Correspondence With Costa Rica: Letters From Anna – Crocodiles??….!!

Hey Folks!

We have a letter from Anna reminding us of how warm and magical Costa Rica is in the winter!

Thanks Anna.

Honestly, it does look like a magical place with magical people living on magical beaches.  Birds, tropical flowers, howler monkeys, amazing spearfishing adventures, beautiful sunsets and crocodiles!!  I completely love hearing from Anna and all the adventures she finds  🙂


December January Blog Post:

Time has gone by so fast! December was full of travels and celebrations. I stayed with my parents in the US for a week while Dreutch drove up to Modesto to work. My time home was full of coffee dates, fun Christmas activities, paddleboarding, gingerbread houses and yoga in the park.

When we returned, we experienced our first Costa Rican bull riding festival, had Christmas Eve finger foods, fondue night watching Christmas movies, watched the Nutcracker in downtown San Jose, made traditional Costa Rican tamales, enjoyed caroling and a Christmas tree lighting at the church and watched New Years Eve fireworks! I must say the most exciting event was definitely the festival.

Anna’s video is absolutely nuts…they are just *walking around* with the bull!!

Villarreal, our neighboring town, held their festival in the main square in town, there were kids carnival rids, delicious unhealthy foods and a great bull riding spectacle. It is essentially a cross between between a carnival and a rodeo with one glaring difference. During the bullriding, men and boys from the community run with the bulls after the rider gets bucked off and until the sabaneros (cowboys) rope the bull to let him back into the pen. This creates electric situations where the bull will miss a runner by mere inches as he slides under the fence into the crowd. We took a video the first night and the bull came right at us!

We have done a bit more exploring of Costa Rica over the past few months. On my birthday we went on a tour of the estuary. I saw my first wild crocodiles and spotted some monkeys. This weekend we took a day trip to Rincon de la Vieja (volcano and park) to visit a waterfall and visit the hot springs. We saw a Tucan off in the tree by the road.

A few things that are different here than in the US. To keep the dust down, they cover the dirt roads with sickeningly sweet smelling, sticky, gooey molasses. I will never be able to smell molasses and think fondly of Christmas cookies alone again. Recently the water, the power or the internet will be turned off for a few hours at a time. I cross my fingers that the meat in the freezer doesn’t go bad and the bleach in my load of laundry doesn’t change the color of all my clothes when the power and water go out. Thus far, no problems! On the positive side, it does mean we usually head to the beach, or out to get tacos for lunch when that happens.

All in all, we like our little global village. We have been passing the time after the holidays enjoying being back in the swing of normal life. This mostly consists of work, working out, bike rides, Kids Club, beach volleyball and spending time with friends. Pura Vida!


1. Birthday estuary tour beach_html_43bc5fba
2. My first wild crocodile sighting!
3. Dreutch’s catch from spearfishing!

4. Dreutch holding a random beach visitor’s pet snake.

5. Beach volleyball
6. Making Tamales for Christmas
7. Christmas dinner celebration
8. Learning how to use Mom’s paddleboard
9. Our beautiful sunset beach

Patreon: The End of the YouTube Salon and the Rise of Artists

Let me tell you the story about Patreon.

Actually, Let Jack Conte tell you.  He created it.

But before we do that, here is my favorite Jack Conte video.  He said Nataly Dawn was gone for a couple days, so he “didn’t have anyone to regulate him, or make sure he ate” (paraphrasing), so he spent 20 hour days turning his garage into an anamatronic Millenium Falcon.

It is honestly too cool for words.


So, what is Patreon and why should we totally love it to pieces?

Screenshot 2015-01-21 23.16.49

“Patreon, based in San Francisco, is a crowdfunding platform created by musician Jack Conte and developer Sam Yam. [1] It allows artists to obtain funding from patrons on a recurring basis or per artwork. It is popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and webcomic artists and has been featured in Forbes, Time, and Billboard magazines.”

“Patreon was founded in May 2013 by artist Jack Conte, who was looking for a way to make a living from his popular YouTube videos.Together with Sam Yam he developed a platform that allows patrons to donate a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art.”


How does it work if you are an artist?

“Artists set up a page on the Patreon website, where patrons can pledge to donate a given amount of money to an artist every time she or he creates a piece of art, optionally setting a monthly maximum. Alternatively a fixed monthly amount can be pledged... Similar to other platforms however, artists will often provide rewards for their patrons.  Patreon takes a 5% commission on pledges.

