A Week of Travel, Organization, Work, and Feng Shui MADness

Life lately has been a little bit of everything; it’s been the good, the bad, the ugly, the exhausted, the energized — and all the things in between.  My instagram feed would detail the below as the highlights, but it hardly captures the ‘all’ that it entails.  So, join me as I head back to the chronicles, and warm the blog back up in tandem with the newly launched website/blog for b:core where you’ll be hearing from me, some of our favorite partners, and of course, our teachers.  We’ve got a lot to say, me especially, so I’m pretty excited to welcome in the hibernation and existential thought producing season that winter is.fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

Last week I was in Charlotte for work, which is always a little bit of an adjustment to my personal time and life management style. Somehow I always forget how crazy the traffic has become since I first moved there in 2009, and just how unbelievably convenient life in Charlottesville is with everything falling within a 1 mile radius and 5-10 minute commute – tops.  Running in line with that is just how much I love my #sweatIX compound, and all of the things that keep my life motoring along [almost] effortlessly now that we’ve got all the tacos and coffee that we could handle.

After a full week of all things work, and some mid-week celebrations for the MADabolic CLT 4 year anniversary, I could not have been more ready to head back home — of course with a 10 foot box truck filled with all the favorite things that filled the Charleston MAD apartment for the last 6 months.  For whatever reason, come Saturday morning, my exhaustion turned a corner (or came full circle) and in a post-interval craze I felt compelled to begin what can only be classified as an all-day over[u]haul of MADcville and b:core methods to bring all the happiness and warmth to the spaces, and my sanity. [And this is where I’d like to thank West Elm and HomeGoods for always being there, powering my home decor and nesting addiction, and being ever so clutch in my life – here and everywhere. I love you.]

And here it is, my home away from home, my work-day office, and the #sweatIX think tank where all the decisions are made and grand ideas are launched (or decidedly not).

fuel sweat grow: office juju home decor

fuel sweat grow: Office organization and MADcville

It might not seem like a lot, but it has truly changed my whole world — and while I don’t really go around spouting about feng shui per say, my environment and it’s set up makes the full difference in how productive (and happy) I am.  There are few things I love more than a good scorch and burn of closets and living spaces to make room for organizational bins and everything HomeGoods, so this was probably the best possible way for me to close out a long week.

Oh, and this: FREE coffee being served up outside of Whole Foods on Sunday thanks to Allegro Coffee Company and their #FLXBUS.

fuel sweat grow: Allegro Coffee bus #FLXbus

At b:core we’ve been slowly but surely adding all the things that make it feel the appropriate winter level of warm and welcoming, and over the last few weeks we made a few updates that have majorly contributed to our love affair with the sweeter, softer, and very deceptively [not so] gentle side of the building and it looks a little like this:

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods cville barre studio and core life

Our teacher photos are hung, happy, and will soon all come to life with some more never been seen shots as we release our teacher features on the blog.
fuel sweat grow: b:core methods teacher photos

Just to add a little to the ‘everything’ theme of the weekend, we also went to Red Shoe Cville’s AMAZING Rocktoberfest at the IX art park on Saturday Night, and it was so. much. fun.  Next year we are certainly all going to rock out at this event, so stay tuned for my full recap and launch of the really amazing opportunities and experiences that are about to come to life through this partnership.

fuel sweat grow: Red Shoe Cville ROCKTOBERFEST

So now, I’m just slowly recovering from a week of the non-stop in a city so far from the quiet convenience of this small Cville town, and I’m doing it from my newly happy-fied office in this place that owns my heart at it’s core.

The Inexact Science of Business, Life + Pumpkin Muffins

When I bake, I typically use a recipe (or two) as a framework, but the actual mixing of the ingredients is usually more of an inexact science.  For the last few years, trying to eat and cook clean has led to a fair amount of substitution and modification – mostly through trial and error – to figure out what combinations do or don’t work.

It’s a lot like life and business (the business of life?); systems and framework are critical to the foundation, but the rest is somewhat of an inexact science – an art if you’re lucky – that either blends into something amazing, or something that warms your garbage.

I’ve been thinking about it all lately as I try to navigate the ebbs and flows of the different businesses, my day job, and all things life.  So, today, I decided to dive into the metaphorical, and fulfill a few of my core desires in the moment: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and kitchen therapy.

