Come Together


Whether you watch football or not, chances are you heard a lot of hype during the last two weeks. This year there was plenty to discuss and debate. Emotions can run very high when folks have strong feelings about “their team,” and with the opinions around “deflate-gate” there was more “who are you cheering for?” buzzing around.

How does this relate to our business?

How often do you see something differently from your colleague, employee, client? Every day we are faced with different opinions, beliefs, viewpoints and preferences. Sometimes, these differences are in areas we feel very strongly, if not passionately about.  What if someone criticizes “your team” or your work?

There are many scenarios and opportunities for folks to disagree. But what we do and how we react makes all the difference in how we work together:

  • Will you listen to what the other person has to say completely before landing on what you think?
  • Do you really hear how the other person feels and why?
  • Do you want to understand where they are coming from?
  • Can you be accepting of their opinion even if it differs from yours?
  • Can you let go of the fact that they may not agree with you?

The more we can answer yes to these questions, the further we will all go. Reaching yes gets easier and easier as we focus on CV#5.  Regardless of how we feel about a situation, we can always Be Kind, Be Positive, and Be Gracious. 

Yes, even when we are cheering for different teams we can do that.

Clean Eating Tips


Clean Eating. This is a term that is overused & misused extensively.  The best “definition” (I use this term loosely) is by Eating Well’s registered dietitian.  Clean eating is “about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined (i.e. processed) grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. And since you don’t have to count calories or give up whole food groups, it’s easy to follow.”

Clean Eating Tips:

Limit processed foods

Bump up your vegetables

Cut down on saturated fat

Reduce alcohol intake

Un-sweeten your diet

Watch the salt

Choose whole grains

Up your fruit intake

Nix refined grains

For more specific information click on this link to view the slide show and to browse delicious lunch recipes. 

Kale Butternut Chopped Salad


Serves 8

1     butternut squash, peel, cut ó”

2 T  olive oil

Salt & pepper

10 c tuscan kale, chopped

½ c  dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

½ c  pumpkin seeds, toasted

½ c  feta cheese, small crumbles

¾ c  vinaigrette (balsamic or champagne)


1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. Toss squash, olive oil, s&p. Roast for 20 mins, cool

3. Mix kale with 2 T vinaigrette, marinate for 20 mins

4. Toss chopped kale, squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, more vinaigrette

The First Step

It’s not rewarding. It’s not coaching. It’s not training. It’s not orienting.


It’s hiring.
How good are you at it?


You probably have a few people you’d love to clone because they do a great job, are self-motivated, are a team player. AND, you probably have more than one with attitude, attendance, quality of work issues. Even if you have only one in that second category, it’s too many. You cannot reach all your goals unless the entire team is on board and capable of doing the job that needs to be done. So, how do you accomplish that? You spend the right time on hiring (no warm bodies!) and you see recruiting as a 24/7 activity. Make your operation a “magnetic” place to work, so when you have an opening you have people in line who want to work for you. And…before you hire someone who is unemployed, be sure you’re comfortable with why they are.


There are plenty of articles debating what is more important: skill or attitude?


Both! Short-change either one and you will live to regret it.


Top 5 things you must say yes to before you hire the next person:
1. She has a great attitude.
2. She has the skills to do the job (and I know this for reasons beyond that she told me so).
3. She is self-motivated. (A major thing managers spend time on is motivating others — hire people that are pretty good at motivating themselves, too!)
4. She really wants to be part of this team.
5. My gut says she’s the right one.

Recognizing a Good Whole Grain

italian bread

While the Internet is filled with propaganda about how grains are killing us, I am still a firm believer in the importance of whole grains as part of a healthy diet.  While the bulk of our diet should be from vegetables & fruits (think leafy greens, plant based proteins, whole fruits, etc.) there is still room to incorporate a variety of whole grains.   My current favorite whole grain happens to be quinoa, which is a quick and easy protein source (my Pinterest board is filled with quinoa recipes).  However, my preferred whole grain is bread so I am constantly experimenting with different whole grain varieties.  My latest accomplishment is whole-wheat pretzel rolls.  I have a great love for pretzels rolls, although most I have encountered are of the refined flour variety.  I modified a recipe by exchanging the unbleached flour for whole wheat with beautiful results. Serve these warm with butter of perhaps an egg sandwich (egg, spinach, pick your fancy), so many possibilities.

