Happy New Year! As the first few days of 2020 come to a close, I cannot help but look back on what 2019 had to offer. It was definitely a year of ups and downs for me both professionally and personally. And the truth is, I started this blog post 3 weeks ago and 2020 did not get started the way I had planned. I apologize for the delay and lack of engagement. I am ready to get the year started off right!
In 2017, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to hire someone to work with me at Julie’s Beet. I made that happen in 2017 but in early 2019, it became clear that that relationship was ending. It was a wonderful having someone to bounce ideas off of and help out with the workload, but it just didn’t make sense anymore. We parted ways amicably and I started to look for someone new. It isn’t always easy to find the perfect person especially in a small business like mine. Thus, the search continues… On the flip side, working by myself has forced me to be more efficient in my actions and more purposeful as well. It has forced me to become more of a planner and less of a last minute person. I look at this as a positive. On a positive note for 2019, my family grew by one. We welcomed a healthy baby boy in August and he has become my partner in crime over the past 5 months. While he doesn’t have so much to say, he is a very good listener and is always there to lend a smile when needed. Pretty soon, he will also be able to taste the products and will become a much better helper!
Looking ahead to 2020, I have made some resolutions or goals for my business. I’m going to share them with you so you can hold me accountable.
Update the IT system – While there’s not too much tech work at Julie’s Beet there is some. I need to give the whole ‘system’ an update starting with a new laptop computer, having something with more storage and power will allow me to be more efficient at task at hand. I also plan on updating parts of the website, making it more user friendly.
Find the Right Help – I mentioned above that I have been working solo for most of the last year. In the past I created a position that combined many skills from customer service to marketing to packing and shipping. The truth is, it is pretty difficult to find someone who excels in all of the these areas. I plan to divide and conquer, which may mean hiring a marketing specialist in addition to someone to help out around the shop. At the end of the day finding the right person for the specific task is most important.
Stay Fresh – I love all of the products in the marketplace(they wouldn’t be there if I didn’t) but I also feel it is important to keep the products relevant. If something is amazing but just isn’t what you all want, then it is time to find something else. I get it, just because I love something doesn’t mean you will too! My plan is to continue looking for new and innovative artisans that follow our goals and bring those artisans and their products to you!
And with this list I plan to go out and give my all in 2020!
Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday and if you’re like me you received many reminders to #shopsmall. American Express started Small Business Saturday 10 years ago. It falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving when many people are in full-blown holiday shopping mode. While it is nice to have reminder to shop from smaller artisans/stores/retailers this time of the year, I think it is important to shop small year-round. Don’t get me wrong I still order from Amazon, especially when I need a gift for the birthday party my son is attending in a few days or I’m pretty much out of diapers, but I do try to think ahead and order from small businesses and shop at local boutiques.
One of the reasons I shop from smaller artisans is because their product tends to be more unique. Everyone starts small and when they do they are really passionate about what they are making. This results in a product that is made with love and attention to every detail. There is also a lot of pride when you produce something that has your name on it. I always feel I am getting a quality product when I shop small because an artisan will only sell something that makes them smile.
I saw a statistic last week that small women-owned businesses employ 9.4 million workers and that is just women-owned businesses. Keeping small business alive is what keeps these jobs. Think about that the next time you shop. I know large businesses employ more workers but the barista at Starbucks is very different from the barista at your local coffee shop. The local shop probably has a lot more personality and that barista has a much higher chance of moving up the ranks and learning about running a business versus just making coffee.
The next time you’re walking down the road or looking for a gift online, look a little further than the big shops. By shopping small I guarantee you’ll get something you truly enjoy.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While we all eat a fairly similar menu on Thanksgiving Day( Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie). It got me thinking that there are so many amazing foods to be thankful for, I cannot believe we all limit ourselves while we celebrate each year. Here is an alphabet version of the foods I’m most thankful for.
Walking down the street earlier this week I stumbled upon a sample sale. This one was for high-end pajamas, undies and robes. As I walked past, I started thinking about who I need to buy gifts for this holiday season and circled back to the sale. I purchased some super soft hoodies for my nieces and thought about what I was going to get everyone else on my list. My husband is from a big family and there are 11 cousins we give gifts to. They range in age from 4 to 26! I always try to be the cool aunt but also want to give something that I would like my children to receive. We have a budget for the gifts so everyone is gifting at the same level.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the gifts I’ll be purchasing for the remaining cousins but the whole experience got me thinking about this type of gifting. Often in offices or among groups of friends, you are in a situation where you are getting a gift for someone but have a spending limit for the gift. You want to get something thoughtful but that is sometimes difficult with the limitations set. The marketplace at Julie’s Beet has some great buys for the budget conscious. Here are some of my favorites in each category. Let’s be honest, a $10 bar of chocolate is so much better than a $10 bottle of wine so focus you’re efforts here!
