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To Everything There Is a Season

Autumn Leaves

Edel T. Copeland

Published: November 1, 2016

Golden, crisp leaves falling softly from almost bare trees,

Lifting and falling in a hushed gentle breeze,

Slowly dropping to the soft cushioned ground,

Whispering and rustling a soothing sound.

 

Coppers, golds, and rusted tones,

Mother Nature’s way of letting go.

They fall and gather one by one,

Autumn is here, summer has gone.

 

Crunching as I walk through their warm fiery glow,

Nature’s carpet rich and pure that again shall grow,

To protect and shield its majestic tree,

Standing tall and strong for the world to see.

 

They rise and fall in the cool, crisp air.

It’s a time of change in this world we share,

Nature’s importance reflecting our own lives,

Letting go of our fears and again, too, we shall thrive.

 

 

I’m sure you’ve noticed pumpkin spice popping up everywhere, even on our market tables! Fall is coming. Winter is approaching. Our market season is coming to an end. Two more weeks for the summer markets. Squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying around making their winter stores, much like I am scurrying around preparing for my guys winter plan.

I really identify with the last stanza of this poem. Whether it’s Nature or God, the universe is telling us it is time to reflect and change so we can thrive. If I look back at the past summer, it is unbelievable what my guys have accomplished! By mid-July, they had hit every target I had for them for the next 18-24 months. They are media darlings. They had both local and national press. Their products are at not one market but three! Their products are making sure everyone is included at weddings, birthdays and baby showers.  They’ve become an incredible team. They make movie dates together. They see each other for bowling. My son has friends.

Going forward, we will be returning to the Carmel Winter Market, Oct 21 through February 24th, Saturdays 9 am to noon at 510 3rd Avenue SW. We will be available on www.Marketwagon.com  at  both Indianapolis and Laporte sites, where you are able to get weekly deliveries of our goods. We will not be returning to Fishers Winter Market. I know we have weekly customers. Just come see me at the Carmel Market. I never got a chance to meet any of you! I owe you all a hug for supporting us! There’s an incredible line up of vendors at the Carmel Winter Market.

Every second, I’m not in the kitchen or trying to hustle up more press, I am working on getting my team their own kitchen. I am getting closer daily. You all will be the first to know!!! Someone once asked J man how he was going to become a chef, his response was, “ do cooking.”  If it was just cooking, it would be so easy and fun! That’s where I want to be in the kitchen goofing off with my guys. I want you, the customers, to experience the fun and enthusiasm they have.  If they had their own kitchen, they can take wholesale, co packing, and mail order/online sales(out of state) orders! All of that would mean more hours for my current guys and more job openings.

A kitchen would mean we would be more able to provide people with autism an opportunity to build a career, achieve an independent lifestyle and create social change. Hopefully, No Label this summer has created change or shift in people’s mind set. My dream was that we would inspire the community to change their perception of the capabilities of people with autism. My employees work is of the same value of their non-disabled peers.

As I reflect on the summer, I feel so appreciative for the community that has embraced us. You follow my guys progress on Facebook and Instagram. I get emotional thinking about the customers who know the chefs by name! I still am astonished and very grateful when brides take a chance on my guys!

I look forward to our next steps. I feel blessed to be taking them with the community and my guys. I’ve got future actuaries, engineers, and Bobby Flays! I’ve told one of my guys he must thank me in his Oscar and Grammy acceptance speech and to hype our snickerdoodles before they start playing the music on him! The future going to big for us, just watch and see, we shall thrive!

Guest Blogger- Sam the bigger, little brother

This week J man’s brother heads back to school. Here are his reflections on our first months in the business. I’ll add I am super proud of the men my boys are becoming!!!

I know that my mom turns away a lot of people who offer to volunteer at No Label at the Table. For me, I was voluntold to do my part. I’ve worked both at the markets and in the kitchen to help this business grow, and there are a lot of lessons I think I will take away from this experience.

