Is anyone else out there?

I remember reading all about merchant’s guilds and worker’s unions in my sixth grade history class. Although the history of work and working is much more complex than just a group of people coming together because they share the same trade or skill, it definitely seemed very easy to, like, make a living as a painter back in those days. You had a group. You had friends. You had comrades who were also covered in whatever material you worked with all day. There’s a collective spirit to all that that’s admirable.

Flash forward to 2014 where a lot of people own small businesses. Unlike in the past, many of these people don’t own or operate out of a physical shop. Rent is expensive, especially in optimal locations. We all know this. Most people who run their own business are a one man show. We can’t afford to display our stuff downtown all year round. It just isn’t reality for most of us.

I wish I could open my own shop. I can just imagine my own little bakery, small but comfortable, curious dogs dragging their owners in from the street. I can even picture writer’s groups meeting there, dog owners grabbing a free cup of coffee during a weekend stroll, me waking up at three in the morning to make sure the treats are baked fresh everyday, coming home at night and working on my MLIS coursework until I wake up and do it all again.

But I have no money. I have less than no money. I am in student loan debt up to my eyeballs and racking even more up to get my Master’s. What’s a girl to do?

I have searched for online groups for dog bakers, sort of like virtual guilds or unions, but I haven’t found any. It would be nice to have some kind of reference point, to get advice and tips from people who have done these things before me.

So, are any of you fellow dog bakers or literary artists out there in the metaverse? If you are, drop me a line.

If you’re not, maybe you should head on over to my Etsy page and buy something?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaskervilleBiscuits

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Harry Potter Weekday

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anytime you’ve had a bad week it’s pretty likely that ABC Family is going to be having its extremely multi-annual Harry Potter Weekend Event (capitalization necessary)!

Don’t get me wrong, I live for those weekends. Harry Potter weekend gives me permission to not put on real pants for two whole days or leave the couch. Somehow, watching Harry Potter any other time is less epic, less cathartic somehow. Like, if I watch Dumbledore tell Harry that just because something is happening in his head doesn’t mean it isn’t real on an average Tuesday I probable tear up a little less.

But some weeks you spend Monday through Wednesday trying desperately to catch up on classwork that you’re behind on in the first place because it’s boring busy work. And then you have to build a database and your instructor is just like, “Hey, here’s this completely unrelated tutorial not even made by anyone who teaches at this institution and that is completely lacking in how to properly make linking tables in Open Office,” and you almost lose your mind.

Today, I was in desperate need of an HP weekend. But it’s Wednesday and that’s not going to happen. So, I decided to take a brief pause from studying and channel my own Harry Potter spirit by making some new treats!

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I decided on making something butterbeer inspired. What is more quintessentially Harry Potter than butterbeer? Of course, dog’s can’t actually have butterscotch or frothy, sweet creams but they definitely can have a healthy treat that channels the spirit of butterbeer while not upsetting their tummies. 

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After working with my brain for several days, it was very relaxing to work with my hands and just shut off my thoughts for a while. I am very happy with the end result! Bryant and Lucy loved them and I can feel good about giving these treats to them because they’re all natural, not chalk full of preservatives, and only contain human-grade ingredients. It’s a sweet treat without all of the refined sugar and extra fat that’s hard for dogs to process.

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In the future, I think I’ll make these in a lightning bolt shape. I just happened to have the paw print cookie cutter laying around so that’s what was used.

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These treats are available for purchase over at my Etsy page. They’re only $8 an order and they’re ready to ship. I don’t expect this batch to last long, so hurry over to the shop and pick some up while they’re still around!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/180018819/butterbeer-biscuits?

Sales, Snow, and Going Home

It’s been a little over a month since I opened my Etsy shop. I’ve had quite a few views and hits, but no purchases…until now! It was so exciting to get my first real order. Naturally, it was placed on the second day of my vacation with my husband and had to wait a couple of days until we got home to get baked and sent off, but it is on its way to Massachusetts as we speak. The road to getting those tasty treats in the mail was not an easy one but I am very satisfied with the end product. Let’s just say there is a lot more to running a (very) small business than I thought.

Like I said, I’ve been on vacation with my husband for the past few days. He took 10 days of leave and we set off for a small get away in the mountains. Bryant and Lucy got to stay with their great grandparents. On their first night, they lovingly shared a whole loaf of bread that they swiped from the kitchen counter while we were out to dinner. That’s what friends are for.

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It was fun getting away from Fort Campbell for a few days. It’s nice to see people walking around who aren’t in uniform on occasion. Jake gets to let his beard grow out and I get to spend time reading (World War Z!) instead of cleaning the kitchen. It’s a good deal. Unfortunately, we had to come home a day early because a monster winter storm dropped about a foot of snow in our area, which is about eleven inches more than it takes to totally shut down all operations in the East Tennessee.

