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Happy National Pretzel Day!

April 26th is an exciting day!  It's Hug an Australian Day, Audubon Day, Kids & Pets Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day, Richter Scale Day, Take Your Daughter to Work and, most importantly,  National Pretzel Day!

We're are all about trying out new recipes, so Brooke and I decided to whip up some pretzels for National Pretzel Day!

As an added twist (excuse the pun) we decided to make bacon pretzels in honor of our dear friend and coworker April, whose birthday is today and who LOVES bacon!

You will need:
1 teaspoon of sugar

2 teaspoons of salt

1 packet of yeast

2 oz of butter of margarine

4 1/2 cups of flour

Oil of your choosing

Bacon or cheese (optional)

Plus 2 hours of free time

*Some recipes call for an egg yolk that is mixed with cold water and brushed over the pretzels at the end, but we didn't have one (they were all boiled for Easter), so we just brushed ours with butter.

We hope you enjoy the video! If you look closely you might even catch a cameo from my cat Oliver (but don't look too closely, we accidentally left a microphone cable in the shot - oops!)

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Zapponian Spotlight: Jason Z.

Jason Z. Packs for KidsJason is an extraordinary leader in the Zappos Kentucky Family on the floor, as a Lead in the Picking Department, and after hours. While volunteering for the Zappos Packs for Kids: Backpack Buddy program February 27th – March 2nd, Jason not only gave his time, he also packed 100 bags of food and wrote 100 notes for children in need. The Backpack Buddy program was started by Dare to Care in 2004 as an effort to bring nutritious food to children on the weekends, when free and reduced-priced breakfasts and lunches are not available.  This year, the Zappos Kentucky Family teamed up to pack over 2,000 bags of food and draft over 2,000 notes to the children in our area.  These will be distributed in new, sturdy backpacks.

We asked Jason a couple of questions about this project that is near and dear to his heart:

What drew you most to helping out with the Zappos Packs for Kids Backpack Buddy program?

J:   It’s for the KIDS!  How can you not?!

What brought you to Zappos?

J: The culture!

 If you won $1,000,000 to be donated to charity, what organization would you donate to and why?

J: Any charity [that assists] kids. They can’t help themselves.

What is one thing you had as a child that you still have or use today?

J:  A baseball.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

J: Spontaneous, Humble, Motivated.

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Holiday Recap from the ZFC Family

TZFC Santa and his Helpershe Holiday Season signifies countless things to different people.  For some, it is time with family and friends.  For others, it’s the chance to give back to their community.  There are individuals that thrive on the celebrations and songs, and still more live for the gifts they give and receive.  At the Zappos Fulfillment Center, the holiday season means all of these things and more. 

Whether taking time out of a hectic year to enjoy a meal together, or simply utilizing dress-up days to honor team unity and personal creativity, the Zappos Kentucky Family has always had a knack for closing out the year in style.  This season was no different, including potluck lunches, charity outings, and even a genuine Santa’s Sleigh parading through the warehouse. Welcoming the winter months has never been as warm as in 2011.  

With a busy Peak Season in full swing, and long hours away from family at home, the Zappos spirit truly ZFC Holiday Hatscame out. Several groups brought joy by caroling through the Fulfillment Center with original jingles, creating a little fun and weirdness and serenading with a whole lot of cheer.  Santa, along with his elves and reindeer, delivered candy canes, smiles, and delight.  From a ZFC-wide gift drive, to serving hot meals, to fixing up a home in need, the family circle enveloped not only the walls of the FC, but encompassed the community as well.  And for those dedicated to WOW-ing customers through the holidays, parties, celebrations, thumb wars, and theme days allowed team members to join together to ring in a great end to 2011. 

Now, with both peak and the holiday season in the rearview mirror, there is one more event around the corner.  Tonight, the Zappos Kentucky Family, along with some very special guests, will put the exclamation point on a fantastic year with our annual holiday party!

Happy 2012 from the Zappos Kentucky Family!  May this year be merry and full of possibility!

ZFC Season's Greetings

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New Year Resolutions: Kyle and Sonnet's Weight Loss Journey

Inc., weight loss, weight loss tips, zapponians, zappos culture, Zappos Development, zappos family, Zappos KY, Zappos KY family, ZFC

KYLE:

How did you lose the pounds?

I started with a simple plan. Counting calories and formal weight-loss systems didn’t work for me. I knew that some things needed to and that some things were not happening at all and they needed to occur. This was the basic weight loss outline: 

Write down everything you eat. No exceptions. One bite of a cookie? Write down ‘One bite of a cookie.’ Working towards a complete day of healthy eating was a nice subplot to my weight loss. It is very satisfying to see the patterns start to develop. It gets easier!

Eat slowly. I can’t stress this one enough. Being conscious of what I was eating and how much of it I was eating was absolutely imperative. After every single bite, I would ask myself ‘Am I full? How am I feeling?’ This was a huge step in getting to the point where I could control the amount of food I was eating -- a huge contributor to my bad habits.