 

The first is to make sure to set a good example. The other day we had a bit of a mix-up with one of the recipes, and I got a little bit frustrated. All I did was sigh and put my head in my hands for a few seconds, but one of our employees could see my frustration and followed my example by becoming frustrated with their work. I had accidentally hurt our work environment and productivity. We managed to get through this one, but I can say that it did teach me a lesson about trying to set a good example. Counter to this, the employees have provided me with a good example. Plenty of times when I’ve been washing dishes, I look over to them and see their enthusiasm for what they’re doing, and it imbues me with a new energy for my work.

 

I also learned that there is a great deal of truth behind the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  One of our employees didn’t really speak or talk to the others. However, despite this they have proven to be probably our most productive employee. They take on an entire stage in our production process by themselves, and manage to do it with ease and efficiency. It’s amazingly impressive. Despite facing incredible challenges they manage to be one of our best and greatest employees. It’s most certainly been a great lesson in not underestimating anyone.

 

I could go on and on with different things I’ve learned from this experience, but this blog entry would be a thousand pages long. Suffice to say that it’s been an incredible experience. Our employees are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I know they will go on to do incredible things. I’m proud to be a part of this enterprise that will provide a dream-fulfilling future for my brother, and help so many other people like him. I thank all of you for your support, and I hope to see some of you at the markets one Saturday.

Not Indistinguishable, but BETTER

When people try our samples, the thing I hear most often is, “Wait, that’s gluten free?” I always explain that we pride ourselves on being indistinguishable or better than the items gluten counterpart. Each treat or bread is its own molecular gastronomy experiment. We get curious and start to investigate. We hypothesis by putting it all down on paper. On paper, we try to make sure we have all the right parts in balance. Sometimes, what looked good on paper doesn’t work in the kitchen. Sometimes we must conduct several trials, but in the end, we come up with something indistinguishable or better. What makes this process better than anything in the world is that I get to do it alongside my son, J.

For our customers, who must be gluten and dairy free, I bet the thing you get asked most often is, “Wait, what do you eat?” I know that your diet probably doesn’t look anything like the typical American diet, but it’s better. I know you feel better. When J started his special diet, his food choice was extremely limited because of rigid and restricted behavior. He only wanted to eat orange foods. I know some toddlers go through phases, but only a parent of a child on the spectrum understands the anguish of having a child refuse to eat. They won’t eat when they are hungry. Immediately after starting his special diet, the variety of foods he’d eat expanded. It was like a door opened to the world for us. For those of you who must be gluten free, think about all the food you enjoy now that you never heard of before. Now at our house a weekly menu might have tamales, bibimbap, katsu, Indian Curry and Thai curry, not only eaten by J but probably prepared too. He’ll eat anything green, not because he HAS to but because he enjoys it.

In those early days when J was a toddler I thought my fight was to make him J indistinguishable from his peers. I have regrets. I always have loved and adored my son but there have been times in the last 20 years when I felt like I was in mourning for the son that could’ve been or should’ve been. I feel guilty about it, because of what I know now. I don’t have a son that’s indistinguishable from his peers. I have a son that’s BETTER.

I don’t have to nag to get him to clean his room. J’s room is always in order. I’ve got BETTER.

I get to share music with him. I’ve got someone with the complete Beatles, U2, Disney, Elton John and Billie Joel canon memorized. He could write a book. I got BETTER.

I don’t need a calendar or calculator. I’ve got J.  I got BETTER.

I’ve never had to break up fights between my sons.  J’s taught his brother to be a compassionate and caring man. I got BETTER.

Just like you, I have a son I can laugh, learn, and goof around with. Who cares if we are not walking around pretending to be normal? Normal is average. I got BETTER.

 

 

 

 

Job Opening at the Brownsburg Farmers Market

No Label at the Table Food Company primarily looks for individuals with Autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS-ages 16 and up

We are a scalable social enterprise. All of our employees are paid employees. Our goal is not only to improve autism awareness but change the perception of the public of the capability of people with disabilities.

