What I’m Packing for Belgium

Okay, so we are officially eight days away from our trip. AH!! We are getting SO pumped. I thought it would be fun to show you all what I’m packing because it has been my mission to keep my packing as light as possible.

The reason I wanted to pack as light as possible is because I usually pack a TON of extra, well, everything. This lends me to feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices I have once I arrive, which is the last feeling you want on vacation. I made sure to pack clothes that I could wear twice and that I could layer together. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me or not but I really like buying new clothes/outfits before vacation. It’s silly right? You know you’re going on vacation and will be spending money but you want something new to wear when you’re there! Maybe it’s just me!? Please tell me it’s not just me.

I’m lucky though because my mom let me raid her closet and she has awesome taste. We pretty much wear the same sizes and since Steve and I are on a tight budget right now, I opted to steal borrow as much as I could from her. Thanks, momma!

Details for planning

  • Length of time – 10 days, one location as a home base
  • Average weather – 50-55 degrees
  • Bag limits / checking – we’ll be flying Delta so we can both have a carry on + personal bag and together we can have one free checked bag.
  • Activities while there – lots of walking, photography, and probably a LOT of tasting craft beer, waffles & chocolate. In fact if every day included all of that, I’d be fine.
    • We aren’t planning any hikes but will look for parks / trails upon arrival
    • We’ll tour some museums
  • We want to be comfortable on our feet all day and with a backpack on for day trips.
  • Is there a washer/dryer – yes, for some reason we are lucky but if there wasn’t I usually travel with a little detergent so we can wash a couple things in the sink (or get out stains as that is inevitable).

what I packed

  • One pair of jeans
  • One pair of solid leggings (I say solid because they’re sturdier than my at home, loungey leggings)
  • One pair of soft black travel pants
  • Three T’s/Tanks (total) – 1 gray long t-shirt (not pictured), 1 long black tank, 1 long white tank
  • One cardigan – I chose my charcoal Toad & Co cardigan that is so soft and layers over pretty much any color
  • Four light long sleeves – these could be layers or worn on their own
  • One tunic long sleeve – this is almost a dress but I wouldn’t wear it without leggings or jeans
  • One thicker sweater – (light brown in photos below)
  • One light gray basic dress – this can then have lots of changes either with jewelry or practically any long shirt I brought can go over it.
  • One scarf – This helps to change up a look, they pack nicely, and can be an easy addition if its cold out
  • One jacket – my mom let me borrow her nice wind and rain proof jacket that is perfect for the weather we should be having + it has a hood
  • One pair of tennis shoes – these I’ll wear on the plane
  • One pair of flats – cause fancy.
  • One pair of light gray boots – I’m still debating on bringing these or not.
  • Two regular bras / one sport bra
  • 4-5 pairs of undies (easy to wash/fast drying)
  • 4-5 pairs of socks – I wear a lot of SmartWool socks that you can wear multiple times and not have any smelly issues 😉

Misc.

  • Phone / charger / outlet convert
  • Camera
  • Purse – again, borrowing from my mom. Super sturdy and big enough for me to put my camera inside of it
  • Couple of easy travel games
  • Steve’s small computer
  • Kindle
  • Toiletries
  • Glasses / Sun Glasses

There you have it! It’s a complete list of what I’m bringing. All of which fits just in my two carry-on’s! But we will still check one bag so that we can bring back goodies or put dirty clothes in there towards the end of the trip. I am honestly quite proud of myself because even while I worked on this post I thought, OH what about that shirt? And that one? And that dress? And those pants? and that skirt? No. No thank you, I will travel minimally for the first time and be proud of that.

Have you every tried to pack as little as possible? Does it work out? What helps you travel minimally? Also, we’ll be in Belgium (and some other parts of Europe) so if there’s something I missed, please share!

How to be Healthy while Traveling

Hi friends, it is the first official day of Spring! I can’t believe the first quarter of the year is coming to an end soon but I CAN believe that it’s almost time for Steve and I to go to Belgium!! We are so excited for this trip! We have never been abroad together and Steve has never been to Europe. Make sure you follow me on Instagram cause you can bet my stories will be flooded with photos from our adventure! Oh, and if you want to know what I’m packing then stay tuned! That post will be here in a few days 😉

In the spirit of traveling, I get asked a lot by my clients how to be make healthy choices on vacation. If you’re someone who is a “diet” this can present a challenge because to be “on” a diet means you can “fall off” a diet. My first suggestion is that you revisit your thoughts on the word diet, could you think of what you’re doing as a way of life? A healthy outlook? This way, when you’re going on your vacation you’ll be able to focus on the adventure and not the number of calories you’re eating.