No soda (diet or otherwise), sweet tea or sugary fruit drinks. No energy drinks. No sweet coffee drinks (i.e. Starbucks Frappuccinos or Double Shots... I used to INHALE those). I did a lot of label reading to make sure I wasn’t consuming huge amounts of sugar. I still follow this rule. I drank coffee, but I had very small amounts of sugar and creamer. I had lattes, but I either got sugar-free syrup or drank them plain. I actually drank more beer during my diet than any other time in my life and it didn’t seem to impact my progress. Recap: water, coffee, beer, and skim milk.

Snacks! If I snacked, I snacked on vegetables I liked, but I mostly focused on yogurt, granola and smoothies. Occasionally I would substitute a smoothie for a meal. I didn’t starve myself; I ate at regular intervals throughout the day so that the temptation to overeat at a meal wasn’t overwhelming.

Work out. I did exercises that worked the major muscle groups (quads, pectorals and abs), and this all occurred in my living room floor. Manual exercises with gradually increasing reps. Push-ups were my bread and butter, and I tried to do at least 100, every other night. I had to work my way up to that. Running was off and on, mainly because I found that my body responded differently every time I ran and it became too much of a mental battle to go consistently. I love to run, but it wasn’t working for this experiment. That, and it burns less calories.

Healthy calories. Lots of fish, vegetables, fruit and grilled chicken. Different combinations of those things. I actually researched the top 10 healthiest things you can eat and I tried to just eat from that list.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

I really, really love salmon. Salmon, tilapia, most any fish, mainly because it can be prepared so many different ways.

What was the hardest thing for you to give up?

I drank sweet tea with every meal. Penn Station was a favorite of mine, and that had to go. I often get pretty amused, when I think about the things that I routinely ate at coffee shops and restaurants.

Any tips for the rest of us?

I realize that what I did won’t work for everyone, but getting the basics of what goes into your body down is all there is to it, in my opinion. You can’t cheat science and gain weight inexplicably by eating things that are natural. It’s cause and effect. You will get healthier. It’s also simple math -- burn more than you eat and you have to lose weight.

I found that in talking to people about their habits that at least one element from weight loss was always missing. It takes all the elements. No gimmicks, no magical drinks, no bizarrely engineered shoes -- no shortcuts. Don’t cut corners. Do yourself a favor and don’t be wishy-washy about it. Do it. I cannot explain the amount of pride that I feel from accomplishing what I did. I lost fifty-five pounds (in six months), and it’s one of the best achievements of my life!

What's in store for your weight loss journey in 2012?

Maintain, maintain, maintain. This should be easier because I’ve regained control of what I eat and my overall health. I’ve worked too hard to squander my progress, so that weighs on my mind when I feel like I’ve started a trend in an unhealthy direction.

 

SONNET:

What made you want to lose weight? 

Being on camera can make a gal self conscious about her weight.  It doesn't help that I had trolls calling me a whale on my videos.  I was pushing 200 lbs. on my 30th birthday and I remember looking for a dress and having to ride the escalator up to the plus-sized section. I cried the whole way up.   

How did you drop those pounds?

I have a fitness app on my phone that I use all the time.  I've been using it for a year now and I love it!  I programmed in all my favorite meals, so all I have to do is select what I had at mealtime and it counts my calories for me.  It also subtracts my exercise from the equation and gives me a nutrient summary as well as a chart to track my weight.  This app stays on my home screen at all times, because I use it constantly.

I exercise four days a week, but most of those workouts are pretty easy.  Sometimes I play catch for 30 minutes with my boyfriend, I'll read a book on the treadmill, go to water aerobics, or play “Just Dance” on Wii.  I only make myself "tomato faced" once a week and that's usually through Spin, Kickboxing, or Zumba class.  

Variety is the key to fending-off boredom!

What is your favorite healthy meal?

I love apple-cinnamon oatmeal.  For lunch, I can have a big bowl of oatmeal with raisins for only 470 calories.

What was the hardest thing for you to give up?

I didn't give up a lot of foods. I mostly focus on portion control. However, I did have a major cheese addiction and I quit cold turkey.

Any tips for the rest of us?  

1.   Slow and steady wins the race.  Once upon a time I was trying to impress a boy, so I did one of those excruciating diet and exercise plans.  It worked. I lost 30 lbs in no time, but I couldn't keep up that kind of pace.  I don't think anyone can.  What they don't tell you when you buy into these extreme fitness workouts, is that when you lose weight too quickly, your body thinks it is threatened with starvation and goes into survival mode. It fights to conserve your fat stores, and any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle. Sure enough, as soon as I starting eating like normal, I gained twice the weight that I had lost!

4 years later, I decided that I wanted to be the same weight I was when I started dating my boyfriend (Yes, the one I tried to impress to by losing weight. And no, he didn't seem to care that I had gained 65 lbs. Apparently, he had liked me before I lost the initial weight in the beginning of this story.  What a sweet guy!) 