So, for example, this is part of the Patreon page for Jack Conte’s “Pedals”:

“Pledge $1.00 or more per video

572 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.

Pledge $3.00 or more per video

461 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.
  • Access to video tutorials about audio production.  I’ll show you my tips and tricks and talk about my workflows.
  • Each time I release a new Music Video, I’ll put out a short, useful tutorial as well.  These will be super helpful if you’re an audio producer.

Pledge $5.00 or more per video

138 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.
  • Access to video tutorials about audio production.  I’ll show you my tips and tricks and talk about my workflows.
    • Each time I release a new video, I’ll put out a short, useful tutorial as well.  These will be super helpful if you’re an audio producer.
  • First dibs on Audio Production lessons through BandPage Experiences. When they go on sale, my $5+ Patrons will be notified first.”


Who All Does This?

“As of February 2014, almost half of the artists produce YouTube videos, while the rest are writers, draw webcomics or make podcasts. [10] On average, patrons donate $7 per creation. Patreon is growing rapidly both in patrons and creators, with 10,000 artists expected to use Patreon by the end of February 2014. While the website initially targeted musicians, established webcomic artists such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Zach Weinersmith and Paul Taylor are successfully using it.”

So here is Jack Conte explaining his vision!


And finally, here is another music video from Jack Conte.

I absolutely love his videos to death.  They are very unique, very interesting…very fresh.  Real artistry, I believe.

But this is a man thinking outside the box to create music and build something really amazing with new technology.

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night, and wondering what else we can do, folks 🙂

Product Review: WebProtectMe Browser



So, here’s the deal: I have been using this browser on my iPad for a few months now, and not only do I love it…but I have to pass on the information to other parents.

WebProtectMe is a browser that provides safe browsing, which is fantastic for parents, churches, homeschoolers, schools, groups…anywhere that feels safe browsing to be a benefit.

I can let my kids use my iPad, and not worry about searching mishaps, or inappropriate content.  I try not to hover too much over them, but for kids it really is important to be aware of what they are exposed to.  And if they are in the back of the car, I can’t see what they see…that is why WebProtectMe has been so helpful.

Since this is the start of a new year, and we are all thinking about new goals for the year for our homes, I thought I’d do a review of this!


These are a few screenshots from my iPad to give you an idea of what it looks like:

IMG_0191The WebProtectMe app is very easy to use, and it is next to my Gmail app.

IMG_0192This is the WebProtectMe page, using the browser.


IMG_0193This is just an example page…I did a Google search for bats.


IMG_0194This is what the toolbar looks like.

IMG_0195And this is the Protection Settings.

IMG_1201This is where I put myWebProtectMe sticker 🙂

Finally, this is the latest email update from the team.

Their information is at the bottom if you have anymore questions!


“The past year has been an incredible journey for WebProtectMe. We started with a simple idea: bring Professional grade safe browsing to your home.

We’ve expanded our cloud filtering centers on 2 coasts, built a world-class iOS Safe Browser, and grown to thousands of active users each month. …and that’s only since June!
Here are some of the highlights, from just the last few months:

  • Password-protect the “clear history” function (Premium feature)
  • Individualized per-child custom filtering (Premium feature)
  • Enhanced Safe Search for SSL-secured versions of Google, Bing, Yahoo, Youtube & Vimeo
  • Touch ID support
  • Beautiful optimized-rendering for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • Password manager support (1Password)
  • iOS8 optimized!
  • In-app Help center with support chat
  • Translated into 7 languages

Even more to look forward to in 2015We’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon! While the rest of the Internet went into a holiday slumber, we’re still hard at work on new features that will dramatically change what you expect when protecting your family online.

Until next year…may your surfing be safe and your winter warm!

If you have any questions, please ask us:
Warm wishes from the entire WebProtectMe team!
Connect with us:   
©2014 DigiTar All Rights Reserved”

“>Screenshot 2014-12-31 13.03.48(link)

The way I see it, for the price of 2 lattes a month, you can provide your family with safe browsing.

I think that’s a good investment.

(For the officials: I didn’t get paid for this.  Just a good product.)

Correspondence With Costa Rica: Letters From Anna – With The Wind Under My Wings

10704065_10102701345204384_4323185000396080529_nWriters’ gonna write.


