The past week has been...busy! Chris has been hard at work at getting a real website set up for me. I'm hoping it's ready in a few weeks. From there you'll be able to order & buy the bars. He is setting up paypal and added a shopping cart to the site so you can create an account and click on "my cart" to checkout. It's pretty exciting!!

The health inspection will be taking place next week. I'm pretty sure that everything will be fine. The woman told me everything I need to do to get ready for it. I had to get a list together of all my ingredients...make sure the lights in the fixtures are "satefy glass" bulbs (in case they break it won't get in the food)...and a few other things like that. When that is done I can get the license and will hopefully be at the Tailgate Farmers Market Saturday, May 16th!

[non-ota news] I will be away from the blog for awhile. I am leaving for Colorado to work on a design competition for a farmer's market (go figure) in Denver. I am doing this with one of my best friends, Laura. I'm really excited about it and will try and post some of our work on the blog when we finish. I will also be visiting my bro-in-law & sis-in-law while I'm there and Melissa & Matt and their new baby Jake!!! She is literally giving birth RIGHT now!

Also, I just wanted to share a few photos that I took from what I bought at the farmer's market this weekend. I am becoming addicted to playing with food photography. It is really fun!

I'll be back soon. Stay tuned!!

duck eggs

rainbow chard + duck eggs


People have been asking me general questions through email and in the comment section after each blog post. In response to this I am making an FAQ post. So, if you ask a question in the comment area, check here to find the answer. You can always find this blog post if you look under the "TOPICS" section to the right, and click on FAQ. I hope you find this helpful!

Feel free to leave comments and questions on this post too, and I will also answer those.

Thanks guys!

  1. What form of payment will you accept? If you live in and around Charlotte you can pick up your order to save the shipping cost and pay in cash. If you find me at the farmer's market, cash will be accepted. For paying online, as of now, I am going to set up a "small business" PayPal account that will take credit card payment.
  2. Are there any plans to have the packages of 8, 12 and 24 bars be a variety pack instead of just one type? As of now, no, there will not be variety packs. The recipe was somewhat difficult to size down to make a batch of 8. 8 is as low as I can go without getting extremely small and odd measurements for the ingredients. If you wanted 12 bars in 4 varieties, I would have to make 4 batches of 8 and would be left with 20 extra bars that I might not be able to sell. One suggestion is to put in an order with 2+ people and you can split all the bars up for more variety.
  3. How do you figure out the nutrition info that goes on the label? Legally, I do not need to provide a nutrition label. Apparently, (who knows where this rule comes from) I only need a nutrition label if I have more than 100 employees. I'm not sure that will be happening anytime soon. However, I do have to provide a list of ALL ingredients on the label, for each bar. Also, I will have basic nutrition information posted on the menu, or on the blog even though I don't have to. It is important to me, and I know a lot of people will want to know. Basically to do this, I just add up all the calories/fat/carbs/fiber/protein according to the amount I am using for each ingredient in 1 batch. Then, I divide by how many bars I get out of the batch, and voila, nutrition information!
  4. Can you suggest a new variety or specifiy the exact nuts and fruit you want in your bars? Yes, I am always looking for any suggestions. You can specifiy the nuts and fruit you want in your bars, or if there is an ingredient you want left out. It is very flexible. If you want extra nuts or fruit added, there will be a small charge for this.
  5. Will the menu expand? YES! I also want to do seasonal bars.... think, fall = pumpkin = mmmm

A few new things...

I am in the process of obtaining my registered company name. You may have noticed it changed from "ota" to "ota.bars." There were 2 reasons for this. 1st, OTA is more common than you think in company names...who knew?? (Like, "Organic Trade Association") So I didn't want to have any issues with that. Reason #2 was that I end up saying "ota bars" when I am talking about them anyway, so it just started to make sense.

You also may have noticed, if you are super observant, that the oat looks much more crisp and deatiled now. I grabbed one of the oats from a photo I took the other day, to replace the low quality one I used from google images.

First on the agenda - Cost & Quantity

  • 1 = $1.50 [these will be found locally at the farmers market and hopefully a few stores around NoDa]
  • 8 ota.bars = $10 [1 variety of 8 bars]
  • 12 ota.bars = $15 [1 variety of 12 bars]
  • 24 ota.bars = $28 [1 variety of 24 bars]

*prices may be subject to change, depending on availability and cost increase of ingredients..but hopefully not!*

Second order of business - Shipping

  • 8-16 ota.bars = $5 [usps flat rate shipping]
  • 24-96 ota.bars = $10 [usps flat rate shipping]
  • 97+ = still looking into

Thirdly - Packaging

  • ota.bars will be packaged in biodegradable & compostable (yeah yeah I know...insert hippie joke now) cellophane bags. They are made from wood cellulose fibers that come from sustainably managed forests. I will be purchasing a "heat sealer" to securely close the bags, at some point soon. I need to get things up and running with my license & everything first! There will be 3 different sized bags, depending on batch size.
  • The bars will be stacked in layers and separated with parchment paper so they do not stick together.
  • Labels will be affixed with an ingredient list among other things.
  • I wanted to keep the packaging to a minimum, to avoid unnecessary waste.
  • For shipping, bags will be packaged in USPS flat rate (recycled corrugated cardboard) boxes

4th on the list - Making ota.bars last longer

  • ota.bars will stay chewy and delicious, if kept in tightly sealed packaging, for at least 10 days (probably up to 14 days). I have not eaten them after 10 days because they never seem to last that long. Nothing will go bad in them if left longer, they just might not taste quite as fresh.
  • ota.bars can be refrigerated, then thawed, and enjoyed just like new! If you do not thaw them, and decide to chomp away, please do not send me your dentist bill.
  • I also have 2 bars in the freezer right now that I am going to take out and thaw soon, and hope to have the same results.

