Perfect Pasta

March is National Noodle month, a month that most kids and parents love.  Noodles are part of many of our favorite foods including lasagne, mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup.  Today I thought we’d recognize this favorite food with some yummy recipe ideas!

Noodles

Homemade egg noodles

Homemade pasta with sage butter

Gluten free pasta

Fresh herb pasta

Fresh dough for ravioli

Red pepper

Fresh beet dough

Soup

Chicken noodle

Spicy shrimp and Bok Choy noodle bowl

Spicy shrimp and noodles

Confetti chicken

Pasta e Fagioli

Salad

Greek pasta salad

Cilantro-lime pasta salad

Garden pasta salad with chicken

Pasta salad with fresh herbs

Buckwheat noodle salad

Pasta salad with broccoli and peanuts

Wacky Mac pasta salad

And More

Lasagna rolls

Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy orzo

Cheesy pasta primavera

Grilled tomato and corn pasta

Pasta and white beans with broccoli pesto

 

 

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3 Directional Questions for Success

Last week I shared some thoughts on how you can grow and improve your business this spring.  Following that this week I have been thinking about next steps.  Sometimes we know when we’re ready for next steps, other times we move to next steps way before we’re ready and sometimes we have no idea what the heck is going on.  If you feel like you’ve got so many plates in the air and are trying to align all things to make your 2014 spring a success, I thought we’d look at 3 questions this week that should be considered by anyone, whether you’re a single entrepreneur or you run a 100+ person company.

1: Is everyone in the organization clear on our overall direction? (Am I clear on where my business is headed?)

2: Is everyone clear on our highest present priorities?  (What are my priorities today, this week and this month?)

3: Does everyone see how their contribution fits into the big picture? (Am I making good contributions to the business?)

The power in these questions is that you’re not only considering what is being done but the impact of what is being done.  But more than that, it also helps you discover some of the things that are or aren’t working with your employees, or even with your customers.  For single entrepreneurs, when you consider these two things together you can choose to outsource some of the stuff that isn’t your biggest and best contribution to your business.  For businesses with employees, when people can’t see the big picture, when people don’t understand why what they’re doing matters today or in the long run, it becomes work instead of passion or pleasure and company culture can suffer greatly.

If you’re struggling or wondering why business isn’t growing and going like you want it to, these are just 3 of the questions you need to ask yourself.  Answering these 3 questions can immediately tell you why your business is headed in the direction it is and the things you need to start working on immediately.

Stuff that Shaped Us

Life is all about choices.  It’s all about how we get up in the morning, how we approach the day, what we think about our job, how we treat our family, what we do with our free time and how we’re planning our future.  Some of us can make good choices without thinking about it. Others of us seem to always end up on the wrong side of the tracks.  Since we were born we’ve been making choices, but those choices have been shaped by our experiences and by what those in our lives have said and taught us.  Some of us have learned good money habits from our parents, others of us don’t want to ever get married or have kids because of our parents.  During those formative childhood years we pick up on so much, stuff that we may not even realize until we’re much older.  Stuff that has deep and lasting impact on our lives and decisions.  Much of that has to do with the people who have shaped us.

If what you experienced as a child taught you that life is a struggle you’ll either decide to do something better with your life and make it happen, or you’ll stick with the “life is a struggle” mindset and stay stuck in poverty and bad experiences.  If other people have treated you like dirt and emphasized how worthless they think you are, one day you’ll either believe it or prove them wrong.  What these people have taught you will directly reflect on how you treat and interact with others.  At some point in time in your life you chose to give the people the power or take the power for yourself.

When you made the decision to take or release your power you set yourself up for success or failure.  The moment you chose to be a stick in the mud and hold things against people or release the belief in your limitless value you chose to keep things as they were or let them get worse.  If, however, you chose to not let the comments of people who would rather hurt you than help you, or the people who didn’t truly care about you find their own fate rather than aligning with them, you chose to succeed.

The good news is that if you didn’t like the choice you made earlier in your life, you can make that change today.

“I suggest taking the high road and have a little sense of humor and let things roll off your back.  I think that’s very important.”  Sallie Ride

Relationship Revitalization

With spring here I thought I would share a few ways to take advantage of the fresh air, free spirits and new life that comes with the transformations of spring.  Any relationship can get a fresh start at any time, of course, but it’s especially easy to consider when we’ve got all of the changes in the air and world around us.

1-see a coach or pastor.  It may seem like an excessive step to seek professional help, but this can be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to let issues that have been stewing for too long to be aired out and cleaned up.  Involving a coach or other professional gives you both the safety of another set of ears and impartial opinion that a family member or friend would not be able to offer you.

2-hire an organizer.  It’s a great time to get rid of stuff that’s been sitting around in your house for a really long time and is getting in the way of your relationship.  You would be surprised how the clutter around your house can affect your relationship.

