Going Over The Falls


June 23rd, 2014

aiko and me
Hello out there! I’ve fallen off the radar lately. Things got a little crazed there for a stretch. I really feel like I’ve been living in a VEGAN CHEESE CAVE for the last couple years. I’ve undergone a big transformation of sorts. This has been a very difficult period for me. But also a very rewarding period. It’s funny. People keep telling me how inspiring it is. What’s happened. And I’ll admit that it’s a really nice thing to hear. It’s motivating, for sure. But it’s also a little funny. Because from my end, it definitely doesn’t look like that. There was a big scandal here in Minneapolis this week…

minnehaha creek
There’s this famous waterfall (not far from the SHOP), Minnehaha Falls. I went to see it a few weeks ago when my mom and dad came to visit. The last time I’d seen it, it was all dried up. It was literally a trickle. But right now, it’s pretty intense. It’s hard to believe it’s the same falls. Well anyway, the scandal came when this kayaker decided to go over the edge of the falls. The footage is absolutely unbelievable. It’s breathtaking and inspiring! Well, a couple days later, THIS FOOTAGE EMERGED. It’s basically the kayaker’s view of the whole event. I totally laughed when I saw it. Because when you watch him going over the edge, it’s totally inspirational and awe-inspiring. But when you see it from his point of view, all you see if a bunch of water and chaos. It’s not what you’d expect. It’s really hard to see anything, to be honest. Except water. I feel like I can totally relate to this. From the outside, it’s breathtaking. But from the inside, it’s kind of a brutal, chaotic grind. The kayaker is actually ok. He’s a little beat up. He broke his nose. In the pictures of him emerging from the water, his face is kind of a bloodied mess. Thus, the scandal. He could have died! Kids shouldn’t have to look at that. I kinda of get it. But at the same time, I can kind of empathize with the guy. He held his vision. It’s not pretty. It’s not made for TV. It’s real life. Sometimes it gets messy. Stand your ground. Hold your vision. Don’t give up. I feel that.

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Minnesota Cup


June 12th, 2014

mn cup logo
I’m very excited to announce that we have been selected as a SemiFinalist in this year’s MINNESOTA CUP! The Minnesota Cup is a mentoring program/grant competition for up and coming businesses that are developing new and innovative concepts. We are up against some stiff competition! As a semi-finalist, we automatically qualify for the mentoring and the opportunity to present our business plan to investors and community business leaders. We are so honored to be included with this esteemed bunch. Looking forward to meeting all the other contestants and learning from them as well!

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Face Down Your Fears


February 20th, 2014

cult
Well, it finally happened. The one thing I feared most…I lost my health insurance. The last several years has been filled with trials and tribulations. Anyone with health issues can tell you…it’s not for the faint of heart. There are many frustrations…financial hardships, dysfunctional bureaucracy, doctors who don’t understand you, unsympathetic billing departments, a situation that really doesn’t add up in a financial sense. For anyone. A person can get lost in the morass. In fact, I had been on a bit of a hiatus from the doctor. Partly because it didn’t make FINANCIAL SENSE. And partly because it didn’t make EMOTIONAL SENSE. I intended to go back at some point. Once I got my life more stable. Once I started making money again. Once I was emotionally available enough to tolerate the dysfunction again. I mean through all of this, one mantra I’ve hung on to has been, ‘No matter what happens, don’t lose your insurance.’

But something happened along the way. It didn’t help much that my premiums went up. A lot. I think this is happening for a lot of people. But at some point you have to face the facts. The facts are that I am a struggling new business owner that just survived two pretty devastating health setbacks. I really don’t have any money. I mean, who does? But I really don’t. I can’t afford these crazy premiums. For the last several years, I’ve been going way into debt to pay premiums that I can’t afford. And to be honest, I’m not even really sure why. Because the reality is that my insurance doesn’t really cover anything anyway.

