Motivation Monday: We are all travelers

TravelersI hope you have found several honest and true friends to travel this world with. I am thankful I got to spend a long weekend with three of those people in my life. If you have them keep them close and let them know how much they mean to you. If you haven’t found them yet, never stop looking and opening yourself up to new friendships.


Weekly randomness: The Happy Hour Effect, 5 minute abs, and snacks.

Special events with a lot of people use to be panic attack inducing experiences, but this week I had an amazing special event that was anything but anxiety fueled. Thanks to my MBA classmates and the confidence I’ve found in myself, I was able to attend a happy hour event with author Kristen Brown and I am glad I didn’t miss it. Kristen has an inspiring story, lots of energy, and guidance you can actually follow. Number one take-away from her 40 minute presentation – forget the word balance when it comes to work/life; there is only harmony. You should check her out and I recommend her book The Happy Hour Effect.

After that great happy hour, my brain was on vacation mode. This weekend is the first annual sisters weekend. Chicago here we come! One thing I don’t look forward to when traveling is airport and airplane food. They have come a long way from the cheap junk, but the good stuff is often super expensive. So I like to come prepared.

Some of my favorite carry-on snacks

snacks for travelPlum chocolate chip go bars

Lightly salted roasted almonds

Chocolate peanut butter monkey bars


Wild Garden hummus to go
Ab workouts
I’ve been running for over 15 years and never gotten bored with it. I have, however, cut back over the years from runs twice a day to four runs a week. It is good to mix up your workouts to tone your whole body and avoid injuries form overuse. However, I get bored with workouts other than running. I’m constantly switching them up and looking for something that I love doing just as much. I have found the Insanity workouts keep me going, but I still have a hard time with an ab focused workout. I use to do pilates religiously and I’ve tried yoga, but my brain moves too fast for either of those slower paced workouts. So I went to YouTube to find some ideas and found this new one to do that only takes 5 minutes. That means on a busy morning I can still fit in a good ab workout and some weightlifting! Plus, the channel that it is on is full of wonderful quick workouts that you can challenge yourself with when you are bored or short on time. The accents help too 🙂

I hope you all enjoy a little happy hour, snacking, and healthy activity this Memorial Day weekend!

Behind the label: Noble Brewer

Previously reserved for the serious beer nerd, there is now an association, magazine, clubs, and more that revolve around the growing trend of homebrewing.

I was never much of a beer drinker (as noted when we toured Du Nord Distillery), but recently I have been finding brews that have such unique and nuanced flavors that there is no denying when done well it is an enjoyable art form.

A few weeks ago, I came across a company called Noble Brewer that was described as an etsy for homebrewers and beer lovers. I don’t know that I would describe it that way, but maybe as it grows. Even in the beginning stages this company is well worth a try and the founder, Claude Burns, was gracious enough to chat with me about beer and Noble Brewer.

Inaugural shipment

The idea for Noble Brewer started perculating after Claude noticed the Sam Adams Longshot Competition, which has been running since 1996 and pits east coast homebrewers aginst west coast homebrewers. Inspired by what was coming from the competition, Claude wondered why they couldn’t bring homebrews to the masses year round? Well, there were a lot of regulations to work around, but they were finally able to come up with a plan for giving “homebrewers an easy way to share their beer with craft beer lovers and provide an amazing experience for craft beer lovers.” And Noble Brewer was born!

As the numbers from the Sam Adams competition show, there are A LOT of homebrewers. So how do you find the right ones? So far, the brewers have found Claude and his team, but they have had so many responses that they have had to start a screening process. According to Claude, the ultimate goal is to build a community where members actually choose which homebrewers beers get brought to life. This would mean members will be involved from start to finish, almost like you work at a brewery! Members will choose the beers, see it go through production, get to enjoy the end product, and then give feedback to the homebrewers.