BUT I totally understand the desire to want to make travel a bit healthier and I’m all for it! Here are some different ideas to make traveling work for your and your goals. For more ideas, try these roasted ranch chick peas, or any of these snacks that some RDs sent each other in a snack exchange.

Travel Day (planes, trains, Automobiles)

  • Bring snacks that will keep you full, satisfy you, and are easy to pack.
    • Fruits – grapes, apples, bananas [do not put in the bottom of your bag!], & clementines pack well.
    • Veggies – carrots, bell peppers sliced, sugar snap peas, sliced zucchini, celery, jicama, or cucumbers pack well.
    • Pre-packed nut butters like Justin’s brand or individual serving containers
    • Hummus – again you can get pre-packaged or fill your own little containers
    • Trail mix – it’s cheaper to buy a big bag and separate it into portions
    • Pretzels – again, cheaper to buy a big bag and separate it out
    • Granola bars
  • Emergen-C – yes, it’s an excess amount of vitamins and you’re not going to absorb everything but I won’t travel without them because airports, trains, and cars for that matter are full of germs.
  • If you’re driving/taking a road trip look into a tiny fridge or cooler that plugs into your call to keep some pre-packed sandwiches, yogurts, cheese, etc.
  • Packets of oatmeal – grab a hot cup of water from a coffee store (they might charge you for a tea, etc) and dump in your oatmeal instead of the tea especially if it’s a cinnamon tea!
  • Water bottle + any flavorings if you’re someone who will typically want something more fun than plain water on a trip
  • Hand sanitizer – again, germs.
  • Tea – I also travel with 1-3 of my favorite brand of tea called Throat Coat. I don’t want to plan on getting sick but if I get a sore throat then this tea is my go-to.

At your destination

  • Look for a nearby grocery store so you can purchase some basics or plan to cook a meal or two.
  • See if you can stay somewhere with a small kitchenette – Steve and I notoriously use Air BnB and make sure we have a little kitchen to prepare some meals.
  • Look for a local farmers market – when we went to Hawaii this was a fantastic way to try new local foods/produce
  • Check if your hotel/Air Bnb has a gym or a local walking path. If you’re going to a resort, there might even be free fitness classes
  • Take advantage of free breakfast! I love when hotel’s have continental breakfast offered. Take a look and find a filling, balanced breakfast. Most hotels will have oatmeal, milk, bananas, and sometimes small containers of peanut butter. It’s very possible I snag a couple of those little mini peanut butter containers when I travel… 😉
  • Continue your movement – it doesn’t mean you have to exercise but do consider at least adding some stretching to your day. After traveling or sleeping in a foreign bed, you might feel stiff and you do not want a sore body for all the adventuring you’re going to do.
  • Tune out from social media and allow yourself to unplug from reading any work emails too.

Eating out

  • Try looking at menus in a new way. Focus on what your body wants – does it sound good because we’re looking for the biggest bang for our buck? Or are we looking for what sounds great and makes us feel great too?
  • Don’t skip calories/meals. Instead of not eating all day, continue having mindful balanced meals. These will keep you fueled and keep your hunger balanced. This will also help prevent from bingeing later on.
  • Fiber, fiber, fiber – it is very common to get thrown off from your normal bathroom routine when traveling. Typically my first goal when I travel is to stay well hydrated with water and have fiber with each snack/meal.
  • Remember that if you choose to indulge then INDULGE and enjoy. There is nothing wrong with having an extra indulgence because you’re on vacation. Don’t bring shame on your vacation with you.
  • If you’re going to a buffet / conference with tons of food options, think about balancing your plate. Observe what all of the options are first, then think about filling it up with vegetables, fruits, a grain, lean protein and hey maybe some dairy too.
  • Research your restaurants! I know some clients who feel best when they look at the restaurants menu ahead of time so they don’t feel rushed into make a decision when they go out.

