Memories of Home

It’s been two whole years since moving to the mountains of western NC from the beaches of sunny Florida. Was it a whim? Maybe. Was I sure I’d stay? No. Am I glad I made the leap? Absolutely. Do I miss home? Definitely. 

So much has transpired since our move…which accounts for my blogging absense. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods, the grand granola empire (well, not really, but we’re on our way) is doing better than I imagined. We’re about to start building a home, and are ready to start a family. My wonderful hubby has settled into his new teaching career at a local university and is loving life. And we love hiking in the woods along the Appalachian Trail and taking in the views. All is well, and we live in a place that few are fortunate enough to call home…

…but I have saltwater running through my veins; I’m a beach girl. I do miss our Florida home. I miss our friends, family, and our old favorite spots all up and down Daytona Beach.  And I miss our house. And I miss our street. And I miss our neighbors. But I now have the most perfect and gigantic thing to make me smile:


See this? This truly makes me happy.  The awesome people behind Modern Map Art create maps that are simple and beautiful. I’m so thrilled to have this right in our living room. And they have cities from all over the world! Just choose your location, color, and size, and that’s it. Transplants like us will always have a piece of home.

And now we don’t feel so far away. 

With love,

Jenna 

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Oh. My. Goodness. It’s For Realsies.

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I bake and bake and bake.

My dream is coming true. It’s really happening. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods is a full-fledged business with steady-ish income, a website, local retailers, and a cult following. Seriously, someone inked themselves with the hot pink flamingo logo. I’m so tired of pinching myself and rubbing my eyes. This is real.

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This is an ACTUAL tattoo of the Happy-Go-Lucky Foods’ logo.

The last 14 months have been wild. I’ve been excited, paranoid, giddy, exhausted, confused, and optimistic. Sometimes they all happen simultaneously. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods’ granola bars are at four locations in Volusia County: Downtown Farmers Market, Beeatroot Juice Bar in Downtown Deland, Yoga Circle and Dance in Holly Hill, and Daytona International Wellness Center in Daytona Beach.

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Our sign is out front at Beeatroot!

And, hopefully, a local grocery store will have our granola bars on the shelf within the month. But the best thing for me is when customers post about their recent shipment of goodies.

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This package made it all the way to Chicago!

Thank you all for following along with me on my journey. Blogging is an outlet that I’ll never take for granted, and you all have been so kind. I do hope to post more in the future, but there aren’t enough hours in the day for a full-time job in academia plus Happy-Go-Lucky Foods. One day, I’ll just get to be Happy-Go-Lucky all the time, but for now…

Back to work,

Jenna

P.S. Please do check out my website at happygoluckyfoods.com. You can get the yummiest, gluten-free, vegan granola bars right to your door! If anything, I’d just be thrilled for some honest feedback. 🙂

Introspection, Food-trepreneurship, and Being Happy-Go-Lucky

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Hi, friends, I’ve missed you. It’s been quite some time (well, two weeks, actually, but it feels like a million years)…

As some of you might remember from my “The Long and Winding Road: Saying Goodbye to Cottage Law” post from the Spring, I’m doing my best to make it as a food-trepreneur. Happy-Go-Lucky Foods (formerly Happy-Go-Lucky Granola and, before that, formerly nameless) has gone from zero to sixty in seven months, and I’m taking a moment to catch my breath and write about my experience thus far. I’ll begin by saying that I never thought I’d make it this far. I really didn’t. I wanted to, but was wanting to enough?

Desire only can take a person so far; having a plan (not necessarily in the full-on business 101 sense of the word) is uber-important. Being aimless and being successful in business don’t correlate well. I told my new friend, Amanda, of Amanda’s Amigos this when we spoke last week. I’m sure I was more eloquent then, but…

I met Amanda at my farmers market booth a few months back. She bought a few Apricot Ginger granola bars, we chatted for a moment, and she was off. A few weeks later, I was tickled to be included in her Daytona Beach is Vegan Friendly post. Amanda was on vacation from Alaska! A-L-A-S-K-A. How cool (no pun, I promise.).

A couple of weeks ago, she emailed me and asked if I’d have some time to chat; she wanted to know how to start her own vegan-based business. And, so, while chatting, laughing, and experiencing the joy of cross-country internet-related issues, I had the chance to reflect. Sometimes, when life is so busy, we forget to look inward. Amanda’s thoughtful inquiry encouraged the introspection I so desperately needed. From our chat, I learned the following:

Have a plan, but know that it’s OK to deviate from it.

