granola & banana pancakes
I'm pleased to announce that I am now a contributor to A Healthier Michigan, sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I will be developing a new recipe for them each week, and am really excited about the opportunity!
Here's a sneak peak at what I developed over the weekend for this week's blog entry.
2/3 cup Three Little Birds Granola (Lois's Favorite flavor)
1 1/2 cup Lowfat Buttermilk
1/2 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
2 Tb. dark brown sugar
2 Tb. canola oil
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
Pure Michigan Maple syrup for drizzling
1/2 banana, sliced for garnish
fresh blueberries (optional) for garnish
Soak the granola in the buttermilk overnight in the refrigerator.
In the morning, remove the soaked granola from the fridge and set aside. In a small bowl, mash half of a banana, and mix with the egg, oil, and brown sugar. Add the granola/buttermilk mixture to this and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, blend the whole wheat pastry flour with the baking soda and salt. Fold this into the banana and granola mixture until JUST COMBINED - do NOT over-mix! Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a cast iron pan or griddle to cook the pancakes. If you do not have a cast iron pan or griddle, just use a non-stick pan. Heat the skillet over medium to high heat. Brush it lightly with oil or spray with cooking spray.
Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and allow to cook until the edges are set, about 3 minutes. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the perfect temperature to brown the pancakes and cook them thoroughly without burning them. When the edges are set, flip the pancakes and cook on the other side to golden brown.
Remove from the skillet and garnish with the rest of the banana and a small amount of pure maple syrup.
Yield: 12 - 14 small pancakes (4" diameter)
** a serving is 2 pancakes**
Some dads consider themselves the king of the grill. Armed with their tongs, apron, and basting brush, they take over the patio to fire up the grill and set about the serious business of grilling steaks, burgers and brats. My dad isn't one of these guys. In fact, I think I've seen my dad grill something twice. It's not that he can't grill. I think it's more that he doesn't want to.
Dad's not interested in doing anything outdoors in the summertime that doesn't involve short pencils, sunshine, and a seven iron. In the cooler months, dad heads to the kitchen, but not for the same reasons other men might don an apron. While some men might enjoy sauteing and braising, my dad makes caramel corn.
For as long as I can remember, dad has made his caramel corn in our kitchen. It's a complete and total takeover. He moves in like a swat team of one, clearing the counter tops, setting up his Air-pop (which is on its ninth life, I'm sure of it), gathers his paper grocery bags (they're the key to kernel-free caramel corn), large stock pot and mixing bowl. When dad hits the kitchen for caramel corn production, my mom makes herself scarce. As kids, we'd clear out too, except to sneak a peak at the slowly cooking caramel syrup and the cold water test to see if the syrup had come to "soft ball" stage. The syrup testing meant that warm, gooey caramel corn would soon be ready, so it was a good idea to stick close by when the syrup hit the water.
While we waited, dad would put us to work, opening up the paper grocery bags, filling them with the newly popped corn, and then shaking the dickens out of the bags until all of the kernels settled on the bottom. He's a real stickler for kernel-free corn, so it's not uncommon for him to micro-manage the bag-shaking to see that it's up to standard. Once the popped corn is de-kerneled, it's time to scoop it out and into the large mixing bowl, where he then pours his hot caramel concoction over the top and stirs it quickly together with a wooden spoon.
It's a little strange that I do not know the recipe, and it isn't written down anywhere that I know of. I've never asked for it, but I probably should. He makes it all from memory, and he doesn't measure ANYTHING. There are no measuring cups or spoons, only the basic materials he needs to create the caramel goodness that everyone counts on from Halloween through New Year's Day. Caramel corn has always been "dad's thing", and asking for the recipe seems as forward as asking him how much money he made last year. It just seems rude.
Now that dad's in his later years, I think he might be ready to share the recipe. He'll also have to share his technique with me because the way he makes caramel is, to me, an unheard of methodology that I've never tried. His methods are unconventional at best. As a professionally trained pastry chef, it boggles my mind that his quick and aggressive mixing methods work with such a temperamental pastry application.
