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.

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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.

Hello there Fall + Welcome Back

This summer was one of the most tiring, eventful, exciting, and overall chaotic seasons I’ve ever had, and the most amazing part is that we made it through and are welcoming fall with open arms and open doors at b:core.fuel sweat grow: bcore methods cvilleEach of the last four summers has been in some way consumed by the opening of a new business, all different and eventful in their own ways, so it’s not that I’m not used to the grind, it’s that this year the grind was just a little longer, a little more intense, and all the more personally consuming.  But, we sure made it.

This particular business was a labor of love because it not only lives and breathes part of my soul — from the colors to the studio vibe, and all the way down to the still-to-come features still up our sleeves — but  also because it is the space where it will all happen.  All the barre, cardio, shaking, breathing, lengthening, sweating and growing.  It’s where all the struggles, the successes, the laughter and inevitably some tears will happen – not only for our team(s), but also for the tribe that we have and will have in the future — and that’s what makes it all worth it, despite the challenges that come with it all.

fuel sweat grow: bcore methods cardio barre

I’m so in love with what we’re building, in love with this method, and so grateful for our amazing mentors and legendary leaders in the barre industry.  There is so much to share about the history, the development and foundational ‘why’ for everything we do and believe, and that’s what sets it apart that my heart fills every time I think about it.  We’ll be sharing all of it on the b:core blog, set to launch very soon, so stay tuned for that [yeah, we’ll let you know when to check it out, don’t worry].

fuel sweat grow: b:core barre method cville

Last weekend was my first visit back to Whole Foods in over a month thanks to the continuous chaos (pun intended, MAD ones) and the fact that I can oh-so-easily get all the tacos from our friends at Brazos.  It felt like coming home, finally, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back into the kitchen and back to some semblance of balance.

fuel sweat grow: whole foods groceries The first meal back in the home spot was simple, delicious, and exactly what I was needing: grilled chicken, asparagus, and my absolutely clutch cabbage, kale + green onion salad dressed topped with avocado and dressed with lime juice, olive oil and salt.

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinnerSo here we are; back to the pseudo normalcy of fall, working our way out of the chaos and loving all the things that fuel us, both in body and mind.  I can’t wait to make all the new, love all the old [favorites] and live through this fall the only way I know how — in constant motion.

[Have you been to sweatIX with us? check out our new client specials at MADcville and b:core and get your sweat on.]

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.

Hey June, I can See You + b:core updates

Hey.  Profound, I know, but short and sweet is how I’m coping with all the things happening at the same time.  It’s just been a week since I rolled back in to Charlottesville and I’ve been trying to get everything set and ready before heading back to Charlotte this week.

Like every holiday weekend I’m not really sure where the time went, but I can tell you for sure that it’s not standing still, and in some ways, that’s something to celebrate.  Construction has also (finally) started for b:core, which is turning out to be better than I had imagined, and is lining up to mirror the vision that had long been living in my mind.

fuel sweat grow: b:core construction plans

I’m trying to squeeze in another 3-4 day stint in Cville before heading on Vacation (which is ‘conveniently’ out of Charlotte) so this whole month is pretty much wiped out, and each day feels crucial.  We’re past most of the logistics and planning for creating the space and business foundation, so now it’s ramping up into my favorite part — aesthetics and strategic planning.   The good news is that most of this direction can be given remotely (as we’ve finally mastered) but I’m a little bummed to be missing out on seeing the day to day progress first hand through this initial phase.

Over the past two years our MAD folks have become pretty familiar with the IX building — at least the sweetly tucked away location, and our extremely visible retail storefront.  b:core, while in the same building (and actually sharing a back wall with MAD) has a much different entrance, vibe, and overall comfort and serenity that so perfectly matches what we’re building. So, here’s a little tour in pre-build pictures.

[ this is the entrance hallway to the space; the actual entrance will be on the left hand side; and that sweet sunlight? that’s our little outdoor zen garden with exclusive entrance to/from our reception area.]

fuel sweat grow: b:core entrance

[ this is the inside – inside of the above wall; entrance on the right (and future barre studio to the far right), zen garden in the center right off of reception area; and that far, far left nook? that’s a small view of purvelo’s cycle studio]

fuel sweat grow: b:core space photos

[and this is the back side (the gluteus maximus, the guts, or the power source, if you will) of the whole enterprise — barre studio on the left, reception + core studio straight ahead, showers/bathrooms/changing rooms to the immediate right, and then the small sliver of purvelo, peeking through again.] 

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods studio space

Obviously these were pretty preliminary pictures, and I’m pumped to say that work has started and progress has been made on all fronts to take this shell and breathe life into it’s four (or I guess soon close to 20?) walls. I’ve got more (about a million) pictures that I’m saving for further down the road where I can see extremely tangible progress and share it with you via my ‘construction photo diary,’ but until then, these bones will have to do.

We’ve got a pretty sweet inspiration board locked down on Pinterest that I’ll share later, but our Brand DNA certainly gives us the warm and fuzzies, and mirrors the vibe of all our bells and whistles.

fuel sweat grow: b:core brand DNA

With so much happening and so many gears shifting constantly, it’s been tougher than ever to manage all things time, work, and life (but you can follow us, or me, on instagram anytime!).  We’re just about through the hardest parts and I could not be more ready for the next stretch of the build.  June not only brings more progress on the buildout, but it also brings two big celebrations at MADabolic Charleston (It’s our 1st Birthday!) and the impending vacation that you better believe I’m ready for this year.  Here’s to you June — I love you already.