That is all of my news for now. I have been in contact with the person that is going to inspect Eric's kitchen and I am hoping to get an appt. for that ASAP. Once it passes (if it doesn't, I might cry), I can finish doing all the other things to get this random adventure of mine up and running!



p.s. leave comments as always!! =)

Almond wins!

Congratulations Almond, you are the winning nut! I thought I would give them a little photo shoot, in spirit of the big win. This time, I tried using natural light coming through the windows in our apartment, instead of taking the pictures outside. It resulted in a softer look which I am liking much more. All for now...hopefully will have a lot of progress this coming week!

Stay tuned...

nutritious and delicious...almond, we love you

[triple berry almond bars]

bad news, good news, bad news, great news

Just wanted to give a brief (ok, semi-brief) update of what has been going on in the land of ota.bars

[bad news] Monday, I started looking more into getting a business license/tax #/LLC for my company name/etc. I soon found out that I need to get a kitchen inspection by the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. To make a long story short, NO PETS. Any indoor animal is considered a pest. So our big crazy dog Dakota classifies as a pest which = no granola bar making in my kitchen. What to do!? Rent space & buy an oven..too much $$...try to find a commercial kitchen to use and rent from..unlikely...

[good news] Today, (Tuesday) I heard back from the woman that runs one of our local farmers markets (my favorite in Charlotte) <> She (Lynn Caldwell) was very excited about my granola bar venture and said she would love to add me to the list of vendors at the market! Great news!!!! Now, I just need a kitchen...hmmmm

[bad news] Today, I also called some small local/organic catering companies, thinking maybe they could use a little extra money and let me use their space once a week or so. This was not successful. One lady is in the same boat with me..she rents kitchen space, but the place she rents is going out of business in June. So, this was not going to work. I checked craigslist and did multiple google searches, with no kitchen renting luck. LAME!

[great news] Also today, Chris thought to ask one of our favorite people in Charlotte, Eric, if I could get his kitchen inspected and run the biz. out of his place. Being the fabulous person that he is, he said YES! This is extremely fabulous news!! He lives about 1 mile from us in a brand new condo with a great, very clean kitchen. He is gone a lot during the week on business, so I should be able to stay out of his way.

The past 2 days have felt like a week trying to get all of this figured out. I still have to check all the local zoning laws, get the business license, LLC, and then get the inspection. Hoping that all goes as planned I should be up and running hopefully within the month. So, THANK YOU Eric!!! You rock and are now entitled to as many granola bars as you could ever want!

More ota. info coming soon!!

Hey guys! A last minute weekend post. I had a super busy weekend, mostly granola bar related. It was completely exhausting but so much fun. I played around for hours with photographing the bars and ingredients. It is definitely going to take me awhile to get decent at taking food photos. Chris helped give me an overview of how to use his camera and I just went at it. I started outside with natural light, but found it was a little harsh. I encountered some not-so-great shadows, but still got some shots I was happy with for my first go at this. My neighbor (who is a professional photographer) came out while I was taking photos asking what I was doing, etc. He let me come over today while he had his studio lighting and backdrops set up. This gave me a much more stable environment to shoot in. He set up the lights for me but I was on my own with the camera. Then later today Chris helped teach me how to edit photos in Lightroom. So much to learn!!

If the photos make you hungry for some yummy granola goodness, then I have done my job.

More ota. info. to come later this week, and probably a few more pics. Check back soon!

Off to bed...

...this is my favorite

A quick post with a preview of the first menu. I am still testing recipes and taking recommendations too. (leave comments!)

Also, you will notice the granola bars are numbered. I am looking to name each individual bar and am taking suggestions. Let me hear what you got!

I have a feeling the menu will always be evolving. The next things I will be testing and adding to the menu:
  • milk chocolate drizzle
  • peanut butter drizzle
  • dark chocolate drizzle
  • caramel drizzle
  • rice protein powder (flavorless)

Look for much more to come in the next few days.

In the meantime...enjoy good food & family this weekend!

Thank you for all of the support so soon!

(click the menu for a larger view)

ota. [the beginning]

In my quest to find the most scrumptious and natural granola bar possible, I wasted too much money and time searching in the grocery store, while the answer was right in my kitchen (for the most part). Then, I spent more time, but not wasted time, scouring the internet for granola bar recipes. At first you might think, "how hard could it be to make granola bars?" Well, harder than you would think. Not too sticky, not too crunchy, not too big, not too small, not too dry, not cookie-like, etc. After many...many batches in the garbage can...I think..I hope, that I have gotten to "it." I am still tweaking but would say the bars are about 90-95% to what I want. In this quest for the perfect granola bar, my lovely friends, family and husband have been so kind in letting me use them as my "quality control." I hope it has not been too rough for you all!

With many gracious comments, lots of satisfied stomachs, and one of my favorite people in the world [LLR] I have been pushed to start selling my granola bars.

There will be much more to come soon! Like...
[general information : order forms : ingredient information : nutrition information : food talk : etc]

Until then...I will leave you with one of my first (and very amateur) photos of the "ota." bars and a question -

What are your favorite granola bar combinations?

All for now...night!