Under $10 :Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles… so sweet and delicious, the bag will be finished in one sitting but the recipient will be thanking you for days.
From $10 – $25 :P & T Tea … These boxes of tea are a work of art on the outside and filled with 15 tea bags to keep the recipient warm all winter long.
From $26 – $50:Pasta Tonight Gift Set … This set includes Due Cellucci Tomato Sauce, Semolina Artisanal Pasta & FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Giving the gift of a good meal cannot be beat!
From $75-100:FIVE Oil & Vinegar Set… A bottle of FIVE Estate Balsamic Vinegar and FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil are a statement on any table. Together this duo makes a great salad dressing or dipping sauce for bread.
It is never too early to start your holiday shopping. We’ll include a handwritten not with every order and can even hold the order to ship closer to the holidays if that is your preference.
Pumpkin spice has been in season for a while now but it is finally PUMPKIN season! I ordered two cans of pumpkin this week with my groceries. That way I’ll have some on hand when the pumpkin baking begins. They always seem to run out close to Thanksgiving when everyone is making pumpkin pie, so now I am prepared for once. I actually don’t have any plans to make pumpkin pie but I will be making pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies. I’ll be sure to post the results on Instagram with the recipes too.
This weekend we’ll head out to Secor Farms for their hayrides, animal farm, pumpkin patch, corn maze and probably some apple cider and apple cider donuts. Maybe we’ll even have some hot chocolate if we’re feeling very decadent. That gives us just a few days to decide how we are going to decorate those pumpkins before Halloween. If all goes as planned one will turn into a proper jack-o-lantern with an electric candle and the other will be decorated with paint or markets. The pumpkins will become a part of our decor through the fall and into the winter(until the Hanukkah decorations come out!).
Head over to our Pinterest Board The Great Pumpkin for more pumpkin inspiration. What is your favorite part of pumpkin season?
Today is going to be a great day… it is Friday, hopefully the sun is shining where you are and it is National Chocolate Cupcake Day! I believe cupcakes are the perfect sweet morsel. They are just as delicious as a cake but you can eat them with your hands and have all of the deliciousness of the cake in one or a few bites, depending on the size. When thinking about the perfect chocolate cupcake the one that comes to mind are cupcakes I often had during my childhood. These cupcakes were a moist chocolate cake and had a dollop of cream cheese chocolate chip filling baked right on top. It was like they were frosted without the added mess of the frosting. Here is an upgraded, adult version of that recipe from my childhood.
Be sure to have a chocolate cupcake or two today to celebrate!
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper cups and set aside.
-In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, egg and sugar for the filling. Once combined fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside
-In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, Rococo Chocolates Drinking Chocolate, baking soda & salt. Gradually add the water, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla. Mix to combine, stirring well for 2-3 minutes.
-Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin cups just filling ½ way. Drop a large spoonful of cream cheese filling on top the muffin batter.
-Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cupcake should come out clean.
If you have ever read the book Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, you know that dragons love tacos but they hate spicy salsa. I am very similar to dragons in that I also love tacos but do not care for too much spice with them. That doesn’t stop me from finding great tacos and when a taco is too spicy a dip of guacamole or a sip of a margarita will usually do the trick. In honor of National Taco Day today, here is a round up of some of my favorite taco spots in New York City.
Tacombi – The authentic Mexican tacos at this casual eatery are all delicious. One stand out is the Mayan Fish Tacos. Have them prepared tikin xic-style for a real treat. The fish is marinated in achiote, chiles and spices and served without sauce in a fresh tortilla. The corn here is also excellent.
Playa Betty’s– A ‘California-Style’ restaurant which has an extensive taco selection. The best on the menu are the avocado taco and the fried fish taco. Both are battered and fried to crisp perfection, paired with a fresh salsa and are best finished with a squeeze of lime.
Cosme– An upscale Mexican restaurant where you’ll find the best Duck Carnitas Tacos around. The duck is pretty tasty on its own but put it into a fresh made tortilla with some fresh radishes & cilantro and you have a taco to remember.
Whether you are a purist and like you’re your tacos in a flour tortilla letting the ingredients speak themselves or like the more American version with cheese, lettuce & tomato, you just cannot go wrong with a taco or two.
Comment below with your favorite taco flavor combination.
As football season kicked off last weekend for Colleges across the country and the NFL, my mind naturally turns to tailgating. For me that is the best part of attending a football game. In fact, some of my fondest memories from college are of tailgates with my family and friends. The Google definition of tailgating is to host or attend a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium. At Purdue University, my alma mater, tailgating before a football game was an event. I was an expert at this before I even got to college as my family has been long time Purdue supporters and tailgaters. The parking lot behind Ross-Ade Stadium was where we would eat peanuts mixed with candy corn, cold fried chicken and sometimes hot chili. My grandfather would walk the aisles trying to sell or buy tickets to the game depending on our family’s attendance that week.
