Sunday, 10 August 2014 18:08

Lifestyle | Drink Up! Wine's You'll Love

Lifestyle // August 18, 2014

The essence of summer: What is it for you?

For me, it usually comes paired with a glass of wine. Sometimes it’s a clean white sipped while burying toes into beach sand, warmed from a day’s worth of the sun’s blanket. Other times, it’s a full-bodied red, accompanied by laughter and adult humor as ribs, steak, and burgers are thrown on a grill ahead of a night surrounded by friends. And other times still, it’s a dry rosé when after a day of hard decision making I’ve got no room left in my mind to decide what, exactly, it is I really want.

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My only demand, no matter the varietal? That the wine be as carefree as summer itself. This means they are reasonably priced and above all… fuss-free. Here are some of my picks for the best wines for any palette:


Vinum Cellars 2012 Chenin Blanc/Viognier

Crisp. Refreshing. Under $15.  I mean I can probably just stop there, right? You’re already grabbing this wine and headed to checkout, you’ve got a concert to catch at The Greek.

But if you want to know more:
Stick your nose in this baby and you’ll feel as if you’re back on the islands, mahn! Expect something bright with tropical pineapple, guava and ripe peach scents which, as the winery says itself: Expresses subtle clover honey notes. Chenin Blanc is known for it’s generous acidity, and this wine is no different. You can also pinpoint honeysuckle and lemon-lime flavors, with slight notes of vanilla and cream.

Bottom Line: It’s hot. Your palate needs to be quenched with something that’ll go down easy while making you feel as elegant as a mid-summer night’s eve itself. This is what you’re drinking.




Flirt, California Red Wine

You thought under $15 was good? Try under $12. A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and my personal favorite –Tempranillo, if you’re headed to a BBQ where you don’t know anyone, this is the wine you’re bringing. A conversation starter, for sure . . .  #ThatLabelTho

But if you want to know more:
Syrah, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo are three wines consistently listed on “Best Wines for BBQ” lists, and for good reason. What do you get when you blend them all together? Apparently, a wine that is smooth but not overly sweet and easily adaptable to whatever meat you throw at it.  See if you can catch the hints of butterscotch and cherry cola (If those aren’t the ingredients to an American summer I don’t know what is) And note: This is a wine you drink NOW… and why would you not? Once that bottle is empty you can use it as a vase!

Bottom Line: You want to stand out.  There may be certain man at this BBQ you just “happen” to be attending, and you’re prepared to do exactly as the bottle says . . . Flirt! Hey, what’s a summer without a lil’ romance?!





2013 Adobe Pink

Let’s be serious: Sometimes, you CAN get champagned-out. The bubbles. The tartness. The morning after. You know what I’m talking about. But what’s is a girl to do when she wants something fun, refreshing, and NOT red or white? Pick this bottle up, for under $15, and impress your brunch-mates by introducing them to a label they’ve probably never heard of.

But if you want to know more:
This rosé is light, fruity, and doesn’t need a strawberry to be added to ramp up its sweetness.  Hints of lemon with a crisp finish linger (but really, only briefly) with a touch of sugar.  Serve cold. Very cold.

Bottom Line: It’s Sunday. You’re brunching. But please – hold the champagne. Try something new!


All right ladies . . .get out there are raise your glass! Hurry . . . before summer passes you by.

Published in Lifestyle

Made Mommy // August 4, 2014

Friday night I boarded the Golden Gate Ferry to leave work for the last time before becoming a mom. I watched the skyline shrink as we backed away from the dock and sailed into the bay, keeping my eye on the glimmer of city lights through the rain until they were just a blur in the distance.

It was a strange feeling. I just kept thinking:

This is the last time I will ever leave work without officially being a mom. This is the last time that my career can really be my biggest focus and priority day-to-day.

(Second to my marriage and family, of course, but you know what I mean.)

Maternity leave is a defining moment. Since the beginning of my career, I knew I wanted to have a family someday, and that this would ultimately affect the course of my professional life. It’s a challenge wanting both the high-power career and a strong, growing family — sometimes it seems that people are content with one or the other — but I’ve always hoped for both.

