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Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread Waffles

Cheese. Jalapeños. Cornbread. Chicken Gravy.

These are the starts to some very yummy cornbread waffles that remind me of Southern comfort food. While these are lighter and don’t have the calories that most waffles have they are still wonderful. I collaborated with my friend and fellow blogger, Mom of the Twins Blog on the gravy- originally from the South she makes wonderful homemade comfort food occasionally and last night when I perfected this recipe she was making this wonderful gravy you see in the pictures.

I went out a purchased a mini waffle maker which makes the cutest waffles, and I am going to have fun this summer creating new waffles and sharing them with you all. For this recipe, you can change the amount of Jalapeños or remove them completely if you do not like spicy food and just add some more cheese 🙂

 

Cheesy Jalapeño Waffles

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Stoneground Cornmeal

3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (or all purpose)

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Egg

1 Cup Whole Milk

1 Tsp Salt

4 Tbs Salted Butter

1 Cup Shredded Gouda (from Mill City Cheesemongers)

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar

Half a fresh Jalapeño- diced

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder). Set aside. Mix all wet ingredients well including cheese and Jalapeño. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

How batter should like like

Heat waffle maker, I used a mini one and this recipe made 7 mini waffles. Pour batter into waffle maker and cook until browned.

 

Chicken Sausage Gravy

Courtesy of Mom of the Twins Blog

Ingredients:

3 Chicken Sausage links, thinly sliced

2.5 Cups Whole Milk

0.25 Cups of Flour

2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Instructions:

Stir fry sausage until lightly browned. Turn the heat to medium/low; add milk and bouillon cubes. Once the milk starts to boil add flour, constantly stirring until thickened. Voila!

The two together was a match made in foodie heaven, and I know you will enjoy this as much as I did last night 🙂

Close up, I topped these with a cilantro and it was perfect

How pretty are these? They taste as good as they look!

That gravy though…

 

Enjoy and leave comments below with questions or if you try it let me know how you like it!

Eat Well,

Life as a Maven

 

Getting to know Hull

My wanderlust for exploring little towns up and down the coast of New England never stops. Especially after coming from overseas and feeling the need to constantly explore and see everything I can, this was a great opportunity to take a couple days and explore the small coastal town of Hull, MA.

We had come here this past winter with a special deal but wanted to try coming again when we could do more and see more. Our weather has been so odd lately; between always raining and being cold to random bursts of sunshine. Regardless the time spent there was lovely and we did quite a bit of exploring.

Nantasket Beach Resort which is right in front of Nantasket Beach was where we stayed. We had a room with a beautiful ocean view and this hotel has many amenities right on site. For instance, we arrived late Friday night and while most dinner places were closed on the little peninsula, the Hotel restaurant, Paragon Grill was open and they had good food served very quickly. I recently started a 30 day sugar cleanse and they had plenty of items on the menu I could eat including Gluten free pizzas (which I’ll just have to try next time).

Little welcome from the resort!

Crab Cakes Appetizer, the Aioli was wonderful

Seared Scallops w/ Asparagus and Cauliflower- healthy and good!

Clams w/Linguine

I was so happy we had an entire day to explore on Saturday, we really managed to see quite a bit of the area and having a central hotel location was perfect.  We started off Saturday morning in Cohasset which is the next town over and had breakfast at a wonderful little spot called 5 South Main. It was a warm and inviting cafe with wonderful breakfast options as well as fresh baked goods. I veered off my 30 day sugar cleanse to have a bit of this wonderful jam they offered me 🙂 Definite must try if you are in the area!

*Note: I was pleasantly surprised Saturday morning when I woke up at 5:40 am and saw the sun was rising, and it was towards the end. Gorgeous!

Incredible view from Hotel balcony

Menu offerings from 5 South Main

Gorgonzola, Sausage & caramelized onion Omelette with Hashbrows & Multigrain bread

Such a great little place

We then made our way to World’s End Reservation which is located in Hingham, another town near by. With 4.5 miles of trails and fantastic views its a great place to go for a nice hike and to take pictures as the scenery is lovely. We saw the Boston skyline, even on a cloudy day and it was was an incredible thing to view from 15 miles away.