Wow! The first few weeks went slow. The last few have flown by! I cannot believe it is already November! I thought I would just share a few moments.

I have been working on making it a habit to go down to the beach or to ride my bicycle somewhere new to explore a few times each week. It has been just cool enough to write without sweating dripping down my fingers and smudging the pages. I am thankful that it is so easy to get to beautiful places to sit and think.

16164_10102714853309034_4070307786893635406_nDreutch fixing Anna’s breaks

553233_10102724324678334_5775795318973635891_nShots from Anna’s bike rides.

1522188_10102724324843004_4626834707735190771_nThese are so beautiful, it is just crazy.


Dreutch was sick a few times these past few weeks. When I wasn’t stressing out that he had dengue or typhoid or some crazy sickness, I got a chance to learn a few things about medicine in a different country. (Note to self – using google to look up symptoms for hours can lead to rabbit trails and paranoia.) Over the counter medications are not available at the small supermarkets in town. They are at the Farmacias – tiny little pharmacies – like Walgreens, just without any of the extra random things for sale. You explain your symptoms to the pharmacist and they find you what they think will help the most. Awesome right! Unfortunately, my lack of understanding of the difference between the Spanish words for dry cough and wet cough meant that I walked away with Mucinex. Dreutch promptly rejected that solution. The next day I returned after googling “Costa Rica Nyquil” and finding out, thanks to a random twitter post that it is called Tabcin. Insert Anna’s most professional doctor voice: “Dreutch is doing fine now. While we feared the worst, we are happy to report that it was just a version of the flu. A full recovery is expected.” No need for me to break out my new knowledge of manual rehydration techniques in case of severe dehydration caused from any number of serious tropical illnesses… yet….

New vocabulary that matters: Tos seca – dry cough. Fiebre – fever. Etc. etc.

New vocabulary that’s just fun: Speed bumps are called muertas, which means dead people. Bahahaha… Wait… that’s disturbing…

Harvest Festival

We helped with the Fall Harvest Festival that the church put on and we had just as much fun, maybe more… than the kids did. We had a bounce house, tons of games, and carnival food. I am not going to lie; I had a lot of fun fishing for kids. I mean… running the cookie on a string booth.

1176110_1422252998035657_5638879371809931644_n        10511178_1412823242311966_1851069491096426_n 10696179_1412823892311901_6330419499417140330_n 10703974_1412824112311879_7677672104174374199_n 10710724_1412823158978641_849956269232313155_n

Dreutch has been enjoying his return to playing beach volleyball! We also enjoyed hanging out outside of volleyball on Halloween with this group.

1958194_10102739627491374_5535074900258946504_nAnna’s friend, Christina, being awesome.

1689944_10102739627486384_1904036219194920620_nDreutch, being awesome.

When Dreutch wasn’t sick we started to do a few adventuresome/touristy things – We spent a Sunday afternoon on a local catamaran – my first time snorkeling! I was so surprised when I actually saw a fish! (or 50) Dreutch and his friends have been spear fishing a few times… and we had Sashimi again the other day. Yea!


Cheers to your adventures wherever you are.

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.

JRR Tolkein – The Hobbit

One last photo….this is why I love these two.  They packed the Thor costume and took it with them 🙂


DailyPost: Daily Prompt – “Welcome, Stranger!”


Screenshot 2014-10-15 13.12.32link!


I didn’t even know this happened…but cool!  I submitted a prompt a while ago, but I never remembered to check up on it.


Where we live might say something striking about us, or it might say something striking that isn’t about us!  I have moved around so much in my life, it amazes me to meet people who delivered their children in the same hospital in which they were born.  They shop at the same stores they bought gum in when they were 10.  Their kids are going to the same schools they went to.

I went to 2 elementary schools, 2 Jr. Highs and 2 High Schools…which might sound fractured, but I loved the variety of it!  I’m a rolling stone, my friend. I just keep on rollin’.


So I am always interested in hearing about people’s hometowns: what are the local flairs of your city that make it unique?

Correspondence From Costa Rica: Letters From Anna – Garlic Teeth Edition

Well folks, Anna and Dreutch have been in Costa Rica for about a month, and she has been sending me crazy  pictures.  Here are a few that blew me away, and a letter from Anna at the bottom!