We are currently looking for someone from Hendricks County to work at the Brownsburg Farmers Market 3:30- 7:15 pm, Thursdays through Sept 7, 2017

This position is for point of sale at the market

Responsibilities are to greet customers, maintain a clean and organized stand, and taking money in the form of cash or mobile checkout.

Must be able to make change and comply with hygiene and safety standards set by the Health Department (gloves, hats, handwashing station…),  and have own transportation.

* We can make accommodations and provide on the job training for all of these tasks

**This job has two variables. We can not control, weather and the public. Six weeks in, we’ve experience flooding, thunderstorms and chilly wet 50 degree temperatures. I am sure hot and humid days are to come. Everyone at the markets is very kind, but they are curious. The public asks questions. Interactions leads to better awareness. Someone appropriate for this role must have a higher social anxiety threshold. You don’t have to be verbal, but you have to be comfortable interacting with constant flow of people. We can shorten shifts to help with anxiety load. We can teach a sales script, but customers won’t necessarily stay on it!

If you think you’d be a good fit or someone you know is, please contact us via the website contact us tab

Thanks, Shelly, Founder of No Label at the Table

 

Mondays are for Marathons

Next finishing May 6th #glutenfree #dairyfree #nolabelatthetable #fishersfarmersmarket #carmelfarmersmarket #carmelmarathon

A post shared by shelly henley (@nolabealatthetable) on

Something weird happen a couple of Mondays ago, before the markets opened for the summer. Something really weird. I was running a quick 3 miles, because I was tapering for a race in Carmel the next weekend with my sons. Honestly, it was 3 miles because I did not have time for anything else because No Label at the Table had to be ready for the farmers markets. The weird thing was it wasn’t any ordinary Monday. It was Patriot’s Day. I was doing my 3-mile taper run while the Boston Marathon was happening 936.2 miles (.2 miles are very important to marathoners) away. I had forgot all about it. Weird.

The Boston Marathon has defined spring for me for the last 2 decades. You just can’t sign up for Boston. You’ve got to not only run another marathon but do it fast enough to qualify. If you’ve made it to Boston you’re “for real”. You’re serious. It’s attainable goal but you have to be better than most people out there. It’s reachable for nonprofessional runners. It meant I wasn’t just a housewife running away from autism momma drama, I was a serious runner, a marathoner, an elite marathoner. Running was all mine. I started training to run away from my problems but quickly I began running to be someone. All the medals and PRs meant that I could do something that was all mine and had nothing to do with autism. 

But this year, I forgot all about Boston. Something happen. No Label at the Table happened. Since January starting this business has been my focus. My goals have not been inward but on getting my guys to work. Instead of tempo runs and speed work outs, I was focused on my guys skills set. How was I going to get them to their full potential? I feel so much healthier.

Missing Boston this year gave me the opportunity to run a race with sons. How lucky am I?  The Carmel Marathon was amazing. I’ve run plenty of small town races that have been a mess. The Carmel Marathon was professionally done.  Loved it and will register next year. Dorothy had it right there’s no place like home. Carmel Marathon organizers thanks for being inclusive and having the adaptive group. I got to share the day with my J man.  He had a PR!!!!

Next finishing May 6th #carmelfarmersmarket #fishersfarmersmarket #nolabelatthetable #dairyfree #glutenfree

A post shared by shelly henley (@nolabealatthetable) on

As I was pounding the pavement dragging J man’s little,but bigger brother through the course, I knew this is where I should be. I am lucky enough to live in a place that will embrace my guys and No Label at the Table. In years past when I wasn’t in Boston for the race, I’ve felt sad and down. I’d mope around thinking I was missing out. Not anymore, I’m where I should be, with my sons in a place that’s going to welcome No Label at the Table.  I may not have clicked ruby slippers, instead running shoes, but I had an epiphany like Dorothy. I realized all that I had been looking for can be found at home.

