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Wine is a Journey Not a Destination
July 6, 2016 at 12:00 am 0
I'm thrilled to have food and wine blogger, Marie Leon of PetiteTaste on the blog today. She recently traveled to Donelan Family Winery , where she discovered, wine is a journey, not a destination. Marie is sharing her experience and the wines she recommends. Next time you're in Santa Rosa, California make sure you add Donelan Family Winery to your list!
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Donelan: Wine is a Journey Not a Destination

Normally, I would just write about a winery in a destination round up post, but my experience at Donelan deserved so much more! Even this post may not be enough to explain the amazing experience I had there. The only thing I wish I did differently is I wish I took more pictures! I guess that means I need to return! More on Donelan and what bottles I purchase will be in the Sonoma Itinerary, but until then feel free to enjoy the read of my experience at Donelan!

The Location:

3352-D Coffey Lane
Santa Rosa, California 95403

The Experience:

The tasting room isn't a huge room or bar with multiple appointments and groups crowding around. So if you are looking for the next stop on your bachelorette trip I'd advise that you look elsewhere. If I learned anything from my experience is that Donelan was about the experience, it was about making me feel welcomed and a part of how and why this family makes wine. I learned so much, it was a very relaxed tasting, Tripp was there to answer all of our questions. He was very welcoming and walked us around the space. I liked that he not only served us but did the tasting with us as well. 

This was a more personable and quaint experience which I really appreciated. Tripp himself sits with you and walks you through each bottle of wine. He talks about how they are made, which winery they come from and he even shares which family member the wine is named after. He sits down with you and just talks, he is opened to questions and if you know NOTHING about wine he will gladly help you through the tasting. We went here with two of our friends who are more beer drinkers than wine drinkers and Tripp was able to talk about beer making and related to wine to help them understand. That I thought was really impressive it made the conversations more relatable for them too.

The Recommendation: 

If you want to experience the wonders Donelan wines give Tripp a call and let him know I sent you! You can give him my name Marie Leon or my boyfriend's name Alex Dulwick, Alex is on the mailing list so Tripp might recognize that name better. I don't make many trips to Sonoma, but now I feel like we have too! Trust me you will NOT be disappointed after your visit here. 

The Wine:

Okay, so I am sure we have all gone to a new winery and have tried the wine and feel like everything tastes the same. I know I have visited places like this a time or two. I can't express enough how every bottle of Donelan wine is so different. The quality of the wine is strong throughout each vintage, but each wine is unique in flavor. Almost as unique as the names they carry. The best part about the unique flavors is that Tripp is there to talk you through all of them! The two bottles that stand out the most to me are Tripp's Block and Walker Vine Hill. The Tripp's Block is a smoky pinot that he describes as a cigar box. The smells and flavors of this wine really took you to a cigar shop and the relaxing atmosphere.  The Walker Vine Hill is a syrah that has flavors of blue fruit. That to me was very unique I could really taste the blueberries and tannins on the palate. More in depth reviews on this wine to come soon!

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Wine Down Wednesday: SkinnyPop Popcorn Releases Two New Flavors
June 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm 0
There's a lot popping over at SkinnyPop Popcorn and we have the skinny on two of their new flavors. For all you chocolate lovers out there, like myself, they just came out with a dusted dark chocolate popcorn. And if you prefer a little spice to your popcorn, look no further they've created a jalapeño popcorn sure to satisfy any craving! SkinnyPop has no artificial ingredients, flavors or preservatives in their products - free of GMOs, MSG, dairy, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and gluten free. Popcorn is a great source of fiber and SkinnyPop is only 39 calories a cup, so it’s perfect for any night spent in with a good glass of wine! Next time you're planning on binge-watching your favorite TV show, check out this helpful wine + popcorn pairing chart SkinnyPop created that illustrates which wine pairs best with their variety of popcorn flavors. Happy snacking and Happy #WineWednesday!   SkinnyPop Wine (2)  
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How to Find the Perfect Workspace in NYC: Girl with a Hotspot Shares Her Favorite Spots
May 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm 0
Today, we're catching up with Jen Pinto, the creative genius behind the Instagram account, Girl with a Hotspot, where she discovers all the best places in New York City with you guessed it...the best wifi hotspots. She's sharing her favorite spots  in NYC with us - Jen says they must have good wifi, a good workspace and of course good food.

