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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Are You Confident in Your Entrepreneurial Journey?

What is the most important part of being an entrepreneur? Confidence. You have to believe with every fiber of your being that you‘re doing the right thing, on the right path, and that the hard work is totally worth it all.

Sometimes I joke about how I’m working 14 hour days, so I must a hustler, but it’s true. I have a day job, a sales career I’ve had for almost 10 years, and have been successful in. I enjoy my career and the opportunities I’ve had within it.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people, learned from the best bosses, and gotten marketing, conference, travel, and training opportunities I never would have had otherwise. I appreciate what I have accomplished so far, and in some ways this transition has been bittersweet.

I’ve been working nights and weekends for a few months now, building my own writing business. Every free moment is spent communicating with clients, research for articles, writing articles and copy for websites, editing, sending it to the client, posting it online, sharing, etc. And if I’m not doing that, my time needs to be spent marketing myself and my services and looking for additional clients, and then following up with potential clients, proposals that are out, checking on invoices, and applying to additional writing gigs.

I am so busy, and it can be exhausting, but it’s also pretty amazing to see what I’m capable of. I may be tired sometimes, but I am also invigorated and interested in my clients and what I’m doing. I am building something from nothing, which is extremely exciting, and also terrifying.

Interestingly, many of my clients are entrepreneurs themselves, so I’m also surrounded by incredibly smart, funny, interesting people who completely understand my journey and are excited to be a part of it.

I’ve also had the very interesting discovery of learning to utilize Instagram as best as I can. I never really used it at all, but I decided to give it a shot, and hey free marketing. It’s been fantastic! I’ve gotten half of my client list from Instagram. I’ve been enjoying posting pictures, engaging with people, and really finding fascinating new people all over the world to follow. It’s a really cool visual platform.

I’m busy, but I am supported and growing and learning and excited and some days I don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but I keep learning and researching and I will not stop. I will NOT STOP because I know I can do this.

What’s an important quality to being an entrepreneur? CONFIDENCE.
I am good at what I do, I deserve to do it, and I am bringing great value to my clients. I am completely confident in these things.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Low Carb Broccoli & Cheese Soup with Ham! (keto)

I have never made soups before last week. I have done chili in my crock pot, and I've eaten a lot of soup, but I've never made it.

Last week I received an immersion (stick) blender for Hanukkah! It's so cool, and I imagined myself making fancy soups!

Last week for meal prep, I did a very simple cauliflower soup, and then decided to add cooked ground pork, to make it a bit heartier, and it was my lunch all last week. It was really creamy and good and satisfying!

This week, I wanted a classic broccoli and cheese soup. I used to LOVE going to Panera Bread and getting broccoli and cheese soup and a half sandwich to dip in it.

It turns out that all the recipes online use flour as a thickener, which I can't do.

I decided to just try the exact same cauliflower soup, but adding a lot of sharp yellow cheddar and cooked broccoli. I also decided to go with fresh cauliflower and broccoli. The original soup said I could do frozen, and it tasted great but was a bit watery and took longer to cook.
Celery, onion, cauliflower & chicken broth in one, broccoli in the other!
After blending, adding the cheddar a little at a time. STIR STIR STIR!
Added the cooked broccoli!



I also added ham as the meat, as I know that goes so well with cheddar cheese and again, I wanted a hearty meal. I actually bought cooked black forest ham from the deli counter and had them cut it very thick. I purchased about a pound and a half and ended up using right about half of it. Use as much or as little (or no) meat as you want!

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Final product! It turned out really good!

Recipe:

Ingredients:
-4oz butter
-1 medium onion (I used 2 small yellow onions this time, last time was 1 medium white, both work)
-4 stalks of celery
-1 head of cauliflower (if using frozen, 1 bag, 14 oz frozen)
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 head of broccoli
-16 oz sharp cheddar cheese (grate it yourself for better melting)
-3/4 cup heavy cream
-Half to whole pound of ham (depends how much ham you like)


Instructions:

1. Dice the onion and celery (I used a food processor) and put it into a 3 quart (or more) saucepan with 4 oz butter over medium-high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add cauliflower florets and chicken broth. Can be done with fresh or frozen. Frozen will take a bit longer to cook but tastes good, though is a bit more watery/thinner, and I found that fresh cauliflower made it a bit thicker overall.

3. Bring this to a boil and then turn down the heat slightly, allow to simmer and cook until the cauliflower is easily forked. If using frozen, this will take 15-20 minutes, with fresh florets, about 8-10 minutes.

4. While thats cooking, cook your broccoli. I cut it up really tiny (not bite size, smaller, like the Panera soup) and saute it in a pan with salt, pepper, garlic, but it is just as easy and delicious to steam it in the microwave, especially since it's going into cheese.
*I have not tried this recipe with frozen broccoli, but if you do use it, simply steam and drain the frozen broccoli and chop it into smaller bits.