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Yesterday was my first day of maternity leave, and while I am thrilled to finally put my feet up and rest this big belly, it’s sort of an odd feeling, an unfamiliar crossroads. I’ve been daydreaming about the time off with my newborn since I found out I was pregnant — stroking those sweet little baby cheeks, learning what it means to be “mom” and catching up on sleep between each day’s new challenges. I know I’ll cherish this time and I feel blessed that I’m able to take the time off I need for my family.

But can I tell you the truth?

I had such a hard time relinquishing ownership of my work and bowing out. I am passionate about what I do and I work with amazing people, and the support they’ve shown has been an incredible and unexpected surprise. No one has ever questioned my ability to succeed while pregnant and I feel very strongly that when I go back, I’ll be welcomed with open arms and a list of new clients. Still, there’s a small part of me that worries I’m “losing out” on precious momentum in these next few months.

There’s been much debate and a great deal of dialog around women “having it all” over the past couple years. I’m sure you’re all familiar with Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic, Sheryl Sandberg’s best-seller “Lean In” and various other pieces that have circulated. I myself have been thinking long and hard about what it means to have it all, and whether or not I want to have it all. And you know what? I do want it all, but I realize that means redefining what “all” means within my own life and family.

Parenthood will be first and foremost for my husband and I from this point forward. That is our number one priority, no questions asked, and we are thrilled to become parents. And we know we will need to make compromises for that along the way. But! I’ve also resolved that for me, it’s okay to still have career ambition and to want to try and juggle the chaos of a big job with the role of Mom. I’ve learned that being courageous enough to ask for flexibility at work yields great rewards; that my company is willing to work with me if I work with them.

So now, as I’ve officially stepped out of the career spotlight for a few months, I am ready to fully embrace each precious moment that I have yet to discover with my sweet baby girl and start building our new life.

And yes, a few months down the road, it will be time to go back to work. I know it will be hard to balance everything, but I also plan to do all I can to be the best mom I can be and also succeed in the workplace — if for no other reason, to show my baby girl that a fulfilling career is possible, and is a wonderful part of life for those of us who desire it.

Published in Made Mommy

Book Review // June 16, 2014

Lately I’ve been enjoying period-specific historical fiction—especially anything that takes place in the early to mid-1900s. This led me to my latest find: Rules of Civility by Amore Towles. It was published in 2011, so it’s not a brand new release, but I loved it all the same.

What pleasantly surprised me about this book was the strong female lead. An independent woman in her early twenties, Katie Kontent is a native New Yorker making Manhattan her own in the post-depression era. Like any young woman starting out, she works hard and is doing her best to make ends meet. Katie’s partner-in-crime is Eve Ross, a fearless beauty from Indiana trying to take the city by storm after leaving her country roots behind.

This is a glimpse into the very early days of freedom for women; the beginning of a time when it was possible for them to work and take care of themselves. Together the girls take on the city as they swap dresses and hunt down the bars with the strongest martinis and the best jazz.
But this is just the beginning.

After meeting Tinker Gray, a handsome and wealthy stranger, one New Year’s Eve, the two girls embark on a life-altering journey vying for his affections. Although it’s clear that he’s interested in Katie, a sudden accident one night leaves him devoted to Eve and Katie is left in the rearview mirror.

The tragic situation leaves Katie confused—but she genuinely wants to be happy for her friend. She becomes determined to take control of her own life, forgetting the feelings she felt for Tinker and the reliance she had on Eve.

Katie moves into her own apartment. She quits her stable secretary job to pursue magazine editing. She makes new friends and begins to climb the social ladder on her own.

All the while, the reader joins Katie in her journey to stay true to herself despite the glitz of Manhattan and the desire she has to move into the upper echelon of New York society. Eve and Tinker move in and out of Katie’s life and offer mixed signals of what their relationship means, yet Katie never loses her poise and is careful to keep her distance. Only when Eve runs off to California, leaving Tinker behind, does Katie begin to let her feelings for Tinker take over.

