Archive for September 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Travel Tuesday - An Adventure in Branding

Defining your brand is not an easy thing and yet it is critical to know WHO you are and WHAT sets you apart in the crowd in order to stay focused on your end goal.  Knowing what qualities make you unique and staying true to those ideals will move you forward towards your end goal.

So what IS your brand?

For me, I love all things OLD.

I am most fortunate to live right across the street from an antiques dealer and he just keeps bringing in the most amazing STUFF you could ever dream of.  Imagine my delight the morning I saw him tow this fabulous double decker bus in to the yard.  I watched with eager anticipation as they took hours to shuffle things around so that this baby could fit neatly into it's designated parking spot.

"How much do you want for it?"  I timidly asked.

"Oh, I JUST found this beauty after years of looking for one.  It's not for sale" says my neighbour.

And so I learn my most important lesson about branding:


When you understand the thing that really sets you apart and gives you the edge, don't sell it off too easily.  Your ability to remain disciplined to the vision is imperative.  When you can clearly articulate WHO you are and WHAT you stand for, you can better articulate your brand and sell it.

Now, the next most important thing you need to remember is to not let STUFF clutter your vision when defining your brand.

You are certain to hear voices telling you to "try this" or  "sell that".  Sensory overload is around every corner, taunting and teasing you, beckoning you off the path and pointing you towards anonymity.

Good branding depends on you seeing through all that noise and keeping your eye focused on the end result.

If you find it difficult to really DEFINE your brand, don't be afraid to check out the competition.

We found this display when we stopped at a fabulous Garden Centre on Vancouver Island
Your own ideas become more clear when you see them in contrast with what others are doing in the market place.  Looking outside your own industry is always an eye opener.  Within a specific market, you will often find people copying each other in a way that is too close for comfort.

This summer, the Big Guy and I did our annual tour of Garden Centres on Vancouver Island.  Keeping an eye on what's going on in the market place is always a top priority for us.  We were most impressed with the display and ambience of a Vegetable Market/Garden Centre which featured this fabulous old Model T as a display for their fruit.

I was particularly excited by the abundance of display opportunities an old car like this could offer.......

and I also knew that my favourite antique neighbour had a vehicle just like this one rusting away in the yard.

Now the question I had to ask myself was "Is this consistent with our brand?!"

Focus Tamara.  FOCUS.

And yet, somehow, the minute I got my hands on that steering wheel, I just KNEW we had to have it!

"Are you SURE this is a good idea Tamara?!"  the Big Guy queried.

"Why, of course I'm sure!"  was my confident reply.

And so we hauled this 'ol beauty into place.....

and treated her to a little bit of lovin' care......

and she now stands proudly boasting a cornucopia of beautiful flowers that are ready to take a ride from our place to yours.

photo credit Dragonflight Photography
The only problem is that here in Milner, she has a whole lot of competition lately.

Langley Good Times Cruise In Car Show

If I don't watch out, I may just lose focus and start myself an antique car dealer ship some day soon!

Oooops! It's me Rosa. As Tamara is out of the country at the moment I am posting this prepared post for her. But I jumped the gun. It's still Monday. Party starts tomorrow at 7 am mountain time. ;D


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Finding Adventure Right Here at Home

Wee Two tries on Grampa's motorbike helmet for the first time

Finding ADVENTURE is not always far from home.  As a matter of fact, the real excitement is right here in your back yard, waiting for you to notice.  It's hoping you won't turn a blind eye.  It's calling for you to grab your camera and make this an INSTAGRAM moment!  If you BLINK, you might just miss it.

This year has been a busy one for all of us at Darvonda.  Veggies and Poinsettias, Geraniums and Garden mums, they have all needed our constant diligence.  We've worked some long hours getting our product to market.  Packing and planning occupied our every waking hour.  No stone was left un-turned UNTIL........

WEE THREE made her grand entrance!

I must admit, this year has been filled with so much work that the arrival of our newest team member remained a family secret.  No blog post was issued.  Scant Facebook status' were shared.  Until NOW.....

No true Gramma would let such a momentous occasion go by with nary a photo montage.  I MUST ensure that this special new little miracle gets her moment to shine, no matter how busy life is in the greenhouse!

She made her first curtain call with very little fuss and bother.....

content to play 3rd fiddle to her older brother and sister.....

bamboozle-ing them with her beauty.....

while quietly, secretly, plotting a coup!

Yes, my blogger peeps, Wee Three was just biding her time until she would unseat her adorable siblings from their positions as THE cutest grandchildren I have......

Big sis, Wee ONE, has just conceded her crown to the newest beauty queen in the family!

