"Sammy G."

The Unexpected Hurdles on Your Journey

Layoff.  Fender Bender.  Divorce.  DUI.  Root canal.  -OUCH-  All ugly and painful unexpected hurdles on your journey.  But somehow, you get through it!

Today, the bank handed me a truck full of unexpected hurdles and painfully placed them between me and my beloved book bar.  Here’s just a snippet of what I’ve got ahead of me: …… actually, forget it, I’ll spare you the details… it’s too painful for even my little brown fingers to type out.  But take my word for it!  The good news, however is that the answer is not a “No.”  “So, you’re telling me I have a chance!???”  (A Brass Lamp book bag to anyone who can name the movie of that quote!)  What this means is that this delays me from opening my doors, unless of course I can raise about $15,000 to add to my $25,000 down payment.  -Any ideas???

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so please send me encouraging emails, text, and wishes!  Although I was sulking for some time this evening, I’ve got to admit, that there are a plethora of things that I can think of to be grateful for despite these seemingly impossible hurdles.  Here are the top 3 that come to mind at the moment:

1. Thankful that I have parents… who will let me use their collateral as backing!  Thank you Mom and Dad!!!  2. Thankful for the mailman.  How else are we supposed to get those 20% Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.  3. And Thankful that Bruce and Kris Jenner finally split up.  How can one belittle the 1976 Decathlon Gold- medalist!!?  How!?

Invaluable wit and humor aside, I would like to take a moment to say THANK YOU, to my followers, friends, and family for your encouragement and kind words as I take on this beast.  Your support truly means a lot to me.  Thank you for believing in me!

The bank has pretty much put up an obstacle course that is nearly impossible to complete.  But nothing makes me want to do something more than telling me I “can’t.”

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” –Babe Ruth

Sam’s Sunday Evening Wine Review

Relaxing on a Sunday evening to a bottle of Pinot Noir- Cloud Break 2012.


Before I give you my rating of this particular pinot, I admit that I’ve always been a Moscato kind of girl.  I like things sweet.  However, now that I am opening up a bar, I figure that the only right thing to do is expand my pallet!  Which in many respects, is a great lesson to live by anyway!

Here’s what I’ve learned about wine-tasting!  I hope you fellow wine-rookies can appreciate my simple tips below!

First off, the more knowledgeable you are, the greater the enjoyment.  For example, watching a football game is more fun when you understand the rules and strategies.  So the same is true for wine.

Before you pour yourself a glass of wine, let it sit exposed to the air for a few minutes.  Aerating the wine can help soften flavors and release aromas.  Young red wines (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, most Red Zins, and Bordeaux) tastes better when oxidizing because it will be less harsh. When you pour your first glass, look at the color to know the maturity.  The darker the color, the more mature, and therefore the better the quality.  (Fact for the day: A mature grape vine is at it’s prime from 12-40 years old.)

Next, smell it!  Much like food, the smell has a big role on the taste.  Hence the saying, “It smells so good, I can almost taste it!”  Does the scent remind you of a fruit, vegetable, or spice?  Overtime, you’ll be able to distinguish different smells (once you start smelling all of your wines).  Now, sip your wine… sip enough to coat your entire mouth, touching every party of your tongue.  Let it move around in there for about 5+ seconds.  When you swallow, you’ll taste the aftermath, which should be parallel to the smell.  (Taste at least twice before judging.)  Is the texture light or heavy?  Can you taste the fruit or woody oakiness?  Is it flat or acidic?  Sweet or dry?  A good wine will leave a pleasurable, lingering flavor in your mouth, called the “finish.”  High quality wines will have a finish that lingers for 20-40 seconds.

If you’ve ever heard the word “Tannin,” it is the acid found in the skin of red wines.  So, if the wine is more bitter, that is usually the cause of tannins, in which case, you will want to pair with fatty foods like steak, lamb, duck or heavy cheeses.  Moving down the spectrum of acidity, the softer the wine, the more you’ll pair with poultry, pasta, lighter cheeses.  Those that have little to no tannin level is best paired with salmon, Asian food, light poultries, and fruit platters.  Now take that info to your next dinner date, and you’ll give the impression that you’re very cultured!!  Big points, for sure!!  You can thank you me later!!!