I also decided that seeing as though it took me 3 years to put it on, I would take 3 years to slowly ease it off.

 2.   Your weight will have peaks and valleys, but don't worry about it.  I love the fact that my fitness app will let me set my graph to a 3 month view, so I can see the bigger picture and not worry about the fact that I gained 3 lbs overnight from eating too many Christmas cookies.

3.  Drinking anything but water is a waste of calories.  A friend of mine used to drink sweet tea ALL the time.  The moment he gave it up, he lost 10 lbs. from that alone.

4.  Eat slow.  When you gobble down your for food, you eat more.  I like to play a game called eat slower than the person across from me.  They don't know that they are playing, so I usually win.

5.  Don't drench your salad in high calorie dressing! Eating a salad is pointless if you're going to add a 300 calories worth of salad dressing on top. I usually pour a spoonful of my favorite lite dressing on the side of my salad. When I eat it, I dip my fork in the dressing before grabbing some lettuce and I get just a taste of dressing, which is all I need.

What's in store for your weight loss journey in 2012?

I'm happy to say that I didn't stick to by 3 year plan.  By my projections I will be hitting my goal in only 2 years and I'm pretty excited about that! 

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A Musical "Thank You" From Our ZFC Family

Our Zappos KY family recently sent us some holiday cheer via an accordion-gram. They sent this awesome guy to serenade the Zappos HQ offices as a thank you for the team effort in getting the new WMS project up and running in the ZFC.

Big thanks to our ZFC family for putting a smile on our faces with some sweet accordion tunes!

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Zappos KY Family Asks: What are YOU Thankful For?

Zappos Video team members are thankful for Thanksgiving.  The holiday will be giving them a much- needed break from their peak season.

But before turning off their cameras to feast on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, they commemorated the event by making hand turkeys and shooting a video.

If you want to find out what the Video Team is thankful for this year, just watch the clip.  We would be thankful that you watched it and we are thankful for YOU, our wonderful customers.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving everyone!!!

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Happy 11-11-11!

The Zappos Video Team thinks the 11/11/11 phenomenon is pretty cool for a lot of reasons:

1) It's a palindrome. 
2) 11 is considered a master number in numerology.
3) It's a popular day for weddings.
4) It's binary code.
5) It looks like corduroy.
6) It's an event that happens once every 100 years!

To celebrate the Greatest Binary Day of all time, our  team held an 11 minute party in Video Bay 1, complete with 11 minutes of dance music, 11 donuts, 11 party favors, 11 pom poms and an 11 minute countdown to 11/11/11 11:11:11 AM.  

Luckily, we had a video camera to capture all the action, because it was 11 minutes of pure merrymaking and shenanigans (which are both 11 letter words!).  The video is 1 minute and 11 seconds long, so enjoy!

P.S. This article is 11 sentences long.

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Zappos Family Adoption Benefits

It’s no secret that we have some amazing benefits as being part of the Zappos Family. From free health insurance, to wellness fairs and workshops, our Benefits team definitely takes great care of all of us!

But did you know that we also have an added adoption benefit? Zappos.com has recently earned a spot on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s 2011 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List, due to the great adoption reimbursement benefit we are offered.

Many adoption-related costs, such as attorney fees, application fees, travel and adoption counseling, are eligible for a $6,000 reimbursement under this amazing benefit.

Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption,Zappos Benefits,Zappos Kentucky Family,ZFC,Zappos culture,adoption,adoption benefits,Zappos Family Benefits

Baby Theo, Dwight and family

Dwight J., one of our Zappos Kentucky Family members, recently added a new member to his family by way of adoption. We decided to ask him a couple of questions about his experience, and how the adoption benefits played a role in the process of finding their new baby boy.

How long ago did your adoption journey begin?

D: We started our journey about 2 years ago and in between that time we had experienced 2 failed adoptions. 

What deciding factors led you to choose adoption?

D: We always knew that we would eventually adopt, since there are so many children out there that need good homes.

When you finally met your son Theodore, what was that moment like?

D: It was absolutely the most joyous moment of our lives. Theodore almost didn't make it through the birth, so it was also an extremely intense ride, too. Here was this little 5 pound 13 ounce human being that I was going to help raise into a man. That is a pretty awesome feeling.

In what ways did the company benefit towards adoption help you in the whole process?

D: Those who have gone through the adoption process know about how expensive it can be. Any, I mean any help that you receive financially is a huge bonus. This benefit allowed us to pay some of the legal fees and travel fees during the time of the adoption. We are very fortunate to have this benefit at Zappos, and not many employers offer it.

What’s your favorite part about being a new dad to your son?

D: Wow, where to start? I love seeing the development process each and every day. No matter how bad your day may be, when you come home and see your son and his smile, it just makes everything else go away. I like to shop for him as well; he has a nice tennis shoe collection already! More importantly, the best part is being able to share this experience with my wife, Rebecca, and also our friends and family who have been with us and supported us throughout this entire journey.