Up on a hill, you catch a glimpse of the skyline

Some tree blossoms we saw- so cool

Closer look at the skyline

Art installation, everything reflected off of it, very cool

Enjoying the view!

Another cool view

After all that walking I needed some energy so we decided to try out Marylou’s Coffee which I had heard was pretty great. I was so happy there was a location right in Hull! I loved it! It was so pink, but it was so unique. The coffee of the day was “Almond Cookie” which was really good, considering I didn’t put any sugar in it.

Walking into the entrance

Available coffee beans

So pink! 🙂

After relaxing at the hotel (again awesome central location), we decided to go across the street to the beach. We walked almost the entire length of the beach took us about 1.5 hours, the sun kept peeking out and giving us moments of warmth, overall great beach!

      

Beautiful, even on a cloudy day!

There were so many seashells everywhere, it was lovely

He’s still got it!! Doing somersaults and handstands on the beach

I managed a couple jumps, thats about it! 🙂 🙂

After the beach we went back to Rinato Bistro, which if you remember I had written a complete review back in February. They were warm and welcoming as always. Our phenomenal server Kate was so kind and really went the extra mile for us both. We quite enjoyed our dinner there with a great ocean view!

Clam chowder w/corn, bacon and potatoes & freshly ground pepper

Roosevelt’s Bolognese Classico (I tried the sauce, so good)

Perfectly cooked salmon on a bed of arugula, corn and a wonderful crema sauce. Grilled pita accompanied it. Great dish!

We then decided to try an chase the sunset, because of the clouds it proved to be somewhat difficult. We managed to just get a glimpse of the clouds changing color and a flash of the lighthouse. It was still beautiful and I was glad we ended our trip on such a great note.

Definitely check out Hull, MA, its a hidden gem and super relaxing. Can’t wait to go back and explore some other areas!

Tips:

  • World’s End Reservation has a six dollar entrance fee if you don’t have membership
  • Cohasset & Hingham are very close and take a short drive, make sure you explore a bit
  • Spend a good amount of time at Nantasket Beach, its beautiful  and constantly changing.
  • Hull is a peninsula, there are other places to explore in town- we didnt have a chance this time.

 

Life as a Maven

 

 

Go Nuts for Donuts

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy donuts and that’s kind of the same thing.”

I will never tire of writing about donuts and hopefully, you all will never tire of hearing about them and going on your own little adventures. I had the pleasure of going on a #doughnutadventure with my best friend this past Monday and somehow we made it through five doughnut shops. From small homegrown mom & pop shops to artisanal, newer shops we tried all sorts of donuts.

While in my own life I try to be as healthy as possible, I am a strong believer in splurging and enjoying the things you love. That just happens to be food for me (really anything about life) and every once in a while I love going on an adventure like this to check out what the world of sweets is doing now and what new flavor concoctions they’ve made.

Here in Lowell, we have our very own Donut Shack which should be famous as far as I am concerned because of how amazing all their donuts are. I have NEVER had a bad donut from them. Alas, I had to go to other cities and give them some benefit that they too can have amazing donuts as well 🙂

Our adventure started in Tewksbury on Main St at Donna’s Donuts, “Home of the Cheeseburger Donut”. It’s always a good sign when you can’t find parking and then have to wait in a line that almost circles the store. Yep, that was us parking in a totally different parking lot just so we could get some donuts.

We ordered two regular coffees, Donna’s Special and a “Philly Cheesesteak” Donut.

Favorite? Definitely the Philly Cheesesteak, and no ladies and gentlemen it’s not actual cheese and steak, it is simply a donut meant to look like a sub and it was incredible. The coffees were yummy and kept us awake the whole adventure-definitely try those as they have a ton of flavors.

Some of their varieties

Our two donuts!

     

Loved the box!

Next, we went to Donuts with a Difference in Medford, MA, known for their donuts and muffins. The place was empty when we walked in, pandemonium had broken loose and they had sold out of everything except jelly sticks and muffins. So we bought the last jelly stick and a blueberry muffin.

The stick itself was sugary and quite yummy, the blueberry muffin was moist and the blueberries burst with flavor and juice every time you bit into it. This will definitely have to be a must return so we can try all their other delicious treats. Another thing, the people here were incredibly friendly and invited us to sit down even though they were closing.