Currently, the beers are chosen by the team at Noble Brewer and then a local brewery, Independent Brewing Company in Oakland’s Jack London Square, works to bring the small batch recipes to large scale production. The brewery works with homebrewers to make sure the essence of the original beer is maintained and then bottles the new brew to be mailed out to Noble Brewer members. You won’t find these brews anywhere except in Noble Brewer member boxes!

heart on bottles

Can’t wait to get my shipment open!

inaug ship

cracked open

The Farmhouse Ale – my favorite of the two!

The inaugural shipment included two beers – Dudeling California Farmhouse Ale and Yerba Buena Cascadian Dark Ale. Claude said the office was split between these two completely different beers and I can see why. I would have voted for both, but my favorite was definitely the California Farmhous Ale. A nice refreshing, light beer for a summer day, but with delicate flavors. As Claude noted, this one is “a pretty unique beer.” Made with organic grains, organic hops, and local organic honey, you get the slight sweetness and earthiness. I am looking forward to our next shipment to see what new flavors, producers, and places we will be enjoying.

When I asked Claude why he is passionate about craft small batch brews he said he loves the history of beer and how craft allows people to recreate old styles and create new ones that are so unique and specific to a location and person. This is something you do not get with the large beer brands, but I am definitely learning to enjoy that history and taste of place. The Noble Brewer team’s goal is to “create an experience for members by connecting them to the homebrewers and their beers” and ultimately bring people together over a great beer. Well guys, I think you’ve done that and I hope you will be doing it for years to come!

Don’t forget Father’s Day is June 21st . . . this would make a great gift for any beer loving dad!!!

Weekly Randomness: Family cookbooks, exotic meats and education

I cannot believe it is Friday already! Where did the week go? For me, it was lots of last minute class work (that Econ paper on ethical consumerism and branding might be some of my best work), wrestling with a toddler who can’t seem to decide if she wants to be potty trained, and avoiding all the rain.

I was able to find a few things that really grabbed my attention this week . . .

family cookbook

Leah Bhabha’s family cookbook. Photos: Leah Bhabha

The story of a family cookbook that survived the holocaust really touched me. This book of handwritten and typed recipes has been handed down for generations. Our family has been lucky enough to preserve a few favorite recipes and distribute them to everyone so at least one copy should survive. Does your family have any recipes they hand down generation to generation?

Non-traditional meats


I’m not much of a meat eater in general so I was surprised at how many of these “non-traditional” meats I’ve actually tried. I like bison more than beef and you are started to see it more places so that one was not surprising. Goat I’ve had at a Moroccan restaurant and rabbit, we enjoyed in paella in Spain. Some of the others though . . . quail, ostrich, and alligator.

Chobani partnership for education 

This story caught my attention because it mixes together several of my favorites – greek yogurt, entrepreneurship, education, and nutrition. Chobani has partnered with Discovery Education to offer virtual field trips to high schoolers that also include the chance to learn from young entrepreneurs. It is great to see a corporation giving back to the future of this country and introducing young adults to the opportunities of business.

Let me know what was of interest to you this week since I’m always looking for a new product or story to check out.

Well, I guess it is back to economics, public relations, and potty training until next week . . . the magical life of a mother 🙂

5 Lessons learned from an elderly neighbor

We all have “older” people in our lives. People we look up to and who if we pay close enough attention have some valuable lessons to share. My grandmother has always been one of those people for me. She is a spry, brutally honest firecracker well into her 80s. The thing is, I will always remember her as the younger woman who helped raise me. Living several states away I don’t get to see her very often so the lessons she continues to teach me to this day are less glaringly obvious than the ones learned from those closest to me.

In my early twenties I worked in a long-term care facility, which was a daily reminder of the fragility of the mind and body. After moving on from that job, I found myself surrounded by much younger people which is usually the case. You find young families congregated together in neighborhoods, workplaces, and social circles. I had begun to lose sight of some of the lessons of those older and wiser than I.

