beka stays relational: coffee lessons from my mom

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

I think an extra day deserves an extra gift. Which means it’s time for a good Mom story.

My mom is a hard worker. She works as a bus aide and in the middle school cafeteria. She leaves the house every morning around 6am, goes on her first bus run, and then has a short break before heading to the cafeteria. During that break she likes to have some coffee.

If only it were that simple.

The problem is that she prefers her food and beverages to be hot. And by hot, I mean volcanic. So putting coffee in a travel mug and saving it for her break just isn’t an option because it won’t stay hot enough. I’ve tried to help the situation by giving her super-insulated mugs and mugs that plug into the car lighter to self-heat. Neither of those options complied with her temperature preferences.

So she came up with her own solution instead. And when she started telling the story of how she prepares her coffee every morning I knew I had to write it down because it’s the best thing I’ve heard…basically ever. And then I knew I had to share it with you guys, because I love you that much.

Here’s our coffee conversation, as told by my mom, with select input from my dad and me. Good luck.

Mom: (Said in about 3 seconds) Okay, fill a coffee cup with hot water and put it in the microwave…

Me: Wait wait wait how fast do you think I can type this?

Mom: Oh…(laughs uncontrollably) sorry. I’ll have to send you a picture of –

Dad: Yeah there’s an idea!

Me: Of the mug?

Mom and Dad: Yeah!

Mom: Ok so anyway fill a coffee CUP with hot water and put it in the microwave until it boils, or you know, whatever, comes to a boil. Then I put the boiling water in my coffee MUG and I seal it up. I wrap the bottom part in foil –

Me: Bottom part of what?

Mom: My mug!

Me: Why the bottom?

Mom: SHHHH. And then, before I leave – I figure it’s like 10-15 minutes since I put the boiling water in, whatever – when I leave I pour the coffee from the machine into the CUP and put it in the microwave.

Dad: Now you know why she has to get up at 5am…

Mom: And put it in there –

Me: Wait, in where?

Mom: In the MICROWAVE. Just shy of 2 minutes and 45 seconds, just shy of coming to a boil. Then I empty the hot water from the insulated mug and pour the hot coffee into the mug…put the lid on…hahahaha!…And then I put the foil on.

Me: What happened to the foil on the bottom?

Mom: It’s still there!

Me: So where are you putting the new foil?

Mom: On top! And then I put the plastic bag on top of everything.

Dad: You have to see this…

Mom: And then I put a rubber band over everything (starts to break into another fit of laughter). But it works because you can see the steam inside of the bag once I’m done with my bus run!!!

Dad: Gee, I wonder why…

Mom: And then I put it in the car and I have a big beach towel and then a regular towel and then I wrap it around with all the towels –

Me: Ok wait, towels?

Mom: Well I have the beach towel which I wrap around the “mug” and then, like I said, I have the other towel and I wrap that all around the other towel…it’s like a cocoon around my mug!

(Pauses momentarily.)

But if I DON’T do that…well even if I don’t do the foil! Or the microwave! I mean it’s just not the same. This stays HOT for 2 hours! And sometimes, just as extra, I put a bag on top.

Me: On top of…the towels?

Mom: Yeah!

Me: So you leave at what time in the morning?

Mom: No later than 6:15.

Me: And when are you drinking this?

Mom: About 8:45 or 9.

Me: And your coffee stays hot?

Mom: Oh, absolutely, absolutely!

Dad: It wouldn’t dare get cold.

Mom: It’s just as hot as if it’s being served in a restaurant!

Me: How…did this happen? How did you start doing this?

Mom: I don’t know how I started doing it. But I’ll tell you what: it WORKS!

End Scene.

And just in case you thought it was too good to be true, here’s the visual:

One towel:

Two towels:

The bag:

And the mastermind behind this whole process:

Mom…I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for making life so much fun.

beka stays athletic : foam rolling saved my life

I started the day by reading this and this.

I did this workout this morning.

I smell good.

I made Stumptown coffee this morning (I ration it out like it’s gold…because it is).

