• Stepping Out: HGW Babes and Beer Event—The importance of community

    Beer Tasting at Hapa's
    Some of our friends beer tasting at Hapa’s

    Our Spring Event was a Happy Hour held on April 12th, at Hapa’s Brewing in San Jose. Women from all over the Bay Area came together and enjoyed drinking beer, learning how beer is made, the varieties of beer, and especially how to enjoy it. We all had a great time, talking with old friends, as well as meeting new women. Conversations and beer flowed easily.

    One primary reason we created Hourglass Workshops was to offer opportunities for women to join our community to enjoy new, interesting, fun activities with other like-minded women as we explore this time of life. If you want to expand your life,  then it’s high time to step up and step out—and we want to help you do that.

    When our lives change  so do our communities. It often becomes difficult to find new groups and communities where we feel connected, inspired and have fun. Let’s be honest, social media communities just don’t compare to actual face to face time. Rather when we enjoy a latte, share a glass of wine, beer or a meal, it always includes a warm, real conversation.

    Cherryll and Nancy with Hapa's Owners
    Cherryll and Nancy with Hapa’s Owners, Derek, Brian and Cassie

    It is so important we stay connected to others for our mental, psychological, emotional and even our physical well-being. The amount of time with others may vary, particularly whether or not you’re an introvert or extrovert. We are all “people who need people”.  During our youth, we had the neighborhood kids, our school friends, sports teams/extracurricular activity groups, our church and other youth groups. These were our tribes with whom we traveled through life. They shared some or many of our values and helped us forge others. As adults, our roles and life styles changed and so did our tribes—from dorms, fraternities/sororities, PTA, soccer moms, to business associations and others continued to support us in our many roles. Now in our forties and beyond, we’re going through significant changes and our roles evolve, along with our communities. I think the major difference is these tribes are harder to find and we generally have to seek them out, perhaps more consciously, for the same reasons–to support us in our interests, while being fun and inspiring. This isn’t easy or obvious, nor is there a simple guide to the “best groups to join”.

    Whether we are pursuing new interests or beginning a new career, we look for communities. My renewed interest for long-distance running led me to find and join a local running group and tennis led me to a group of fun-loving, yet competitive tennis friends. (I am looking for a writers group, suggestions?) Nancy, in her midlife career as an acupuncturist, found and actively participates in several women-focused networking business groups.

    If what we do resonates with you, sign up for our newsletter and video blogs, join us on Facebook, and plan to attend an upcoming event. It will not only be fun, but healthy! Also, we’d love you to share your comments and suggestions below about communities you’ve found and what’s working for you.

     

  • Roasted Pumpkin Soup

    Photographer: Greg Dupree, Food Stylist: Kat Steele  Prop Styist: Claire Spollen
    Photographer: Greg Dupree, Food Stylist: Kat Steele Prop Styist: Claire Spollen

    Pumpkins, carrots, onions–this is as close as you’ll get to serving fall in a bowl. Roasting the pumpkin gives it a deep caramelized flavor that’s delicious.

    Yield: 
    Serves 6 (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup, about 1 tbsp. sour cream mixture)
    Total time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
    Ingredients
    1 (3-lb.) sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, or kabocha squash
    4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
    1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
    1/2 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
    6 garlic cloves, crushed
    4 thyme sprigs, plus more for topping
    1 sage sprig
    1 oregano sprig
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    6 cups chicken broth
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    4 tablespoons sour cream
    3 tablespoons whole milk
    Pomegranate seeds for topping (optional)
    Pumpkin seeds for topping (optional)
    Preparation
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut pumpkin into quarters; discard seeds. Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake in preheated oven until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool until easy to handle. Remove skin, and discard. Set aside 1 1/2 cups (about 15 ounces) cooked pumpkin; reserve remaining pumpkin for another use.
    2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, and oregano; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (Do not brown.) Add salt and turmeric; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and 1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove and discard herb sprigs.
    3. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until mixture is very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
    4. Whisk together sour cream and milk in a small bowl. Divide soup evenly among 6 shallow bowls; drizzle with sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds, if desired.
    Southern Living/OCTOBER 2016

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  • 5 Minute Video–Asking the BIG Question

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    Nancy and Cherryll bring up a BIG question and of course, bring a light-hearted perspective to what’s really important to them. How would you answer that question.

