toyota women

I felt that my time at Peju winery deserved a post of it’s own. Yes, it’s gorgeous, the wine is some of the best and the entire night was a once in a lifetime event…

However, this story is not just about the well known and amazing Peju winery but also about how much I dislike feet. Don’t get me wrong. I love Peju and plan on being back as much as possible… but this story is deeper.

Or at least laughable.

I really love wine but feet gross me out. The thought of grape stomping at Peju Winery gave me chills when I found out that was on the agenda. Naturally, that sounds like a ton of fun… but, so nasty.

I don’t do feet.

Dirty, slimy and stinky feet make me sick.

I avoided the doctor when I hurt my ninja kicker and couldn’t walk because I was worried I’d be put in a cast.

I used to get so ill from stepping on slimy things that it would make me throw up in my mouth.

I didn’t drink wine for a long time because I associated it with feet thanks to that hilarious I Love Lucy scene.

Yes, I have issues. I know this. Let’s move on…

But, I’m not the type to let anything stand in my way or hold me back. Grape stomping at Peju Winery it is!

After we had a day of inspiration, yoga with Yogitoes, test driving a Prius V on the way to my Aveda makeover at Sala Salon I was ready to eat, drink and… uh, grape stomp.

Peju Winery is one of the most beautiful wineries I have ever experienced. The staff was friendly, informative and entertaining. The scenery was something out of a movie. The wine? Amazing. Try the Fifty/Fifty! We toured the facility of Peju winery, drank glasses of deliciousness, paired it with little bits of nom-a-licious and drank some more.

Then we were invited out to the vineyard where we paired up and prepared to get our grape stomping on.

I’m not always texting, instagramming and tweeting…

Chelsey from The Paper Mama and I teamed up. We were super pumped. We wanted to win. We were going to do this… Caryn from Rockin Mama and Romy from Romy Raves were our competition…

Competition? Look at what they were wearing! (I adore them btw)

 

Unfortunately, two tall chicks in a tiny barrel who aren’t skilled at clearing the bunghole didn’t get the exact victory they wanted. We had a blast, we had style, we were bent over in front of a bunch of people stomping until we were panting.

It was amazing.

Here is where I admit something that I didn’t want to when I was at Peju winery… after I got my stomp on… I started feeling sick. The feeling of slimy grapes on my feet swept over me. I had to wash my feet. I had to stop thinking about it.

I practically ran to the bathroom which seemed like miles away…

And I threw up when I got there. Yup. It wasn’t pretty.

I wisped, laughed at myself and texted a couple close friends about it so they could mock me endlessly…

That last part wasn’t well thought out.

I went back to see the final round where team “Elephant Toes” with Waylon of Elephant Journal and Alex of Yogitoes stomped their way to victory and everyone at Peju winery cheered.

The night ended with us dining in the vineyard. Despite Chelsey and I not making it to the final round… and that whole puking part… I felt like I was victorious. It was a day of adventure, new and old friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

It was getting late so I stepped away from the table as dinner was ending to say goodnight to my kids. They were upset, crying and missing me. The mommy guilt swept over me and I felt terrible that I had so much fun while they were sad.

I made them laugh when I told them about Mommy’s grape stomp-puking adventure. They enjoy laughing at me… aren’t kids sweet?! Just as I was about to hang up with them I heard something swoosh by my head. I looked around and realized how dark it was. I was kind of far from the tables where the lights were.

The swoosh came back. WTF?!

My kids realized I was quiet and just as they started to ask what was wrong I blurted out, “Okay, kids… I love you… Mommy, needs to go… a bat almost hit me in the face!”

They laughed at me! My ten year old daughter told me that I must be seeing things after my grape stomp trauma. They hung up the phone happy and mocking me.

The way it should be… I guess.

And that is the time I went to Peju winery, stomped grapes, lost my lunch and bats attacked swooshed me. It was truly one of the best days ever.

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I’ve always lived eco-friendly and environmentally conscious before it was trendy to “go green”. It was a part of my upbringing as my family is very earth friendly and recycles, reuses and reduces like you wouldn’t believe. An eco-friendly lifestyle can be accomplished in many ways: how you recycle, creating and supporting sustainability, what you cook and how, the vehicles you drive and the clothes that you wear.