Without naming names, there’s a coffee shop in town (cough:: Mudhouse) that in the fall makes amazing pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I became addicted years ago when Mudhouse was the only real local coffee game in town, and I would buy them in pairs like a little muffin hoarder out of fear that they’d run out the next morning before I got there.  Over the last few years the debut date of the pumpkin muffin has been more and more delayed –probably for the best, since eating sugar-laden muffins two-by-two is not consistent with any of my life goals.  Regardless, I still think about them every fall as the weather turns crisp and just like the stroke of midnight, everything turns into a pumpkin.

So today I pulled up this recipe from paleOMG and decided to fall in love with a muffin that I can have a reasonably stable relationship with.

fuel swat grow: paleOMG pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Of course I had to make some modifications; in part due to ingredient preferences and availability, and in part due to my inability to painstakingly measure anything out exactly — that’s the art part for me; the outlet and liberation from following all the rules.

Modification #1: Date Paste subbed in to replace Maple Syrup.

fuel sweat grow: raw date paste

My main objective when cooking/eating clean is to eliminate most processed sugar, and leverage the flavor and sweetness of the natural sugars.  There are a number of different replacements out there, but dates are usually my go-to and were at top of mind this week after our friend Lisa geeked out over date paste to make what looked like some pretty amazing waffles this weekend.  Here’s a pretty basic and easy walk through from the chalkboard to get your sweet on without delay.

fuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplementfuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplement

Once I had the paste set and ready to go, it was out with the maple syrup and back to the muffins.

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I ‘followed’ most of the rest of the instructions, pretty loosely, substituting in ‘pumpkin spice’ to replace the majority of the spices (except for cinnamon), eye balling most of the measurements, and multiplying the recipe by 2 (or maybe 2.5…who knows).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Yeah, I went a little rogue, but we all survived, and 10 minutes later it was all in the oven ready to prove whether or not my ‘art’ of mixing works, or not.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

While I waited for the moment of truth, I checked back in with the recipe and blog to get a good vision of what they ‘should’ look like, you know, if my muffin babies were ever going to be brunch models.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin muffinsSince I pretty much just used the recipe as a suggested guide for basic structure and context, I wasn’t counting on my muffins being anywhere near as photogenic as the ones in the recipe, but I don’t think they’re half bad (if I do say so myself).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin muffins paleOMG Maybe I’m just having a proud parent moment, but outside of looking appealing enough, they also happen to taste AMAZING. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I’m just saying, if they’re wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

[Disclaimer: if you’ve never had anything made with coconut flour before, the texture will likely seem odd at first, but once the taste sinks in, and you’ve had your first one, you’ll never turn back.  Just don’t freak out because it’s all in your head.]

They also apparently smelled pretty good, because this little diva begged incessantly before giving up to watch the rest of Harry Potter, in a full on pout, alone with her chipmunk.

fuel sweat grow: bug says pout

So, in short, I think what these pumpkin muffins are representing today is the reality life requires flexibility and modification.  There’s no one way to do anything, but if the basic systems aren’t there and the foundation is weak, it doesn’t really matter how you modify the rest.  It’s metaphorical, sure, but I really think there’s something to it.  The trick is having the patience to stay focused and committed to that core structure so that the modifications can just strengthen the goal.  I guess bells and whistles are nothing without wind.

And if that’s wrong, well, I gave it a reasonable shot, and whether the outcome is perfect or not, hopefully the modified version will still be tasty in it’s own right.

Fall, You’re my Jam.

October is my jam, more specifically.  It’s the month of all the colors, of the crispest fall air (before winter starts to loom), of all things pumpkin, the return of lattes and the beginning of the cold weather nesting.  There’s nothing I love more than settling into regular supper clubs, friendsgiving gatherings, recipe collections, and more focused gratitude for all of the amazingness in our lives.

It’s not that the rest of the year doesn’t have all these things (except, pumpkin since it definitely peaces out), but there’s a different sense of calm as the weather begins to turn, and this year I’m more than ready to embrace it.

