Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mid-Memorial Day Weekend Post

Wanted to take a few minutes to just jot down some random thoughts. Having a very laid back weekend, the first one in I don't know how long. There are certainly plenty of projects we could undertake this weekend, but we're not. My wound-too-tightly side of my personality will probably resent that in a few weeks, but for now, it's nice. We're washing and folding laundry while watching Giants baseball on tv, or washing the car, going over to the softball field to practice pitching and going out for ice cream and playing Guitar Hero on the Wii. Leisurely enjoyable activities. A little bit of chores mixed with family time.
In the midst of that my brain is always running a million things through it. Random thoughts about the business, about food, about finances, about life in general. So I'm going to take a few minutes to just off-load the items worth making note of.

-I have been tossing slogan/catch phrases around. Something along the lines of "Never again worry about 'what's for dinner?'" Or - the answer to "what's for dinner?" I want something that can easily get my brand message across if I were to create an ad or on a business card. Or even a car magnet.

-Promotional materials. I am going to shop around for items I can use to spread the word. Reusable bags for sure, maybe a magnet sign to put on my car, maybe mouse pads. I have a couple opportunities to create a donation for a fundraiser (one a silent auction, one a raffle) and so I'm thinking about creating a bag of goodies that would include a month of complimentary service. So I want some swag with my logo on it.

-Recipes. A topic never not running through my head. Either I'm thinking about where to search for more sources, when I can work in testing some myself or when will I take some time to write out my own recipes. 85% of what I cook is from my head. Actually, it's probably more 95%. A lot of that inspired by recipes I have read, but unless I'm baking you'll rarely see me in the kitchen with a recipe on the counter. With preparing for this business I'm using recipes more because I am testing the recipes I come across, but usually I have a variety of cooking techniques and I just use those to create our meals.

-Fitness/losing weight- Along with trying to get a food-related business up and running, dealing with a nutty toddler, a busy 10 year old and a husband who commutes 2+ hours a day to work, I've been waging a war on my weight. Since mid-January I've lost 22 lbs. My goal is to lose another 20 by the end of the year. I made my goal realistic and planned to accomplish it slow and steady. I've worked my butt off (literally) at the gym. In my profile, I actually wrote the fitness was one of my interests. 2 years ago I would have laughed at that. I have always liked being active and got way, away from it. But now I read Shape magazine and go to the gym 5 or 6 days a week. When I'm not at the gym, I often find myself thinking about when I will go again and what I'll do there. BUT, I still love food, and it's sorta hard to try these new recipes and make sure I lose weight at the same time. Although they are not unhealthy, but this week I've been following a food plan outlined by my trainer to jump start my metabolism and get my body into fat burning mode. So I haven't tried any new recipes since I need to follow this strict plan. But I have tried to get creative in how to prepare the same damn meals every day. I feel pretty good about what I've made and how it's tasted. (another set of recipes I will have to find time to write down)
So with my own weight loss work in mind, I need to incorporate that into the meal plans I will create for the business, with a focus on naturally low fat or healthy foods. Not utilizing commercially created low fat foods (who really LIKES low fat mayo or cheese? ICK!) but helping people easily fix fresh, healthy meals that they will enjoy.
One of my dinners from this week- grilled talapia, a saute of carrots, zucchini, asparagus and English peas, and salad of baby greens and heirloom tomatoes. Most of the veggies came from my Farm Fresh to You delivery. I felt so good about what I made and how organic it was. Nerdy, I know, but I was proud.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


So I'm incredibly anxious to "open my doors" for business, but there are still so many things to get done. I'm terrified to not be prepared enough for clients. I don't want to start off winging it and always playing catch up. Yet, I know there is something to be said for letting things progress organically and not having every detail set in stone. do I find a mix of that?
First I must continue to research, write and obtain content for the site. I don't want to start advertising and sending people to a site that is so sparse. I have to write out my marketing plan. I have a lot of resources and ideas for where I want to advertise, how I want to promote myself, but it's scattered and not written out in one place.
I would also like to secure a few more people willing to be my test clients. I have a good group of friends testing recipes for me, which has been so helpful. Their feedback helps me to decide to which recipes to use and which to pass on. And I have to continue to research and find more to be tested as well. But I would like some people willing to either follow my basic service meal plan or be a custom plan client so that I can "practice" on them. The feedback would be so helpful as well as just being able to test how I want to run things.
I do have a bit of a time crunch to make some progress on the website content because I agreed to pay for a sponsorship of my daughter's softball league and so in a few weeks I am going to need to have the site updated with more information.

