Posted in business, gardens, loreeebee.ca, motivational

Turn your Hobby into a Business

I am proud to report that I was recently featured in an article in First for Women magazine about turning a hobby into a lucrative business opportunity. The picture of me isn’t the most flattering one, taken in a hurry first thing in the morning (my grandkids take better selfies than I do) because the one I had submitted was too blurry, but the garden pictured is one of my favourite projects. I have literally watched it evolve over the years from a weed filled, uninspired, large area into a stunning, colourful, well-planned perennial garden bed.

I was approached in January to submit a story on how and why I started my own business, then told it was accepted to be published. The magazine is on newsstands from March 11th through to March 31st. This, of course, is a much-edited, sugar-coated version of my story. I have learned tons over the years, including how to create a website, blog and invoicing or accounting system. I’ve also learned what not to do. If anyone needs further motivation or details on how to get a (very) small business up and running, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

While many people have been inspired to find unique ways to earn income during the pandemic, my gardening hobby-to-business adventure began in the spring of 2012. In fact, last summer my business took a hit, due to the fact that many of my clients were working from home and able to manage their own gardens. Others gave up their gardener to tighten their budget as the pandemic stretched from weeks to months. I was excited, however, to be able to design a few new gardens, something I have been doing less of in recent years. It was a hot and dry summer too, so the cottage season was an exceptional one.

I was thrilled to see the magazine article in publication, especially as the weather appears to be warming up to what could soon be gardening weather. I do still have quite a bit of snow covering my gardens, but it is melting. My south-facing front yard is always the first on the street to reveal the grass under the snow…

In the meantime, I am still repotting, dividing and increasing my collection of houseplants. I think I need a larger house!

Posted in business

How to Build a Website or Blog

The best way for an inexperienced person to build a website or blog is to find (hire) someone else’s website that is specifically designed to build websites.  Kind of like a website for dummies approach. These sites offer simple, straightforward advice and instructions that even the most computer illiterate people can follow. 

Keep in mind that Blogs are websites, so any reference here to a website will apply to building a blog too.

Find a Website Builder

Website builders or advisors can be found easily online and are great because they do most of the work. All that is required from you is the unique and specific information or items you wish to promote. And money, as these website building services are rarely free. Some sites do offer free advice and basic blog templates, often a great way to get your feet wet so to speak.

There are many such website builders designed and committed to building websites for others. Do your research to find one that suits your needs. Most have experienced employees that can offer valuable online support to advise and guide even the most inexperienced and novice person through the steps of building a website, regardless of what the website is to be used for.

Other things covered in the price of a website builder are spam filters, analytic tools, tutorials, templates, and troubleshooting. The support staff will also provide ongoing advice to help to keep the website running smoothly. These features make the process even simpler for you. Keep in mind that these extra services are the ones not usually included in the “free” offers.  

An online store is also usually available permitting your clients to purchase products you sell.  A free shopping cart for clients and use of PayPal is usually also available to enhance the shopping experience on the website.

Prices may vary depending on ongoing discounts and promotions offered as well as the length of the contract period selected.  When a contract is signed, rates are usually charged on a monthly basis. The good news here is that these charges can be claimed as expenses on your income tax if you claim your business income.

I chose WordPress (WP) for this blog, starting with a free site and domain, then purchasing a domain to lose the wordpress.com tag to my URL.

Finding a Domain

Finding and paying for an available domain name is a crucial thing to think about in the process of building a website. Your domain name will be the URL or address for your new website. When you register a domain name, no one else can use it for their website.  A unique, catchy URL is important since it will draw people to your website and help them remember the name to visit again or recommend it to others.

Some companies (the one you hired to build your website) provide a free domain name, if not they will show you how to find one that is available for use.  As mentioned under website builders, WP does provide a domain to use.

Advertising on Your Website

If advertising is desired on your new website, the website company you have hired will most likely provide some free credit through the services of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook.  This is beneficial if the website is to be used to make money, so if that is something you require, be sure the website company you choose offers that service.