Presenting Little Miss Avery!  What adventures lie in store for you, my sweet?!  I can't wait to see.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday in Paradise

I don't think there can be anything more joyful than travelling across the globe, crossing time zones and traversing the equator to arrive in a land of palm trees and sandy beaches where we have the opportunity to join in worship with Christian brothers so far from home on this special day of rest given to everyone assembled as a sign of the rest to come.  We all have a different story to tell, a tale of starkly contrasting histories which led each one of us to come together today on a hard wooden bench in a tiny fishing village in Brazil where we share the blessing of the gospel of grace spoken over one and all, in a foreign tongue for some, but powerful beyond anything in existence.

Even more joyful is the knowledge that, although my family are far from here, they too will join in this ritual of worship in various cities around the world. Each of those places different from each other and yet united in their desire to glorify the Creator of Heaven and Earth on this, the first day of the week.

I am struck by the difference I see between all of us. Some come from a long line of Reformed believers while others began their journey in the Roman Catholic, the Pentecostal, the Baptist or no church at all. So many different minds joined in kneeling before our Lord and Saviour  in humble submission to His will.  I look around and see familiar faces as well as strangers.   Starched white collar shirts and ties hang comfortably on some while flip flops and jeans are more preferred by others. The children join in the service, nursing mother's quiet their young ones at the breast. Elder Hermes blesses those gathered here and proceeds to deliver a sermon like John the Baptist himself.   It is hard to imagine that this fiery preacher owns a lumber store down the street, serving this tiny community with new doors and windows during the rest of the week. He speaks as one called to the ministry. I feel at home here.  

However, this is just a holiday. I will soon leave this tropical paradise and return to my comfortable abode in Canada.  Thankfully,this place remains a paradise in my mind as I fly off to live my every day life back home where my own congregation awaits my return.

At the same time, I think about my children far from here who have left the nest, living among strangers, trying to fit in among people who do not share the same experiences, who have alternate histories which formed and shaped them. Each of them must adjust to their new surroundings, trying to understand the culture and way of life in their new congregations. It's not always easy.

As someone brought up in the Dutch reformed tradition, I was taught many things which I considered  to be irrefutable doctrine when I was young. It was sinful to ride a bike on Sunday. It was also just as irreligious to change out of your Sunday clothes to play sports on Sunday. Going to the movies was a one way ticket to hell and a woman must always dress in a skirt or she was transgressing the rules of Godly modesty........

Jump forward 35 years into this scenic locale on a picturesque beach in South America and look around at this small group of coverted sinners. Gaze upon their simple ways with dear brother Neno playing classical guitar along with the congregation as they enthusiastically sing praises to their Lord and Saviour who came to save the sick and the broken. There is no pipe organ to accompany the congregation. The psalms are not even slightly reminiscent of a Genevan tune. And yet, the hearts and minds of these brothers are reaching out as are the hearts of all His children around this big green ball called earth, in praise to our faithful Father who is in heaven.

The truth is, it's not about what WE do but it's only about what HE did for us. The way you dress, sing, eat,drink and sleep will all be perfected in Him. Somehow.

How He is going to work this all out in the end, how men so different in appearance and history will one day be transformed into perfect citizens of that great City of God, I have no idea but I wait with eager longing for that final chapter to be written.......

And then we will live together in perfect unity as the greatest novelist in the universe writes the heavenly sequel while we walk the streets of gold amidst the blinking sapphire street lights and diamond encrusted mailboxes lining the street on which we will live. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Travel Tuesday - A New Orleans State of Mind

This beautiful bottle of Champagne along with chocolate covered strawberries greeted us at the hotel in New Orleans

Each year again, there is one special occasion that stands out from the rest.  Every June 30th the Big Guy and I celebrate another year on this journey together through life as man and wife.   A mere 26 years ago we made a vow to serve each other through good times and bad, riches and poverty, health and sickness, till death do us part.  Now, here we are, 113,880 days later, still going strong.  And what an ADVENTURE it has been!

This year we decided to do something special, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the business and just immerse ourselves in music, history and food.  The Big Guy wanted to re-charge the batteries with a little shot in the arm of some serious culture so he whisked me off to New Orleans!

Holidays away from home have always been a time for us to step back and ponder our lives from 50,000 feet above sea level rather than our normal view from the dog paddle of our daily labor.  Rather than racing off to pack some order or finalize details on a new project, we actually have time to think about the big picture while we sip a cappuccino and munch on beignets, trying not to choke on the powder sugar that wafts into our lungs.  What a blessing to be able to enjoy an artery clogging ball of grease and calories with my best friend.   However I do realize that if I want to be able to keep travelling on the off-road of life with him as the driver, I am going to have to cut sugar out of his diet tout de suite!  Wouldn't want him to suffer a heart attack, now would I?!

