Stephanie Under Construction Blog

Menopause, Real Talk

This might seem like an awkward post immediately following talking about my 40th birthday, and other than what can sometimes be an awkward topic, y’all know I’m always going to be real about life and all the things that go along with it.

As many of you know, I had a complete hysterectomy almost two years ago–the whole shebang, nothing left behind. This was fully welcomed in my life, as I have dealt with issues and quirky autoimmune flares that all stemmed back to those organs since my early 20s. It was recommended then that in order to regain the level of health I was seeking to get a hysterectomy–although, finding a doctor to perform such a surgery at that age, not so easy. I searched for awhile, gave up, and resigned myself to a lot of misery. Finally in my late 30s, enough was enough and I started the search for a doctor again. I still came up against the backlash of “you might want kids someday”–despite we had been married over a decade and that resolve wasn’t changing, but I did find a doctor. Ironically, it was a second visit to a practitioner I had seen several years earlier for other issues at my highest weight and was treated in a horribly fatphobic way–and upon my return in a very different body I was greeted in a much different way. While I was not a fan of the doctor’s bedside manner, he was good at what he did, and I could put my feelings aside for a short time to get through surgery and have further care carried out by my preferred practitioners. Anyway, that’s a completely other story for another day.

Long story short–my hysterectomy was a success! It achieved the outcomes we (my preferred docs and I) set out for. As expected, my body came back to a state of homeostasis after many, many years. The only after effect I still experience from the autoimmune issues is my thermoregulation (I’m always cold) is improved, not completely gone. I am very grateful that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is unnecessary, even with the lack of ovaries, etc. My doctor phrased it this way, “Because your body was so jacked up for so long, I don’t think HRT is going to be a need because your body is just going to chill out and not swing the other way after surgery.” So far it has.

My other gratitude in that putting my body into full menopause in one shot, that only some things have affected me. While my weight hasn’t fluctuated, my body composition has changed–that’s played a bit of a mind game, but it is what it is. For the longest time, I felt that was the only menopause symptoms that I was experiencing. Haha sucker–don’t think so fast!

Several months ago, I started experiencing pain, itchiness, and increased UTIs. It felt like as soon as I would feel better, that the cycle would start again. Traditional medications and treatments seemed like they worked for a bit, but not entirely. I started blaming my lifestyle–as a fitness professional, I wear workout clothes most all day, and I thought I was creating an environment not conducive to healing. I tried showering more, different fabrics, doing laundry more and more, but it seemed like I was just exacerbating the issues. Enter NeuEve.

I wasn’t particularly excited about trying something else or something new, but these products have been life-changing. There isn’t anything at the pharmacy or prescribed that has helped me like these. I had the opportunity to try several different products. The first was the Gold Vaginal Suppositories–this was the strongest formula and I felt better within a day of the first use! After 3 doses of that, I stepped down to the Silver level–a slightly gentler formula and this continued to keep the symptoms at bay, and used that for 3 doses. Finally, I continue to maintain comfort with just the balm cream. It’s insane–the difference is night and day! No more discomfort, no infections since.

Now, y’all know me and that I don’t just pick up random things and use them–I do my homework and research what it’s all about. I really liked the medical research behind NeuEve products, and that via a Facebook group, that the creator, Dr. Renjie Chang, is readily available for feedback, advice, and to answer questions. How often do you get that kind of access to someone for help? I’m sold!

The whole reason for this post is not about to sit here and air my dirty laundry and very personal things–it’s not everyday that someone talks about their lady parts in print–but to make one point very clear: you don’t have to live in discomfort. Symptoms that you know aren’t normal absolutely aren’t normal. Only you are the expert of your body. We don’t just have to “deal” with things, we can get to the root of the problems we’re experiencing and there is relief.

And I promise…it’s not a regular thing to talk about my lady parts here, lol.

The 40 Before Fifty

Next weekend I turn 40 years old. No, it’s not old, but for many it tends to mark a milestone. To be quite honest, I don’t mind getting older–with age comes experience, and there’s something rewarding about having that experience acknowledged and valued–which hasn’t been the case until recent years. Along with getting older, I am probably one of the handful of people that enjoy looking older. I have always appeared younger than I am, and probably once a week or more, I’m still assumed to be in college/early 20s. This comment isn’t flattering, because the assumption is made on my age without knowing me, I am treated as a younger (read: inexperienced) individual before people learn about who I am, my knowledge, my experience, and what I bring to the table. Heck, I left my last table and started a whole new one! Also, I enjoy the “effects” of getting older–I think the silver strands that glitter in my hair that are now becoming grey and silver streaks are beautiful. (What can I say? Silver and natural red hair looks mighty good together, especially since embracing my curls! Thank you Curly Girl Method!)

As I approach my birthday, there isn’t a lot of fanfare or anything like that. No plans. Just as the last several years, it will be a day to relax and work at my leisure–especially since I’ve been able to structure the day that on Saturdays I send the car to work with my husband to keep myself focused on what I want to get done for the day, and since the majority of clients come to me, or are virtual, I can be a captive audience.

I got to thinking about the last decade of life, and how things have changed. I can tell you in complete confidence that I am happier, stronger, healthier, more confident, more engaged in my spiritual growth, and living in complete peace and joy–all things I wasn’t experiencing upon turning 30. Life is utterly different, and beyond comprehension better than I ever could have dreamed. If that much can change in a decade–especially in the last 7 years as I’ve focused on my holistic health and the last 18 months since our newest chapter–what does God have in store for the next 10 years? 20 years? 30+ years? It’s so exciting to me as to what can be next that I am overwhelmed with anticipation.

I’m not much of a bucket list gal, but you all know #igotgoals, and in this anticipation of what lies ahead, I’m making a list of the 40 things that I want to accomplish in my 40s–which will be from here on out, the #40beforefifty. All of these things are seemingly one-off events and activities, but they all require the systematic planning, action steps, and ultimately goal achievement to check them off the list. Some will take longer than others, but I’m here for the ride–and after the last several years, I know wholeheartedly that anything is possible. So, without further delay (and in no particular order)…

The #40beforefifty

  1. Complete an Ironman triathlon
  2. Conduct a Heart & Sole retreat at a minimum of 3 out-of-state locations
  3. Run a 100-mile ultra marathon
  4. Get a second vehicle so my husband has his own
  5. Purchase a brand-new vehicle
  6. Go to Mexico
  7. Go to Greece
  8. Go to Italy/Sicily
  9. Complete a cycling tour
  10. Write a book (my own book-yes, I am releasing one this fall with other co-authors)
  11. Create an online course
  12. Zero debt (with the exception of mortgage)
  13. Work 30 hours a week or less on direct client care (aka: building my trusted team to take care of everything else in my business so I can focus solely on clients)
  14. Renovate our kitchen
  15. Put in new flooring throughout the house
  16. Paint the outside of the house a different color
  17. Put in a solid wall in the backyard so we don’t have to see the neighbor’s yard
  18. Screen in the back patio and front porch sitting area
  19. Make the entryway to our home more accessible (railings and other ADA compliance to make in-person services here on site attainable for more individuals
  20. Complete a race (triathlon or running) on another continent
  21. Appear on a national television platform
  22. Give a Ted Talk
  23. Furnish our guest room
  24. Complete furnishing our master bedroom
  25. Provide my husband the garage of his dreams for his hobbies
  26. Go sky-diving
  27. Ride in a hot air balloon
  28. Go out for a day in a boat on the lake (yes, we’ve lived in Lake Havasu 7 years and have never been out on the lake, sans swimming from shore)
  29. Take a spa/girls trip in Sonoma County or other wine country area
  30. Take an Alaskan Cruise
  31. Go on an Israel study tour with our church with my husband
  32. Upgrade and expand the equipment in my gym
  33. Fund a mission trip through our church’s different mission ministries
  34. Create the ability/sustainability to take a trip to visit my family on the east coast annually
  35. Be president of our Kiwanis Club (slow your roll, nominating committee–not for a few years)
  36. Hold a local elected office (no, I won’t say which one I’m passionate for yet, but I know)
  37. Mentor a new-to-the-industry trainer under the Heart and Sole umbrella that encompasses my same values, philosophy, and HAES alignment
  38. Give a keynote lecture
  39. Publish in a reputable medical or mental health journal
  40. Renew our wedding vows in the dress of my dreams

Some may understand my desire for some of these goals/outcomes, some may not. That’s okay–they’re mine, not yours. In every single one of them there’s planning, intentional action, and goal achievement that comes in to play. When I look at this list in it’s entirety, it’s overwhelming–but I remind myself of the momentum of the last decade and how life is completely transformed, and remember that I have the ability to accomplish all 40 and more, but also stay grounded in daily living the life of my dreams that I already have today. Some items easier than others, but not a single one of these are unattainable. Like I mentioned above, anything is possible.

#igotgoals and will be unstoppable–stay tuned as I start to check off the #40beforefifty

Money, Money, Money…

…Mon-ey! (C’mon, you started singing the song as you were reading the title, admit it. I know I wasn’t the only one!)

We all know that I’ve never been one to shy away from touchy subjects, and money is one of those that for many of us increase the heart rate, tighten the muscles, raise the blood pressure, and even make us feel a little warm under the collar. It’s personal! Just like our physical health, our habits, our fitness, our nutrition, our emotional well-being, and so much more…we don’t like getting deep in conversation about our financial health and wellness.

I’m going to give it to you straight–suck it up, pull off the band-aid, and have the hard conversations around money.

Now I’m going to soften that blow a bit through some of our experiences and hopefully make that idea seem like less of a blow. For those just joining the party, you don’t know that in the beginning of 2020 my husband and I walked away from a life dedicated to service. Though the stipend for our living expenses was humble, it was a steady and reliable income with benefits that we chose to leave behind. We made that choice for more reasons than we even chose to express in our two-page resignation letter; God had something different.

Not only did God have something different, God had something far better when we chose to walk in that obedience. But, of course, that doesn’t mean everyday is sunshine and roses either–because we still have to support ourselves and function in a society where cash is king above the One we worship.

One of the first things that we did was create a family budget. This needs to be an easy working document that you can come back to and alter often. For us, the biggest edits we have made are income with sources of income from my husband’s employment changing, and then as my business started to become solvent, the process of what I pay myself and how expenses between our household and a residential business are determined. We love online calculators because we can take the numbers from our different spreadsheets and get a fast determination on what we need to alter and where without the headache of doing the math.

In setting up that family budget and determining our household expenses, we also had to consider how debt played into the equation. Starting over as “brand new adults” with only six months severance in our pocket, at the outset of moving, we accrued some consumer debt. In setting a plan with how to eliminate that debt without paying more interest than necessary, again, we hit the calculators to give us a clear picture of how much to budget for each payment and where that debt was best seated between creditors to pay things off quickly.

We don’t completely institute all steps of Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, we do employ a number of the concepts into our savings and spending. The radio show is usually on in our car when we’re driving about in the evenings, and Financial Peace University is a great place to develop accountability around money.

The big piece to the financial puzzle that has been the hardest to conquer with the greatest amount of reward, is conquering money mindset. We did not realize that due to the work we had done for so many years that deeply engrained a scarcity mindset around those dollars. We don’t just wake up one day and live in freedom and with an abundance mindset, it takes careful and intentional cultivation, prayer, trust, and courage to make the transformation. The biggest helps that I have had in the journey are the mentorship of my two (yes, two) business coaches, Caterina Rando and Laura Gisborne–as I affectionately call my dynamic duo. These women have helped me to position myself in business and personally to grow and thrive, to increase my value (incoming and what I put out to the world through my business), and move the needle from fretting over every dollar to understanding and trusting that I am just a conduit for God’s money and giving freely of what I have been entrusted–and through that, all my needs are met.

Through this money mindset transformation, we have been able to support our church above and beyond our tithe, my business engages in monthly giving, I have developed a program to support others that are not able to afford my services with no-cost and low-cost options, we invest in the our future, and meet our current financial obligations.

Easy? No. Totally worth it? Absolutely!

Let’s hear from you on what your best financial successes or tips that help you thrive!

Money made easy at:

Ditch The Diet Swap: Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Welcome to the first of what will be many reimagined recipes from some of my old favorite diet cookbooks. Yes, diet cookbooks. You know, those recipes where you had to go out and spend extra money on tasteless, cardboard-y, and usually chemically-modified ingredients to enhance the flavor in order to replace the calories, fat, or sugar that was being taken from the original products?


I’m reclaiming these recipes and our taste buds to create them in a cost effective manner where they are packed with flavor, real food, nutrient dense ingredients, and broken down in the simplest and easy (and/or fastest) ways to prepare them.

First up, comes from probably one of my most referenced diet cookbooks–the biggest offending diet ingredient in the original recipe called for non-fat powdered creamer to create the creamy effect in the soup. I have altered the amounts/ingredients so much, this recipe is lightyears from the original and SO MUCH more flavorful! Oh, and this recipe cost me $2.97 to make because I got a killer deal on the squash.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • About 4 cups (1.5 lbs.) diced butternut squash
  • 1 onion, cut in small pieces
  • 3-4 smashed garlic cloves (Or, if you’re me–2x that quantity #allthegarlic)
  • 4 cups of your favorite stock (vegetable, chicken, beef, etc)
  • 1/4 cup Hatch green chile (fresh, frozen, or just canned green chiles–more or less to taste, and be aware of the level of spice!)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (optional)

Bring all of the ingredients except the milk to a boil and simmer at a low boil for 60-90 minutes until butternut squash dices are tender all the way through (you could steam the squash first, but it creates a less creamy texture to the soup that breaks later in leftovers).

Bring down temperature of mixture for a few minutes from boiling and add to blender with the milk (optional) and puree completely to a creamy texture. The squash on its own creates the creamy texture, so the milk only enhances it and helps to temper the heat of the chiles–up to you! Serve hot or cold, it’s delicious both ways!

My test batch created roughly 1.5 liters of soup. This freezes beautifully or lasts several days in the fridge. Great for a main dish and the leftovers can be for lunch for a few meals depending on family size. Enjoy!

I would love to know if you make this dish–please provide some feedback or tweaks you made to the recipe in the comments!

Spicy Condiments to Make Your Snacks Better

Snacks are the best part of any workday.  They pull you away from the stress of your nine to five and give you something fun and tasty to focus on.  Although you could easily go for some yogurt or bagel bites, a real snack needs some strong flavor to boost your energy!  Spicy food has been seeing a massive surge in popular culture as more people are cooking from home than ever before- and because of this, even our snacks are kicking it up a notch.

Here are the top spicy condiments to boost the flavor of any food you could possibly eat!


This spicy red sauce has been enjoying a surge in popularity for the last ten years.  Based on a famous red Thai cooking sauce, it gets its heat from red jalapenos, which on their own aren’t that hot!  When mixed and fermented with vinegar and then condensed to a thick squeezable paste, the heat comes out to play!  This can be a delicious dipping sauce for any fresh-cut vegetables or even just drizzled on a little rice.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Spicy and flavorful jelly has gained a cult following in the last couple of years, with people learning how to make their own and coveting whichever brands they do like buying from.  Jalapeno pepper jelly mingles sweet and savory flavors together into a perfect mixture that will wake you up and get you energized.  You can enjoy this spread on anything from crackers to sandwiches and even make it into a salad dressing by mixing it with vinegar or olive oil!  It’s incredibly versatile and packs a punch!


If you’re familiar with sriracha, it’s time to kick it up a notch with gochujang.  This sweet and spicy chili paste is everything that sriracha is: plus more.  The thicker consistency lends itself well to cooking, but it can also be used for anything from a dipping sauce to something you can scramble into an egg or some minced veggies.  The heat builds on you, and you’ll find yourself wanting to both eat more and also take a break for some water to quench the heat!

Banana Ketchup

This fun Philippine sauce is so much more than its name lets on.  Made with bananas, sugar, spices, and vinegar- it’s usually sold being no spicier than a banana is on its own.  Fortunately for anyone who can get to a good Asian market: there are tons of spicy varieties.  The spicy versions of this sauce are spunky and fun, and fabulous on anything you can eat!

Brown Mustard

Although this sauce isn’t new or thought to be as thrilling as its counterparts on this list, brown mustard packs a punch that shouldn’t be ignored!  Using brown mustard seeds as a base, and often containing the full seeds for texture, brown mustard keeps the original tangy flavor of the condiment while adding heat that can liven up any sandwich or soft pretzel.  You can buy, or make, variations with a smokier flavor or balance it out with yellow mustard for less heat: but it deserves a spot on this list for its longevity of use!

Which ones do you enjoy? Which ones are you going to branch out and try next?

Support a Sole Project

Accessibility is one of the major pillars that I run Heart and Sole Fitness and Wellness on–and I’ve worked tirelessly since its inception to ensure my ideal clients not only understand they are worthy of access to fitness, wellness, accountability, and health services that they desire and connect them to it if I am not the one that is the right fit, but also work to breakdown the barriers that stand in the way of accessibility to those services. In large part, I have been successful in this endeavor, but there’s two areas of accessibility here at Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness that need some solutions, and I’m inviting you today to be a part of this radical solution.

There’s always going to be people that fall through the cracks in life, I have been keenly aware of that for the better part of my life in my previous career, but through the COVID-19 pandemic I have seen too many individuals have to sacrifice care of themselves through the services of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness because they have:

  • Contracted COVID-19 (themselves or a family member) and not been able to renew ongoing contracts due to healing/contagion
  • Financial constraints due to COVID-19 in lost jobs, reduced hours, etc and we have been unsuccessful in matching their benefits, getting them enrolled in other wellness benefit programs to cover services, or working on an equitable sliding scale to make services possible
  • Childcare expenses due to children being home have taken priority over individual self care so the parent can remain employed

I could list other reasons, but these are the main topics that I deal with. When I am not able to empower a client to break that accessibility barrier, I am not doing my job. It is not only heartbreaking that an ideal client is going without services, it is affecting the operating expenses of small business that has been open weeks shy of a year in the midst of COVID-19 and my avenues of client lead, acquisition, retention, and networking all had to be pivoted extremely quickly as the world shut down within a month of opening for business. Accessibility has had a huge impact on Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness in being such a young business, that I have not been eligible for federal grant and loan monies, not eligible for many of the mainstream grants from agencies such as The National Chamber of Commerce and The Better Business Bureau, and I have applied for over 30 large and small grant, service, and program opportunities with no support to date. I am beyond grateful for my clients, the collaborations, and the communities that I am able to be of service in each and every day to provide people with the ability to reach their wellness goals, but in order to continue honoring that value of accessibility, I have had it laid upon my heart to try something radical here at Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness.

Enter… the Support a Sole Project

While many people have gone through hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many others that continue to thrive in their situations and are in a position to pay it forward in different ways toward individuals and small business. This is a grassroots crowdfunding opportunity to cut out the fees and expenses of other internet platforms that take a piece of the generosity your gift to support others in achieving their goals so they can empower others is meant for. The ripple effect is HUGE here. If you know my story, you know the power of taking that step out in faith, the support of others, and how it comes full circle to help make a greater impact on those that need YOU most (and if you don’t know my story, let’s chat!)

Here’s how the Support a Sole Project works:

  • You make a financial gift that you feel led to make via Paypal just by going to
  • For the first $5,000 raised–50% will go to the Support a Sole Project Fund for direct client services to bring in those clients that are experiencing hardship in accessing services from Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness and 50% will go toward the operating expenses of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC
  • After the initial $5,000 is raised–85% of gifted funds will go to the Support a Sole Project Fund for direct client services for those experiencing hardship who cannot access services with Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness through other means and 15% of funds will be used for operating expenses and ongoing support services (contracted services from other small businesses) of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC
  • Weekly updates, client impact, and full accounting will be available on the upcoming landing page for the Support a Sole Project that will be live this weekend. Transparency and integrity is the name of the game.

This is something that is important to me and I feel a great sense of urgency to move out to the masses immediately. Coming this afternoon will be a video that explains more in-depth the Support a Sole Project, and this weekend I’ll launch a formal landing page on my website–but I did not want to delay any longer. I ask if nothing else that you share this post far and wide, ask questions, and share with those that have a heart for the mission of the work of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness.

Your financial gift to the Support a Sole Project is gratefully appreciated more than you know–please note that Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC is NOT a charitable organization.

I am stepping out in excitement and faith in this endeavor that together we are going to do something BIG to make an impact on people’s live that need some hope the most. Let’s do this!

Our Best Year Ever

I know…I know…not many people are saying 2020 is the best year ever–but I also know many that are. What’s the difference?


We can focus on the absolute sh*tstorm of “are you serious?!” moments that 2020 has brought about, or we can focus on the good things that have happened in our lives. I am not going to lie, 2020 has been EXTREMELY difficult on my husband and I with many hurdles that we have faced and overcome together, but it would have been even worse if we had chosen to stay stuck in the suck of each situation that has come along this year and not keep finding solutions and moving forward.

So here’s where 2020 started–

Our resignation as Salvation Army officers (pastors and business administrators), effective February 2020

One year ago today, on December 30, 2019, we submitted our resignation from a ministry and career we had dedicated our lives 24/7/365 for many years. This was a testament to God moving in our lives and affirming and confirming His will and changing our plans to HIS timing–in our original plan to resign, we had decided fall 2020 was the “right time,” then spring 2020–but once we started working out what we needed to do in order to start over in life, God flung every door open for us in short order. Finally, we couldn’t deny it and drag our feet in fear any more, and put the fleece out–we said once we had a home, we’d put in our resignation. We started looking for homes online, made a few phone calls, and in the end, only saw one in person–because It. Was. Perfect. The home we had chosen was in the perfect location, exactly what we were looking for in terms of the needs for running my business separate from our living spaces and appropriate for our family. The homeowners were our answer to prayer to work with and we are grateful for them. So, we got our house on December 29, 2019…submitted our resignation on December 30, 2019…purchased our car on December 31, 2019…started packing and winding up our ministry…and February 2, 2020 was the start of our new life. What we anticipated to take us a year took us six weeks. In hindsight, had we not been obedient in continuing forward in God’s timing, it likely wouldn’t have happened–with the pandemic, availability of housing in Havasu, and so many other things that occurred in 2020. Life lesson: It’s okay to leap before you look if you know Who’s holding the net.

Here’s the highlights of some of the amazing things that have happened this year (by no means an exhaustive list because I’m sure to forget plenty!):

  • Our marriage has improved
  • Family relationships have changed
  • We have become members at a Bible-based church that aligns with our values
  • I have become an elder in that church and joined the choir and hand bell choir
  • My dream is a reality–Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness!
  • I am a part of a women’s entrepreneurial community where I have formed new friendships, collaborations, and relationships beyond my dreams
  • I have been able to invest time in friendships that I haven’t had time for previously
  • I have been able to be a part of organizations and groups that are important and meaningful to me, like our Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Ministerial Association, and others
  • I have accomplished so many goals in personal healing that I have set in for my emotional health
  • I am learning to speak up for myself, be visible, and not shrink back from the world because no one is waiting around the corner to admonish me for standing in the truth or speaking my opinion
  • I have the privilege and honor every single day to walk alongside others with compassion and love as they accomplish their goals–and may I never stop waking up in awe over the ability to do so

As I’ve been typing this, I have been listening to a wellness Facebook Live that is talking about doing the very thing I’ve been doing–the power of listing the wonderful things that have happened this year and making a gratitude list. Have you done that recently? I encourage you to try it–maybe list a few in the comments here, or if you’d rather keep them private, email me and share them so I can share in your joy! I’m going to keep thinking and come back and add more as they come to mind too!

Let’s make 2021 even BETTER!!!

Must Bake Recipe: Raspberry Bread

Okay, the one time in my life I didn’t take a photo of a new recipe I experimented with…sorry friends!

I was sitting here on Saturday evening, a bit chilly (therefore let’s warm up the kitchen and living room with the oven), wanted a nibble of something sweet, didn’t have anything planned yet for Sunday breakfast…so, I wandered over to the depths of Pinterest to see what I could bake. Of course, I didn’t have quite all the ingredients for the recipes I was coming across, but I did come across one that I could modify that actually came out better than I think the original would have (because I think the original would have been too sweet)–and with my modifications, it actually became more of something I wanted to consume with ingredients that I know that make me feel good inside and out, and help my body perform better. (aka full permission/gentle nutrition–two principles of intuitive eating)

So, after enjoying said recipe on Saturday evening and Sunday morning for breakfast, I sliced the rest of the loaf for a couple families and delivered it on Sunday evening (I’ve been making some special deliveries lately of meals, cooking for others is a love language of mine) and it got positive reviews–since I modified the recipe so much from the original, I figured I would share my version here so you can experiment with it (and maybe improve it) too!

Raspberry Bread

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 Tbsp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried (1 container)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek Yogurt (I’m partial to the Greek Gods brand because I like the thicker, custardy texture)
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a non stick loaf pan (or just non-stick spray and parchment paper like me!).
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until fully moistened.
  • Toss the raspberries with the remaining 1 Tbsp all purpose flour so they don’t sink (mine still sunk). Gently fold into the batter.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes back clean (This took 65 minutes for me, but I use an electric oven and a stoneware loaf pan). Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar before serving (non-pro tip: don’t use your flour sifter to dust with powdered sugar, I ended up dousing the loaf with it!)
Since I didn’t get a pretty recipe picture, enjoy a photo of this beautiful painted rock I was gifted today!