Conclusions

The biggest tip I can offer is to research your options on all the offers available online. Some will boast they are free, but often just the basic start-up process is actually free. Most offer “packages” based on the services provided, starting at free and increasing in price. Keep in mind the adage “you get what you pay for.” Make a list of features you need on your website or blog and find someone to help you.

Regardless of whether you choose the free options or pay for help, your new website should be up and running in no time providing worldwide exposure.  Remember too that money paid to run your website is tax-deductible under business expenses.

It is so easy, even I managed to build a website for Gardens4u, my landscaping business, and this blog. When I started out (2012) I considered myself a website beginner. I have learned so much over the years that I have since promoted myself to someone with moderate knowledge of websites.

I use Yola for my business website and WordPress for my blog, both of which are listed in the top website builders for 2021.

photo credit

Posted in business, loreeebee.ca

Virtual Meetings: Best Practices for Success

The following is a guest post about the best practices for virtual meetings from friend, Gardens4u client, fellow garden lover, and entrepreneur Nora Sheffe

Virtual Meetings
Nora Sheffe,
Certified Professional Facilitator

As we settle into September, we are taking stock on virtual meetings’ best practices and have some tips to share. As with so many of the changes in 2020, summer didn’t provide the time/space to recharge fully. Now September is bringing a new layer of uncertainty and change. 

I’m also finding that my work is taking place later into the day and on weekends. I’m getting more client e-mails on the weekend than ever before; the “July pause” and August slow ramp-up didn’t happen – it was a short runway to a full schedule for everyone. People are not able to take breaks in the same way that we could pre-pandemic. This reality should be taken into account when planning a meeting. 

Here are three ideas on timing to make your virtual meetings more productive:

  • Maximum Duration of a Virtual Meeting – 90 minutes – You can do 2 x 90-minute blocks per day, depending on your objectives. Some boards and organizations have to do 3 x 90 minutes sessions in a day. This is exhausting, so consider how you can keep the energy up with interactive processes and deliberate engagement. 
  • 30-minute Breaks – Every 90 minutes – Encourage participants to get outside, hydrate, eat + take a screen break if they can. Many people are responding to e-mails or have calls booked during these breaks, so it’s not a proper break. 
  • In-Meeting Pauses – in a 90-minute block, try to build in at least one short pause – just 30-60 seconds – invite people to stretch, stand, take some deep breaths, look away from their screens and sip water. 

I hope this advice for those of you immersed in our new normal of organizing virtual meetings is helpful!

Posted in business, guest blog, health and wellness, weight management

Does Stevia Help with Weight Loss?

This is a guest post, from the Sweet Talk blog at Pyure Brands….

The bottom line is that the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than your body burns for energy.

There are many ways to accomplish this, and targeting added sugars and replacing them with stevia is an easy and tasty fix.

Research has shown that subjects given stevia-containing foods or beverages consumed fewer calories throughout the day. (2,3)

The Truth About Added Sugars

It seems like everything we read talks about avoiding carbs and sugar.

In the U.S., the average intake of added sugars reaches up to 270 calories or more than 13 percent of calories per day based on an average 2000 calorie diet.

Not surprisingly, the largest source of added sugars in the typical diet is beverages, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters. They account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population.

The other major source of added sugars is snacks and sweets.(1) Most people don’t realize how much sugar they consume from other sources like marinades, sauces, salad dressings, yogurt, crackers and other items that don’t “seem sweet.”

The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories or about 50 grams per day based on 2000 calories.

If your body needs fewer calories based on size, age, and activity level, the gram limits are even lower.

To take it a step further, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 24g grams per day (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons) for men.

It’s obviously an area of concern in our standard American diet as the term “added sugars” appeared 138 times in the dietary guidelines report!

Knowing Your Limit for Added Sugars

Simply put, consumption of added sugars can make it difficult for people desiring to lose weight to meet their nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.

Whenever anyone restricts total calories, everything eaten needs to contain more nutrients to make sure you get what you need for proper fueling while limiting total calories.

One of the simplest strategies is to limit added sugars.

Why? Because they are more often found in foods that do not provide quality vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we look for to help prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.

That’s where products like stevia fit in.

Can Stevia Help with Weight Loss?

