Champagne, Pop Culture, Carbs, & Salt Water
What a wild ride last year was.
Pandemics suck (the understatement of the century), but there were so many amazing things that came out of it for me and my little family, that make me so grateful for the experience in it's entirety, and I wouldn't change a thing.
I was able to spend an incredible amount of time, even though sometimes challenging, building relationships with my little people and really getting a chance to see them grow and be part of it.
We became more unified as a family. I was forced to really evaluate my purpose with the work I do alongside my momming, which ultimately helped me grow unapologetically closer to my true calling and land my dream job.
I had an opportunity to really get to know myself; my likes, dislikes, the way I want to live my life, how I want to spend my time, and what lights me up, and figure out how to incorporate more of that into my life every day. I wrote about some of them here.
I discovered the importance and power of owning my personal brand, which helped me strengthen all the unique elements that make me uniquely me, and show up as my whole, authentic self everywhere.
I learned to love my life loudly, and the value of slowing down and how much happier I am with less stuff, less activities and less noise.
How about you?
It was an impactful year.
And these are just some of the major things that transformed me for the better, and what I will choose to remember.
On the whole, when I think about 2020, I specifically think of 4 major categories that ultimately shaped the year we had, and left a profound mark on my life, and my families life, forever. I'm excited to share them with you.
There was a lot of Champagne—which quite literally and figuratively kept me afloat, and I'm not mad about it one bit.
"In victory, you deserve Champagne; In defeat you need it." -- ???
Jury is still out on who actually should be given credit for this quote, but nonetheless, I love it, and it was so 2020.
When I recall the many experiences I had in my glass last year, I'm blissfully reminded of all the fabulous bottles of badass champagne that I consumed. We weren't dining out, or doing much of anything experience-wise outside of the home like most of you, and so my "fun budget" was spent on weekly bottle popping. Here are a few of my favorite grower champagnes that we had on heavy rotation:
Christophe Mignon. Organic and biodynamic viticulture. 6 generations of family winemakers on 6.3 hectares.
Jacques Lassaigne. Wines crafted from individual parcels. Manual disgorgement. 4.7-hectare family vineyard located in Montgueux.
Cazé-Thibaut. Organic and biodynamic viticulture. 10 generations of family history in the Vallée de la Marne.
AR Lenoble. Haute Valeur Environnementale or High Environmental Value (HEV) certified. Family owned and independent since its founding, and currently owned and managed by a sister-and-brother team.
If you can find these at your local wine shop, buy, buy, buy!
Did you know: all champagne grapes must be manually farmed, per the Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC). For reference, there are about 100 grapes per grape cluster, and it takes ~10-12 clusters (~1,200-ish grapes) to make just one bottle of wine. The average grower champagne producer (the little guys; more on that below) produces 18,000 bottles a year and there are roughly $300 million bottles of Champagne produced per year. Could you image hand-picking all of these grape clusters?! Talk about labor intensive work. This is one of the many criteria that contributes to the premium quality and price of champagne!
Side bar: Grower Champagnes (Récoltant-Manipulant, or "RM" on the label) are Champagnes produced by the estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown. When you buy Grower Champagne, you're buying wine made by the actual growers of the grapes and their families; you'll often see this style reference the vignerons, or "the people who cultivate a vineyard for winemaking". These wines are produced with more personality and different characteristics year-after-year, which differs from the big champagne houses (maisons) who create a house style that is consistent year-after-year and mass marketed (think: Moët, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier, Bollinger, etc.).
Grower champagnes (vignerons) often deliver exceptional QPR (aka Quality-to-Price Ratio). Plus, when you choose grower champagne over the well-known big Champagne houses, you're supporting the little guy and it just feels damn good.
Interested in learning more? Check out one of my favorite wine educators, Winefolly, and her article on Getting into Grower Champagne.
2. POP CULTURE. If liking main stream pop culture is wrong, I don't want to be right.
There were a lot of people and things that leveled up in 2020, entertained the hell out of me, and delivered a lot of joy despite the circumstances, and I am so grateful for that! I put together a little pop culture time capsule from the things that impacted my year and the hot trends that made my life better:
Dave Matthews' COVID-19 "Pay It Forward Live" Concert. Verizon launched a weekly streaming entertainment series to benefit small businesses, and the lineup was superb; Dave kicked it off.
Beyoncé's, Black is King. Brilliant, edgy, entertaining and educational. Queen Bey does it again.
Taylor Swift's, Folklore & Evermore albums; and her collaboration with Bon Iver—"Exile"—is excellent.
Justin Bieber's "Holy"; the music video captures the essence of how many Americans, and humans, experienced the pandemic; A must watch.
