When one door closes,

How long do we wait until another one opens?

How long do we stall, our hands floating above the doorknob wondering

What lies beneath?

The anxiety floats through on a wave,

Rippling into existence.

The excitement crashes down upon it,

Creating a shockwave beneath it.

You shake away the feeling,

Reminding yourself that you are in charge.

With a gulp

The door swings open.

Your sweaty hand turns into eager footsteps as you step through the threshold.

Sunlight filters through.

A whole new world stands before you.

Chuckling to yourself

You remember.

This new beginning is for you.

Are you craving a coffee run while also trying to be mindful of your health? This former barista has some tricks up her sleeve to help you lessen your sugar intake, up your protein goals, and trim your budget without losing that wonderful taste. 

Let’s Start with the Basics

  1. Don’t be afraid of substitutions – This is going to be the key to adjusting your drink to fit your health goals.
  2. It won’t be perfect the first try – Take note of what you wish it had and refer back to this guide.

Picking a Base

Are you an espresso lover? Traditional coffee? Cold press? These are perfect bases for healthy alternatives. You need to identify what you want the heart of your drink to be.
Espresso will pack more of an immediate punch; this is the base for our beloved mochas and lattes. Feel like you don’t get enough espresso? Try an Americano! Americanos typically have double the espresso when compared to a latte, and it can be made hot or over ice.

Do you love traditional coffee but want an extra punch? Ask for a depth charge! This is one espresso shot added to your daily cup of joy.

Cold press is the beloved, 12-hour brewed, icy goodness that’s made to fill any iced drink. Did you know that if you order a cold press with caramel sauce the creaminess makes it taste like a latte? It’s one of my favorite go-to drinks that has a lower price point and extra caffeine.

Let’s Talk Milk

When it comes to cost, milk is the biggest factor. Adding milk to your coffee can sometimes double the price of your favorite cup. However, picking a base and adding a splash of milk, or a milk alternative, can make all the difference. Some franchises even have protein-friendly milk options with less sugar.

Flavor Time

My suggestion here is to ask for sugar free substitutes. Many coffee shops have a variety of syrups that are sugar free. That being said, if you find that that the Toasted White Mocha syrup is too good to miss out on, ask for a half shot. A typical medium coffee can have four-to-five pumps of syrup in each drink. Getting two or three pumps instead can still give you the satisfying taste without the added calories.

Need Inspiration?

I’ve got you covered!

MacroBarista shares recipes daily on their website and across TikTok. These recipes can help you follow your health goals and save you money!

My Go-To Caribou Dupe

I absolutely love and adore a Campfire Mocha with White Chocolate. How in the world do I make this any healthier?

A Caribou Crafted Press is the answer! The crafted press has a similar taste to any of Caribou’s signature creations with the purpose of being a healthy alternative.

A Crafted Press has a cold-pressed base with a splash of cream and the milk of your choice. This drink includes one pump of any flavor. I add one pump of marshmallow syrup and a half-pump of white chocolate. This has been my go-to for the past four years now. I really love it, and I think you will, too!

Looking for more health and wellness tips? Check out the Health & Wellness section of the FlexTrades’ blog!

New Year’s Resolutions Redone – “Debunking Resolutions”  

New Year’s resolutions are often cited as the unattainable goals we set in January, and they are iconic for being forgotten in the new year. The truth is this – you don’t need to set a specific date to start a goal. In fact, my New Year’s resolution started last November, and I’m continuing it in 2023. 

Putting pressure onto the meaning of a resolution implies that, after you complete it, there’s no other work to do. I’m here to help debunk new year’s resolutions and hopefully inspire you to create and maintain realistic and meaningful goals in your life… all year round. 

My New Year’s Resolution in 2022  

In 2022, I was determined to take control of my health. I vlogged (Video Blogged) every morning and talked about the good, the bad and the in between when it comes to weight loss. Two months later, my goal disappeared. Lack of motivation and passion were surely not the issues, so what went wrong? 