I hope that was helpful! When Steve and I travel, we often take road trips. We really enjoy this time in the car together and we’ll also bring things to keep it fun. We’ll make new CDs of music, bring mad libs games, and sometimes comedy audio books too.

What do you do when you’re traveling to stay healthy? Are you going anywhere this Spring Break or this Summer? Share below!

RD Snack Exchange 2019 / National Dietitian Day

Hi friends! If you don’t know, today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!!! Yay, us! I can easily say I am so proud of the team of dietitians I work with both at work, through blogging, and friends as well. Each one of them is committed to serving individuals evidenced based nutrition education in each of their disciplines. See some of them below from my wedding! I’m excited to say there were 10 dietitians at our wedding.

So earlier this year one of my goals (see my post on my 2019 goals here) was to connect and network with some other dietitians who blog / run their own businesses / who are all around just awesome. I decided to host a snack exchange because who doesn’t love getting snacks in the mail!?

These ladies were so awesome for participating!

  • Jess Degore – Jess is a Registered Dietitian who is the author and owner of dietitianjess.com. Her private practice provides nutrition counseling and she specializes in sports nutrition, intuitive eating, and diabetes. Outside of nutrition Jess enjoys competing in triathlons, traveling, and checking out local breweries and restaurants. 
  • Kim Hoban – Kim is an intuitive eating and HAES dietitian and advocate. She shares easy and delicious recipes that are approachable for all. She’s also a new mama! She keeps it real and her blog is all about the three F’s; Food, Fitness, and FUN! Read her blog over at www.khnutrition.com.
  • Becky – This is Bex! She’s a Registered Dietitian (RD) and working as a bariatric dietitian. She loves to cook, explore the outdoors and encourage others to live healthy lifestyles. She recognizes the importance of a balanced approach to nutrition. You can find her at www.bexnutrition.com for nutrition tips and recipes. 
  • Melissa Morey – (Side note, I’ve actually known Melissa for years through school and beyond!) She’s an adventurer, photographer, living in the beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. She’s also a weaver and a wicked cake baker.
  • Jamie Rebecca- She’s a CT, registered dietitian on a personal weight loss journey! She discusses her journey, PCOS, mindfulness and much more! See her site www.thesleeveddietitian.com.
    • Instagram:
  • Lauren Pendergast – She’s a registered dietitian, foodie, runner, chocolate lover, weight lifter, and awesome blogger in the NYC area! Check out her site at www.nutritionbylauren.com.
  • Marissa McCormick – She is a registered dietitian working a full-time corporate gig out of Minneapolis, MN.  She’s a new mom & passionate about prenatal & postpartum nutrition/health and she recently launched her website www.marissamccormick.com as a way to help new moms find health & happiness in motherhood!  She share nutrition tips for pregnancy, breastfeeding & introducing solids to babies so mom’s can confidently nourish themselves & their families!  She loves to meet new moms on Instagram 🙂

My own partner was Jess Degore – she sent me a literal bag of goodies! From water enhancers, to electrolyte replacers, treats from her home State, granola bars, my favorite nut butters, tea, brownie mix, hemp seeds, and some delicious chocolate covered caramel. I felt so spoiled! We’ve also been emailing back and forth and turns out we have a good amount of things in common. I have enjoyed virtually getting to know her AND her and her husband might be making their way to Michigan sometime! It’d be fun to take this virtual experience to life 🙂 see below my goodies from Jess!

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like! I have not used my nuuns because I haven’t needed them yet but I’m falling hard for hemp hearts and True Lime packets!

That’s not all though, check out what other dietitians were exchanging with each other! To learn some more about the RD exchange or see other awesome dietitians I follow, look up to, get inspired by, and simply just love…head over to my instagram The_Beer_Dietitian and check out the story highlights saved from today!

Are you an RD wanting to participate in next year’s exchange? It’s a super easy, relaxed way to network with someone and also get a bunch of goodies in the mail too 🙂 Email me at Brewtition@gmail.com to get involved for next time!

What you Need to Know about Frozen Food

If you didn’t know…today is National Frozen Food day! I feel like frozen food gets demonized quite a bit – like carbs and fat – and I thought it would help to put some clarity behind frozen foods and how I used them in my life. I’ll do this by sharing some pros and cons. But first! I shared this side-by-side on Instagram today to show how seeing that something was frozen/processed food might make you turn away…while the image on the right might be viewed as glorified food prep. I’m not about lying to you all, I want to share my reality and what works for me.