The cool thing about my dad is that he's not a rule-follower. My dad isn't concerned with rules or regulations, textbooks or teachers. He never wanted us to be lazy or unprepared for life. He wanted us to get an education, but his focus wasn't on our grades. I've been hearing him say, all my life, "A students work for C students". It's sassy and irreverent, but, hell, most of the time it's true- at least where entrepreneurs are concerned.
Dad's an entrepreneur and encouraged all of us to become entrepreneurs too. "You want to own your own monopoly set, kids". The message was loud and clear. Dad wanted us to be independent. He wanted us to create our own destiny.
Nothing was handed to my dad. He likes to say that when he grew up, his folks weren't poor, they were"just broke". I'm sure it was a lot tougher than dad lets on, usually, most everything is. What I've always known about my dad was that he wasn't going to wait around for someone to open the doors or clear the path for him. Dad left home and blazed the trail completely alone.
I always knew that I'd one day own my own businesses. Dad always says, "what's in the dog is in the pup". I've always used my dad as my professional measuring stick, and there are times when I've felt that I didn't or wouldn't ever catch up to the level of success he's realized in his career. The pressure I feel there is a comparison I've created for myself. He's never made me feel like I could be anything less than a roaring success.
Just last night while we celebrated Father's Day, dad told me that he always believed he would succeed, "I never thought I could fail", he said. Somehow, I know he feels the same way about me.
This weekend, I attended the ACF Central Regional Convention at the Motor City Casino. Our local chapter, the MCCA, shared hosting duties with the brilliantly talented staff of Motor City, the Detroit Athletic CLub, and Coach Insignia.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Academy Dinner - an event celebrating the American Academy of Chefs, on Sunday evening at the DAC. As its name implies, the Academy is a very prestigious group of notable chefs, who have achieved a level of professional excellence admired by many.
While at the Academy dinner, I was in awe of the collective talent and technical skill of each and every attendee. A black-tie event, each Academy member was handsomely dressed, but also adorned with medals, dazzling indicators of their culinary feats. Many mentors and friends are members of the Academy and I, a young granola-making "grasshopper" was humbled by the experience.
Chef Kevin Brennan, Executive Chef of the DAC, as well as an Academy member, prepared the best meal I've eaten in 5 years. Each course was expertly prepared, flawlessly served by attentive and warm, though professional, waitstaff.
As I glanced around the room, I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have such wonderful mentors and friends, men who have set the bar for the culinary industry incredibly high, and invested in helping their proteges reach the gold standard.
Another professional friend wrote a fabulous feature about the AAC dinner. Check out what Sylvia Rector gleaned from Kevin Brennan, in her article in the Detroit Free Press. http://www.freep.com/article/20120408/COL20/204080336/DAC-chef-has-tough-audience-135-culinary-society-members
Bravo, Sylvia, and many thanks for your enthusiastic support of our chapter and our chefs!
I've never seen the movie 'Top Gun'. I'd never seen any of the 'Star Wars' movies until a boyfriend I had when I was 26 insisted that we watch ALL of them. I watched 'No Country for Old Men' and couldn't figure out what the hell it was about or why it won an Oscar. There are countless other movies, that apparently everyone else has seen, which I haven't. So I guess I won't be listing "movie buff" or "cinematography enthusiast" in the "about" section on my Facebook profile.
So, shocking, really, I'm sure, that I've never seen 'Groundhog Day'. I know Bill Murray's in it, and he keeps waking up to the same day over and over again, but I've never seen it. I have no idea how it ends. So, other than a very loose idea of what I just described, I'm clueless about nearly the entire thing.
The other night, my friend and I met up for a girl's night out. We got to our meeting place before our other friends arrived. Sitting in the car, talking about the latest, my friend said to me, "Why are all of my relationships screwed up? It always gets so screwed up, every time. I always end up with the wrong person I'm never going to get it right., am I?"
I said, "No. You will. It's not impossible. You just have to work at it. If you keep doing what you're doing, though - you will end up that way,. But the good thing is, you know why this is happening, so you're lucky. Most people never figure that part out. So, now you just have to work at changing it. All you have to do is put in the work. Invest in yourself. Invest in the other people you share your life with, and you'll get it right eventually."
