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20th Annual Kona Brewers Festival – Get out there!

10 Apr

Last year around this time I set a goal for myself to get more involved with my community. Since then I have become involved with many different groups, organizations and events that give back to my little town of Kona and Hawaii in general.

On my journey I have found a lot of happiness. {Isn’t it funny how sometimes two different goals in life can collide and Prayers/Dreams/Wishes can come true? I am a firm believer in miracles…but I digress. That is another story for a different day.}

On my journey to get more involved I have had the pleasure of doing some AMAZING and FUN things. Last month I got involved with the 20th Annual Kona Brewers Festival, which gives back to the community right here in Kona. My son’s Charter School is a beneficiary at a few awesome fundraising events, such as the Brewers Fest. So ultimately I had to volunteer, ya know… for the kids and all. Nah! Watching people get tipsy on beer from 52 different breweries from around the US and dance around like a bunch of drunk hippy cougars was TOTALLY not the reason I had so much fun {hehe}… it was for the CHILDREN, people! Okay, who am I kidding… It was the mere scene of people having a great time that made my volunteering experience epic. I am a “people watcher”. I love a good, electric crowd and let me tell you! This was AWEEEEEEESOME! This was a “people watchers” dream event.

As fate would have it, I finally found an event my husband would volunteer with me at. I mean it was the Brewers Fest, how could he say no. We got to pour for two different breweries: High Water Brewery from San Jose, California and Burnside Brewery from Oregon. I think we scored the best spot at the whole event. We were right by the stage {but not facing the speakers} and right by the water. We had the best breeze and the best view for people watching and entertainment.


apparently I throw up gang signs… High Water Brewery yo! SAN JOSE fools!


Can I just say “wow” for a minute.


We poured our 4 kegs of beer for 5 hours and got to meet some very interesting people. I may or may not have poured wayy too much beer {past the 4oz line we were told to pour to} for many beer patriots who kept coming back to my station. Well, I understand now why they were coming back to my station and it wasn’t because they “liked my hat” {ahh ha! A clue Shirlock}. Everyone loves the “Beer Pourer” because the “Beer Pourer” just pours the beer, with no hesitation, with no strings attached. I wasn’t working for tips, or an hourly wage. I wasn’t going to have to spit in someones beer because they snapped their fingers and never said “thank you” {just kidding, I never did that as a waitress…. much}. All I had to do was pour the beer. Pour it fast and tell people where it was from if they asked. The sad part about being the “Beer Pourer” is that we cannot drink any of the beer. Now, I understand that they don’t want the volunteers getting all wasted and drinking the beer that others paid for, I get it. However, this pisses me off for a number of reasons. One particular reason has to be a “brand rep” and control freak nightmare. I like to be able to help people in their choice for a great beer that they would love. So when a “seller” can’t test their own product how can you trust them? We couldn’t tell people what it tasted like! It made me upset coming from a customer service industry. They literally had to just go by what the sign explained it tasted like and risk one of their “tabs” for a beer they may or may not like.

What are “Tabs”? When you buy a ticket to the Brew Fest, you get a wrist band with 8 tabs on it. Each beer you choose is 1 of your “tabs” and each beer is only 4oz. That’s 32oz of beer. Not that much of beer. Now you understand why I may or may not have poured past that 4oz line for these awesome beer connoisseurs. Rahjah!

Although, throughout the whole 5 hours of pouring beer, I only had one person taste their beer and spit it out. Apparently she didn’t like the Campfire Stout from the High Water Brewery located in San Jose, California. {wink!} Weird. I had hundreds of people try the beer before her and after her and they loved it. People even came back and stood in line for more of that beer and she spit it out? Isn’t that in a rule book somewhere for craft beers? Alcohol abuse if you ask me. I’m just sayin’.

We couldn’t drink beer at the event, but their was some awesome perks. We all got special glasses, an awesome T-shirt and the best perk of all… the Mahalo Party the next day. The volunteer’s Mahalo Party was at the Kona Brewery and sectioned off outside. They had all you could drink beer!!! So they made up for not allowing us to drink during the event.. I’d say so! They also had food and prizes, but yeah, the free beer, that’s where it’s at! I, however, don’t choose to volunteer for the chance I may get something out of it. I do it because it’s a part of my personality. It’s’ something that, like a lot of people, makes me feel good. It’s a statement that I care about my community. Yes, I care about the children… remember?!

In a nutshell, I really loved being a “Beer Pourer” so much that I believe this shall be an annual thing. My husband agreed. yay!

I see now how making the choice to put yourself out there in the community can affect everything else in your life. It can give you the push to start doing something that you have been putting off, or meet new people when you would have been too shy to do so before. It’s an incredible thing.

If I could express anything to you in my blog it would be that you shouldn’t be afraid of who you want to be. Don’t let your own insecurities hold you back from something that could break them down completely. I have gained so much this last year in my journey. I really wish that I would have had more faith in myself in my 20’s, but we all learn at our own pace and sometimes I believe there are reason’s why that we cannot see. Get out there! Get out of your comfort zone. Things will happen for you!