I ate granola for breakfast. With some greek yogurt on the side. Just kidding…kind of.

I’m listening to Mike and Mike.

The sun is streaming in through two big windows behind me while I sit at my desk and blog.


People…the only way this morning could be better would be if the Packers had played and won last night and were on their way to the Super Bowl…

Clearly, I’m still in Stage 4.

But back to the good news: running!

(And really, those who’ve known me for a solid decade, did you ever think you’d see me write that sentence? Mark that down as a great life change.)

As per the title of this post, foam rolling saved my life.

After a week and a half of taking time off and stretching with no change in how I felt I knew it was time to call for back up. So I talked to a bunch of people who are smarter than me and they all said the same thing: start foam rolling.

What is foam rolling, you (and I) ask?

Here’s my favorite explanation (from Running Times):

The foam roller is a firm foam log that is six inches in diameter. Use the roller against the muscle knots with your own body weight to generate the direct pressure. Imagine using a rolling pin to roll out lumps in bread dough. A foam roller is a good alternative to repetitive trips to the massage therapist. Your foam roller is always available and doesn’t accept tips! Bottom line: The foam roller is an inexpensive, yet highly effective way to treat and prevent the most common injuries seen in runners.

Perfect! So off to Target I went. I bought this foam roller, I watched this video, I went to bed and woke up feeling significantly better. And after just a few days of this routine I was completely back to normal! I couldn’t believe it worked so quickly!

And then on Saturday I basically plowed down the doors of Planet Fitness to jump on a treadmill and ran four miles. I wanted to run fourteen. For REAL. I felt better than ever!

Now, as much as I bemoaned being sidelined for a few weeks I’m actually really grateful that this little bump in the road occurred. First, because it made me realize how much I love running right from the get-go of this goal, before I forget and start complaining about how much I hate running. I used to hate running. And then after that I was ambivalent about running, even when I ran a half-marathon. But now, for whatever reason, I love running. It feels like freedom. And I’m glad I was reminded of that on Mile 20 instead of Mile 820.

Second, it made me so grateful for my health. I’ve always taken for granted the fact that I can bound up and down flights of stairs or go to the gym and use whatever equipment I want to use. I’ve never been physically limited before. Realizing that my health is a gift that can be hindered or taken at any time was a huge wake-up call. It’s not even like I was majorly injured, but it was just enough to make me see things from a new perspective. Now I want to run 1,000 miles this year not only because I love running and want to stay motivated and active, but because I CAN. I want to run 1,000 miles because I’m able to, and I want to make the most of that ability.

Instead of running like crazy now that I feel better I decided to stick to my normal schedule. I took Sunday off and did an at-home workout this morning (the one linked above…it was AWESOME!). But tomorrow I’ll be back on the road treadmill again…and can’t wait. CAN’T WAIT! (Which, every time I use that phrase, I’m reminded of this Bart Scott interview during last year’s playoffs. I swear, few moments in football have brought me such lasting joy…and it wasn’t even related to on-field action.)

While we’re chatting about health and fitness, this list of must-read health and fitness blogs is making me inordinately happy. It’s how I found this morning’s workout! New blogs = yet another reason why I love this morning.

What a great Monday.

beka stays authentic : you will still sleep tonight if you don’t read this [part II]

1. I’m craving coffee in the worst way right now. Not as a caffeinated entity, but just in all of it’s pure, freshly ground, good to the last drop glory. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’m obsessed with Finger Lakes’ Kranberry Kreme blend, but still, I seriously contemplated going to bed early because it would get me that much closer to waking up and making coffee.

2. I also contemplated going to bed early because I’m the kind of overtired that makes a person useless to the world. Literally: useless. Which may explain point number three…

3. I accidentally kicked my Nalgene bottle over tonight, spilling it’s contents onto the wood floors. Since my apartment is not unlike Pisa in that it leans significantly to the left, the waterfall began gaining momentum towards the wall where all of my electronics live. I responded by sitting there and watching the glug, glug, glug of flowing water for several moments before having the presence of mind to pick up the water bottle. Then, noticing the impending doom approaching my laptop/internet/hard drive/camera/printer, I did what any normal person would do.