Cute little storefront

The last donut

This muffin was lovely

Signage and empty donut rack 🙂

Third stop was Union Square Donuts based in Somerville MA, – the line was practically out the door but thankfully they had plenty of options left. We got the Orange Creamsicle (OMG), the Vietnamese Coffee(YES PLEASE), and the Coconut Cream Filled. These donuts were killer, our favorite was the Orange Creamsicle although the Vietnamese Coffee was a close 2nd. Great spot, go early to get your fill.  They also offer Vegan Donuts which I did not get a chance to try- next time(Maybe I will do a Vegan Doughnut blog post) 🙂

The delicious Orange Creamsicle

      

Coconut Cream Filled

Vietnamese Coffee Donut

Our fourth stop was Blackbird Doughnuts on Tremont Street in Boston, I think we were suffering from doughnut fatigue at this point but were too hyped up on sugar to realize it. Regardless we bought some donuts and tried bits of all four of them. My favorite was the Coco-Razz which was tart, sweet and fluffy. So good!

Top left: Lemon Poppy Seed, Top Right: Cold Brew Coconut, Bottom left: Triple Chocolate and Bottom Right: Coco-Razz

SO GOOD

Our fifth and last stop was Kane’s Donuts in Boston- as we were running on doughnut fumes and coffee I just ordered almost everything in sight (I can’t be blamed) because everything was colorful, vibrant and looked amazing. The flavors we chose were: Lavender, Honey Dipped, Honey Lemon Filled, Sweet Honey Hibiscus, Margarita and Blueberry w/Lemon Zest Glaze. Honestly? They were all freaking good though my absolute favorite was the Lavender, Honey Lemon Filled and Blueberry/Lemon Zest. Yes, I am allowed to have three favorites.

They also have these huge coffee rolls, cupcakes, and other assorted items as well. It’s best to park in a nearby parking garage, take a train or have someone go get donuts while you wait- this is Boston after all.

Look at these COLORS

They have two kinds of Gluten Free donuts as well

Love the signage

Our assortment

Margarita- Tart and sweet

Lavender- Unique, subtle perfection

This beauty was fantastic-Blueberry Lemon Zest

All in all great #doughnutadventure with the bestie and my niece and I can’t wait to showcase many other shops that were closed (but honestly probably couldn’t have fit any more donuts inside my belly, so it worked out)

Out of all the donuts, I could not pick a favorite shop- they all had their own unique take on donuts and in their own ways all had amazing donuts. . . Go check them out and make your own judgment 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this one…Till next time!

Life as a Maven

The Art of Connection

This particular connection event hosted by The Foundation Mixer was a breath of a fresh air. Located in the ALL (Arts League of Lowell) Gallery right outside of downtown we were surrounded by different works from Artists from every part of Lowell many of which were breathtaking. We were encouraged to discuss, interact and help each other with ideas- which was uplifting for me because of how I create. My very creative force comes from interacting with people, businesses, restaurants, and others in the community.

Bobby Tugbiyele Co-Founder- Sharing a few words

Mingling in this gorgeous location

Two small business owners: Warlene & Barbara

Aleksandra Tugbiyele talking to us about the amazing raffle!

Something that set this event apart from others was our special speaker Andreina Veira founder and CEO of VAS (Veira Admin Solutions) – a back office support for many different clients. As she spoke to us she encouraged us to not let the negativity that can sometimes surround us all push us down and ruin our dreams. Dreams do not become reality unless you work hard and struggle a little (or a lot) along the way. Andreina’s passion for what she does and what she has accomplished inspired me to take my own work to a different level.

Andreina speaking with us all

Of course, I can’t leave you all without giving you some glimpses of the food provided; we had lovely cheese platters prepared by the amazing Mill City Cheesemongers over at Mill No. 5 another Lowell gem. They were incredible and a perfect addition to the wine and art for the evening. If you haven’t already go and check out the shop at the Mill.

Amazing Cheese Platter

Pinot Grigio- superb

I leave you all with this thought- Don’t let the mentality of others drag you down, stay the course, be inspired and continue forward.