Life lately has looked a lot like this, with even more crazy planning, fall organizational efforts, and big exciting news (to come soon) than can’t be captured in only so many pictures:
fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

At b:core we’re settling in to our systems and structure, just in time to get ready to launch our cardio component, which take the intensity of barre up about ten notches, with the most structured, athletic, and bad ass functional cardio compliment than you can get.  Our MAD folks complimenting their lifestyle with b:core will be pushed to their heart’s content with this hybrid method, and our barre athletes will get that extra level of functional and full movement to increase strength, endurance, and overall activation of those fast-twitch muscles.   Translation: get ready to start your engines, friends.

Also, get pumped to grab some LUMI juice after class, fresh from our fridge. We’ve narrowed down to some of our favorite flavors (it was harder than it sounds) and can’t wait to share the juice love.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods LUMI juice

Our website and blog launch is happening this week after much back and forth, development, and thought, so stay tuned, we can’t wait to share the voice of our #corelife.

On the MADabolic side we just started a new program cycle (welcome to durability month, my friends!) and are in a state of constantly evolving with our communities and demand, so it goes without saying that there’s some pretty exciting phases of MADness coming at us soon.  We also finally have some of our sweet new merch in, most notably our new trucker hats from our partnership with Big Truck Brand.  Big Truck Brand is an awesome company, and rather than offering wholesale accounts for typical merch, they choose to partner with the brands they represent on their hats, and hand pick which companies and brands they’re willing to be partnered with.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic MADlifestyle Big Truck Brand Hats

Needless to say we’re pretty stoked to have these guys are digging our #MADlifestyle and are letting us share their sweet hats with our community.  There are four different styles, but only a few left in total, so if you haven’t snagged yours GET.IT.NOW.  [If you post a pic of you living your MADlifestyle with your Big Truck Brand hat [and tag #MADlifestyle & #BigTruckBrand] you’ve got a pretty awesome chance of winning $100 to MAD from MADabolic corporate and getting another $100 matched by us to either Cville or Charleston.]

On the ‘other’ development front, I closed out September with my third class/seminar of the semester on personal brand and career path development [strengths finder heavy, of course]; the last class being with the 4th year trustees at UVa.  This is my second semester doing this with undergrads, and it’s been a really awesome experience, though pretty different from the typical early to mid-career groups that I have historically workshopped and developed through with these programs.  I’ve got a lot coming up with this, and some pretty awesome new opportunities, but I’m going to have to come back to that at another time when I can do it all proper justice.

fuel sweat grow: personal branding career path development

The same is true for the food and fitness [development] side of life.  While I’ve been cooking more, I’ve been sharing less, and that’s on my shortlist of things to change in the very near future — but you’ll be able to catch a lot of the relevant business content on the b:core blog, and this will dig back into a more functionally evaluative forum for food, fitness, and the personal growth.  In the fitness space I’ve still been researching and pushing forward with my own development needs, but I haven’t get committed to a certification (outside of Lagree) for 2016, and am torn on where the most value lies for me at the moment.  If I were advising myself I’d say that it sounds like I’m overdue for some serious vision boarding, goal mapping, and accountability setting, so thats exactly what I’m going to do.

So, October, it’s time for you and I to get a few things done.

Bonus Days, Planners, and Time in the Kitchen

There’s not much better than a rainy Sunday, unless of course if half way through the day you realize that it’s actually Saturday and for a moment feel like you’ve just won life.  In summary, this weekend is turning out perfectly, by accident.

As we close out September and welcome in fall, I’ve got a few mini goals that I’ve been working on to re-adjust and get the balance back in my life — relatively speaking.  The first of which is time organization with a side of pseudo inner peace.

Balancing all the businesses, the corporate grind, and all life things, has been a little more than a little challenging lately.  Throw in the added stress of all having different location anchors and travel schedules, my planner(s) transformed from being the source of my happiness and forward movement into an anxiety ridden scribble pad that I dreaded looking at.  To add insult to injury I managed to spill a coffee [directly] into my bag last month soaking both planners, so there was no denying that the end was near.  This week new hope was born in the form of a new Emily Ley Simplified [day] Planner.

fuel sweat grow: emily key simplified planner

fuel sweat grow: Emily Ley Planner

I’m pretty much in love with it, so here’s to hoping I can refrain from using my bag as a sink drain in 2016 and my planner and I can survive a full year of happiness before it’s retired for the 2017 version.