All things Peloton. The app, the bike, the motivational teacher vibes who were made even more accessible and easy to consume thanks to social media (Robin Arzon, Ally Love, Tunde Oyeneyin, Jess Simms, Denise Morton, Cody Rigsby, Alex Toussaint, and Adrian Williams are a few of my faves, but in reality they are all incredible)—all of it gave me life, kept me sane and fit, and served as a constant reminder that no matter what happens in the world or with my life, fitness will always be a core part of who I am and what I do. Even if you're not ready to splurge on the bike or tread, the Peloton App is worth a test run, and you can trial it for free for 30 days (I promise you'll be hooked).
Marco-Polo app. I was a late bloomer but I'm into it! Especially because it makes me feel more connected with the people I can't see, but truly care about.
The revival of the online business, and power of growing ones personal brand and presence online. What's your personal brand? Download the B&B Branding Bundle here to get started building yours today.
Video conference and home office setup & Zoom—a necessary evil/perk/requirement. I bought a ring light. I definitely feel the need to step up my VC game this year!
Michael Jordan's "The Last Dance": The untold story of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. I mean, what's better than MJ? Absolutely nothing, that's what. So, so, so good. And takes me right back to the days of #23-everything, and shooting 3s.
Upgraded athleisure. If you didn't invest in something made of spandex last year, were you even part of it?! Even though I got dressed every single day as if I was going to work, I certainly embraced this trend and invested in some fab new gear. Special shoutout to one of my favorite mother hustlers, Sara Blakely, and the Look at Me Now Seamless Leggings in Camo that I lived in from Spanx.
These things certainly shaped my 2020, and I am a better today for having had them in my life.
Raise your hand if you too are a self-proclaimed bread maker. Don't be shy.
I also joined the masses who fell into bread making, and discovered a killer focaccia recipe courtesy of Bon Apetite, that is now a staple in our house. Download, save and absorb the recipe and make Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia today.
Why was there so much bread making?! Probably because: "Bread baking is a thing we do in a crisis, perhaps because bread is one of the very foundations of human civilization, and perhaps because it has been marketed to us as life-giving. In the midst of quarantine, we turned, seemingly collectively, to techniques from the past, like coaxing yeast out of the air, the sort of sufficiently advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic. We have learned to create something from nothing."—from How to Bake Bread by Emily VanDerWerff
It's easily the most satisfying bread recipes I've ever attempted (and dreamed about). It was the perfect accoutrement to the many charcuterie boards we devoured (a weekly ritual), and it is super easy to make with very basic ingredients (flour, water, yeast, honey, salt, garlic; that's it!) and abso-friggin-lutely delicious. Get into it.
4. SALT WATER. For us, 2020 was the year of The Beach; and really was all about all forms of Salt Water.
Salt water is magical, in each and every form.
The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea. —Isak Dinesen
Last year I did a LOT of sweating—for sanity and health (duh), but I also had to counteract my carb-champagne-cheese consumption and keep my mind right. Daily am workouts became a lifeline for me (still are!). And thank god, because movement was and is truly medicine for me, in all ways. My body craves it.
I also really let myself feel all the feels. Talk about a good year to feel all the feels. Crying is so cathartic. I shed tears of sadness and joy and everything in between, and it felt so good to have the release, and to allow my feminine energy and all the emotions to live large. I've learned to embrace my feminine energy, and lead with it as a core part of who I am and the person I show up as in life, at work, and with all my relationships.
Sidebar: Now, leading with vulnerability and emotion—two strong feminine traits—doesn't mean you get to be a hot mess and bring your unprocessed thoughts and emotions everywhere you go; that would be a disaster. It is our responsibility, as adults and humans to clean that up first. It is very difficult (impossible?) to effectively lead, influence and make a positive impact with a messy and unmanaged mind. We must each have enough self awareness and self discipline to bring our managed minds to whatever we're doing. We must to the work on ourselves first. This is why I am such a strong believer in lifelong learning, self improvement, and therapy. GYLT (Get Your Life Together) first and go out there and leave your mark on the world.
And lastly, the beach. We spent so many days, weekends and ice-cream-and-seafood eating moments with a view, or smells, sounds and feels of the sea nearby, and it was life-giving. It was our reset and our refuge. Living on the East Coast, and being able to access a beach with a 30-40 minute driving distance, is such a gift for our family always and especially in a year where social distancing was paramount, and we took full advantage of it.
What a friggin' year.
But you know what's great? Each and every one of us were forced to be resilient, adapt and learn some things thanks to what we experienced and endured, and we're now pretty much able to handle anything.
I'm proud of us.