(I enjoyed this meal! If I made it again I would still add my roasted zucchini but maybe I’d throw in some flax meal or nutritional yeast to ramp it up even more)

PROS

  • Convenience is a beautiful thing. I will always keep frozen fruits and vegetables as staples in my freezer. They are picked at their peak freshness, frozen, and sent on their way. You will still get plenty of nutrients and benefits from consuming fruits/veggies in this form.
  • Convenience is a beautiful thing – for other frozen foods aside from fruits/veggies! While there are some frozen foods that might be considered healthier than others, keeping some things on hand is helpful. Especially for those moments when your meal plan doesn’t sound good or you have unexpected changes in plans.
  • You can always add something to a frozen food. We keep frozen burritos on hand and I’ll use these when we don’t feel like cooking or we need something quick but we’ll add some veggies and rice on the side. If you’re someone who keeps frozen pizza on hand, keep things you can add to the pizza that make it more filling like vegetables or proteins.
  • Some frozen food is not as “processed” as you might think. I made a pizza dough from scratch which nutritionally is comparable to a frozen dough I’ve seen on the market. I used half of the dough and froze the other, does that make my dough “processed” to the point where it’s all of a sudden unhealthy? Nope. We just tend to put blanket statements on certain foods that end up scaring people into eating the same things all the time or shaming them for choosing a frozen food.
These are some of our staples – from frozen veggies to fruits, to meals / partial meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack/dessert. Frozen foods can fit in any meal plan.

CONS

  • Frozen food can have a lot of sodium. It’s not surprise that this is my first bullet point. But do you know how to read a label and tell whether or not it’s high in sodium? Miligrams and grams are confusing to most so check out the percentage. If it is 20% or higher, it’s a high source of a nutrient. So if you’re trying to watch out for high sodium foods, check the percentage.
    • Don’t forget to also check the serving size. If it is 13% sodium but but the serving size is 2 for the package and you’re planning to eat the whole thing…it’s now 23% sodium.
  • They’re sometimes low in fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that keeps us full and helps our digestion system run smoothly. Again, take a look at your nutrition label and if your goals it to feel full from the frozen food you’re choosing, check to see what percentage of fiber is in a serving. 20% is a high source, 10% is a good source, and 5% is a low source.
    • Remember the comment above about adding nutrients to frozen meals! If it’s a stir fry of veggies – use brown rice or throw in some flax meal! Any added fiber will help you feel full for a longer period of time.
  • The portion size is smaller than the packaging leads it on to be. I’ve often purchased a frozen food or meal and after I’ve cooked it I’ve thought, “that’s it!?” Sure one serving nutritionally does not look unhealthy, but are you going to eat one serving? The serving size is just a guideline it does not mean that serving size will fill you up physically or visually (both important!)

In short, can you make healthy choices when it comes to frozen food? Yes, absolutely! But can you also go into the frozen food aisle and use their meals as inspiration for something to make on your own? Hell yes! I used to do this a lot before I started taking a list to the store with me. I’d find a frozen meal that sounds good, look up a recipe online that’s similar, and make it from scratch. My cost might have been $10-$15 instead of $5.99 but I was left with a more nutritious meal and had leftovers too.

I will add that frozen food has come a long way from the TV dinners that so often come to mind when we demonize frozen food. I think what’s important to remember is that it’s your home and your choice. What works for me may not suit your needs/desires.

Do you keep any frozen food/meals? Or do you have any questions about frozen food that I didn’t cover? Ask below! If you’re a frozen food eater like I am, show me what you’re cooking up on Instagram and tag me @The_Beer_Dietitian. <3

How to Fit Fitness into your Life

When you think about becoming healthier or working on general wellness, a few general things come to mind: food, exercise, and self-care. Self-care can include food and exercise but it can mean much more than that (read more on that here).

Today, I wanted to focus on exercise. Movement. Activity. Whatever word you want to use to describe it is fine but choose a word that feels empowering. If hearing the word exercise fills you dread, choose a word that makes you excited or that you look forward to getting to do…not a means of punishment or chore. There are two questions to ask yourself: What is exercise to me and why am I exercising?

Sam & I hiking in the Upper Peninsula!

why do i want to exercises?!?

