Another One of My Go-To Recipes – Pasta with Pancetta and Peas

I don’t know about you, but every afternoon I find myself thinking, “how is it already time to prepare dinner?”  I just gave the kids an afternoon snack and now I’m already worrying about dinner!  Well, I am a big fan of quick and tasty dinners, and this is one of my kids’ favorites.  I love that there are only a handful of ingredients, it’s quick and easy to prepare, and it makes my kids devour peas.  What more could you ask for in a meal?
  • 16 ounces of pasta (I prefer linguine)
  • 8 ounces pancetta, diced (I like these Pancetta cubes I get at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (I’ve made this without lemon juice and it’s fine, but the acidity gives it a nice little touch)
  1. Cook pasta in salted water (before you drain the pasta, be sure to save a cup of the pasta water for later – this is key!)
  2. Saute pancetta in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until golden and crisp.
  3. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In the same pan, saute onions until soft and translucent.
  5. Add peas and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in Parmesan, pasta and pancetta.
  7. Moisten pasta with some of the reserved pasta water.
  8. Toss to incorporate, season with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve, sprinkled with lemon juice.

You can find the original/full recipe on foodnetwork.com.  Enjoy!

Cheers to All Those Who are Casting for Shark Tank Season 4!

We have received many emails and phone calls from Shark-Tank-hopefuls since our own segment aired on April 27th.  I have to say that the folks who reach out to us are three-steps ahead of the game.  It never even occurred to me to reach out to Shark Tank Alumni.

Then we heard that a few Shark Tank Alums crashed the Chicago Open Casting Call, and had a great time networking and re-living the whole process.

Please keep in mind that Mark and I are in no way affiliated with Shark Tank, ABC, or any of the casting crew, so what we have to say has zero influence on whether you get on the show or not, BUT we did go through casting and if you want to grab a drink and put your mind at ease before the Casting Call in Los Angeles, we’d be happy to talk with you.  We’ll be at the bar (Tula’s Lounge) of the hotel where the casting call will be the next morning between 7-9 pm if you want to come out and chat, talk about the stresses of entrepreneurship, etc.  We’d love to meet you.  We are always happy to talk about our wild ride into the Shark Tank, but please keep in mind that you have to take everything we say with a grain of salt – because we had such a great experience, we can be  a bit biased 😉

  • Who: Team Lollacup (Mark and Hanna)
  • What: Networking with fellow entrepreneurs and Shark-Tank-Hopefuls
  • Where: Beverly Garland Hotel – Tula’s Lounge
  • When: Wednesday, May 23rd from 7-9 pm

Bigger, Better, and Faster?

Recently, my daughter’s school had a “Bike Day,” when children could bring their bikes/scooters to school and ride freely in an empty parking lot.  I saw several kids with those balance bikes (bikes without pedals/training wheels).  I kid you not, some of these barely 4-year-olds were fully able to ride a 2-wheel bike because of these new bikes.  I was astounded.

I found myself jumping online to look for this particular bike that would help my 4-year-old learn to ride like a pro.  Then I stopped to think – am I becoming THAT mom, who is constantly pushing her children to learn everything sooner than they really need to?  When my kids were infants, I didn’t push them to do anything.  Instead, I celebrated and enjoyed each little milestone that was reached.  At 2-weeks-old I wasn’t forcing my little one to hold her head up high and at 2-months-old I wasn’t buying devices to help her to sit up – why do I find myself looking to do this now?

Whether we like it or not it’s human nature to compare and feel pressure from outside influences.  Take potty training, for instance.  Many of us feel so much pressure to potty train – and quick, but do you know any tweens still in diapers?  My older daughter wasn’t fully potty-trained till she was almost four.  This made my mother and mother-in-law crazy.  They became obsessed with the fact that other 2-year-olds were potty-trained and mine wasn’t.  They would even try to accomplish the feat while they were babysitting.  For what?

Recently, I was talking to a friend who chose to start her son in kindergarten at 6 instead of 5 (which so many parents do), so he could have another year to mature and develop.  She was telling me about the ridiculous comments she got from others accusing her of trying to give her son an advantage in sports.  Are you kidding me?

I understand that we live in a competitive world, but these are our babies!  Whether you choose to breastfeed yours till he’s 12, start them on “your baby can read” at age 2, or keep her in diapers till 5, do you what you want to do when you think it’s right for your child.  Today’s post serves as a little reminder to myself to slow down and let my kids be kids at their own pace, because the incredible freedom that IS childhood does not last long.

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. – Meryl Streep

Today my older daughter brought over an old mermaid costume that had been sitting, untouched, in her “dress-up” drawer for months.  It was torn to pieces, and she asked me to fix it, so she could wear it again.  I looked at her in silence for several reasons:

1. She could not have chosen a worse time to ask me to find the sewing machine, recall how to use it, and repair her costume.