With that, I should get back to work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Making Time

Don't you wish the phrase "making time" was more literal? Like you could create extra hours in the day. Instead of how it actually means you are setting aside time, or taking time. I have really been trying to follow my mega schedule and I actually should be working on laundry right now, but I'm going over my allotted computer time to post to my blog. I have determined that if I could not wash dishes, wash/fold laundry or do any other housework, I could have my business up and running within 2 weeks. But alas, I have to juggle and make time to do each of these things. And even my computer time is not just business stuff. It's volunteer work for my daughter's softball and soccer teams and e-mail and paying bills and of course Facebook and Twitter.

My company logo is done! Very exciting. I'm looking to get it added to the website soon even though the rest of my content and marketing stuff isn't done yet. My website is just one page of information right now with the basic template of the site. I am probably going to keep the navigation layout but I have the ability to re-do the color layout, how the navigation is titled and of course beef it up with more pages and such.

I grilled pizza on Tuesday. It was a group effort. My youngest (who is 3.5) has her own set of kitchen tools and so she kept busy with her own ball of dough while my oldest (who is 10) rolled out dough while I got the grill oiled and hot, then we both worked at getting the dough on the grill, then added toppings. My first piece of advice is have everything ready, all the toppings set out. If mise en place was ever important in the kitchen (and it is!) it really helps when making pizza. Second, be in sync with your grill and how hot it gets. Mine always seems to have more heat on the right toward the center than the left. (It is a 2-burner gas grill btw) I knew this yet unfortunately left one too long on the hot spot and the crust was charred. However the toppings were still tasty!
Next time we make this I will make a change to the process to see if it makes a difference. I had decided to put the dough on and let them sit for a few minutes and then put the toppings on. My reason was that I felt the crust would probably need more cooking time than the toppings. I also don't have a pizza peel, so it is actually easier to place the dough on the grill and then put the toppings on instead of trying to transfer a full pizza onto the grill. But then there were a couple that I cooked longer to be sure the toppings were cooked enough. I have a cookie sheet that was a decent substitute for a peel and so next time I will assemble and then transfer to the grill. I should mention that I used dough I purchased at my local Winco, which has a Costco-eque pizza counter and they also sell their dough and sauce. I bought 2 balls of dough ($1.48 each) and made my own sauce. We cut each ball into thirds and those each rolled out to be larger than your usual personal size pizza. But then it makes for small slices of a variety of combos and we like that. I had cheese, fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, pineapple and ham and my daughter and I just created combinations using those toppings.
Some photos during the process.

Friday I think I will skip the gym to make more time for housework. I am tempted to take a photo of the enormous pile of laundry that must be done. I am so anxious to work on the business and writing the website content but I don't think I can really focus unless I get everything else in order. I really wish I could make time. Literally.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I actually intended to blog more than just one day a week, but I every time I've sat at my computer, I take care of more pressing items or just do things that are quick. Sitting down to write takes more brain power and energy from me.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I hope you've been properly celebrated by your friends and loved ones. I enjoyed a lovely brunch with my family and close friends.

This week I created a master schedule for myself as I mentioned in my post last Sunday. I tried to create blocks of time and assign tasks to them; computer time, housecleaning, laundry, dinner and exercise. I sort of followed it for two days, but I had a few extra things this week that had me out of the house so couldn't complete it all. This coming week I will make more progress. My husband has been telling me for ages that we should really cancel our yard service and have a cleaning service instead. I do like that idea but I’m conflicted about it, after all, I am a stay at home mom and it's my job. Having a cleaning service means I've failed my job. But, on the other hand, if I had to just keep things up and not get buried, maybe it would be easier. We used to have a cleaning service when I worked full time outside the house and it was by far the best investment of money.