Life as a Maven

 

Short Stop Cafe – Bedford, MA

With the aroma of freshly baked Almond croissants in my mind, I want to share with you this lovely new cafe that just opened up in Bedford a little over a month ago. Located on Loomis St in the new plaza, this cafe has welcomed me with open arms as I enjoy their delicious sandwiches, waffles, and drinks.

Their specialty are “Liege Waffles” which are a type of Belgian waffle and you can have them with various toppings. I am not sorry to say I have had tried several different variations of the regular size waffles as well as the mini waffles that have predetermined toppings. For the regular waffles, you can choose any variation of jam, fruit, whipped cream, chocolate or go the savory route with a “Bacon, Avocado, Cheese Waffle”. Needless to say, the sweet, soft, yummy goodness of their waffles will lift up your spirits.

They also carry a variety of sandwiches all created with croissants- either regular or multi grain. These are baked fresh and filled with incredible fillings such as “Chicken Cranberry Walnut Salad” or “Pulled Pork”. Every sandwich I’ve had has been fresh and flavorful, nothing has disappointed me. After having gone there several times over the last couple weeks I decided I had to write about them and share them with the rest of you 🙂

Enjoy the pictures, and follow them on Facebook- information included below.

Liege Waffle w/Whipped Cream and Pineapple

Chicken Salad on a regular Croissant

Green Tea Latte, Buffalo Chicken Salad on a Croissant & Liege Waffle w/Whipped Cream & Chocolate

Closeup of Buffalo Chicken Salad

Some of their mini waffles

Mini Honey Peanut Butter Waffle

Their Multigrain Croissants are amazing!

Delicious Pulled Pork on a Croissant

Freshly Baked Almond Croissant

Check out their Facebook here

Check out their website here

Cheers to the weekend!

Life as a Maven

Warlene Rene Made – Reimagine Fashion

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” — Coco Chanel

I am honored to bring you a sneak peak of the clothing that Warlene Rene Made will be bringing into Mill No. 5.

I met Warlene at a women’s event hosted by Humanity Boutique in downtown Lowell. I remember that she was wearing this long, high-waisted skirt that had an incredible uniqueness to it. I asked her where she got it and she said: “I made it, this morning.” I looked at the skirt again completely taken aback by the detail yet simple design of the skirt. That is what Warlene’s brand is all about, simple yet elegant design. She works with different fabrics, colors, and textures but in the end, the simplicity of every piece is what make them so unique.

Bohemian in style, each piece can be worn with a simple pant or skirt because of how much her pieces compliment other looks. Not only does she create these incredible pieces but her own style looks like something straight out of a magazine. She has such a strong sense of self and is confident in the styles she chooses for herself and the clothes she makes for others.

Along with her label she will also be taking vintage pieces and recreating them in her image, I have had the chance to see some of this and they are simply breathtaking.

The creator modeling one of her pieces

Two of Warlene’s pieces

I had the pleasure of interviewing her last week and wanted to share the quick Q & A  I had with her. Hope you enjoy!

*Information on her opening day along with her social media will be at the bottom of this post.

Q & A

  • LM: What drew you into fashion?
  • WR: My dad was a tailor and I grew up with fashion all around me. I was fascinated by garment making
  • LM: When you create a piece for yourself or somebody else what do you hope it will do for them?
  • WR: Versatility is what is key when creating a piece for myself or anyone else
  • LM: What is your vision for this location (Mill No 5)?
  • WR: I want this to be a space where people come to find a unique experience different from what they could find elsewhere; a space where you can be yourself.
  • LM: What inspires you about Lowell?
  • WR: The diversity, the historical and industrious part of Lowell. There is so much creativity and this inspires me
  • LM: Go-to fashion piece?
  • WR: Denim jacket
  • LM: If someone comes in and they are looking for something, what do ask them or say to them?
  • WR: I ask them what occasion they are shopping for, I never assume they are just browsing.
  • LM: Who inspires you?
  • WR: My Aunts; they are seamstresses ( I am a third generation seamstress). I remember going into their sewing rooms in Haiti and being mesmerized. That memory still brings me back and is what inspires me.
  • LM: What will this shop be?
  • WR: It will be a showroom/small retail space. I am working on a new line of clothing which also be displayed as well.