I’m not really sure what the answer to this quandary is. I’m not even sure if there is one. I think a lot of people are wrestling with this issue these days. But they say that once the one thing you fear most happens, you have nothing to fear. So I like to think that this is a positive development. If I’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s that sometimes what looks like the end is really just a new beginning. You have to break down what’s not working for you to make room for what is. Stay positive. Keep pushing. Things will look different on the other side. So I am keeping the faith…

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New Year, New Attitude


January 30th, 2014

pettles
Hello out there! It’s been so long since I posted. Does anyone even read this thing anymore? I mean…it’s kinda fun for me to look back sometimes and see what I was thinking way back when. So that’s mostly what it is for me. I feel like my attitude about things has shifted so much since I started this blog. Your inner life changes. And then your outer life changes too. It’s pretty fun to watch how things unfold. Well, it’s a lot more fun looking back. When you see the accomplishment. Instead of the obstacles. But I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2014.

seward demo
Business has been nothing short of crazy this year. I mean really. Who woulda thought that dairy free cheese would take off so well. It’s really hard to believe most of the time. I keep thinking I’m gonna wake up and it’s all gonna disappear. But it doesn’t. It just keeps getting crazier. I’ve been managing to keep up. But there have DEFINITELY BEEN MOMENTS when I’ve wondered to myself WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

karyns
But mostly, I’ve been too busy to really spend very much time second guessing myself.

cheese
These little cheeses keep me in line. They have really made me stay focused. Just because I know that this is my destiny on this little planet. I know that this is what I’m supposed to put back. People have always thought I was a bit of an aimless soul. I’m not gonna lie. But I’ve always felt like I stayed true to my path. Not one that was already out there. Not the one I was supposed to stay on. But my path. And this is it.

ms market
So when I feel like giving up. These little tins of goodness make me remember what it’s all about. I mean after all, we are all just visitors here. Passing through. No matter how burned out I get. Or how discouraged. Or how inadequate I feel. Or how overwhelmed by my health. Or whatever obstacle is in my way. I have learned. Stay focused. Breathe. Keep pushing ahead. Stay positive. This is what change looks like. Don’t give up!

valley
I have been meeting so many amazing people on this journey. Like Katy here. Find her at MN VEG. Passionate folks. Who want to make a difference in the world. It is so inspiring to be around that. It can change your world. A little attitude adjustment can change everything.

mike demark
So many magical things have been happening. This is a little pic I snapped when THE CURRENT (our local radio station) came to the shop and FILMED THIS AWESOME VIDEO featuring CAROLINE SMITH.

oyasumi
I just want to say, it’s always hardest right before something magical happens. When you feel like giving up. When you can’t see a path forward. When you are completely anxietal because you can’t understand how in the hell you are gonna get to the other side of whatever is in your way. That’s when it’s really important to keep the faith. It’s always darkest before the dawn. I’ve been working through a bunch of darkness lately. Which is hard to see past. But I feel like I’m on the verge of something. Not sure what yet. But something big is shifting. I can’t wait to see how it manifests…

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Hot Off The Presses


October 18th, 2013

city pages
Wow. This has been a crazy week in the cosmos. My mind has been spinning over all the dysfunction in our world these days. It’s enough to make anyone claustrophobic. Kinda makes you want to create your own alternate universe. I’ve been kinda HOLED UP IN MY CHEESE CAVE ALL YEAR and ignoring the outside world as much as possible. At first, I think a lot of people were worried. ‘Is she going to be okay?’ ‘You know you can die from that.’

Well, that is all worthy of another post. Which I am feeling coming on. I feel like I’m making health breakthroughs right and left. All coming up. But for today, I’m excited to share this article that was published in our local arts/entertainment rag, the CITY PAGES ABOUT PUNK RAWK LABS. I feel like this is a turning point. All this work. It’s been a truly brutal grind which I don’t wish to ever repeat (although I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last year). But it’s starting to become tangible. The work, I mean. And it’s a really good feeling!

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Caprese Salad


October 6th, 2013

caprese
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, they do! It seems like our trajectory here is defying all laws of logic. Like Exhibit A. I just found out that our prices are going up. Which was shocking to me since we didn’t raise them. But apparently, market pressures are driving them up. I didn’t even think that happened, but here we are. Am I in a movie? This feels like a movie right now.

In other news, I just posted a new video to our video page. For a CAPRESE SALAD. I am totally hooked on these right now. And tomatoes are in peak season. This recipe takes 5 minutes to make too. So if you haven’t done so already, you should CHECK IT OUT. You won’t be sorry.

I have much more to tell you, but not enough hours in a day. More updates coming soon!