Not for one second, do not believe that people are destined to have awful relationships. I don't believe the cliche that marriage and commitment end in disaster for every single person who sets out on that path I don't believe that we're fated for lackluster careers, and only the lucky people (whoever they are) realize true professional fulfillment. I reject the idea that most people have to live empty lives. I vigorously contend that your best life is possible - but you have to work for it, and you have to adjust your expectations.
I only know this because I've lived it. I only believe it because it's been true for me. I'm not by any means saying that I've got the perfect personal or professional relationships, but I have figured out that if I want to have good relationships, I have to work on myself.
I only learned this a few years ago, and, to my amazement, sometimes, I still get tripped up by the same little things I thought I'd mastered. Just last week, I was talking with someone about how I noticed that I had a recurring theme that seemed to carry over throughout my entire life. This thread, seemingly innocent, has woven its way through the fabric of my life, without me being conscious of it. The thread, not entirely awful or destructive, has still caused some snags, some big, some small.
The thread isn't necessarily devastating, but it isn't healthy, either. Once I'd become hip to this irksome little theme, I was determined not to allow it to weave itself into the fabric of my life any longer, since it only seemed to hold me back. Dreams and aspirations alluded me because of this seemingly innocuous pattern.
In response to this realization, I stepped out with almost reckless abandon, doubled with sheer determination, I quit my job, started two companies, and never looked back. With no safety net, little security, but complete confidence that I was doing what was absolutely necessary to live the best version of what my life could be, there were seldom any bad days.
I faced a major fear. I called a bluff and meant it. I walked out on something I'd worked incredibly hard for and I did it because I realized that no matter how much more time I devoted to it, how much of my energies it drained, it was never going to be what it should or could be.
There were some rough days. There was once when I silently cried for two minutes in my hallway, frustrated and overwhelmed. After the realization that nothing that was happening at that time was worse than the "best" day I'd had while working at my last job, the crying seemed self-indulgent and, more importantly, stupid. The perspective was important.
Feeling confident that I'd finally mastered the ability to move beyond the little quirky pattern that had held me back at certain key points in my life, I was sure I'd conquered it. I learned recently that I was totally wrong. The pattern, sneaky and covert, is a tough one to quit! When talking about it with a different friend, she asked me if I'd ever seen 'Groundhog Day'. "No, I must have missed that one", was my reply.
Because I'm clueless to the moral of the story of 'Groundhog Day', Dawn explained
that Murray's character is destined to repeat the same pattern until he starts making changes. Once he starts making different choices, he sees significant results.
It isn't rocket science. It isn't brilliant insight, but it is practical and hard-to-do work., and sometimes, even when you think you've figured it out, you're not quite there yet.
Indignant, I protested silently, "BUT I DID make different choices. I quit my FREAKING JOB! I started making different choices in my personal relationships. I'm DOING THE HARD WORK of rounding out my communication style, investing in people and taking risks personally and professionally. WHAT MORE DID I NEED TO DO???!! WHAT OTHER CHANGES ARE LEFT TO MAKE?!"
Indignity aside, I took the medicine and decided that even though I hadn't ditched the pattern, I had in fact, made some significant progress. I'm not where I'm going, but I'm not where I've been. So, at this point, most of you are wondering what any of this has to do with granola.
More often than not, I hear friends beat themselves up for "falling off their diet", "caving to a craving" that caused them to "relapse" back into their old patterns. There's a tone of shame and a look of embarrassment on their faces. There's a sense of defeat. There's an overwhelming feeling of frustration and anger, directed towards themselves because they've "failed" again. The same brow-beating is echoed when it comes to personal relationships, like my friend was talking about Friday night.
It's upsetting when you've tried and "failed". It's hurtful to realize that, even with the best efforts, you've once again been "beaten" by an old pattern. What's important to remember is that you've not been "beaten" until you ultimately give up.
If you decide to shelve it all, walk away, and surrender, then maybe you have really failed. But, if you make the decision, every day, to mindfully continue, change attitudes, adjust your expectations, and renew your commitment to yourself (no matter what the commitment may be), you'll eventually be where you want to be. Better, more insightful, and in control, rather than your impulses and fears controlling you.
Nothing is perfect. Besides, perfect is boring. I'm going for happy. The good news is, it's only up to me to get there.