When I was invited to attend Toyota’s first ever EcoDriven event in Yountville (near Napa), California a couple weeks ago I was excited. Actually, saying I was excited doesn’t even sum it up… I was honored, thankful, ecstatic and stoked. Yup, stoked.

My journey began on my way to Napa. My flight was thankfully less than an hour but I arrived at peak traffic time with an hour commute from San Francisco. I was told it could take two or three hours in traffic. This is usually something that makes people cringe… but after growing up in Los Angeles and living in New York traffic doesn’t phase me in the slightest. I also took the opportunity to talk to my driver. He was friendly, funny and in that three hours of traffic I talked his ears off. We laughed, talked about our families, traveling, cars, wine and life. I kept getting texts, tweets and emails asking where I was and friends telling me how bummed they were that I was in such bad traffic. Didn’t seem that bad when I was making the most out of it.

When I arrived to Yountville I was shocked at how gorgeous it was. I felt like I was on a movie set. The city is full of beauty and culture… oh and great food and wine. The Bardessono hotel, a LEED Platinum hotel, was an additional piece of beauty to this area. The Bardessono combines green, luxury and the ultimate Napa experience with an amazing Bar and Restaurant called Lucy’s. We started our first night drinking wine outdoors and then making our way to experience the deliciousness of Lucys. If you ever stop in here order the french fries… They are the most amazing fries you will ever have. I. Kid. You. NOT!

  • This was the most amazing bathroom my bum has been in This was the most amazing bathroom my bum has been in
  • Caryn (RockinMaMa) and Chelsey (ThePaperMaMa) Doin what Bloggers Do Caryn (RockinMaMa) and Chelsey (ThePaperMaMa) Doin what Bloggers Do

The next day our agenda is jam packed of awesomeness. Our morning began with a panelist of inspiring green career centered people from Yogitoes, Threads for Thought, Bob Burnquist, Jana Hartline with Toyota. It’s truly inspiring to hear what companies are doing to make a conscious effort to focus their business around sustainability.

Chelsey and I were paying attention and completely inspired. Truly. But, this picture cracks me up so I had to include it. Don’t kill me Chelsey! hehe

Then we got our Yoga on which was hosted by the fabulous ladies of Yogitoes. I’ve never been a yoga person… I’m a mountain bike riding, snowboarding, bmx biking, martial arts kicking and geeky gaming dancing type of physical person. I always thought Yoga seemed boring. Oh, I’ve tried to do Yoga… at home… from a DVD but I never had the full Yoga experience. I was five minutes into this calming Yoga session when I looked over at Caryn from Rockin Mama and I whispered, “This is really freaking hard!”

 

I embraced it. Powered through it even though my still-giving-me-issues-foot was starting to ache and I walked away absolutely loving Yoga. I’m looking into a Yoga studio now!

One thing that I love about Yogitoes is their sustainability and eco-friendly focus. This is something I talk about regularly with my Girl Scouts and their peers. Seeing more companies focus on sustainability warms my ninja heart.

Then we were off to learn more about Toyota’s EcoDriven vehicles. I’m constantly impressed with Toyota’s environmentally friendly focus and the vehicles they give us as a result. The RAV4 EV for sure caught my eye since plugin vehicles are evolving quickly. I, naturally, gravitated towards the Highlander Hybrid since it is the perfect married between my outdoorsy side and desire to drive a hybrid. When it comes down to it I’d be happy with any Toyota vehicle!

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Caryn (Rockin MaMa), Romy (Romy Raves), Chelsey (The Paper Mama) and I ended up driving the spacious Prius V on our way to Sala Salon for an Aveda spa treatment.

I’m not great at being a chick. This is something I’m very vocal about. I was raised by a single Dad who isn’t exactly down with the feminine knowledge. Spa’s and salons are foreign to me and the word product when it pertains to beauty confuses me. However, I’m always down to try something new. I told my stylist to do what she thought was best for my hair… she immediately asked me why I wasn’t embracing my curls.

I don’t know? Because my curly hair makes me look like the offspring from Hagrid and a Wookiee?!