Since stevia is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener with a taste 50-350 times sweeter than sugar, a little goes a long way. By substituting stevia for sugar in your daily routine, there are many ways to cut total calories and sugar grams.

  1. Using stevia to sweeten your coffee or tea (hot or iced), saves 16 calories per teaspoon over sugar. A few cups per day with a few teaspoons each can really add up quickly. Each stevia packet is formulated to equal the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar. Take some with you to your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant and add your own.
  2. Instead of eating pre-sweetened Greek yogurt with up to 20 grams of sugar, start with the plain variety and add your own stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon and fruit.
  3. Swap stevia for sugar, honey or maple syrup in your oatmeal, homemade salad dressings, baked goods and other recipes that call for sugar. Even subbing in ½ the amount in a recipe can make a big difference.

We would love to hear your sugar swap success stories. How do you enjoy Pyure Organic Stevia?

References:

  1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015- 2018, 8th edition, Added Sugars page 54: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
  2. Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite 2010;55:37–43.
  3. Tey SL, Salleh NB, Henry J, Forde CG. Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake. Int J Obes (Lond) 2017;41:450–7.
Posted in business, gardening, gardens4u

Next Gardens4U Project

My most recent Gardens4U project involved two new garden beds for the back corners of a large, pie-shaped lot. The yard has a large swimming pool so the corner beds were placed far enough way that pool water will not splash onto the plantings. The clients’ own three dogs, so my plans also had to allow for a running area between the flower beds and the pool. Check out the before and after shots…

To save my time (not to mention my back) and the expense involved, the client dug out the beds after I marked them out. I added composted manure to improve the clay-laden soil, then arranged the perennials and shrubs according to their potential sizes at maturity as well as their bloom time and colour.

When the temperatures cooled off a bit, and I was happy with the placement of plants, I spent half a day planting them in their new beds. Note the drain in one corner bed, a low point in the area that rainwater from several adjacent lots drain into. It is imperative that this drainage site not be adversely affected when adding soil and plants. Although this consideration makes the one bed appear oddly shaped and lacking soil, the drain will not be visible when the plants grow to mature size. After planting, the garden beds were then edged to leave a clear demarcation line between the gardens and the lawn…

Once the perennials and shrubs were watered in well, (every day for a week) I added dark brown, cedar mulch for the finishing touch. The plantings may look a bit sparse right now, but in a few seasons from now they will have reached their full, mature size. If I plant too many plants and too close together, I will have unhappy clients in a few years…

I also talked the clients into outlining the perimeter of their above-ground pool with river rock. They did this project themselves; I think it looks great!

pool edged with river rock

You can see the one corner garden at the back left, peeking out from behind the pool. Onto the next project! Now that the weather has cooled off I can get more done before garden fall cleanups start.

Posted in business, current events, lorieb.wordpress.com

TruLocal Equal Opportunity Grant

A few weeks ago, TruLocal offered a $10K grant for Canadian small businesses founded by black individuals. In an update today they announced the grant has doubled!

As a Black-owned and led business, we feel it’s more important now than ever to stand up against injustice, and use our platform and resources to help elevate Black individuals and communities. A week and a half ago, we announced the $10,000 truLOCAL Equal Opportunity Grant, to provide two $5000 grants to small Black-owned businesses to help them grow and thrive.

This week, we got some exciting news. Our friends at Shipper Bee loved the idea – and they committed to matching our contribution. The truLOCAL Equal Opportunity Business Grant now has $20,000 to invest in four $5000 business grants to Black founders.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to create this incredible opportunity for Black small business owners – we know we couldn’t have gotten to where we are today if we hadn’t received support from our friends, families, customers, and communities. Sound like you? Applications are open until June 26th! If you know any Black-owned businesses or Black founders who might benefit from one of these grants, please share the good news with them.

– the truLOCAL team

I shared with you how impressed I have been with TruLocal from the start and have been ordering meat from them for over a year now. I am now even more impressed, just sorry I didn’t think of sharing this sooner.

With the Black Lives Matter movement so important worldwide, this initiative is a wonderful idea. Hopefully more companies (and celebrities, business moguls etc) will rise to the occasion and follow suit.

