First post of 2014: what you can expect from my blog

This is what you get when you use a cookie dough tube. (Photo circa 2005)

This is what you get when you use a cookie dough tube. (Photo circa 2005)

How’s everyone faring so far in this next revolution around the Sun? Thirteen days in, and I feel like I have learned a lot already in my day-to-day experiences. This past weekend was especially a learning lesson (well, two combined): I know I must overcome this hurdle I have encountered. In due time.

So, since this is a new year, I would like to incorporate more themed posts throughout the week. Last year, I left off with posts highlighting local businesses; I plan to continue this on Mondays so I can honor each of the local businesses for their unique offerings. On Wednesdays, I will keep my posts to personal updates, thoughts, etc. Since I am currently getting my novel reviewed by my wonderful friend, Shonell Bacon, I may also include updates on that novel (I aim to publish it this year). On Fridays, to exercise my creative writing muscles, I will include short stories to give the work week a bit of flavor at the end.

Anyway, that’s how things will be on my blog this year. Help me stay accountable on this!

Another Eventful Year Ends.

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Artsy year 2013

The ball has dropped in New York City for 2014, but I still have a little time left here in Denver to reflect upon 2013.

It’s been a crazy year for sure, both in good and bad ways. 2013 was the year I showed my Twitter prowess through winning conference passes and owning conference hashtags (see #launch2013 #incleadership #sxswv2v). This was also the year I realized that I didn’t want to do TAOpivot anymore. Some career turmoil throughout the summer plus another car accident….aiya >_< Then, the rise of Ms. Kwong’s Baked Goods and my transcription business.

Every year serves as a roller coaster ride for me; however, 2013 felt like the year where I realized my stage in life. I understood that I was no longer a flippant 20something (early 20s); I was well on my way towards a more stable time in my life. My group of friends changed (as it always does); I noticed that the age and demographics of my friendships skewed towards my age or older.

I became more aware of my finances and the negative self-talk I told myself; really focused on more overall self-care and creating a fitness/health plan based on what was best for me. Granted, the July accident threw a lot of my schedule out of whack for most of August to October; however, I am thankful for all the work I’ve had done with my chiropractor, cognitive therapist, physical therapist, and so forth.

2014 is already going to be a great year; I feel it in my bones.

Cafe Max: Bringing Europe & the US Coasts to Denver

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis

I first discovered Cafe Max back in mid-March on my way to get a pedicure. I do not remember what was there before the cafe; I just know I walked by and looked up and realized the cafe was there. I went on to my pedicure and asked the staff if they knew of anything about their new neighbor next door. “Oh, it’s a nice place; they have sandwiches, coffee, and other things.”

After the pedicure, I decided to scope out Cafe Max…and the rest is history (haha). I met Max on that first visit, and since then, we’ve become close friends along with his partner, Yuki. There was a period of time in late summer/early fall where I was at the cafe nearly every evening, doing work or keeping company with Max and his employees. I have joked that I am Cafe Max’s “biggest investor” because of the cash I have spent on the cafe’s offerings.

View of Cafe Max from the back table.

View of Cafe Max from the back table.

When people first walk into Cafe Max, they immediately feel transported to another place in the world: I have heard patrons call Cafe Max a “European-style cafe”, or “This reminds me of San Francisco/New York City.” Max will take any of the above: he wanted to bring a different concept of a cafe to Denver. Raised in the Bronx, Max has lived all over the country doing public relations and working at restaurants, so he has experienced a lot of different business environments. Cafe Max’s mission is to “provide nourishment and inspiration, inside a stylish environment that balances eclectic worldliness, with a welcoming sense of place. ”

At Cafe Max, patrons experience a cozy, almost “living room”-like environment: there are magazines and books available to peruse while patrons wait for their food or drink. The menu itself is different from what folks would expect in Denver: instead of the same ol’ pastries, Max has all unique desserts, either made in his kitchen or from local businesses (e.g., Humble Pie). In addition, Cafe Max’s menu has breakfast items (served all day!–my favorite!), continental plates, and coffee products (French Press, Cappucino, *authentic Cafe con Leche, and strong, bold cold coffee from La Colombe). If coffee isn’t your preference, there are also teas from all over the world to choose from; both caffeinated and herbal teas are available. Cold drinks include San Pellegrino sodas and sparkling water, organic juices, and unique offerings of beer and wine.

prezzolini prosecco at Cafe Max; what a cute little glass!

prezzolini prosecco at Cafe Max; what a cute little glass!