Being too rigid can hinder you from following your intuition. If you know something’s not right or could be better, allow yourself to re-envision your path. Be flexible.

Any feedback is good feedback.

Listen not only to yourself, but those around you. Feedback is important; take advantage of it. You don’t have to jump at every suggestion you hear, but allow yourself the liberty to explore feasible options. When a regular customer tells you that she has to repackage her granola bars as soon as she gets home from the market because the moisture leaches out onto the kraft paper bag that they’re packed in, get different bags! And feel free to thank the honest individual who cared enough to share her thoughts with you. Everybody likes to know they’re being heard.

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Acknowledge mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.

If I never admitted that I bought cellophane bags that were too small for granola clusters, I’d still be spending double-time cramming too much product into too small of a package. My boyfriend said they were too small, and, while I absolutely didn’t want to admit he was right, I did. I now buy bigger bags. It’s OK for him to win once in a while.

Don’t buy whims in bulk.

While a great deal on organic dried Zante currants in bulk might seem too good to pass up, consider if you really need them or not. Case in point: I gave tons of currants to my neighbor.

Don’t go into unnecessary debt.

My financial goal was to let Happy-Go-Lucky Foods pay for itself as it grew. I knew that I’d have to pay for testing, licensing, permitting, equipment, etc. as I moved forward with adding hummus to our product line, but I let the sales from selling granola under Cottage Law pay for the expansion. While hummus was always the plan, being patient prevented me from taking out loans. It was the best decision I could have made.

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Be grateful for every customer, no matter how much they buy.

It still amazes me that people shell out real dollars for the hummus and granola that we make. They work hard to earn money and choose to spend some of it with Happy-Go-Lucky Foods. I smile every single time I think of it. I’m ever-so-grateful. Whether someone spends one dollar or fifty, I know they don’t have to spend any at all. Never take any customer for granted.

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Be consistent.

McDonalds is so popular, in part, because they are consistent. The fries taste the same from coast to coast and even across continents. People love consistency. If you’ve got a slew of people who love your banana walnut bread just as it is, don’t add nutmeg. We all know what happened to New Coke.

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Enjoy the ride.

Enjoy every moment of being an entrepreneur. It takes guts to go out on a limb and do your own thing. Breathe it in. Know that you’re courageous. Believe that you can do it. And don’t forget to smile.

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Thanks for seeing this post through to the end, my friends.

Until next time,

Jenna

P.S. Thanks, Amanda, for encouraging me to look inward. Good luck on your adventure.

 

 

Dropping a Mallet on my Face and Reminiscing

Not only is it Throwback Thursday, but I’ve officially written 100 posts on Delicious Daydreams (feel free to applaud) and wanted to do something a little different.

Boy does time fly. It seems like yesterday that I started my first blog: “Jenna Dreams of…” It was short-lived, but a lot of fun. I mostly wrote about my escapades in food and gardening, so I re-imagined the whole thing and DD was born. It’s a little more than a year later, and here we are.

And while I’ve said “so long for now” to “Jenna Dreams of…,” I wanted to share a post that still makes me laugh…and wince.

In case you didn’t realize this, I’m a klutz. A lot of people say they’re clumsy, but really aren’t. It’s not cute to pretend such things. Being klutzy isn’t like being a unicorn. It’s not special, and it’s not pretty. Band-Aids and Neosporin are a big part of my life. And, no matter how the cartoons make it look, walking into door frames and shutting drawers on my fingers doesn’t end up with cute little birds flying above my head in concentric circles. Getting hurt isn’t fun (but it sure does entertain my friends).

So, blogosphere, please share one of my most memorable gardening/blogging moments with me. I posted this more than two years ago on “Jenna Dreams of…” It’s OK to laugh.

It’s true. I’ve found yet another way to injure myself. And this is a doozy. Today I spent the day gardening and decided to brace some PVC with some heavy duty 7-foot garden stakes.

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All was well until five minutes later…

I grabbed the mallet from the garage and gave it to my boyfriend. He said it was unnecessary because he was able to push them right into the ground, but noooooooooooo…..I’m smarter. I picked up the mallet, held it two feet above my eager face, and began to pound the stake further into the soil. After about three whacks, I dropped it right on my mouth. I DROPPED A MALLET ON MY FACE!!! So what did I do? I threw the mallet down and walked right to the bathroom to spit out blood. I looked in the mirror, said, “SERIOUSLY, JENNA?,” went to the kitchen, got a frog-shaped ice pack from the freezer, wrapped it in a towel, held it to my throbbing, bloody lip, and then sat down in a dark room to play Simpsons Tapped Out on my iPad.

