Sunday, April 24, 2011

dirt, ducks, lamb, & fam

The week started quite productively by tearing out 7 bushes from our back yard. 4 trips to the dumpster, 1 broken shovel & buckets of sweat later- this was the result. Doesn't look like much! Our goal this summer is to plant a garden. Now that we have a yard, I thought, what the heck?! We'll see how the green thumb goes... Hopefully this will not be the last picture that is posted! We also decided to build a deck. Yes, a deck. More stories regarding that to follow, I am sure... 

Anyway, the week followed suit with MEGA productivity @ the restaurant. Work, work, and more work. That was my life this week.

Monday: clock in: 10a- clock out: 11p
Tuesday: clock in: 10a- clock out: 9.30p
Wednesday: clock in: 9.15a- clock out: 10p
Thursday: clock in: 11a- clock out: 11p
Friday: clock in: 10.30a- clock out: 8.30p
Saturday: clock in: 11.30a- clock out: 11.30p

LATE shifts, spilled paper clips

I don't even want to do the math on these hours because I am sure it will just be rather depressing. So, keeping an optimistic spirit I want to remember the highlights & accomplishments that occurred within those hours. (and this is not justification for them rather proof to myself that they were productive!)

  • Garden Wine list is almost complete... 3 WEEKS EARLY!
  • Summer staff is 90% decided... & it's only April! 
  • The restaurant did over 90 people every day, every shift... & it's not summer yet!
  • SOLD OUT of 2 wine specials & 2 beer specials in one week!

Great Brit beer from Fuller's- extra special bitter

  • Got out a much needed Wine Club email out to sell 4 cases of special release wine from Frog's Leap! PINK!
  •  Interviewed 4 great potential staff members & hired 3 others!
  • SURVIVED the last full week of Groupon!
And to end the restaurant saga portion of this post, this week would not be complete without the mention of Groupon... dear Groupon... I hate complaining or the thought of ever being viewed as a 'complainer' but at the risk.... Groupon holders got a little out of control this week. You see, back in October we offered 2 different deals on Groupon- $20 for $10 at lunch & $40 for $20 at dinner. The rules are explicitly stated at the time of purchase as well as on the actual printed coupon:

- Expires April 25th
- Dine-in only. Not valid for carryout.
- Use dinner only @ dinner & lunch only @ lunch
- 1 Groupon per 2 people, 2 Groupons max per table of 4 or more

Please tell me those rules are not too difficult to decipher ... However, this week I have never been made to feel more at fault over one little coupon than any other mistake we have ever made in the restaurant. The phone was ringing off the hook with customers asking for an extension or an exception or a favor. I bet at least 50 people decided to make it my problem that Groupon expires on Monday & they won't be able to redeem it by them. I literally had a lady lie to me on the phone regarding her Groupon purchase & redemption- just to convince me to allow her to come in & receive the discount Monday at lunch! Seriously?! Another woman on Thursday said she THOUGHT she MIGHT be getting sick & wouldn't be able to make it in. There were multiple 'may I speak to your manager' moments regarding Groupons & yes, even glares once the reality set in that I was not going to make an exception "just for them."

"I won't tell anyone," one customer begged.

Please! If I do it for you- what about the 30 other people I just turned down. And since when is your irresponsibility over the past 7 MONTHS all of a sudden my problem?? There was a quote that I heard some time earlier in my life that kept coming to mind all week-

"Poor planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine." 
I should just make a sign.

But, complaining aside, Groupon has brought in MANY new faces and repeat customers. For that, I am grateful & hopeful in the new customer base we may have established as a result. 
However... I will also be happy to walk in to work on Tuesday morning & throw the redemption book in the trash. : )


Throughout the week there were also many moments of encouragement. For one: they put the piers in the canal! Oh what a way to let us know summer is coming! I love this view...

Banks continued his hate relationship that developed a few weeks ago with the ducks that are nesting at the restaurant. They are quite often found in our yard. He has never seemed to let much get to him throughout life- but these ducks make him VERY upset! I find it rather amusing...

And lastly, we celebrated Easter. Oh what a fabulous day. A tear jerking church service followed by lunch with our families. Caleb made I have had in a long time... Lamb.chicken.vegetables.potatoes. but only in the way Caleb can make them. Our families also contributed to the delicious-ness making it a warm, comforting time of reflection & thanksgiving. Thank you Jesus for blessing us with such support right around our dining room table. I LOVE being able to have others into our home & sharing our lives with those we care about. A perfect way to relax & prepare for a new week!