Why am I exercising? If you answered to lose weight – it’s not likely going to be something that sticks around because A) you may lose weight and then stop exercising or B) you don’t lose weight and you stop exercising because it’s not working. Try to develop a deeper meaning with exercise by asking yourself why is movement important to you? I do not have children but I want to one day. I want to develop habitual exercise that brings me joy so that my children find joy in movement as well.

WHAT IS EXERCISE!?!?

Second question, ask yourself what exercise is to YOU. It is really common to believe that exercise needs to be a certain length of time, exertion, or done on a piece of equipment. For example, “I need to work out 5 times per week for at least 30-45 minutes and I need to be sweating and my heart rate needs to be elevated…otherwise I might as well do nothing.” That’s a lot of, “need to” statements which inherently produce feelings of guilt when we don’t fulfill that “need.” Redefining exercise to suit your individual needs and desires can help you feel better about how you’re fitting it in.

Instead of focusing on minutes, consider your feelings. I need to workout for 30 minutes, could be turned into I want to focus on moving my body and feeling good, this Zumba class sounds like fun! No matter if it’s 20 minutes or 60, you’re more inclined to keep going it if it’s something you enjoy. Or for lack of a better phrase, if it sparks joy (thanks Marie Kondo) you’re more likely to desire it.

Nick, Jake and I – my marathon friends aka my crazy running partners

It’s true that there are recommendations/standards set for activity and we are encouraged to get them done in a week. What standards don’t account for is the variables we face every single day. I have worked with a mom who even after we looked at her schedule, found it more doable to fit in more movements throughout her day rather than 30 minutes at the gym or even on her treadmill at home. Don’t give me that, “YOU’LL HAVE TIME IF YOU MAKE TIME FOR IT” BS either. I don’t want to hear it and it’s not a helpful statement for someone who isn’t doing much for activity because of habit or injury.

ever picked up an instrument and knew how to play it perfectly right away? Didn’t think so.

It can feel difficult to get started with an exercise routine. It is also difficult to pick up an instrument and know how to play it right away too. Exercise is no different. My best advice is to start small. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of 0 exercises per week you could establish a positive habit of once per week?

You might think…one day?? What’s that going to do for me? Change. It’s going to cause sustainable change. It’s going to start you on a path to a better relationship with activity. I think when we join a gym, club, or class, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to instantly get the most out of our membership by going at least three days a week. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking which doesn’t lend itself to sustainability or positive self-talk.

I will never stop dancing as a part of my active lifestyle.

So what to do? I encourage you to think of all the activities you have a positive association with. Mine include: Pilates, kick boxing, boxing, yoga, dance, running, walking, biking, elliptical, weight lifting, WODs (like Crossfit ones), short workouts, long workouts, workout videos, HIIT, or bootcamp classes. Notice you didn’t see sports? I’m not a fan! I’ve never been a fan, I turn into a 15 year old brat and I become increasingly unmotivated to participate. It’s just part of who I am.

You might even go to your friend Google and type in, “list of various types of exercise.” Maybe there’ll be something you’ve never tried or something you used to do but could modify and try again. Seated exercises are a fantastic way to get going.

Remember, just because you used to do a certain activity does not mean we can jump back in right where we left off. It’s important to treat yourself kindly and not judge yourself for modifying or starting somewhere less than where you were.

Okay so how am I supposed to fit in exercise?

As far as fitting exercise into your daily routine, if you already take a day to meal plan or just look at your week ahead, this is an opportunity to plan in one day a week of exercise/movement/activity. Look at each day, where could you fit it in and how? What will you do to ensure that it happens? Sometimes this means packing a gym bag the night before or laying out your clothes so that you’re cued to change into them instead of comfy clothes/pajamas. Or sometimes it takes accountability with a friend or coach.

After you’ve accomplished your one day…watch out for sneaky diet language like, well I ONLY worked out once this week. ONLY!? You’re taking steps to a healthier you! Try to reframe the sentence to, I am so proud of myself because I wanted to start working out once a week, I scheduled it, it felt really great to move my body, and it’s doable for my life right now. See how positive that sounds? Often time I think it’s our mind and thoughts (that are completely normal by the way) that get in our way.