2. I know the basics of using a sewing machine, but I’ve never attempted to repair a polyester costume that is virtually torn to shreds.

A mother-daughter moment captured by the talented photographer, Caroline Tran

For some reason, this very short exchange led me to think about all the things my grandmother and mother are able to do, and I am not.  What happened along the way?  Can you imagine if we were able to retain all the skills our parents had and couple that with our current education level and tech savvy – we’d be super-parents.  I’m picturing myself cooking up some old family recipe after sewing matching outfits for my girls, and facebooking and tweeting photos along the way.

Since Mother’s Day is fast-approaching, I keep thinking of all the things I wish I could do like my mom.  Yes, there are many things I try my best to do differently, but there are those general skills,  recipes, and nuggets of know-how, that I hope to someday learn/acquire and be able to pass on to my own daughters.  For now, as I try and develop this elusive skill-set, thank goodness for Google, DIY blogs, and YouTube!  I just had to quote Meryl Streep, because every day is really about the essentials.

Late Night Ramblings – Post Shark Tank

We were ecstatic when we got our first online order, we felt a glimmer of hope when we opened our first retail account, we literally hurt when we got our first customer complaint, and smiled for days when we received our first glowing review.  I say all this, because running a business is such a roller-coaster.  Being on Shark Tank was like that signature, breathtaking drop –  we are laughing, screaming, and just holding on tight.  I remember pulling all-nighters in college, feeling like I couldn’t type one more letter, but looking back, that must’ve been training for this very moment.  Sleep is an afterthought and that’s okay.  The one thing that pains me is not being there for my girls as much as I had hoped.

A snapshot of our living room right now.

I came across an article in entreprenuer.com that said the following, “If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to love your business more than anything else–even your family.”  WOW.  When I read this, I felt like someone punched me in the gut.  I’m determined to be successful, but I refuse to believe this.  I have a company and product, because of my family.  I have the most amazing partner who is my family, and family is helping us survive this ride.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this blog post, but I just had to take a minute away from work and think big picture.  Thanks for listening.  Anyone agree/disagree?  How do you all juggle work and family?

What it’s Like to Be on Shark Tank

It’s been 24 hours since our [Lollacup] pitch aired on Shark Tank last night, and my heart and mind have not stopped racing.  So much to do and share.  How we went from a simple idea for a new straw sippy cup to landing Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec as business partners is baffling.

I guess I’ll begin by sharing how Mark and I tuned in last night.  The most responsible thing to do would have been to watch the Shark Tank episode at home, with phone in-hand and computers fired up to attend to any issues that may arise.  BUT we thought about all the people who were in involved in bringing this straw-sippy-cup-project to fruition, and we just had to get everyone together and relish in the moment.  How often does one have an idea, take it to market, get on national TV, and land a business deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec?  You only live once, so we just had to go the viewing-party-route.  I promise we will respond to your voicemails and emails soon.

Between family, the friends we see regularly, and people who’ve directly worked on lollacup, we had about 75 people we needed to host.  Our home/office was not an option with those numbers, so Mark and I had to get creative in thinking about how to plan a Shark Tank Viewing Party on a budget.  Mark suggested watching it at our old high school, where we met and started dating.  I thought it was a long-shot, but we asked the administration, and the school was gracious enough to let us use the lunch area for dinner and drinks and the auditorium to watch the show.  It was so nostalgic and special to be on campus for this event.  Some of our teachers even joined us!

Thank you Phil Webb and Fleetwood-Fibre for the "card." We have the BEST vendors.

Guests began to trickle in around 7 pm, and they all tried their best to stay off of social media so as not to know the outcome.  We were last into the “tank,” so by 8:40 p.m. everyone was pumped for our appearance – our bellies were full and we had all had a few glasses of wine.

Finally, around 7:45 p.m. the commercial break ended and our friends were cheering [loudly] as we were introduced as “next into the Shark Tank.”  I don’t know about you, but every time I hear my own voice on a recording, I cringe.  Can you imagine how I felt watching my every mannerism on national TV?

During the taping, Mark and I stood in front of those sharks for well over an hour, and what you saw on Friday was edited down to less than 15 minutes.  I must say that the show did a great job with the editing . . . everything you saw was a concise representation of how we remember it all going down.  Aside from childbirth, it was the most intense and stressful hour+ of my life.  I am so proud we survived and so happy Mark and I did it together.

So to tell you “what it’s like to be on Shark Tank” – SIMPLY AMAZING!  For the most part, we have had people go out of their way to send kind words and well-wishes our way via Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, and even phone calls.  This whole experience is such a huge motivator.  We know how expensive parenting is: the cost of diapers alone is astounding.  Thank you all for supporting Lollacup as we grow.