I told her I would leave it up to her. First of all, did you know they give you a scalp massage when they start the Aveda process?! Yup, I’m sold on this. Anyway, Aveda’s Be Curly products have made me actually loving my hair! For many years Aveda has been the one company I can rely on that won’t destroy my sensitive skin or flare up my eczema. It doesn’t shock me I’d find product that would work well with my curly mop of mess on my head.

I guess sometimes I can take a nice picture without faces. Just sometimes.

I left Sala Salon in our Prius V still feeling Yoga pumped and feeling happier about my hair than I ever have been… and this eco-friendly adventure isn’t over yet…

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Toyota Womens Influencer Network and was invited to Toyota’s EcoDriven event because I live an ecodriven lifestyle. I was not compensated for this post or event. My travel and accommodations were provided for me. All opinions expressed are my own.

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My family has a history of recycling vehicles and a hand me down system that I have known my entire life.

Basically, I’ve always bought the vehicles my other relatives no longer want. I’ve never been a car snob and so long as the vehicle works I’ve been fine with that. But, times are changing and I am understanding the value in a good vehicle for my family.

This means the technology in my pimp rides have been far from up to date. My car doesn’t even have a USB port and it still has a tape player! It also doesn’t speak to me like Kitt from Night Rider (though, I admit I always dreamed of that being possible)

If you read this and don’t know who Kitt is I guess it’s safe to say I am starting to get old.

When I test drove all the previous Toyota vehicles I didn’t mess around with the Entune system that much because time was limited. When I was able to use the FJ Cruiser last week my jaw literally dropped at the functionality of Entune…

I also laughed so hard at talking jibberish to it and hearing the sweet voice say “Pardon?”

Also… if you say some things that sound angry she actually asks you, “Did I say something wrong?” Um, if you say foul language she has the same reaction.

This is what I heard anyway. Ahem… not something I’d actually do.

If your passenger is trying to program something and she says that function is disabled while the vehicle is in motion then take it from me – she means it. I think her voice gets increasingly bitter the more you try to mess with her.

When you sync your mobile device it asks you to name it – just remember that this name will be repeated back to you every time you use it.

So, don’t say something inappropriate. (not that I’d do such a thing or my loved ones)

Silliness aside the Entune system makes the vehicle experience safer and more enjoyable. It really is something I feel would increase our enjoyment when we travel. I also appreciate the hands free functionality that limits distractions.

All vehicles could benefit from this.

Had I watched the video below before I tried setting up Entune it would have made things a lot easier!

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I wrote previously about how much I love the Toyota Tundra. Driving that beefy truck of awesomness was an experience. I love camping and the outdoors so having a truck for our adventures is ideal though it’s not exactly practical.

I always felt like I’d want two vehicles – a smaller car for around town and then the truck or van to use for traveling. This isn’t exactly in the budget and seems ridiculous for a single mom with two kids.

Then I got in the FJ Cruiser and realized this was the perfect family vehicle. Seriously, it’s my perfect “Soccer Mom Vehicle”.

But replace Soccer Mom with OutdoorsyNinjaCampingFutureTravelTrailerHavingFishingAndPreparingForZombies Mom.

It has the outdoorsy awesomeness that I love but the comfort, features like the Entune system and size of a family vehicle. It has great towing capabilities, it looks like something out of Star Wars, it is super roomy and it can go in water!!!!

It’s the ultimate zombie apocalypse vehicle… for the whole family!

Basically, I’m going to get me one of these. The space in the FJ Cruiser is impressive and I’d be able to load up our camping loot and be off for an adventure easily.

I also love how this truck maneuvers! I expected it to take wide turns and be a bit of a beast but it is such a smooth ride. I can tell that winding up pukey roads in this will be a breeze!

Disclaimer: I am part of the TWIN aka Toyota Women Influencer Network. I was given an FJ Cruiser to drive for five days because I am a part of this program. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way by the program or possible zombie attacks. Yes, I mentioned zombies again.

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My Dad and I were talking about what it was like when I reached driving age and he told me it was pretty much the worst experience of his life. His annoyance started to ooze from his pores and I got that crazy Dad look from him like I was that teenager again.

I honestly couldn’t believe his statement that it was the worst experience of his life.