If you want to add more individuality to your closets and add a bit of playfulness to your wardrobe than Warlene Rene is the stop for you. Check out the opening the last Sunday in May- the 28th.

Follow Warlene-

Instagram:@warlenerenemade

Facebook: The Glamouring

 

Friday Nights!

Last Friday was the kickoff to the “Friday Nights!” (End 68 Hours of hunger) event hosted by Made in Lowell and it was filled with music, food, drinks and fun for the whole family. There were a variety of food trucks, live music, and vendors to kick off the event this year and boy did I have a blast! This event was held at the Mill Yard at Canal Street in Lowell which was a great location because of the openness of the space.

I tried Let’s Roll Eggroll for the first time and they were incredible. Since I love egg rolls, it was only fair I try what they had to offer and went with the “Jamaican” which was beef, curry, hot peppers and came with a Queso dip and the “Mariachi” which was chicken, beans, Mexican mix cheese and came with a Avo Ranch dip. Both were incredible and addicting, the dips complimented the egg rolls well and gave them extra kicks of flavor.

Let’s Roll Eggroll Truck

Delicious & varied menu!

     

My eggrolls and a malt drink I grabbed from the Galeria Cafe kiosk

 

Can’t wait to try the other yummy eggrolls they have to offer.

I then stopped by Clyde’s Cupcakes because as you all know I have a wicked sweet tooth and could not contain my excitement that there was a cupcake truck at the location. They had so many different flavors but I ended up getting a mini cake which was listed for “two” and chowed down on that. It was chocolate cake with a yummy vanilla frosting in the layers and outside. It was a beautifully decorated cake with so much detail and the flavors were great. There were several other food trucks there but I couldn’t eat any more so definitely looking forward to trying them out next time.

This truck!

This gorgeous mini cake

Enjoying this cake- I shared (promise)

The drink area was being run by the owners of Gormley’s Cafe a local breakfast/brunch/lunch spot – Joann and Craig. They had a variety of wines, craft beers, and alcoholic seltzers. I picked up a “Nauti Seltzer” which was like an alcoholic seltzer water- quite good!

Refreshing!

The bartenders!

Some more pictures of the event are below, if you didn’t get a chance to check it out this time come next time and enjoy a night filled with great times. Great community event to engage your friends and family!

Vendor and music area

One of the other food trucks – Shuck Truck!

Life as a Maven

Cheese 101 – Mill City Cheesemongers

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love cheese; when I was a kid I would take blocks of cheddar and just eat them plain. If I could still get away with that I would still do it, but now I’ve grown up and realized there are so many kinds of cheese I cat eat many different varieties (to make up that block of cheese) and experience flavors and taste in a completely different way.

Going to a class to learn about cheese seemed to be the next step I should take, and at Mill City Cheesemongers located at Mill No 5 on Jackson St. in Lowell I was able to do just that.

When I arrived a cheese plate had been set up with seven cheeses, Meyer lemon infused honey, two wines (from our local winery Aaronap Cellars), water, crackers, and a plate with dried pineapple & salt. Next to that was a detailed sheet describing the cheeses and where they were from. There were three cheeses from Massachusetts!

This class was more than just taste testing cheese, it was about learning where different cheeses come from, how they are made, what makes them unique and how to really savor them. Many times when we eat cheese (or anything in general) we scarf it up and forget to enjoy the flavor and what things taste like. This class allowed me to enjoy these bits of cheese and provided me with the knowledge of certain cheese so I know what I am talking about when buying cheese.

My favorites of the night were the Bayley Hazen Blue- a blue cheese (Cow’s milk) , Evelina -a pressed natural rind cheese (sheep’s milk) and the Prairie Breeze- a pressed cooked cheese (cow’s milk). Different flavors of cheese is dependent on what is introduced to it when its being made, and how long its been aged. How it is stored and the mold it’s in can also have a part in the flavor and intensity of the cheese.

If you hadn’t had the chance to check out a class, definitely go. Not only is there plenty of cheese to choose from there are also a variety of other goods you can purchase form the shop. Everything I have had from there has been impeccable and every weekend I’m in the shop buying more!

