Saturday, September 10, 2016

9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance - What Will You Do?

15 years ago tomorrow, our country was brought down to it's knees with the attacks on the World Trade Towers.

Each year we commemorate/remember/honor in different ways. One friend wears a 3-piece suit, another wears black for mourning, another wears white for hope, and I wear pearls to remember that beauty can surround a bad thing (read about it here).

As we remember, we can also take action to create more beauty in the world by giving back to our world. I encourage, no, I challenge you to take action in some way tomorrow to honor those we lost, those who lost and those who survived.

The how is up to you. You can make a donation of money. You can donate items to a local charity. You can participate in an event. You can pray. You can meditate. YOU decide. You do YOU.

Here are some resources to help you take action:
How will you remember and give back? Share in the comments below.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - Jaxtastic Life Book Report

I know, I know. This isn't a picture of Shonda Rhimes. It's the character Hannibal from the early-80's show, The A-Team (don't even try and bring up the remake, stick with the original). He's the mastermind of all of the A-Teams activities and always, in true 80s TV series fashion, the plan executes to the desired end. These plans pretty much involve some poor soul contacting the A-Team for help, Hannibal creating a fabulous plan that includes a chase scene or two and explosions, drugging poor Mr T to get him into a helicopter flown by "Mad" Murdock and Faceman looking beautiful.

My most recent plan does not involve car chases or explosions or drugging anyone or flying a helicopter or looking beautiful. Well, I will own the looking beautiful part. :-) (My first nod to Shonda Rhimes's and her "owning your badassery" theme in her book).

This plan involves Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, Oprah's interview with Shonda Rhimes, Overdrive, an audiobook and kicking off my exploration of "saying yes" (and "no," on occasion).

I can't pinpoint who first got me hip to Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. If I had to guess, it probably was my great friend, Alyssa. However, I knew I needed to start recording it when I learned that Oprah interviewed former President, Jimmy Carter. Instead of setting the DVR to record one episode, I had it set to record all.

Before I knew it, I had at least 10 episodes in my Super Soul Sunday DVR folder. I scrolled through and saw that the Jimmy Carter interview was in the list. Then, I saw the Shonda Rhimes interview and something inside said, "Watch this first."

Now, I'm not a hard core Shonda Rhimes fan. I never swooned over McDreamy in Grey's Anatomy. I didn't closely follow the planning and expertise of Olivia Pope (a modern day Hannibal, if you ask me). Don't ask me to name a character on Private Practice or How to Get Away with Murder. This is where the genius of episode commercials and word of mouth from friends comes in. Although I didn't follow any of these shows, what I saw and heard showed me strong female characters and a glimpse of the real word (aka all inclusive) on series TV and I wanted to know more about the amazing woman who created these worlds.

I will spare you the details of the great interview. You can watch it for yourself, the link is above. What I will share is about her fabulous book, Year of Yes that was discussed in the interview.

When I had finished watching the Oprah - Shonda Rhimes interview I wondered, "Can get the book on Overdrive?"

What is Overdrive? Overdrive is your FREE pathway to checking out digital library books and audiobooks. It's available for your mobile devices as well as your computers.

Much to my absolute delight, Year of Yes showed up in the Overdrive search results in audiobook and digital book form. Both versions were on hold. That was not stopping me. The "thing" that was stopping me was making the decision between audiobook or digital book. I oped in for the audiobook and got in the "hold line."

Finally, 2 long weeks later, the book was ready for me to check out. I immediately downloaded it to my phone and thanked my lucky stars that I was driving to work the next day.

This has been an wonderful audiobook read by Shonda Rhimes herself!!! The HUGE bonus about the audio book is that it includes recordings of her speeches that she references in her stories.

I am not yet done with the book and I have already been inspired to explore to what I will say "yes" to and to what I will explore saying "no" and I'm having a blast.

This book will be forever in my "recommend reading" list.

What are you waiting for? Get or check out a copy of this book and explore your year of yes!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The World's Most Expensive Banana Bread Mini Muffins

This week, I had a set of bananas that was going to go bad at any minute. We are talking R-I-P-E ripe! 

I knew the thing to make that would satisfy my sweet tooth and avoid the guilt of throwing away the bananas or putting on mega pounds. I pulled up the Chocolate Banana Bread recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie (CCK). I could go on and on about CCK (ok she doesn't refer to herself as "CCK" but it's just fun to type) or Katie herself but I'll save that for another blog. Let's just say, that I'm a fan.

Back to the banana bread. This particular evening, I decided to experiment with making a mini muffin version. I get to work and as I'm combining the wet and dry ingredients I realize that there is a
strong cinnamon smell. "Funny," I thought to myself. "I don't recall the recipe calling for cinnamon."

I grab the bag of cocoa from Penzy's Spices (also LOVE Penzy's, I can spend an entire blog about Penzy's). I read the label and let out an "OH NO!!!!" Turns out I had just put in a 1/2 cup of cinnamon in the batter. I might have to deal with the guilt of not only throwing out the bananas but also the other ingredients used to make the batter. I grab a spoon and have a taste. Not bad. Whew!