I was driving home the other day after a very long, difficult week. As I sat at a red light, I thought about how I had been the lucky beneficiary of the kindness of two very good friends, who've been in my cheering section when I really, really needed it.
As I often do, I was listening to an audio book on my ipod. I had only been half-listening that afternoon, mostly due to the swirling thoughts that had been occupying my normally clear mind. Lost in my thoughts, I had tuned out most of what I had started listening to earlier that day, but something brought my attention back to the book.
The author had been talking about the importance of building and maintaining strong personal relationships and sincerely showing an interest in the personal side of your professional relationships - essentially, treating your clients like people, not projects.
The author told a story about a young boy and his grandpa who were walking along the beach. They noticed that several starfish had washed ashore. The grandpa stopped and started throwing the starfish back into the water. The boy asked why he was throwing them back. The grandpa explained that if the starfish were not thrown back into the water, they would die. "But grandpa, there are too many! Hundreds! What difference will it make?" The grandpa threw another starfish back into the ocean and said, "To that one, it made all the difference in the world".
There are times in life, personally and professionally, when you may feel like you've somehow been thrown off-balance. Events and circumstances change, relationships evolve or evaporate, priorities shift, things and people come and go. There are hurts, big and small. The changes can be hard to bear. Sometimes, the pain or disappointments might seem intolerable.
I would be lying if I said that I have been feeling a sense of profound happiness or gratefulness over the last month. It would be very insincere to act as if I've woken up every morning with a skip in my step in a smile on my face. It would be disingenuous to act as if I've been happier than ever, even in light of the milestones and achievements that I've realized over the last few weeks.
In truth, the last month has been difficult. Not the most difficult of my life, but more difficult than I had been accustomed to in the last few years. At a certain point, the fog lifted and I could see that my unhappiness was somewhat self-indulgent.
Many of you know that Three Little Birds donates 5% of our net proceeds to Haven, a shelter in Oakland County. I don't mention this to make it sound as if I am some type of generous philanthropist. With granola in only three stores, and 5% of the net proceeds, Haven isn't raking in the big bucks as a result of our donations quite yet. I mention it because it is a reminder to me that I have so many things, truly, to be grateful for.
As trite as that sounds, and cliche as it may seem, when I think of where my life took a turn for the better, and how I was able to put a very painful experience behind me, it's embarrassing to consider that I could now feel so disappointed by life's ups and downs. After all, I am alive, well, healthy and doing what I love. I have friends and family. I am somewhat ashamed of myself that I had allowed myself to forget how thankful I once was to be alone and without the interference of someone who controlled my every move. I had somehow forgotten how thankful I was to be free.
When I think of the women and children who benefit from the services Haven provides, I am thankful that I, too, was given a second chance to live my life to the fullest as soon as I could get back on my feet with the help of family and friends. I can't, you can't and Haven can't rescue and aid every single person who needs a safe and warm place to call home. No one organization or person can. I understand that can be overwhelming.
Like the hundreds of starfish, we may not be able to help them all, but we can each help some. No gesture or gift is too small. Whether you're working as a volunteer at a shelter or for some other organization that helps the millions of needy people or animals in the world, or just trying to make a difference wherever you can, it's important to remember that even if you can't save them all, you can save one.
In this disappointing time, I've benefited greatly from the kindness of my friends and family. I didn't need a place to stay, food to eat, or warm clothes. I needed to hear the cheerful voices of my friends, a listening ear, and the encouragement from those who genuinely cared. Little gestures like phone calls, texts and cards from friends who knew I wasn't feeling as awesome as usual made a bigger difference than they probably knew.
I don't want these posts to seem like Pollyanna or Mr. Rogers author them. I don't want readers to think that I'm some type of super-enthusiastic, granola-crunching freak-of-nature who doesn't experience and sometimes acquiesce to life's disappointments. I want these posts to be representative of reality. The reality is that sometimes, people get hurt. Sometimes, people are in need. The amazing thing is that all of the time, you can make a difference to anyone at any time with even the smallest gesture.