Every page of this book is a treat. It examines several important themes: independence, honesty, friendship, determination and honor. I adored Katie Kontent for her honest approach to life and her strength. While Katie considers herself flawed, I found her to be the truest character in the story and it’s hard not to admire her. I loved reading about a strong female character in an era when many women were simply expected to give in and get married without the chance for a life of their own.

Rules of Civility will not disappoint. It whisks the reader quickly into 1940s New York and wraps her or him up with a mix of compelling characters and surprising situations where most would wonder what they’d do if they found themselves facing the same thing.

Published in Lifestyle
Thursday, 12 December 2013 23:03

Business | New Year's Workplace Resolutions

Business // December 15, 2013

A new year is a upon us, ladies, and that means it’s time to pour something sparkly and make a toast to new resolutions. Not only is this a great time to make some changes or new commitments in our personal lives, but it’s also an opportune time for a fresh start in the workplace. Whether you’ve been in a slump at work or are flying high loving your current job, let’s all make some New Year’s workplace resolutions together. Here are a few of mine:

Avoid office gossip

I don’t know about you, but on occasion (okay, maybe on a weekly basis) I find myself getting frustrated with people at the office and really needing to vent. But venting can quickly become gossip if I take it beyond my closest confidantes. In 2014 I am resolving to watch what I say about other people to other people. No good can really come of it.

Watch the extra office goodies

This may be in part to my current pregnancy, but recently I’ve adopted the bad habit of reaching into the office candy bowl and snacking on meeting leftovers too often. Every now and then I think it’s okay to treat myself, but making a habit out of it only leads to extra empty calories, which are often the hardest to work off. When I return to work after maternity leave, I’m going to focus on keeping my desk stocked with healthy snacks.

Seek a mentor 

Sometimes it can be hard to find a mentor at work. Most of us have supervisors or managers whom we report to, but in 2014 I’d really like to find a mentor who can provide guidance beyond my day-to-day work. This year I resolve to spend some time getting to know a colleague I admire and whose career path is one to which I aspire . Even just asking him or her to coffee would be a great way to learn more about how they achieved their career success.

Dress for success

 I’m going to blame pregnancy for this one again, too, but I find myself choosing the more casual side of “business casual” at work these days. We have a very laid back dress code, so it’s been easy to trade in my previously polished look for something comfier. But hey, if I want to reach the top of the ladder, I need to dress the part, right? I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I bring my wardrobe back to the professional level that makes me feel strong and successful.

Update professional goals 

Each year I try to set three to five career-related goals. Sometimes I’m not sure where the year is going to take me, but I always at least get something down on paper to help me dream big and work toward new aspirations. True to my own tradition, I plan to get my 2014 career goals down on paper as soon as possible. With a new baby coming in February and a desire to find a balance between motherhood and my current career path, this is one of my most important New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

We all need to tend to our professional growth, and now is the perfect time to take a look at how things are going. So, now it’s your turn. What are your workplace resolutions going to be this year?

Published in Business
Sunday, 22 September 2013 21:18

Business I Start-Up Spotlight: SmarterBucks

Business // September 23, 2013 

Debt. It just doesn’t seem to go away. Whether we’ve racked up credit card bills during the summer wedding season or had to give in and get a new car, many of us have some form of debt to our name. More than likely, however, most of us have debt in the form of the good ol’ student loan. According to American Student Assistance, today in the U.S. there is approximately $902 billion to $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Fortunately there are programs out there that help students and recent graduates pay off their loans more quickly and efficiently. One such program is SmarterBucks – a website dedicated to helping reduce student loan debt (and don’t worry, it’s legit. SmarterBucks is an FDIC member).



A website that promises to help pay off student loans faster? Sign me up! As a woman who is more-than-eager to pay off her grad school loan, I eagerlyaccepted the invitation to check out SmarterBucks and explore how the service could help me out. After all, that hefty monthly payment would be much more useful in my savings account, or for charity, or …perhaps the occasional extra pair of shoes.