I then started to remind him of all the other stupid and horrible things I did in my youth and this somehow didn’t comfort him.

In my defense my Dad was the worst freaking instructor ever. Imagine Mr. Miyagi (silent and pushes you harder) and Samuel L Jackson (total badass and gets scary when loud) mashed up as your father figure giving you driving lessons.

Despite what Samuel L Jackson said in Pulp Fiction – It. Wasn’t. Cool.

He sat in the car, crossed his arms, glared at me and didn’t say a word.

I was so nervous I was going to screw up that I couldn’t concentrate. I reversed instead of pulling forward. I forgot to use my blinker. I came out of a shopping center parking lot too fast and the car made the THUMP SCREECH noise.

The whole time he just made this face -

He is terrifying!

This horrible experience lasted all of 15 minutes and he signed me up for driving school. This was mandatory to get my permit but he made me take the extended course twice. TWICE!

To this day my Dad still won’t let me drive when he is in the car and I am fine with that.

Toyota has a program for Toyota Teen Drivers – This program not only helps teen drivers but also helps parents become great co-pilots for their kids. I told my Dad about this program and suggested we took the course so we can one day learn to drive together.

He laughed at me and said if I can survive the course with my daughter then he will consider it. Maybe.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Toyota Women Influencer Network aka TWIN. I was not compensated for this post or participation in the program.

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Post image for Women in the World Summit: Ninja Kicking via Womanhood and Being Empowered

Just a week ago I was in NYC walking in the Lincoln Center for the Women in the World Summit and not knowing at the time that this trip would change my life. I knew the Summit was about the fearless women who take on the world but I didn’t expect so many of them to be, well, like everyone else who were propelled forward to do more.

I mean the life altering part genuinely, by the way. Some people can exaggerate that saying with statements of truly insignificant things changing their lives. I once said a tiny brownie would change people’s lives if they ate it…

and while that was a slight exaggeration… I still haven’t had a brownie that has compared to that one. It really was that good.

This Summit is obviously bigger than a brownie. It’s the creme de la creme brownie of life topped ala mode with awesomesauce.

Not only am I currently still inspired but I am now really hungry.

I believe in taking every struggle, hurdle and obstacle in life as a lesson and making the choice to move from it with something to gain. I affectionately encourage those around me to ninja kick those obstacles out of the way to find happiness. It is what I teach my daughter to help her get through her life threatening health hurdles. It is something I live by and something that many have found inspiring about me. I’m flattered when people find me inspiring.

I mostly wonder if their heads have some screws loose!

I am very confident, don’t allow negativity to weigh me down and I have an obnoxiously determined personality, however, I am quite humble and am probably more critical of myself than anyone should be. Compliments make me feel awkward and when I am provided something amazing I often wonder why the hell I, of all people, am so fortunate.

Hillary Clinton

Standing in a room with many powerful figures in the world and hearing their stories would usually make someone feel insignificant or intimidated… it gave me perspective. It charged me full of energy. It made so many day to day complaints insignificant. It made me even more determined to obtain my goals for my kids and I.

It made me realize that the encouragement we hear from childhood that anyone can make a difference is truly a fact.

I’ve been staring at this screen for a week not knowing how I would convey all that I learned. I have many notes. Many people I want to talk about. Many topics I feel are inspiring and can light a fire cracker up some butts to get people going. So many feelings I want to share about the company, Toyota, who sent me to this Summit because they support women in the world. Oh and the women they support! The Mothers of Invention and how fortunate I am for the time I spent with them.

So rather than writing a general blog post summing up my experience I am taking the time to research, plan and take action. I gained a ton of feedback on twitter, facebook and email from those of you who were following this event. I hope to share and start a ripple of inspiration from the knowledge I feel privileged to have now.

The situations that some of these women found themselves in seemed hopeless. All odds were against them. Some had no families and no answers. Some thought they had no rights in their own lives. They found strength, courage and hope despite everything… and they not only survived the unthinkable but they also empower other women. They make women as a whole stronger. They had me laughing, in tears, physically uncomfortable and inspired from their stories.

Mothers of Invention Supported by Toyota

They made me damn proud of being a woman.