Thursday, I sat in the back pew of a local house of worship, surrounded by several of my colleagues, paying respects at a funeral service that no one had anticipated we would need to attend so soon. We knew this lovely lady had another bout with cancer, but, her health had just recently turned the corner for the better a few short weeks ago.
As I sat there, I couldn't help but notice that I was among the "who's who" of my industry, all gathered together in one small sanctuary. Sitting in the rows just ahead of me were 5 Certified Master Chefs, and several CMC candidates, as well as several well-respected and accomplished chefs of note and prominence.
All of them, a small fraternity of excellence, the embodiment of hard work, talent, and passion. All of them have been decorated many times over. Many of them having reached a level of success that only a very small fraction of their peers could even hope to achieve.
It's trite and cliche, but I don't know many people who can attend a funeral without taking at least an abbreviated inventory of their own life; where they've been, where they're going, and the people who travel alongside them. Maybe regrets flash in their memories, hopefully not too many. Maybe sweet thoughts of happy times with family and friends...
I've always said, "you're going to be dead a lot longer than you're going to be alive....", and it's long been sort of a mantra I'm not "old" by any means, but as I contemplated where I've been and where I'm going, I couldn't believe how fast time flies by. I was just 17 years old when I made the acquaintance of many of these men I now call colleagues and friends, including our widower, who was one of my first instructors.
Fresh-faced and full of enthusiasm, and lots of youthful ignorance, I started culinary school with little concern for anything or anyone other than myself and where I was headed professionally. As I sat there, I thought to myself, "these guys probably want to shake their head at me; all of my drive and talent, all of the training and awards - I didn't do what they trained me to do. I didn't end up a "chef's chef". ...I make granola".
It's pretty ridiculous. It's also kind of funny. I make granola. Of all of the things I know how to make. Of all of the awards I've won. Of all of the magazines my work has been featured in, I make granola. Of course, none of them treat me this way. They're all very, very sweet to me.
So, at 31, I again realized that I'm going to be dead a lot longer than I'll be alive, and I'm really not too far behind these guys in their 50's, or at least in terms of how fast the time will pass before I'm there. Especially based on how fast the last 14 years have breezed past me, when it all just seems like only a couple of years ago, I was living it up, making trouble and showing off with other obnoxious and precocious culinarians.
I make granola, and, I guess, if I wanted to "redeem" myself for the sins of not "living the life" and setting the culinary world on fire, like the 5 Masters had expected me to, I can point to the snobbish standards by which the granola was developed and is made. The thing is, making granola is one of the best decisions I've made in my career.
No one expects an explanation from me, except me. And, as I sat there, contemplating my past and future, an arm's-reach from mid-life, I know that one day, I'll be in a box or an urn, too, and it'll be just fine because I lived the life I wanted to live, on my terms, risks, reward, and all that other stuff that accompanies the business of making yourself happy.
It's a new year. What are you waiting for?
While having coffee with my sister the other night, we were reminiscing about Christmases past and how this year is so different than the ones we've shared before. It's true, this year is very, very different for a lot of reasons. From the grey and muddy weather to the people we'll be celebrating with, this Christmas will come and go, just like all of the others, and we'll head into 2012 as subtly different versions of the people we were before.
Like anyone else, I have my preferences, there is a certain way that I think things should be or how I would want them to be. Like anyone else, I'm sometimes disappointed or frustrated when what makes perfect sense to me doesn't seem to be so logical or feasible to someone else. Like anyone else, I'm looking forward to see what 2012 will bring, wondering about the future, and wondering what will change and what will stay the same, and hating the fact that there's no way I can know.
It's Christmas Eve morning, and I'm surrounded by the happy sound of snoring dogs, content that they're warm and well-cared for. Particularly, my foster, Colby, who seems to wake up every morning, truly grateful to see my face, knowing I'm the person who picked him up from the pound. Colby sleeps on the floor, most times, since the other two have long ago claimed the sofa or the bed. Colby still finds a comfortable place (usually not far from me) to lay down and rest. When he's finally asleep, his tongue pokes out of his mouth and
he's completely at peace
When I think about the dogs, particularly Colby, I think about how dogs can be always present in the moment. They don't worry about the future, they don't generally have anxiety about the unknown. I watch them and am in complete awe of how contented they can be, and how they're completely unaware of what a gift it is to be able to live out their days in such a state of acceptance.