Recognize a good whole grain

Soft pretzel rolls (I used 100 % whole wheat flour with beautiful results)


New Day

Yes, there’s no “year’s” in between those two words!


“…you can go about resolving until the cows come home, and you still have to live your life just like everyone else on this planet – ONE DAY AT A TIME… What you can do is set up day-to-day goals for yourself… for example, instead of deciding you are going to give up sugar for a year, resolve to go one day without eating sugar. Anyone can do virtually anything if it is for only one day. When you go for one whole day without eating sugar (or any other new behavior), you are a totally different person at the end of that day. Learn to let that totally different person decide on the second day whether to do it again on this new day… let the new you make the decision and then you”ll be living in your present moments.”  Dr. Wayne Dyer


So, whether you are waging an effort to give up a habit, or are trying to establish a routine you think will make your life better… or even if you are undecided about whether you want to improve anything at all… commit and take advantage of a structured time to process your day, everyday. Reflect, let go, and start again.

New Year’s Resolutions: Old vs New & Improved

Weigh A Decision

The New Year is upon us.  Time for resolutionsdiet plans and anything else you want to start fresh in this new season.  As for me, I mentioned countless times I am not a huge fan of resolutions, mostly because I think it often embraces the all or nothing mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place. So while I am not making any new resolutions, I continue to work on many lifestyle habits that are always a work in progress.  One article I find very helpful is a 2014 blog from College Girl to College Girl that re-frames the way we think about our “resolutions.”  Embrace lifestyle changes as opposed to radical diets.


Old: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.”

Why focus on weight and appearance for your New Years Resolution? You should instead focus on feeding your body with healthy foods and listening to what it wants and needs. After all, the number on the scale is… well, just a number.

New and Improved: “I’m going to make more meals at home.”

After the holidays, we fall into a bit of a nutrition slump. We’re used to eating bigger meals, eating out with our family and friends, and sampling the wide variety of Christmas cookies! But, most of us grow tired of this and are ready to get back on our normal eating schedule. After New Years, make a resolution to make more meals at home and only eat out, let’s say a maximum of twice of week. Also, eating at home is often healthier, more nutrient dense, and lower in empty calories and more conducive to weight management.


Old: “No more desserts for me!”

Cutting out your favorite foods will only lead to wanting them more, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation.

New and improved: “I am going to eat at least 3 different kinds of fruits/vegetables a day.”

Instead of focusing on what you are going to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet! Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. Check out this recipe for banana whip.


New and improved: “I will sign up and train for a 10 mile race.” or “I will try 2 new group fitness classes a month, and work out at least 3 times a week.”

Being more physically active is a great New Years Resolution. But, if you do not consistently exercise, making a resolution to “work out more” or “exercise every day” may not be specific enough. If you like to run, try signing up for a race with a few friends. Set up a training schedule together. If you don’t like to run, find other ways.


Old: “I’m going to get the bikini body I’ve always wanted.”

What is a “bikini body” anyway?

New and Improved: “I’m going to focus on what I love about my body.”

Try committing to saying 3 positive affirmations out loud everyday. Or make a list of 10 things you love about yourself that you love about yourself that includes non-body related personality traits. Add to this list often and read it often!


Old: “I’m going on a diet.”

New and Improved: “I’m going to fuel my body with the food it needs.”

This year try to REBEL against conventional fad diets that do not provide long lasting results and can be dangerous to your health.


Old: “I am going to start eating healthier”

This is a great resolution, but it’s too vague and general. Try coming up with specific and small health goals that you can accomplish and focus in on.  

New and Improved:  “I am going to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night” or “I am going to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables per day” or “I will start eating breakfast” These resolutions will help you eat and be healthier and are specific and achievable.


Adapted from College Girl to College Girl: Revamp your New Years’ Resolution

Adult Pimento Cheese & Bacon Flatbread


Serves 2-4

1 lg clove garlic, crushed

¼ c diced pimentos

2 c Sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated

1 c Sharp yellow cheddar, coarsely grated

⅓ c Greek yogurt

sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper

2 ”Flatout” 6 x 11 flatbreads

4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, crispy pieces

1 c Baby spinach (optional)


Adult Pimento Cheese:

1. Combine garlic, pimentos (with liquid) & cheeses

2. Stir in yogurt, salt & peppers, to taste


Flatbread Assembly:

1. Preheat broiler

2. Spread 1 c+ pimento cheese, top with crispy bacon pieces

3. Broil 2-3 minutes, until melted & golden

4. Enjoy with or without fresh spinach topping


Note: use high quality cheddar cheeses

From difficult to delightful

Dan Pink’s new show Crowd Control (on National Geographic) evaluates through some very interesting and interactive exercises…with willing human participants…what drives our behaviors and what it takes to change them.


