CHOCOLATE CAKE & BASIL LEMONADE

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It's been over 6 months since I started teaching and let me tell you guys, I love to teach.

I love that I get to share with others what I know and to see how much it helps them grow. I love to build community and see each student interact with each other. I love the relationships that lasts after the class - I've made so many friends and clients from teaching!

One of my favorite things lately, that I love about teaching, it how the small little things like fresh home-made basil lemonade, chocolate cake and flowers from my garden can welcome and celebrate the students and the class. It celebrates their commitment to learning and growing. Making it feel more like a gathering, an event, a celebration.

If you're thinking about teaching your own class, check out these 10 easy steps.

The cake I made was simple and so delicious - it was also gluten, dairy and sugar-free. The basil lemonade was so fresh and summery.

Sugar-Free Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cup of almond meal
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 ts of baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tb of coconut oil
  • 2 ts of vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix together all dry ingredients (almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the dates and water in a food processor or strong blender and blend until it forms a smooth paste.
  4. Mix the date paste with the wet ingredients (eggs, coconut oil, vanilla), and mix until smooth.
  5. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
  6. Grease an 8" round cake pan and pour in batter.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving so that it has time to set.

Strawberries & Chocolate Glaze

  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 4 Tb of coconut oil, melted
  • 4 Tb of maple syrup
  • 4-5 strawberries
  1. Slice strawberries thin and cover the entire top of the cake.
  2. Mix the first 3 ingredients well in blender.
  3. Drizzle over cake. Let cool in fridge for more a hardened chocolate glaze.

 

Basil Lemonade

  • 6-8 lemons
  • 8-10 cups of filtered, cold water
  • agave or maple syrup
  • hand full (8-10 sprigs) of fresh basil leaves
  1. Roll each lemon to release the juice.
  2. Cut lemons in half and squeeze into pitcher.
  3. Fill pitcher with water till it tastes slightly tangy. You can always add more water afterwords.
  4. Add sweetener to taste. I usually add 1/4-1/2 cup of agave sweetener.
  5. Chop basil and mix in.
  6. Slice a few lemons, coin style, to garnish.
  7. Serve over ice and keep chilled.

HOW TO TEACH A CLASS

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Are you thinking about teaching a class in your community and want to know how to get organized and prepared to do it? Say no more.

Teaching has helped me promote my business and build confidence in what I do. 

This January I taught my first calligraphy class. I had a little experience teaching - a few years back I taught some art classes to children and a few hair cutting/styling classes when I was in cosmetology school. But this felt different.

I had to come up with a description to sell the class so people knew what to expect, I had to create a step-by-step process to follow so my class had a good flow, I also had to source and order the materials in order for each student to participate. Basically, I was on my own to teach this class and that's what made it different.

I was excited to teach, especially to adults who were really passionate about learning, but a little nervous because this was a big step for me. 

I don't know if I would've known to prepare for the class without the help from The Skillery, a co-working community of classes and workshops for and taught by creative entrepreneurs. They helped me organize my ideas, create a class/workshop page online, organize a space to teach in, and promote and sell tickets to the class. Because I am new to Nashville, I am certain that I would've been teaching to an empty room if I didn't have the contacts and promotional help from them.

I'm now going onto my 5th class - DIY Brush Lettering - and want to share with you 10 easy steps on how to teach a class yourself.

Step 1. Identify what you want to teach, who you want to teach it to and why. Consider your skills and what you know how to do really well. What are those things? Maybe you're a photographer and you want to teach beginners how to use their first DSLR or maybe you're a songwriter and you want to teach how to write a song to children. Whatever it is you want to teach, consider who you want to teach it to and why you want to teach it. As Stephanie mentions in this article,

the best courses weave together four distinct areas -core skills or information, a strong sense of purpose, the creative process or philosophy of the instructor, and a great finished product or end result – to create a one of a kind course that is truly distinctive

Step 2. Write a brief description of the class.  In 3 paragraphs or less, write out what your students can expect, how long the class will be, what they will be given (worksheets, materials) and what they will leave with. Think about the materials that will be used and if they get to take them home or if they are theirs to use during the class only. Students will want to know what they're paying for. So try to be as specific as you can but keeping it simple so they can imagine themselves at your class, enjoying it, loving it and finding value in it.

Step 3. Decide if you'll be teaching it alone or through an organization. If you're just starting out, I recommend teaching your first or several classes through an organization. The reason why is because these organizations/businesses makes money through your class so naturally they want you to succeed. They will help guide you through each step and will also help you sell the tickets. If you're going to teach it alone, know what you're doing, how you plan to sell the tickets and be prepared. The upside to teaching alone is you get to keep all of the ticket sales.

Step 4. Name your price. Consider your time, how long it takes to not only teach the class, but to organize the class, set up and break down the class. Price out the materials you will need for yourself and for your students. Now combine your hourly rate with the material costs and divide into how many students you want to attend. For example, if you're hourly rate is $75 and the class is 2 hours long, that equals $150. Add 2 hours of class prep, promotion, organizing, etc that equals $300. Now add materials costs - let's say $200, that equals $500 in total costs. Now divide that price into how many students you want so in this case lets say 10 students. That would be a ticket price of $50. Now don't forget that when you work through an organization, they will take a cut of that or charge you a fee. Let's say they take 50% - this would mean my total profit would be $250. So again the ticket price would be $50, total profit would be $250.