Then I realize, that I now have the world's most expensive mini muffins. Ok, we are not talking "Gwyneth Paltrow $200 smoothie" expensive  (although this Vanity Fair article says they don't cost $200) but it was an expensive mistake.

I send a text to my mom sharing the culinary blunder. She doesn't respond for a while. She texts back something to the effect of , "I'm sorry for not texting sooner. I had to stop laughing." I lighten up and get to focusing on baking these cinnamon mini chocolate chip banana bread muffins.

I bite into the first baked mini muffin and it's great. I smile and decide to add this story to the chapter of lifelong culinary journey which contains the "Beef Wellington Incident."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why Pace Over 110 RPM on Bikes Is Not Optimal

Q & A

I love when indoor cycling class participants as me questions!!!

Last week, a participant asked, "Why I do you have a top speed ceiling of 110?"

I shared that there is research showing that anything over 110 is just a waste of time. The wheel is basically spinning (pun not intended but convenient) and you are not gaining any conditioning or calorie burning benefits from it. You also risk injury going over 110 as you could lose control of your pedals and or you could be bouncing in your seat and get injured from the impact.

This was a fact shared by master instructor, Doris Thews at my Schwinn indoor cycling instructor certification training. Doris also shared a video of a finish of one of the stages of the Tour De France and these elite athletes do not even come close to 110 as they are sprinting to the finish line. They are using POWER, not momentum.

If you use an indoor cycling bike that has RPMs and Watts and you feel the need to go close to or over 110, take a look at the Watts readout. Get to or close to 110. Then, add 1 or 2 to your resistance and see the Watts number increase. At a basic level, watts equals the power you are putting out. As any fitness trainer will tell you, "wattage is king, even more so than heart rate."

So, the next time you want to unleash your inner Ricky Bobby and "go fast," be smart and safe about it.

If you want to read more, check out the articles linked below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Art of All Ages 6 - February 28 - Art Auction for Comprehensive Child Development

Join me February 28th, 1pm-4pm (plenty of time before the Oscars) for Art of All Ages 6 at the Howl Event Space in Long Beach, CA for an afternoon of art, food, drink and a GREAT cause.

TICKETS: You can buy tickets here: Art of All Ages 6 Tickets (Eventbrite)

DONATION: If you are unable to attend, please make a donation here. Donations for Art of All Ages 6 (Classy)

About Comprehensive Child Development

Early Care & Education
For over 30 years, we serve income eligible children from four months to five years old through high-quality Early Care and Education programs. We operate five child development centers and partner with 20 Licensed Family Child Care Providers.

Nutritious Meals
Creating healthy eating habits is especially vital during the ages of 0 to 5 years old. To support this, we have partnered with close to 700 licensed family child care providers to ensure over 7,300 children are given fresh, USDA approved healthy meals and portions.

Family Services
We offer parents the opportunity to attend vocational training, look for work, or keep their job by providing free and reduced cost Early Care & Education. We also provide referral services and are growing a pilot Parent Education Partnership that will expand services offered to our families.

Other ways to connect to Comprehensive Child Development

Amazon Smile (web orders): Select Comprehensive Child Development to be your charity of choice and then place your orders through Amazon Smile. Comprehensive Child Development will receive a percentage of your orders.

Take a tour of a center. On this tour you'll see the amazing work we do for our families. Be sure to take the opportunity to read a book to classroom and stay for lunch. Complete a contact form for more information.

Ask me!!! I am honored to be a board member for Comprehensive Child Development. I'm always happy to share about this great organization.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Resolution Alternatives & the Two Questions

It's that time of year when people create new year's resolutions and then brag or feel guilty about breaking them before the month of January ends.Years ago, I let go of resolutions because they made me sad and guilty that I could never be successful at keeping them. 

In the last few years, I have discovered alternatives to the good ole new year's resolution that make me happy and that actually create change:

Alternative 1 - Create a Theme
This is not my fabulous idea. I learned about creating a new year's theme last year from my amazing mentor, Caroline Leach (you can read her blog here: CarolineLeach). Instead of resolving to do something. Create a theme to shape all of your decisions and actions. 
Here is a great article from Grechen Ruben (author of The Happiness Project) A Fun Way to Make a New Year's Resolution: Chose a One-Word Theme.

Alternative 2 - Create a SMART Goal - Start Small
Don't do the "lose 25 pounds in a month" or "workout 2 hours everyday" goals. You are only setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Create a SMART goal instead. 

A SMART goal is:

Create ONE and only ONE SMART goal. Once it is accomplished, then create a second one. And then more as you build this muscle and your confidence.

There are loads of resources online to help you create your SMART goal. A simple Google search for "SMART Goals" will give you worksheets, videos and more. Find the one that "sings" to you.

Does it Make You Happy?
Whatever you chose, make sure it lights you up. Follow these steps to determine if your theme/goal makes you happy:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror
  2. Tell yourself your theme/goal
  3. Are you smiling?

The Two Questions
Taking on something new is hard no matter how small. Your success will be much higher if you can answer "yes" to BOTH of the questions below.

If you answer "no" to either one, stop!!! Wait until you are ready for the change AND you believe you can do it.

Good luck and most importantly, have fun. Yes, have FUN!!!!