Caleb's colorful collaboration

Communal table- not as 'sleepy' as the photo depicts!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

fell in love

eames® plastic side chair - dowel leg
The discovery that these chairs came in bar height AND were accessible by our distributor from Fort Wayne, about made my week! There is lots of potential now!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On a personal note...

This week has involved a lot of needs. It is Saturday & I got out of bed @ 6.30am because my mind was racing around everything I need to do. think about. plan. arrange. re-arrange. schedule.etc. I found myself working at @ 6.42am.

But the longer I worked the more productive I felt. And the more productive I felt, the more I worked. It's an ugly cycle. Yesterday I was faced with a decision- continue to work myself into an anxiety attack (it's been awhile) or choose to separate, walk away, and give it a few hours to breath...  I walked away.... And that was one big step.

Anyone in the position of leadership or management or ownership knows that everyone else's needs quite often come before your own. It is not a bad thing. It is a subservient understanding that these type of positions require those unselfish acts for the good of the whole. Or The more people you have around you, the more you give of yourself. I suppose this was just one of those weeks that involved a lot of give. and give. and give.

So in my breath of fresh air I met a couple friends for coffee. Oh, how I cherish dear friends! They calm me down, they bring me back to earth & they help me to realize there's a world outside of work. One lovely friend just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy 3 weeks ago (who I may have mentioned previously!) & he just happened to be there as well. I cannot stress the comforting fact that God gives you what you need, when you need it. How soothing to be in the presence of friends. How peaceful to hold this precious baby boy. And how humbling to hear of the love, devotion & commitment to this tiny baby's needs.

Thank you Jesus for giving me what I need right when I need it. 
when i pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength i need.
psalm 138.3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

body sculpting

After the excitement of the weekend & the recuperation (which I am still not sure has happened) reality set in quickly that there are still many immediate things that need to be done. So this week has consisted of A LOT of work. Unfortunately, it has been sun up to sun down for yours truly here. Thank goodness the sun stays out longer??? There are always seasons of life where things are balanced... or things are not. I am afraid I am experiencing the latter at the moment. It seems that no matter how much I do, there is more to be done. I am sure that many, unfortunately, feel that way. So before I got too far into the week- we hung this!

it makes me happy :)

Anyway, this week I have been trying to organize all the sales from last weeks wine event. Good thing, for sure! But 65 bottles to 15 different people with mix & match cases & adding up invoices & finding the storage space... whoa! I can tell you my guns are bigger from all the heavy lifting. ; )

I also challenged the brain a bit this week by handing out tests to all of our FOH (front of the house) staff regarding the new menu. Now before you get all judgmental- they knew it was coming! Most have succeeded with flying colors. Some have not and they will be re-taking it until they do. I feel like such a teacher (I suppose I am) sitting down to grade and critique and adorn the aces with stickers. One of my bigger pet peeves in life is when people BS something just to have an answer or talk 'dumber' than they really are... there will be none of that at this restaurant!

And on the emotional side, one of my dear servers of almost 4 years is leaving this Saturday for bigger and better. I suppose... stupid business internship! Too bad that's actually what she went to school for... she will be greatly missed. So I will plan her a goodbye party & my heart will be sad. It is hard to find good people. Even harder to hold on to good people. And hardest to let them go.

Which leads me to the next agenda this week: Finding good people. I need to hire an army to get through this next year & I will admit that I am not too excited about it. Hiring is hard. Managing is hard. Hiring someone you want to manage is a lot more difficult than it may sound. So, I have multiple interviews over the next couple weeks and we will see how they go...
Secretly, however, I do love interviewing. I love hearing what people find important enough to share with me about their life. Each person is so unique & that part of my job fascinates me. I will never get sick of interviewing.People.  Tell me, how would you answer: What will you bring to the Cerulean team?!

And lastly, the Garden! Oh, the Cerulean Garden! It opens in less than one month from today. I tasted a generous helping of potential wine candidates this week and I can tell you, there are MANY real winners. : ) Now, narrowing it down to 14 is the key... We have Torrontes, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Carmenere, Cabernet, Cava and maybe Merlot. Decisions, decisions! We also established the Cerulean Crew. If you sign up & pay up you get a Cerulean beer stein along with 4 oz of beer free every time you fill up at the Garden, oh boy!

So, I suppose, to put it lightly, that was the Cerulean week thus far. There was a brief 4 hour stint in the baby room at Headstart where I was given the rockstar shift (not sure why but I'll take it). Show up, play outside in 70 degree weather, eat lunch, read them books, rock them to sleep, exit at nap-time! Not too shabby! A nice break from the norm.