Then we moved into an established neighborhood with a mix of ages, styles, and interests. We found ourselves sharing a fence and swapping stories with a soft spoken, but wise elderly gentleman. To be honest, it has been a blessing to be raising our family with a reminder of what life holds for us living nearby.

If I listen to every short conversation we share I’m sure I could fill a whole book with insights and gems of advice, but I’ve taken away a few precious nuggets I’d like to share with you.

GG and Olivia1. Do everything you want to do while you can still do it. We all make excuses for why we don’t get to that one item on our list, but we won’t be able to do everything forever.

2. Take joy in the physical labor – even the mundane and dirty – because one day you will be watching others doing these things and wishing only that you could be doing them too.

3. In the rush to get things done, don’t forget the precious moments with family, friends, and by yourself. Children don’t stay small and we won’t be on this Earth forever, so grab hold of those simple kisses, hugs, and laughs. Hold them tight and close to your heart.

4. Find something you love to do that you can do for years. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it will keep you active and engaged and sometimes that is the only thing that keeps you going.

5. Don’t close yourself off. Family, friends, and neighbors will come and go. The main thing to remember is that there are new people who will come into your life all the time and you have to be open to accepting and enjoying that. The pain of loss is strong, but the joy of companionship is stronger.

Weekly randomness: Caribou nightmares, mother’s day countdown, and Chicago

Have you tried the new Microsoft age guessing site? I did. The results did NOT make my week. I took it as a sign that maybe I need to get more sleep and slow down a bit. If you want to give it a go and let me know how you measured up, I’d be happy to hear I’m not alone in either taking bad pictures or looking more mature than I am 🙂 coffee cup

As a possible sign that the lack of quality sleep is behind is my age discrepancy could be the fact that I had a nightmare about a trip to Caribou Coffee. That is right, I am dreaming about going to coffee shops. And the worst part is what made it a nightmare was the fact that someone threw away my perks card and I got anxious that I would lose all my rewards I’ve built up. I blame it on grad school, long work days, and a toddler that refuses to sleep in on the one day of the week I have the opportunity to. Don’t worry though, my perks card is safely in my wallet – PHEW!

Mother's loveThankfully, this week is the one time I think I will actually get to sleep in on Sunday. It is Mother’s Day after all. Hopefully you have something special planned for your mom or any other special caregiver in your life. If you still need an idea of a sweet gift to send check out this cute site, Make Mother’s Day Count, which figures how many Mother’s Days you probably have with your mother and then lets you put together a special montage of memories with your mom.

Besides the expectation surrounding a full day spent with my two favorite people I’ve been geeking out about an upcoming trip. I am two weeks away from the first of what will hopefully become an annual sisters getaway. We are headed to Chicago and I’ve finally started checking out dining and shopping options. I came across a list of bars to try and local shops to head to. I can’t wait for a little girls time, sleeping in, lots of fun and plenty of shopping.

What kept you busy (or awake) this week?

Teachers and lemon raspberry muffins

I have always loved learning and school and I hope we can instill the same passion in Olivia. As much as I love learning in general, it always helps to have a great teacher. We should celebrate these teachers year round, but especially this week. We should recognize their hard work, long hours, patience, and unwavering support.

Hopefully, we have all had at least one teacher that sparked something in us. Someone who could make you dig deeper than you thought possible, believe in your own talents, or just make you realize that you are not alone.

For me, there was Mrs. Gaither, who made me believe in myself again. Mr. Williams, who encouraged my love of reading and writing (and look where I am today). Mrs. Lane, who made science a passion and proved it could be entertaining. Mr. Paternoster, who made me proud to be one of the “smart kids” and reminded us that teachers are pretty cool people. Really the list could go on and on because I was blessed with a collection of amazing teachers and still am to this day.