Here are some of my favorite tweets from the sharks:

Robert HerjavecRobert Herjavec ‏ @robertherjavec #sharktank – i LOVE this guy – ” I only want to play with winners ” – LOVE IT

#sharktank – wow – it took these two amazing pitchers to get me to work with @mcuban

Mark CubanMark Cuban ‏ @mcuban I really liked them. I’m not usually that nice to robert. I felt bad for him ;-).

 will robert and Mark finally work together!! #sharktank
Lori GreinerLori Greiner ‏ @LoriGreiner Love these two!! Their passion in #SharkTank is undeniable.

Why We Decided to Enter the Shark Tank (and Lessons Learned)

I know we’ve been shamelessly plugging our appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank this Friday, April 27th, and I should’ve realized that doing this has been an open invitation to questions galore.  So, this week, I decided to focus my blog posts on Shark Tank-related topics, so here goes . . .

Lollacup standing in line at the Shark Tank
Season 3 Open Casting Call

  1. Why did you decide to enter the Shark Tank?  My husband and I have been big fans of the show since Season 1, when Lollacup was just an idea.  The friends who introduced us to the show would joke that we should try out for the show.  Fast-forward 2 years, and we had actually launched Lollacup and were running the business full-speed.  As many small businesses do, we needed more money to help pay for growth.  Why not try and get funding, national TV exposure, and strategic business partners in one shot?  We’ve had many discussions with people about the pros and cons of going the Shark-Tank-route.  Some have argued that it is pure stupidity to sell a part of a growing business for such little money.  I agree, to some extent, but every business is different.  If there were some magic formula, we would all be millionaires.  We thought about our current business and where we wanted to be in a few years, and if given the opportunity, we chose to try and work with moguls in the business world.
  2. How did you actually get on the show?  We went on the Shark Tank website, and found a link that said, “want to be on the show,” followed the instructions, sent the email, and never heard back.  One night, we were perusing the site again, and saw that there was an open casting call the very next morning.  Luckily we live in the Los Angeles-area, so we arranged for childcare, filled out the 30+ page application that night, and got in line at 7 am the next morning.  We didn’t get seen till 2 pm that day, but that was the 30-second pitch that got the ball rolling for us.
  3. Is the show real or is everything scripted?  Others may have had a different experience with reality TV, but for us, everything was very real.  We were assigned 2 producers who helped guide us through the intricate process that is reality TV, but aside from some changes to the wording of our pitch, nothing was scripted.  I do have to say that what we may see on TV this Friday may be different from what we remember happening, only because an hour and a half of taping/negotiations is edited down to a few minutes.

Lessons learned and some unsolicited business advice from Lollacup:

  1. Business strategy and the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are a crucial component of entrepreneurship, and to be frank, my husband has a solid background in business, so that’s where we have a leg up.  The contribution I bring to the table is this – I like to think like I did when I was a high school chemistry teacher and used “backwards planning” to lesson plan.  The premise is you determine your end goal, and plan all the steps to achieve that specific goal.  Many teachers like to plan around themes.  For example, just because it is the month of October, everything lesson revolves around pumpkins.  This kind of thinking, to me, sends the message that the end goal is to teach and learn about pumpkins.  Wouldn’t it be better to determine what you want students to learn, and plan lessons that move toward that goal?  I like to use this method and thinking in business too.  For example, when we first launched the product, the biggest question was, how were we going to compete with the dozen+ sippy cups on the market owned by companies like Gerber, Playtex, and the like?  Our initial goal was to build buzz and brand awareness, so our first steps were to build a unique product, package it so it stands out, and build a beautiful booth so we get noticed at tradeshows.
  2. If you have a specific goal you want to achieve, make it your obsession.  Although we didn’t start a business with the end goal of being on Shark Tank, getting in front of the “sharks” was just one short-term goal we did have, and we literally became obsessed.  We checked the same website over and over, watched the show incessantly to glean business tips from the sharks and other entreprenuers, and did whatever we could to increase our odds of getting casted on the show – honed our elevator pitch, made sure we were on top of every last detail of our business, and just tried to be candid about it all.
  3. The third lesson learned is to be overly prepared and move quickly.  We stayed up all night before the open casting call, filling out the 30-page application.  We saw so many others filling it out on the sidewalk that morning and not being able to complete it, because it actually required a lot of information that they didn’t have on hand with them.  Also, to increase our odds of getting selected for the show, we answered all Shark-Tank-related emails within minutes.

Wow!  That was a mouthful.  I can’t believe that after all this, I still have more to say on the matter.  Stay tuned for more . . .In the meantime, stay focused on your goals!