Winning

And isn’t it a little eerie that the man giving out the award was the same gentleman I sat down with just over a year ago to “Interview” about potential job opportunities in Peterborough?. I met Jim Grant when he pulled up outside the bookstore one lovely Fall day in his antique MG.  I was about to enter and do my first reading/signing for my newly minted book. Giving credit where it is due, it was my neighbor Wilson who introduced us. It was also Wilson’s way of try to clean up a terrible pile of proverbial poop he had left on my doorstep that morning. I was beyond nervous and outraged, two emotions that don’t bode well for meeting the public and hawking your book.

The signing/reading went very well. I stored away Jim Grant in the back of my mind. He is one of the few people left in this world who knew my grandfather. He is also an exceptional student of local history and a successful entrepeneur. When I came to the conclusion my break from life was over and I needed gainful employment, I called Jim. We went to lunch, his treat. He listened to my ideas, gave me lots of names of local folks to contact, and though I knew he could have offered me a job, he gave me something better.

“Listening to all you’ve done and all you want to do, I think there isn’t a “JOB” out there for you.  You need to create one. Reinvent yourself!”

With a smile he was gone and I was still unemployed. But I had names. I went to the local bookstore, site of my reading, and pitched the idea of a Christmas Book Fair featuring all the local authors I could find.Those names lead to other ideas and in the middle of these lovely, non-paying ventures, I found Korey, Kim and the store.

One week ago today, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce had their “Community Awards Gala” and the little store, and our team (and in a very small sense, I,) won the Business of the Year award. Jim Grant presented it, Korey accepted. Later, Jim came by to congratulate Korey. There was a crowd and suddenly we were face to face. I know that look when someone can’t quite place you. They are searching the memory banks.

“I’m Brim Woods granddaughter. You didn’t make it to my book signing but you took me out to lunch and instead of a job you gave me the best advice ever. I have reinvented myself.”

Winning is about change, change is reinvention.

 

Unexpected joys

When you find a way to communicate your dissatisfaction with someone without blowing a hole in your relationship.

A plant, a descendent from a cutting my mother-in-law gave me twenty-five years ago,  suddenly decides to bloom – perhaps to remind me seasonal decorations come in all forms.

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A Facebook post that somehow rose to the top of my pile of correspondence; to remind me of things that are important in my life.

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This was Hanni and I riding on the beach in Northern California two Christmases ago and her comment was: Thanks Mamma Bear for your endless support, wisdom, and kindness!

Love you forever and always!
xoxo

A store full of holiday shoppers whose high spirits were only topped by happy co-workers who really matter to each other.

Finding the unexpected joys in a day that went as it was supposed to go, even though it didn’t go as I expected…

 

I wrote the above post on the fifteenth of December, but never published it. Here I am fifteen days later, wondering why I have allowed the unexpected joys to escape me? When did my edges turn prickly and sharp? When was the moment my patience grew as short as the daylight?  Weak and strained, I bite back on the harsh words that form in my mind.

I’ve lost the rhythm of myself and life.

Simple gifts; “When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we will not be ashamed. To turn, turn will be our delight, ’til by turning, turning we come round right.” Time to turn and find freedom again in the simple joys…happy begets happy.

I will end this year with the hope of simple gifts bestowed upon all of us; the smile of a stranger, the kiss of a child, the warmth of feeling loved.

Bali Man copy

 

Dreadlocks of life…

My hair is a rat’s nest of snarls, maybe I’m embracing my inner “Rastafarian” finally and it’s the stress leaving my body through my tresses. I barely take time to squeeze out a post each day, and the posts of other’s, I long to read and comment on, pile up in my inbox.  The poor dogs are desperate for attention, the cats are clingy, bills need paying and while there are funds there is no time. Laundry piles are high and the cupboards are bare. Tonight I hit a new low when I stopped for take-out Pad Thai and Sashimi for dinner.

But I have never been more energized. Retail during the holiday season is, as our landlord says, “Drinking from a firehose.” The hours fly by and I never watch the clock. I have no idea until the windows darken that the day is over. I go in to work earlier and leave later. Every day we note a new milestone in sales. It feels so good to be part of something so exciting. Smiles and thanks and good cheer fill my day.

So if I look a little disheveled and miss a post or two over the next week, I hope my readers will forgive me. I’m going to go pat a dog and make a long over-due call to a friend…

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Peterborough Chamber of Commerce

I started this week out with a post about life at the store. It seems fitting to end the week with one; because it is where life is constantly evolving and interesting at the moment.

Business has picked up dramatically with the ‘leaf-peeper’ season which is probably in its final hurrah this weekend. Appropriately, it is also “Peak Into Peterborough” weekend with lots of hometown activities planned.

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When the Chamber of Commerce called to say they had us scheduled for a ribbon cutting ceremony AND an after-hours networking event, I fumed. Must have been a hole in the schedule because neither  Korey nor I remembered signing up for this. On the other hand, we were there and there was lots to show off.

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Deb was to cut the ribbon, flanked by Kim and Korey. First, we posed the picture facing out of the new space, as if they were ‘opening’ the room.

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Then everyone did the crowd shuffle and the ribbon was cut with them facing out of the new room as if they were letting us in the new side. All very confusing, since I was  photographing the ceremony , along with twenty or so other iPhone photographers.

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In the end, it was an interesting people watching/meeting/hiding-from-some kind of night. But I did that gig when I was the President of the Boston Chapter of NIRI just two short years ago. Giving up working for public corporations meant tightening myself deeper in to my shell of what makes me comfortable at the end of the day. Networking is not my comfort zone.

