Recipes

Oatmeal Choclate Chip Cookies

Cooking Up Something Good in the Kitchen

I have a nine year old son that likes to cook.

I find this very exciting as I’m a bit of a cook myself. I’ve been know to whip up something from nothing and blow away the boys when they come to the table. I have a list of “go-to” recipes that will bring a smile each and every time. And sometimes I just show up at the grocery store, throw some things that sound good into the basket, then head home to make a yummy something or other.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all of my creations are winners. Trust me. Don’t believe me? Ask about Tandoori Tofu over drinks some day. It’s actually worse than it sounds!

Chefs HatNot many people know this, but I actually attended culinary school for a while. I never had aspirations of becoming a world famous chef that owns a world famous restaurant. Actually, just the thought of that career path makes my stomach turn. Don’t get me wrong – I love good food and love when other people make it, and am so happy that other people went to school to become amazing chefs.

No, my reasons for going to culinary school were a little different. My desire was to learn what the different ingredients did. If you add an egg, what does it do? Do you need to add salt to all baked goods? When should I use oil vs. butter? How do different spices effect the flavors of different foods? When do you add this or that? For me, it was more about the science of the ingredients and being able to predict what happens to a recipe if I add/subtract/double this or that. And during my semester of culinary education, I learned how to craft, revise, embellish, and otherwise overhaul recipes in a whole new way.

So, back to my nine year old son that likes to cook. He also has the “taste” for wanting to know what different ingredients do, how the combine them to create different tastes and textures. From time to time I’ll go downstairs into the kitchen to find him making cookies or muffins. One day he even decided to make dinner for the whole family. He’s always so excited about what he is making! I absolutely love his enthusiasm.

Except he never follows a recipe.

Think about that for just a minute. He’s making cookies without a recipe. He’s making muffins without a recipe. He’s making a “dinner casserole” (his name for it) without a recipe. He carefully gets out all of the ingredients he would like to use. He throws some of this in a bowl along with a scoop of that. Adds a pinch of something and a dash of another. Sticks his finger in, tastes it, then decides if it needs more of one thing or another. Then he’ll get the baking pan or the muffin tin out, measure out his concoction, and asks me to put it in the oven for him.

Let’s just say there was one batch of muffins would could actually chew and swallow, although we felt the effects for a couple of days. There have been at least two batches of cookies that were completely inedible. I don’t know what they tasted like because they were so stuck to the pan that we couldn’t get any of them off. We had to soak the pan for two days before the “cookies” came off the pan. Dinner casserole was edible-ish, but very salty.

So why am I sharing this story? Not to embarrass him, I promise. (Although this will be a good post to share with his fiance one day!) But while watching his enthusiasm in the kitchen, creating what he hoped were the best cookies and muffins ever made, putting in great efforts (and sometimes a licked spoon) to batters that looked and smelled perfect, it occurred to me that he’s using the same strategies for baking that some business owners use when creating their marketing plan. He’s throwing a bunch of ingredients together to see if it’s going to work.

After each of these cooking experiments, I explained to him that it is best to start with a recipe. Since man first discovered fire, people have been creating and documenting how to prepare certain dishes – what ingredients to use, how to combine them together, what temperature to cook them at and for how long. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, or in this case, the recipe, each time you step into the kitchen.

It’s the same thing when you are trying to market your business. You can throw some stuff together. It may look okay. And then you put it out to the world. But no one is biting (pun intended). Maybe your message was a little flat or left a bad taste in your ideal client’s mouth. You could keep mixing different marketing strategies together trying to get the right amounts of each ingredient. Or, you can use a “marketing recipe” by learning from what people have done in the past and emulating the best parts of it.

There are plenty of marketing strategies out there. You can think of these are your business’s marketing cookbook. You can thumb through the cookbook, pick out two or three recipes that you want to give a try. Be sure to take the time to read through the whole recipe to make sure you don’t leave out any key ingredients.

And, just as there are different recipes for different eating types (gluten free, vegetarian, nothing but bacon), different marketing types will gel with you and your business in different ways. Speaking engagements may give you indigestion, while networking events will send you into a marketing “food” coma. Learn to listen to yourself and figure out the marketing recipes that you are going to feel the best about. We call this marketing alignment.

What the best part of starting with a recipe? In both the kitchen and your marketing strategies, if you start with something you know works, THEN you can experiment. Add a pinch of nutmeg to your oatmeal cookies. Throw in a dash of live workshops to your marketing mix. If you don’t like how it turns out, you fall back to what you know already works.

Not sure what marketing strategies are in alignment with you and your business? Let’s chat. We can help you figure out what recipe is best for you and your business and help you design an marketing action plan.


My Favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup unsifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 cups uncooked oatmeal
12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesIn large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes). Add vanilla and egg, mix on low sped until incorporated. In seperate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (optional).

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies, 10-11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool for 1 minute on baking sheet then remove to wire rack. Store in a tightly covered container.