I hope you found my introductory lesson helpful!  This California made Pinot Noir called Cloud Break 2012, smells sweet and floral.  It is a soft and elegant red wine.  For my personal taste buds, I’d rate this a 4.5 on a scale of 1-5 (1 being, YUCK; and 5 being BOTTOMS UP!).

Cloud Break 2012 Pinot Noir

Another tip to make you look super smart:  At the odd chance that someone ever asks you what is better between a grape vine that has a lot of clusters or a few clusters, you’ll be able to impress them with this answer:  A vine tries to ripen all of its berries, so if it is carrying many clusters, it has to work harder and longer to supply the nutrients to ripen all of the berries.  Therefore, if the vine is carrying too many grapes, often it will stop short of maturing, resulting in an unripe flavor.  And there you have it!  “I’ll take World History for $500, Alex!”

POST SCRIPT:  I’ve got to give a shout out to Halogen Church!  What a powerful service tonight!  Thank you for nourishing my spirit!!  Much like the grape vines, you’re much sweeter in fewer clusters. 


The Government Shutdown Affecting You, Me, and my Book Bar

7 Ways this political standoff is affecting you, me, and my book bar:

7. Forget about taking a vacation.  If you were thinking about camping this weekend or any time during this governmental shutdown, think again!  National parks along with zoos or museums might be closed down.  And that trip to Italy, I hope you have your passport, because applying now won’t do you any good!

6. Your organic food may not be organic.  No one will be overseeing the National Organic Standards Program, nor other programs that check your poultry, produce, shellfish, nuts, and other organic favorites!  Oh no, non-organic foods…what are we, cave people!?  How ever will we survive?

5. NASA is furloughed.  Naturally bringing risk to alien invasion.  I wonder if, like other countries, aliens watch the American news.  They probably do!  That is, if they aren’t already living among us!!  Watch out for alien abductions!

4. Towns impacted by the recent flooding in Colorado will be waiting longer for assistance. Really!?  Not cool!!!

3. The department of transportation will not drug test their employees.  (…um, add your own commentary here…)

2. Immigration paperwork will freeze…more.  Those hoping for citizenship will have to wait…longer.  Perhaps it’s a time to reconsider your idea of an American Dream and why you came here to begin with.  -I’m kidding.  There are many good things about this country.  My favorite… the First Amendment, Freedom of Speech!  Freedom of Religion!

1. Selfishly, the item that I personally am most concerned with is the fact that the SBA will freeze funds for loans.  Very sadly, this puts The Brass Lamp on a longer wait period for getting funding (booooo!!!!).  That bites!!  For those of you trying to get a loan for your home right now, this might affect you too!!!

So, what do we do!?  Not much.  The Republicans and Democrats will come to a compromise at some point.  Hopefully soon, because I really don’t want anyone to be abducted!  And, I really need the stock market to go back up!!  And, I want the option to go see monkeys at a zoo!

The Unveiling of the Logo!!!

I’m so incredibly proud of my first born!

(drum roll please……..{prrthuthuthuthuthuthu……})

Finally, here it is… the Logo of The Brass Lamp!!!


 I love it, it’s classic, modern, charming, and just simply perfect!  I hope you agree!!!

To my Graphic Designer, Jessica Nordquist:  Thank you for working with me in creating this look.  I’m excited to develop the future branding of The Brass Lamp.  You’re amazing!

We worked weeks upon weeks to perfect the look and feel!  Well, by “we,” I mean Jess!  But I’ll take the credit for the vision!!  




I just got back from Austin, Texas (IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND VISITING!!!), and the city is just saturated with really cool restaurants, bars, and lounges.  Everything in downtown closes at 2am… and coffee shop-wine bars are a dime a dozen, so I was able to get some really great ideas!  Thank you, Austin!!