Occasionally, we need to change (or develop or grow or modify – whatever word works for you) our behaviors, yes?  Maybe to get along better (or more effectively) with our kids, partner, co-workers? Maybe to get and stay organized? Maybe to tackle a personal goal, quit a habit? Yes?


Dan summarizes it for us (but read the short article for more great insight), especially as we lead teams and individuals who may need or require some help with a difficult behavior:
  • First, get their attention
  • Telling people what to do doesn’t work, showing them does
  • Make them feel something
  • When nothing else works, distract
  • Tell them why

The New Year is coming…great time for tackling “difficultness”…practice on you!

Robin’s Tea House… A One-of-a-Kind Dining Experience


Article from The Free Lance-Star


For me they’ve come in such disparate places as a mountaintop, a tropical island, a Paris train station, an open-air marketplace stall south of the border.

Sometimes it’s the food that’s stellar; other times it’s the ambience or the setting. And if you’re lucky, it’s all three combined.

That type of experience is getting harder to come by all the time, especially at chain restaurants, where everything from soup to nuts has been engineered and controlled for your dining pleasure.


But thanks to a reader recommendation, my wife and I recently enjoyed a meal that would be awfully hard to duplicate, at Robins Tea House at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden just north of Richmond.

First off, this is one gorgeous garden. Well, more like a dozen themed gardens on 40 well-tended acres, plus a conservatory with some amazing orchids in bloom. And I’m not even a flower guy, or much of a shrub lover, for that matter. Truth is, I go to a garden or Southern plantation and I risk contracting a bad case of “museum-itis.”

Some things you’ll need to know from the get-go: You’ve got to be a member or pay admission to the garden to eat in the tea house. There’s a seasonal lunch menu for weekdays and a seasonal brunch menu for weekends.

A bit of good news: Tea house portions don’t resemble the itty-bitty sandwich and pastry bites you find in tea rooms. Lewis Ginter also features another dining venue, a café with cafeteria-style self-service, which might be a better option for those with young kids.


The tea house incorporates some Asian design elements in its structure, but is so named for the Asian Valley Garden that surrounds it. With its floor-to-high-ceiling windows and exposed beam construction it resembles a great big pool house.

The dining room’s great acoustics, due to the use of special tiles overhead, helped showcase the soft jazz and New Age music on the sound system. While we were there, a couple was busy considering the tea house as a potential site for their wedding reception.


We started things off with a delightful lavender-lemonade cocktail and three apps: a smooth and creamy cup of roasted red-pepper crab soup that had a little heat to it; a colorful baby kale salad, with turnips, sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and Green Goddess dressing that looked like a work of art; and arancini—house-made butternut-squash risotto that had been lightly battered and flash-fried. It would have been nice to have a sauce with the latter; the three golden, perfectly crisped rice balls looked a little spare all by their lonesome. However, their delicate sweet, nutty flavor really didn’t require enhancing.


For entrées we got the “house-made buttermilk biscuits with traditional red-eye gravy” and “fall hash,” an autumn play on the traditional breakfast staple, with duck confit, bacon, caramelized onions, butternut squash, potatoes, fresh herbs and a sunny-side-up farm egg on top. Both mains came with a side of salad greens dressed with balsamic, which gave the plates nice balance and composition.

The hash was a winner, pleasingly earthy and rustic. The biscuits and gravy had a couple of issues: First, the gravy, which was more of a sawmill or sausage gravy, wasn’t as advertised, and second, too much fresh sage overpowered the mild, creamy flavors of the dish.

I guess the real question is: Why put biscuits and gravy on a bistro-style menu in the first place? Wouldn’t this be better left to Aunt Sarah’s or Cracker Barrel? This is one dish you don’t want to overseason or overly experiment with.


We had satisfyingly robust coffee, with chocolate gelato, for dessert. With less air and fat than ice cream, the gelato had a flavor that was unusually direct, hard and fast. It went a long way toward redeeming our brunch.

Verdict: The food, setting and ambience of Robins Tea House all add up to one very memorable dining experience.