Cafe Max’s menu items are also accommodating to those with a gluten intolerance, having dishes and desserts gluten-free. Some items are also lactose-free.

I have practically eaten my way through the whole menu over the course of the past nine months: my favorite dishes are the Frittata w/organic greens, the Organic Salad w/goat cheese, and the Prosciutto Panini (also served with organic greens). The entrees are light and prepared to order. Cafe Max is not a place to grab-n-go quickly; Max and Yuki want patrons to linger, take some downtime at the cafe between business meetings, errands, etc.

Cafe Max is open on Mondays thru Saturdays from 8:30am to 10pm. On Sundays, the cafe closes at 6pm.

When you get the chance, Denver, come visit Cafe Max and experience the place firsthand. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to meet Max; he is very approachable and kind with an interesting sense of humor. You can visit the cafe on the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Josephine Street: 2412 E. Colfax Avenue, Denver 80206.

Caveman Cafeteria, Feeding a Revolution Paleo-style

Besides the incredible taste, did you know that Caveman Cafeteria's lamb is also 100% GRASS-FED?!

Did you know that Caveman Cafeteria’s lamb is 100% GRASS-FED?!

I first came to know about Caveman Cafeteria from their mobile food stand at 16th and Larimer back in May. I was on my way to the Market Street Station to ride a bus to DIA and saw the stand firmly anchored on that corner of the 16th Street Mall. I took a kale and wagyu beef dish with me to Market Street Station; satisfyingly much tastier than any food I could grab n’ go at the airport.

Since then, I have been following the Twitter account, @DenverCaveman (now @FeedARevolution) and have learned a lot about the Paleo Diet through the business. When they first announced their meal plans, I was intrigued: Monday thru Friday lunch and dinner for a full month? Sign me up (because I am lazy, ha). However, I did not want to commit to a full month without trying out some of the meals first. So, I waited…

And then, Caveman Cafeteria announced 1-week trials of their meal plans. I immediately signed up, justifying the cost as almost equivalent to a week’s worth of groceries (the meal plans cost a little more than my usual grocery trip).

Delicious 100% #grassfed WAGYU steak w/ #Organic golden yams, brocolli & demi-glace.

Delicious 100% grassfed WAGYU steak w/ Organic golden yams, brocolli & demi-glace.

I tried the Cavemean Meal Plans out during the week of October 14-18. First things first: pick up my lunchbox for my Monday and Tuesday meals (then I went back for my second lunchbox on Wednesday for Wed-Fri meals). Members have a choice of where to pick up their meal boxes at several Crossfit and other locations in the Denver area. I opted for pick-up at the Corepower Yoga on Grant/13th.

From the first bite, I was definitely enamored with Caveman’s meal preparation. I went with the 3-block medium portions and that was just the right amount of food for me that week. Grass-fed, organic meat with steamed vegetables was on the menu for the week; of course, various meat and vegetables were in each separate meal. My most favorite offerings that week were the wagyu beef (so tender! so juicy!), lamb, and the roasted yams and radishes. Yum yum.

Also, during my trial week, I had two delicious paleo salads–so many delicious nutrients with a light dressing. With the hot dishes, all I had to do was microwave them (or I had the option of baking the dishes, too) for a few minutes and voila~ meal, complete!

Alas, during my one-week trial, I forgot each time to take a photo of my meals for this post; instead, I contacted Will White, the Founder of Caveman Cafeteria, to get me some photos from his own collection.

100% #GrassFed Wagyu beef meatloaf w/ #Organic criminis, broccolini, fresh herbs & demi-glace; YUM!

100% GrassFed Wagyu beef meatloaf w/ Organic criminis, broccolini, fresh herbs & demi-glace; YUM!