Since I’m still a few months out from being able to take pen-to-planner, I’m focusing on doing a few little things each day to help calm the chaos, and bring strength to the systems and structure that I’ve always relied on to get shit done.

The most important thing I’ve been missing lately is cooking + meal planning, both of which are coming back strong this fall — with a little Whole Damn Thing 80/20 action happening over the next few weeks and the real deal kicking off on January 3rd at MADcville and b:core.

Until then, I’ve been back at it on my own, filling in the gaps where I can, and taking the time out for a little culinary therapy and meal planning to bring me back, somewhat, to the center that I’ve been missing.  Breakfast is always where it’s at for me, and I’m an adult convert to over-easy eggs and loving it over my favorite kale slaw.

fuel sweat grow: eggs and kale slaw

I even had a little veggie meal earlier this week that is pretty far out of my typically zone, but my body was craving brown rice hard so I mixed it with some stir fried peppers and onions with a side of goodwood brewing‘s bourbon barrel stout, which was a killer combo.

fuel swat grow: veggie stir fry and stout

This week’s main goal is to finalize some of the month-end organization, and get solidly set for the month so I can shut down every night by 8:30 and read (non-work reading) until I fall asleep, which will hopefully be sometime around 9pm…but I’m willing to be flexible on that detail.  Thankfully my 10 year old life coach and boss lady is going to be squatting in the house for a few days and I’m counting on her to call me out on all the things I’m missing on — she’s got a real eye for inefficiencies.

So here’s to leveraging bonus days, planners, and time in the kitchen to make October the amazing month it can be all around.

On Building the New + Loving What Already Is

The first two weeks of August are typically the slowest, the quietest, and at times the sweetest weeks of the year in Charlottesville.  That pattern probably persisted again this year(traffic has been lighter, downtown has had parking) however, in the eye of the storm that is opening a new business, things have been a little different for me — again.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods opening

Each year, for the last 4 years, most of my energy has been devoted to opening a new business between June and August, which I’m just starting to realize does have a serious impact on my summer-ing, but I still don’t think I would have it any other way.  We’re just about two weeks out from opening, and there’s no amount of pool time or day drinking that could compare with how it feels to open the doors to the warm air as we welcome our new community, new schedules, and new chapters in all of our lives.

Last week our b:core barre team met up for wine, cupcakes, and conversation around personal branding with a little touch of team building.  So pretty much we met up for all the things I love most in life, with some of the people that I love most, and it was everything.

fuel sweat grow: b:core personal branding

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve taken classes from our teachers and been completely blown away by their poise, confidence and just general mastery of their classes from the foundations of the method all the way down to the intricacies of their personal class and voice.  I’m not only incredibly impressed with the work and focus they’ve put into building their expertise, but I’m also feeling SO grateful that I have such an amazing staff that I’ll be constantly pushed to be better and to know more — and we’ll call that a goal accomplished.

fuel sweat grow: b:core barre photos

We’ve been very aware of how incredibly fortunate we’ve been to have found the coaches we did at MADabolic, how eager and invested they are in the programming, clients, and lifestyle, so now to have another completely boss staff of barre teachers, I almost can’t believe it.

This upcoming weekend is MADabolic Cville’s 2nd Birthday, so while I’m feeling up to my neck in b:core things, I’m focused on taking time out to celebrate everything that this milestone represents for our team internally, the community, and our lives on the whole.  Before we opened MAD two years ago I asked Dar to take a minute to clear space for all the things to come; all the moments of ‘firsts’, the challenges, and the people that we don’t know yet, but that were about to flood our lives with so much good that we would never be the same again.  And that’s exactly what happened.  While I’m excited to do the same again, to embrace all the new-ness that’s going to be born along with b:core, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by looking back and celebrating all of the amazing twists and turns that came with the last two years of MADness, and all of the beautiful souls that have made it so worthwhile, and still do, every.damn.day.

So, while August can feel a little slow sometimes, we’re cranking things up over here, keeping the engines running, and preparing for the new.  I can’t wait to share some of the most exciting updates (including the new WEBSITE + b:core blog!!!!) coming this week, as we count down to the open. It’s going to be a seriously powerful kind of love coming out of the IX building downtown, and that’s the most certain thing I know.

