Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cheers!

This past year has brought so many beautiful changes into my life, both personal and professional. Last year, I could've never guessed that 2013 would bring me a new major (Ag Communications!) OR a new position (MI's official blogger/social media and marketing intern!!!!!). I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have been set before me and for all the people that encouraged me to seize them. My life has never been so filled with love and laughter and for that I feel extremely blessed. Although I cannot say what 2014 has in store for me, I CAN with certainty that the best is yet to come.
Tonight, please celebrate responsibly and expect nothing but the best in 2014. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jingle All The Way

Well... maybe we didn't go dashing through any snow, but this "sleigh" ride was one of the most festive things I've enjoyed this holiday season. Complete with Christmas lights, cozy blankets and hot cocoa, this wagon ride was as nostalgic as it was romantic. Our trusty draft horses (seasonally named Snow and White) were even in the holly jolly spirit, wearing their silver-embellished harnesses and bells. The experience made me feel like a little girl again - I even caught myself humming carols as we rode along.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Visit from Santa's Helpers

Each holiday, Madonna Inn employees sacrifice time with their loved ones to make sure that our business runs smoothly. While working on a holiday would bum most people out, the MI staff is never so unified, enthusiastic and loving as they are during the holidays. Melissa, one of our fabulous bartenders, recently shared a story with me that really put me in the holiday spirit, and made me realize how much people appreciate our Madonna Inn team. It was TGD and Melissa was working the Silver Bar when two nice ladies she'd never seen before, Heidi and Holly, sat down in her section. Melissa greeted them with a cheerful, "Happy Thanksgiving!" To this, the ladies responded by thanking her for working... especially on a holiday when she would rather be with her family. They wanted to make sure she knew how much her service meant to them she was not only working on a holiday, but working on a holiday with a gracious heart. Melissa was touched by their words, but didn't chat much with them after that except to check on them and bring them their ticket. As Heidi and Holly were about to leave, they struck up a conversation about early Black Friday shopping. They said they were heading over to Old Navy because they were starting their Black Friday sale early. Melissa told them that because she had to work she probably wouldn't make it, but had had seen a cute Old Navy jacket that she'd been wanting to buy herself. Heidi and Holly questioned her about the jacket, asking what it looked like and what size it was so that they could "stash it in the dressing room for her so it would still be there when she made it out to shop." Melissa went along with it all, thinking their offer was kind and all in good humor. Fast forward about an hour later, and the hostess had walked up to the bar, informing Melissa that there were some ladies at the front desk that were asking to speak with her. Not knowing what was up, Melissa said she was nervous. When she got to the desk, she saw the two familiar faces of Holly and Heidi, who told her to open her hands and close her eyes. When Melissa opened her eyes and realized that the ladies had gotten her the jacket she'd been wanting she could hardly believe what had happened. Excited, surprised and touched, Melissa was teary-eyed and speechless. When she finally found the words to thank her not-so-secret Santa's Helpers, Heidi and Holly simply smiled and told her to consider it an early Christmas gift. Although Melissa hasn't seen Heidi and Holly since that day, each time she wears her new jacket she is reminded of their kindness and the magic of the holiday spirit.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'Tis the Season

... to eat seasonally fresh produce, that is! "Eating seasonally" by choosing fresh, organic, locally grown produce is a wonderful way to support your local farmers, as well as ensure that your produce is at its peak ripeness. Not only does eating seasonally mean better quality but also more variety. Have fun creating new dishes by incorporating seasonal fruits and veggies into your favorite recipes. Explore and savor the bounty of each season while doing your body and your local farmers a favor.
This month, enjoy grapes, citrus, kiwi, dates, persimmons, kale, brussels sprouts and nuts -- all at the peak of perfection! Inquire online or at your local farmer's market to find out what's in season in your area. {All images were found using Google}

The Art of Pies

For the past few years during the holiday season, I've gotten the opportunity to help out in the bakery. Although the ladies back there work quite a bit faster than I'm able to, they never forget to thank me for helping and always make me feel like part of their little family. I am continually astounded at how quickly they can whip out huge numbers of beautiful desserts. My specialty is cream pies - chocolate, banana and even coconut cream. Although assembling 50 or 60 of the same pie may seem like a bore, I get so lost in my creative groove that the hours end up flying by. It's almost like each pie is a little work of art for me.
Speaking of bananas, did you know that this wonderful fruit comes in over 500 varieties?? That's a lot of 'nanners!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Live Fast Magazine's Madonna Inn Editorial

Live Fast Mag recently came to the Inn during their hotel tour and I am so pleased to finally share some of my favorite photos on the blog. Not only did these shots come out beautifully, but I also loved seeing all the fun they had on property and the fresh ways they interpreted the Madonna atmosphere. Read the article and view more photos at http://livefastmag.com/2013/11/hotel-tour-san-luis-obispos-famous-madonna-inn/. Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

After recovering from my candy-induced hangover and setting back my clocks this weekend, I woke up this morning to a lovely November Monday: marked by the lingering luxury of that "extra" Fall hour. And while I am admittedly a bit sad to see the sun setting behind the hills so early, I am just tickled by the earlier sunrise and the warmer mornings the time change brings.
"Falling back" reminded me that the Season of joy, love and togetherness is upon us and I was thus inclined to start a gratitude journal in honor of the coming holidays. Today, I am thankful for the unexpected kindness that I received from my supermarket check out attendant. Her sincerity and thoughtfulness in asking me how my day had been going reminded me that even the simplest of efforts to connect with others can be profound. What are you thankful for today??

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Got Milk?