  • Focusing on a diet plan outside of my budget range
  • Putting pressure on perfection with no room for error 
  • Ignoring short-term goals within a long-term plan 
  • Failing to figure out the why

Create Your Goals 

Let’s talk about how you can avoid the same four mistakes that I made and crush your goals in 2023. First, we need to discuss SMART Goals. What is a SMART goal? I’m so glad you asked. Check out the graphic below.

Smart Goals FlexTrades

Need help identifying SMART goals? Microsoft Office offers this free template: here 

Now, you may have learned about SMART goals in school, but let’s break them down a little bit, shall we? SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and monitored over time. Truthfully, these are, what I like to call, goals with intention. We discuss the power of manifestation, and this will help you achieve your goals. The reality is that when you sit down to create a goal, you immediately plan the steps you need to take in order to accomplish it. When a resolution is set, there’s no thought process. It’s just a desire you would like to achieve someday. 

Setting Goals is all About Intent 

The intent to do something can make your dream a reality. If you intend to get a promotion at your job by the end of the year, you are more likely to take the steps that are necessary to getting there. This is when the plan starts to map itself out: 

  • Assisting with extra projects 
  • Expressing specified interests in your quarterly reviews 
  • Setting a timeline 
  • Self-Assessing your current project completion 

These simple steps are prime examples of SMART goals in action. You specified by the end of the year that you want that promotion. You measured the goal by pinpointing prime areas; areas in which you can showcase that you’re ready for new responsibilities. These goals are made attainable through your self-assessment and quarterly review check-ins. The promotion then becomes realistic as this plan fits within your daily routine and works with your schedule. You identified the time by stating when the promotion is happening and how often you would touch base to check on this goal. 

Starting a 2023 Resolution in November 

Yes, I started my New Year’s Resolution in November of 2022. And while the new year is a great time to reevaluate change in your life, my goal this year couldn’t wait. Again, my goal was to lose weight and take control of my health.

My initial resolution in 2022 resulted in me losing two lbs., or about one pound a month. 

My resolutions for 2023 remained the same, but by creating SMART goals, I have been able to lose approximately 10 lbs. in the past two months, or about five pounds a month. 

I am following the same exact routine this year as I did last year, but this time I found resources within my budget to ensure that my goal was both attainable and realistic. I now have weekly goals, a 6-month goal, and an end-of-year goal to keep me motivated and moving forward. These goals are accompanied by a realistic, imperfect schedule that works for me.

Next Steps 

Debunk those new year’s resolutions, and don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve. Use SMART goals, think about your passions, and place intent behind these ideas. Watch your goals become reality, discuss them with those close to you, and enjoy the view as that New Year’s resolution voodoo simply fades away. 

Attention Travel Technicians: Homemade Gift Guide 

Put a homemade twist on gifts during the holidays with this homemade gift guide. Check out these affordable and quick gifts to send to your loved ones. 

For the Foodies

Soup In a Jar 

Grab your favorite dry ingredients and place them in a mason jar! Tie a ribbon with a written recipe attached to add that personal touch. Need ideas? Check here. 

The Cookie Jar 

cookie jar

Find your family’s favorite box of cookie mix and toppings at your local store. Place them into a mason jar and add a bow to the lid. For inspiration, click my two personal favorites Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, and Peppermint Cookie Mix. 

S’mores Please 

smores mix 

Missing the warm summer and anxiously waiting for bonfire season? The wait is over, this recipe will get you there! You’ll need chocolate of your choice, marshmallows, and golden grahams. More information is available here. 

Kiss A Day Jar 

kisses in a jar 

Fill a jar with desired candy, find a chalk painter marker, or print out a label. This can say “A Kiss A Day While I’m Away” or use it as a countdown jar to help your loved ones visualize the time. Here is an example: Kiss Jar. 

 

For the family

Hand Warmers/ Mini Heat Packs 

homemade hand warmers

Create these microwavable crafts with rice and fabric. Turn small fabric squares from your craft store into a thoughtful gift. This is a great gift for adults and children. Click here for instructions. 

