Two years ago today, I wore the proudest title of “Maid of Honor,” as I entered Posh Boutique in Minneapolis to help my best friend say “yes” to her perfect dress.
About two days before the trip, inspiration struck, and I decided this event needed a little extra spice.
I designed these signs to be a constructive way for everyone in the group to give feedback, without any negativity, such as a low score on a 1-10 scale.
I made the template for the signs, just by googling and inserting the various emojis. Once printed, I pasted them onto half sheets of scrapbook paper that corresponded with the sign. Everyone attending should have all 4 signs.
Here’s how I explained the scale:
–Doesn’t do you justice: This might be a boring dress, or not playing up their best features. The sleep emoji says it all
–How Pretty!: This is a pretty dress, but it’s not necessarily what the sign holder sees having the wedding day “wow.” It’s like when all you have to say about someone is that they’re “nice”
–Gisele, is that you?: This is a fun sign to tell the bride they are bringing it in this dress. It might be flattering, sexy, beautiful, or they may be carrying themselves extra confidently in this dress.
–Absolutely stunning!: The bride emoji says it all- this sign shows the bride you can see her walking down the aisle in this dress.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I consider myself a Maid of Honor for life, so I can’t wait to live vicariously through all of you who try this!
If you’ve ever wondered why this blog is called S is for Scrappy, I’d love to help you out. Well, S is first and foremost for Sarah. But my scrappiness is something very inherent to everything I do.
Some would make a nice banana bread as a kind gift, maybe when hosting others, or as fuel for a blog post they’ve had planned out.
Scrappy is whipping up banana bread because your boyfriend brought it to your attention that if you lose the cap for the maple syrup, you can’t just put it back in the fridge capless, like an animal.
This bread and post was also inspired by 3 VERY ripe bananas patiently waiting to be used. Even though I negotiated with myself that if I bought bananas they couldn’t go brown and be banished to the freezer with a rebrand of “smoothie bananas.” Scrappy.
So, I thought to myself, what can I make that uses bananas and maple syrup that won’t be sugar central. The healthy banana bread searches began.
Seeing as I am no Betty Crocker, I looked to Cookie and Kate to make sure the end result would be in a bread formation of some kind. With some changes, here’s what I was working with:
⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup maple syrup (honey can be used)
3 ripe bananas mashed, I left mine kind of chunky for a different taste/texture
¼ cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla, but milk of any kind will do)
1 cup chopped pecans- option for any other mix in
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, beat oil and syrup together. Add eggs and beat well.
Stir in bananas and milk. Then stir in the baking soda, vanilla, salt, maca, and cinnamon.
Switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. If you’re adding pecans or any mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern for a fun marble effect.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. If you check with a knife, it should come out clean, but my chunky banana approach made that a bit tentative. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least 5 minutes.
While I am not committing to Whole 30 or any specific challenges this January, I am striving to be very conscious of my sugar intake. It’s amazing what a downward spiral having any traditional desserts (even in moderation) can be for me in sugar cravings.
With the sweetness of the bananas and pure maple syrup, I’m really not sure why anyone bakes with normal sugar. This was so satisfying in every way! I loved the maple flavor and bites of banana chunks, but that approach did make it more crumbly if that’s a concern of yours.
Moral of the store, if I can bake this, so can you. Looking forward to having this as a guilt-free snack, dessert, or something to bring to the yoga studio for when I am teaching multiple classes and need some sustenance.
When deciding to leave a then-11-person organization for a Fortune 50 Company, I was most excited to see what an organization of that caliber could accomplish. What impact they could have on the communities they’re in.
I’ve been lucky to dive into that first hand, in my first quarter with Comcast, by being the Twin Cities Region lead for Festive Fleet. While I’m a woman of words, I’d rather show you just what Festive Fleet is:
Festive Fleet has given me the opportunity to empower a team of technicians and support staff to embrace the impact they’re capable of. We leverage the relationships they are building in homes every day, and asked them to nominate deserving customers for a special gift.
These are customers who are financially struggling, suffering from a loss in the family, encountering a difficult time, creating a pleasant experience for technicians in their home, or unfortunately having an unpleasant experience with Comcast.
Customers aren’t asking for these gifts, or reaching out to us with these stories. These stories are discovered by the Technician’s time in the home, and their ability to be there as a person, for a person, rather than completing a job for a customer and leaving.
I could talk for hours about the stories I read while choosing the 35 customers from the Twin Cities area to receive gifts.
The only issue is, no one knows we do this.
While I was interviewing for Comcast, I didn’t think of Festive Fleet. I thought of many of the headlines that are probably racing through your mind now.
I decided to set up Google Alerts for Comcast so I could learn the company, but also keep tabs on the outside impression. I still read it everyday; it’s not always the most uplifting email, especially recently.
But when I was about a week into my new role at Comcast, it was a different headline that made me pause. One from the Region VP down the hall, who I now often talk to while making coffee.
Also new to his role in the Twin Cities Region, I was excited to see we were the first to admit where we have gone wrong, and also the first to bet on this team.
I have no desire to have my point of view outweigh these other headlines, rather I hope to capture the side of Comcast that no one hears about- the family that always puts the customer first.
Like peeling layers of an onion, I keep discovering new programs available to employees and customers, and new coworkers to connect with.
I was inspired by Internet Essentials, which offers low-cost Internet service, discounted computer equipment, and free digital literacy training to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. This was then expanded to eligible seniors and community college students in limited markets.
It’s solutions like these that motivate me to find creative solutions, because this fast-paced industry doesn’t allow time to say the words, “This is the way it’s always been done.”
Still, Comcast isn’t perfect. It’s a work in progress, an organization embracing new practices and priorities, and ensuring that cascades down to every single individual. And outside of an 11-person organization, there will be customer experiences and decisions that are out of my control. That’s difficult for a scrappy mind to accept.
So instead of being on the sidelines, I’ve used my scrappiness to make the Twin Cities Region close-knit and I’ve seen how this 159,000 person organization can still build partnerships across departments and regions. I’ve learned from collaborative leaders who are focused on a bigger picture that’s rooted in customer experience.
I’ve shared my experiences with others, and no longer hesitate when saying, “I’m a Marketing Specialist at Comcast” as I did my first week. Whatever reaction that brings, it’s just another opportunity to share why I am so proud to say #IAmComcast.
“Scrappy is being the first Marketing role in an organization, at your first job: I am theMarketing Coordinator at Work Effects, a business consulting company located in Downtown Minneapolis. I am focused on public relations, creating marketing materials, and running our website. Trial and error is basically built into my job description, and that’s what I love about it.” This was the first bullet point of my About page. Until about 5 minutes ago.
In August, I moved into my new condo, started a new job, and changed my entire teaching schedule. I had a really good answer when people asked, “So, whats new?”
When life is moving so fast, the hardest thing to do can be slowing down. Let alone slow down long enough to write, and that’s why we’re all here for a 3 month delayed update. Luckily, I did take many conscious moments to process this transition, and stay present as I watched all that was familiar be put into a jar and given a good shake.
With this shake up came the release of some pieces of my identity, as I tried on a new look for size. Deleting the paragraph above made me pause. Removing myself from the Work Effects website- a site I had designed, wrote, and maintained- made me pause. Pressing send on my first mortgage payment made me pause.
And I’m so glad it did.
When I redesigned my blog to be S is for Scrappy, it was inspired by a thought to reclaim my confidence in myself at my making-it-up-as-I-go-along job. Scrappy is not having all the answers but charging ahead anyway, it’s playing 6 different roles within one day, it’s about making confidence contagious.
Just over 90 days ago, I left my 11-person company for the very similar Fortune 50 Comcast NBCUniversal and gained 159,000 coworkers.
Those 90 days have been pretty scrappy. I didn’t question whether to take part in the labor day potluck/cooking competition, and promoted my Panzanella salad to anyone who would listen, including the VP of Sales and Marketing.
The appetizer gold trophy went to “the newest Comcaster,” and will forever stand out in my mind as a moment where I remember thinking, I feel at home.
Scrappy is being brought in on the tail-end of a project, but leading set design and answering probably too many questions with “trust me, I can see it in my head.”
Scrappy is adopting a mantra of “what if we made it fun?” the first time in a corporate setting. Good news- that mindset is contagious, and effective.
Recently, I’ve been in a few conversations of friends who feel stuck in their jobs, and it’s made my recognize how truly significant this journey has been. I could have never guessed that my path had this in store. I would have never imagined I was exactly where I needed to be; gaining the experience I’d be able to speak to during a phone interview with a recruiter in Denver. That something about my scrappy mix of specialities would be the perfect fit for a thriving sales and marketing team at Comcast’s Twin Cities Region office.
Fire centerpieces, birch table cloths, and plaid napkins
Continuing my set design portfolio with our Minnesotan-themed potluck called Mad About Plaid
You are exactly where you need to be. Something I don’t get to speak to as often is how the Om tattoo on my back captures that sentiment. “Om” has three syllables, and it represents the three stages of any experience, situation, and life- beginning, middle, and end.
When you are in the middle of anything- good or bad- it’s difficult to picture that ceasing to exist. This is why the bad times in our life stick out so distinctly, the seconds crawl by with no end in sight. But everything is temporary.
As I enjoy beginning this new stage, I must recognize that it will shift, grow, and change. Rather than half-heartedly enjoying this moment with the caveat of “but nothing stays perfect,” I am diving in with a present mind and full heart to allow this stage to be as glorious as it wants to be. So that the joy, beauty, and discoveries of this stage do not go unrecognized. So that I pause.
This seemingly ordinary weekend was filled with all of my favorite things- yoga, time outside with Maya and Brandon, teaching, hosting friends and family, Alpha Gam- and it made me realize how extraordinary this life I created is.
“Are you cooking?!” My manager interjected with concern and horror all over his face. So much faith in me.
I confirmed I absolutely was, and continued to explain that this group of adventurous friends has shaped me, and pushes me to continue growing. I’m grateful and excited to try something new with them again tonight. I also asked everyone to cross their fingers it all turns out.
This crew, or my Romies as we like to say, gets together about once a month and recently we transitioned that into a cultural dinner party. Because that’s how all 20-something’s have fun.
Emily kicked us off by teaching us how to make sushi (because she loves to make and eat sushi) and we rebranded that evening into a getting a taste of her Japanese roots. Clearly, we had to run with this.
Tamara followed, with Serbian delicacies often reserved for Christmas, which happened to be completely vegetarian. Their willingness to cater to my pescetarian diet is probably why we’re such great friends.
That meal included a cheese pie topped with greek yogurt and apple sauce, a chickpea and bean dish, and dessert of baklava and honey pie. All of these dishes had real Serbian names but due to our Italian tradition of drinking lots of vino, I don’t remember what they’re called.
Next, it was my time to shine. Allison is on deck with an Armenian dinner, so I was kind of dreading coming up with a vegetarian English/German menu, which is basically an oxymoron.
And then it occurred to me, my cultural dinner could be inspired by the roots my family has chosen- African. Advice from my dad and some in-depth googling brought me to our Nigerian menu.
My loose interpretation of the recipe above included:
1 tsp peanut oil
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ginger
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes, un-drained
1/2- 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 Tbsp tomato paste
¼ -½ tsp cayenne (I personally did probably 6 shakes of this)
1 package chopped frozen spinach (defrosted and cooked)
½-1 tsp salt
In a 4 quart soup pot, heat the peanut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and diced sweet potatoes. Sauté over medium heat until soft, 5-7 min.
Add the broth, tomatoes with juice, peanut butter, tomato paste, and cayenne. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Simmer the soup, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 min. Using a potato masher, roughly mash the soup to break up the potatoes. (You are still looking to have some chunks, so a coarse mash is all you need.) Add the greens and simmer uncovered for 5 min.
Jollof Rice, a recipe I actually followed for once! I added chopped sauteed shrimp.
Tamara brought something similar to samoas from the always wonderful Minneapolis-based Afro Deli. Allison nailed her dessert responsibilities with this banana cake that I’m still dreaming of:
And those cute African placemats? Those would be courtesy of my adventurous grandparents. It’s amazing to think that such a special Friday night in my Minneapolis home was inspired, created, and built by a couple, grandparents, and a single woman immigrating from Serbia, Armenia, and Japan; and a family in Wisconsin deciding to moving to Africa with their dogs could be exciting.
It’s creating traditions like these that keep those stories part of us, and remind us how much we have to be grateful for.
If there’s one thing all my friends can agree on, it’s that my coordination on the yoga mat does not translate to the dancefloor. Regardless, I’m glued to any and all wedding dance floors, and have yet to see a shimmy that can rival my own.
So it was somewhat out of character when in Zimbabwe this January, I passed up the opportunity to join in on a large dance circle at our Boma, a traditional african dinner. It was a large circle that would alternate bringing one person into the middle, and some of these people were just amazing dancers. I worried about getting pulled to the middle and not knowing what to do, so I found a place to perch and watch with my sister.
The spunky mother-daughter duo on our trip jumped in right away, and when the free-spirited daughter Wendy came back, I remember telling her with a bit of envy, “That looked so fun, it was really cool to watch.”
She replied, “Oh, yeah I wasn’t watching it- I was IN it!”
The words stung a bit, and stuck with me to become my one regret of my trip.
We could credit this to my rampant FOMO, or any cliche “I Hope You Dance” lyric, but it was something more. It was a clear moment where fear stopped me from having an experience I’ll rarely get again. Where I worried more about what strangers from the other side of the world would think more than my own desires.
I hadn’t thought about this in a while, but was reminded over the weekend while attending the Twin Cities Wanderlust event, the world’s only mindful triathlon. After completing a 5k (part 1) on a scenic St. Paul trail, our 90 minute yoga class (part 2) was to start soon, followed by a guided meditation (part 3).
Rather than starting the class right away, the lively emcee cued the DJ to play some party music and she was getting the crowd revved up on stage. With everyone on their mats, she was inviting everyone to start dancing- which is not something people are used to starting a yoga class with. I was bouncing around (another one of my signature moves) on my mat, when I noticed someone was invited on stage.
I mentioned to my coworker, Belinda, how fun it would be to go on stage. She encouraged me to go to the front so that if they called anyone else on, I would get to go. I think she suggested this partially to get me to dance somewhere else, but also because she likes to bring out a more carefree and bold side of others.
Thinking of the Boma, I ran to the front stage. The emcee asked who wanted to go on stage, and I fan girled hard. I was disappointed when she picked a group of three friends to come up, but I knew me and my bad dance moves could break her down with persistence.
Once another pair was called up, I decided there was no reason I needed to wait for an invitation. If I wanted to dance on stage in front of thousands of people like a crazy person, it would be pretty pathetic to miss out just because I wasn’t called on.
So I ran up with them like we’d know each other for years.
It was unbelievable. I knew there was no space for overthinking like I did in Africa, or half-assed bopping like I did on my mat. So I just danced however I wanted. I was completely in my own element with thousands of faceless yogis cheering me on.
Until I recognized two of the faces, my best friends Alyx and Megan, who I also had come with moved to the front of the stage.
A year ago, I was working up the courage to practice yoga in my sports bra. Truly. As an active meditation, I would wear a sports bra (instead of a tank top) to class and challenge myself to maintain positive self talk regardless of what was reflected in the mirrors.
Dancing on stage, in that same feared get up, in front of thousands, and being filled with the utmost joy and energy, that to me is the epitome of freedom.
In the yoga class that followed, we were reminded, “No more playing small, this is your time to live big.”
Wanderlust allowed me to see whether it’s a scenic 5k, a once in a lifetime dance party, a 90 minute flow with a live DJ, or an outdoor meditation, it’s all yoga. It’s a mindset. It’s saying yes, and allowing yourself to experience things as fully as you can.
Yoga is an opportunity to celebrate being alive, and express gratitude for every part of your being.
We focus so much on being smaller, fitting a certain mold, and refining the edges that aren’t perfect. There’s no need to ask permission, show up exactly as you’re meant to today- whether that’s dancing your hardest, laughing (in my case, cackling) your loudest, and daring greatly in every way.
Give yourself permission to take up space, to be seen. I promise you, there’s nothing better.
“I’ll really talk about anything,” I confirmed to a coworker who told me she listed me as a referral at a local salon, “Really anything I do or use, I’ll recommend it to everyone.” As a proud new participant of a CSA, this proves no different.
I signed up for the Good Acre Twin Cities CSA once seeing it posted at my Corepower Yoga studio. Signing up for a half share (good for two people or one vegetable crazy person), this seemed like a great way to try new fruits and vegetables and be pushed out of my cooking comfort zone.
Sure enough, the last two weeks, I’ve received bunches of rhubarb and have had no clue what to do. All I could think of was rhubarb pie, which is quite for a non-baker like myself. Committed to consuming each week’s selection before the next pick up, I realized it was time to embrace the apron. But not the pie.
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (spelt flour would probably work great too)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon all spice
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed (ripe) banana, about 2 medium bananas
⅓ cup honey (I used agave and plan on using maple syrup next time for more flavor)
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb, about 1 large stalk (for me this was 3 stalks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare an 8×4″ loaf pan* with a natural cooking spray.
Whisk all dry ingredients, flour through all spice, in a medium bowl and set aside.
*Use a stand or hand-held mixer to beat eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Mix in vanilla, banana and honey until combined.
Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Gently fold in rhubarb. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until loaf is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Loosen sides with a knife and remove from pan
This was more mild than I was expecting, so I’d recommend serving with butter or whipping up a glaze to put over it. (Pretending that I can just whip up a glaze- so in my case, google it hard)
Followed by- Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble
Rhubarb Strawberry Filling
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup large flake rolled oats
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
In a bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and oats until combined. Use a fork to mash in the softened butter until crumbly. Stir in the pecans until combined; set aside and prepare filling.
I’m a huge fan of any baking that calls for just stirring. The second I see the word zest or sift, I’m out. Enjoy how easy this is!
Rhubarb Strawberry Combo
Grease an 8 inch square baking dish or something of a similar size and set aside; Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the chopped rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for about 25 minutes or until the rhubarb is just starting to get tender.
Remove dish from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over top. Return to the oven to bake uncovered for another 15 minutes or so or until the crumble is golden and the filling is bubbling at the edges.
Remove and cool for 5-10 minutes. Awesome served warm or cold! I didn’t think these would stay together at all, but once chilled they’re very stable.
Grand finale (unless I get more this Wednesday)- Banana Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Pro tip- when in doubt, follow the instructions on the box. I do think I get 30% credit for making this recipe up, though all I did was add banana and rhubarb to the Bran muffin recipe on the ____ box, without making any other adjustments. There was a pretty good chance these would be too liquidy as a result, but they turned out great! Considering it made 24 large muffins and 12 mini ones, that’s great news for me.
3 cups Hodgson Mill unprocessed wheat bran
1 cup boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (I did 50% grassfed butter, 50% ghee)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 ripe bananas
5 thin rhubarb stalks (2-3 cups chopped)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups almond milk
Boil 1 cup of water, and mix in 1 cup of bran muffin mix until it is absorbed
In a separate bowl, blend sugar and butter
Add flour, baking soda, and salt
Combine the moist* bran (I tried to find a different word) with beaten eggs, mashed banana, and chopped rhubarb
Mix in the remaining 2 cups of bran, almond milk, and sugar-butter-flour combo (once again, we’re just mixing!)
Finally, pour into muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Yields just over 2 dozen.