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In the end, the dogs got to have a blast and I finally got to finish World War Z. Even if we have to go home a few days before we planned to, at least we have a home to go back to. As I was playing in the snow with Jake, Bryant, and Lucy, I realized that all of the things that are on pause or lacking in my life don’t have to matter as much as they do. I give those things power by focusing on them. I am not a zombie and I don’t have to be single minded to the point of recklessness.

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Basically, I’m feeling a lot like Chance at the end of homeward bound when he realizes that it’s the people who he loves and who love him that count more than anything else does. At the end of the day, I get to read good books, run around with crazy happy dogs who don’t know or care what struggles their mom and dad go through, and hang out with someone who doesn’t drive me to commit murder.

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And that’s good enough for me.

What. A. Week.

On Tuesday, I failed a test.

I don’t mean that I got below a 90. I mean I barely got half of the questions right. This is an extremely rare occurrence for me. I haven’t failed a test since 11th grade geometry.

Everyone told me that library school would be easy. “You’ll finish in a year,” they said. “Why not get your PhD in Literature,” they said with a sad smile that let me know how disappointed they were that I was throwing away my intellect to become (gags) a librarian.

I am sure that another post about how under appreciated and misunderstood librarians are is somewhere on the horizon, but that’s not what this blog is for.

This is about failure and how important is is in our lives, how truly vital is to making meaning out of this incredibly messy existence that we all try to piece together and call a life.

On average, I probably got about 4 hours of sleep my entire undergraduate career. See, I deeply internalized the lie that is higher education. “Work hard and you’ll achieve great things,” is the mantra that’s force-fed to college students everywhere and I was guzzling that cool-aid like nobody else I know. Like everyone else, I graduated with a pretty significant amount of debt and no real job prospects to speak of. It turns out that not one single employer gives a damn if I can read Middle English or practically recite most of the traditional folklore of the Anishinabe Nation.

I spent six months toiling away at a retail book job that I loved and then hated. I left that job, started graduate school, and then failed within the first month of classes. I sucked at the thing I used to be good at. And it felt kind of good.

Over achieving didn’t get my anywhere fast. Failing one test won’t stop me from getting where I want to be. I would rather spend time building a life that I want to be in than one that is in a constant state of holdover, waiting to get to the next good grade or the next decent job offer. Instead, I’d like to be a person with mediocre test scores pinned to my chest in red letters than someone who wastes one more second of my life chasing something that I will never catch. Good grades and well written papers are slippery fish and when I finally got my hands on them, I found out they were also dead fish. What a waste.

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What I’ve realized is that those things don’t matter. Not even for people like me who like to believed that they are defined by academic achievements. We lie to ourselves when we choose to live in theoretical worlds, when we believe that meeting a deadline makes your life have any kind of real meaning whatsoever. It doesn’t. And it never will.

So I’m trying to remember to do things that bring me joy, even when those things are at odds with things that bring me recognition. I’m still going to work hard in school. I will probably work harder now that I have messed up. That’s just my nature. But I’m also going to enjoy snow days with my husband and watch Game of Thrones when I should be reading for class. Maybe I will replace citations with dog snuggles and textbooks with YA novels every now and then.

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Maybe I’ll even do something radical like take a nap.

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I think these guys have it right. I’m going to follow their example for a while. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

The New Normal

It’s been a little while since I’ve written here. I admit that I’m somewhat of a slacker, but this time I have a few good excuses for not writing. Last Monday my husband came home from Afghanistan! After 265 very long days apart, I finally got my best friend back and can stop living like a single married person!

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So Baskerville, the business and the blog, has taken a back seat for the past few weeks. On top of homecoming, I finished my first month of graduate school and am on track to finishing my MLIS (Master’s of Library and Information Science) by next December.

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The dogs have also been adjusting to having Jake home. They’re excited to have someone else to take them outside, play with them, and be conned into giving them treats, but I think the whole process has been a little stressful. Lucy, who is usually a sweet girl and seems to gravitate more toward men than women, really did not take to Jake the first day he was home.

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When we walked in the door, exhausted and pretty much out of our minds with excitement, hunger, and probably a little nervousness, Bryant ran right up to greet Jake like he never left. I was worried that he wouldn’t remember him or would act aggressively toward him in an effort to protect me, but that didn’t happen. Lucy, on the other hand, was not happy. She barked at Jake for a solid 15 minutes, even after I gave him the treat bag. She stopped only when he took off his uniform.