The Gist

Through using a special debit card issued by SmarterBanks or simply making purchases through preferred vendors, SmarterBucks will give users up to 10% back in rewards to help pay down student loans. Users can also invite family and friends to contribute to their account.

SmarterBucks offers great tips and resources for debt management, as well as exclusive discounts and deals for users.

The User Experience

Signing up for the SmarterBucks account and inputting all of your information is easy. In order to actually pay down a loan, users will have to link their SmarterBucks account to their student loan account so that SmarterBucks can track it. The site seems really secure, so this shouldn’t be a concern.

The actual process of earning rewards and paying debt down has been a bit of a challenge for me thus far. Since I don’t necessarily need to make purchases from vendors within the SmarterBucks marketplace, I have yet to actually earn any rewards to go toward my loans. Still, for the diligent buyer who is determined to pay off her loans, the process is simple and each dollar will add up quickly.

My advice is to sign up for the SmarterBank debit card. This is the fastest way to make qualifying purchases that will help erase that debt. It works like any rewards Visa where you earn points or cash back for everyday purchases, except you get SmarterBucks back instead – and those go toward your designated student loan. It’s a win-win!

If you have student loans to pay off, you should definitely give SmarterBucks a test drive to see if it will work for you. Every dollar toward those loans helps, and soon (okay, maybe a few years from now) the debt will disappear.

Published in Entrepreneurship

Lifestyle // July 15, 2013

Ah, Belize. For me, this tiny nation with a population of less than 350,000 will forever evoke images of swaying palm trees, friendly smiles and sounds of the rainforest.

I just got back from a nine-day Belizean adventure with my husband, and although my skin hasn’t recovered yet from the scorching sun, I am grateful for the chance we had to relax and learn more about this Central American country where tourism is the number one industry.

Belize provided the best of both worlds: it gave us the chance to explore a new country but still stay within our comfort zone. Total travel time (including layovers) was about eight hours, and our Belizean friends speak English as their official language and widely accept the US dollar.

Jungle Fever

We began our journey in the mountains of Belize in an area known as the Cayo District. I thought it would be beautiful, but I never expected the laid back luxury we found at Chaa Creek, the secluded eco lodge where we spent our first three nights.

Our cottage at Chaa Creek was decked out in gorgeous hardwood finishes and featured huge indoor and outdoor showers – “in case you decide to shower as nature intended,” according to the staff. Cloaked in solitude, it was the perfect place to unplug, catch a nap or lounge in hammocks for stargazing.

From checking out the a butterfly farm to canoeing down the Macal River to lounging by the sparkling pool, Chaa Creek offers plenty of onsite activities and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect stay.


But adventure abounds outside the resorts, too. We spent one day trekking to and through the Actun Tunichil Muknal, an ancient Mayan cave where religious rituals once took place. A few swims through dark corridors and several rocks climbed will take visitors to the ultimate artifact: a skeleton completely intact.

While we loved our time in the Cayo District, we were thrilled to head toward the coast and spend the rest of our vacation embracing the island spirit.

Island Adventures

Our first stop off the coast was the tiny island of Caye Caulker (“Caye” is pronounced “key”). Golf carts and bikes are the modes of transportation, and people here are very easygoing. We “splurged” for an oceanfront suite in Caye Caulker that cost us far less than a basic hotel room in any major U.S. tourist destination.

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Aside from little shops, restaurants and beachfront lounging, the major attraction of Caye Caulker is its access to some of the best snorkeling and diving on earth. We don’t scuba dive, but we decided to check out the snorkeling we’d heard so much about.

The reefs were teeming with wildlife. We were within two feet of gigantic manatees, half a dozen sea turtles, sting rays, nurse sharks and dozens of friendly fish I’d never seen before. Our guide was a local with endless knowledge and personality, and we shared our adventure with just four other visitors. If you ever make it to Belize, take the time to snorkel from Caye Caulker. Its small, family-oriented style made it the most memorable part of our trip.