While my family certainly has our own tailgating traditions, here are some of the best from college football stadiums across the country:
Texas A & M – In College Park, Texas the tradition is to arrive well before the game, the night before in fact. At midnight before a home football game Kyle Field is filled with 40,000 plus fans for the midnight yell. A cheer practice of sorts before the big game!
University of South Carolina – Before a Gamecocks Game in Columbia, SC you can rent out railroad cars less than 50 yards from the stadium for your tailgate. Each car is decked out with a flat-screen television and full kitchen. This is where tailgating dreams come true!
University of California Berkeley- Just east of California Memorial Stadium is a small hill where fans for football climb for a free view of the game. Climbing charter hill has become a standing game day tradition and a great way to enjoy tailgate snacks throughout the game.
Summer has a whole new meaning when you are a kid compared with when you are a ‘grown-up’. As a child, summer is a break from the norm of the school year, a chance to play more and work less. As an adult or grown-up summer is pretty much the same… while the attire at the office may be more casual, and if you are lucky, you get to leave early on Fridays, there is still work to be done at the office and around the house. This summer at my house was no different than past summers… my two older boys had too much fun at camp, my husband went off to work sweating in his suits on the subway platforms and Julie’s Beet continued to grow and evolve. My husband works in an industry with a mandated 2-week vacation. Clearly this isn’t any food related industry😊His vacation from work has always provided us with the opportunity to take some time away from the city and really enjoy summer as a family.
This week I have been in Ulster County New York with my family. We recently grew from a family of 5 to a family of 6 so didn’t want to venture too far from home. We are far enough from Manhattan that it really does feel like an escape from the city. We debated going away at all this summer but I really felt like it would be good for all of us to take a real break from our everyday lives before the kids head back to school and business is back to normal. We rented a house with a pool and a big yard so we really don’t have to go too far to find entertainment. What I have found is that there are a lot of really cool things about New York State that I have never experienced until this vacation.
I see a lot of farm names in the supermarket and when I am placing my Fresh Direct order. Driving down the road the other day I spotted 2 different farms that I recognized. We really are immersed in the farms of New York and it is great to put a face with a name, so to speak. On that note there is plenty of fresh produce to find along the side of the road and at local farm stands. We picked out some local tomatoes and raspberries at the local farmers market which were superb. I am not sure what it is but everything tastes better when you know where it came from. There are also a lot of local vineyards, breweries and distilleries. So along with locally grown food products, there is also a lot to drink!
Tomorrow morning, we’ll load up the car and head back to the city. I hope we’ll return feeling a bit refreshed from the week away. I can assure you we have taken in more sunshine and fresh air than we do on a normal week in NYC. We’ve gotten used to being a bigger family and working together to make that successful for all of us. I hope you’re off enjoying the last un-official weekend of summer. I’m not sure about you but I am definitely counting down the days until school starts, just 4 more days until my oldest starts kindergarten!
Feeding a family of 5 takes real work. I have to be organized enough to have food in the house that everyone likes and plan meals according to those likes and dislikes. When will all the kids just eat what we are eating?!?! Sunday night is family night at our dinner table and I try my hardest to cook something that will please everyone. Some nights are more successful than others.
Feeding a family of 6 is something I have just begun to contemplate… at the moment I am really working out how to eat properly to be able to have enough nutrients for myself and the baby.
Here are some tricks I remember from the last time I was taking care of a newborn.
Have Food Ready to Eat: While cutting a few pieces of cheese to go with some sliced apple sounds simple enough to put together for your afternoon snack; it is tricky to do that with a baby in your arms. Cut up the cheese ahead of time and that snack is much easier to grab.
Snacks are just as Important as Meals: Being able to grab a handful of almonds is great way to get some energy through that afternoon slump without having too much sugar. Even better, mix those almonds with some chocolate chips and raisins for a trail mix of sorts. I also buy the snack size bags of my kids’ favorites and keep them in a big tub in the pantry. They can help themselves and I know they aren’t eating too much with the smaller packages. Getting too hungry is a recipe for disaster for you and the kids.
Water: Staying hydrated is super important but even more so when your body is creating milk for someone else. If you don’t love the taste add a little something to the water like sliced watermelon, fresh lemon, herbs or cucumber. It will make the water a little more exciting and keep you going.
Protein: This a big piece of staying focused and energized when taking care of a little one and a larger family. I have hard boiled eggs ready to go in the refrigerator along with other high protein items like hummus and sliced deli meat. A handle full of protein will go a long way.
I hope these tips will keep you going whether you’re taking care of a family of 6 or just yourself. Let me know if you have any other tips to keep me going through the transition!