The flowers and trees, alone, are just incredible:

10660202_10102648793483454_654179597120639940_n 1377051_10102643824097144_1708307286424419911_n 10501843_10102643824047244_7086409391296649891_n 10698397_10102648793328764_5496081023036752035_n

The things that live in the flowers and trees:

10447622_10102645291910634_4310434388081579314_nLocusts the size of kittens.

10614217_10102628785913784_3282319332302024081_nHowler monkeys instead of squirrels outside their bathroom window.

Outside the rainforest:


10625010_10102627830428584_5342061697665336663_nAmazing beaches.

10687018_10102648793558304_4402855499927090132_nCostco….there is a Costco in San Jose, CR
…??  Apparently!  And they have a gluten free section in the store!

There have also been some pretty familiar stuff, as well, like


10552487_10102651416781344_5776214473624670602_nLego stores,

10704055_10102651417544814_8411244995921938152_nBarbie stores,

1907451_10102634119580074_4293705097965446623_nand boxed wine. How is this a universal thing?


I grew up in Michigan and Colorado, doing things one generally does in a happy childhood… imagining myself in the adventures of any book I was reading from riding dragons to Little Women. I enjoyed writing, playing sports, playing piano, riding horses and reading. After high school I left for the beaches of California to study at UC San Diego and play volleyball. I answered the “what do you want to do when you grow up?” question with broad brushstrokes “a lawyer, a translator or international development”. I loved my classes for my Political Science/International Relations major. I transferred to Westmont College my junior year and then spent a semester at San Francisco City college as well as interning for the Public Defender’s office in San Francisco. I dabbled in a bit of painting, trail running, bikram yoga, poetry, and a lot of volleyball during these years.

I decided that I did not want to go to law school, graduated, worked in sales for a cell phone company and then in administration for a financial services company. My husband and I met through volleyball (go figure) and have been married for 2 years! I currently enjoy reading (almost anything) art, poetry, musicals, working out, going on dates and cooking.

On September 12th we moved to Costa Rica. Our friends picked us up from the airport and made us a special dinner with steak and whiskey (which goes for a premium here). What a great help it has been to know people who know the area. For example, there is a particular little store where you can buy good cheddar cheese. It’s the Italian store – and only sells Italian food. Also, for chicken, while you can buy it from the grocery store… you can get a great deal if you hunt down the chicken delivery guy on his way to all the restaurants. One of the challenges was that it took us 3 weeks for us to install Internet in our home. We thought that it was going to be difficult and did way too much research on how to get it. It was important for us for work. 3 weeks in I finally asked the neighbor. His response was “Oh, you just go over to the Cabletica store in Plaza Conchal and sign up”. So we went, the next day, and they only require a passport and will install in 2 days! Or in my case, call you on Saturday morning at 10am and ask if you will be home in 10 minute because they are waiting outside. Seriously!? Well, that’s how you learn.

Highs – The sense of accomplishment that I am getting out of the fact that I am here. I doubted that I would be brave enough to live overseas. BOOYA FEAR! I enjoy learning Spanish, living by the beach, finding great workout partners, getting involved in the local church and discovering new foods!

Lows: Being an emotional roller coaster at first. I quite often needed to apologize to Dreutch who had to live with me.   

Favorite Spanish word: diente de ajo – literally means a tooth of garlic in Spanish. In English it is a clove of garlic. BUT THEY TOTALLY LOOK LIKE TEETH! That discovery merited all capital letters.

Goal: Learn how to drive manual – I currently can’t drive my car. Although there are benefits to chauffer service (via your husband)…

This was a beautifully written note that I wanted to share. I am so thankful for all of the people we love who encourage us!


“Look high. Look to the sky. Don’t look back. See the flowers, the bugs, and the sea. Find the interesting people. They are there. Whatever you do –  DON’T stay inside that awesome apartment for long. Guard your spirit with a determined effort to grow as a person. Focus on the good. Even being in a marriage… focus on the best attributes – compliment and encourage.”

Correspondence With Costa Rica: Letters From Anna

Okay, so I am super excited about this: An extremely good friend of mine and her husband (also an extremely good friend) are moving to Costa Rica!  

This is an excellent opportunity to learn what it is like to be an American living in Costa Rica.  I want to hear about what they experience, what they eat, what they drink, who they see, how hard or easy it is to transition between cultures.  After you grow up on horses in Colorado, get a degree in Political Science and marry an entrepreneur in California who looks like Thor, how do you start a new home in a foreign, tropical country?  