3-commit to a date night each week.  A date night, even if it’s just 2-3 hours a week can be the start that you need to begin communications again and work through some of the issues and things that bother you both, and even more important, create time to rebuild and strengthen the bonds of love.

4-figure out your finances.  This is something that everyone should do on a regular basis, but with tax day coming up quickly, it’s an especially good time to really make sure both of you know the ins and outs of your finances and make a plan for where you really want things to be in the future.

5-spend more time outside.  I love being outdoors (even if I have to bring a tissue box). Getting outdoors as a couple for a weekly walk, or playing outside with your kids is important to feeling good and being healthy.

What are you going to do to grow your relationship this spring?

Spring Success

Spring is just about upon us here in the USA.  While I don’t see any flowers yet I am ready to do some spring cleaning and make sure my business is ready for the new season.  Here are my 5 suggestions for spring success.

1-offer something special.  I’m a big believer in taking advantage of holidays and seasons.  While you may not be comfortable discounting your products and services, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make special offers or put together special packages to honor or use the momentum of the seasons for the good of your business.

2-refresh your online information.  As people start to emerge from their winter hibernations they’ll be looking for services and products to move them into the more active life of the spring and summer.  If your information is dated (literally or figuratively) it’s imperative that you update it so people will see you’re someone they can trust to provide services for their needs today, not last year.

3-get rid of old services and products you no longer feel serves your tribe.  Sometimes it’s necessary to do a shelf clearing and remove offerings that aren’t contemporary, or don’t support your vision as a business.  Maybe it’s not a full clearing, but a new focus on one of the services or products that you want to work in more often.

4-clean up.  Yes, for the physical businesses it’s important to get rid of winter dirt and refresh their appearance.  No one likes to go to a business that looks like they belong in decades past.  People like clean, nice looking facilities, and don’t trust those that look sketchy or germy.

5-hire a coach or consultant.  If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on some of the reasons why your success isn’t growing like you want it to.  A coach or consultant can help you get a fresh perspective on the good, the bad and the opportunities you’re missing out on.

What will you be doing to be more successful this spring?

Spring Stories

I’m super excited for spring this week!  Although there are lots of things that can make us sneeze in the air, I love waking up each day knowing that there will be some new sign of life outside to discover that day.  Just like each day there are new signs of life outside our windows and around our homes, each day should bring new signs of life into our lives.  We should see progress, improvement and hope in our lives each day.  We will have discouraging days but most days should encourage us and inspire us to keep going.

What I love about spring is that each new development has its own story, just like each of us have our own stories.  No two people are exactly alike, so no two stories can be alike.  Each day’s new growth on the plants, flowers bursting just a little more open, baby animals growing a little bigger, grass growing a little greener tells a story as old as time about how nature comes alive.  Little by little we see our world transform from the dull shades of grey, brown and white of the winter into the lush shades of pinks, greens and yellows.

However, the sad fact is that most of us miss the story each plant, each animal, each color tells.  We’re wrapped up in our little worlds.  This means we also miss the stories of the amazing people around us.  You never know what the people around you have going on in their lives.  You may be guilty of hanging out at a coffee shop just to hear the stuff other people are talking about. Oh the stories I’ve heard over the years!  I’m always amazed though when I hear the same stories coming from different people.  The relationship, family, work problems we each feel so captivated by are issues that other people around the world are having too.

I encourage you as spring is sprung around us to take time to listen to the people around you.  Discover what they have learned that you could learn from them.

Nutrition, Naturally

If you’ve been following me for a while you know I love food.  It’s something I think about almost constantly.  I never leave home without a snack in my bag (never can be too careful!).  But before the Christmas holidays I made a decision about what I was eating because something had to change (simply put: tummy trouble).  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the type to curl up on the couch and eat a whole container of ice cream, box of Fruity Pebbles and couple of Twinkies (yes, I like sweet things). But something wasn’t right and I’d been ignoring my body for a while.

I won’t go into details but I’ve cut a lot of processed foods, most white flour and a big percentage of (white) sugar from my diet.   It turns out that there’s some truth in the health professional’s opinions that those “food” groups are some of the biggest causes in our dis-health.  Of course the biggest challenge was figuring out what I could eat that didn’t involve those foods/ingredients.  I’ve learned a lot from these months of eating different stuff, and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more.  But since it’s National Nutrition Month I thought I would share a few of the lessons I’ve had to learn and work with that can help you whether you’re on a special diet or just really busy.

1-snacks: it’s really hard to know that if you want a snack it will take prep time.  With the exception of a handful of nuts, craisins, or a yogurt just about every vegetable or fruit takes preparation.  I still sigh every time I get hungry because I know it will take a lot more work to feed me than just grabbing some cereal or a pbj.  Preparing celery sticks, carrots and finger fruits (strawberries, grapes, berries) 2-3 times a week instead of on demand helps to cut down on some of that stress.