Step 5. Nail down a date and place. When choosing a space to teach in, consider your audience and what they might like, think about logistics (is there enough space for me to walk around in), ask if they have equipment essential to class (do they have a blackboard to use, projector screen, etc), think about lighting (is there enough lighting for people to see what they're doing), pick a time of day that's best for your students, and so on. When considering a date, do some research. Check out what days other successful classes are being taught and do the same. For example, The Skillery suggests I teach on Tuesday or Thursdays because they have the best turnouts those days.

Step 6. Order materials. You've already done a rough estimate of what materials will be needed in Step 4. Now order/buy those materials making sure to give yourself enough time to have them shipped to you in time or to pick them up from the local store.

Step 7. Promote the class. Create a Facebook event, talk about it on your blog, tweet it, whatever you can, announce your class and all of the details that make the class great. Be sure to not sound too salesy, you want your potential students to find value in this class. So mention what they'll get if they come, why you love this class so much, how long you've been doing it, etc.

Step 8. Create a syllabus and checklist. Now that you've launched your class and people are buying tickets, create a step-by-step outline of exactly what you'll be teaching so that when your class comes and you're standing there you don't blank. For example, the first thing I do when I start a class is introduce myself and share why I teach, why I am passionate about teaching and how long I've been doing it for. Once you have your class plan down, create a checklist of things to remember to bring with you. For example, if you're teaching a painting class, you not only need paint brushes, paper and paint, you also need cups, water and rage to wash their brushes.  Try to really envision the class from start to finish and jot down everything you need to remember to say and bring.

Step 9. Show up and crush it. Now all you need to do is show up. Keep in mind you might need to show up a half hour or 45-minutes early to set up. And a tip from The Skillery Teacher's Handbook is to surpass your students with something. So every class I come up with some way to surprise them. My last class, I surprised the students with a blank envelope with a stamp on it, challenging them to write a hand-written note to someone they know. Other times I've shared cookies or cheese and crackers with them.

Step 10. Build relationships. One of the most important things I like do when I teach is share my story, how I got to where I am today and then ask the students the same. Some are a bit shy at first, but once a few people break the ice, most join and share what they do, why they do it, how they heard about time and my class, and more. I do this not only because I selfishly want to learn all about them, but

I also do it to help build a community. I want these students to be friends with each other.

My last class, I jotted down any websites or blogs that the students had onto the chalkboard for everyone to check out. I encouraged them to stay in touch the other students and to email me anytime. I also put my social platform info on the chalkboard for them to share any photos they may have taken during class. This step was a gift that I was not expecting and is now one of the major reasons why I love to teach.

What's your experience teaching a class? Do you have any steps or tips to share for us? Have any classes you want to share? Wanna take a class with me but not sure if I teach it or will travel to where you are? Email me to see meredithcbullock@gmail.com

I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here

TEACHING | MY FIRST CALLIGRAPHY CLASS

TEACHING-Calligraphy Tomorrow I teach my first calligraphy class. I am both excited and nervous. Excited because ever since I was little I wanted to be an art teacher. I am nervous because this is my first calligraphy and my first adult class.

I have experience teaching cosmetology classes and art classes for children, but never adults. There is so much left to wonder - like will they like the class, will they leave the class feeling inspired and feel like they actually learned something, will they like me, will they have fun, will they love calligraphy, the list goes on.

So as the day approaches, here are some things I am doing to prepare for my class:

  1. Decide on a location - I will be holding my class at Fort Houston, an amazing industrial style space full of creatives from woodworkers to printers to photographers to metalworkers.
  2. Choose a price - I had some help from The Skillery (the organization I am teaching through) with pinpointing a price that fits the class offering, time and end deliverables.
  3. Plan ahead - I have written 2 or 3 check lists that have everything I need to bring, to what I still need to get for refreshments.
  4. Promote it - Share your class on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on your blog. Create a Facebook event and mention it to friends.
  5. Write out a detailed agenda - Down to the 15 minute mark, I have my class planned out from the moment I walk in and set-up to the moment I clean up and leave.
  6. Create worksheets - Some people learn from seeing, others learn from hearing it. Be sure to have worksheets for those that need to see it.
  7. Surprise them - A great tip suggested by The Skillery was to give them an unexpected surprise. From snacks and refreshments to a bonus activity at the end of class, I am ready.

How about you, have you taught a class? If so what steps to you take to prep? What classes are you teaching?

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WANDERLUST AKA I WANT TO TRAVEL & CHANGE THE WORLD

wanderlust-aka-i-want-to-change-and-travel-the-world I dream about traveling the world. I imagine my husband and I with backpacks, hopping trains, shaking hands with natives, eating food, wandering streets, experiencing culture and a beauty that we've never seen before.

Not only do I imagine traveling the world, I also imagine changing the world. Like a TOMS's-Shoes-kind of change the world - a one-for-one. I want to give my time and efforts to those who need it. I want to provide for my family while providing for others too. I imagine meeting people from across the United States to all over the world. I imagine getting my hands dirty and experiencing tough realities. I imagine laughing, loving and crying. Most of all, I imagine my heart happy.

For so long I've imagined this dream but never took any serious steps to make it happen. When I have a dream or idea for my business, I write it down.

SO... I'm writing it down and setting some goals. I'm announcing to you today that this is my calling and that I believe I was put on this earth to help others find beauty and strength within themselves and to help guide them to the life of their dreams.

Now that I've shared my big dream, what's yours? Do you have any trips planned? I am a novice to traveling abroad, any tips, recommendations or ideas?