5. Once you can fork the cauliflower, grab a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. Add 3/4 cup of heavy cream, and mix. At this time, add spices. I did italian seasoning, chili powder, adobo, salt, pepper, and garlic.

6. Put back over the heat and slowly add all of the cheese, mixing it thoroughly.

7. Remove from heat. Add the cooked broccoli and cut up ham (mine was pre-cooked ham).


For me, this makes 4 lunches for the week and at least one dinner for 2 people, sometimes.

It's really good and you don't need flour to thicken it!! The cauliflower and sheer amount of cheese thickens it very well!

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017

This is definitely going to be a great year.

I'm building my writing business. As of 1/4/17, I am up to the previously-agreed-upon number where I can quit my full time day job and build my writing business. I'm planning to spend time continuing to build and also on my own writing projects.

I have a half-finished musical, an outline for an entire dystopian novel, and so many poems and songs I can't keep track of them.

I'm learning new skills! I recently took several online webinars in grantwriting, in case the copywriting and marketing writing didn't work out. I am in the process of taking additional courses on SEO, content marketing, Google adwords, and more. I am just continuously building and growing my skills.

I'm getting more involved with social media, which I am finding to be more fun than I thought it would be!

I have met some really rad people through writing and finding clients. I have been exposed to new ideas and it is very cool to learn new things and expand my horizons.

I am more and more comfortable calling myself a writer. It's amazing how supportive my family and friends are, too. They are incredibly encouraging and supportive, and it feels amazing to finally feel like I'm living up to my potential.

My husband's career is going extremely well. He is happy, fulfilled, and works with great people. He is constantly working on huge projects and learning new things, and feeling supported by his company.

Once I'm working from home full time, my husband and I are going to think this year about a possible puppy and maybe a kid. We are going to think about where we want to live, and our goals.

This year, I will see my best friend and my family more when I don't have to worry about PTO days. I will go to Italy with the love of my life and eat so many carbs that I might explode. I will turn 31, I will be an entrepreneur, and I will have more time to volunteer! 

And in 17 days, we have our first wedding anniversary.

It's going to be a really great year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The End of 2016

In a world and US news and politics capacity, 2016 has been an absolute travesty. We are watching as an inexperienced, incompetent, narcissistic low level tyrant put in place misogynist, climate-change-deniers and frauds on his cabinet, in an effort to for some reason actively work against any change or progress we've made. He openly admits his lies from the campaign trail and people still seem to believe him. We've watched as his foundation and university are proven to be fraudulent, as he refuses to show tax returns, as he has contradicted himself under oath, as his family refuses to live in the White House, causing tax dollars to be used on rent and security.

There have been additional uprisings, terrorist attacks, and gun violence this year. We've lost Princess Leia and Prince, and a host of others.

This has been, without a doubt, the worst year I have lived.

However, this has also been unequivocally the best year I have lived.  

In 2016, I opened the year by getting married to my favorite person, got into the Huffington Post in the summer, and turned 30. In September I quit smoking cigarettes after spending half my life as a smoker, in October I went low carb and have lost almost 20 pounds since, and on 10/31/2016, I decided to truly pursue freelance writing and open a business. In November I officially filed as an LLC, and in December I went to my annual physical where my doctor told me I am the healthiest I've ever been.

I have literally never been happier in my personal or professional life, and I have never been healthier or had as much good energy. I love my life and my cat more every day.

Turning 30 has been wonderful. I had a great run in my 20s, making mistakes and falling down, but always getting back up and pushing forward. I grew as a person more in my mid-20s than I ever could have imagined, and I started taking my health more seriously. I built my career, I grew as a professional in so many ways. And turning 30 helped me clarify what is important to me.

It took turning 30 before I took the risk of starting a business, of putting myself out there and risking failure. It took turning 30 to take a serious look at my health and my goals and stop smoking for real, and think about kids and the future.

Like I said, worst year ever and am genuinely scared about the claims of a Muslim Registry (sound familiar? Possibly like the Jewish registry in 1930s Germany?), about Trump, Pence, and his cabinet's history of anti-LGBTQ stances, about his abject disrespect and dismissal of women. I am honestly afraid of Trump and what he will do over the next four years and how long it will take to undo.

But I am also happier, healthier, wealthier, energetic, and have never looked this good.

It's been a weird year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

All I Want For Xmas Is Food (Another amazing parody)

Weird Al, I am waiting on my phone call to get the rights to this and of course the majestic "You Need to Shower" based from the Backstreet Boys song. Here we go, a song about the financial security of being a millennial.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS FOOD

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
Here’s a list of what I need
I don’t want any gift cards
Just fill my fridge please

I just want it for my own
Brisket, pasta, a pot roast
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is food.