As I look through these photos of our little trip away this summer, they remind me of a few things we have learned over the years about how to flourish in a long term partnership.   We've learned these things as we've careened wildly through the years together like Indiana Jones and Princess Lea  doubling on a pod racer with Darth Vader and the Nazi's right on our tails.   But, why don't I just give you the short version:

Tip #1:  Marriage is like a garden.  Tend it well and it will flourish.

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

Tip #2:  Pay attention to the scenery on the journey of life and.....


On an airboat tour through the Louisiana Bayou
One day you are going to be old and immobile and very happy to have some INSTAGRAM moments to look back on.

Tip #3:  Honor the edifice of your marriage bond.  It's not just made up of unicorns and fairy dust.....

Homous Plantation and Gardens

but real BRICKS and MORTAR are what holds it together.

New Orleans, French Quarter

Each day you spend together, you are slowly, painstakingly working on building something that will last.  Architectural drawings should always be kept close at hand for when you are both stumped as to how to proceed.  The great Architect drew them up for you so make sure you follow them!

Step 4:  Be bold and make some NOISE.

Tell them that you love them as often as you can.  No one is a mind reader and just because you put the toilet seat down doesn't mean your message of "Honey, I adore you" is heard the way you hoped.

Step 5:  You are married to ROYALTY!  Always remember that you are meant to serve your mate.

Bocage Plantation Bed and Breakfast

If both parties in your African Safari of a life consider each other to be the better shot, you will each be willing to hand over the gun when you find yourselves looking down the throat of a drooling lioness.   However, ensure that you are both very clear on who ACTUALLY IS the better shot of the two or you might just be breakfast.

I have always rejoiced in the fact that I get to be the lady in this partnership.  I don't have to carry the gun and go to war.  I get to stay in the cabin and keep the home fires burning while my man goes out to  catch us some dinner.  For some ladies that might mean you literally get to stay at home and care for your little ones and freeze an inordinate amount of applesauce in the fall, enough to get you through a dutch man's winter.  For other gal's that might mean helping out in the barns, doing the books or making sales calls, whatever you can do to help your partner.  In whatever way you contribute, as long as it is done with the collective "we" in mind, you are on the right track.

Living with a servant like attitude will be more fulfilling than you can imagine!

Step 6:  Remember:  You are the stupid half of this partnership.

When you finally find your PERFECT MATCH and get hitched, you have just entered into an agreement between MR/MRS PERFECT and your messed up self.  You are gonna make lots of mistakes but as long as you keep being honest with yourself and working toward improving your half of the partnership, you will have a chance at keeping this team together.

Step #7:  Pop open some Bubbly and ENJOY LIFE!

When the going gets tough and you feel like there's no end in sight, take some time to enjoy the blessings you have in your lives, however small they may seem.  It is our nature to look on the gloomy side of life and bemoan the unlucky hand we've been dealt.  These days we are told to "let it all out".  You have the RIGHT to feel sorry for yourself.

But, there is reason to believe that the experts have it all wrong.  I have to say that in my own life, I have never felt like things were brighter for me after "blowing off a little steam".  As a matter of fact, when I let the regulator off the pressure cooker lid of my mind, I find myself confronted with a mess of tomato sauce blown all across my kitchen and a whole lot of work to clean it up.

Try the alternative and think POSITIVE instead of negative.  Especially in the light of the knowledge that you have been placed here on this earth with a special purpose in mind.  Your life is exactly as it should be.  Challenges come your way to humble you......or strengthen you.  You won't know until the curtain comes down.

So go ahead and lean way out and live your best life.  Your Creator will be sure to provide all the adventure you can handle!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Business Tips to Live By

Photo taken from the window of a semi-truck travelling in the Canadian Prairies at 104 KM per hour 

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own business?  Would you love to call all the shots?  Perhaps you have decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur?  Well then, my friend, you have chosen the path of courage and curiosity.  Of risk and ramifications.  Of imagination and innovation.  The WORLD is your oyster.  The sky's the limit!   Adventure will be your ever present companion, no matter where you are.  And as every good adventurer knows, it's not just a place on the map but it's a state of mind!

I think the most important thing to learn once you become your own boss is the fact that "The Buck Stops Here".  There's no one else above you, no one else to blame, no one else to shoulder the burden.  The ball is in your court and you are the player, the referee, the news announcer and the fans all in one.  It's crucial that you understand what the job looks like and where it leads to before you can lead others.