  • 5 Keys to Restart Something Important to You

    hawk88-locked-calendar-1-300pxA few days ago, Nancy and I were chatting about how we’re both struggling with restarting something important to each of us. We discovered a few things about the difficulties we’ve encountered and how we’ve dealt with them.

    First, we both realize it is much harder to restart than it is to begin something for the first time. When we restart something, it lacks much of the excitement and novelty we felt the first time. Second, we already know how hard it is, otherwise, we wouldn’t have quit. But, we both agree if it is something important to us, it is obviously worth starting again. So, this time, we added the wisdom from our earlier experiences and learned:

    1. Failure is part of the process. A steady solid line upward towards success is not realistic, there are going to be ups and downs, it’s normal. Just don’t stay in the ditch, get re-started.

    2. Restarting is hard, so what–Feel the pain at the beginning and do it anyway. It takes awhile, but you will feel better about what you’re doing the more you do it. It does get easier.

    3. You don’t need to be motivated to take action, you need action to get motivated. Instead of waiting for the perfect inspiration to get back to writing my book, I just started writing again period. Interesting thing happened, I started to get more excited and motivated to work on my book. This really works!

    4. Find your community to share this goal. I now have a writing community to get and give support, as wel as share my challenges and successes about my book. For Nancy, it is a Fitbit challenge with her accountability buddy where they support and see what each of them are doing daily. (Notice for us both, we need people connection to help us.)

    5. Schedule the actions you need to take in your calendar and into your life and honor that commitment to yourself.  Value yourself and what is important to you by honoring these commitments you have written into your calendar. Just as you schedule commitments with others into your calendar and show up, do the same for yourself.

    It’s not easy to restart anything, whether it’s a health program, a book, a relationship, or a dream that’s been on hold for years. We also discovered that talking about the difficulty and what’s working (or not working) for each of us now has made it much easier. Will we quit, fall out of our new routine, fail? Probably, but we also have a better sense of how we can get going again. After all, if anything midlife has taught us how resilient we really are and that laughing at ourselves with friends lessens the pain of stumbling.

    Please comment below about what you’re struggling with and what has worked for you in the challenges you’ve faced when you’ve restarted something important in your life.

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  • How I’ve “Almost” Eliminated Gifts–4 Tips to Joyful, Stress free Holiday Season

    Are you feeling bombarded by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and all the other hyped up advertising to encourage into acquiring stuff? I am. The few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the retailers biggest sales period. They also can be very stressful for women since we’re usually the ones to make the magic happen. While I can’t eliminate all your holiday stress, I can offer a few suggestions about gift-giving which have worked for me.

    For those of us who struggle with what to give loved ones, it adds a complex layer of stress to our lives. Add to that, the  challenge when asked the question “what do you want for Christmas?” from well meaning family Ornamentand friends.  I really don’t need another scarf, a sweater, or a book I may or may not read. And every year I struggle to find a right answer without sounding like Scrooge. I really want world peace, an end to global poverty, to eliminate substance abuse, as well as a peaceful life.

    I believe I have found an answer to gift-giving. (Note this doesn’t apply to my two adorable grand-children!)

    The greatest gift we can give and receive is to show up in love for our self and with others. That means being authentic, kind, honoring our values and being respectful of others. Interestingly, two close friends just brought up the same dilemma they’re having about gifts this year. We simply want to be with and enjoy the people in our lives.

    Here are my 4 tips to create a meaningful, stress-free and more personally peaceful holiday season.

    1. Communicate early in person, by phone or email with those you usually exchange gifts. Let them know you want a gift-free year. Tell them you want to take positive action to simplify everyone’s lives and strive to make the world a little better. You might want to share that you’ll be making donating to a few charities this year in lieu of gift-giving.

    2. Say “no” to things and “yes” to shared experiences. In lieu of gifts, consider spending special quality time with those you care about. This could be a long conversation with someone far away, mailing a letter with pictures, or laughing together over a glass of wine together somewhere festive. Some families I know volunteer together, often serving meals or playing Santa at nearby churches or agencies during the holiday season. Family traditions, rituals and favorite foods are most often what is remembered, it’s rarely ever the gifts given or received.

    3.  Make selecting a donation recipient a special event, and let your choices be meaningful to you. My husband and I are planning an evening when we sit down and go through our charities of choice, discuss what’s personally important to us, and decide where we want to give. I know I’ll be giving to  Parisi House on the Hill, a residential addiction recovery center for women with small children. (I’m on the Board and know the impact this organization and its caring staff makes in these women’s lives.)  Decide on who you want to donate to,  log onto their website, and charge your donations. In a couple of hours, you’ve given from the heart, expressed yourself and made the world a little bit better. Your heart will be filled with the joy of giving and no stress!