It doesn’t matter if you are from humble beginnings, giving a second life to teen moms, thrown in to a life of slavery, determined to invent something outside of the box or want to empower youth because every single person can make something extraordinary out of their lives.

There is no man, person or seemingly impossible odds that can hold you back from anything you want to accomplish. You want it? Go out there and do it and don’t stop until it’s done. It may seem easy to say that and sure these are just words on a screen just as a movie can give us that Hollywood ending that anything is possible…

But, after the Women in the World Summit I now know for a fact that it isn’t just stories. It is life. And it’s ours to live.

My feet haven’t touched the ground since my trip and I hope this elated and empowered feeling lasts a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Fadra from All Things Fadra - The TWIN team at Women in the World Summit!

Disclosure: I attended this Summit as a special guest of Toyota as a member of the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network. My travel expenses and pass to the summit and event were covered. I was not compensated for this event and all opinions expressed are my own.

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I was invited to join the Toyota Womens Influencer Network aka TWIN thanks to the Clever Girl Collective and it’s been such a genuinely eye opening experience. As part of this program I am introduced to the core values of Toyota and am able to have a deeper understanding of what Toyota is about.

I think this must be said… there is a huge freaking difference between companies that write a check to have their name on a cause to boost their PR image and companies like Toyota that genuinely stick to core values that have a genuine impact.

As an introduction to Toyota members of Toyota Women Influencers Network were invited to their headquarters in Torrance, California for a “TWIN Camp” where we learned about all things Toyota. I’m an information geek so the opportunity to learn is something that I get giddy over.

This is a company that takes care of as well as values it’s people… and at this TWIN Camp it showed. It’s sometimes hard to find a company that appreciates what a Social Media Entrepreneur does. It’s a important to spread the word on how to do it right as well as being appreciative for the companies, like Toyota, that are trying to do it right.

What is the primary thing that a blogger needs to build a foundation of success for any campaign?

Information, respect and inspiration. We need something about the company that motivates us.

Toyota delivered that and then some. Everything I learned about Toyota motivates me in a genuine and authentic way because they are a company that is doing it right.

The TWIN Camp was an information packed day filled with presentations from many departments, tour of the Toyota Museum as well as test driving opportunities. We also got a lot of one on one time with those that could answer our most pertinent questions as well as reciprocate what we feel Toyota could do with Social Media.

Highlights of what I learned:

 

  • Toyota practices the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen. Kaizen means improvement or change for the better. It is something that is always in progress and continuous. You will see a lot of companies rush to make changes and improve when things start to fall short, however, with Kaizen you are always making small continuous progress upward.
  • I’m in love with how all the Toyota vehicles handle. I’m not a car snob or a car expert by any means but I love everything about the Toyota vehicles. I also really want a Tundra one day, however, the Prius has my practical side leaning towards it. The new Prius models really make it possible for anyone to have the perfect Prius for them.
  • By supporting Toyota we support it’s amazing philanthropic efforts. They believe that an auto company can be a vehicle for a change. With programs like 100 Cars for Good as well as their programs for the environment, education and safety it’s evident they are actively making a difference.
  • I love old cars and running around taking pictures with them. The Toyota Museum was a lot of fun.

  • Every single person I’ve met who works for Toyota has nothing but great things to say… even after a few drinks! Seriously, that is substantial. There is a lot to be learned about a company based on it’s employees and what they truly think. Not only does everyone with Toyota love working for them but they are all extremely inspiring, genuine and highly intelligent people.
  • I adore all the women involved in TWIN and I’ve formed some fast friendships. Please hang out with us on Twitter under the #ToyotaWomen hashtag. We all have very different blogs and interest so we will all be blogging and chatting about very different topics! Check out Tech Savvy Mama’s TWIN Camp 9 Facts post , Zensible Mama talks about Toyota Culture and Lisa over at A Daily Pinch who recaps TWIN Camp.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity and learning about Toyota’s corporate structure. I’ve also loved connecting with those of you who are proud Toyota owners who can echo what Toyota is trying to accomplish.

 

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I was given Toyota branded items at the TWIN camp as well as gifts. My travel expenses were covered for attending the TWIN Camp.  I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

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