I want to know it all, and I would love to share this with you guys  🙂  

So, here is Anna’s first letter: The Few Weeks Before They Leave!

 photo 3Anna & Dreutch 


We have only a few weeks until we move to Costa Rica. Yikes! It has not truly hit me yet that we are leaving. I am excited and nervous at the same time.

In regards to planning: we decided that we could either plan for the entire year before we moved or wait until 3 months before and work like mad to be ready in time. We chose the latter. We recently coined the term in our house “The wall of inevitability” in reference to the move date. When I start to panic that we won’t be ready or that I will forget something we need, I try to remember that I only technically need our passports and money. So if I forgot to purchase the snake-bite kit, water purifier, carabineers, or other misc. “Costa Rica items” or if per chance they don’t fit, it will not be the end of the world.

We are moving with 2 suitcases and a carry-on for each person. In case your brain just exploded like mine did at first– our apartment there will be fully furnished. So it’s not quite that crazy. Ya! I love the freedom of only being responsible for 100 lbs of stuff!  I have been lauding the merits of minimalism for months. Yet it has been a bit of a challenge to clear the nonessentials. I discovered that I struggle the most to let go of free stuff. My mom has generously given me an abundance of clothes that she no longer would wear or that don’t fit (and I have been accumulating them for the past 8 years) For obvious reasons, they were free and they were from my mom! It didn’t take me long to decide that at this point, the ones I don’t wear, I shouldn’t keep “just in case”.  Here’s to hoping someone else will enjoy them!

Then there are the clothes that I don’t fit into anymore, but I keep around because I want to fit into them. I am almost ashamed to admit I put a decent number of shorts into storage that I can’t even wear right now. You know, for magical future me that will be able to wear them. I like to consider myself an optimist. Or maybe I should just imagine myself as Gollum on this issue… “my precious pants that are 4 sizes too small…”

I know, I know, let it go….

A few things I will miss from the US.
1.     Friends and family
2.     Cheddar cheese, steak, asparagus, peaches, strawberries
3.     Toffee nut latte – Starbucks
4.     Boots for blustery fall weather
5.     My amazing spin instructor and her crazy music.
6.     Our new-ish church that we love!

Excited for
1.     Meeting new people and living near friends.
2.     Discovering new amazing and fun foods and hobbies!
a.     Pineapple, manga, sashimi straight from the ocean
b.     Spear fishing
c.      New adventures!



P.S. (Try using “Toodle-oo” on guys, sometimes they will say it back to you before they process that it sounds silly. Which makes me chuckle (inside)).   Except when Duke Ellington does it. Then its magic.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 5.06.37 PM

Featured Blog Friday: One Day App




I met the people behind One Day App at BlogHer14, and I was texting people about it as soon as I left their booth. (they don’t know this, but I totally was)

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.43.50 AMSince then, I have made a number of friends download the app and check it out, and all of us are blown away by how awesome this app is…

Okay, so here’s the deal with One Day App:

It is a video app where you have a bunch of subjects to choose from, and questions about the subjects to ask your kids, and then you take a video of your kids answering the questions.

It is a very simple concept, but it is just done so beautifully, I have to tell everyone about it.

As a parent I want to soak in as much of my kids’ childhood as I can.  Oh sure, I totally have their “baby journals” to write in (because we all remember to write in them, right?).  But writing down little things I remember won’t capture who they are right now.

Right now, they are excited about finding a quarter under the couch, and I get to hear about their plots to buy out Target’s toy section with this amazing amount of money.  Right now, they can build pretty amazing forts in the backyard with all the blankets I just washed (it’s cool, forts are important!).  Right now they are worried about their busted Rapunzel dolls, or their Legos that are fused together.  This will not always be the case.  Soon, they are going to worry about college, or debt, or their health, or their own children.

Those days will come.  One day they will be adults with their own families, and one day they will steal moments out of the day to just stare at their children and smile like an idiot at how beautiful they are…

but today, I will laugh with them when they are grossed out when they catch frogs in ponds.  Today I will comfort them when their heart is broken.  Today I can still burp louder than they can…not that we compete with this.

But one day, I will be older and they will be older, and I will want to revisit the days of swimming at the lake during the summer and remember how they sang little songs to their Barbies who suddenly became mermaids.  One day, I will need to hear their stories about what their Lego men are accomplishing in their Lego village upstairs.