After the snorkel adventure and a half day recovering from a pretty excruciating sunburn (even our SPF 30 couldn’t protect us from that blazing Belizean sun), we headed to the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize’s most well-known and frequently visited island.

Ambergris Caye is everything I imagined when I used to picture what it would be like to visit an island. Something about it just made me feel like I was on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. Although the beaches are smaller than some, they are postcard perfect.

Since this was the last portion of our trip, it was time to take it easy. We walked along the shore, kayaked in the ocean and rented a golf cart one afternoon to explore the island. We also had fun trying the different restaurants and enjoying one Belikin (the official beer of Belize) after another. Our rooftop hotel deck made for some gorgeous sunset views and one very groggy but breathtaking sunrise.

Tastes of Belize

The food in Belize was my favorite surprise. I don’t know what I was expecting, but almost every meal was one of the best I’ve ever had while traveling. We learned about new, delicious foods such as fry jacks and coco (a root vegetable similar to a potato) and we enjoyed the local spin on pasta dishes, soups and salads. And let’s not forget the local fruits and freshly caught seafood. Shrimp and snapper were abundant, and most mornings we had platters of pineapple, papaya and watermelon – all grown in Belize. This trip was everything I hoped for. My style of travel is to visit a new place that will offer plenty of R&R but will also allow me to learn about a country through dining, excursions and activities.

What’s your summer travel style?

*Note: Chaa Creek kindly offered me a discounted room rate as a writer, but opinions are completely my own.


Published in Travel
Friday, 22 March 2013 21:42

Fitness | Health & Fitness App Review

Fitness // March 25, 2013 

Sometimes when I can’t get to the gym or am feeling too broke to hit up a yoga studio, I like to have a backup plan. After researching some of the best health & fitness apps for the iPhone and asking fit friends for suggestions, I identified five apps that I wanted to try. I went with the free versions to start, just so I could test the waters.

Here is a breakdown of each app I tried and the verdict on each.

The Yoga apps

Simply Yoga

Yikes. This app is really elementary and I would not recommend it. The sound and picture quality resemble an old home video, and the free version only offers one 20-minute workout. I also found that you can’t resume your workout if you want to go back to the home menu – it just starts it over every time and there is no way to scroll through. I honestly couldn’t even get a whole yoga session in using this app.

Verdict: Don’t bother


Daily Yoga

I liked this yoga app better, but it still wasn’t great. I do like that it provides whole sequences instead of requiring you to scroll through and keep selecting different poses. For each series (Yoga for Back, Yoga for Abs, Yoga for Butt, etc.) you can select a 10, 15 or 20 minute session to customize the length and style of your workout. The app also includes pretty background music.

The main issue with this one is that you have to download each workout individually after downloading the app itself. I have very little patience, so this bugged me.

Verdict: Try it if you have no other option for an at-home yoga workout


MapMyRun

I really like this little fitness buddy. MapMyRun acts like a GPS and also gives you verbal cues along your route to help you reach your desired mileage. It saves routes, counts calories and tracks your pace. I am not an expert runner, so it was fun to have the guidance.

There is also a great Nutrition section of this app that logs the food you eat and the calories you consume, which is really helpful to track eating habits and setting health goals.

Verdict: I recommend this app. The upgraded version for $2.99 provides a ton of cool features, including music, training plans and ad-free access.

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Fitness Buddy by Azumio

Fitness Buddy is a strength training app. It is nicely organized by muscle group and type of exercise, and offers extensive exercise suggestions. Unfortunately the demos are like pictures in a flip book and you have to spend a lot of time scrolling on your phone instead of just working out.

Verdict: Pay the extra $0.99 for the Pro option, which will offer a good strength training workout without the constant menu surfing and bad demo quality. 


Lift

I thought it would be fun to try an app that manages healthy living habits. Lift is an app that connects you with your social media channels and allows you to follow “habits” in several categories such as fitness, productivity, health & wellness and many more. It shows other users’ activities for group support.