The Cheese is Gone…

Friday

There are vast quantities of food in my home at the moment. Some sits by the door in insulated coolers because the fridge is over-flowing. One whole shelf is designated for  cheese. That’s the most tempting. A rich, creamy, grass-fed cow’s milk Feta and a deeply veined blue that melts on your tongue like ice cream. These are from a local farm in Wilton, NH and are my favorite so far. The cooler arrived at the store today but had to be installed and chilled down. Korey picked up an ice chest full of cheese before work so that will go in tonight but the rest is calling to me. The other shelves hold enormous amounts of cabbage braised in Cinnamon-Pear balsamic and Potatoes Anna finished with Pumpkin Seed Oil. Hanni and Lex will be pleased to hear ‘Mummo’ cleaned out the ‘science experiments’ moldering in the back of the refrigerator such as mint jelly from 2010 and assorted pickles.

Left-overs from my dinner, a fresh Bluefish fillet marinated in French Tarragon white balsamic and California Garlic Olive Oil, is squeezed in next to the chocolate fudge sauce I plan to put on my peppermint ice cream before bed.

All sorts of wonderful new products arrived at the store today. A local woodworker brought us a selection of bowls, cutting boards and utensils. More blown glass dipping dishes arrived along with hand blown jars for the salts and herbs. Every time I turned around, someone was walking through the door with more items to fill the little store. A full larder is a good thing.

This weekend is Peterborough’s 275th anniversary. The ads are placed, the press releases written and sent. Now we sit back and wait for the craziness to begin!

Saturday

Cheese dominates my life; cheese filling my refrigerator, waiting for the cheese cooler, having cheese and cooler finally come together for the biggest day the store has seen so far in its short history.

We went through a lot of cheese today. A couple of times during the crush I heard Korey call out to the crowds of shoppers, “anyone in an orange cap can fill a bottle or help you out!” and there was a happy smile under each cap. Our cobbled-together cooking demo was hugely successful and I don’t mind saying the food was really good. The weather could have been better for the tourists but for us it meant they were seeking shelter, warm food, and entertainment. We do well at the entertaining part…

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I have the best bosses in the world! Kim manned the food table for our cooking demo at the front door.   She and I managed to pull off Chef Joe’s menu of Braised Pork Roast in Red Apple balsamic, and my cabbage and potatoes; all but the Pineapple Cream Pie. Luckily, Deb came through with homemade apple crisp.

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Deb, keeping bottles filled and customers happy!

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The new Salt and Herb Tasting room finally has its cheese. We served up three varieties to sample until those ran out – literally every crumb. I grabbed several more out of the case to use as tasters and those flew off the shelves as well.

We were so lucky to have Melissa Spencer from Attar Herbs for the début of the salt and herb tasting bar.  Filling, weighing and stocking these delectables was an education the first time through. Listening to Melissa talk recipes and uses with folks was fascinating.

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Her eye for organizing and her help at filling all the tasting jars brought the concept together. It’s so much fun working with smart, creative people.

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Say “Cheese!”

 

 

Cooking up some fun

I have savored the recipes all week. Last Saturday, Chef Elizabeth Skipper, from The Everyday Epicure, came to the shop for our fifth drop-in cooking demo. I’m fascinated by the range of ability each guest chef has to offer. Elizabeth concentrated on appetizers and the results were stunning!

The day began with a bit of a struggle. Deb and I had agreed to meet at 8:45 to prep the shop before opening. She was picking up balloons and it never occurred to either of us that the Dollar Store wouldn’t open until 9:30. I became panicked when she didn’t arrive until 9:45 but with the help of our landlords, the tent went up, the tables were set and everything came together.

As to the food? Chef Skipper cooked up Sicilian Chicken tidbits with mint sauce, Bruschetta, and fried Sage Leaves.

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The weather was perfect; cool but sunny. Customers, old and new, flocked to the shop and with the help of Deb and Kelly, we pulled off another successful day!

Recipes are up on the shop web site if you are interested.

(Photos courtesy LandSPhotography)

Superfoods with Super Taste!

Peterborough was bustling. There were sidewalk sales and rubber duck races on the river for the annual Depot Square Days and one of the best Saturday’s, weather-wise, in weeks. By the time we had the tent for the cooking demo set up, curious folks were lining the doorway and filling the shop.

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Chef Jim’s début at Monadnock Oil and Vinegar (MOV) was a smashing success with fabulous food and fun conversations about cooking. The menu centered around healthy recipes using MOV’s oils and vinegars as well as spices from Attar Herbs. Jim is a consummate cooking contest award winner and has many great recipes under his belt. We set up outside and as soon as his Cajun Lightning Chicken hit the grill, mouths were watering and the air was full of delicious smells.

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A salad of kale, quinoa, almonds, raisins and crasins was dressed with champagne vinegar and blood orange infused olive oil.

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There was a glorious fruit salad with an array of flavored balsamic vinegars; chocolate, blueberry, lemongrass-mint and cranberry-pear. The Superfoods Snack Bars were a big hit for dessert. Guessing from the number of sales inside the store, he served about 150 samples to hungry folks in the three hours he was cooking.

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More importantly, we introduced a lot of new folks to the idea of cooking with healthy ingredients and trying new ways to “dress up” favorites. We had printed up recipe cards to hand out and people flowed from the food into the store to buy the oils and vinegars recommended in the recipes.  I have to say, the cooking demos are one of my favorite events for meeting new folks, catching up with regulars and just enjoying a day in the store.