When my husband and I start a project in our home, it always turns out to be bigger than we thought. And that’s exactly what happened with our kitchen remodel.
What we thought would be just new kitchen cabinets actually turned into a full remodel/renovation (new cabinets, countertops, faucets, etc). So it went from a three day project to a two week project.
As frustrating as it was at some times, it was also a big learning experience for us. Even though John (my husband) is a big handy man and usually takes over these kinds of projects, he decided to leave it to the professionals this time and hire the fine folks over at kitchenbuilders.net. They were absulutely delightful throughout the entire remodeling process. In fact, when we decided to switch from just having them install kitchen cabinets and countertops, to a full remodel, they were completely okay with it. I’m sure they were also happy that it ended up being more money, haha.
I’m writing this post today to outline the top three things I learned remodeling our kitchen (and what you should know too).
1. Cheaper isn’t always better.
When we first asked around, looking for kitchen cabinets, we were told by friends and family to order them online and have a contractor come to install them. Usually when you order them online you can find them for dirt cheap (probably because they’re made overseas). We decided against this because we have had a lot of issues ordering overseas for big home improvement projects.
After finding KitchenBuilders.net, they let us know they had a giant selection of kitchen cabinets to choose from. We were pretty blown away. You’ll even see on their site that they have a section for “cheap” kitchen cabinets. While we didn’t end up going with the cheaper version (we wanted to match the style with our current kitchen color/feel) they offered pretty nice financing options.
2. Look for kitchen inspiration online.
John and I thought we could design the kitchen from scratch. We designed our bedroom and living room with the help of Restoration Hardware but a kitchen is much different. For a kitchen design you have to consider how all of the big appliances are going to look with your color scheme, cabinet style, etc. We were absolutely stumped before we even got started.
What we did instead was “borrow” some designs we liked from different places on line. Below are some amazing resources for finding kitchen design inspiration…
At this point in the process we were only looking for cabinets. This is when I started to think, “oh, we should redo the countertops and the floors”. This eventually led us to remodeling the entire kitchen. So I warn you. If you start looking at all the beautiful kitchens, you might get sucked in and want to do even more than you currently want to.
3. Understand which style is best for your home.
This was a very hard step for me. Our home is a colonial but it’s also remodeled to the point where you could consider it contemporary. However, there are a few rooms in our home that could be considered a mixture of both. Because we were so indecisive, we worked with the contractor to conjoin the two styles and create our own unique kitchen style.
Yes, the whole thing was a lot more than we originally wanted to do but it ended up turning out great. I’m very happy with the new kitchen. It gives us tons of storage, it’s updated, and it makes it easier for the kids to reach certain things.
If you’ve ever found yourself marveling at the flawless skin pretty much all celebrities seem to have, then you’re far from alone. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t covet Kim Kardashian’s smooth, unblemished skin or Blake Lively’s seemingly flawless complexion. You’d find it even more difficult to find someone that doesn’t wonder how on earth they do it. Continue reading →
After completing a bachelor’s degree, many students go into the workforce with plans of returning to school. Their goal is to achieve some real world experience and then apply to an MBA program. An MBA, or Master’s of Business Administration, is an advanced level degree focused on preparing a professional for executive level leadership. Obtaining this degree results in better job security, higher income and more opportunity for salary growth. But some individuals are unsure if an EMBA might be a better fit for them. Similar to an MBA but specifically designed for working professionals, an Executive Master’s of Business Administration may be better suited for those who plan to continue working fulltime while pursuing their education. To help determine if an EMBA is the fit for you, here are five benefits you’ll unlikely find in an MBA program. I’ve also included a very helpful infographic on the difference between an Executive MBA vs. an MBA (via Stevens Institute of Technology). Continue reading →
Before I had kids, yoga used to be my life. I used to wake up at the crack of dawn and go to my favorite yoga studio in Summit, NJ almost every day. As time went on, I had to make certain sacrifices in my life that required me to give up my daily yoga routine.
Now that the kids are grown up and our business is doing well, I have decided to start getting back into my old routines, this includes yoga. It took some time but I finally found a studio, class, and instructor that I love – Exhale in Summit, NJ.
I want to share my process for finding the right yoga studio, class, and instructor for you. Enjoy!
1. Try a few different places.
It took me a little while to find a place I felt comfortable with and comfort is the name of the game when it comes to yoga. You want to have a good “gut feeling” when you walk in.