On the first day of my agricultural communications class at Poly, professor Gearhart gave us a quick quiz on our California agricultural knowledge. Although there were some things I knew already, I was shocked at how many awesome new facts I learned about California agriculture that I had never even heard of before.
For instance, did you know that California is the number one producer of dairy in the U.S? All these years I have taken fresh, real whipped cream on my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie for granted. Without California's dairies, however, would I perhaps have been raised on Cool Whip instead of real whipped cream!?? We may never know, but I am certainly grateful that I never had to find out. Thank goodness for real whipped cream and thank goodness for California agriculture!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Midterm "Zombies"

Yesterday as I was leaving my last class, a pretty funny thing happened that got me thinking. To set the scene for you, it was about dusk and there was a very warm stillness in the air that was decidedly eerie, yet comfortable. As I was walking quietly along Poly View Drive, something in the distance catches my eye. The lighting was very twilight-zone-esque and I found it hard to see much -- but thought I could make out three bodies up ahead, sort of running after each other. As they got closer, I could clearly see three males, wearing what appeared to be ripped and bloodied t-shirts, with powdery white faces, blackened eyes, rotting teeth, and messy hair. Although I wasn't quite sure of what I was witnessing, a stride or two closer confirmed for me that this was indeed a zombie encounter. As "they" continued along in their hurried, limping zig-zag of a gate, I could hear them grunting and carrying on... heckling people as they went along. I was practically in stitches by the time they passed by me, and even squealed a little when the last character nearly staggered right into me. Whether this "zombie" encounter was the work of some Halloween hooligans, Cal Poly's student government, or was truly the return of the living dead... I may never know. I will say, however, that the experience reminded not to take myself so seriously. Especially in the midst of midterms, it's important to have a belly laugh or two. Even at my most frazzled, I simply can't help but feel better after a good dose of laughter, and yesterday was no exception. So to all my fellow Mustangs out there, I wish you the best of luck this week with your midterms and advise you to keep an eye out for those zombies!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Weekend to SAVOR

After looking forward to something for so long, it is a strange sensation to know that the event has finally come and passed. And although this past weekend was exhausting, I am happy to say that the annual Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast food and wine event was wonderfully successful. The festivities started out with a participatory SAVOR rodeo that we hosted and ran at the Madonna Arena. Next was the running of our vendor booth in Santa Margarita, and finally on Sunday, the SAVOR 5 and 10K races through downtown SLO to benefit finding a cure for cancer. The SAVOR event is fun because it is a chance for locals, who may have only heard about us, the chance to see what the Madonna Inn is really all about.
To top off this fun weekend, we celebrated my grandma Phyllis's 85th birthday yesterday at my parents' house. Not only was the party a fun time to mingle with cousins and family friends, but was also a great opportunity to celebrate and honor a woman who has truly been a blessing in each of our lives. Here is a photo of my grandma and her newest great-grandchild, Carissa.

Friday, September 20, 2013

WOW

Although there aren't many ways to detect the changing of the seasons in San Luis Obispo, you certainly know summer is coming to a close all the "WOWies" arrive. During Cal Poly's WOW, or Week of Welcome, over 4,500 new students come to SLO the week before school begins to become oriented with both the campus and the community. Hundreds of WOW groups flud downtown SLO in brightly colored attire -- becoming acquainted with new people and places, taking pictures, and just generally having fun. This year, a couple WOW groups even took a tour of the Inn and munched on some fresh baked cookies afterwards by the pool.
Cheers to the beginning of a great year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Madonnari

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Each September in downtown SLO, artists from all over the county gather to participate in the I Madonnari festival -- producing incredible works of original street-art using chalk. For two days, the plaza of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa transforms into a beautifully colorful mosaic, made up of hundreds of unique creations. One of Madonna Inn's very own, Rudy Raidl, has been participating in the I Madonnari festival for many years. The ethereal piece he made was simply stunning!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nothing like a Hike

It's been said that salt is the cure for everything: sweat, tears, or the ocean. Well, I utilized the first part of that saying yesterday to alleviate some extra energy I had buzzing inside me. Four sweaty miles later I was calm, relaxed, and at peace... completely free of my nervous energy. Not only that, but I got to spend time with some good friends and enjoy breathtaking views. Whether I'm stressed, sad, angry, hyper or aloof, by the end of a hike I am always back to feeling like myself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

(Wo)men at Work

Whilst scrounging around the utility closet for the hand-soap refill, I happened upon a pile of pink hardhats that read "Madonna Construction." Although all of the hardhats were the same dusty-rose hue, each style was a bit different from the next -- leading me to believe that they must have been a gift or special order some years ago during the construction days. Annie, Tish and I had a good laugh wearing the hardhats around the office, singing that old BTO song "Takin' Care of Business."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Introducing... The Office Dogs!

While there are many things that set the Madonna Inn and Madonna Enterprise offices apart from other work places, "dog-friendliness" is one of my favorites. Our K-9 counterparts truly seem to enjoy seeing their other human and doggy friends around the office, and create a relaxed and easy-going work atmosphere. My dog, Rita, gives me the excuse to get up and walk around when she needs potty breaks and eat lunch on the grass while her and the other dogs play. As Roger Caras (host of the Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show) once said, "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Love

While I rather enjoy the rigors and challenges of getting a college education, summer break has been nothing short of a dream. I have been able to work more, which has been very rewarding in the absence of school work. Also, I have been focusing on getting outside more... whether that means going on a hike, to the beach, or out to the arena to ride my horses. I have even found time to rediscover my love of art and doodling on these quiet, summer afternoons. Truthfully, I'm starting to look forward to returning to campus next month, but am going to continue loving every minute of summer until then.