Love & Butter & Muscle: Who Needs The Gym When You Have a Bakery?

In case anyone’s wondering where I’ve been for the past few days–no, I did not zoom off on another vacation while forgetting to blog ahead. I’m back at work, ok?  For a former teacher, the idea that “work” now means playing with dough and chocolate is pretty darn delightful. But last week the delight caught up with me.

See, Holly B’s reopened last week under new ownership. I cut my road trip short to fly home to prep for the opening, and I have no regrets. It was a BLAST, being in on the ground floor of a new enterprise (or a newly-imagined, beloved old enterprise, since Holly B’s turns 40 this year).

(image courtesy Stephanie Smith)

(image courtesy Stephanie Smith)

It was also EXHAUSTING. The reason I haven’t blogged yet? I’ve been resting up.

Long story short: we’ve switched croissant recipes. Turns out this new one involves more than twice the number of steps as the old one (mix, rest, roll, encase butter, roll, chill, roll, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill…ah, darn it, I’ve lost count, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have croissants yet…). It also takes approximately 15 times the arm strength. That. Dough. Is. STIFF.

But just look at all those layers! (remaining images courtesy Ann Hoag)

But just look at all those layers! (remaining images courtesy Ann Hoag)

Now, I’ve been doing my little weenie weights and push-ups like a good girl, but I’m a distance runner, people. Let’s just say my arms are NOT responsible for my Personal Bests.

...and these...Worth the sweat. Totally.

…and these…Worth the sweat. Totally.

At one point, mid-way through the second day’s croissant dough batch, around slab number 9 or thereabouts, I started whining like a two year-old. If my younger and WAY STRONGER colleague Ann hadn’t been there to shoulder (and bicep, and tricep) the dough burden, our poor new boss would have been there finishing it herself at midnight, ’cause my arms were DONE.

The good news? The new owner is buying a “sheeter” to do our rolling for us. The bad? It won’t be here for another three weeks at least. So, I guess the better news is…I can quit with the weights and the push-ups for now. This croissant dough will be my free gym.

Oh, you look all sweet and innocent NOW, you little boogers...

Oh, you look all sweet and innocent NOW, you little boogers…

Seriously, though…I LOVE my job. I am the luckiest tired lil’ baker in the west. And if I don’t blog again for awhile…well, now you know why. C’mon, sheeter!



Commuting: Let’s See If We Can Spice That Boring Word Up, Shall We?

I’ve been thinking about the word “commute.” Could there BE a less descriptive word? 

My friend Iris just posted a very moving piece about her morning commute, which happens to include a ferry ride that most folks would pay to take. (Congrats again, Iris, on the latest step in your retirement from a long nursing career!)

I used to have a 25 minute commute to my school, mostly ugly interstate, which I blanked out by listening to the news. Gotta admit, I hear less news now. Somehow the world manages to turn anyway.

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My former principal and his wife used to commute an hour and a half each way to their jobs in Tacoma…jobs which started at 6:45 am! Those are practically baker’s hours.

I know about baker’s hours now. I’ve noticed that folks gasp and shake their heads when I tell them I get up at 3:45 for a regular shift, or 3:15 if I’m head-baking and want to get a head-start. (Next week, as the bakery gears up for July Fourth, which is like Black Friday for retailers, some of us bakers will be getting up at 2, and on the Fourth itself, starting work at 2.)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

Thing is, though, this is only a part-time job for me. Getting up before sunrise on the daily? No thanks. But three times a week…turns out it’s kinda cool.

So I’ve been experimenting with biking to work.

I used to do that only when I worked up front at the counter–i.e., during daylight hours. People would admiringly ask if I did that when I baked and I would respond, politely, “No, I need more sleep than that,” all the while thinking, “Are you NUTS? Bike at 3:30 in the morning??”

Guess what? I AM nuts. I LOVE biking at 3:30 in the morning.

3:20, to be exact. If I leave then, I arrive @ 4:15 (taking the most direct route, which I usually avoid due to traffic, but at 3:20, it’s just me and the deer). That gives me enough time to change clothes and slurp down a bowl of yogurt before diving into the dough.

I have great bike lights, rear and front (except when I forget to charge my headlamp and it goes out on me–but that’s another story). When it’s starry, I have stars to gaze at, though I really do need to keep my eyes on the road because our deer are legendarily STUPID. I do NOT fancy hitting a deer in the dark. Last month I had a big, fat, lopsided pumpkin of a moon off to the west. Hints of sunrise beckon in the direction of my ride. And now, at midsummer, the sun’s doing more than hinting, it’s coloring the bay pink and purple as I speed down the hill toward the village.

Am I more tired at the end of a baking shift if I’ve biked in? Sure–but I’m infinitely more satisfied. And, once I get myself home–okay, I’ll admit, biking home is the hard part, when fatigue is riding along with me–I don’t have to worry about waking myself up later for a workout. I am DONE. Best. Nap. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong: I won’t be doing this every day. Biking takes 40 more minutes than driving, and those 40 minutes would pack a cumulative wallop of sleep deprivation if I missed ’em too often.

But those days when I do bike in? I’ll be baking with a big, smug smile.

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

What does “commuting” mean to you? Is there any opportunity to be gleaned from it? Favorite radio show, music, digital books? Kid time? What’s the coolest commute you know of? How do YOU make that boring word a little more descriptive?