I don’t have to be in Boston to know I’m “for real”.  I’ve set a new goal and timeline with plenty of autism momma drama. I am going to stay focused and believe in us. Come see us at the markets as we cross my new finish line, a retail space.  Carb Load with us!!!!!! 

 

Here Comes the Bride and a Man Coming Into His Own

Every night I go to bed relieved that nobody’s figured I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never run a food business before. I am just figuring it all as I go, which has led to many 18-20 hour days. There have been many times that I’ve thought WHAT WAS I THINKING!?! But 6 weeks in and with 6 employees, I know I’m doing something right because I’ve been watching my son transform into the man I knew he could grow to be!

In the last 6 weeks, my son has matured in ways I never expected or imagined. J like many on the spectrum has rigid and ritualistic behavior. It’s always just been part of the package for us. Every morning for last 7-8 years J has the same routine to get ready in the morning. There’s a script we say the same thing every morning. We follow the exact steps every morning. If the steps are interrupted, he has to start again. My husband has his part in this routine. Last Friday, that’s the day in the kitchen, he sent my husband the following texts.

                                He then proceeded to just get dressed without the script. We never thought we’d live without the script. The rigid and ritualistic behavior that we thought was imbedded, just disappeared. He hasn’t needed the script since!

 

Notice the time on the text. 7:27 am. J does not have to be to work until 10 am. The kitchen is a 10-minute drive from our house. He now wakes up with a purpose. Six weeks ago, I was bribing him to make it down the stairs for school work at 10:30 am. The other morning, I found him in the kitchen a 7:10 making a shopping list. He was dressed ready to go with no script. He was upset that Costco did not open until 10 am.

The other thing that’s happened, which chokes both my husband and I up is that up until 6 weeks ago my son lived a life of almost total social isolation. He spent most of his days with me. He hung out with his brother and dad on the weekends. If he wasn’t with us, we were paying someone to be with him. We even thought about hiring someone to be a friend. We’ve been lucky enough to be getting some press. A reporter asked him this week, “What do you want people to know about No Label at the Table?” I held my breath, because I didn’t know what was going to come out. He said, “I bake everything with my friends”  FRIENDS , he has friends.

It’s not only his team in the kitchen, but people in the community. Whether we are at the library or Whole Foods, people are recognizing him. They give a wave and tell him he makes the best snickerdoodles they’ve ever had. He walks taller and so proud of himself. Meaningful work gives him a greater sense of self-worth.

This week, he’s meeting with a bride for a wedding testing! My husband and I are astounded that he gets to be involved with someone’s special day. How cool? 6 weeks ago, on a Friday, he would’ve been watching you tube videos. It’s unbelievable to us that he going to be able to be a part of people’s special occasions.

So as we prepare for another market, I’ll keep pretending I know what I’m doing, Because I know what I am doing is helping my son become the man he was meant to be. Other parents don’t be afraid to do what I’m doing! In six weeks my son’s whole world has changed. He’s out in the world instead of being completely isolated. He walks taller. He has friends and is part of team.  I am so much less frightened about his future.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us. Thank you to everyone who has shared our news stories.  Come to the markets this weekend, we will be selling cupcakes made from the leftovers of the wedding sampling.   Coconut cremes, Hummingbird, Yellow and Lemon All Gluten & Dairy Free!

In Lieu of blog- new allergen posting at Markets

I’ve been very busy this week trying to expand to more markets, which means more employees and more work our team on the spectrum!!!

In Lieu of a blog I’m posting a new sign we will have displayed at the market about allergens

Allergens

We started Gluten/Dairyfree cooking because of our son’s needs

We started this business because of our son’s needs

Please make decisions when purchasing based on your needs!

We are currently renting kitchen space. We process using best practices in a facility that also process wheat, milk, tree nuts and peanuts.