And although it has (yet again!) been a bit hectic & overwhelming, I am ready to face the weekend. This week I have been toned & shaped for life ahead, whatever that may be. Each day is new & each day is exciting. I am SO thankful for that. Upon a quick errand for Post-its & Kid's cups I ran into a chatty elderly woman in the paper supplies. After telling me of her years of owning a boat business with her husband, she concluded by saying, "everyday we wake up with purpose is a good day."

Yes, it is.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Oh how I am counting my blessings today! After waking up from a mere 5 hours of sleep last night, a huge weight was relieved from my heart after 'surviving' this week.... and today is Sunday! (have I mentioned before how much I love Sundays?!)

Upon returning from our relaxing trip south, we hit the ground running in the midwest...

Return home: Wednesday 2.00pm
Report to work: Wednesday 3.30pm

Not a lot of time to get settled! In fact, I just unpacked this morning! Anyway, straight to work to host all night, give a menu test, & look at my desk long enough to cringe, turn right around, & close the office door behind me on my way out! That would have to wait.

Thursday AM came very early as I had not made it home until midnight the night before. Oh well, no time to waste. Thursday night we had a wine tasting! A wine tasting highlighting South American Wines... for 75 people! But oh, what a time it was! We featured 15 different wines from Chile & Argentina with varietals from Sparkling to Carmenere to late harvest Chardonnay. I am sure you can imagine how "happy" our guests were by the end!

Cheese board

housemade sausage, pate, chutney, marmalade, & mostarda

Argentinean Red Wine

Argentinean White Wine

Chilean White Wine


Caleb studying his notes for presentation

This event was a real turning point for Cerulean. Casual, laid back, educational, & fun. The first time we had done something like this. It was such a joy to look through the crowd & see how many people came out to learn about wine, taste wine, & socialize with those who shared the same passion. Caleb & I both agreed that we would do an event like this every month if we could. We don't make any money, but that's not what is about. We give the community something fun to do on a Thursday. We expand their palates. We enjoy the community. And that is what it is all about!

A side note from this evening that made it into my top stories of the night was a group of 4 who attended the event. Caleb and I were both working different wine tables all night & at the end of the evening they ask their server, 

"Is the blond girl with the tan man on the porch?"
"Yes, she is," the server replied.
"Oh, do you know how long they have been dating?" they inquired.
The server attempted to hold back a laugh without much success and stated, "they are actually married."
And as the server walked away from the table she heard them say, 
"Well then they must be newlyweds!"

I am not sure exactly what it was that we did to lead them to feel that way. I don't think we even talked the whole night! However, I would be lying if I said that I didn't find it amusing & flattering all at the same time!

my boyfriend

The weekend continued per usual... slammed! The sun came out and so did the people! At one point on Friday I remember thinking to myself- "There may seriously not be enough hours in this day to get everything done." It was minute by minute of training & meeting & printing & quizzing & scheduling & calling & emailing & FINALLY, clearing off my desk! (poor Banks) Saturday followed suit but with nerves. It was the night we had planned to tell the staff about our newest endeavor... restaurant number 2 in Indianapolis. We had scheduled and all staff 'party' for this night. Rumors had been flying around & around...

Courtney is pregnant.
They are closing the restaurant.
They are selling the restaurant.
They are laying people off.
Cerulean got its 3-way liquor license.
Caleb & Courtney are moving.

You name it and it was probably out in circulation. (this is why we had to get EVERYONE together to tell them all at once- word travels FAST in the Cerulean life)

We brainstormed every possible question that could be asked. We played the devils advocate and tried to think of every negative way this could be perceived. We determined what we would do with the 'ifs' and 'thens' that may come our way.... and my nerves built and my prayers increased. "Please Lord, give us the words to say and then the ears to listen."

And the celebration time came...

A party is not a Cerulean party without magnums of VERY good wine!

We shared the news, we told the stories, we gave the details, we offered a toast...
...and then the roar of cheers began!
...and lasted all night!

The fear and the anxiety subsided. We were met with excitement & congratulations. The questions were positive & the ideas were flowing! The relief that came upon getting this news out in the open was indescribable. We were supported & encouraged. I could barely talk without getting choked up.  I think I made Caleb talk almost the whole time! We are so blessed.

The party lasted until 3.30am...

...and today I am renewed by the survival of another week, 
by the support of our families & friends who have stood by us,
by the enthusiasm of our staff,
by the recognition that things can go better than expected,
by the blessings that are revealed daily,
by the reminder that God is good & God is in control,
and by the divine wine that provides a great way to celebrate those moments! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vitamin D

There have been no supplements for me lately because this has been my view for the past 4.5 days... not too shabby. :) Caleb & I said goodbye to the midwest for a bit and joined the France family down south in Gulf Shores, Alabama! It was the perfect escape from the cold, dreary Indiana early spring that we have been having. Traveling with the newly engaged Corri & Brad our week started out right in the Delta Sky Lounge during our 2 1/2 hour layover in Atlanta- quite the way to go! Some of the highlights included our view from the top! Or the condo, that is....