Make it your own!
Add a pinch of cloves or a little more nutmeg. Leave out the walnuts. Use dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. Swap out dried cherries for chocolate chips.


Now it’s your turn! Let us know what your favorite marketing mix is. Or just let us know if you liked the cookies. We’d love to hear from you!

Confessions of a Serial Killer

I am a serial killer.

I go out and try to kill it in my business every single day. I pride myself on being available for my clients. I provide them when high quality designs, quality programming. I use my 20 years of marketing experience to find ways to help clients grow their business through their websites and social media. I create engaging print materials to help my clients express themselves with a consistent message and brand across all their marketing platforms. I’ve even been known to spend 1.5 hours on the phone doing email tech support. I am not an email tech support person. But I do it because I want my clients to have the best possible customer service that I can provide to them. I kill it at customer service!

I am a serial killer.

MinecraftI try show up and be present every day for my family. I rouse kids out of bed. I make breakfast. I clean the kitchen, straighten up the living room, and sort through school papers too numerous to count. I make lunch. I shuttle kids to swimming, soccer, baseball, golf, lacrosse practice …. whatever is the sport du jour. I drive kids to piano lessons amid complaints of how this is such a waste of their time! And each time I tell them they will thank me some day. I listen to endless stories about MineCraft and Five Nights at Freddy’s with interest and enthusiasm – even though sometimes I think they are speaking a different language. I counsel and guide them on how to better communicate with the neighborhood kids. “You shouldn’t slam the door in the younger kid’s face. Just politely decline his invitation to come outside to play.” I play mediator between brothers who both want to play games on the Xbox at the same time. I take out the trash. I play nurse to scrapes, bruises, growing pains, bloody noses. I make dinner. I clean the kitchen. I grump and growl to get them to take a shower and brush their teeth. I tuck kids into bed.

I am a serial killer.

I try to bring my very best to everything I do and kill it!

But there are some days when I just can’t bring 100% to my work and family. There are some days when you’ve worked a 14 hour day staring at little tiny pieces of code on a computer monitor and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and decompress. There are days when you wake up and it’s cold outside and you just don’t have the energy – the spark – that you know the day is going to require. There are days when all you want to do is not do anything.

It has taken me a long time to realize and acknowledge that there are days when my best self just isn’t going to be the person that shows up. And, that it is okay to have these days from time to time.

I’ve learned there is a pattern to when these days show up. They show up when work has been particularly busy and stressful – like when I’ve been working nose-to-the-grindstone to get a big project launched. I put all my effort into making sure these projects launch as smoothly as possible, whether that means extra hours behind the computer or on the phone with tech support, or emailing clients at midnight to let them know that the last items have been checked off the list. The project is completed. The project is finished. The stress level is reduced. And the body and mind shut down.

In the past I’ve tried to push through these days. I’ve tried to force myself to work through it knowing there is another project ready for me to work on, another load of laundry to do, more housecleaning that needs to be done, more errands that need to be run, more phone calls to make, new clients to win over. There is never not a to-do list. Ever.

But trying to push through these days is like trying to swim in mud. I takes a lot of effort and you don’t get very far.

 


 

Instead, I embrace them. I celebrate these days. I acknowledge that I am feeling run down and exhausted because I gave my best to my work and my family and know it is time to take care of ME. I know that I need to rest to recover so that I can get back to killing it at full strength in less time that if I just “worked through it.”

 


Moscow Mule

Recently, one such recovery day presented itself. I woke up exhausted mentally and physically. In a five day time span I launched a big website, launched a new business (Soulful Mompreneur), took a short road trip, nursed a sick kid back to health, and celebrated a friend’s birthday with a river party cookout. I rolled over in bed that glorious Sunday morning, looked at my husband and said, “I’m not doing anything today.”  I celebrated by staying in my PJs all day long. I didn’t even put on a bra. I never left the house. I binge watched a show on Netflix. I made & drank Moscow Mules. I relaxed. Every so often my husband would ask, “Hey you wanna go do ______?” And my answer each time was, “No, thank you. I’m taking a day off today.”

My friend Katie celebrates these days a little differently than me. She leaves the family behind and goes on a hike in a remote area or on a little known trail. She takes water and some nibbles. She goes into the woods and takes the time to look, feel and listen. She notices the pattern in the bark. She watches the squirrels play in the tree tops. She stops by a stream and listens to music of the water as is flows past her. She reconnects to nature as a way to reconnect and recharge herself.

Here is my challenge to you. The next time you find yourself run down, disconnected, over tired, over stressed, or whatever state of being you find yourself when you can no longer give your best to your work and your family, take some time just for you. It doesn’t have to be a whole day. Maybe a few hours are enough for you to recharge and take charge again. Always remember that you have to take time to take care of your self. Otherwise, you can’t be there to take care of the other important things in your life.

What do you do to recharge? We invite you to share in the comments below.