I was enamored with this app because it seamlessly captured these moments for me.  I don’t like to use things that are complicated, or ugly, or useless.

One Day app is easy to use, it is very quick to use, and you can upload the videos to your camera roll, or share them, with one touch.  That is what I appreciate the most: it makes these moments very easy to save.


Here’s how I made some videos:

1.  Go through the subjects they have in the menu, and touch the one you want


2. Record A Video: Here are a few videos I did with the kids.  We did the questions, “What animal would you be, and why?” and “Why does God love me” with a final, “What do you want for your birthday.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.00.08 AM

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.53.05 AM



3. Save, Share or Watch the Video:  This part is very easy, and very quick.  It takes about 30 seconds to save the video, and you can watch it immediately!



So there ya go!  It is a very easy app to use, and you can incorporate it with a million things.  Use it for school projects, homeschool presentations, stories your kids come up with, fashion shows, candid moments, or attach a video to an email for family who live far away…

I really liked finding this.  If anything, go try it out and play around with it!


Here Are Places To Find One Day App:

Cost: Free

Download OneDayApp:

Facebook-  (weird, I know. Our name used to be LegacyBuildr with a different product)- Changed the name to keep “likes” but couldn’t change URL





It has been my pleasure to meet Clint Lee and the One Day App staff!  Thanks guys!!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers, and I was the one who sought them out because I believe in what they are doing.  The monetary part keeps it professional between us, and we’re not “buddies.”  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Featured Blog:, with Chef Hollie!

I heard about from a fellow blogger at BlogHer14, and I was blown away by the site.

A well constructed site?  About food?  For kids?  And it doesn’t look cheesy, it is actually informative and interesting??  This is too good to be true.  I texted the site to people before I left the conference, demanding that they check it out.  I was that impressed by it.

Bonus: all the recipes are gluten free.

Obviously, I had to do a Featured Blog about JoyFoodly, and the amazing woman behind it, Chef Hollie!  I have a little bit of bio for you, a little information about the company, an incredible interview she gave me, and a cooking video she sent over at the end!





Chef Hollie Greene
Founder | JoyFoodly 
Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.03.39 PM

What is the Joyful 12™?
The Joyful 12™ is Chef Hollie Greene’s online crash course for eating in season. It helps
families joyfully get more vegetables and fruits into their diets for all 12 months of the
year, from savory winter squash, to spring artichokes, to summer okra, and sweet fall

The Joyful12 is delivered as an online kitchen learning lab—families can choose to dip
into the lab for one or more seasons or for the full year.

Who is Chef Hollie?

As a classically trained chef, Chef Hollie Greene has taught over 2,000 children in New
York and California to love eating fruits and vegetables through her work with non-profit
programs and in partnership with Rachael Ray’s Yum-O!, Mayor Bloomberg, and Mary J.
Blige. She is a Professional Expert for the State of California’s Healthy CA Kids Initiative
and has worked as an Education Director for The Sylvia Center and Chef-in-Residence
in NYC public schools. Prior to attending the French Culinary Institute in New York City,
she spent ten years creating global leadership development programs, where she taught
thousands of adults. These experiences infuse her fun and positive approach to helping families gain confidence in the kitchen.



Q: Where did you start your career as a chef?  What was your inspiration?

Hollie: It all started on a cooking vacation in Tuscany almost seven years ago. I had recently gone through a divorce, and this was a trip I had always wanted to take, so I went. Every day, I cooked with twenty other adults at a 15th century estate outside of Lucca Italy. We learned simple dishes that were loaded with flavor and seasonal ingredients. There is something about getting your hands into food. It’s very healing. In a corporate setting you are using your mind a lot but in the kitchen, you take something from a raw ingredient and you work with it to create this beautiful outcome that gives people a lot of pleasure. When I returned from that trip, I was at a crossroads. It dawned on me that everyone on the trip had been in their late 50s and 60s and yet it was the first time they had experienced extremely simple healthy cooking that was delicious. I kept coming back to the same thing. I teach people leadership development in my corporate job. I connect them with information to improve their lives. Why couldn’t I do this with children? Why couldn’t I teach kids about the joy of understanding what a balanced relationship with food is like. It’s as simple as that.

(me: how awesome is this answer.  Seriously.) 

Q: How long did it take for you to become a professional chef?  