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Veganmania Aftermath


September 27th, 2013

packedup
We did it! Last weekend, KATY and I packed up a whole lotta cheese in the back of my car and took off down the road to Chicago for our first expo! It was exciting! It was high drama! It was a whole lotta folks! Good times!

earlybirds
We got there early and were all jacked up on juice. My boyfriend and I made 5 quarts of juice the night before for the trip. Here I am guzzling juice while setting up our booth.

buttonsOur NEW PARTNER, HEIDI, made these awesome buttons for our table. Pretty punk rock, right? I thought so anyway.
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level apparelOur booth was situated right next to LEVEL APPAREL, a Chicago based company that makes vegan apparel. I got a really cute onesie for Sonny. And Katy got a cool shirt. Here’s a pic of her HANGING OUT WITH UPTON IN IT. The crowd got pretty crazy pretty much right away. You could barely walk through the room at times. It was so busy! I kinda looked over at my neighbor from Level Apparel with a look of desperation around noon. He said, ‘Don’t worry. It’ll die down by 2. At least it did last year.’ Well, I’m here to tell you, it didn’t die down ever. It was a total mob scene. The whole time. In a good way. But I was wiped afterwards.

north coast organics
Across the way from us was NORTH COAST ORGANICS. They make the best body care products! I got the most amazing deodorant and chapstick. Just in time for the cold weather. It’s funny. They were right across the aisle from us. But I didn’t really see them until the crowd dispersed at the end.

beanfields
There were so many people, in fact, that we ran out of crackers toward the end. We must have given out around 3000 samples. I’m not even kidding. Lucky for us, the good folks at BEANFIELD’S gave us some chips to sample on when we ran out. You should try these. They are yum, for sure.

samples
We did samples of cheese on crackers. And we also made some fancy caprese salads (which I am hooked on right now). My boyfriend just filmed a video of this recipe yesterday which I hope to have up by next week. It’s a good one!

caprese cup
The mini caprese cups were a huge hit. Guaranteed mob scene while we were sampling those. It was pretty hard to keep up even.

sample table
It was so lovely to meet so many people and hear so much positive feedback. It really was a great day. We even got a shout out on NATIVE FOODS CAFE’S BLOG! How cool is that? They’re pretty big time!

booth
My one fatal error was that we didn’t bring any way to accept credit card payments! Doh! Not sure why I didn’t think of that. But if definitely came up A LOT! I was a little bummed with myself over that at the end. Lesson learned, I suppose. All in all, it was a super fun day. Met lots of people. Learned lots of lessons. Met lots of cool vegan vendors. And I am still in recovery mode. Looking forward to the next one!

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Blue Moon


August 20th, 2013

caprese
Hello again. I am starting to get better at these updates. I just had the most amazing lunch. A little caprese salad I whipped up in about five minutes using some of our PLAIN CASHEW CHEESE. Pretty yum.

Well, I have some big news. I kind of alluded to this in my LAST POST. Things have been growing quickly over at headquarters. But not quickly enough, apparently. We need a little more help. And since tonight is going to be a blue moon, it seems a pro po to announce our new plans today.

heidiIntroducing Punk Rawk Labs newest partner, Heidi Ochsner! If you have been following this blog for a while, you might remember her from some past adventures. Like this recipe video we did on how to make a NETTLE LATTE. Or remember the time we foraged TEN POUNDS OF CHERRIES out of a perfectly ripe Seattle neighborhood tree? We made some good jam out of that bounty. When I got sick, Heidi was the one who HELPED ME FIGURE OUT HOW TO CHANGE MY DIET. She’s a nutritionist/registered dietician in the Seattle area.

It’s interesting.  The two ladies that helped bring me back into the fold after my illnesses are now my partners! Heidi helped me figure out how to change my diet to get functional again after my TOXIC EXPOSURE. And Julie helped me keep up with cheese orders while I was in physical therapy after my CAR CRASH. How cosmic is that? This company is destined for great things. I tell ya!

heidi jeff and me
Heidi also happens to be my former roomate. Here we are with our other former roomate, Jeff. Heidi and I shared a room. And Jeff had the other room. Kind of like THREE’S COMPANY. Except NSFW. :) We were also all part of an elite band of superheroes called Team Millennium Moon. Every blue moon, we would get together and unleash our superpowers on the world. And guess what today is? You guessed it!

wedding
This is a pic from Heid’s wedding (where I was a bridesmaid). Heidi, as I mentioned, is based in Seattle (my former hometown). Our cheese lab is based in Minneapolis, of course. But we have quite a few stores out Heidi’s way. One of them being the amazing CENTRAL COOP in Seattle.

central coop

A few weeks ago, we sent them our first order. And it did quite well (as evidenced by this photo sent  by my friend, Andrea, who is vacationing in Seattle right now). Anyway, we just sent them some more cheese yesterday. They should be getting it shortly. And if you’re in Seattle next Monday (26th August 2013), Heidi will be demoing the cheeses there from 3-6 in the afternoon. You should drop by and say hello. And tell her I sent you!

