Finding the Best Smoothie Base

IMG_1200-0.JPG

Ever since we bought our Vitamix I have enjoyed having a smoothie in the morning before starting my day along with my daily cup of green tea. I never made smoothies for myself until recently after a run or going to the gym and I realized that I never paid attention to base that my wife used.

Occasionally I would go to Whole Foods to buy my smoothies after physical therapy at $7 a pop. That began to get to expensive so I elected to learn how to do it myself. At first, my smoothies tasted like water with out any other ingredients in the mix.

I started wondering about what other people use as a base for their smoothies. Here are some that I have tried and hated or loved:

Water
Water is probably the healthiest option available from. Hydration standpoint, but the overall taste is/was just nasty. It’s a very simple base and very easy to get your body properly hydrated.

Almond Milk
My wife uses almond milk and it is simply delicious. It has protein and fiber in it and I love that almond milk is lactose free as I am lactose intolerant. Almond milk does have a fair amount of sugar, however I like it! You can try unsweetened almond milk, but then you lose the taste.

Coconut Water
When I went to Whole Foods I normally used Apple Juice as my base and one of the barista’s asked if I had tried Coconut Water. I said, “let’s try it!” I have never looked back. The health benefits from Coconut Water helped me replenish my electrolytes and potassium after a run. It’s low in sugar and fat. It’s my smoothie base of choice when it’s on sale at Target.

Juice
Anybody who knows me, knows that juice is my weakness. I love juice! The sugar in juice is what is keeping me from getting my six pack. When using juice, you may have to cut it with some water to help balance out the sugar content. We use other fruits as well to help out with the sugar content like: peaches, berries, plums, and also a lot of raw green vegetables.

The one caveat that I left out is that some of us have allergies and my wife has done a good job of using local honey to help managing our allergies.

I’m still learning, so if you have a smoothie recipe that I can fire up in my Vitamix, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Until Next Time…

 

Advertisements

5 For Friends Crowd Funding Campaign is Live

5green

Ok, I have delayed this post long enough! I don’t have a good reason, it’s just that I have been working the business and working my 9-5 at the same time. I am happy to report that we are now pre-selling our app, 5 For Friends on Indiegogo. You may ask, what the heck is 5 For Friends? It’s an amazing new innovative technology designed for busy people to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues. Essentially we have taken the guesswork out of keeping in touch and we have removed the excuses to get off the phone.

How do you keep in contact these days? People use text messaging and Facebook as a primary tool to communicate, however the personal communication has ceased as a result. My cousin and business partner, Scott Speed thought of 5 For Friends as a way to bridge the gap. He and I formed a company to be able to bring it to market and that is the journey that we are on. Ok, more about the app — it is designed to be a social app that will interact with the contacts in your phonebook that provide a status update of “I Got 5!” You will be able to initiate a 5 minute call with your friend or family member. At 4:30 (four minutes and thirty seconds) you get a soft tone voice telling you, “thank you for using 5 for friends” as an alert that your call will end in 25 seconds. Pretty cool, hugh!!! I know, I thought the same thing. Check out our video for the design concept of what the app will look like and the app totally removes the excuses that you may have used to get off the phone in the past.

We are using Indiegogo to raise the funds to help us build the app for iOS and Android. We have an aggressive plan to bring it to market. We are trying to raise $25,000 to make our goal. We are 19 days into our campaign and we have $3701. We had a launch event in Atlanta, GA where the business is based and also a launch event in Philadelphia — where both my cousin and I were born. We had a great turn out and we had tremendous success telling the story and gaining the support of our family and friends.

The hard part is now raising the rest of the money for development in the next 41 days. I look forward to the challenge of building this app and meeting different developers — I will be posting about the process along the way.

If you read this blog, please check out our campaign and purchase a version of the app before it is built for a lifetime FREE license. Also, spread the word as we need your help. We need the campaign to go viral!

Also please like our Facebook page!

Until next time….