How To Support #SmallBusinessSaturday

This year, more than ever, the emphasis is on shopping local, dining local, giving local, and supporting local businesses. Obviously, the easiest response to this need to simply shop local this holiday season, but I invite you to think a little bit deeper in how you can really love on small businesses and small business owners in your community this year.

As we know, many larger companies have been pushing out Black Friday sales for some time, a bit earlier than usual, but have you made a plan or looked into what’s going to be offered yet from some of your favorite small businesses and services on Saturday, November 28–in case they haven’t announced it yet?

Do That.

Maybe just purchasing products or services from your favorite small businesses/service providers doesn’t seem like enough this year? Maybe you’re in a position to bless them with more? Or maybe you don’t need their products or services right now, but you’d like to support them–here’s some creative ideas to show some love for #SmallBusinessSaturday:

  • Purchase products and services (I think that’s a given)
  • Purchase gift cards/gift certificates (you might not be in the market for a specific product or service right now–but might be in the near future, or know someone you can gift it to)
  • If you have a specific product or service that you provide, and you feel moved to gift those products/services, ask if they would be supportive to that business/owner
  • Share advertisements–both on social media and in print
  • Refer friends
  • Write reviews for the business on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Nextdoor, and other places the business is listed
  • Gift owners and/or employees with supportive care. This year has been extremely difficult for many small businesses with the workload, lessened hours, closures, and in many cases, decreased income–grocery store gift cards, restaurant gift cards, even gift certificates for a few hours of house cleaning can take a huge burden off some of these entrepreneurs.
  • Tip graciously.
  • Partner with a business for a giveaway or contest to help increase their exposure and visibility

Remember, not every small business has had the same experience this year. It’s easy to make assumptions that “everyone is going to be okay” because of various governmental and local pandemic assistance programs and public and private grants that have been made available, but every single one of the loan and grant programs have eligibility requirements, and there’s always people that fall through the cracks because of business size, business age, industry, etc. There are businesses in your communities that despite every effort have received no relief assistance and have continued to work hard daily to keep their doors open. What can you do today to support those working hard around you?

You’re So Loud!

I’ve written before about the greatest compliment I’ve ever received, several years ago when a temporary employee that hadn’t seen me in a year looked at me one afternoon and with all sincerity, “you just look so happy!”–she will never understand how life-changing that statement was to me. She was the first person as I was going through so much transformation in my body to acknowledge the inside work that took place made the exterior changes possible. That was priceless.

Several weeks ago, I walked into a weekly meeting and greeted the room as I entered, and the self-proclaimed curmudgeon in the room (*more on him in a second) without skipping a beat, exclaimed, “You’re so loud!”

Now, under any other circumstance, I might be extremely embarrassed and shut down over such a remark–but I also have to say, this statement was also followed up with a giant smile and a big hug from the gentleman that proclaimed it. This man has known me since we moved here (the first time), shares my personal values of integrity and transparency, and shared many of the frustrations we had in other areas of life previously when he sat on our board for a time. He has seen me in group situations where I was afraid to say a word to where now I have taken on leadership, speak up, and don’t back down when it’s appropriate.

People that have met me recently often comment they see me as an extrovert, and in some ways, it feels good that I’ve got people fooled. I absolutely come to an ease in many situations and am learning my way in others, and I always love meeting new people and speaking about the things that I’m passionate about–but the reality is, I am absolutely an introvert and people still scare the absolute crud out of me. I don’t thrive with the pressure of groups or being put on the spot–but still like to be included, savor my alone time, and don’t mind collaboration but do my best work individually.

Introvert/extrovert labels aside, I’ve definitely got to count, “you’re so loud!” as probably the second best compliment I’ve received–to me, it’s an edifying remark of coming into my voice. I’ve taken the time in my business, politically, spiritually, and the groups that I join to carefully cultivate the people in my life I align myself with so that I have the joy and freedom to speak when and how I’m moved to do so. I WANT to be considered loud, because when I speak, it’s important–I don’t speak to simply be heard, I speak because it’s worth being said.