Vacation and Barre + Conchella and Table 7: June Revisited

It’s been a while since I’ve had a few minutes to sit, process, and share anything more than just a single moment in time.  The last month has been filled with celebrations, construction, some serious bouts of hard core work, and the significant kind of family time that can only come from celebrations of life and love.

After celebrating Year 1 of MADabolic Charleston being open, it was time for vacation…and one that had been long since due.  Since I’m historically (and deeply) terrible at committing to vacation, it was incredibly important that this trip had deep roots, and thankfully, this one had the deepest kind of roots I could ask for – Morini Roots.

My dad’s the oldest of 5 kids in his (Italian) family, and his youngest brother Mikey (aka Big Mike) was getting married, so you better believe the M side rolled in strong for the occasion.   Neither the photos or my words will be able to do the setting or experience justice, but I’ll certainly throw out a few feeble attempts to at least tee it up.

fuel sweat grow: Gansevoort Turks and CaicosThis is the Gansevoort in Turks and Caicos, arguably one of the best places you could go if you’re looking for beauty and relaxation with both a pool and beach setting.   It also happens to be the partner resort for the Exhale Spa in Turks, which means all the life forces in my life converged (just missing MADabolic) and set up a vacation scenario that would be next to impossible to argue with.  In addition to their regular spa treatments, they also have twice a day classes at the outdoor studio, offering Exhale’s signature barre, cardio barre, sport, and yoga classes, which we’re so pumped is the same programming and training we’re bringing to b:core methods in Charlottesville. So basically, this was a business trip, or at least that’s what I’m going to try and sell my accountant on.

Envisioning the studio during my pre-vacation daydreams, I never considered an outdoor space, so I was a little caught off guard when we headed to our first class and found this al fresco setting for our morning sweat.

fuel sweat grow: exhale barre studio Turks and caicos

fuel sweat grow: Exhale barre studio Turks and CaicosThat being said, I absolutely loved it.  While I’m not really living in a geographic market that could ever sustain a full blown outdoor studio, the whole setting really played into the island lifestyle, the absolutely euphoric fresh salt air, and quite honestly my need for some real good sweating to detox from all the food and wine.  The instructors we had were awesome (what up Kim and Josie!) and were so welcoming and open to to Dar and I especially, knowing that we’re just weeks away from bringing this same method and class to life in Cville.  The universal language of barre as it’s been so fully and authentically taught to us by the founders and pillars of the method, is on the whole is something that is pretty incomparable these days in fitness, so we feel beyond grateful to be able to deepen these connections away from the home base.

After class our typical routine was to have ‘second breakfast,’ the better half of ‘first breakfast’ which was largely made up of coffee and just the basic ‘barre class survival’ fruits that were absolutely necessary to survive cardio barre.  Second breakfast included more coffee (obviously), fresh fruit, egg scramble or omelets (MTO), a side of bacon, and of course, my iPad so I could keep up with email, the MAD communities, and our b:core buildout.

fuel sweat grow: Turks and Caicos and b:core buildout

The rest of the day was a combination of pooling, beaching, napping, and showering before assembling the family again for the schedule of nightly events (both leading up to and following the actual wedding).  The family update will come at a later date since there’s some more reflection to be had there, but here are a few of my favorite shots from the wedding events, so eat your hearts out instafriends.

fuel sweat grow: Conchella at Da Conch Shack Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Turks and Caicosfuel sweat grow: Conchella Wedding Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella wedding Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Wedding Turks and Caicos

If you’re up for the full scope look at what went down on that island, well, too bad, you’re going to have to settle for my piecemeal accounts and photos, or the slightly more diverse instagram version by streaming #conchella and getting a glimpse into more perspectives.  Or, if you’re really into it, go to about 7:10 in to this clip, and get another first hand account of the wedding week.  Mmm hmm, yeah.

That’s the quick and dirty of vacation barre / wedding-ing, minus the deep thoughts and over-sensitive feelers surrounding all things family at the moment, and the million+ things that are on the docket for the now and upcoming moments of life.

fuel sweat grow: Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

Until next time, good night, and sleep tight.  Turks, I miss you even more terribly now that I’ve forced myself to look at all these pictures again. Sigh.