Oooh feed me! *jazz hands*

I don't want a lot of Christmas
Just a few things that I need, and I
Could use some new tube socks
In a package of three.

I love getting a stocking
Full of practicality
You could really make me happy
With work pants or new undies. 

I just want it for my own
Financial security
I'm a millennial
I'll take an IRA for Christmas.

I don't ask for much for Christmas
I never have once wished for snow.
I just want to buy a house
While working just one job.

I will make a list and give it
To you with my biggest wish
I'll even find out what's on sale
Couponing is my life.

I just want more of that meal
Leftovers or raw is good
Make my wish come trueeee
Baby, all I want for Christmas is food

Oooooh feed me!
Oooooh thanks, Mom!

I don't want a lot for Christmas
Socks and pens and cheese
I just want to have snacks
And money in my bank account.

I just want it for my own
Brisket, pasta, a pot roast
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is food.

Oooooh feed me!

All I want for Christmas is fooooooooood. 

Oooooh feed me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Netflix Original Series

Can we all just pause and take a moment to appreciate the nostalgia, and the time, money and effort that have come together to bring a bunch of older shows into the new millenium?

Netflix is KILLING IT with original series. Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life and Fuller House are my two best examples right now, but seriously their original series in general are why I don't miss cable.

Fuller House and Gilmore Girls made me feel like a kid again, and reminded me about watching TGIF with my mom and brother on Friday nights when I was in elementary school, and of watching GG every Tuesday night with my mom in high school, wishing we had that Lorelai-Rory relationship. Like every girl I knew back then!

Netflix's most well-known hits right now are House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and most recently, Stranger Things. These shows are amazingly well told stories with characters you feel invested in and beautiful cinematic worlds. House of Cards is like watching a movie, and Kevin Spacey is amazing. OITNB is an ensemble cast, where over the seasons I have cared less and less about the main character and more about the rest of them. The way they focus on other character's backstories and motivation, and humanize them, is gorgeous. It's not really Piper's story anymore, it's about all of them. And last season broke my heart! The emotional investment is real.

Stranger Things genuinely creeped me out, and I can't even watch Sense8! Netflix is doing such a great job on original content, and I can only hope they continue to not only do what they are already doing, but hopefully will also continue this interesting and nostalgic walk down memory lane.

And it's not just original or renewing ideas from 90s and early 2000s programming. Netflix is doing a series of shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the upcoming Iron Fist, which have been amazing! I hope they end up reviving Agent Carter, which was canceled after two seasons by ABC, though they of course still have the successful Agents of Shield.

It would be pretty cool if Netflix revived Global GUTS or Double Dare or (please please please) Firefly, but I certainly can't find fault with the lineup they have. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is hilarious, Aziz Ansari's Master of None is great, and they've done a lot of kids and animated stuff, too.

I was really nervous about canceling cable in April 2015. What if I can't pick anything to watch? I like flipping through channels! But the cost was so jacked up, so crazy, that I figured I would just read more.

Surprisingly, between Hulu, Netflix, and the occasional temporary HBONow subscription, there is always something to watch.

I know I sound like a TV-crazy person, and maybe I am. But I love a great story on TV the same way I love a good book. It is about the story, the people, and I enjoy it.

But seriously, Fuller House season 2 was so cute! She-wolfpack!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life Review!

Basically, I forgot it was Black Friday and just aggressively watched Gilmore Girls all the way through. I did order a pair of workout pants online when I remembered, near midnight, so there’s that!

We had friends over Friday evening, and I watched the first 2 episodes before they got there and then stayed up until 3 am to watch the last 2 episodes after they all left.

Those final four words:
So, Amy Sherman-Palladino has always known what the last four words of the series was supposed to be, and because she wasn’t involved in the oft-lamented 7th season of GG, she didn’t get to use them. Thanks to Netflix and fans around the world, GG has been brought back with the original cast, and we got to see how everything turned out years later.

Personally, I think those last four words were inevitable. It brings the show full circle, and continues the parallel of Lorelei’s life, though Rory is older and has more support than Lorelei had. She will of course, have a little girl who is surrounded by the best women in the world, will be disastrous at relationships, and have a mom-best friend.

Rory Gilmore:
At the end of the original GG, Rory was a Yale graduate ready to take on the world, and heading off to cover the Obama campaign as a journalist. In the revival, we see Rory at 32, working as a freelance journalist and trying to find steady work. She is unsure of her career path, she is unhappy trying to write a book with a crazy person, and she is mostly unemployed and bouncing from couch to couch while she travels and writes.