My website is now ready for me to start loading with content. I've also got to determine if I should stick with the template layout or take the time (and money) to do a custom design. I have budgeted for the design work, but I could save the money to use toward operating expenses in these early months. I'm leaning toward a new design, but I'm going to explore a middle road of just customizing the existing template a little more than just plugging in the colors I want. My logo design is almost final. But I do have a lot more work to do to research and write content and get my marketing plan ready. I created my Google ads account and I have identified some local advertising I'm interested in. I’m shopping around to find a reusable shopping bag to order with my logo as a free gift for customers when they sign up.

Last week in cooking... I made hummus twice. The first time without tahini using a recipe that called for lemon juice, olive oil and plain yogurt. It was good, I liked the lemon, but wanted more garlic (it called for just 1 clove). Then I made the recipe from my friend Kate at Savour-fare and that uses tahini and more garlic and I also squeezed some lemon juice into it. My husband, who detests hummus had some and liked it. I also made a stir fry that was pretty darn good and used the onion, broccoli, snap peas and mushrooms that I received in our produce box on Wed.

This week I’m looking forward to trying out a couple recipes and also grilling pizza. My friend Allibrew, grills pizza and I did it with some friends a couple years ago and have been itching to try again. I may or may not make the crust from scratch…not sure yet. This week’s meals are going to have a focus on health (not that every week doesn’t) but a much stronger emphasis because I’ve been a bit of a stall with my weight loss and I know it’s because my treats in moderation have been more frequent than moderate. So grilled chicken to cut up and toss with salad, salmon, and naturally lighter foods are on tap, with grilled pizza being a treat and even that can easily be low cal especially if I just have 2 slices. But besides all that, I also have to watch my snacking (meaning healthier snacks and overall daily calorie intake. Oh, and do more cardio.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

To Do

Sunday for us is often a day we are mostly at home, doing things like laundry, shopping or other errands, generally getting ready for the week ahead. I've done some of that and I've had a mental To Do list that I want to get written out, so that I can really start this week (and actually this month) out right.

I will start with what I have accomplished already. I have done my major shopping for May. I have been to Costco, Trader Joe's and Winco. I need add up my receipts, but my rough mental estimate is about $400 for quite a bit of food, some of which will last beyond the month. This does not include my $31.95 organic produce delivery which will arrive on Wed. I have planned the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for this coming week and I'm working on next week. When I made breakfast (pan fried diced potatoes, Italian sausage and scrambled eggs) this morning, I made more than needed and used the rest to make 3 breakfast burritos for my husband. He makes a long commute to work and he likes something portable like a burrito. I also usually pack him a yogurt and in addition I have yogurt, fresh blueberries and granola to pack to change things up a bit. For months I've had a package of Trader Joe's banana bread mix in my cupboard and decided to bake that this morning. It's tasty, but nothing like made from scratch. It's very light on banana flavor. I can't even remember why I had that mix in the first place. Anyway, we ate a couple slices and the rest can be eaten this week for the girls to have as a quick breakfast in the car on the way to school/daycare. When I plan our meals I have a chart that includes all meals because it really helps with creating my shopping list and my oldest can actually look at it to know what to grab for breakfast and she can also use it as a guide to pack her own lunch. The breakfast and lunch portion is not has locked in as dinner because I generally have on hand a variety of things that make it flexible, but when you're pressed for time at night to get ready for the next day or rushing out the door in the morning, it's been helpful to just refer to the chart.

So for this week I need to:
*Apply for business license and get started on DBA paperwork
*Continue gathering recipes and send out to friends for testing
*Close survey and download results.
*Create a work schedule for myself to map out time for business and time for home/family
*Make chicken soup - I have a leftover roasted chicken in the freezer from several weeks ago and I keep putting off making the soup.

Tonight we had fish tacos. I also made guacamole and ate my weight in guacamole. I'm very full and content.
Happy Sunday.