling Co. with us, so everyone could try some Arizona goodies. Well, and some Pistol Whipped Pastry of course!) and ate a massive meal of clam chowder, shrimp, and crab cakes. Slept. Climbed to the top of an old lighthouse. Realized after said climb what poor shape we are in. It was just the break we needed before coming home and diving into work.
On this trip I met Mr. PC’s extended family. His cousins and their families were unable to make it to our wedding. Completely understandable, since everyone has busy lives and with a country between us, it can be challenging for all of us to get together. I was happy to finally meet everyone and have the opportunity to get to know his aunt, uncle and cousins better.
At the end of our journey, we ate the best soft pretzel and mustard (Lusty Monk) we’ve ever had at a brewery called Weeping Radish on the road back to Norfolk, Virgina. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. PC stashed a portion cup of the mustard into our carry on, which I found when unpacking later that night.
Now we are home and the weather is becoming beautiful again here in Phoenix. Our suitcases are still laying on the floor half unpacked. My seashell collection is stilled wrapped in Mr. PC’s tshirts and stuffed inside the alcohol travel tubes. Mr. PC is busy with work, and I am knee-deep in lots of Pistol Whipped Pastry plans. The beach was fun, but back to the grind of work and life. It helps that I also have a case of Lusty Monk mustard coming our way. And I am still finding sand everywhere, even in the pockets of my favorite hoodie.
Summers in Arizona for restaurants and bakeries or any hospitality business here is slow. Super slow. I assumed this would give me time to relax, daydream, and plan for the upcoming season. Yeah, not so much. I have been consistently busy planning and plotting with the odd job here and there, that I feel like I haven’t been able to spend much time playing with all my new ideas.
Mondays are my creative days. Well, I do office work too, but I give myself space to write recipes, test recipes, and flip through my cookbooks and mags that are piling up on my desk, and finally organize the bobs and bits around my messy office.
Daydream Mondays allow for endless cups of coffee, slices of leftover dark chocolate cake for lunch, and wine time arriving whenever the day demands and permits. Bowls of sweet plum slices for snack while catching up on emails or sorting through boxes of baking tools that will be used and abused this upcoming season. I don’t have to be anywhere or have to meet any deadlines. The day takes shape however I need it to, plus it’s alone time in my home office and kitchen to be by myself.
It’s simple and not the break I had hoped for, but the business is growing and starting to find its shape, and I am so grateful for this progress.
Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to Williams-Sonoma Biltmore for the Artisan Market. We love being able to do these events and spread the word about what we are doing at Pistol Whipped Pastry.
Happy Monday, friends!
Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.