Cook and Food Stylist for a Day

The Regional Telco Magazine is written and designed by WordSouth, A Content Marketing Company. It’s created on behalf of about 20 telecom companies across the country. It goes to 275,000 readers. That’s a lot of eyeballs. I’ve worked with WordSouth for about 8 years. Talented people and great friends. In each magazine, there’s a recipe. I mean a magazine isn’t a magazine without a recipe, right?

WordSouth found themselves in need of a cook and photographer for a couple of upcoming editions. My sister Shelly, Miller Photography, has worked for WordSouth before doing some cover and employee photos.  Although her clients are mainly business, sports teams, family photos, and senior photography (high school not people my age), she has experience in the food styling arena. That makes one of us.

Next, a cook. Someone to prepare the recipes. This is where I come in. I really don’t consider myself much of a cook.  Granted, I have a brand new renovated kitchen, but Hello Fresh has been more my speed since retirement. I can follow a recipe though. How hard can it be?

The tides turned a bit when one recipe turned into four. Shelly determined it would be more efficient to photograph several of the recipes at the same time. Something about setting up the lights and equipment. I understood trying to be more efficient, but then the recipes arrived. It just got scary.

First, meatloaf cupcakes with cauliflower frosting (I struggled to get over the cupcake part). Second, lava cakes. Ok, I can do lava cakes with whipped cream. Who doesn’t love chocolate?  Next, sausage and cherry stuffing. Cherries? Can I find a turkey in July? (Thanks grocery store for searching the back freezer.) Last, more stuffing. Thank goodness, it is stuffing in a 9 x 13 baking pan and no bird.

The preparation starts the night before. The stuffing recipes call for five cups of chopped onions (I need goggles), four cups of celery, nine cups of bread cubes (I bought too much bread), and 6 cups of crumbled cornbread (can I find that in the bread section), and a 14lb frozen turkey trying to defrost (sing this to the tune of 12 days of Christmas). Amid the chopping and crying, I received a text from WordSouth saying, “you can do half a recipe”. Dang, why didn’t I think of that?

It was a full day of cooking and photographing. The cauliflower frosting gave us some fits. Nothing a little time in the freezer didn’t fix (not me, the frosting). The lava cakes were scrumptious (yes, we ate them after the photos). I learned a food styling trick with the turkey. Broil it in the oven until it’s a pretty bronze, photograph it, and cook it later. The cherry stuffing was cooked thoroughly, and it was delicious. The last pan of dressing was set on a table decorated for fall (thank you to my sister Kathy for all her fall decor). We wrapped up the day with our hubbies sampling the odd mixture of dishes for dinner. We told them to pretend it’s Thanksgiving in July.

In the end, my renovated kitchen was a disaster and all dishes were dirty. Even so, it was a good day and a new adventure. Retirement does not mean boring. I also discovered that I continue to learn new things. Like how to broil a turkey (still frozen) making it appear delicious and toasty in a photo. And more importantly, will readers really be able to tell if I chopped 5 cups of onions? Didn’t think so.

5-4-3-2-1 – Windy Hill Consulting

I read a lot. I like blogs, books, quotes, and stories of positivity. I read diet books too, but none of them have made it happen for me. For my birthday last week, my son gifted me Kindle Unlimited. I tell him he’s my favorite son.

Since I’ve left the 8 to 5 schedule, I read more casual stuff like beekeeping for beginners and Hello Fresh directions. Still, I do love a professional read encouraging me to use my brain cells and take advantage of the time I have left to do more. A perfect example, The 5-Second Rule written by Mel Robbins. Her book spoke volumes to me because I’m a procrastinator when it comes to personal goals and decisions. I admit it. Give me a work project deadline and I’m all over it. You know, the type A, fear of failure thing. Make it about personal growth and I’ll sit on it for days. Fine, months or years.

I loved my job in telecom marketing and would have worked longer if my work address had been in my home zip code. I was spending more time sitting in Nashville traffic, growing tired of leaving David on Monday mornings, and realizing life is short. So, I hung up my driving gloves last December. When I told the locals and industry friends I retired, nine out of ten asked what I planned to do next. My eye sometimes twitched. I changed up my replies between consulting, teaching, and drinking coffee. Drinking coffee is certainly the easiest.

Mel Robbins’ complete concept is to stop putting off stuff. Stuff that is uncomfortable. Her single tool is to count from 5 down to 1 and then just do it. Sort of like Nike with less perspiration. First time I used it was after attending beginner beekeeping class. I knew I could overthink starting beehives for months. The class ended at lunch. Sitting in the parking lot with rain pouring down, 5-4-3-2-1, I called the local beekeeper to order two colonies of bees. 5-4-3-2-1, I ordered two new hives boxes from the neighboring county. Money spent. Commitment made. Three hives now in the yard.

