Bebe’s Boyd Street IPA {Brewing Beer at Hopsters}

This post has been a long time coming! Last year, I got RM a gift card to make beer at Hopsters Brewery in Newton Corner… conveniently located a short 5 minute walk from our apartment. However, for any number of reasons, we didn’t end up making it there until RM’s birthday back in December. When we realized we still hadn’t gone AND his birthday was on a Friday night, we figured it would be a great way to celebrate his day.

We loved Hopsters for many reasons before our visits (beers are great, food is delicious, vibe is on point), but after we worked with their team to make beer and saw how much they knew and how passionate they were about beer, we loved them even more! It was pretty cool watching them in their element.

Since this was RM’s gift and because he is the beer lover out of the two of us, I let him make all of the decisions in terms of what type of beer we were going to make. Recently, he’s really been into IPA’s, so he chose to base the beer off of their Double IPA recipe. What is really neat about the process is that they use their recipes just as that- a base- and then as you start the actual process they offer different options/suggestions for how to change it up a bit. For us, we opted to change it up in terms of the types of “hops” we used.

I had no idea there were so many to choose from! Between that and the wheat and barley, it was such an interesting project and learning experience. On top of learning about hops and beer ingredients, we learned about the process when it came to actually brewing the beer.

It starts out in a big barrel type thing where the water and hops and other ingredients get heated to a certain temperature. While this happens, we had the chance to have a beer (not the one we were making, haha) and some food. I think it was about an hour or so. Once this was up, we watched as they moved the beer from the barrel into keg type setup that they keep in their lower area. From there, the beer takes a few weeks to go through the fermentation process. Once it’s reached that point, you go back and start the bottling process.

The first session takes about 2 hours when you include the wait times throughout various parts of the process. The bottling takes about an hour and a half as you have at least 72 bottles to fill and cap! For some reason, our brew created nearly 90 bottles but we had to give them to Brody (or Brady? I can’t remember his name, but he was the one who helped us with our brewing- he was amazing!!) since we were only allowed to take 72 home by law.

(And yes, while it make look like we bottled on the same day due to RM wearing the same shirt, it was done about 3 weeks later… he just clearly loves this shirt 😉 )

Once we finished bottling, we were able to put our labels on and take them home. After your first visit, they give you the link to where you can upload your label design to their template so they can print it for you. The brewing, bottling, labels and gratuity are all included in the cost, which is nice. It was about $230 for us to make an IPA (just as an FYI).

And as for the name, RM’s father had nicknames for his 3 kids and Bebe was RM’s nickname. He also lived in the apartment we currently live in when he was a kid (during the Bebe nickname time period), so he decided to go with Bebe’s Boyd Street IPA. The close runner up was the Irritable Italian IPA (gotta love a good alliteration), which I think should be the name the next time we do it 😉

Overall, this was such a fun experience and we learned so much! We would both recommend this to anyone who enjoys beer or is looking for a good gift idea! Big thanks to Hopsters for making it such a fun activity- and for helping us brew and absolutely delicious beer!

Questions for you: have you ever made beer before? Or wine? What’s the last activity date youv’e done? 

“Do you eat that?”

Every couple of weeks, it seems like my company is hosting a luncheon for some type of contract/business win. Most of the time it’s pizza and salad, but other times it’s random. Last week, it was sandwiches. I’m not a huge sandwich fan, but I think that’s because we never ate a lot of them growing up. I didn’t have ham and cheese for lunch, we didn’t go out for Italian subs, and I didn’t even like jelly or jam for a while so I would just eat peanut butter sandwiches, which isn’t really your traditional sandwich. In other words, my indifference towards sandwiches has nothing to do with the fact that there’s bread (often times lots of wonderfully delicious bread) involved with it; I don’t not (love that double negative) eat sandwiches because of the carbs. I’m all set with applying rules to different food categories and letting that dictate how I eat.

But, the other day when we were talking in the kitchen about the sandwich lunch, a coworker looked at me and asked: “Do you eat that? You probably don’t.”, to which I replied “I do eat sandwiches and bread, it just has to be one that tastes really good to me. Or I have to be in the mood.” Take for instance, the most amazing prosciutto and cheese sandwiches we had while we were in Italy. They were so simple, yet so fresh and all around absolutely incredible so I gladly ate those on more than one occasion.

I find it funny how many people label or regard me when it comes to food and exercise. So often, people automatically assume that just because I write a healthy-living blog, because I generally choose lots of veggies, protein, fruits, etc. and because I workout and teach fitness that I don’t eat “unhealthy” things. That I don’t eat carbs. Or fats. Or sweets. As such, it’s fairly frequent that I’ll get the “I didn’t know you ate that.” or “ahh, it’s good to see that you splurge, too” when I’m seen grabbing a cookie, or peanut butter filled pretzels, or chips, or whatever else might be where I am (kitchen, at a party, at an event. etc.)