This feels so quintessentially real. So many of my peers, so many millennials share her crisis of career faith, feel rootless (though maybe not so literally), and struggle with freelancing and working for themselves. Rory feels a bit more relatable in this new iteration, but she also feels somewhat wrong. I was aghast at her on-and-off Huntzberger affair. Rory wouldn’t do that! Not with an engaged man! She is clearly somewhat conflicted about it, and she does eventually end it after a grand adventure with the Life and Death Brigade, which was a very fun tribute, but it felt so wrong.

But what of Rory’s big dreams and go-getter attitude? Why isn't she a successful New York Times writer? I don't know. But we have seen her insecurity before, with quitting Yale and questioning herself, and we’ve seen her make bad choices, like her night with Dean.

So maybe it isn’t that it’s out of character, and more that it’s simply not up to MY expectations of Rory’s behavior, the Rory I believe she is in my head. Either way, it’s impeccably done, very nostalgic, and seems to make sense with Rory’s story and her place in life.

Lorelei Gilmore:
To me, Lorelei is exactly where she should be. Still with Luke, still having a great relationship with her kid, and running the Dragonfly Inn. She questions, she has her own crisis of conscious, and she is attempting to deal with the loss of her father.

In terms of her character, Lorelei seems to be the most true to the original story, with her quick wit, pop culture references, self-deprecating love of coffee and junk food, and her love of life. Her relationship with Luke is strong, and her Wild (the book) adventure somehow still seems in keeping with her character.

And we finally got our Luke & Lorelei happy ending. Which I cannot express enough how much I loved. I think Luke is the early version of Ron Swanson, and I loved his portrayal in this revival. Very true to who he has always been, and watching the way he interacted with Emily made me laugh and felt real.

Lorelei is still snarky, still attempting to navigate a better relationship with her mom, and still worries more about the people around her than herself. She seems to feel things deeply and love her small town, and I can't imagine a Stars Hollow without Lorelei Gilmore.

Emily Gilmore:
Of all of the characters and stories told in this revival, I loved Emily the most. In the original series, she came off as harsh, cold, overly caring of other people’s opinions and expectations (sometimes to her detriment), with only flashes of warmth and emotion for her daughter and granddaughter.

Kelly Bishop’s Emily Gilmore in the revival was at once nostalgic and heartbreaking. Her husband dying has changed the way she looks at the world, and it so clearly changed her relationship with Lorelei and Rory, and even her maid. She is vulnerable, caring, scared, and still somewhat snooty. Her reaction to realizing she is wearing jeans made me laugh, immediately after how she tries to get rid of everything in her house in a wave of change made me tear up.

Emily’s story and her changes are so real and believable. She manipulates Lorelei into going to therapy with her, then refuses to utter a word in front of the therapist - what might she think of them? Then she sits in a DAR meeting, bored out of her mind, suddenly over it all, and jumps in with a rambling rant against the DAR and their ridiculous expectations and protocols, and against the poor hapless trophy wife trying to get into the group. It feels very Mean Girls-esque and you want to cringe and laugh at the same time.  

The most entertaining arc in this revival is Emily’s maid Berta and her entire family moving into Emily’s house and taking over her life, while not being able to communicate with each other. Berta clearly cares about Emily, and Emily grows to care for Berta and her family as well. Much better than the revolving door of those poor maids in the original!

While some might say Emily changed too much from her original character, I think the way it was done was a beautiful progression from being “Richard’s wife” to her own person.

Conclusion:
For me, I loved this revival. I don’t need to agree with every decision they make, and I can't rail too much against what may or may not be out of character. I enjoyed watching it, I laughed, cried, cringed, and cheered. I felt incredibly nostalgic and smiled, remembering how my mom and I watched it together every week, loving the Rory-Lorelei relationship.

Is it perfect? No. As much as I love Sutton Foster, that super long scene with the whole darn musical was beating a dead horse, so cringey, and way too long. Paris Gellar seems even more stiff and unyielding than ever, and I would have thought marriage and motherhood would have relaxed her some, and I hate that she and Doyle aren’t together. The Dean run-in felt forced and unnecessary. The Chilton story was weird. Why was she suddenly doing a career day there? Why bother setting up and offering her a position that Rory didn’t even consider? It seemed off base for the story. Laine Kim didn't get to realize her rockstar dreams, and after all her thoughts of adventure and getting away from her mom, she is working in her mom's store for some reason? That didn't make sense to me.

And why isn’t it Jess and Rory? I was never on Team Jess back in the day, but I did love his support and how he is in the new iteration. And I can’t get enough of him on This Is Us, which I’m also currently watching, so that might be shading my view.

This was a fun look into the possible future of Lorelei and Rory, and I think it stayed pretty true to these characters, in a way that moved the story forward and updated it. I would watch more in a heartbeat. I also love that the entire case felt so good about what they did in the original and their characters and castmates, that they came back to do this. It just wouldn’t have been the same without Michel and Gypsy and Doose!