Next, 5-4-3-2-1, do I want to consult or teach? Can I do both?

5-4-3-2-1, fill out application to teach at Motlow Community College.

5-4-3-2-1, choose a name for your consulting company.

5-4-3-2-1, write a business plan.

5-4-3-2-1, sign up for free classes in Chattanooga at the TSBDC (I highly recommend their seminars.).

5-4-3-2-1, hire a graphic designer for a logo.

5-4-3-2-1, hire a webpage developer.

There’s no going back from starting the development of a business website unless you admit failure before you begin. Starting a business is scary. All aspects are scary. If not, no one would be reading The 5-Second Rule to get over the humps. I did find that writing content for your own website is like a mirror. A self-examination into the things that you enjoy and do well. Equally, the things you don’t want to do because they aren’t fun (like wrinkles). It’s not a bad exercise for this spot in life. It’s a confirmation of why consulting and teaching is a good choice.

I admit that without the 5-second rule pushing me along, I’d still be pondering the next step over a cup of coffee. Here I am though with a new website launched moving forward into the next adventure. Whether anyone hires me or not, at least I can tell people that I’m a consultant versus a professional coffee drinker.

Need some marketing help? Putting off a project because there aren’t enough hours in the day?

5-4-3-2-1, visit my website, give me a call.  – Windy Hill Consulting

Now There are Three

Many of you may tire of my chatter about the bees. Honestly, I get tired myself from my own lack of experience and watching YouTube about bees. Granted, they are fascinating creatures, but I’m beginning to think they are like putting children through college. Every week there’s a new expense.

If you read my post last week, you know that I THOUGHT the hives were queenless. Evidently, they were just taking a rest. When I opened them up a few days later, there were eggs, larvae, and capped brood. I was mixed with happiness and indecision because I had already ordered their replacements. After all, my second opinion had said, “Your bees will be dead in 6 weeks.”  I had $100 of shipping and new bees on their way. Like I told my fellow bee association member, we beekeepers can be our own worst enemy.

Thanks to Wolf Creek Bees here in middle Tennessee, Queen Liz and Queen Victoria arrived on Friday with lovely red marks on their heads (I’m hoping the red will help these old eyeballs). I placed them on the kitchen counter, covered them with a dishcloth, and wondered what to do. I wasn’t positive the original queens were in there, but eggs didn’t get there by themselves. If they were still in there, I now had too many queens.

Despite the 90-degree weather, I suited up and went into the lower hive on Friday. This being the hive that I had never located the queen. After examining several frames, I spotted her. Matter of fact, she seemed to run straight at me while I unsuccessfully attempted to wrangle her. I’m guessing she was a bit perturbed because I kept taking the roof off her house. Next thing I know she’s out of the hive on the ground. In that moment, I had to decide. I ended her life then and there. After all, Queen Vic was sitting on the cabinet waiting for her colony. It was still sad.

I started with the next hive. No luck queen hunting. Chances are she heard about the neighbor. I called dehydration and went to the house. Saturday morning, I convinced David to go with me. Four eyeballs must be better than two. The day before I smoked the hive a lot and put a queen excluder in between the two brood boxes. I thought I might narrow the search to the bottom box.

Suddenly, there she was. Like the first queen, she was making her escape to any dark corner available. Running out of the box and down the side, we lost her in the crowd. Persistence paid off. David spotted her hiding under the box handle. I caught her and held her in my glove. David asked what now. I just couldn’t bear to end her life.

I put her in a nuc box and closed it tight. I came back to the house, called another bee association member, watched Dave at Barnyard Bees split a hive (I hear Dave’s intro in my head at night…this is Dave with Barnyard Bees) and went back and did exactly what he said. David wasn’t thrilled about catching the queen again, but he did, and we put the original queen back in her hive. I mean, she did nothing wrong. Queen Liz went into the new split and now I have three hives.

There’s many reasons it may fail. The hive is a new one. It’s late in the year and I’ll have to feed them like male teenagers. The bees may all go back to the original hive. Right now, the nuc is sitting on my front porch among the potted plants. They seem to like their new red spotted queen just fine and working their way through the candy glob on the end. Same for Queen Victoria in the other hive.

As I heard David telling our son, it was a stressful week for these beekeepers. Most of it coming from the inexperience and lack of knowledge about beekeeping. Believe me when I say, there’s more to this beekeeping thing than you can imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret starting, but maybe I should have given sheep or chickens more consideration.