 

Gluten     You are safe to eat anything!

Dairy        You are safe to eat anything!

Egg           Sorry, in an effort to be indistinguishable or better than gluten counterparts, all the baked goods contain eggs, Please ask for a card and we can arrange to bring an egg free version next week.

Fish/Shellfish     Sorry, in an effort to use whole foods in their most natural state, we use fine sea salt in our baked goods. Please make a decision based on your needs

Tree nuts No snickerdoodles

No Brownies (coconut only)

Peanuts   No cereal treats

If you are reactive to Lupine/legume

NO pizza crusts, white sandwich bread, or donuts

Soy           NO cornbread or chocolate cupcakes

 

Bad Luck comes in 3’s

My Grandma, Maggie Cavanaugh, was very superstitious.  I grew up believing something ominous was going to happen, if I didn’t salute a crow. When I hear an ambulance, I still grab a button and say a prayer. I don’t walk under ladders. For most of my childhood in an Irish-American household on the Southside of Chicago, I avoided sidewalk cracks, which is pretty tough, when you’re from my neighborhood. The list goes on and on of the superstitions I was raised on. One thing we all knew growing up in my Grandma’s house was that bad luck comes in threes. If you stopped by our stand in Carmel last week, I may have told you we had a few hiccups in the kitchen. They were pretty big hiccups/ bad luck.

#1-  I thought things were going well, too well, until about 11:30 am or an hour and a half into production. We make huge batches of things in a mixer that’s as big as I am. We were completing the batter for the cupcakes when J man told me we were 4 teaspoons short of xanthum gum. That’s only about 10 % of the xanthum gum needed for the number of batches we were making. A ton of expensive ingredients were already in the mixer.  If you know anything about gluten free baking, you know the cupcakes were never going to turn out without the complete amount of xanthum gum. We needed more xanthum gum.

I couldn’t just run to store for it because my husband had dropped J man and I off that morning at the kitchen.  I called my husband and he was about an hour away but he could bring us some xanthum gum. J man and a lot of people on the spectrum do very well using an activity schedule. It’s basically a to do list. It makes things predictable and safe, especially in new environments or when learning new tasks.  In the kitchen, I call it the production schedule, because it sounds more professional and he is a professional. J man couldn’t cross off cupcakes from his list. So, J man could not move to the next thing on his list. All production halted in my pay by the hour rented commercial kitchen. We probably couldn’t have moved on anyway, because we would’ve needed the mixer.

We took a break for lunch and did some busy work. The busy work led us to #2. We didn’t have any brownie labels. When my husband got there with the xanthum gum, he said he’d turn around, go home and print the labels. We continued with the production schedule, finishing the cupcakes. Up next were the brownies or #3. Size matters. We use brownie pans that make single serve brownies. Getting a consistent portion of brownie batter into each tiny square, proved to be an incredibly difficult task for my team. But I felt relieved, I knew this was # 3, the end of our bad luck and it was smooth sailing ahead. We’d figure out a solution for consistent measuring. Next week, our brownies will all be perfectly sized.

There was no smooth sailing ahead. I said I grew up in an Irish-American household. Yeah, we got crazy superstitions. But we also came up with Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will.  My husband brought back the brownie labels. Unfortunately, they were printed on the wrong side on the paper and not usable.  We burnt the marshmallows. After the brownie size battle, we had a cereal treat size issue too! If you were at the table, you saw the multiple sizes. We also ran hours over our time in the kitchen.

Regardless of all the hiccups and bad luck, we had a great time. I love being able to goof off in the kitchen with J man. He didn’t care how long we were there. He loved it. His brownies might not have been consistent but his mood was! It was great.    Yes, I may have grown up in a very warped environment, where if I didn’t throw salt over my shoulder doom would fall upon me. But belief in all that silly magic, prepared me for my life now. It was just faith in knowing that there’s something bigger. I feel very blessed to be working with J man and the rest of the team. I blessed with good humor that won’t allow me to discourage by a batch of hiccups/bad luck.  So that being said, I’ll end this blog with a much more positive Irish proverb than Murphy’s law.