Lastly, be okay with your routine needing to change. The only constant when trying to improve your wellness or lifestyle is change. Your life most likely won’t be the same week to week and year to year, so why should our workouts be? Remember that one off week or month does not define you as a failure. It does not mean you are note healthy, it means you had a week or a month where it didn’t happen and instead of asking yourself why…ask yourself how can I move forward today?

So tell me, how do you think you could start to build in exercise into your routine or change up your current routine?

Thoughts on Motivation & Will Power

Can you believe it’s only February 19th? Why do I say only? On our wedding day Steve and I made the day and the honey moon to follow (read more about that here) go by slowly and sweetly by saying, “it’s only 8:00 or it’s only Tuesday.” We have a tendency to wish or will our time away and with the buzzed feeling of the New Year most likely wearing off, it’s a great time of the year to start doing a self-check up. What is a self-check up? It’s when you reevaluate your goals, your life, your current situation and see if there’s anything you desire to reassess and readjust. A self check-up gives you time to praise, reflect (without judgement) and evaluate what you want to do moving forward into the next month.

Praising yourself is an important and often missed step of a self-check. We are so critical of ourselves and will say things like, I wanted to go to the gym five days a week and I’ve only been going once a week. Time to praise! You’ve not been going, “only” once a week – you’ve established a once a week routine that so far is working for you! Time to reflect on how you made this happen and how it makes you feel. Next, evaluate your goal of five days a week. Is it realistic? Can we work on two days a week instead?

I know what I need to do…I just need to do it!

Ever said that? I get it. It’s been a polar vortex out there which makes me want to cuddle up and binge on anything Netflix has to offer too.

But what about when it’s not a polar vortex? What about when it’s just February in a Michigan winter or July in the heat of summer and we don’t feel motivated to work toward our goals? Perfect example of where we can reassess and readjust. Do you “have to” workout or can you view it as, “I get to” workout?

Motivation is a feeling and will power is a fallacy. Change can happen inside and outside of your comfort zone.

Will power has nothing to do with making changes

It’s not easy to change our internal habitual language but a slightly different perspective can make a big difference. It’s also normal to not feel motivated. Motivation is a feeling and your will power has nothing to do with it. As human beings, we experience feelings. Sometimes we can experience many different feelings in one day…one hour even! To expect ourselves to feel motivated all the time and to rely on that feeling is simply unrealistic. Take the pressure off and remind yourself it’s normal that motivation ain’t in our hearts all the time. 

Secondly, ask yourself how you’re going to get through a certain task or work toward a goal without that feeling? Could you work on other feelings? I know myself enough that if I’m feeling happy, it’s easier for me to choose to move more or get exercise in that I enjoy. If that’s the case for you, what makes you happy? Is it playing with your pet or simply taking in a breath of fresh air or doing a Zumba video and not get on an elliptical? Finding a way to spark happiness instead of motivation might help.

Thirdly, break down your goal into a step-by-step process. If you know that you want to workout at least once before the week is up try writing a plan to accomplish this. For example: 1) Go to bed with my gym clothes laid out 2) wake up at ___ time and review the plan in your head with the idea that you GET to workout 3) relax and enjoy coffee for __ time 4) set alarm to remind me at __ time that I have fifteen more minutes until I get to work out 5) turn the volume up on some pump up music while I warm up

See how the goal gets broken down? Smaller steps help us see it more as a task oriented goal. While will power is helpful in very short term circumstances like crossing a finish line or taking the final step up a hill. Will power is not helpful in helping us not do something.

Build in time in the day to do what enriches you without judgement

It is very important to tell yourself you’ve built in relax time. I’m no stranger to scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. Sometimes, when I planned in a work out I felt like I wouldn’t get my relax/screen time in…wrong! I always build it in. We all need some unwind time which looks different for everyone. For me, I enjoy watching shows (ahem, The Bachelor & Seinfeld lately) and reading positive messages on Instagram. I give myself time in the day to do that without judgement so I don’t feel deprived.

What do you think? Have you been waiting for motivation or will power? Do you know what you “need” to do but just “need” to do it? Let’s talk below! It’s tougher than that, but I’m here to help.

Five ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

When I was first introduced to Leslie Knope / Parks and Rec I fell in love instantly with the idea of Galentine’s Day (February 13th) and taking a day to celebrate friendship with the amazing women in your life.