So, here’s the update on The Brass Lamp.  Last I wrote, I needed to pick a place for my book bar, right?  When I was in Austin, I received a “sign” that led me to choose the building in Long Beach that I last blogged about.  It’s next to the old Edison Theatre and is a few doors away from the Congregation Ale House!  So, yesterday I turned in my application along with my financial stuff!  Now, I pray for an approval!  I’ve made contact with a Architect and a General Contractor… good news is that both seem genuinely excited about my “book bar” idea; the bad news is that this project is going to cost me far more than I estimated!  Sooooooo…. anyone out there got money I can borrow!??!  If not, any money I can have?????

My loan has been looked at by 2 banks so far.  First bank liked the idea and the business plan, but felt that I didn’t have enough restaurant experience, so they passed. (I guess serving during the college years doesn’t count.)  -No problem, I can fix that by saying that I’ll be hiring a restaurant consultant and a coffee expert for the first 6 months of business to establish best-restaurant-practices!  -Here is where you can chime in with referrals or friends…!!!   The second bank is reviewing my loan request right now, and will be contacting me this week.  They liked the business concept, but are concerned with the fact that I’ve never started a business before.  So, pleeease send me positive thoughts that their phone call to me will be a big fat YES!  -BTW, how on earth are people suppose to start their own business if everyone says they won’t lend to someone who hasn’t started their own business before.  It makes no sense!  Someone care to explain that to me!?

Today, I met with a city Planner to discuss the permits, timeline for approval, etc., and I have good news to report!  Due to the location of this spot, I do not need a condition use permit; and am allowed to have alcohol beverage sales on premise!!  Woohoo!  So, that saves me a ton of trouble and time applying for those permits!  (Unlike my 2nd choice where I’d have to pay over $6K to see if I can have my business there.)

So, that’s the update thus far!!  I hope I get the loan and I hope I get the spot!!  I’m competing with already established restaurants that want the space, so we’ll see if the underdog can pull through!  I hope to have really great news for you for my next blog!!

In honor of football season, here’s my quote of the week:

P.S.  I’ll be visiting you again soon, Austin!  Thanks for the inspiration!  (I wish I brought a camera to capture all of your awesomeness!)


Rub the Brass Lamp for Good Luck

Hi Er’body,

If you have a brass lamp, a brass trumpet, brass knuckles… anything brass, please give it a few good rubs for me for good luck!!!  I have just hit SEND to submit my SBA Loan Package to the banks!  Every day for the past few weeks, I have worked tirelessly to fine-tune the heck out of that thing!  It’s submitted now, and out of my hands!  There’s no going back!  I only have one chance to make an exceptional first impression!

If you’re interested in knowing, a SBA Loan Package consists of the following:  A Personal Financial Statement; 3 Years of Tax Returns, 3 Credit Reports, A Letter of the Loan Amount Request, Business Plan (I will never take the words “Business Plan” lightly ever again!!!  7 weeks of dedication rests in these 20 pages); and finally a very polished Resume displaying how one will be capable of opening, and maintaining a profitable business.

So, while I wait for the banks to review my worthiness, I will start drafting the build-out of my book bar and chip away at all the hurdles and ditches of city permits, licenses, zoning, inspections, etc…, and narrow down the 8 places to my top 2!!!

Here’s are a few pics of another possible home for The Brass Lamp.  2 stories, 5,200 sq. ft, (huge!!), red brick walls underneath (YES!!), 20 ft. ceilings (uh huh, keep going!), right next to The Congregation Ale House off of the Promenade in Long Beach.  Built in 1919!!!  Old buildings are so charming!!  (If they aren’t haunted!)

Long Beach-Lakewood-20130911-00487 Long Beach-Lakewood-20130911-00485IMG-20130911-00484

I will need all the wishful thoughts, prayers, and many good-luck rubs in these next few weeks!  Thank you for your support!  CHEERS my friends!

 “Limitations live only in our minds.  But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” –Jamie Paolinetti


To Embrace Risk or Not to Embrace Risk

How do you measure risk???  Is it measured by how much you can afford to lose???  Or is it measured by the number of sweat beads dripping off your side burns at the Blackjack table?  Is your tolerance -$500 or -$5,000?   If anyone cares to know the technical calculation for risk, it’s measured by likelihood vs. impact. If the likelihood of a negative event occurs is low, and the negative impact of that event is low, then it is low risk.  Conversely, high likelihood combined with high impact, equals extremely high risk.   (Auditors know these things!)  So, when does risk become too much to lose???

My tolerance level was recently tested at -$6,322.50!!  I threw up a little in my mouth.  Here’s the update with The Brass Lamp.  For the location I’d like to have my book bar, I will have to apply for both a Conditional Use Permit and a Coastal Development Permit for an offensive amount of $6,322.50.  Here’s the process… Applying for this not only requires a fat check, but it requires floor plans, public notification requirements, a written narrative of surrounded uses to the north, south, east, west, and a bunch of other preposterous barricades.  The approval process takes 2-4 months, and if approved, it allows me to purchase my Type 41-beer and wine license for approximately $10,000.  If both applications are denied, I’m out $6,322.50 (I shutter to the thought).  So this is where I stand.  Do I move forward, or quit now………..?????

-Pshaa!  A big fat, PSHAA!!  The only option for me is to MOVE FORWARD.  I did not come this far to quit now.  I will take that risk, and embrace it because I am confident that the impact will be incredibly rewarding!!!  At this point, the Great Wall of China doesn’t intimidate me!

My Grandma use to always say, “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” which at the time made no sense to me at the age of 7 because I didn’t know what “will” meant.  But Grandma’s are always right, even when you think they are losing their mind!!  Those aren’t just wrinkles, those are wisdom-wrinkles!!!

By now, you know I love me some inspirational quotes.  So these seem so apropos!

“The difference between a successful person and others is not lack of strength not a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of will.” –Vince Lombardi 

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” –George Addair

Friday Night: Wine tasting at my place with my besties~  Thank you for your feedback!  Beer- tasting is next on the agenda!  Ugh, I know… right!?

neopolitan forever

Enjoy your week!


The Internal Auditor who just said she’d embrace risk.  No wonder I’m not longer an Auditor!!!

Bringing Sexy Back…

…I’m not referring to Justin Timberlake!  And I’m definitely not referring to a tasteless act by Hanna Montana’s alter ego!  But on that note, do you think that fromer Disney female stars feel compelled to make a point that they are no longer little girls anymore!?!?  Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera went through it!  -Darn, I just wasted 10 seconds of my life typing the last 2 sentences!!!  Anyway, back to my blog, the title here refers to this subconscious yet accurate idea that sex sells!

Do you know that making things a bit sexier adds dollars to your pocket??!  Before I continue, shake it off, and get your head out of the gutter!  I’m talking about restaurants and bars that subliminally place degrees of “sexy” in order to add to their profit!  Why do you think there are sushi rolls named, “Sexy Girl, Vegas Roll, and Love Roll??”  That’s not made up from thin air!  Believe it or not there are “Menu Engineer Consultants” who design menus in such a way that it brings in the highest potential of profit.  Yes, that vocation really does exist!!!  I’d like to know where one applies for a job like that?  Could it be CareerBuilder.com??  These Consultants will place food on a menu in a very specific order, so that you order the more expensive dish.  They also change the names of dishes to evoke a greater interest and add a few more “sexy” adjectives.  Here’s an example.  Lets take a plain basic burger at Chili’s, which is called the “Old Timer,” priced at $7.34.  Now, add a layer of warm tangy bbq sauce, 2 strips of thick crisp bacon, and name it after a rock star, “The Sting Burger!”  Suddenly, you’re gladly paying a whopping $8.99!!!  Funny how that works!  (No pun intended from transitioning Old Timer to Sting {but that’s funny!})  Now, think about selling 1000 of these saucy, juicy Sting burgers and you’ve just increased your cash flow by $1,650.00!!!  Now do that with several of your menu items and now you’re talking about a sizable cash flow increase with very minimal recipe add ons.  That’s the kind of algebra I can work with!!

Now, moving down the spectrum of other subliminal marketing, have you ever thought about how colors affect mood??  Unless you’re a psych major or a advertising person, you may not have thought too much about it!  By the way, those mood rings have nothing to do with indicating your mood.  Shocker, right!!  Anyway, let me tell you what the interior color scheme for The Brass Lamp is going to be.  It’s going to be BLACK, BURGANDY, and LATTE.  (Let that sink in for a second.)  Black:  Is the color of authority and power.  But more importantly, black is slimming :)!  Burgundy:  is an emotionally intense color which represents love and attraction.  Latte (off white, or mother of pearl, if you will): denotes a classic, pure, and elegant feeling.  So, my point is, when you go to The Brass Lamp, you’ll feel powerful, thin, attractive, and classy all at the same time.  Who doesn’t want that!?  Those feeling are what will bring you back over and over again resulting in cash flow to my pocket!  That’s textbook right there, Baby!  And I was starting to think that my Psychology degree from 10 years ago wasn’t going to do me any good!!

Speaking of bringing sexy back… It doesn’t look like much now, but wait until you feel thinner in here!!!  I’ve looked at 6 different places for the future home of The Brass Lamp so far, and here are just a few spots.  Good thing I enjoy interior design, otherwise, it’d be impossible to envision my design concept here!

Across from BeachStripmall

A Long Period of Writer’s Block No More

This past week of “Brass Lamp-building” has been fun for me.  I looked at 3 different spaces, one in Huntington Beach and two in Long Beach.  Naturally, I started to really envision the elements of my book bar in the space.  -There is where I will I put the bar…  There is where I will put my stage…  And with my vivid imagination, I can see the furniture pieces and interior design start materializing on the walls and the floors.  It was hard to contain myself at times, but there are still several other spaces I’m scheduled to see this coming week.

I am now in the final stages of finishing up my business plan by finalizing the last few financial forecasting figures.  But in the midst of crunching numbers, I’ve been reading a lot of powerful resources to help me with my business.  And during that time, I’ve come to really hone in on what a big part of The Brass Lamp is about for me…. which I will get to in a few moments…

But first I want to pose this thought to you… Did it ever dawn on you that in our 12…16+ years of schooling, we were never really encouraged to let creativity be a dominant characteristic… or for that matter, any worthwhile characteristic.  Schools didn’t offer very many artistic electives.  In fact, teachers gave us A’s for coloring within the lines so that it looked as clean and proper as the image that you are copying!  (Where’s the creativity there??!)  Isn’t it funny how creative people and artists across all genres have this reputation for being manic depressive and mentally unstable?  But aren’t we all kind of depressive and unstable to some degree regardless of our occupation!  (I AM!)  We’ve collectively accepted this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked.  So, we grow up repressing our creative curiosities so that we can be “successful at a good-paying job.”  Well, now that most of us are “successful,” by having experienced a 4-year education (and then some), you’ve worked at different jobs and industries, and have finally settled on a job that you’re comfortable with and have invested a good part of your 401k in.  Good job, mission accomplished!  So now, do you ever think about doing things just for fun?  …tapping into your creative side.  I think they call that a “hobby.”  Yes, that was a word commonly used before Apple created iphones which further led to many addictive pleasures such as Bejeweled, Temple Run, Plants vs. Zombies, and the list goes on.  (Side note: I am one of the last people on the planet to still have a blackberry, so I am free of those addictions!  Embarrassingly enough, my 60-something-year-old parents both have Androids… they may not know how to use it, but at least they are way ahead of me on the tech trends!)  Anyway, my point is…Do you want to go back and entertain your creative side and write, do photography, paint, or create something that has your personality?

Over the past week, I’ve come to learn that I have several friends who are very artistic (I don’t know why I just learned it this week, but regardless…).  Specifically, artistic in the sense of writing!  Their ability to paint an immensely vivid picture with words is uncanny.  Their ability to have you feel their emotions through their words is remarkable.  Yet these friends of mine live a very proper and “square” (I say that with affection), professional career life.  I wouldn’t peg these people to have such creative energy in them.  -Never judge a book by it’s cover!  So, I’ve asked a few of them to share their writings on my blog… and although they have very busy schedules, I’m forcing them to walk back into their creative closet, jump and dance around in there,  and produce something creative, clever, funny, or just simply good writing!

When The Brass Lamp opens, it will be a place where you can release your artistic outlet!!! A casual-sophisticated place to accommodate the late night creative thinkers and the intellectual wine drinkers.  (That right there is my Mission Statement in my business plan.)  I’d love to see what books, drawings, songs, movie scripts come out of the Brass Lamp!  So, when life gets tough, and you want to take some alone time, possibly take a break form your spouse, children, boss, roommate, hide from the paparazzi, or just get away from the hustle and bustle of life, you’ll have The Brass Lamp to go to!

As for the those who are perfectly content enjoying other people’s art, I’ll have a delicious pairing of pinot noir and red velvet cake waiting for you with an ipad of the 25 most addicting games!!!  I’ll play “Words with Friends” with you!

By the way, People, your art and photography will be on my walls.  I hope you don’t mind me using the Brass Lamp to expose your work and make money for you!  Let me know if you’re not interested in making money!

As the writer of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Why should we be afraid of the work that we were created to do…?!” 

I look forward to sharing with you blogs written by the most creative people in my circle of trust!


“Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard”

They say that there are 20 personality traits of successful entrepreneurs.  Do you want to know what they are?  Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur??  -That is the question they posed to me in my workshop.

Here they are: Persistence, Self-discipline, Independent, Inquisitive, Strong drive to achieve, Multi-tasker, Creative, Ability to negotiate, Demanding, High energy level, Goal-oriented, Flexible, Confident, Has a sense of realism, Detail oriented, Resourceful, Competitive, Persuasive, Accepts change and ambiguity, Desire to work hard, Calculated risk taker, Innovative vision, and Commitment.

Is that you???  They say that most people don’t have all 20!  MOST!  I don’t know if I have all 20, but one thing that I am absolutely certain I am blessed with, is an incredible internal drive.  An insatiable drive!

People have alluded that I may not fully understand how difficult this process will be.  Please don’t mistake my enthusiasm as blissful ignorance (I’m smarter than I look).  Instead, my enthusiasm is my drive to overcome the challenges and move forward to see this journey to my “success” through.  I hope that through my blog, a few people can feel a twinge of inspiration and think of themselves as also being able to pursue their “impossible.”

There are a good handful of people who are reading this blog right now, who I know without a shadow of a doubt have these qualities.  Some of you have already started your business and do very well -you’re a great inspiration to me!  And others have these traits but either don’t know it, or are just standing at the edge looking over .  I say… take that leap of faith!!  It will be the most exciting, nerve racking, and infinitely gratifying feeling!!  -Especially when your advisor tells you that if you continue to work as hard as you have in the last 3 weeks, you could realistically open up Brass Lamp in 3-6 months.  (Absolutely Overjoyed!!!)  -That’s my good news for the week!!!!!!

Have a successful week, my future Brass Lamp Customers!  Move with purpose!

P.S.  I’m looking at my first commercial space for the Brass Lamp next week (SQEEEAAL!!  {douggie dance…douggie dance…})

P.P.S.  THANK YOU for your feedback on my last blog!!!  Yes, your opinion matters!!!

“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”  -Will Smith

P.P.P.S  I just got back from one of my best friend’s wedding…so I gotta give a shout out!!!  Congratulations Sarah and Gordon!  Simplicity is so beautiful (awesome ceremony)!8-8-2013 Sarah and Gordon Wed Today

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