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So lovely. So very lovely.

The moral of the story is that in the history of morons, idiots, Tim “the Tool Man” Taylors, and so on, I have to be the first to accomplish this. If I’m not alone, I’m not even sure that would make me feel better because I don’t want them (by “them,” I mean people like me) driving school busses, flying planes, or operating carnival rides.

Happy Saturday. Get me some Advil.

And, that, my friends, is that. I hope you had a chuckle…even if it was at my expense.

Happy and safe gardening to you all,

Jenna

My Secret Life as a Granola Pusher

Happy Fiesta Friday, everyone! My name is Jenna, I own Happy-Go-Lucky Granola, and my Fridays are crazy. For the past two months, I’ve baked lots and lots of vegan and organic granola products for the City Island Farmer’s Market in Downtown Daytona Beach, Florida. Happy-Go-Lucky Granola is my pride and joy. It’s also a source of near exhaustion, but, friends, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s my hectic, yet amazing, reality.

These are my granola bars…

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This was my first day at the market (and things have changed a lot since then)…

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These are my friends that come to buy, nosh, and chat…

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This is my happy-go-lucky life.

Happy Fiesta Friday, friends,

Jenna

To All Organic Gardeners: I Need Your Help!

Every day when I get home from work, I putz around in the garden and examine all of my plants. Not only do I get the chance to pluck a lot of harmful caterpillars and worms from the leaves, but I get a chance to just sit and enjoy my blessings. Today, though, I’m stumped.

This is the front and back view of a Chadwick Cherry heirloom tomato plant leaf:

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These black, shiny, bean-shaped things are actually embedded inside of the leaf. They look like seeds of some sort…maybe? Of all the years I’ve been a Zone 9 Florida organic gardener, I’ve never seen this. Please, please, please, gardeners, friends, bloggers, I beg you, help me.

Thanks in advance,

Jenna

Heirloom Kentucky Wonder Beans Love the Florida Heat

I think I’ve found a bean that doesn’t hate the Florida summer! The Kentucky Wonder heirloom bean is a magical variety that appears to grow in extreme heat coupled with onslaughts of rain and icky humidity. What’s more is that I’m even growing them in a container. I’ve tried many other varieties in the past like Buff Contender Valentine, Golden Wax, and Selma Zesta, but they start strong and then putter out after a couple of weeks. Summer is tough around here. These babies, however, are climbing like crazy, and should start flowering before long. I built a simple structure from bamboo stakes and twine.

A week after sewing the seeds:

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Three weeks later:

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I’ll be sure to post updates about the growth and production of the plants. Wish me good green thumb luck!

Pho Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant is an Unexpected Hidden Gem

Blink at the wrong time and you just may miss Pho Saigon. It’s tucked away just off of International Speedway Boulevard and practically hidden behind a coin shop. But, keep your eyes open, park your car, and venture in.

Inside of this larger-than-it-looks building is friendly and knowledgable staff, a clean environment, and fresh, flavorful, authentic Vietnamese food. I’ve eaten here more than ten times, and, every time, I’m pleased as punch. I ate there with a group of girlfriends this week and got the Pho Hoac Mi Hoang Thanh (egg noodles, wontons, and vegetables in chicken broth). As you can see from the photo, the soup is packed with goodies. This is one of my very favorite dishes at Pho Saigon. The veggies are crisp and beautiful, and the broth is absolutely drinkable!

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They even serve it with the traditional accouterments: tons of fresh bean sprouts, Vietnamese basil, hot pepper rings, and lime. By the way, they even grow the herbs outside!

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And even though their name has “Pho” in it, the menu doesn’t stop there. My boyfriend loves the clay pot meals. Essentially, it’s perfectly fried jasmine rice with any number of additions cooked in a clay pot (duh!). He loves the Com Tay Com Ga (chicken and vegetables with crispy rice) and gets it with curry spice and plenty of heat. The rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot is the best part! I act like I’ve never tried it and ask to “try it” every single time. He’s on to me.

If you’re in the area or I’ve made you hungry enough to fly into our local airport to get some Vietnamese food, you can check out Pho Saigon’s website for their menu.