Lebron James “Decision” to Return Home

I am really not sure how I should feel about this move that Lebron is making to return home to Cleveland after 4 years in Miami. Initially when he opted to leave Cleveland to go to Miami to chase championship rings, I fully supported the decision as a sports fan. It did not appear that he was going to get enough players to join him in Cleveland to help him win and it also did not look like the ownership was doing their best to get Lebron any help.

With all of that said, Lebron held the NBA hostage while trying to decide to go back to Cleveland or stay in Miami. From July 1st to July 11th many of this years free agent class could not make a decision because they were waiting for Lebron to make his decision. I could not believe that Cleveland was on the map again after the breakup 4 years ago and that nasty letter by the owner of the Cavs, Dan Gilbert — which was a modern day version of the motion picture 12 Years a Slave, in my opinion. The point I am trying to make is that the letter was unwarranted and very malicious. You can read the letter here, if you have never read it.

What changed for Lebron — it’s hard to leave a beautiful place like South Beach in Miami for the doldrums of Cleveland and the fact that he went to the finals 4 years in a row, winning two. On Friday, he drops the bomb that he is returning to Cleveland in epic fashion — far different than in 2010, in a great letter on SI.com written by him about his future plans. I thought I was going to hate Lebron for making this decision to leave Miami because their chances of winning is slim to none and his return to Cleveland was to take advantage of the young roster to put him in a position to win down the road. After reading his letter to SI.com, I cannot take that original position about disliking Lebron. This is a feel good story about the best player in the NBA returning home to try to finish what he started. This was a well crafted letter to the fans, his family, his friends, the city of Miami, Dan Gilbert, and the Haters about his “decision” to return home.

The most exciting part of all of this is Skylar Grey’s mockup of her hit “Coming Home,” in which she changed the lyrics for Lebron James and Nike made a commercial out of it in less than 19 hours. Take a listen!

I wish he and his family the best and everyone will be watching… including me!

Until next time…

 

Running with Injury

Right hip, left shoulder, right achillies, and left knee are all injuries that I have right now or that I have been dealing with over the last year. Just when I got to the point that I could manage the hip as I continued to run, something else would go. I feel like Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade. I hurt the shoulder playing basketball because I wanted to show that I still had “it.” And I don’t! Should have left the shoes retired. I thought I was at the Rucker or competing for a spot on USA Basketball. You never really feel the after effects until the next day and I could not move. My shoulder was throbbing and when I pushed off to walk, my right achillies was screaming. Fast forward to last week and I went with my wife to Crossfit to try a new box and I loved it. I could not get a workout that hard and fulfilling working out at they gym on my own if I tried. I liked that I was only competing against myself and of course my wife — the female version of beast mode. On the last day, the last exercise, the last rep, I tweaked my knee. I could barely walk and the pain and disappointment began to settle in. Prior to that I was just starting to get myself back together to start training for a half marathon after a long hiatus.

Moving forward, starting today, I plan on working on rehabbing myself and all of these nagging injuries through various forms of stretching and pool work, in hopes of being able to effectively participate in running 1-3 mile stretches. My goal is to get back to working out and getting stronger, but I have to strengthen the problem areas with rest and exercise before I can dive back in. I am hoping that none of the injuries require surgery because it is not going to happen. It took me 7-8 months to recover from surgery on my right shoulder in 2010.

One of the main reasons that I turned to running was because it provided a sense of being. Dr. George Sheehan just released a new book, “Running and Being.” I cannot wait to read it. With all of the injuries, I have not had a chance to get out and clear my mind. I like the idea of being out there alone and not thinking about any of the existing cares that are on my plate. Now I have to possibly resort to Yoga for the time being and some would argue that I should have been doing all along. Don’t worry about me, I am sure I will be fine, but I don’t intend to rush it this time. I’ll get back out there when I am healthy.

Until next time….