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Greetings From the Cheese Cave


August 18th, 2013

cheese
Hello out there! How are you? It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.

I’ve actually been having this conversation a lot lately. Just where exactly have I been? Unless you’ve been at the lab, you probably haven’t seen me lately. Not many people have. I’ve been in a cave. I’m not even lying when I tell you that I’ve gotten letters in the mail from two of my doctors wondering where I’ve been. I haven’t had time to keep appointments, be social, fix my hair, do my taxes, or even go to the doctor. This last year has been FULL ON CRAZY.

shopThings have been going well at the shop. It’s running pretty smooth. But I have to say…It’s taken it’s toll. I’m pretty wiped out right now. A week ago, I took a week off from running cheeses because I was so exhausted. I pretty much slept for three days. It was kind of a sign, I think. I’ve been SUBLIMATING a lot of my personal needs to keep this thing going. And I feel like I’ve been doing a good job. But I’ve been going above and beyond for a while now. It’s really starting to make me feel taken for granted. My boyfriend keeps telling me I need to make a change. That this has been eating away at me for months and months. But change is always a tricky proposition.

hrae at shop
The truth is that this is real life. Sure. There are challenges. But there’s a lot more right than wrong. We have such a beautiful collective consciousness brewing at the shop. Everyone who works there is so cool. I just love being there. I love what I am doing. I love the people I am doing it with. And I’m really proud of what we’ve been putting out. But I will admit, it’s a lot. Starting a business is hard, hard work. I’m not gonna lie. And you know what else is really hard work?

sonny and mama
Motherhood! My partner, Julie, just gave birth about five months ago to the apple of everyone’s eye, Sonny. He is quite the thinker. He spends a lot of time deep in thought. And he has a lot to say. Plus, he’s pretty cute.

As you might imagine, we’re a little overwhelmed at the moment. A good problem to have. Business is booming. And although theoretically we’d like to be growing faster. The reality is that we’re going about as fast as we can go.

Some people might call this a difficult situation. And to be sure, it is. But this company was born out of DIFFICULT SITUATIONS. That’s kind of what we’re GOOD AT. The one thing I’ve figured out from all of this is that difficult situations are blessings in disguise. They are spiritual journeys to a better you. We just have to honor them for the lessons they are bestowing on us. And move through them. We have to be honest with ourselves about where we are falling short. And we have to be open to possibilities. When you hit the wall and think you can go no further, remember to stay open! That’s where all the magic is.

Right now, I am learning a couple things. Most importantly, I’m learning that despite the amazing miracle that I’ve been experiencing for the last year, I am only human. I have limits. And I reached mine a ways back. And number two, I am learning to be humble and ask for help when I need it. Ask and you shall receive. A creative solution to my current conundrum coming up! Stay tuned…

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On The Menu


August 8th, 2013

palumbo caprese
Things have been evolving rapidly over here in the world of PRL. And in the most beautiful way. I’ve been trying to find time to post more updates. More big changes are happening! I can hardly believe all the goodness that is coming down the pipe. Like Exhibit A. Check out this beautiful raw, vegan caprese salad featuring our cheese!! This is being served at PALUMBO’S PIZZERIA. Right here in St. Paul, MN. A huge thank you to BRINA from San Francisco who posted this pic while visiting. Check her out on INSTAGRAM! And while you’re at it, check us out on INSTAGRAM too!


Palumbo’s is also serving vegan pizza’s featuring our cheese! Isn’t that amazing? They even have gluten free crusts. This beautiful pizza was ordered by KATY (who works here and you should also follow in INSTAGRAM).

cheese plate
If St. Paul isn’t exactly in your neighborhood, they are also featuring our cheese on the vegan cheese plate at PORTOBELLO in Portland. I haven’t made it out that way yet either. But last week, I happened to meet someone from Olympia here in town. And when I mentioned that they had our cheese on the menu, she was like OMG. That place is incredible. There’s a line out the door. You have to make reservations months in advance. I haven’t even gotten in yet! Which sounds pretty promising to me. You should definitely check it out…

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