To tell you the truth, I’m never sure what day my ‘typical’ day is. Each day brings its own joys and challenges; some are busier than others, I’m often in the shop when most people are relaxing on the weekends, and then on the days I’m not, I’m still doing a lot of things for the shop. So this is just a little insight into how my typical day progresses.
Now, due to my age, I’m a firm believer in starting the day with some sort of exercise, so 5 days out of each week sees me getting up around 6 am and heading to my treadmill for about an hour. I’m slowing down somewhat, as I used to do at least an hour and a half, but that’s what age does to you.
We all know how important a good healthy breakfast is to set you up for a busy day. I like to change what I have occasionally, although, I do tend to get ‘stuck’ on one thing, then change to another at times. Lately, I’m really enjoying some fine quinoa cereal cooked in low-fat milk and a little black strap molasses and served with some fresh fruit. (Our Carambola tree is very prolific now, so I’ve been having them). Occasionally I might change it up a little bit with a poached egg on gluten-free toast, and then another piece of toast with some home-made jam. I’m still trying to figure out how to improve my jams; while they taste good, they mostly end up a bit dark and a bit difficult to discern what flavour they are. As my husband doesn’t need to follow a gluten-free diet, I am very specific about which side of the toaster is used for each of our breads. I’ve recently discovered some good quality bread made by Gluten Free 4U, and have been trying some of theirs, such as their sourdough and dark continental loaf, rather than make my own bread.
I like to leave home for the shop in plenty of time to relax over a coffee at one of the cafes in our little town before my working day begins. It’s here that I’ll catch up on some social media, and maybe make a post or check out what my children and grandchildren are getting up to. Some mornings, I might be joined by one of my daughters, and if I’m lucky, my granddaughter.
People tend to think that if you own a shop, all you need to do is open the doors and serve customers. I wish! Setting up for the day entails taking heavy signs out and putting them on the footpath, putting our banner out at the front of the shop and making sure that the lights are on in the fridge and freezer. Then there’s the cleaning! Between the dust coming in through the windows (that are supposed to be sealed), and the floors that need daily attention in the form of sweeping and mopping, as well as the windows and glass.
Between customers, who I absolutely love to chat with, I update inventory in our website, as we don’t have a POS system yet. The benefit of this is, is that I’m very aware when we’re either running low, or have run out of a product, so I can keep a running spreadsheet for ordering from wholesalers.
I’m afraid that I sometimes (read often) get side-tracked watching the ‘action’ on our website. I can see where in the country (or world) people are viewing the website from (people in the USA are often looking), when they put things in their cart, start the checkout process and finalize their purchases. No matter how many orders we get, I still get a little thrill each time I see that someone has chosen MY little online store to search for their gluten-free groceries, and as soon as I see an order come through I’m assembling the products and doing the paperwork so I can get it ready for shipping as soon as possible.
As I’m in the shop alone most of the time, grabbing lunch between customers can be a bit of a juggling process, but as I often have something from our shelves for lunch (and why wouldn’t I), those customers who visit during their lunchtimes get to see that I personally endorse the products I sell. Just lately I’ve been having Pure Harvest Sesame Rice This topped with a scraping of Freedom Foods Vege Spread and some Mayvers Crunchy Peanut butter. Other days it might be a jar of St Dalfour Atlantic salmon and vegetables, or maybe one of the instant soups or noodle dishes from Hart & Soul. So much choice, and if I’m still peckish there’s always one of the Vege Chip varieties to snack on.
Paperwork is one of those things that’s always there waiting to be done, and it must be done in time; the ATO likes to have returns submitted in time, and I like to get my BAS refund. Wednesdays tend to be a little quieter than other days, so I often get stuck into the week's bill paying and accounting first up on Wednesdays. Such an improvement from the years that I was still working a full-time Government job and doing the shop admin tasks on weekends and at night! A few times each month I need to asses stock levels and order from wholesalers and other small suppliers; I get to sit at my computer and watch the street scene unfolding outside, customers coming and going from not only my shop, but the others in the area. On special days, I’m rewarded with a little visit from my daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter who live locally; I take a break those days and just enjoy their company.
Afternoons go quite quickly; getting orders packed and shipping dockets printed, tidying shelves and helping customers find what they’re looking for, or just giving them advice, and suddenly, it’s closing time. Time to bring in the signs, total the day's sales in the till and balance up before walking home.
You’d think that my ‘work’ day would be over at that stage, but that’s when I put on my other ‘hat’. I do some baking for a couple of the local cafes in town, something I’d like to expand one day, and the hours between 4 and 7 are when that gets done. The things I’m most asked to make include lasagne, banana bread, chocolate cake, cheesecake and scones; I sometimes think I could make these in my sleep!
After all that cooking, dinner needs to be something simple, and often it ends up being barbecued steak/chicken/salmon and corn with steamed vegetables. So easy, so healthy, and best of all, not much to clean up afterward. On the days when I feel a little more inspired, I might bring home some pasta, such as Otway Pasta Company Fusilli, and team it with a home-made meat or vegetable sauce, or maybe I’ll make a stir fry using some of Chang’s gluten-free sauces and instead of serving it with rice, I’ll cook up some Sorgplus sorghum for an added protein hit.
On my ‘days off’ from the shop, in addition to getting my boring household chores completed, I also pick up products from suppliers who don’t deliver to our area, pack and send out internet orders, and do more baking and cooking for the local cafes. Those are also the days when I get to catch up with family and friends; a few quality hours with my adorable granddaughter is a big priority. There’s definitely not much ‘down’ time, but then again, I don’t have time to get bored either.
Occasionally I’ll go out, and how I handle that will be the subject of another blog soon. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my life. It’s not the most exciting, but I’m happy knowing that I’m helping people to access different ingredients for their food intolerances. I couldn’t do this without the support of my patient husband, aka The Boss on our Facebook and Instagram pages, as he does an awful lot of running around for me in the background, is the guinea pig for my cooking experiments and puts up with a messy kitchen and very late dinners some nights. For all that you do, thank you Bill.