Bubble Bath Gift Bag/Box 

bubble bath 

Find travel size bubble bath items, bath bombs, loofas and/or towels. For children, add small bath toys! There are plenty of fun ways to add excitement to this gift and it’s perfect for all ages. Find inspiration here. 

Relaxation/Sensory Box

homemade relaxation gift box 

For this gift, think of items that relax your loved one. Do they enjoy a specific beverage, snack, or hobby? Find items to place together in a box with tissue paper. For children, make a sensory box. Grab a few small toys, model magic, and stickers to create a magical experience. Need a little help? Here it is! 

Memory/Adventure Box

homemade gift adventure box 

Shutterfly offers free photo prints for new app users. Order prints with memories or adventures you’d like to share and grab a shadowbox from your local craft store. Or even send supplies for the family to create one to share with you when you return! Memory Box Tips. 

 

A little something extra

personal picture with kids at Christmas 

Change your holiday tradition with family at home. Target and Walmart have family onesie sets. Hulu offers a Watch Party feature, that allows multiple screens to watch the same movie or show together. Set up your webcam and enjoy this new memory! 

Are you away from home during the holidays? Read about these holiday tips to help get through this time of year.

Candy Corn, that’s right, let’s talk about it. 

The sweet treat that divides the nation remains a mystery to the masses. Today, we’re going to tackle a few questions and figure out what candy corn is, how it’s created, and most importantly – where it goes after Halloween. 

Candy Corn Ingredients 

Candy corn has four main ingredients: 

  1. A “slurry” (as they call it) is similar to a buttercream. This is created with vanilla and sugars. 
  2. Food coloring is used to individually color each layer with yellow and red dyes. 
  3. The surprise ingredient – (and my personal favorite) marshmallow! Marshmallows are broken down into the slurry to create the light and fluffy texture of the candy corn itself. 
  4. Lastly, the confectioner’s glaze. This is made of honey, gelatin, sesame oil, sugar and salt. 

The Process 

The slurry is taken from a large industrial mixer and placed into three different containers; each container holds a designated layer of the candy corn: yellow, orange, and white.  This container continues to mix the solution so that the slurry maintains the same consistency.  

Wooden trays are dusted with dry cornstarch and then loaded onto the belt where each layer then fills the candy corn imprints. Due to the liquid nature of the material, there is no wait time in-between. Each layer is immediately placed on top of the other to dry. 

Each wooden tray holds 1300 corn pieces, and the machinery can produce 25 boards per minute! 

Once this process is complete and the candy corn is fully formed, they’re tossed into a rotating bin. In this rotating bin, technicians then toss the confectioner’s glaze onto the candy corn pieces until they’re evenly coated. The drying and coating process can take 4-5 days to complete.

Alright, so where does it go? 

Whether you love candy corn and are eager to find it year-round, or you can’t wait for candy corn to leave the shelves, you must wonder where the leftovers go. 

 

Last year, 35 million pounds of candy corn was produced across the United States. Only 70% of all candy corn is effectively sold before Halloween. Where does it all go then? 

 

We did some digging. 

Despite popular belief, “the trash” isn’t the main answer. 

In fact, the answer may surprise you. 

 

Once Halloween concludes, candy corn sales resume. The day after Halloween, candy corn is wiped from the shelves for highly discounted prices, and resellers will snatch up the leftovers. 

 

Candy corn stays fresh, if unopened, for around nine months! In fact, you can find candy corn year-round with online retailers like Amazon.  

 

Well, there you have it! This sweet treat has many layers – from its creation in the 1880s to mimic corn kernels for industrial times, to secret ingredients like marshmallows folded in to guarantee its shape. While candy corn is consumed by many year-round, Halloween is simply the best time to grab them in-store! 

As the seasons change and life begins to settle in, we often think we need a change of scenery ourselves. Fall is one of the most popular times for job opportunities to arise. So here are some tips from our technicians on how to fall into place with your new position successfully. 

 

 Be Prepared  

  • Check out your new job site on Google Maps, familiarize yourself with the area. What local stores are nearby? Gas Stations? Convenience stores? Can you find parking?  
  • Pack your essentials the night before and get plenty of sleep! Starting your new assignment well-rested will help you succeed! 