Goodness on a plate

Beth the Owner teaching us about the basics of cheese

So informative! Cant wait for the next one.

Some explanation on this particular cheese

Me holding a 40 pound wheel of Gouda

The wonderful teacher and I!

Being a Maven requires me to learn and I cannot share any knowledge with you all unless I learn and do all the things!

Life as a Maven

Italian Musings at Humanity Boutique

“In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly recreating myself” – Unknown

It’s been a couple weeks since I got back Italy, but every memory, every experience and every outfit worn and seen is still at the forefront of my mind. Fashion in Italy is second nature, they dress impeccably as a matter of habit with pops of color, layers, accessories and perfectly fitted to them. When walking around the different cities it was incredible to see people of all ages comfortable in what they wore and confident in their taste.

While I love fashion and style sometimes I hit a snag. Most days its “What do I wear”? In New England its  “What should I wear for the weather today.”? (haha) Italian fashion inspired me to be a little more out there but also not try too hard. Sometimes outfits just go together; you put it on and it works. Other times a little digging to find the right complimenting piece gets the outfit to where you want it. Either way, the way you feel about yourself is more important than anything else and for me what I wear shows a part of my personality.

I love finding unique pieces that are different than others and not everyone in the world has them. That’s important to me for my own individuality. Humanity Boutique in Lowell has proven to be my gem whenever I am looking for something specific, unique or just want to shop.  After coming back I wanted to look at the outfits I could put together with older pieces from the boutique, new pieces and pieces I brought with me from Italy.

Every look is some extension of what I saw and was inspired by. Take a visit to Humanity and find your own inspiration!

Check out the looks below and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts!

Lace Skirt- Humanity Vintage, Dusty Rose top (NEW) can be worn tucked in or out.

Large Satchel is perfect for carrying on public transportation!

   

Off the Shoulder flared top is feminine/flirty, ripped jeans give a bit of an edge to the outfit. Statement necklace gives the whole outfit a pop

Tie front Maxi has a beautiful silhouette, satchel provides that extra bit of storage you need on weekends at the beach & pop of color. Sunglasses are the finishing touch

Jean embroidered tank-tucked into ripped jeans, with a light overcoat that can be tied or not. Pink Asics from Persona boutique provide interesting pop of color

Delight in what you wear!

This midi length dress is travel ready, comfortable and versatile you can throw a sweater over it and completely change the look. In Italy I saw many women wear dresses with sneaks- this dress would look great like that.

This Romper/Dress takes layering to another level, the layers are built in and provide femininity and versatility with one fell swoop

Add the hat for that extra pop!

Life as a Maven

 

Lanxang Star – Dracut, MA

I was introduced to this place by my Yoga teacher because it’s in the same little plaza. After a great yoga session we would go to Lanxang Star for a quick dinner. This past weekend I took my babe and our friends to eat dinner there and I wanted to share our experience.

This Laotian/Thai restaurant while small, is run efficiently and the ladies behind the counter and in the kitchen always having a smile for their patrons. The aromas engulf you as soon as you walk through the door and the food has been spectacular every time I have gone in or ordered takeout.

When we arrived it was quiet and we ordered our appetizers while waiting for our friends. I ordered the Crab Rangoon because this place has one of my favorite renditions of it and the Spicy Chicken Wings which were sweet, spicy and brimming with flavor. Both dishes came out quickly and I really wished there was more of it after we scarfed them down.

For our main dishes we ordered the Chicken Drunken Noodles and Yellow Mango Curry , our friends also had the Yellow Mango Curry with Chicken, Seafood Tom Yum Soup and Combination Salad.

Crab Rangoon with their special sauce

Wings were juicy, flavorful and spicy!

Seafood Tom Yum Soup-YUM

Drunken Noodles w/ Chicken- Tasty, spicy and fresh

Combination Salad- Lao Style salad with seafood, bean thread noodles, vegetables, lime juice, & peanuts

Closeup

Yellow Mango Chicken Curry w/White Rice

This place is a must try on the list of places to eat in the Merrimack Valley. They incorporate traditional dishes with modern dishes and use their knowledge of food to share with the community Laotian and Thai Cuisine.

Check it out!

Life as a Maven