    4. Relax and truly enjoy the holiday season. This is the season of lights, love, joy and peace. Nowhere in all those holiday songs and cards we receive, is it about stuff, stress, shopping, over-crowded malls, and overspent credit cards. You’ll then be able to find quiet, peaceful moments of reflection and joy during this time of year. Not only will we enjoy the holidays much more, we actually create our own special magic!

    Please post your suggestions for ways you’ve made the holidays more meaningful and less stressful for you this year. Especially if you’ve figured out alternatives to gift giving and how it worked for  you.

  • I’m back!

     

    Been awhile since I’ve written about my running experiences, and I’m ready to begin again. Although I haven’t stopped running, it has taken a lesser role in my life these past couple of years. I’ve been playing more tennis each week, taking a weekly yoga class, golfing and spending play time with my husband,family and friends. I’ve also been involved with discovering  my “next thing” and, and working with a non-profit community. It’s all about balance, isn’t it?

    Funny thing, I think I may have found my “next thing” through running. I am taking a speakers class and our assignment was to craft a “signature speech”, something inspirational or informative which you could present to an audience. In this 15 minute presentation, there would also be an offer of a product/service of ours. I 2010-07 LG Jungle Runcame up with “Lacing up at 60”, my journey of running a 1/2 marathon–13.1 miles and how it impacted me. Must’ve worked, because my speech so inspired me to sign up for a full marathon in December. Yikes!

    I’m 6 years older from my first 1/2 marathon, gained back about 15 pounds from my lowest running weight, and generally run only about 3-4 miles a day. A far cry from 26.2 miles.

    Can I do it? You’ll witness my journey as I take this personal challenge on. I’ll share my obstacles, perceived or real, my challenges, my pain and my joy. It’s a hero’s journey.

    I want to encourage you to find “your marathon”, something you really really want to do before you trot off this planet and let’s take this trip together into our brighter future.

    You in? Comments encouraged.I’

  • Flowers for Dinner?

    Flowers are such gifts of nature. Any time of year in California you can find something in bloom. Even in our severe drought, nature finds a way of adding some beauty and color to the world. I love flowers in my yard, as well as cut flowers in my home. They brighten my mood and always seem to calm me and make me happy.  What I’d never quite embraced was the idea of flowers in my food.

    A couple of days ago, I have a wonderful lunch at a friend’s home and she had made a salad with a variety of home grown flowers on top.  Edible FlowersShe is an incredible gardener and beautiful cook, so I readily enjoyed both the beauty of the salad and flavors of these flowers.

    I did some reading about edible flowers and here are a few things I learned and suggestions. First, be very careful if you have asthma or other allergies. Also, proceed with caution with purchased flowers due to the use of pesticides and herbicides. And they should be used sparingly, too much of a pretty blossom can cause digestive problems.

    Here’s a few ideas to use the petals of the flowers in your meals.

    For salads or desserts…..

    Nasturtiums–a peppery taste, similar to watercress
    Johnny-Jump-Ups (miniature pansies)—a mild wintergreen taste
    Gardenias—a light, sweet flavor
    Carnations—a spicy, clove-like flavor
    Marigolds–spicy to bitter flavor
    Scented geraniums–flavors vary from lemon to mint
    Roses–sweet, aromatic flavor (remove the bitter white portion of the petal)
    Lavender and violets are sweet and pretty additions to ice cream and cakes

    Do a little research, maybe starting at your local farmers market.
    I’m eager to learn more, so please feel free to share your comments about other uses of flowers in foods you’ve tried and enjoyed.

     

     

  • 4 Simple Ways to Nurture Your Spirit

    flowersLast week my dear longtime friend, Carol, invited me to join her to hike a nearby trail which is part of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space. I’d grown up nearby and never even knew it existed. It was a spectacular winter day in California, the air was clear and fresh, and I was outdoors with a good friend. Doesn’t get much better!

    My senses felt so much keener. Without the continual sensory overload of urban living in Silicon Valley, I opened up fully to my surroundings. I felt the aliveness of the hillside around me and it energized me. The air was fresh and cool in my lungs, I heard the wind rustling in the trees above, and I saw several varieties of birds flying overhead. I noticed several early season wildflowers—bright purple blossoms and delicate yellow flowers were tucked in the greenery along side the path we walked.  Plus, being able to spend several hours with a good friend during a time when our lives often are so full of the busy-ness–was a real gift. I was reminded of several important things that day I thought I’d pass along.