While I know people generally  don’t mean any harm with their comments, it can be frustrating because it’ snot my intent to send out the message that I only eat “healthy” things and don’t eat the “less healthy” things. Yes, I do workout a lot, but that’s because I truly enjoy it, not because I feel like I have to. Yes, I do try and “eat well” most of the time, but that’s because it makes me feel good to eat that way, not because I’m afraid to eat “less healthy” choices. But, there are also plenty of times where I skip workouts because I’m tired/sore/not feeling it. There are plenty of times where I happily agree to go out and get wings or pizza or ice cream.

Bottom line, there are plenty of times where I don’t fit the “healthy person” stereotype that society loves to talk about and label. I am a real person and I do my best to be my best every day. And sometimes that’s skipping workouts, having vino or eating a damn sandwich- guilt free, at that! Which, if you’ve followed me for a while, you surely know already 😉

I’d love to hear from you on this- do you find yourself following “food rules” or labels? Does that effect how you approach food? If not, how do you practice balance or moderation when it comes to food and exercise? 

 

How I Maximize Food Prep In Minimal Time

If you follow any health/food/fitness bloggers, I’m SURE you’ve seen endless meal or food prep posts, right? Salads, muffins, quinoa bakes, veggies, hard boiled eggs, etc. While it all looks and sounds amazing, I’d be lying if it didn’t seem overwhelming- and time consuming! How do these people have time to do all of this? How long does all of it take? Where do they find all the recipes?

We are all busy and have lots of different things on our calendars that may not allow us to spend as much time in the kitchen as we would like. Or, maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of the time in the kitchen even if your schedule does allow for it. So, my goal today is to show you that there are simple ways to maximize your food prep in minimal time. As much as I’d love to have 3-4 hours a week or weekend to dedicate to meal prep (I love cooking, baking and preparing for the week), it’s generally not possible these days.

  • Start small- Rather than comparing yourself to what you’re seeing others prepare and post about, focus on where you can start. Maybe that’s putting together yogurt bowls or hard boiling some eggs or maybe you pack up your veggies for your daily snack. All of these things are “meal prep” in my mind because they are things that make your life a little easier during the week!
  • Keep it simple- You don’t need to make lots of different recipes in order to do “meal prep”. What we find the easiest and most successful in our house is to just prep a ton of veggies: sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, etc. From there, we can eat them throughout the week in different ways: for breakfast, on a salad, in a wrap, etc.
  • Versatility- As I’ve mentioned, try and prep items that have multiple uses or could be used for multiple meals. Example: hard boiled eggs- these can be taken for breakfast or added to a salad for lunch. Healthy muffins or no bake balls can be used for breakfast or a snack. Chicken can be used on a salad, in a wrap, in a quinoa bowl, etc.
  • Do it on the day that works for you- Just because others do meal prep on Sundays, it doesn’t mean you need to! If Mondays or Tuesdays work better, then do it then. When I worked from home on Mondays I would often do a “meal prep Monday”, but now that I work from home on Tuesdays and teach after work I try to get the meal prep done on Sundays.
  • Do what you can when you can/split it up- “Splitting” up my meal prep was something I discovered over the summer. Sunday’s were usually spent doing summer things like getting drinks, coming back from the Cape or going for long bike rides, which left little time for a big meal prep. I taught on Monday’s so I didn’t have a lot of time then, either. What did I do? Sunday nights I would peel, cut & prep the veggies I wanted to cook (sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, etc.). On Monday’s while I was teaching, RM would cook the veggies (and usually grill some chicken). This worked out well because we were able to tag-team the meal prep and neither one of us had to spend hours in the kitchen.
  • Splurge on partially prepped items- If you shop at Whole Foods, I’m sure you’re familiar with their “chop” area, which is basically an area in the store where they’ve pre-chopped & packaged various veggies. Think: peppers and onions, brococli and cauliflower, spiralized sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini, etc. While these items are definitely more expensive than buying them un-prepped, they save you lots of time! Another cheaper option is buying frozen veggies. Making a stir-fry? Consider grabbing a bag of frozen veggies as that speeds up the meal prep/cooking by quite a bit! Bottom line, if you’re looking looking for a way to speed up your meal prep, this is a great option – and it’s still cheaper than ordering out!

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Although I could go on, I think I’ll stop here as this should provide you with a look into how you can make meal prep a little easier on you. I used to stress if I didn’t prep a bajillion different things on Sunday, so I am very happy that I’ve learned some of these ‘tricks’ over the years because not only does it take the stress out of meal prepping, it makes it more fun AND allows me to do other fun things – win, win!

Questions for you: Do you like to meal prep or do you prefer to cook each night or order out? Do you have any time-saving tips for meal prep?