Olivia has already had a handful of teachers in her young life and if they are an example of what is to come then I know she will be in good hands. To honor them and share a little of our love with them we made them some beautiful Lemon Raspberry muffins. Just a nice way to kick off their week . . . we hope they enjoyed them and we hope you do too.

Be sure to thank the teachers in your life and let them know their work is appreciated and making a difference.

Lemon Raspberry Muffins – from Eating Well 



1 lemon

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup nonfat buttermilk

1/3 cup canola oil

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon, trying not to get the pith (white layer). Combine the zest and the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the zest chopped into the sugar.

lemon sugar

Add the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Pulse until blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk mixture and mix just until almost blended. Gently fold in the raspberries, trying not to break them.


Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray and evenly divide the batter between the cups.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the edges and tops are golden. Let cool slightly before turning out of the pan.


Pistachio muffins for a little comfort

**spoiler alert for Grey’s Anatomy fans who’ve been living under a rock this past week**

I am not an emotional eater, but every once in a while you need something special in your belly to feed your happiness.

If you are a Grey’s Anatomy fan you might be looking for some comfort food just like me. I know it has been almost a week, but we all still haven’t gotten over the death of Derek Shepherd (aka Dr. McDreamy). Some people turn to ice cream or cheesy lasagna, but my go-to is muffins. There is something soothing about starting your day with a moist slightly sweet muffin.

So hopefully these pistachio muffins will soothe whatever is bothering you . . .

Pistachio muffinsPistachio Muffins – adapted from Food Pleasure and Health
Makes 6 jumbo muffins (I mean who eats one little muffin anyway)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp all spice
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ cup shelled, roasted salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Measure your milk and add the lemon juice. Allow to sit until needed – the milk will thicken like buttermilk.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and all spice.

In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and gently whisk – milk, oil, vanilla extract, and egg.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Spray a six jumbo muffin pan with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the cups and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pistachios.

Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let set in the pan a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Weekly randomness: bouncy house, zombies, and wanderlust

SleepThis picture pretty much sums up how I have felt all week. On a typical week I am rushing between family time, work, and school which can leave anyone feeling a little drained, but this past week was our daughter’s third birthday and we wanted to make it extra special. So we threw a special bash and invited friends and family to our house, which equals deep cleaning, a late night arrival by family from Illinois, and lots of extra little errands to run.

All of that work and loss of sleep was well worth it though.

Olivia jumpsgiftscakeOlivia loves to jump or as she says “jump, boing, hop” so we rented a bouncy house for everyone to enjoy. We highly recommend Twin Cities Inflatables.

What birthday party is complete without a birthday cake? I searched all over for a local bakery to get our cake from and landed on Taste of Love bakery. Marie at Taste of Love did a fantastic job on our Doc McStuffins cake. A delicious and beautiful double layer chocolate cake covered in pink buttercream with smooth buttercream separating the two cake layers. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. If you get the chance, check out the cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and other goodies from this local gem.

Of course, my mind never stopped running full throttle this past week so I still found lots of things to check out and share with everyone 🙂

zombies runningNeed motivation to keep the pace up when you’re running? There is a new app that taps into our basic instinct to fight or flee when in danger. Zombies, run! mixes gaming with exercise and definitely gets your heart beating faster during a work out. The app sets the stage during your workout with a story that you are out to get supplies in a world overrun by zombies. Your music playlist still plays, but every once in a while you get a message that a zombie is gaining on you and then you get a beeping sound that increases in frequency as the zombie gets closer. I didn’t think it would affect pace – it is fake after all – but without even realizing it the pace increased to get away from the zombies. So if we ever have a zombie apocalypse I guess I will be well trained for the supply runs.

EAT! Vancouver

EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival Pastry Tasting and Panel Discussion.

As part of my economics class I am working on a group project for business travel. All this talk about hotels and airlines is making my wanderlust kick into hyperdrive. So of course I’ve been looking at places to go, people to meet, and foods to try. And I stumbled across EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival. Definitely going on the list!