    ….There are treasures in our own backyards. Find them.

    ….Exploring new places will awaken your senses and your sense of being.

    …..Walking outdoors on a trail is a great, easy and fun way to get in exercise and fitness.

    …..Sharing experiences are what weave friendships together through the years. Also,  an easy, non-rushed conversation over several hours makes me truly appreciate special those people in our lives.

     

     

  • The answer is chocolate….what was the question?

    ID-10085385 ChocolateWhen I want to treat myself, I have a small piece of very good dark chocolate. When I’m stressed out or feeling down, I have many pieces of  chocolate! When asking those BIG questions of life–like what is my purpose or why am I here–I ponder them with dark chocolate. Favorite dessert? Chocolate! Seems my answer is always chocolate.

    Why do women have such an strong relationship with chocolate?  Interestingly, there is a real scientific theory about chocolate and love.

    The euphoric feelings of falling in love has been scientifically attributed to Phenylethylamine (PEA) which some scientists have labelled the “love” chemical. The effect is similar to amphetamines (speed) to create those romantic heart fluttering of poetry, hyper-energy and other physical responses often seen in people “in love”.
    The Chocolate Theory of Love was attributed to an American psychologist back in the 1980’s. Seems chocolate contains a natural substance of Phenylethylamine (PEA) which stimulates those same loving feelings. Well that seems to explain alot….no wonder I love chocolate!
    I just wish that were the end of the story, but it’s not quite….

    Research found that PEA was present in large quantities in chocolate, which was followed by intense speculation that eating chocolate might produce romantic feelings. Tests were done and researchers dutifully downing pounds of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. Sadly, the results showed no evidence that the PEA in the chocolate actually found it’s way to the brain to create that lovin’ feeling!

    For me, while it may not create that lovin’ feeling, dark chocolate remains my answer to life’s big questions, small frustrations, or simply to reward myself.

    (Image courtesy of Zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

     

  • Why I Love Watching the Rose Parade

    Rose Parage 2Rose ParadeWe all have traditions. But how often do we think about “why” we’ve kept certain traditions and let others go? Every New Year’s Day, I always watch the Rose Parade. I’m an early riser, so getting up by 8 am after New Years Eve has never been hard for me. When I was a young girl, my mom and I used to watch it together and we would oooh and aaahh  over the beautiful floats. Once in my early 20’s, I stood on Colorado Avenue in awe as I watched those massive, spectacular detailed floral masterpieces go by, the bands march by, and I felt all the excitement of the day. Other than chilly, freezing temperature that year and staying up all night to grab our curbside spot, it was as spectacular as I’d expected it would be.

    Yes, its beautiful, fun and inspiring, but why has it become an annual tradition for me? I had to think about this. Why does anything become a tradition? There is something in a particular activity we value such that we thread these traditions through our life and they become touchstones. The Rose Parade is one of my treasured traditions. I love the pageantry, the beauty, the whimsy, and the uniqueness of each float year after year. Watching it in my jammies with a cup of coffee and having  loved ones at home (or thinking about them) soothes my soul year after year. I feel so present in that moment in time–the past and present come together in this tradition.  Each year I find that moment when I am so very mindful and grateful.

    The parade represents so much of what’s right with the world. Beauty combined with technical magic. Creativity and  amazing detail to “paint” a massive picture with flowers and natural materials. Large pieces of art created by incredible teams of volunteers working together for weeks on something that will last only a few days. And let’s not forget the precision marching bands and horse-riders. Seeing the young, uniformed musicians with their shiny instruments, playing  music for a couple of hours, all while moving ahead in precise choreography brings tears to my eyes. I can only imagine what an experience it must be for them. I also see focus, commitment, talent, and  hundreds of hours of practice in these young men and women—this makes me feel good about the younger generation. I am also aware of the time, expense, and tremendous support of their families and towns to get these kids to Pasadena for this special event. Yes, it truly “takes a village”, in fact many villages throughout the United States to make this all happen.

    Lastly, although I have no idea what 2015 will bring, I know if I’m alive and kickin’, I will be watching the 2016 Rose Parade!  It’s my tradition!

    I’d love to hear about your traditions you cherish and even some you’d dropped in the comments below.