There are plenty of ways to get involved, and in no way limited to these, but here are a few ideas {in no particular order}:

  1. Habitat for Humanity – see if they have any work going on in or around your community. They are always looking for volunteers! They give back! Rated top Non-Profit Brand for 2014 🙂
  2. Make-A-Wish Foundation – an awesome foundation! They are looking for people to volunteer their time or expertise!
  3. A mentor for students at a local school. Schools are always looking for mentor’s for students. Helping with homework, projects in and out of the classroom, giving  them the confidence they need!
  4. A local clean up day! Live near a park? Beach? A street?! Don’t see any local clean up’s schedule for your community? Start one! Social media is great in this area, plan and spread the word!
  5. Any festivals or events going on in your area? Go directly to their website or social media page and ask about how you can volunteer! I prefer events that the proceeds go directly back into the community. Look into who the beneficiaries are before you commit your time. I felt better volunteering my time knowing the proceeds were going to locals schools and organizations than an event that I wasn’t too sure where the proceeds go to. Like take for example the difference between The Big Island Chocolate Fest and the Ironman World Championships. They both happen here in my town but the Chocolate Fest gives back directly to my town, it’s very clear who the beneficiaries are. The Ironman, however, does have a foundation that gives back, but ultimately I am lost with where exactly the money is going. Will my community see any of it? Don’t get me wrong, I have volunteered for Ironman a few times, but I must say I’d rather work for free for MY community rather than.. say…yours? Greedy? Maybe. But I’d rather see YOU volunteering for YOUR community. Get it?
  6. Supporting local farms and gardens! Land is hard to maintain and if you enjoy gardening and giving back, why not contact a local farm or garden and lend a hand? Do they provide fresh fruits and veggies to local communities? Do any schools in your community have a garden? Do they not, but possibly could? Can you build a cheap herb garden for the students? Think about it.

Those are only a few idea’s to get you thinking and to get you involved and putting yourself out there in your community. It doesn’t even need to take up a ton of your time and you don’t have to be a “yes” person and do everything. Find one thing to say YES to and give back!

You have officially been encouraged!

Happy volunteering!




It’s cold outside… Black Bean Soup

9 Feb

I love black beans.

Well, I love food in general, but I LOVE me some black beans. I love black beans in quesadillas, I love black beans in salad, I even love black beans in my pot-pies. Well, let’s just be honest, If you can put a black bean in it, I assure you I love it. Even soup.

Our chilly “soup days” are few and far between here in Hawaii and you can’t really plan on tomorrow being the perfect soup weather to prepare your soup. Some of the best soups I’ve had are a 2 day process and as a busy mom I don’t have that kind of time. So, I have done some research to come up with the best Black Bean Soup I can make on a whim. I believe I have a GREAT solution and a good competitor against even the best black bean soup out there… Yes, I am talking to you “Thank God It’s Friday” people…

I am highly impressed with my last-minute soup and it has become a staple for those few and far between rainy days at my home. I hope you can give it a try!

IMG_1365April’s Black Bean Soup


2 tablespoons butter (for vegan friendly recipe, use vegetable oil)
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
3 tablespoons minced garlic
5 15-ounce cans black beans
5 cups of chicken broth (for a vegan friendly recipe, use veggie broth)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2½ teaspoons Chili powder
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
Concentrated hickory liquid smoke {to taste}
(I add about 2 teaspoons of the liquid smoke before I boil, then add more to taste before ready to serve)

*Shredded Cheddar, Monterey Jack or “Mexican blend” cheese. {omit if making vegan, duh}
*Chopped Green Onions
*Homemade Fried tortilla strips* or crumbled store-bought tortilla chips

  1. Heat butter or oil in large sauce/soup pot over medium/low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to your butter or oil and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to “sweat” and onions are practically clear. Don’t brown! Keep the heat low.
  2. Meanwhile, pour canned beans into strainer and rinse them under cold water. Measure 4 cups of the drained beans into a food processor with 1½ cups of chicken (or veggie) broth. Puree on high-speed until smooth.
  3. When veggies are ready, pour the pureed beans in. Add the remaining whole beans, the rest of the broth, and every other ingredient in the list above (down to the liquid smoke), to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour stirring occasionally. I’ve allowed my soup to sit on low simmer for 2+ hours! Add more liquid smoke, if needed, to taste.
  4. While your soup is simmering, prepare your garnish. Chop up green onions. Crumble up your tortilla chips OR *If you are making your own crispy tortilla strips you will need to pour about a fingers width of oil in a pan, heat up on med/high heat. While your oil is getting hot, cut up your tortilla’s {I use plain flour tortilla’s but you can use corn or whole wheat too} into long skinny strips, and then half them so they are small. Once your oil is hot, sprinkle in your cut up tortilla strips and fry them for about 30-45 seconds or until brown and crispy. Lay them on a plate with a paper towel to drain some of the oil.

                   TIP: I recommend growing your own green onions, it’s so easy to do and you don’t need to have a “garden” to do it! I’ll make it easy for you, buy some local, organic green onions with some roots still on the bottom. When you get home, or after you cut and use what you want, place them in a cup of water and leave them on the counter or in the window sill. You will see within days that they are shooting out new onions from where you cut them. You can then plant them nearby or leave them in the cup of water. Saving you time and money for your next Green Onion need!

  5. Serve soup topped with cheese {again, omit cheese for vegan friendly}, green onions and crispy tortilla strips {or crumbs}. Not Vegan? – You could also add a tablespoon of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt!
  6. Enjoy your black bean soup!!



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