My blessings out number my troubles. See you at the markets next with perfectly portioned cereal treats and brownies.


We Did It!!!

We Did It! My heart is bursting with pride and joy!

Our first goal in this enterprise was just getting our products to market. We did it!  Our booth was up, with products ready to sell. I was so proud of everyone involved. There were customers. We were so grateful for the customers who were out in 40 degree rain to the market. The challenge wasn’t my guys in the kitchen or people understanding our product. Our challenge was the WEATHER. Notice I said booth at the opening of this paragraph. One of the markets cancelled due to flooding.

With all my planning, recipe testing and spreadsheets, the only snag was something we couldn’t control, the weather. The universe keeps plopping this lesson in my lap, Man plans, God Laughs. I’ve said it before in earlier blogs, I’m a list maker. I order, organize, systemize, methodize and set the objectives. While I was running around doing that, it was flooding in central IN. I was planning and God was laughing.

About midway through our work/bake day on Friday, the Fishers market was cancelled. My very clever husband said let’s go to Carmel with what we have now. I would have kept the guys going, because that was on my list. Thank God, for my husband being the voice of reason. It was a blessing that one of the markets got cancelled. We got a chance for a soft opening. Both my husband and I got to run through a market day together, opening to close.

Another blessing was bringing a smaller menu to the market. I thought we needed to bring a full slate of items to the market, several breads, cookies and cakes. I realized on last Saturday I need to approach to approach our work/bake day like any skill set I teach the J man. Each recipe/item will be a target. When we successfully get each recipe/target to market we will add another item/target.  So we won’t be coming this weekend with 12 different items. We are just going to add one more thing. And It’s amazing!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRISPIE CEREAL TREATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   WARNING, they are addictive!

So, this Saturday, my guys will be bringing

Chocolate cupcakes

Snickerdoodles ( We sold out last week)

Chocolate chip Cookies ( we had 2 left at the end of the day)

Brownies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Treats

& Single Serve Soymilks

 

I am so proud of my guys. Not only did we get our products to market, everyone loved them! People couldn’t believe they were gluten & dairy free! Come see us! When you do come to the stand, if you see something new, know that means my guys are getting better. They are learning and growing!  

My guys will be busy baking tomorrow and I’ll be busy running around in circles planning. I’ll never learn my lesson. Keep the laughs coming God, because I truly devise my best plans when I’m forced to improvise!

 

PRESS RELEASE

Contact

Shelly Henley

Telephone

317-607- 6233

Cell

317-607-7599

Email

jakensamsmom@yahoo.com

Website

www.nolabelatthetable.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 1, 2017

No Label At the table launching to provide job opportunities and job skills traing for people with autism

No Label at the Table is a gluten & dairy free food company staffed by people on the autistic spectrum

Carmel, IN , May 1, 2017–

No Label at the Table is pleased to announce they are taking their products to www.carmelfarmersmarkert.com and www.fishers.in.us/farmersmarket   beginning May 6th through September 30, 2017. Gluten and dairy free cookies, cupcakes, pizza crust and breads will be available.

No Label at the Table was founded by a set of parents when their autistic son was transitioning to adulthood and wanted to become a chef. The parents set out to make it a reality and provide training and employment opportunities for other adults on the spectrum. You can read more about the story and follow the company’s development at www.nolabelatthetable.com .

Two thirds of people with autism after HS graduation are unemployed. The statistics get worse the older a person on the spectrum is. No Label at the Table’s goal is to open a bakery/ quick service restaurant with a certified gluten free kitchen that can be proof to the community the value of employing people on the spectrum.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Shelly Henley at 317-607- 6233 or email at jakensamsmom@yahoo.com.