After my trial week, I had the option of signing up for my monthly fill of meal plans. The smallest (medium portions) option is $499 for four weeks of meals during weekdays. This is the plan recommended for most women. There are also options of 4-block (large) portions for $599/month or 5-block (XL) portions for $699/month. The fees vary depending on how you pay for the plan. There are also options for couples and families.

Now here’s a disclaimer: I myself do not subscribe to Paleo principles, but I thoroughly enjoyed my meals from Caveman Cafeteria. Their meals are well-balanced and filling, no matter the size and no matter which diet (outside of Paleo) you work with. I would like to sign up for monthly meals sometime in early 2014; as of now, my funds are tight so I have to forgo the monthly option for the rest of this year.

My interactions with Will have been nothing but kindness and accommodating; Will built Caveman Cafeteria with the philosophy of being a YES company: whatever the customer wants or needs in meals, the business will get that request fulfilled. For example, with the meal plans, Caveman Cafeteria is willing to work around travel schedules. Don’t see many businesses like that doing the same thing. Will is very approachable and always willing to help and answer questions.

I highly recommend Caveman Cafeteria meal plans for those of you who have busy weeks/no time to cook! My weekdays are usually not too busy, but I admit that I usually avoid cooking meat for myself as the process always seems too laborious for just myself.

Try out a week and tell me what you think!

(And follow Caveman Cafeteria via FB or Twitter!)

Pressed Juice Daily: Denver’s Juice Source

 

Colorful bottles of delicious juices.

Colorful bottles of delicious juices.

Remember that post I wrote about my 3-day cleanse? That only happened several weeks ago; anyway, yes, I got all my juices, chlorophyll water, aloe water, and DELICIOUS raw almond milk from Pressed Juice Daily.

Pressed Juice Daily opened its doors in Denver on September 20th; the kiosk/store is located on the 16th Street Mall at Court (near the World Trade Center). I had only heard of PJD from their following me on Twitter; I was intrigued by the name and the concept. So I began following their Twitter account and pounced on the chance to check PJD out on opening day.

I was promised that I could sign a $1 bill for being the first to arrive; alas, I was second to arrive, but that was okay. The owners, Adam Cianciola and Christian Davis, are both so kind and accommodating. They make the juices daily (heck, apparently they did not get much sleep the hours before their grand opening; they were bottling and pressing their juices for the big day!) They let passersby sample some juice before they buy; kids and adults love the various kinds of juice. Sure, a bottle averages about $8 each, but I can imagine pressing so many juices daily takes a lot of time, energy, and money (especially for organic, natural fruits and vegetables).

Raw Almond Milk & Clarity 2

Raw Almond Milk & Clarity 2

Now, with the 3-day cleanse, I got 27 bottles of all the different juices (you can see what the cleanse includes on their page). At first I didn’t believe I could be successful with the cleanse (ah, my darn mind & its limitations). But throughout the first day, I found that I was not missing solid food. It helped that I was keeping track of my hours to space out the juices evenly throughout the day.

My favorites out of all the juices? Energy 2, Detox 1-2, and Clarity 2. One of the juices I had during the cleanse was seasonal: it had watermelon in it as well (I think that was in one of the Clarity bottles). Of course, I cannot stop raving about their raw almond milk; SO creamy and delicious. I could hardly believe that the milk was not sweetened with sugar, but with nature’s goodness. At the end of each day of my cleanse, I savored the raw almond milk, sipping slowly and mumbling “Mmmm” each time. Yes, it’s THAT good.

I succeeded in completing my cleanse by the end of that weekend; so thankful that I had PJD to guide me along with what to drink and when. Definitely felt cleaned out and ready to reset my diet.

While I know I can easily buy juices from national brands at Whole Foods, or hit up a well-established juice bar in town, I prefer the trip downtown to get cold pressed juice from PJD. I am all about supporting local, and I can see that the owners and their staff work hard to get the products out daily!

Check Pressed Juice Daily out when you’re wandering around on 16th Street Mall!

(Oh, and by the way, they do deliveries!)