Reflecting on Father’s Day…

End of Year 2014 ProgramWhen I was younger I had the opportunity to have my father in the home full-time until the age of 6-7 and then unfortunately he became part-time and eventually he was gone. He fell victim to the “grass is greener on the other side” philosophy that get so many of us in trouble. Unfortunately for him, his life has never been the same. I have tried to reconcile with him several times, however the pain and disappointment always seem to rear it’s ugly head over and over and at some point I had to make a decision to move on.

I grew up not understanding the roles and responsibilities of a husband and a father because I did not have a role model or fatherhood figure. My grandfather passed away when I was relatively young and I depended on my mother for those serious conversations and every once in a while, someone would come along and I would pick up some important nuggets of information to help me grow as a young man. None of these men were in my home though. I ultimately feel blessed for how I developed. What I held onto as a growing young man were three important goals:

  • Work hard and create a better life — this meant increasing my income through education and work.
  • Never settle for anything – probably caused this inner drive that will not allow me to be content.
  • Avoid making the wrong decisions because the cost was huge – this meant friends, jobs, family, etc.

Fast forward to today and I am thankful for my older cousin and my Pastor at the time to help model what true Fatherhood is and what my responsibility is to my family. I think we can agree that being a father is not easy. I am proud of the steps that I have taken and also proud of so many of my friends that have done well too. One of the most important nuggets that I have picked up along the way is to align yourself with like-minded people. I am proud to say that I have aligned myself with some pretty cool people, whether neighbors, family, friends, etc. that are standing in the gaps for their families and doing a great job. That to me is what Fatherhood is all about.

Father’s Day may not have the appeal and impact that Mother’s Day has in society — my mother thinks it is a national holiday, but I still think it is important because the value of having dad in your life leaves a legacy — good or bad, that will have a lasting impact.

Lastly, I was able to see this impact as I visited my daughter’s school this week. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to see her face light up when I walked into the room for her end of the year program. I salute the fathers that I am associated with socially or through another relationship that are making this impact felt and are seeing the seeds of their efforts come to fruition.

To those that are or in a similar situation that I was in as a child, you too can use that situation as motivation to want more than what you were dealt. Do not use it as an excuse to succeed! Look at me, I turned into a Dluxedad!

Until next time….

Roth or Traditional IRA – Retirement Decisions

Besides working on 5 For Friends, if I could do anything, I would want to be a financial advisor to help people with these types of difficult decisions. I am no different than the average person and I have to go through the same process when trying to determine what the best course of action for my retirement accounts are for the future. I have several rollover IRA’s that are out there and generally I am pretty good at managing their performance. I do have one that is outstanding — meaning I need to move it and I am considering the almighty important question — to Roth or not to Roth?

Since their inception Roth IRA’s for the right situation have been the better option. For me it is different because if I were to convert this 401(k) to a Roth IRA, it would create a taxable event, which increases your taxable income, thus increasing your tax rate and possibly the amount that I would owe the IRS. Since I am exhausted from paying taxes, I am leery of this route. Generally, the Roth is a great option because allows your money to grow tax deferred and as you approach retirement, you will be able to continue to lower your tax base and enjoy your after tax dollars in your golden years. I guess that’s the dream they try to sell you on. In my case for this rogue 401(k) that I have, I will roll it over to a traditional and continue to look for ways to manage my tax situation. When I say manage, I am all for paying the taxes that I owe, but not a dollar more.

I feel like we all have retirement questions as it pertains to our retirement strategy and what our 401(k), TSP, 403(b) and other sponsored plans should be doing for us, however we have to do a better job of understanding these investment vehicles for ourselves or hire someone that does it professionally. Chances are you going to change jobs multiple times over your career and you have options as it relates to your account. You can:

  • Leave the money in your former employer’s plan;
  • Roll your money over to the new employer’s plan, if the plan accepts transfers;
  • Roll over the money into a 401(k); or
  • Take the cash value out of your account

I hate (I know it’s a strong word) option #4. You should never do that! When the economy tanked, more people cashed out of their employer sponsored plans creating a 10% penalty plus state and federal taxes being deducted. On top of that you lose any of the positive compounding interest that worked for you. According to USA Today, sadly, 66% of Blacks cashed out of their plans in 2010 compared to 57% of Hispanics, 37% of Whites and 34% of Asians. This should be a last resort depending on circumstances. I am not an expert, but understanding how money works is a passion of mine and I like sharing my thoughts with others.