2-dinner time: everyone struggles with that ‘just got home, am starving, what’s for dinner’ issue.  Again, having finger vegetables and fruits on hand helps cut the hunger enough that you can focus on preparations.  The other big key is planning ahead for the whole week.  By doing a weekly schedule of dinners you know when you can have a less-healthy snack because you’ve planned for a very healthy dinner or that you need to eat better during the day because you’re going out for dinner.

3-feeling good is worth it.  I feel a lot better, that’s the bottom line.  As I said I wasn’t a really bad eater, but obviously my body knew better than I did.  Knowing that I’ll make it through the day and go to bed feeling good is pretty strong motivation for taking the extra time to eat right.

What has food taught you?

The Power of Connection

“Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” Rita Pierson

I’m a big supporter of a healthy and hopeful future for the next generation.  The only way they’ll get that though is if we create it for them.  We have a much better chance of impacting the next generation then we do of making a big impact on today’s world.  That’s not to say we can’t impact our peers and those older than us, in fact, Ms. Pierson’s words are for us as well.

What marketers and business owners have slowly been coming to realize is that the quickest way to build trust and get a lifetime customer is to personally connect with them.  This is one reason why social media has been such a powerful force in our world, it enables us to all connect with each other at the speed of light, anywhere and anytime.

But more than that, what has made the coaching industry so successful is that finally we have someone willing to stand up for us and cheer.  They not only cheer for us but help us become the best we possibly can be.  It’s one of the biggest reasons why I love coaching: I love seeing the transformation that someone, person or business, can go through with a little encouragement and some guidance.

But the first step, as Pierson points out, is to believe in and see that there is something better for that person.  A coach cannot be successful if they can’t see you as a better, more successful person. Without that vision our lives would be pretty boring and empty, we would be only shells of who we could be.

The question you need to ask yourself as a business owner is whether or not you believe your customers deserve the best.  Do you have a big vision for the future for yourself, your business and your customers, or are you just in it for the money?

Lessons in History

In school I always dreaded history class.  It was incredibly boring and I couldn’t find any purpose for really remembering any of the dates or old rulers.  They conquered, fought, lived, died, had kids, and made a mess of things. I’ve always had a big passion for learning about all things Ancient Egypt, Incas/Mayas/Aztecs and the Titanic, but given that those 3 topics weren’t covered very often in history class I wasn’t interested.  But my sophomore year in high school the history teacher changed my perspective.  He taught us about the Civil War and what I finally learned was that with each war, each civilization were individuals.  Abraham Lincoln, Mary Boykin Chestnut, Robert E Lee, Clara Barton: these are people with incredible stories that go beyond what we know of them generally, or about the battles and fighting of the Civil War era.  It was that history teacher’s passion for the individual people and their stories that convinced me to give general history another look.  I’m still not a fan of dates, but if you start talking with me about the people behind the dates I’ll give you my attention.

The difference, and this is something marketers have been reminded of of late, is that everyone has a story, something that makes dates, products and services relevant and interesting.  When you take the time to ask for and listen to the stories you’ll discover a world you never knew before.

I’ve always loved hearing stories and seeing pictures from my grandparents as children.  Their stories make the past seem more real and more relevant.  When something doesn’t seem relevant it’s hard to care, right?  Maybe you don’t want to hear stories of your grandparents, maybe you didn’t have a good upbringing.  It can be tough to watch those commercials about ancestry.com and other sites that help you connect with your history if you had a bad past.  But the truth is that there are black spots in every family.  No one is perfect.  But in most families there is at least one redeeming story, one that can make you proud to be who you are.

Being adopted or not knowing who your history belongs with can be tough too.  If that’s your case don’t be upset that you can’t know your history, instead plan to make a history that your ancestors can be proud of.

Who Do You Care About?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr. Seuss

These painful words of wisdom reveal why things don’t change in our lives.  Sometimes we can make a difference simply by caring and others will pick up on that and start to care too.  Other times however, no matter how much we care and how much we do if the other person or people around us doesn’t care things can’t change too much.  But when many of us stop caring that’s when things get dangerous and start to fall apart.

If you and your partner have stopped caring for so long about each other and your relationship it’s natural to wake up one day and discover that you’ve both dramatically changed and there’s now this huge chasm between you of differences.  If you stop caring about your kids one day you’ll discover that they’ve fulfilled the fears you always had.  If you stop caring about your future one day you’ll discover your body is falling apart and you have no more dreams or drive.

You can change everything by caring.  Yes, it hurts like crazy when you first rip that band-aid of apathy and distance off and start to work on caring again, but until you take that first step to realize you’ve been emotionally dead things can’t change.  It won’t be easy but you can turn your life around and begin to have the life you wanted with some work.

If you don’t want things to improve keep doing what you’ve been doing.  But if you want something different for yourself, for the children in slavery around the world, for the business industry, for those without food, for those in poverty, for those warriors without hope, it’s up to each of us to start caring.  Who do you choose to care for?