I decided to get myself in check by signing up for a few habits:

Wake up by 6:30 

Read 

Eat more Fruit

Drink more water

Truthfully, there is just no point to an app like this. If I need to drink more water, I’ll carry a full bottle around with me. If I need to wake up at 6:30, I’ll just set my alarm.

Verdict: If you really can’t remember your own wellness habits and need to see other people’s check-ins to help motivate you, this might be a useful app. Otherwise, forget it.

My fitness app experience wasn’t the greatest, but I am also a newbie at the app thing. What are some of the apps you recommend? Do you go for free versions or do you pay the small price to upgrade for a better user experience? Tell us in the comments below.




Published in Health
Friday, 08 March 2013 21:34

Recipes | Easy Party Appetizers

Recipes // March 11, 2013

Whether it’s a girls’ get together, a poolside soiree, or a group of close friends coming over for game night, most of us find ourselves racking our brains for the perfect party appetizers when it’s our turn to host. And while most of us love to impress, we don’t want to spend hours agonizing over food preparation. I’ve come to rely on a few easy snack staples that always seem to please a crowd and allow me to have some fun, too.

Crostini – I love crostini because it is so simple: Just slice up and lightly toast a baguette, then top each piece with almost anything you can imagine. Try any of these combos:

  • Brie, sun dried tomato and artichoke hearts
  • Goat cheese and cranberry jelly
  • Gorgonzola and honey

The options can go on and on. Remember this go-to party snack the next time your girlfriends pick your place for wine night.

Cheese board – This is my favorite party platter because it doesn’t require cooking and most people like to sample different cheeses. Pick at least 3 or 4 good cheeses, and go with a variety. The cheese counter at your local grocer may have some suggestions, but typically it’s best to go with a mix of hard (like cheddar or asiago) and soft cheeses (like brie or bleu). Pair with some dried cranberries or apricots and fresh grapes, along with almonds or crackers for some crunch.

“Sausage en croute” – My husband had one simple request at our wedding: Pigs in a blanket. To class it up, the caterer called it “sausage en croute.” Grab a pack of Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies and a pack of Pillsbury crescent rolls. Cut the crescent roll in half, roll the sausage into it and bake according to Pillsbury package instructions. Serve with a tasty arrangement of dipping sauces, such as spicy mustard or chipotle ketchup. It may not be the healthiest or fanciest snack ever, but it will certainly win over the crowd!

Frozen Baby Quiche – I am not a huge fan of frozen foods, but it’s nice to have small bites on hand that don’t have to be made from scratch. I know quite a few ladies who throw a package of frozen baby quiche into the oven and serve them to guests, and they get snatched right up. Try a few brands, pick your favorite, and be sure to always have your freezer stocked. Easy!

Roasted chickpeas – Have you ever tried this!? If not, just trust me. 

Roasted chickpeas are a unique, easy munchie for a party, and bonus -- they are a relatively healthy option. Toss a can of chickpeas in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Then roast at about 425 degrees (adjust according to how hot your oven runs) until crispy -- usually around 30 minutes. The result? A savory bite -- a bit crispy and a bit creamy -- that packs a flavorful, satisfying punch. People don’t expect this snack, but they usually love it, so go with this if you’re looking for a twist on classic party snacks.

Pulling together food for a party doesn’t have to cut into half your paycheck or cause a day’s worth of stress. Just select a few easy appetizers that will look good, taste great and appeal to your guests. The easier the food, the more fun you will have as a host. Isn’t that the point of a party, anyway?

Published in Lifestyle
Sunday, 10 February 2013 23:40

Healthy Recipe | Lunchtime Veggie Chilli

Health Recipe // February 10, 2013

A couple of weeks ago during California’s cold snap, I was looking for a lunch recipe for the week. The winter temperatures had me craving something warm and filling. I like to make a large batch of something healthy yet tasty and bring it to work with me – it makes it easier to have a week’s worth of lunch ready instead of throwing it together every morning when I am inevitably running 15 minutes late. I love chili, but I didn’t think meat would store well for more than a couple of days, so I decided to make a vegetarian version of my own chili recipe. Enjoy!