 

The First Impression 

  • Review your orientation schedule and job aids. 
  • Get to know you supervisors by engaging in conversation and asking questions. 
  • Carry a pen and notebook with you, jot down notes during the day! 

 

Become a Networking Guru 

  • Introduce yourself to your coworkers, learn about their interests, you can even add them to your LinkedIn network! 
  • Be mindful of suggestions within the workplace – constructive criticism can help you grow in your field. 

 

Take A Deep Breath 

  • Remember that this is just the beginning of your transition. Adjustment takes time! 
  • Confidence is key, perform your best! 

Fun Fact: The world’s largest pool is 14 times larger than Gillette Stadium’s field…this saltwater pool in Chile is 19.77 acres long…that’s almost 15 football fields put together! Check it out: here. 

Celebrate with a splash! Not sure where to start? Grab your swimsuits, snorkels, and towels—I’ve got you covered. 

  1. Pick the perfect spot. The National Waterpark Association has EVERY registered waterpark listed on their site! With this tool, you can easily find new (and old!) exciting waterparks near you. 
  1. Prepare all the snacks. Water bottles, pop cans, sandwiches and chips all go best in coolers…Don’t have one handy? Target has a wide variety of coolers available-you can do a curbside pickup, or even have it delivered to your location! 
  1. Get the best deal. Don’t stress about funds! Groupon has a dedicated Waterpark section that can have you and the entire family covered for the day…maybe even the entire weekend. 
  1. Setup a meeting space. Identify where you and your family will meet if you get separated, this will help keep anxiety levels to a minimum and make it easier for you to reconnect! 
  1. Make a splash! Enjoy your time with family and friends, oh, and don’t forget, you will want sunscreen! 

Let’s Get Together – Maybe? 

Timing used to be of the essence, now with the introduction of COVID we are constantly re-evaluating and shifting our prior arrangements. Work events get pushed back, cancelled, or re-invented depending on mask requirements.  As a an ambivert remote worker, I find myself anxious and excited for each new event I attend. 

Getting over the awkward stage 

Growing up, I always had a fear of new events. I spent numerous summers at the YMCA forced to go through hours of orientation and ice breakers—finding a descriptor for yourself when your name starts with the letter “J” isn’t easy. The idea of going into a work environment starts with battling these preconceived notions and the feeling of “meeting everyone that’s new” and icebreakers. Really, once I remember that I am joining an event with people I communicate with daily through the screen that anxiety fades and is replaced with excitement. 

Embracing the opportunity to develop existing relationships 

That Teams group chat takes a new turn, without screens and easily accessible celebratory gifs. My favorite part of these gatherings are the genuine conversations you have. Nothing can beat hearing someone greeting you excitedly while asking about your life outside of work emails.  Each time we have a group outing I check who is going and excitedly make note to touch base with them. The opportunity to further connect with a team that already inspires you daily is indescribable.  

Weighing potential COVID exposure 

To go or not to go…that is the question I ask myself leading up to and after any event. The morning starts off with a COVID test just to ensure that I have no symptoms prior to leaving my house, the drive there consists of thoughts of concern: Should I wear a mask? What will I do if I do end up with covid? What if I was asymptomatic? Did I use enough hand sanitizer? These thoughts are a constant concern of mine and once I get home, they return the next morning. A few days later I check in with myself, my symptoms, and take another test, just to be sure.  

Realigning your work values or motivators  

After hours of conversation, connection, and anxiety—I find myself with a new take on my day-to-day life and work duties. One thing I’ve thoroughly believed in is that if it scares you, it’s something you need to do. While work events aren’t scary, the thoughts leading up to them can be—yet the minute I step out of my car and see the first familiar face, I know this is where I am meant to be. Clocking into work following this, I remember each fun moment as varying names pop up in my inbox—I feel connected and inspired by our team and mission. Most importantly, I am inspired and ready to create based off these encounters. 

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