Is the yoga studio welcoming? Do they treat their clients well?
I was looking for a yoga studio that had all of this and more. What I really wanted was to find a studio that had a community. A studio with a community can deepen your meditative experience.
2. Pick an instructor you have a connection with.
The best thing you can do before making your final decision is pick up a class “package“. These usually come in 5, 10, and 20 classes. Not only are they a great way to feel out different places before committing, they allow you to meet the instructors over a period of time.
Choosing an instructor is a deeply personal decision. You should go with someone you trust, one that challenges you to push yourself as a Yogi.
The instructor should make you feel comfortable as a student and give off a warm aura.
Look for an instructor that pays attention to the details during class and offers to help even when a their class is over. This is how you know you’ve found a winner.
3. Start with an easy class.
The first mistake I made was jumping right back into the higher level class, even though I hadn’t practiced yoga in five years. Boy, was that a mistake!
Even if you are an experienced yogi, you will be working under a new teacher. This teacher may practice yoga on another level than what you are used to so it’s important to take one of their lower level classes first.
Choosing a new yoga studio isn’t easy but by putting in a little extra time and effort you can find one that you love.
We all want soft and luscious looking lips – they make us look more attractive and they are also a sign that one is in good health. Unfortunately, lips tend to dry and chap easily because they don’t have any oil glands at all. If you suffer dry lips often don’t despair; there are simple things that you can do to ensure that your lips always look gorgeous. Today we are going to learn exactly how to get rid of chapped lips fast (based on an article I found on the Yon-Ka blog).
The secret is to get rid of all dry and dead skin and then keep your lips moisturized at all times. You can get your lips back into great shape using the simple following steps:
The first step is to wet and wash your lips. To do this you need a small face towel. Dampen it with warm water and then run it across your lips. Water that is too hot will dry them out even further. Rinse the towel out and then put a little gentle cleanser on it. Rub it across the lips once more. You will notice that little bits of dead skin are starting to come lose.
The next step is to get rid of all dead skin. Your lips cannot look good if you don’t remove them. This is best done with a soft toothbrush. You can keep one aside specifically for your lips. Run it under warm water and then rub your lips with it sideways. Make sure that you don’t do it too hard otherwise you will break the skin and make the damage worse. You may need to do it several times to remove all dead skin.
Some people prefer to exfoliate using a scrub. If you choose to do this you must use a very gentle exfoliant. You can buy one or you can make one at home – simple ingredients like sugar and honey are excellent. Just combine and then rub gently on your lips using a small towel until all the dead skin comes off. Rinse, apply again, rub gently and rinse.
The last step is moisturizing. Everyone has a special lip balm that they love. Ensure that yours contains moisturizer. Apply liberally.
Lastly, it is important to mention that lips suffer more in winter when it is very cold and in summer when temperatures are extreme. You should exfoliate more during these periods. If you use these steps and you don’t see any improvement you should probably buy a lip balm that contains more moisturizer.
This post by my best friend, Cynthia Roberts. She is going to be getting into blogging in the coming weeks. Please let her know what you think of this post in the comment section!
My husband and I own a chain of three Mexican restaurants in Southern California. We have wanted to incorporate online ordering into our operations for a while, so when I got too big to safely navigate around the takeout order desk last fall (we had twins) and my ankles swelled to the size of cinder block brinks, I announced that I was taking maternity leave. But my maternity leave was not going to be a luxurious and pampered one of foot rubs and shoulder massages (as if anyone has ever had one of those).
I explored the world of online ordering.
For most restaurants, take-out is a good chunk of the business. For fast food, or quick-serve as they prefer to be called, take-out is huge, sometimes more than 50%. We’re more of a casual dining operation, with a wait staff. Still, last year our three locations did 16.2% in take-out on total sales of $2.8M. That’s more than $450,000 in take-out, not uncommon for our type of restaurant. The overwhelming majority of those orders, over 90%, came either from phone calls, or people coming into the lobby, placing their order, and then cooling their heels until the order was ready.
Online ordering offers a way for people to get on the internet, go through your menu, and place the order. They can even pay online. It’s convenient, and the order is right all the time (because when someone is placing a phone order and three other restaurant employees are asking me questions and glasses are breaking in the background, I have been known to get an order wrong).