Ingredients

1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney or pinto beans (your choice), drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
¾ cup vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth if you don’t have the veggie on hand)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce


Directions

In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Be sure to lower the heat if the onions are browning – they should just soften. Add garlic, stir for one minute. Add bell pepper and squash to the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.

Once veggies are cooked, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly,then add both cans of beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, cider vinegar and Worcestershire. Stir well. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes (I let mine simmer for about 40 to bring out the flavor). Adjust seasonings to taste.

This is a pretty quick way to make a healthy chili, and it will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Feel free to play with the recipe – add mushrooms or carrots or another favorite veggie, add or substitute the spices according to what you like, and swap your favorite can of beans.

Bring along a whole wheat roll or some corn tortilla chips to help fill you up. If you like chili you are sure to enjoy this recipe – coworkers were telling me all week how good it looked and smelled!

Published in Health
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 05:59

Opinion | In Defense of the Made Millennial

Opinion // February 4, 2013

Driving home the other day I listened to a blatantly ignorant phone call on my local radio station's broadcast of the Tom Sullivan show, during which a caller stated that Millennials were not well-informed and were not knowledgeable about politics. I am a Millennial. I am married to a Millennial. A majority of my peers and colleagues are also of the millennial generation. (Millennials, in case you’re wondering, make up the generation of individuals currently between the ages of 18 to 29, though there is some debate on the official age range.) So yes, I took offense to this broadcast. But those who call in to the Tom Sullivan show aren’t the only ones beating up on Millennials. Articles like this one that suggests Millennials can’t handle the “real world” or a real workplace.

Most -- if not all -- of my friends and acquaintances have careers, educations and a vested interest in this country and in the direction our lives are headed. We are productive members of society, and we have vision. Some of us travel around the world volunteering, others obtain advanced degrees, and still others put in forty or fifty-plus hours per week at the office and are raising families. We work hard, we own homes and cars, we raise pets and babies, we take care of ourselves. We are blazing trails and setting values and changing societal standards for the better. We are not the, “pampered, over-praised, relentlessly self-confident generation...flooding the workplace,” Emily Matchar spoke of in a 2012 Washington Post article.

If you read and listen to what's being said among politicians, the media and our elders, Millennials are a hopeless generation that will drive society into the ground. We are all technology-obsessed, sloppily-dressed hipsters who can't formulate a proper sentence or sustain an intelligent conversation. Supposedly, since we all voted for Barack Obama, we all expect a handout and live in our parents' basements. Watch out!

Reality check: The individuals that make up this generation are much more colorful. What about the sixty-plus percent of Millennials pursuing or possessing bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees? What about some of the young, visionary entrepreneurs who have not only started successful businesses, but have set a standard for social responsibility? What about those who are starting families and own homes and have secured solid retirement funds before the age of thirty?

Take, for example, the fifteen outstanding Millennials who won grants as part of the Millennial Impact Challenge. These leaders are taking on issues such as healthy eating, under-served students and safe, clean energy.

Or how about Adam Conner, a George Washington University ‘06 graduate and the first Facebook staffer in Washington, DC? He helped bridge the gap between traditional political outreach and a more progressive, digital approach to reach the Millennial generation through social media.

Another incredible Millennial role model? Check out our very own Made Woman, Eve Torres, or many of the other women highlighted on this very site.

This is one of the most diverse generations in history, not only demographically but socioeconomically and politically. We cannot be summed up in a single phrase or stereotype.

Instead of generalizing, perhaps members of the media, in Congress and in our families could take some time to talk to us and find out what we’re doing with our lives or ask us about some of our dreams and goals. For those who have, we appreciate you listening to us and believing in us (our parents, especially). In return, I promise to try not to make generalizations about those of Gen X and Baby Boomers, either.

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