Since my word for 2019 is progress, one of the things I wanted to work on was my relationships with my friends. It’s always important to build upon the friendships you have and make sure you’re making time for all of them. Everyone gets busy and life gets busy, so when you’re able to spend time together make it quality time. Thus, I thought I would share five ways to celebrate Galentine’s day if you need some ideas on how to celebrate the women in your life too!

  1. Go out for a slow breakfast with plenty of coffee, beermosas/mimosas, tea, or beverage of choice and spend time enjoying the start of a day with your favorite gal(s).
  2. Take a cooking class together and enjoy the mess and fun of learning something new!
  3. Drop-in on a yoga studio or workout of choice and sweat it out together
  4. Try a fancy new cocktail bar after work for happy hour where you wouldn’t go normally.
  5. Take a day trip to a new town and explore what it has to offer.

You could also invite your ladies over and watch the episode of Parks and Rec that features Galentine’s day. As a bonus, celebrate Leslie Knope style and serve up Belgium waffles!

How will you be celebrating Galentines? Feel free to share and tag me on Instagram @The_Beer_RD so I can cheers to all you lovely ladies!

Stir it Up Bakery – See the Able not the Label

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Zoe Bruyn, owner of Stir it Up Bakery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Stir It Up is a bakery with a mission to provide meaningful employment to individuals with special needs. Stir It Up is not only designed to provide a safe atmosphere where individuals can obtain skills but it is also an example for other bakeries/local business to hire those with special needs.

Photo by: Alicia Magnuson Photography

To share a little background on why I wanted to meet Zoe…I first learned about them at my friends’ wedding. Kayla and Nick Olle are area directors for Special Olympics and both are incredibly passionate about their athletes and Special Olympics as a whole. One of their athletes was hired by Zoe and when Nick and Kayla got married, they knew their dessert had to be from Stir It Up Bakery. They had a variety of cupcakes at their wedding and they were absolutely decadent and delicious!

One of the first things Zoe and I talked about was the statistic she learned, that 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed. (WHAT!?) Zoe, who has always been an entrepreneur and passionate about working with those with disabilities knew she needed to do something about that number. When she was ready to get started she entered an entrepreneur contest and won $5000 to start making Stir it Up a reality.

Photo by Alicia Magnuson Photography

Zoe started the bakery in her parent’s kitchen. The Cottage Law allows a person to legally bake and prepare certain foods in their home kitchens and sell them on a small scale, typically at farmers markets and direct to other consumers. She felt this was a relatively easy way to begin and did not require a lot of investment to start. She hired her first employee, Kyle, and they started selling their cookies, namely their staple Monster cookie, at West Michigan Miracle League on Saturdays. Very quickly, their cookies became very popular and they found themselves needing an oven that baked more than a dozen cookies at a time.

Photo by: Jessi Holden

As their bakery grew, she was able to hire more people and expand their business. She shared with me that her goal is to provide a work environment that not only is safe but also highlights her employees’ abilities, skills, and talents. There’s a stigma out there about hiring someone with a disability. Zoe firmly believes with the right training and support, your most loyal and hard working employees could be someone with a disability, they just need to be given the opportunity to learn. She treats her employees like any bakery owner would. However, she understands the need for gentle reinforcement and that the learning gap may be a bit longer, but the reward is a win-win for all.

Photo by Jessi Holden

Zoe also shared her advice and experience with entrepreneurship. She say’s in order to be an entrepreneur, you have an idea and you go with it. You learn as you go and sometimes the business doesn’t work out…but sometimes it does. She shared that Stir It Up is not where she wants it to be (yet!) and that the sky is the limit. From owning their own store front (they still rent out of a commercial kitchen) to the Stir it Up Bakery business/model expanding across the nation.

Currently, if you want to purchase any of these cookies or desserts you can place corporate orders on their website, visit them at their next Pop Up shop (find announcements for these on their social channels Facebook, Instagram), or visit the Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids where they have their only wholesale items sold right now. She shared that Bridge Street Market has been very kind and supportive to them and other small, local businesses.

(Disclaimer not really a disclaimer: These cookies were purchased by me because I support this business, this was not a paid advertisement)

As for me, I’m going to go eat the rest of this monster cookie! If you visit them, let me know by tagging them and me in your next Facebook or Instagram post. Cheers!