It’s the best of both worlds. The customer goes home and eats the meal they want, and we do what makes us money – The customer is not sitting in the restaurant occupying real estate and keeping the restaurant staff busy, which costs us money. Added to that, when someone is leisurely placing an order on their desktop or laptop (they can also do if from their tablet an even their Smartphone) and not having to talk with me or one of the other people who handles orders at our restaurants, orders tend to get bigger, as much as 20% to 30%.
There are two main types of online ordering. The first, which is what I planned to research while I was on leave, is a service specific to your restaurant. It is part of your website, and the better ones can even be made to look like your website. The customer accesses it from a button on your home page, and anyplace else you want to place it. Orders are instantaneously transmitted to you to put into the kitchen.
The second type of online ordering are services referred to as portals. Portals are megasites, listing hundreds or thousands of restaurants. A consumer on the portal enters their geographical preference, maybe the price range and type of food they are looking for, and the portal pulls up a list of restaurants meeting that criteria. Then the customer chooses and orders from the portal and the information is transmitted to you.
Portals typically list restaurants for free, but the charges can be as high as 15% to 20% of the bill, as opposed to individual services that charge much less (5% or less). You may get more exposure through the portals, but you are up against a lot more competition. Our restaurants are listed on a few portals. Since we didn’t pay unless the service was used, what did we have to lose?
Then I did some more research, and I ran across a study about online ordering done by Cornell University. Turns it that “nearly half of the consumers [47%] on multiple-restaurant sites [or portals] said they clicked over to the restaurant’s own website to order their food.” This made me kick myself (no easy feat considering how big I was with twins and about a week away from my due date). Almost half the people who ordered from us by the portal would visit our website. We could have gotten their business for far less money if we had offered online ordering. I know of two or three customers who order takeout through the portals at least once a week. We’re giving the portals a lot of money that we could keep if we offered online ordering through our website.
So now that I’m convinced that we need to offer online ordering, the question is, What do I look for in an online ordering service? There are a lot of them out there. Here is what I found:
Branded Online Ordering Site. Portals make us all look alike. We’ve put a lot of money and effort into cultivating a brand and we want to keep doing that. I wanted a site that would allow us to.
Ease of Use. Think of this in terms of how many ‘clicks’ it takes to complete an order. The fewer the better. Stay away from clunky looking systems that don’t offer customers an attractive and easy way to order.
Payments Directly to You. When a customer places an order using your site, you want the money deposited directly into your bank account. This is not the case with portals and is also not a guarantee with all individual online ordering systems. Make sure it works that way on the system you chose. I read an article about a portal that was holding $20,000 of some restaurant’s money. I don’t think so.
Mobile Site. People ordering from Smartphones make up a larger and larger chunk of the total online business. I needed to find a service that was mobile-order friendly.
Easy to Update. Even the good portals are difficult to update. At least once a week we get an order from a portal where the item has an old price, or we don’t offer it anymore. We needed an individual site that was easy to update, and could be done anytime.
Control of Customer Data. When you get an order from a portal, you know very little about the customer. In fact, it is the portal’s customer, not yours. I found individual sites out there that collect customer data and allow you to download it into an Excel database where you can slice it and dice it. The best ones allow you to do email and other marketing promotions. They can remember a customer’s birthday and send out an offer, and track redemption rates, too.
Linked with Facebook. With over a billion people on Facebook, and lots on Twitter and Instagram, the idea of an online ordering service that easily links to social media is a must. They are out there, too.
I’m five weeks back in the restaurant now. My two little ladies are still small enough that I can keep them in playpens and nurse them when they’re hungry. I even found a source for online ordering that meets all the requirements I’ve outlined here. It’s a company called NetWaiter: Online Food Ordering System For Restaurants. They’ve been a wealth of good advice, including how I should do a gradual rollout of online ordering through the three restaurants, one at a time. We’re getting ready to roll out the second this week.
NetWaiter even gave me something I didn’t include in the list of things I gave you. That is a strategy. I was telling my sales rep that as soon as we went live with NetWaiter I was planning on canceling all the portal entries we have.
“Don’t do that,” he said. “Instead, come up with a program to convert those portal customers over to your online ordering website. Let the portal do the heavy lifting for you, and then turn those customers into customers on your website.” The first thing I did was to remove all the links on our website referring folks to our portal sites. That was just plain dumb. Then I started offering portal customers incentives – discount offers and such – to order from our website. NetWaiter is so easy that once is all I need to convert a customer to a lifelong association.