       Ralph's Coffee: 711 5th Ave. NYC      Above the Ralph Lauren flagship store

1. We love your Instagram account, Girl with a Hotspot. Tell us how it started.  I started my own company 3 years ago, JPINTO Consulting, after many years in the fashion industry working at brands such as Nanette Lepore, Prada, Gucci and Calvin Klein. As a Public Relations consultant on the run, I have the freedom to work from anywhere. As I was figuring out where to have a desk for the day on a daily basis, I started to find myself taking snapshots of spots around the city that I wanted to remember to go back to in the future. I started to realize that it was not easy to find the perfect spot that had all the components of a workspace for an entrepreneur on the run…super fast wifi, mello vibe, good coffee and atmosphere and a place to plug in or potentially have a meeting. A lot to consider!! With the growing number of freelancers and startups, I thought it would be helpful to capture the best spots around NYC that didn’t feel like your typical big chain kind of place so started @girlwithahotspot 2. Any tips for people looking for the perfect workspace in New York City (or any city)? The best way to find your hotspot is to understand what is on the agenda for the day. Firstly, I try to base my decision on location and whether I have meetings in a particular neighborhood or where I may need to land. I also like to know if there are other wifi hotspots nearby in case I need a change of scenery. You realize as an independent, that variety during the day is a good thing. Secondly, I like to choose a place that may be good to conduct phone calls or meetings hence, a mello vibe. Lastly, I like to know that I can find a plug if I need one which we know always helps when you are on the run! Though if you are in a bind, always remember that a hotel lobby is always a great move as more often than not, they will have everything you need including free wifi.

         Crave Espresso Bar: 386 Canal St. NYC

3.Where are some of your favorite hotspots in the city? As I am constantly exploring, I find myself saying, “this is my new favorite spot” as there are really so many! If I had to narrow it down, I would say The Marlton Hotel is a great location as it really has it all. Great seating areas, super fast wifi, plugs and a sophisticated atmosphere for a meeting. Other favorites include Ralph’s Coffee in the Ralph Lauren flagship boutique on 5th Avenue, Café Whynot, Joe and the Juice, The Freehold and sitting outside at The Highline Hotel near the Intelligentsia truck now that Spring is finally here :)