Hollie: I attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City, in their classic culinary arts program. I worked 40-50 hours during the day at my job with a financial firm in Human Resources, and at night I went to culinary school three nights a week. It was a grueling nine months, and I loved every moment of it.

Q: Did you cook a lot as a child?

Hollie: I could make a mean mud pie, but no, I didn’t cook a lot as a child, mainly because my mom’s kitchen was her domain and she didn’t like us getting in the way of her magic making. However, my mom is the reason I fell in love with food. She is an eccentric, Southern beauty that was an amazing cook. She really yummed food for us. I didn’t even know we had the option not to like it—with all that oohing and ahhing about what a great cook she was! Even at eight years old, I knew that food was love.


Q: If a kid asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

Hollie: When you cook, always make sure to have fun. Smell each ingredient, taste it as you cook it, from its raw to its cooked state. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Food really is friendly and don’t forget that you are smarter than the food, so if you do burn the onions, they won’t yell at you! Next time, you’ll know the perfect time to stop the cooking process so they won’t burn again.

Q:I have Celiac, so I was very excited to find that JoyFoodly was a gluten free site!  Why did you choose to focus on gluten free cooking recipes?

Hollie: Today, so many of us struggle with one form or another of food intolerance, allergy, or food related disease. I am personally gluten intolerant, which was revealed to me by blood tests that looked for genetic markers, which I had several! Since removing gluten from my diet, I have felt significantly better mentally and physically. I want JoyFoodly to be a place where families can learn easy, delicious recipes that will nourish their loved ones, always keeping in mind that even when you do have a food you need to avoid, there can still be joy in eating, and cooking food for yourself is truly the best way to know what’s going into your body. All of our recipes are tested gluten free, and in our Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab, we also let families know if they are vegan, egg, nut, or dairy free, and make recommendations on how to modify the recipe if they are not.

Q: What are your four favorite foods to work with, and why?

Hollie: I love to cook with whatever is in season now because it’s going to be at its ripest, juiciest and tastiest now. Also, buying fresh produce in season will save you money. Especially living in California, we’ll benefit from the surplus of seasonal produce that grocery stores need to move out before it spoils. For summer, my favorites from our Joyful 12 are tomatillos, corn, eggplant, okra, bell peppers and tomatoes. I always have olive oil, some sort of citrus (limes or lemons) good salt, and a fresh herb in what I make.

Q: What is the best way to serve eggplant?

Hollie: Great question! It depends on the type you’re using. I love the Chinese variety that’s smaller, light purple colored, and fast to cook with. I love to sauté the eggplant on high heat with a Vidalia onion and some salt. At the end of cooking, I throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar. It’s divine and so easy. Although, the other day I ate some eggplant sautéed and then thrown into a curry coconut broth and now my creative juices are working overtime to figure out exactly what that chef put into his dish.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 kitchen utensils would you want with you?

Hollie: That’s fun. Well, a knife, clearly! Next, I’d say a sauté pan to cook in and some sort of wooden spoon to cook with, and let’s face it, if I got four choices, it’d have to be a wine opener in case some wine ships ashore as I’m daydreaming!

(me: she totally wins this interview, I’m not even kidding.)

Q: What would you ultimately like to achieve with JoyFoodly?

Hollie: I’d love to change our food culture in this country. I don’t believe in kid food! I know that kids can learn to try and enjoy a variety of foods, including the exciting world of vegetables and fruits. But mainly, I’d love for our country to shift from a love/hate relationship with food to one where kids grow up knowing that junk food is a sometimes thing and nourishing food is a lifetime thing. Did I mention JOY?! Food is pleasure.

Q: Who is your ideal audience for JoyFoodly?

Hollie: A family with children who would love to know simple ways to cook and get their kids excited to try and learn to love a variety of vegetables and fruits—as part of an overall nourishing and joyful relationship with food.

Do you have a guilty comfort food, and are you willing to share this with us?

Hollie: I’m Southern, so we by definition do not feel guilty in the least in completely relishing everything that’s tasty in relation to food! Let’s see. I confess I have a popcorn habit (with butter). I’m Irish and can’t pass up a good potato dish, and in general I adore comfort foods like my homemade pimento cheese, a medium rare lamb chop, and a juicy tomato sandwich with good mayo slathered on all sides.


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Thank you so much Chef Hollie at!!


(This is not a sponsored post. I just did it because it’s awesome.)