Besides, online ordering also takes me off the phone and gives me time for what’s really important—playing with the baby girls and their big brother.
Every year my family and I round up everyone and host a giant Thanksgiving feast at one of our houses. It usually falls to my home for hosting because of our two separate dining areas. While I absolutely love hosting Thanksgiving, I always feel bad about my younger nieces and nephews who appear lost as the adults all drink and converse.
This year I decided to do something a bit different. I prepared some fun activities for kids of all ages to do for Thanksgiving this year. Continue reading →
Running two businesses (three if you count this blog), being a wife, and being a mother can be a bit overwhelming some times. I certainly wouldn’t trade it for the world but the stress occasionally gets to me. When I talk to my friends, they seem to be going through the same stressors but we all have different ways of relaxing.
Today I would like to talk about the 5 ways that I find best to relax when I’m stressed out. Hopefully you find some of these helpful!
1. Go For a Run
Back before I was a mother or a wife, I was a very big runner. I did the New York Marathon twice :). As my time started to get eaten away by little tasks, I pushed running to the back of my “to do” list and eventually (almost) gave it up completely.
This was a bad idea.
I noticed that I became much more sluggish, tired, and even my attitude changed. Little things would stress me out. One day I realized that it must be because my body was used to the endorphins of running and hadn’t gotten any in months.
I picked up my old running shoes, went for a three miles run, and guess what? Well, at first I was tired as heck but I felt great. Since then I realized the immense benefits of running and how it keeps me calm and level headed through the day.
I’m not a big yoga fan but my friends Michelle and Amy are crazy about it. They say it is akin to working out and meditating at the same time. It’s all about finding your center – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
The benefits to yoga are far beyond just stress release. It also gives you a much more flexible and stronger body.
I have always found writing to be cathartic. It’s my way of reflecting on something I am interested in. Prior to creating this site I would write in my journal almost daily about my life and things that were bugging me. Even if my journal entries were only a few sentences long, it helped me get things off my mind.
4. Spa Day
All of my friends and I agree this is our favorite stress reliever. I think many ladies reading this would agree. Who doesn’t love to be pampered, massaged, and smell great?
Our bodies are like a car, you need to take it to the shop and detail it every once and a while.
Like I mentioned in my last post, if you are looking for an absolutely amazing spa experience, try Yon-Ka.
5. Going For a Walk
As simple as it sounds, going for a walk is a great way to relieve stress. Why? It clears your mind and allows you to connect with nature for an extended period of time. There’s no screen in front of you, screaming children, bad drivers, etc. It’s only you and nature. If you can, try to take walks in a preserved area such as a forrest or bird sanctuary.
I don’t like to toot my own horn but I am almost always asked how I keep my skin so clear.
Although a bit of it is makeup magic, 99% is the healthy lifestyle that I live and keeping up with a routine. Everyone is built differently – some people have extremely oily skin, others have extremely dry skin, some peoples skin type changes drastically during the colder or warmer months. For this reason, not everyone can use the same skin regimen.
Today I’m going to walk you through how to figure out your skin type and which regimen is best for you!
My youngest son had the television on the other day and an interesting segment came up about a girl who invented a cure for hiccups and they’re lollipops. But the best part is she’s only 15 years old!
I was amazed.
I did a bit of digging and found out that her name is Mallory Kievman. Her whole company began when she was thirteen years old, searching for a way to get rid of hiccups after she was plagued with them for hours and hours at a time. This is a condition known as “chronic hiccups”, something I was unaware of until reading up on it.
What I found really touching about this story was the fact that she wants to use her invention to help people who, like her, want to stop hiccups. You see, hiccups are a spasm caused in your diaphragm. Your brain is basically telling your lungs to try to “reset” so that you can get more oxygen. Some common reasons for getting hiccups include drinking soda or eating food too fast – both inhibit your body from breathing oxygen. What you don’t often hear about is the many people who have hiccups after certain surgeries or patients receiving chemotherapy.
Who knew that hiccups are a side effect of chemotherapy?
I was able to track down the video that inspired me to write this post. Check it out below!
After reading up on Mallory and Hiccupops, I did some more research on the other ways to treat hiccups. Previously, I only thought there were a few (holding your breath, spoonful of sugar) but after searching for over thirty minutes, I was astounded at the amount of hiccup remedies I was able to find – hundreds. Now, some seemed legitimate but others were downright funny.