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 
― Walt Disney Company

This week, I had the opportunity to see into the bowels of our own business from the passenger seat of a semi-truck.  A new appreciation for the size and scope of what we do around here has sunk in over the last few days.  A real life episode of "Under Cover Boss" played itself out on the highways of Central Canada this week.....

and it was pretty AWESOME!  I will never look at a truck driver the same way again!

Important lesson #1:  PLAN for the worst and HOPE for the best

Checking the brakes before descending the mountain

Whatever the tools of your respective trade, you are going to want to keep them in good shape.  If it's a semi-truck, check your brakes regularly.  In life and business, you need to be prepared for the worst but hope for the best.  Let's face it, when you are hurtling down a steep mountain with thousands of pounds of steel pushing you forward into the abyss, you want to know that you planned ahead.

Important Lesson #2:  Business is not always glamorous

At least there is some toilet paper!
Being your own boss is a whole lot of hard work.  You have to be prepared to do the dirty jobs that other people don't want to do.  If you are willing to do the nasty bits with enthusiasm, others will follow.  If you know what it takes to get a job done it's much easier to understand the challenges you need to overcome to be successful at it.  However, don't forget to lock the door before using the facilities or you might find you are sharing them with a shocked stranger!

Important Lesson #3  Dream Big

The sky is the limit, if you just have courage!  If you tell yourself that you can't do something, then you most definitely won't do it.  So, start with an idea that you believe in and pursue it with passion.  You will meet road blocks along the way but never stop trying.

“Whether you say you can't or you can, you're right.” 
― Walt Disney Company

Important Lesson #4:  Get to WORK!

Thinking about a job is good.  Doing a job is even better!  Don't let your mind bog you down with doubts and concerns that keep you from just getting out there and getting started.  Sure, there's lots to do.  Of course it's a really big job.  Don't let that stop you.  Get out there and get going.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ” 
― Walt Disney Company

Important Lesson #5:  Don't forget to stop and refuel once in a while.

If you keep cruising along at break neck speed, never pausing to take a breath, you might not have the big picture in perspective.  It may seem that there is NO TIME to stop and think but it is imperative to step back from the nitty gritty of the job and take note of the end goal.

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” 
― Walt Disney Company

Important Lesson #6:  Being UNIQUE is important

Not being a part of the pack or doing things different than everyone else will give you an edge in business.  Don't be afraid to stick out from the crowd.  Be confident and courageous, believing in your dream.  You were created to be one in a million!  Our Creator filled this world with diversity and contrast, giving us the mandate to go out and work out that diversity to it's best advantage.

Important Lesson #7:  Always wear appropriate footwear.

Every occasion requires a different set of footwear.  Steel toed boots for working on the loading dock.  Flip Flops for a comfortable drive.  Stilettos for every other occasion you can imagine.  Don't be shy about changing to suit the moment.  Just as with shoes, an entrepreneur will require many different changes to the plan as they work towards a profitable enterprise.

“The difference in winning & losing is most often, not quitting.” 
― Walt Disney Company

Important Lesson #8:  Think BIG

There are people out there who will tell you that you can't do something because THEY can't do something.  They will tell you your dream is too big because THEIR dream is too small.  But since you were created to create, don't ever stop creating! As long as you are using all your talents to the best of your abilities, you will be doing what you were made to do.

Important Lesson #9:  Don't be afraid of the shadows

Never be afraid of the looming shadows that are sure to come your way.  Nothing in life is easy, especially when it's something worth working for.  Look to the tough times as a way of learning faster, better and deeper.

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” 
― Walt Disney Company

Important Lesson #10:  Do your best.  Forget the rest.

Being an entrepreneur means a lifetime of making decisions as best you can, making presentations as best you can, training others as best you can, selling your wares as best you can.  As long as you do your work with all your heart and all your gifts and talents, you can rest assured that you have done what you were created to do.  Maybe your results won't be exactly what you anticipated but they will be exactly what was planned for you.  At the end of the day you can rest on your Maker, knowing that He will do whatever He wills with the work of your hands. Soli Deo Gloria!

“Why worry? If you've done the very best you can, worrying won't make it any better” 
― Walt Disney Company

Rosa Has posted her Travel Tuesday story HERE.

Now it's your turn . . .

Just click on the InLinkz link below and join in the fun!

*Don't forget to link to your actual post rather than your general blog address. You can do this by clicking on your post title and copy and pasting that address to the linkA few other things you can do to liven up the party is to link back to Travel Tuesdays on your blog and visit at least a few of the other bloggers and leave them a comment. Spread the love . . . 

 As promised we have also come up with a way for everyone to share in the fun, even non bloggers!

We now have a Travel Tuesdays Facebook page! If you don't blog, or even if you do, hop on over there and leave your pictures and stories. It doesn't even have to be Tuesday. ;D