Don’t delay, apply today!

Posted in baby, business, grandparents, lorieb.wordpress.com, online purchases

Polkadots and Moonbeams, Unique Baby Gifts

Check out this impressive website, owned by my cousin Julie in Missouri, for the unique treasures offered at Polkadots and Moonbeams. These personalized baby gifts are perfect for showers, birthdays, Christmas, baptisms, or your own nursery.

Unique Gifts for New Beginnings

These beautiful works of art are hand crafted in home based studios, each one made to order, never mass produced. Custom designs are created with the details (colours, names etc) that you specify upon ordering. Orders are received in Rolla Missouri, items are crafted by individual, independent artisans throughout the USA, then shipped to your door. The concept itself is unique and very creative!

Currently, the only items available for international shipping (outside USA) are the silver pacifier clips, but Julie is working on changing that. So, be sure to check back often to see her progress! Because these unique items are made and shipped by different individuals, items ordered together may ship separately.  Please see individual product page for availability times. Your purchases can be delivered directly to your recipient too. If you wish to order several items to be shipped to different recipients, order each item separately.

If you cannot decide which item is perfect for the baby you are shopping for, Polkadots & Moonbeams gift cards are available. They have no extra processing fees and are delivered by email with instructions on how to redeem them.

Let Polkadots & Moonbeams help you celebrate the new beginnings in your life with a unique, customized, hand-crafted gift! Check out the website for further details on all the gift options and company policies.

Posted in business, loreeebee.ca, nature

Paint Night for TIPES

Recently I attended a fundraiser for TIPES (Teaching in Pictures Education Services) in the form of a paint night. I am no artist, but it was a fun evening, supporting a wonderful cause.

I have told you about about TIPES in a previous post, admiring the services that the dynamic duo of Jennifer and Deborah Wyatt and their staff provide for autistic children and their families. Since the new year I have been working at updating and editing their policy and procedure manuals, increasingly aware of just how incredible and extensive these service are. TIPES is a non-profit business, so their financial stability relies heavily on fundraising events. This paint night was just one of many such events scheduled throughout the year.

If you have read any of my posts, you will know how much I love our cottage life. The picture we were instructed to paint was a scene that could easily have been taken on Palmerston Lake where our cottage is located. Of course it wasn’t, but the scene was very appealing to me as I love the outline of the lush, majestic, verdant evergreen trees against the various shades of blue within the water and sky. This is my creation…

Posted in business, DIY, gardens, loreeebee.ca

Classy Glass Upcycles, a unique Mother’s Day gift!

Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift? Check out this Facebook page for Classy Glass Upcycles! Select a beautiful creation to enhance your Mom’s garden, yard, or indoor location. Indulge in one for yourself too!

Classy Glass Upcycles
Perfect Mother’s Day Gift!

These awesome creations are lovingly handcrafted in Cornwall, Ontario by a family friend. Each item is unique, (re)using the beautiful glass found in so many vintage vases and bowls. What an fantastic idea; I love the idea of upcycling these exquisite treasures from yesteryear.

Visit the page to check out the posted creations currently available. Or commission one (or two) in the color, shape and size of your choice.

Posted in business

TIPES (Thinking in Pictures Educational Services)

Many of you know I have a landscaping business that keeps me busy from April (usually) to October here in Ottawa. What you may not know is that I need something to keep myself from going stir crazy in my offseason. Especially when the winter months are as miserable as they were this year. One of my other passions is writing, so when an opportunity came up to help update manuals for TIPES, I was keen to join this impressive group of people dedicated to helping autistic children and adults as well as their families.

TIPES

TIPES is a charitable organization founded in 2007 by Jennifer and Deborah Wyatt, who just happen to be the twin daughters of my husband’s childhood friend. The business started small but has exploded exponentially with the rising need for their services and programs. The more time I spend writing, editing and revamping the policies and procedures for their manuals, the more impressed I am with this program.

As a charitable organization, TIPES relies heavily on donations and fundraising to keep their operation running smoothly. One such event is coming up soon in the form of the National Capital Race Weekend where you can support TIPES by sponsoring their Financial Officer Marnie Potter.