Since Lucy (and Bryant, for that matter) is a shelter pup, I have no idea where she came from or what she went though for the two years before I brought her home. Unfortunately, I think she had some bad experiences with a person in uniform that she’d rather forget.

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Once things settle down a bit and I learn how to balance an extremely full graduate course load and having an at-home husband, I’ll start working harder on Baskerville. For now, the items listed on my Etsy page are still available for purchase and lots of new products and improved photos will be up very soon.

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I’m also going to start including book reviews/ recipe ideas/ general book nerd related posts here. Look for a likely review of World War Z to be up in the next few days.

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Happy reading and treating!

Hump Day

Bryant and Lucy have been having quite a rough day today. It’s the dreaded day that all dogs fear and loathe…bath day. Well, technically only Lucy got a bath because I don’t think my drain can handle all the hair these two produce in one day, but Bryant did get ONE nail cut. Laugh if you want, but getting Bryant to let me cut one of his nails, and on the first try no less, is a serious victory. As I write this, they’re both wrestling in the living room like nothing ever happened.

Sometimes I wish that I had a memory like a dog, or at least their capacity for forgiveness. I know that Bryant doesn’t forget how much he hates getting his nails cut because every time he sees the clippers he doesn’t want anything to do with me. But the second the whole thing is over, he’s nuzzling me like he’s saying, “Hey, we made it through that together and the evil clippers didn’t kill us. I love you.” I am instantly forgiven for doing what is in his mind the worst possible thing that can be done. If only I had to power to be more like that.

Lucy is a champion. She hates baths but she stands there and lets me do whatever needs to be done, even the dreaded nail clipping, and then goes on her merry way. I think that has a lot to do with her living in the county dog shelter for almost a year. When I got her she had no fur on the inside joints of her paws. I thought that she might have some kind of skin issue or seasonal allergy but when I asked the shelter workers if she did, they told me those bald patches developed because she lived on a concrete slab for so long. She’s been through a lot, poor girl, but she stays sweet and takes it all in stride.

It probably doesn’t hurt that I fattened both of them up with the fresh baked treats I spent all day yesterday making. They’re great taste testers, but they turn into treat addicts when I store the treats for the night and follow me around for the rest of the night trying to get a fix.

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They especially like my Fifty Shades of Puppy Love Nettle and Strawberry Hearts, inspired by the nettle soup featured in Fifty Shades of Grey and sweetened up with some organic, no sugar added strawberry preserves. These treats are healthy and all natural. They’re perfect for Valentine’s Day or anytime your dogs want something sweet and healthy. Pick some up over at https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaskervilleBiscuits! Use the code WORDPRESS14 to get a dollar off your order.

Introductions All Around

Blogs need a mission statement, don’t they? Something that captures the essence of the blog, gets to the real meat of it all…When I come up with one of those, I’ll let you know. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be something about being creative, making awesome treats for the dogs, and reading/reviewing good and, sometimes, not so good, books.

For now I’m just kind of kicking around ideas and tracking it all here. But first, we need some kind of introduction, don’t we? Here we go!

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^Thats me. My name is Hallie. I’m a 23 year old graduate student who lives in Fort Campbell, Kentucky with my husband and two fur babies. I’m studying to get my Master’s of Library and Information Sciences, which I should have completed by next December. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Maryville College and a ridiculously overside diploma to prove it. I spend my free time reading, writing, and on Tumblr. Sometimes I knit, sometimes I write Supernatural fan fiction, it all depends on the day. I love to bake and go to the movies, which I will no longer have to do alone very soon because my husband is returning home from a 9 month deployment in Afghanistan in just a few short weeks.

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^That’s Bryant, aka Moose. He’s a 3 year old 85 pound pain in my ass, who I love more than anything. I’ve had Bryant since he was four months old. I rescued him from Young Williams Animal Center and he promptly puked in my car on the way home and has been doing things like that ever since. He’s a stubborn boy who hates getting his nails cut and absolutely loves barking at the neighbors. He does, however, love treats, swimming, walks, going to grandma’s house, and his favorite friend Lucy.

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^Say hello to Lucy, or as I call her, Goosey. I just adopted this sweet girl back in October from a random roadside shelter event at the US Cav store. The vet says she’s an Elkhound Mix, which may or may not be accurate. She loves to jump, bark, and chase a ball. In her spare time she hunts down any unsecured food item in the house and eats it. Her absolute favorite thing to get into is, unfortunately, chocolate chip cookies, but she’ll chew her way though just about anything she can get her little paws on. Recently, she has taken to sitting on Bryant’s head and sleeping on my feet while I write. What’s not to love?

We’re a weird little family and we’ll probably get even weirder once Jake gets home. Hopefully, we’ll have some good times and eat some delicious and healthy treats along the way.