Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good and sort of Good

Lately I have tried two new recipes worth sharing on the blog. One is good (meaning healthy, gluten-free/dairy free) and is other is sort of good (not dairy-free). Ha! Both are very GOOD in the taste and flavor category though. :)

Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Such a good, well-balanced, low calorie, fresh dish! Zach and I love having this for dinner. Find the recipe here! (The only changes I made were to use gluten-free quinoa.)

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza
Such a great way to use up some of the summer peaches hanging around! I love prosciutto and incorporate it into numerous recipes. This was the first time I used it on a pizza and the combo with the fruit and basil… heavenly! The one major challenging thing about this recipe is the balsamic reduction. I didn't realize there was such an art to this so really keep an eye on the pan and keep the temp low! If you don't, you will be ready for the science fair with your hardened lava-like substance! Haha
Get the recipe here! (Only changes I made were to use gluten-free crust and leave out the ricotta. Fresh mozzarella and asiago are good enough for me!)

Next up on my list is mastering gluten-free baking. Wish me luck and bon app├ętit! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Amazing Mayhem

So I really need to get back to blogging…just like I need to get back to exercising and eating right. Ha! Today I am hoping to sweep all three and I'm kicking it off with some mayhem. No, not chaos and trauma, but a little fashionista nicknamed "Mayhem" by her mama.

Mayhem and her mama have become quite the internet/Instagram sensation since they started posting daily photos of the paper dresses they would create together.

Seriously. Ridiculously. Amazing. This is paper folks. Check out some of my favs...

Red carpet replicas...

And of course, the Elsa. No surprise this made the cut...
They do this everyday y'all. EVERY. DAY. SMH… due to all the awesomeness that is this scenario. I hope if I ever have a little girl I will be as committed to creating/dreaming/adventuring as these two are. Seriously, do yourself a favor and follow her mom @2sisters_angie on Instagram or their blog, Fashion By Mayhem to be inspired by this creative collection of unique art!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Brown Paper Packages

So as many of you know I recently announced I was considering starting a custom care package business. My love of sending our Allie girl beautiful, unique gifts has ignited a fresh idea in me and I'm looking to bring that unique concept and attention to detail to the market place. I mean, even Fraulein Maria says (or sings in Sound of Music), "Brown paper packages tied up with string" is one of her favorite things! Come on! Who doesn't love a special package delivered by the post from a loved one?!

I've always had a love for mail. Good mail. And good packaging. Even getting packages in the mail I have paid for myself and aren't for me (like clothes I've ordered for Allie) makes me squeal like a piglet in a puddle when they come beautifully wrapped and presented. What can I say, I'm a total sucker for good branding, but it makes the ordinary extraordinary and brings an explosion of joy to my day when I get to peel back the edges and see what beauty lies beneath the paper. Ever seen Charlie's expression when he unwraps that one candy bar and finds the coveted golden ticket in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (old school version)? That's me with mail ordered merchandise. HA! I don't need a trip to a chocolate factory (although that'd be awesome), I just need a pretty box with beautiful things inside.
Anyway… back to biznis here…I don't know why I am all of a sudden all about some movie references… anyWHO….(good grief the tangents…sigh)...even though I have gotten a TON of encouragement from so many people to actually make this dream a reality, this fantastical idea is much easier said than done. Haha (Of course I have to come up with something complicated!) For the past few weeks I have been planning. And planning some more. Oh, did I mention PLANNING?! And thinking. Thinking until my head almost explodes. Trying to figure out how to start this business, how to have a product that is not so fabulous it isn't sellable (because it's ridiculously expensive), and trying to figure out how to start small, but be ready to grow.
Here's where things stand…

My goals:
- make people feel unbelievably special and encouraged through the shipment of fine gift collections delivered to their door
- create gift collections that are not only useful, but really beautiful (each product independently and in the collection)
- revive how things use to be packaged GOOD before the world domination of plastics (brown paper, twine, wax seals, etc.. you know the pretty materials you see in period dramas) and add some tasteful embellishments
- and the obvious… make some moula doing what I love

I've decided that:

- I am only using the highest quality, well-branded, non-toxic products I can find. That means avoiding plastics like the plague and most mainstream manufactures. That means trying to partner with some artisans and small businesses looking for exposure. I have already slowly started to order some things to try out myself before passing on to the consumer. I can't be representin' crummy stuff yo'!

- At this time, I will not be including any edibles that aren't pre-packaged by someone else. Dealing with the ripple effect of providing food (i.e.: baked goods, dry ingredients in a jar, etc etc) is way more than I want to take on at this time thanks to FDA guidelines. Let's be real… ain't nobody got time for that.

- Even though I have big dreams for this, I will be starting small with an array of gift options for new mamas. If anybody out there needs to feel loved, noticed, and like a lady again, it's a new mama with a little freshie who's taking all the attention! :)

My challenges:

1. Sourcing
How can I get superior products at non-retail prices? This is a tricky one considering I wanna sell a wide variety of things and won't be selling items in bulk. As previously mentioned I am looking into some partnerships and also trying to purchase some goods wholesale.

2. Control costs
Challenge numero uno effects my bottom line big time. If I have to pay retail for everything, that means I gotta up charge the customer to make $ and that's where things get a little… cray cost-wise. Even though people are paying for the service of me creating the amazing collection and packaging it beautifully, I can't be buying everything at full price. I also need to figure out how I can standardize shipping and control rates without using the hideous red/white/blue boxes from USPS. Gross.

The honest truth is that collecting and packaging items I didn't create from scratch has a smaller profit margin than making stuff myself. These gift collections are also not easily reproduce-able (compared to say… designing a graphic one time, making tons of copies, and selling the same thing over and over at like 500% of your actual cost. There's not a ton I can do to change this, it's just a fact of life with this concept.

3.  Create the brand
Maybe my biggest challenge of all right now is making some big decisions on what my brand will be and how it will be translated. Pray for me. Ha! Pray I don't drive myself (or Zach) completely batty trying to come up with the best name/logo/standards/etc. Pray that I have wisdom to make the right choices up front and don't wanna beat my head into a wall later down the road…

So here I go… back to planning. And thinking. Sigh. I know all this effort will be worth it though. I think John Maxwell puts it best when he writes,
"Give your plans the right amount of thinking time, and you'll find that the implementation time decreases and the results get better. Your thinking time is like the runway of an airport. Just as larger planes need a longer runway to fly, big ideas need a long runway of thinking to get launched."
These brown paper packages are my big idea and I am seriously hoping it takes off! Stay tuned for more updates coming soon! :)