Until next time….

 

 

The Best Suit for Men and Dads

Not sure if many of you know that I am equally passionate about my wardrobe just like I am about my Apple products. Often times I get asked my opinion about finding the best off the rack suit. Keep in mind that most of the time, I am not dealing with folks who can afford a custom $1600 suit. I bought my first “power blue” suit in 2001 for a job interview and it was a Jones New York, three button, and the pants were pleated. At the time pleats were in style. I liked the suit so much that I went and purchased the black version to add to my collection of two. Fast forward to 2014 and I have turned over my closet to a more slim fit, flat front, and more polished look.

One of the challenges in finding the right suit is finding one that lays just right on your body type. The jacket has to act like a magnet to your upper torso and the sleeves have to stop at right point on your wrist and the it has to define your shoulders. The pants are really important. Not that you want them to squeeze your hip box too much or rise up when you sit, but you want them to fit well. You want the pants to simply fit! In the pleated days, you could fit two legs into one pant leg.

For the longest time, I purchased designer suits from Macy’s and other retail outlets. Most recently, I purchased an off the rack Tommy Hilfiger blue trim fit suit and I love it. It is arguably the best suit in my closet. I started reading GQ and Esquire so I could add to my already keen fashion eye for tips and tricks. Two suits that they always mention as being the best suits for men are the Ludlow suit from J. Crew and a slim fit suit from Hugo Boss.

Price is always the driving factor for me. A Hugo Boss suit is going to run you $600-$800. A Ludlow suit is going to run you $650. I tried on both suits and it is a different feel than the typical suits that I purchase. The Hugo Boss suit was NICE, but a tad too tight. Too many alterations had to be done to get it just right. The J. Crew suit is the best suit that I have ever purchased. It tapers my body perfectly and guys you will love the way it garnishes looks from the opposite sex. It lays perfectly against your body and the pants are a great compliment to the jacket. It’s durable and has kept me from returning to Macy’s for one of their suit separates.

A blue Ludlow is the suit that you wear to the job interview or you can dress it down to provide a more casual look. I look forward to throwing it on with some boat shoes or loafers and rocking it to a social outing. It’s a great look for anyone that is looking for that metro look or just looking to add another versatile suit to their wardrobe.

Until next time….

Becoming a Mobile Creative

It felt great to relax yesterday and not run out to an event, a track meet, a lacrosse game, or anything else. I was reading about this new class hierarchy — that is “a new class of workers that doesn’t fit the conventional paradigms: Mobile Creatives.” I am always attracted to other opportunities that allow me to have mobility between different sectors and industries. This new class has resonated with me in the sense that it’s not a traditional structure, but a new way of living for many entrepreneurs or people who aspire to do something different with their lives.

I first learned about this new economic class through a blog that I follow, “Out of Your Rut,” by Kevin Mercadante. He learned about the new class from Charles Hugh-Smith. The Mobile Creative credo is: trust the network, not the corporation or state. Everything has either become more social or more mobile than at any time in history.

Our currency is now a global currency. I can remember working for a major bank in the early 2000’s and we would transfer billions around the world with a touch of a few buttons along with some authorizations to make it happen, so I happen to agree with Charles that everything is more global and we live in a social environment. If you consider that Facebook just bought a social media app, What’s App, a global text messaging app for $19 Billion that is more evidence to support Charles’ theory and the new economic class.

So who are Mobile Creatives and what do they do? Great question! This new class can range in income distribution. You can be wealthy, have a decent income, be apart of the dwindling middle class or the working poor and still be considered a “Mobile Creative.” “This class is self-employed, free-lance, entrepreneurial, sole proprietors, with adaptive skills. They may collaborate with other Creatives rather than have employees, and may have part-time jobs.” In addition, of the roughly 10 million people that are in this class, they believe this is another way of creating multiple streams of income.