2011 was a great year for so many reasons, even with all of the highs, lows, frustrations and disappointments. Today, I am somewhat of a different version of who I was before I walked into my office on January 5th, having decided that it was time to make a change.
The other night, my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas. When she asked, I was very sure I knew specifically what would make me smile and bring a sense of happiness to me tomorrow. It seemed a "no-brainer" - I knew exactly what I wanted. Now that I've been thinking about it, I realized that of all of the things I want or that I think I want, I have to say now that all I want for Christmas is to learn to live with an attitude of acceptance instead of expectation.
I want to enter 2012 as someone who accepts things as they come and go, without judgement and with a sense of gratefulness for the life I have, exactly as it is., understanding that things are wonderful, every single day - just like Colby.
On January 5, 2011, I walked into my office and expected 2011 to be one of the better years in my career. Rejuvenated from a mini-vacation to Chicago, and optimistic about reaping the benefits of 4 previous years of hard work, I expected good things to happen. After building Mirepoix from the ground up, I was looking forward to a year where Mirepoix would turn the corner from start-up to small business.
I had not even sat down at my desk yet when my phone rang and when I answered it, I had no idea how right I was about 2011 being one of the best years of my career. The phone call didn't bring good news. Well, not obvious good news. The phone call was actually really frustrating and stressful. Within 90 seconds, I realized that 2011 was not going to be great because I was going to continue to lead Mirepoix. It became almost immediately apparent that I never should have come back from vacation.
Outraged and appalled, I decided that my days at the company I had built had finally come to an end. I had at long last reached my saturation point. There was finally absolutely NO reason for me to continue on as the director. I made up my mind that I would leave my position and start my own business. The next few months were spent trying to bring people up to speed on the ins and outs of the business so that when I left, there would be at least a somewhat easy transition.
There were days when I was emotional. There were days when I was downright sad. There were days when I would feel flashes of terror when I imagined life without the company I had come to love as my own. When I finally moved out of my office and left my keys on the desk, I felt a sense of relief. I went about the business of starting my own business, and this little bird left the nest in May, ready for the triumphs and challenges of entrepreneurship.
9 out of 10 days, I noticed that I've been happier than I've ever been in my entire life, and, in fact, 2011 was the best year of my career, as well as my personal life. If you've been reading the blog, you know that there have been fits of frustration and fear, but, at the end of it all, nothing was as scary as the thought of staying where I had been.
Taking the risk had been worth it.
There are people who think I have it all figured out. I don't.
There are some who think that I am a successful business person who doesn't struggle with money issues, cash-flow problems, or lost business. I do.
From the outside, it might appear that I'm completely fearless and never worry. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's scary in here sometimes!
I'm not saying that my contented state of mind and outwardly relaxed appearance is a facade. I'm just saying that I've come to the realization that allowing fear to run your life is, for lack of a better word, stupid.
This is the thing - In my life, I've had moments of monumental unhappiness and epic fear. Because of some extreme life experiences, I've come to see that there are just some things you shouldn't do to yourself because life is just too short to be so afraid. I figured out that the things I valued before didn't bring me real happiness or confidence. They didn't enhance relationships or quality of life.
I realized that I had trophies and accomplishments because I fought bitterly and doggedly for them. Whatever I had, I earned through sheer tenacity and a desperate need to prove a point. While persistence and commitment (read "stubbornness") were qualities I considered noble, I enjoyed the victories alone. Hollow. Totally Hollow.
When I made this realization, I started changing.
On Monday morning, I had an appointment with the Michigan Department of Agriculture as I entered the final phase of licensing of Three Little Birds Granola. My mom drove me and waited in the parking lot, hoping to lend moral support as I had a lot on my mind and needed a friendly traveling companion as I made the trip to Holt where the granola is now made.
Three Little Birds was a dream that eventually became a reality, after several long months, obstacles, and small victories and set-backs. The licensing of this product has been one of the most complicated, time-consuming and overwhelming projects that I've ever undertaken.
Obtaining the license was a huge accomplishment; not because it's intellectually or physically difficult. It was an accomplishment because it was a triumph of patience and perseverance. More than that, though, it was a victory because it represented how much my life could change in 12 short months because I made the decision to let go of my fear and take a risk.
When I settled into bed on Monday night, the sense of accomplishment was not as strong as the sense of thankfulness that I had the benefit of support of friends and family along the way. It was also incredibly obvious that nothing worth talking about matters if you don't have people you love to talk about it with.
Thanks to all of you who have been there along the way. Every gesture, big and small have been appreciated more than you could ever know.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a lot of really important reasons. I love how Thanksgiving brings friends, family and neighbors together as sort of a kick-off to the holiday season. I also love the delicious foods, family recipes, and sharing a wonderful meal with those you love. I love the crisp fall weather, the gorgeous jewel tones on wreaths, fallen leaves, and pumpkins. For all of these reasons and many more, Thanksgiving is the highlight of the holiday season for me, mostly because of its simple message.
In the historical context, the tradition of Thanksgiving is deeply rooted American culture, having evolved from a harvest celebration between Pilgrims and Native Americans, to the modern-day day of feasting we now enjoy. What is most meaningful to me about Thanksgiving is that it's a holiday that everyone can celebrate. Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, Muslims, men, women, and children can all find SOMETHING to be thankful for.
The notion of gratitude is an important one to me. With gratitude comes a sense of humility and sobering truth - none of us has prospered without the help of another. No matter how confident, competent, intelligent or talented, any amount of success we've come to enjoy is at least partially due to the support, encouragement, belief, and good will of others who have come alongside of us and helped us reach our goals, sell our products, build our businesses, and realize our potential.
Three Little Birds was a hobby at the outset; a distraction from the toxicity of my former workplace. 11 months later, Three Little Birds is a growing, successful enterprise - not because I'm a genius, or because I'm an amazing chef, or because the market needed my product. Three Little Birds is a hobby turned livelihood because of the amazing support and enthusiastic buying habits of my customers..
This year, as I gave thanks for family and friends, creature comforts and health, I gave particular thanks to all of you, who continue to support this company in large and small ways. I gave thanks for the understanding of what I was trying to do, the patience of those who still don't see the bags on the shelves of their favorite grocery store. For those who understand that good businesses, like good food, take time.
Thank you for being here. I wish all of you the happiest, healthiest holiday season ever.
I'm a realist. I like to study, research, investigate, and dig for information. When I decided to turn my granola recipe into a business, I knew that it was going to be a long road from the kitchen to the grocery store shelves, both figuratively and literally. I was counseled by the Michigan State Product Center about the several steps I would need to take, as well as the possible delays I would inevitably encounter as I went from production to retail. 10 months into it, there are still delays, and many months before everything will be "just so", according to the State of Michigan.
At times, this has been frustrating. At times, this has been irritating. At times, this has been a baffling set of time-wasting circumstances. At other times, it has been a laughable insight into the slow-moving cogs of bureaucracy. All of the frustration, irritation, and winding roads have led to the realization that the foundation of any business is patience and determination.
No matter what your business, no matter what your occupation, a key ingredient in the recipe for success is the ability to keep the long view in mind, even when you're met with a giant brick wall. A wall is just a wall; it isn't the end. Behind a wall is something else. Seldom are walls a permanent blockade.
It's important, when faced with a wall, to take some time to assess the situation, collect yourself, but then act. Don't let a temporary obstacle become a stand-still.
Inertia is an incredibly important element to the completion of any project. Losing momentum is a common mistake that many people make, simply because the fatigue of disappointment, frustration, and delayed success can ultimately sideline someone on the path towards reaching their goal.
When met with a set-back or delay, take the time to meet with a friend or mentor to blow off the steam and then move on. It's natural to feel like quitting, but it's essential that you don't. Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in your mission. Even the most positive person needs a cheering section.
Most importantly, be a cheerleader for someone else who is just starting out. Chances are, you know someone who is in need of a little boost. Helping a friend or colleague face the challenges in their career not only benefits them, it will help to keep things in perspective for you.
Keeping a fresh, optimistic and hopeful perspective will ensure that you will reach your goal. As Dale Carnegie wrote, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds