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Menorca Photo Challenge by Chris

In May, Chris went to Menorca, Spain for 2 1/2 weeks for a work exercise. Seriously… he gets to go to all the cool places :)

He’ll laugh at me for writing that, because in reality yes, he gets to go to some pretty awesome places, but he also works 10-12 hours a day while he’s there and often only gets to sightsee at night, if at all. Fortunately, he had a few days in Menorca where he got a chance to explore in daylight and even got to go to the beach after work once!

Before he left, I slipped a little Menorca Photo Challenge into his suitcase, just for a bit of fun :)

So here’s Spain according to Chris’ Menorca Photo Challenge:

 

1) Your hotel room

2) Top 3 things you ate

Yes, there are only 2. He forgot to take pictures while he was eating too many times :)

3) A church

4) A self-portrait at work

5) Clouds

6) Something touristy

7) Something you do every day

8) The beach

9) The ocean

10) A boat

11) Something very Spanish

12) A plant

13) Architecture

14) Something colorful

15) Night

 

Easter Break

Looking back it feels like March and April were just one big whirlwind of cake, cake, and more cake. We were so blessed to have so many orders to fill so soon after opening, but Katrine and I hadn't figured out our groove yet and unfortunately took on too many orders for the two of us to sanely handle. We got everything done we needed to, but it meant a lot of 70 hour work weeks and we were completely and utterly exhausted and very close to our breaking point by the time Easter rolled around. Fortunately, Easter is a week-long work holiday here in Norway so we made the most of it and finally gave ourselves a little break. I can't even express how desperately it was needed. Especially since it meant Chris and I finally got to have some work-free time to ourselves for the first time in what felt like months.

One morning a day or two into the break, I woke up to a strange sound in the backyard. In my half-asleep state I couldn't figue out what it was, but then I realized with a start that it was the same bleating sound of baby sheep I had heard a week before out at Utstein Kloster! I jumped out of bed and over to the window so fast it woke Chris up in a bit of a panic. He was not as enthused as I was as I excitedly pointed out the window whispering, “Baby sheep! Baby sheep!”

But lo and behold, our backyard was full of soft and fluffy little lambs and it was so fun to watch them run and frolick in the spring sunshine all of Easter break!

Skittles does NOT like the sheep in the backyard. Whenever she sees them pass by our window she starts screaming at the top of her lungs. I assume it's a territorial thing, but it got especially bad with the baby sheep dashing about all day. When we bring her outside to look at the sheep up close, she suddenly gets all timid and hides in my hair. She talks all big when she's safe behind a window, but is a total chicken when it comes down to it. We are working on this…
 
Enjoying the most of the beautiful spring sunshine and weather while I could, I also used the break to get my patio container garden started again. This spring I expanded on last year's radishes, carrots, kale, peas, and broccoli with a potted rhubarb plant, green beans, spinach and five bags of potatoes. We'll see how it goes!

Between the arrival of the little lambs and the much-needed break from work the holiday afforded, there was a heightened sense of symbolism for me during Easter this year. It never got fully fleshed out into a spiritual thought in my mind, but watching the lambs in connection with the celebration of Easter was a definite reminder of the atonement and sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the peace that it brings to our lives that is the true meaning of Easter.

 

Baby sheep!
One Saturday in April I was finishing up a wedding cake delivery near Utstein Kloster (the ancient monastery on one of the islands north of Stavanger), when what should appear but….
LITTLE BABY LAMBS!!

I may have gotten a little overly excited and pulled off to the side of the road to grab the camera (which was luckily in the back seat of the car) to document the cuteness overload!
The area around Utstein Kloster is one of my favorite drives. I love it when I have a wedding cake delivery up there and have the excuse to make the trip. Even though it wasn’t quite spring yet, it was as idyllic as ever. Throw the sheep into the mix and I just couldn’t stop taking pictures! It was definitely one of those “I love living in Norway!” sort of days!
 

 

Slikkepotten Grand Opening
On March 22nd we opened Slikkepotten kakebutikk’s doors to the public for the first time! It was such an exciting event! Loads of people turned up, we had hundreds of free cupcakes in our favorite flavors, there were raffles and giveaways, and overall just a ton of love and support! We are so grateful for all of you who came to celebrate with us that day!
Doing the official welcome speeches and ribbon cutting. We had to do it inside since it was POURING rain outside (in typical Stavanger fashion)
And we’re open for business!!

The hard work definitely hasn’t ended, but after such a successful grand opening day, we have high hopes for what the future of Slikkepotten kakebutikk has in store! Thank you again for all of you who offer us your continuing love and support!

 

Slikkepotten kakbutikk Buildout
Katrine and I had our work cut out for us once we took over the chocolate shop and began turning it into Slikkepotten kakebutikk. We had less than 3 weeks from getting the keys to our Grand Opening! The place was pretty dirty and needed a few new coats of paint. So we put the word out to all our friends in the area that we needed help and boy do we have amazing friends!
Since I knew I wouldn’t have the time to blog about this for a while, I took the time later that night to write down my thoughts about the day. I thought I’d share them now:
 
Tonight my heart is so incredibly full. I feel so unbelievably blessed and happy. What I thought was going to be a very stressful and exaughsting end to a very stressful and exhausting week turned out to be a day full of friendship and fun and an outpouring of the spirit.
This week was an extremely stressful week. I had 3 major cakes due before Wednesday, my first-ever cake decorating class to teach on Thursday, and five cakes due at the end of the week, on top of trying to get Slikkepotten up and running and launched. I averaged about 4 hours of sleep each night if I was lucky and felt in a constant state of panic.
Our new location was in desperate need of a scouring. It was awful and filthy and needed lots of paint and scrubbing. We knew there was no way we could do it all ourselves and still be able to make our grand opening deadline, so we created a Vennerdugnad (Norwegian for group service gathering thing) event to invite our friends to help out. We expected around 11 based on the response on Facebook and we were thrilled! We had a huge list drawn up and we figured with 11 people we’d be able to get most of it done. Yay!
This morning I had cakes to finish, so I showed up for the cleaning a little late. When I finally made it, I found the place PACKED. My friends and Katrine’s friends were already tackling the grime at an incredible rate! They would finish their jobs and beg for more! I was completely blown away! More filtered in throughout the day and I think when all was said and done we had at least 25 people who had come to help. We blew through the painting and the place was soon actually clean! Everyone was so cheerful and so willing to help us get even the worst tasks done without the slightest hesitation. A few ladies from church (Stephanie and Carrie) cleaned nasty closets, on top of pipes, and in the disgusting floor drains (places Katrine and I were afraid to touch) and wouldn’t let us tell them they didn’t have to clean there.Two of my Young Women beehives stayed and cleaned and painted and worked so hard for 7 full hours, and afterwards all they could talk about was how much fun they had getting the chance to serve. We laughed and all had a blast! They made friends with each other and the Norwegians helped the Americans with their Norsk and all everyone said was how much fun they were having. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole day!
We quickly finished everything on the list Katrine and I had made (and hoped we MIGHT be able to finish) and still people were wanting to help so we started scrambling to find tasks for them to do that we couldn’t dream we’d actually be able to accomplish before opening, or even in the first year. The place looks absolutely incredible!
At one point all 8 of the missionaries showed up to help and they stayed until the last possible moment. They (and all the other ward members who came) brought such a wonderful spirit with them that people noticed. One of Katrine’s friends, while painting alongside the elders, began asking questions about the church because she “could see a glow about them”. Over half of the people that showed up were members from the ward and they defintiely made their presence known in the best possible way.
I can’t even express how utterly overwhelmed I feel right now by such an outpouring of friendship and support (I’m actually bawling a little bit as I’m writing this). Having so many people show up who were so supportive and excited about our little cake venture was awesome in the truest sense of the word. They all believed so much in what we are doing and were so excited for us that they were willing to give up an entire Saturday to get down and dirty to help us out. I often feel so stressed out and disheartened by this whole thing, so you all have no idea how much this meant to me. I often feel so inadequate and terrified of failing. But to see so many people who believed in us and supported what we are doing was more uplifting than you could ever imagine. It reminded me again of what a presence our Heavenly Father has in my life and how he blesses me in small ways that turn out to be huge ways. To you it might have just been a day of cleaning, but to me…I haven’t felt such an outpouring of love and service and freindship like this in a very long time. What I thought would be just a typical dugnad turned out to be a day I will treasure forever. I’m grateful I will be reminded of it everytime I walk into work and see the lovely paint job and know that we can start our cake shop fresh and clean. My heart is so full and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart! I hope to be as good of a friend as all of you were to us today.

My favorite picture. All of our “helping hands”!
Of course we had to have cupcakes for all of our hard workers!
The day our signs went up! Chelsea’s Cool Cakes never got a sign, so I felt pretty legit!
Katrine pulling up the floor protection after all the painting was finally done.
Check out the difference in the tile grout after giving it a good scour! Eww!
Chris, the amazing husband that he is, pulling late hours to help us assemble all the tables and chairs that needed to go into the shop.
The shop slowly starting to take form!
The kitchen/cake decorating area coming together.

 

We worked and worked and worked, but we finally made it just in time for our Grand Opening! We seriously could NOT have done it without all of the amazing support of our family, friends, customers, and collegues who banded together to help in whatever way they could. We are eternally grateful to each and every one of you for all of your selfless acts of kindness and encouragement!