We also enjoyed many beach activities that were provided per Jeff & Darla upon arrival. Some of which included bocce ball, kite flying, skim boarding, foxtail, & football... to name a few! We also enjoyed many games of tennis & racquetball, along with dutch blitz & banana-grams. And although it may sound like our time was packed to the max, we had plenty of time to bake in the sun. And yes, I mean bake!

Kite flying deliberation

what it looks like when the sun wins
And.... as if that were not enough fun already, we had a belated birthday celebration for Caleb that ended with Easter egg coloring! He had a ball-oon! :)

Let's not forget that we were in the South, especially the Alabama south... so it would not have been complete without sweet tea & mass amounts of food! I think we accomplished that alright as well.

sweet tea as big as your head

ribs in a skillet
But what I am truly most thankful for is the peace & relaxation that I felt amidst the fun activities. It was rest, respite, reflection, & resuscitation.... Definitely not from a near death experience but from apathy, compliance, or just indifference. I feel that any time we are removed from our day-in & day-outs, we are able to get a "view from the top" to be renewed in our thoughts. I am always amazed at the joy that comes when I get a break and realize, wow- there are SO MANY blessings in my life... where do I even begin to start paying it forward??

So... this was not an awakening culinary trip or an alluring city that I will some day wish I had lived in, but rather a breath of fresh air. An opportunity to escape & 'come home' all at the same time. Thank you France family! Thanks for the fun!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


So yet another week gone by... How is it that I don't have a single hour in a whole week to sit down & write?? Perplexing... I do love to write. I love the release it creates. It helps me process & reflect & let go... It brings me joy to go back & read through the 'accomplishments' of the week! So here is what I felt was accomplished this week...

A good workout everyday (except today). I realize this may not seem huge... but for me, it is. In the past 6 months I have driven myself to anger at how far out of shape I have become. It is not about weight or muscle tone but rather feeling healthy & strong. I respect the body God has given me & it is a personal goal to maintain it's health as long as I am physically able. Thank you Jesus for a healthy body & a strong will!

Chocolate cake w/ vanilla peaches & buttercream

Dark chocolate terrine w/ a caramel cake, coffee pudding, nutella powder, & a white chocolate cloud

Another great aspect of the week happened at the restaurant. Our new spring & summer menu came out! Yum! This once ridiculously busy, stressful, argumentative week in years past breezed through with minimal confrontation. We were organized & communicative & mentally prepared to face the week with enthusiasm & excitement! Man, we are starting to actually get the hang of this after 5 years! It was another week in the restaurant world that I was blown away by the creative energy of our kitchen crew. The new menu items are AMAZING! For example our new gelato flavors are gin & juice: a creamsicle, juniper infused bowl of goodness as well as peanut butter & jelly w/ a yeast cookie on the side! Delish!

The 2 gelatos & lemon thyme sorbet!

Iced Berry Soup w/ creme fraiche & cassis vinegar...the BEST cold soup I have ever had!
Now I realize I pictured mostly desserts... the rest was phenomenal as well...but I mean, look at these concoctions.. who wouldn't want to end their night this way?!!

Another positive note in the restaurant world was a new hire. I don't like to get too excited about new staff until @ least a month or so in. I like to see who they 'really' are before I make a full judgement. However, this week we may have found a real winner! Enthusiastic, friendly, intelligent, approachable, eager to learn, professional & an extremely hard worker. It doesn't get much better than that! Unfortunately good help is often hard to find & when someone comes along like this, that is a huge blessing! Thank you Jesus for that!

I also had the privilege of watching a VERY newborn baby boy so that the beautiful mama could get a few things done to start their day. Now, he pretty much just slept the entire time but still, I succeeded in keeping him cozy without any problems! What a peaceful & soothing morning that was! I don't know how anyone could be stressed while admiring a week old child- what a little miracle!

And lastly, I finished a book! Well, more of a eaters manual to be exact. It is called Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I would recommend it to everyone! It is exactly what I have grown to believe about eating & food & I was so encouraged by it's simplicity. And I am not trying to boast but I found an accomplishment within an accomplishment & that is that I believe I do follow Pollan's food rules. I will continue to use it as a manual for my life while also being thankful for Page 139, Rule 64- "Break the rules once in awhile!" Read this!