A Few Valentine’s Day Thoughts

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I know this holiday is generally split into two sides:

Those who love it

and

Those who hate it

I can understand both sides, but me being me, I definitely love it more than hate it 🙂 But even if you are not a fan, I think it’s a good day to dial in and see where you can add a little more love to your life. And no, love doesn’t mean searching through every dating app there is to try and find “love”. What it means is looking around and finding love and appreciation in your current lives and day-to-day tasks.

Instead of looking in the mirror and pointing out everything you don’t like, take a minute to appreciate what you have and what you like. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

Rather than thinking about everything you can’t do (yet!), focus, embrace & appreciate what you CAN do.

Instead of getting upset at traffic on your way to work, find your favorite song and jam out.

Instead of dreading your workout because of X, Y, & Z, show your body some love for all it can do- and the mere fact that you CAN workout. Because that’s an amazing thing.

If you’re holding on to a grudge about something (work, argument, etc.), try letting it go and moving on. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing (for all parties involved!).

Rather than dwelling on what’s bothering your or what you’re stressed about, try and shift your focus to things that are in your control. It’s energy much better spent.

And, lastly, show yourself some love- treat yourself with kind words and thoughts, grab your favorite coffee at the store in the morning, treat yourself to lunch, a pedicure, a bubble bath, your favorite workout…

If you’re looking for a workout, here are a few fun themed workouts I’ve created over the years:

V-Sits and Leg Lifts & Planks, Oh My!
The Love Your Body

 Hope you all have a LOVELY day 😉

Are we all getting to be “too busy”?

The other night, RM sent me a super interesting & really great read : The Disease of Being Busy. Please, take a few minutes and read this as I think it’ll cause you to think about your life and put into perspective what we are doing by making ourselves “so busy”.

While the concept of “being busy” is nothing new to me, over the past few years I have strived to refrain from the “I’m so busy” auto-response when people ask me how I am. However, even though I try to be more conscious of how I respond to the “how are you doing” question, I find myself still talking about how busy I am.

“I have so much going on this week”

“Listen to everything I have to do over the weekend”

“My weekend was ok, but it was just too busy”

“I wish I could, but I have X, Y, & Z already scheduled”

… sound familiar?

But the thing is, I AM busy, so when I respond with everything I’ve got going on I’m not doing it for pity or for the satisfaction of “being the busiest”, I’m just saying what I’ve got going on. Between work, teaching, blogging, 2 book clubs, being a wife/friend/daughter/sister/etc., I have a lot of balls that I juggle, which I’m sure many of you can relate to.

The question I ask myself these days, though, is am I TOO busy? Is my busy schedule chock full of jumping from one thing to the next taking away from each particular activity/task/event? Am I gliding through my to-do list, constantly thinking about what I can check off and what I still have to do, rather than focusing on being in the moment in each particular thing on my to-do list? Is it so bad to say NO to plans, activities, subbing, etc. if I really don’t feel like it? Is it better to just suck it up and get things done or should I give myself a break and take a weekend or a week where I say “nope. I’m not saying ‘yes’ to anything”?

For me, personally, I do enjoy being busy with a lot of things going on, but these days I’m feeling a little TOO busy, even for my liking. I’ve been dreading the weekends because they’ve been SO FULL of plans- some of which are my fault in terms of “over-booking”, others are unavoidable (and ultimately fun, but it’s still tiring having non-stop plans). I go into the week feeling like I need to “gear up” for a week full of teaching, social engagements, lots of meetings at work, trying to get back to consistent blogging, etc.

And you know what? It’s exhausting. Like really, really tiring. I feel like I’m “burning the candle from both ends”, as my mom likes to say. Which is why this past weekend was so wonderful. Friday night I came home and then grabbed an Uber to meet RM in the city for a little shopping and dinner. Saturday we planned on going skiing, but for a number of different reasons, ended up turning around halfway there and heading back. This was actually a wonderful thing because we were able to food shop on the way home and still got back early enough to get workouts in, showers taken  and -gasp- relax before making dinner. Sunday we skiied early (and at a closer mountain to avoid so much travel), went to Sunday dinner at my MIL’s and then I meal-prepped, blogged and read/watched tv.

I joked on my Instagram story when posted this picture on Saturday:

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But it was so true at that moment. I was drinking hot lemon water, reading a book, snuggling on the couch with RM & Francesca and at that moment, I realized I need more of that in my life. I need to take more time for ME to do absolutely nothing. To have time scheduled where I have nothing scheduled and I don’t have to think about everything I still need to do. Time to be present. To be in the moment. To not look at the clock. To not be busy.

So, if any of this resonates with any of you, I urge you to try and find time where you can just be. You can do or not do whatever you feel like and whatever makes you feel good, happy and relaxed. Because at the end of the day, relaxing IS so under-rated 😉

Questions for you: Are you too busy? Do you enjoy being busy or do you thrive more off of downtime? How do you prioritize relaxing and practicing self-care?