I took off my pants. I took off my fleece pants so quickly you would have thought they were on fire and threw them and myself onto the floor to act as a barricade.

It was at this point that I started to wonder why a towel wouldn’t have afforded the same benefit with a less shameful result. Why this didn’t occur to me pre-stripping is a mystery only point number two can answer. And because I was a) wet, b) tired, and c) annoyed at the time I didn’t find this whole situation very amusing. But now that it’s just a few hours later I think it’s hysterical. I crack up every time I replay the moment when I decided that bolting out of my clothing was clearly the best answer to the problem at hand.

4. I’m going to Trader Joe’s in less than one week. I already have a list of a dozen items I can’t wait to bring home. Joy to the World.

5. 5 – as in the number of days until Christmas. This pains me. I need more time! I need more snow!

6. Today at the gym I was contemplative. I ran 6 ugly miles. They were ugly because I was SO not into them so they felt extra long and laborious. But that’s not the point. The point is that while I ran I looked around and saw many a female sweating it out on their workout machinery of choice. And I wondered, as I often do, what their ultimate goal was – to lose weight? to stay healthy? to be happy? And then I listened to conversations in the locker room – about Christmas cookies, how it’s not safe to bake them and keep them in the house, why it’s almost time to really buckle down for a new batch of weight loss resolutions. And then I wondered how much time we as a gender spend thinking about things like this – how we look in the mirror, how we look compared to the girl next to us in the mirror, how much weight we want to lose, how many calories are in our Christmas cookies, how many minutes on the elliptical equal how many Christmas cookies we want to eat?

And then I thought: what if we stopped? What if we stopped constantly (oh, constantly!) thinking about body image? Stopped degrading ourselves, torturing with comparisons, killing joy with calculations? What if we just stopped the insanity?

How much more brain space would we have for things that actually matter? Like being present in the moment, enjoying food and exercise as blessings and not punishments, realizing that life is bigger, better, more important than a number on a scale?

I am the guiltiest of the guilty. I need a change in my perspective. But those are just the thoughts I was thinking today. And I thought I’d share them with you too. Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this boat?

7. Along the same lines, I spent oodles of time pouring over this blog tonight. Andie’s story is filled with inspiration, honesty, reality, and – perhaps most importantly – kindness. It’s definitely worth stopping by and reading a few (thousand) wise words.

8. I’m going to bed now. (Which means only a few more hours until coffee!)

beka stays authentic : stuffing one day into one hour

This morning I’m actively avoiding the fact that in about an hour, I’ll be working for the next 14 hours. The work is a good thing – I’m sure it will be a beautiful wedding and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and have a great time and eat more cake than necessary – but in the meantime I’m trying to squeeze a full Saturday into one tiny morning. In the mix:

Extra large cup of coffee (Moose Crossing from Leaf & Bean)

Gilmore Girls Season 3

Pinterest, Pinterest, and more Pinterest

Google Reader (particularly enjoyed this post and this post)

Looking at a stack of magazines and wondering which to start with and why I subscribe to so many…and which others to add to the list

Looking at a stack of books and wondering which to read this morning and why I have so many…and which others to check out from the library

Playing with the new Flickr app for Android

And that’s the long and (very) short of it. Now…it’s time to get ready to go!

the dailies : 9.15.11

daily word: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT)

daily sweat: My first (and possibly last) Spin class. I think I’m just not a fan of stationary bikes in large doses.

daily dish:


More pumpkin pie oatmeal! This stuff is legit. I can’t wait to post the recipe once I figure out what I put in it and take some decent pictures.


Last night’s leftovers.


Round FOUR of the quinoa and bulgar salad…another recipe I should post if only for it’s economic and nutritional prowess.


A Finger Lakes’ bananas foster coffee, a Tim Horton’s coffee, and a vanilla chai. I was all about the jolt today.

daily mile:

Day 11: humbled.