Joe and the Juice - 43 W 42nd St. NYC

For more hotspots in NYC and beyond, follow Jen on Instagram @girlwithahotspot     
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3 Ways A Pour Over Coffee Will Improve Your Life
May 9, 2016 at 12:00 am 0
coffee-1495712 A great morning coffee routine can set a positive tone for the entire day. If your day is started with dread, worry and doubt. It would make sense that your day will continue to follow that pattern. If we start the day with gratitude, accomplishment and positivity, it would make sense that our day would continue to follow that pattern. So, given the choice of your days being filled with dread, worry and doubt, or your day being filled with gratitude, accomplishment and positivity; which would you choose? I’ve used many different methods to make my coffee over the years. A Mr. Coffee, Keurig Machine, French Press and recently I’ve been using the pour over method. I use a Hario grinder to manually grind my beans, then I boil water, prepare the filter and beans in the pour over dripper, then pour over the water. The important thing here is that I prepare my coffee this way because it takes time. I use this time to prime my brain for positive thinking. Step 1. Get the positivity ball rolling. While grinding the beans I will say out loud 3 things that are awesome about me. These don’t have to be big. Such as, “I’m awesome because I’ve found the cure for cancer.” Though if that it is, you then say it loud and proud! For me they’re usually simpler. For example. “I am an awesome friend.” “I am awesome at making pancakes.” “I am awesome with excel.” This kind self-talk is a great way to shift your mindset into one of positivity. We can actually shape the perspective with which our mind’s eye sees. Makes sense, right? If I’m consistently telling myself negative things like “I’m not good enough," “I’m terrible at excel,” then guess what? I will manifest those negative thoughts and I won’t be good enough. If your excel skills need improving try telling yourself, “I am awesome at seeking out instruction to improve my excel skills.” Now you’re putting your mind on a path toward positive action. Step 2. Practice gratitude. While I’m waiting for the water to boil I will write in a gratitude journal. I use the “Five Minute Journal” by Alex Ikonn; UJ Ramdas. Practicing gratitude allows us to celebrate the present and block out negative emotions that can destroy our happiness like envy, regret, resentment. You can’t be grateful and have envy at the same time. Leading scientific gratitude researcher, Robbert Emmons has studied thousands of people that keep a daily gratitude journal and has found they report a host of benefits: Physical • Stronger immune systems • Less bothered by aches and pains • Lower blood pressure • Exercise more and take better care of their health • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking Psychological • Higher levels of positive emotions • More alert, alive, and awake • More joy and pleasure • More optimism and happiness Social • More helpful, generous, and compassionate • More forgiving • More outgoing • Feel less lonely and isolated Step 3. The pour. Now that the water has boiled it’s ready to pour over the coffee beans and create that delicious cup of coffee. The water must be poured slowly and while doing this I can set my positive intention for the day. Dr. Deepak Chopra says, “An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish.” An intention should be upbeat and positive. It should also be kept in the present tense and be focused on the short term. Some examples of intentions are: • I will invite peace into my life. • I will lead by example. • I will improve the conversations I’m involved in. • I will be the love I want in my life. • I will embrace the differences in everyone. • I will be open to success. Having a morning coffee routine simply gives you the opportunity to focus your mind toward positivity, replace any negative thoughts and feelings with gratitude and set your intention for the day. When you do these things consistently, your life will improve and so will the taste of your coffee. About the Author: Andy Bates is a self development coach who helps people live a life of clarity about what they desire and then empowers them in going after it. He helps people to see opportunities, instead of problems and works with them to lead happier and more successful lives. Prior to coaching, Andy spent over ten years as the owner of a successful entertainment production company. Today Andy offers a wide range of coaching programs and services - from individual coaching, to seminars and keynote speeches. To contact Andy, please visit his coaching website at www.TheOptimalU.com.
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Morning Makeover: Become A Morning Person in 5 Easy Steps
March 28, 2016 at 12:00 am 0
Not a morning person? It’s ok. I’ve put together my 5 tips that will makeover your morning routine and will leave you feeling refreshed  and ready to conquer your day! Drink lemon water: Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning helps you wake up naturally. The juice from the lemon is a healthy stimulant that actives your body. Lemon water is also great to drink throughout the day if you find yourself needing an extra pick me up! Never hit snooze: Hitting snooze is probably the worst thing you can do in the morning. Instead, get in the habit of waking up the first time you hear your alarm. And by getting up with your alarm, you will have more time in the morning to do the next ideas on the list. Not only will you have more energy, you will also get rid of that groggy feeling making you want to crawl back into bed – we’ve all been there.  Meditate & Stretch: Mornings are always hard to find extra time. Allowing just 10 extra minutes to either mediate and stretch will not only make you feel better, but it will also wake you up! And after you stop hitting snooze, you will have those extra 10 minutes if not more! Turn up the volume: Listening to your favorite tunes first thing in the morning is an instant pick me up! Hit the gym: This may be hard at first, but try adding your workout into your morning routine. It’s a fact that hitting the gym in the morning will give you more energy throughout the day. And go to the gym before breakfast – you’ll burn more calories. What are some of your morning rituals? Would love to hear them!