After reading one of Kevin’s post about this new class of Mobile Creatives running around, I realized that the economy has had a dramatic effect on this class as well. Many have had to move to this class because of necessity or they just like the freedom and flexibility that this lifestyle offers. Whatever the situation may be, you can bet that this trend and/or class will continue to grow. I look forward to moving this direction as I look for opportunities to create more time and freedom for my family and I.

Until next time…

I love Running, But….

I am a runner. I run often and believe that I am in good running shape, but I recently discovered being in shape for one sport, does not mean you are fit for all sports. I played basketball with some guys in my town last week and it was the first time in maybe five or six years that I have touched the court. I did not have shoes to play in, I had to use a pair of Jordan’s that I was saving to eventually sell to play in for the night. I ended up playing five games and winning two out of five. It felt so good to be back on the court. Before playing, I was just returning from a hip injury that I injured in 2013. While I felt great playing, five hours later, I could not move. Every injury that I have had in the last few years flared up. That is when I realized that basketball shape is different than running shape.

On Tuesday, my right achillies tendon hurt, my left shoulder hurt, my hip flared up again, and to top it all off, I could barely walk. My body was not use to jumping, cutting, and moving laterally. For the most part, when I run there is no lateral movement, I am just running straight trying to get my miles in. When trying to get 35 plus miles in a week, there is not much room for anything else in the form of additional exercise, especially when you have a family, a full-time job, a revolutionary new communication app that is being developed, and everything else on my plate.

What I learned from this is that maybe I need to mix in a sport like basketball. I do think the conditioning is better when playing basketball and I think I will use other muscles and tendons that I don’t use in running. So instead of getting in 30 plus miles per week, maybe I can get 20-25 miles and introduce some cross-fit or something to help with my strength and conditioning so the next time I am invited to play with the guys, I am better prepared. After taking a week off from running because of pain, I am excited to get back to running this week and look forward to challenging myself to get better.

Until next time, keep running and in this case, playing basketball…

The Chronicles of Building an iPhone App

In April my partner and I started this journey of building an iPhone app that we believe will change the way that people communicate. The app is based on taking the “guesswork out of staying in touch.” It’s a great concept and we are looking forward to building it. The idea is based on an unfortunate tragedy that my partner’s family experienced with the loss of a child. Out of that tragedy came this amazing life altering concept, that I will share with you when the time is right.

Since the idea was birthed, we have worked tirelessly on educating ourselves about the app community and boy is it interesting. The cost alone was surprising. I have seen development cost go from $50-200/ hour. Crazy! In addition to the development cost, we are actively talking with designers and lawyers to educate ourselves on that process. It’s interesting reading all the articles about some of the best apps to hit the App Store and see their amazing growth. We are really excited about the process of bringing this app to market. The other challenge has been finding the money to make this all work.

It’s not cheap to build an iPhone app based on what I just explained. The legal costs, marketing, other associated fees continue to drive the price tag up. We are not fazed by the challenge and we embrace it wholeheartedly. This does not mean we have not made some missteps along the way in our haste to get it in the hands of millions of smartphone users, like reaching out to family and friends for financial support, only to discover that the JOBS Act does not allow for that to happen. Only accredited investors can invest with us. And in order for accredited investors to believe in us, we need a MVP – Minimally Viable Product. After reading hundreds of articles and speaking with developers and designers we believe that our MVP is going to cost us $20,000-$30,000. I always hear stories about people who were broke and started a business with nothing and I believe we have the same opportunity. Stay tuned!

I look forward to sharing our story with you throughout the process!

Dluxedad

Financial Samurai

A Great Blog About Technology, Luxury, Fatherhood, and Everything in Between

jlcollinsnh

The Simple Path to Wealth

First Round Capital Review

A Great Blog About Technology, Luxury, Fatherhood, and Everything in Between

Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed

Finance & The Money Culture

%d bloggers like this: