Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Travel Essentials

Image via Free People
If you are anything like me, you are just starting to gear up for the holidays. And if you aren’t, well, I admire and envy you. Regardless of how prepared you are, the holidays - especially holiday travel - can catch you off guard, causing undue stress and taking focus away from being present with your loved ones. 

So in the name of holiday spirit, I thought I’d share how I try to prepare for travels. After all, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear eliminating stress.

My Holiday Travel Essentials:
  1. Hand cream: Airplanes, cold weather and OCD hand washing (stay away, germs) all wreak havoc on my hands. My current favorite is this small batch one by Camille Beckman that is made sustainably in small batches.
  2. Healthy snack bars: I have the hardest time eating in airports and on the go, so I stash up on go raw bars and elemental superfood bars (both available at Whole Foods). Tip: the spirulina ones pack extra protein.
  3. Host gifts: Mulling spices from Williams-Sonoma or Bulleit whiskey for hot toddies (pick up some mini bottles if you're flying).
  4. Sequins: The holidays aren’t complete without them.
  5. Serial: The new podcast by the creators of This American Life makes long car rides go by in a flash. But Serial debates can get heated, so maybe don’t bring it up over Christmas dinner.
  6. My husband’s portable iPhone charger: What’s his is mine, right?
  7. Tide to go: This isn’t just a holiday essential. I carry one in my purse and one in my car at all times, because I’ve learned the hard way that if something can be spilled, it will be spilled. Usually, on my white blouse.
  8. RelayRides: I just discovered this peer to peer car rental service. Rent your car airbnb-style while you're away for a little extra holiday cash, or rent one at the airport to save money and avoid ridiculously long waits at a rental counter. Added bonus: the sharing industry is the greener way to go.
Whether you are staying close or traveling this holiday, I wish you and yours the merriest. xox.

Monday, December 1, 2014

San Diego City Guide

Last week, I wrote a City Guide to San Diego for Darling Magazine. Darling curates great content, and their City Guide series reads like recommendations from your best friends. So it was such a pleasure to share what San Diego has to offer and why I've fallen in love with this city. Granted, it's not hard to do, and there's a reason it's one of the top tourist destinations in the country. But in living here for almost a decade (!!), I've found that San Diego has much to offer beyond the well known attractions, and I'm not holding back in spilling the dirt on all of its gems. Check out the full post over at Darling Magazine!

Also, aren't these photos by Gantes Co. to die for? Book your ticket now, friends. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Self Care Isn't Selfish

Image Source.

I had the pleasure of being a guest contributor for the incredible organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, this week. TWLOHA empowers young people to believe that they have a unique role to play in this world and provides hope to those struggling with depression, self harm, and suicide. I love their message: Your story matters. You are not alone. No one else can play your part. 

For my guest post, I thought I’d talk about a lesson I continue to learn over and over again - that being your most creative, brilliant and productive self means making a consistent habit of rest and play. That our dreams demand the best of us, so we need to take care of ourselves when we go after them. That self care isn’t selfish, and rest is not weakness.

Check out the full post here, and let me know what you think. 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Go Buy Now: Zella Live In Leggings

Photos: Nordstrom
My friend Ange has been preaching the Zella’s gospel for awhile now. Last week, I thought I’d check it out and see if its worth the hype. You guys, it is.

Zella is Nordstrom’s activewear brand, and the Creative Director is the former Product Manager at lululemon. I do really love lulu gear, but my wallet doesn't always agree... and the Zella prices during the Anniversay Sale are unbeatable: leggings start at $28. Twenty eight dollars, ya'll. I'll just let that sink in for a moment.

I bought the live in legging in both black & grey, and a cute sports bra for good measure. My review: the fabric on the legging is a little different than the lululemon wunder under, but just as good quality. They’re thick, so they won’t be see-through when you’re in down dog, and they make your posterior look just as fantastic. Two added bonuses - 1) you can throw these guys in the dryer and it won’t destroy them; and 2) you can’t tell they are workout gear, so you can transition them from morning runs to layering with boots and a sweater at night. Maybe just wash them first.

Just to clarify: Ange and I don’t get commission (although we wouldn’t hate it) and this post is not sponsored by Nordstrom’s. I just can’t resist sharing a great deal.

Just get there by August 3rd.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Go Buy Now: Schimdt's Natural Deodorant

I recently realized that although I’m very careful about eliminating harmful chemicals in what I eat, I had no idea what types of chemicals I was putting on my body in the form of beauty products, hair care, makeup, etc. The cosmetic industry is not regulated, and the government does not require safety testing of the ingredients in products or long-term studies on toxic effects. As women, we typically put 200+ unique chemicals on our skin every day, which get absorbed into our bodies and wreak all sorts of havoc. Yikes.

It can be overwhelming to think about, but I always try to take it one step at a time, and I’ve been slowly phasing out my old products and phasing in new, safer ones. 

One quick swap I’d recommend is switching to natural deodorant. The American Cancer Society claims that there isn’t enough research to support rumors that deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer, but regardless, I want as few chemicals on my skin as possible. 

A few months ago, I ditched my dove deodorant, full of all sorts of chemicals I can’t pronounce, to schmidt’s natural deodorant

I have to admit, I a little was sketched on natural deodorant and wasn’t sure it would actually work, but this brand delivers. It works really well, is high quality, and has 100% all natural ingredients, without the harmful parabens and aluminum that come in other deodorants. Its also vegan and cruelty-free.

I love the ylang-ylang + calendula scent, and if you’re trying to convince your man to switch too, try the cedarwood + juniper for him.

Through June 30th, everything is 20% off with the code “SUMMERDEO”. Check it out + let me know what you think!

This blog post is not sponsored by schmidt’s natural deodorant. All opinions are my own. For more information on safe cosmetics, check out Organic Beauty Talk and Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Favorite Cleanse

Strawberry Mango Smoothie // Blueberry Detox Smoothie // Green Smoothie
I love a good cleanse. It is incredibly challenging, but oh so worth it. I’m about to start one this week, so I thought - let’s talk about cleanses, shall we?

Just a little disclaimer - I’m not an expert. This is what I’ve gathered from going through it several times, and lots of reading and researching. But I definitely encourage you to do your homework as well to make sure you are detoxing safely.

Why I Love It
A lot of people are scared to do a cleanse, and I get it. Even though I do one every year, its still daunting every time. I have to mentally gear up before hand, because I know I’ll be tempted to give up more than once, especially in the first few days. In case you need motivation, here are the biggest benefits that I’ve experienced:
  1. Reset Good Habits: Or kick bad ones. I’ve been traveling a ton recently, and all that indulging really takes a toll. Plus, I’m a recovering cheese + sugar addict, and sometimes the only way for me to reset habits is to do something a little extreme. The amazing thing is that when you get sugar, dairy, wheat, and processed foods out of your system, you stop craving them. I believe positive motivation is the strongest motivation, and once you’ve finished the cleanse, you’ll feel great and not want to add all those things back in.
  2. More Energy: Over the last few years, I’ve often wondered why I have so little energy. It just didn’t seem right to be tired all the time in my 20s. Being fed up with it was actually my primary motivator for my first ever cleanse, which promised more energy and better sleep. I’ve found it to be really true. Without all the processed food and caffeine, I was waking up before my alarm (honestly, that's miraculous) and felt more energized than I had in years - like the energy I thought I left behind when I graduated high school.
  3. Improved Health: A good cleanse supports your digestive system, boosts your immune system and gets rid of toxins stored in your body. Our bodies work really hard for us every day, and we put them through a lot - sitting all day at a desk, drinking too much caffeine, taking full advantage of the craft beer scene in San Diego (just me?). Giving it a break from all that allows it to go to work repairing damaged cells, breaking down fat cells, and resting from its usual hyperactivity.
  4. Mind-Body Awareness: Food is psychological - we eat when we’re bored, tired, emotional, anxious, lonely - so naturally a cleanse is also an opportunity for personal reflection and self awareness. I love that detoxing forces me to observe what habits I’ve built up unknowingly and confront why. There is also something refreshing about removing the negative associations of guilt, shame and insecurity we sometimes feel, and reconnecting with food positively as a source of nourishment.
  5. Discipline & Confidence: The fact that this is really hard makes it so rewarding. I love accomplishing something that initially seems impossible. Our minds are stronger than we think they are, and it’s liberating to observe our cravings, watch them pass, and feel like a badass for not giving in. 
  6. Lose a few lbs: I try not to let this be my primary motivation, because I believe in sustained habits over quick fixes for losing or maintaining weight. But I don’t hate it as a side effect. Hello, beach season.
My Go-To Cleanse
The cleanse I love doing is this one by Swanson Health Center.  I’m a big fan, because its developed by nutritionists and you actually get to eat on it. A girl’s gotta work and still be able to function, right? 

When I get sick of the smoothies, I change up the recipe or go for a fruit salad or veggie salad. I add in green tea and kombucha. If I'm really hungry, I double the smoothie recipe or snack on fruits, veggies and nuts. We aren’t here to starve ourselves, and it should be hard but not horrible. As long as you stay with whole, unprocessed foods, you should be okay.

I’ll sometimes add in a 1 to 3 day juice cleanse in the middle (like Blueprint or Pressed Juicery). At that point, I’ve adjusted and built up some serious discipline, so it is surprisingly doable.

On this cleanse, you are giving up:
  • Processed foods
  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Grains
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Refined Sugar
Tips for Detoxing
Preparation is key to sticking with a cleanse. In addition to gearing up mentally, here are some tips:
  • Do your homework if you are doing a different cleanse, especially a juice only cleanse. These can release toxins too quickly from your fat cells, and your liver needs adequate nutrients to do its job.
  • Think about starting it on a Monday, and cutting out caffeine on the Saturday or Sunday before. Caffeine withdrawals are real, y’all, and they aren’t fun. Staggering the coffee headaches with the start of the detox makes it a little easier.
  • Try to eat as clean as possible a few days before and after to ease in and out of the cleanse slowly. If you are feeling really run down, having digestive problems, or think you may have food allergies, consider keeping a food journal and adding foods back in one at a time to see how it affects you. Like week 1, add back in gluten, week 2, add back dairy, week 3, add sugar… Or don’t add them back in at all. 
  • Find friends to do it with you. Its easier and adds much needed accountability when you are surrounding by others experiencing the same thing. 
  • Write down your intentions for doing the cleanse somewhere, so you can revisit them when it gets hard. Focus on the positive to stay motivated. 
  • Be strategic about timing. I didn’t realize once when I started the cleanse that it would be during the Superbowl. Its not fun to be that person, especially during the Superbowl.
  • Hang in there. Don’t sell yourself short. Finish it out so you can see all that hard work pay off.

That was a long one. I’d love for you to join in the dialogue, friends! What cleanses do you like? What were the biggest benefits? What are your tips and tricks for getting through it?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Chalkboard Mag Feature

Excuse me while I freak out a little bit. My favorite online source for everything health + wellness, Chalkboard Mag, asked me to write about how I set up a wellness program at Invisible Children, and how I personally found work-life balance in a high-pressure, cause-driven environment. I happily said yes, dove in and wrote way too much (don't worry, we edited it down). And today, I am beyond excited to share my eight year journey of navigating sacrifice and self-care with you all.

I'd love for you to check out the article here and join in the conversation. I certainly don't have all the answers and my understanding of balance is ever evolving. I'd love to know how you prioritize wellness and self care amidst career, family, and crazy schedules. Do you have a mantra or a ritual? What brings you back to center? And, do you love Chalkboard as much as I do??

Also, shout out to the lovely Sophia Bush for guest editing at Chalkboard this month. Don't miss her poignant + personal letter about true beauty here.

yoga photo cred: Lauranne Boyd

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Guide

If you're anything like me, you just started wondering what dad wants for Father's Day (oops). I typically have a hard time shopping for the men in my family, so this year, I thought I'd share some of the best gifts I've come across. So if you've procrastinated too, don't worry - I've got you covered.

Most of these are available in stores around the country, but some you may have to ship overnight in order to celebrate on Sunday.

1. Beatles art print (starts at $107), for the nostalgic music lover. Buy it online here.
2. Best Made Camp Blanket ($184), for the woods or the house. Buy it online here. Other great blankets herehere and here.
3. Dapper Dopp Kit ($45), for the dad who travels in style. Buy it in stores at Bloomindale's. San Diegans, buy it in store at Pigment.
4. J.Crew Duffle Bag ($118), because everyone needs a good duffle. My husband has one of these I steal all the time. Buy it online here, or snag this duffle or this garmet in stores at J.Crew.
5. Beer growler ($9.95), for the craft beer connoisseur. Buy it in stores at Crate & Barrel, or grab this one from West Elm.
6. J.Crew tie ($69.50), because you can never go wrong with a great tie. Buy it in stores at J.Crew.
7. McClure's Spicy Bloody Mary Mix ($8). I read on Cup of Jo that this is the best bloody mary mix out there. Yes, please. Overnight it from amazon here or find a retailer near you.
8. Vitamix S30 Personal Blender ($399). Encourage dad to be a little healthier this Father's Day. Something about the horsepower or the speed of the blades, but every guy I know who has one of these loves it. Buy it in stores at William Sonoma.
9. Mend laptop sleeve ($47.20). Sleek, handmade in Uganda, and proceeds support Invisible Children. Buy it online here.
10. The Strongbox from Best Made ($28), for him to safely store his keepsakes. Buy it online here, or upgrade to the toolbox ($94).

What are your go-to gifts for dad?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Go Buy Now: We The Eaters

My friend Ellen Gustafson released her first book last week, and it’s guaranteed to be a good one. Ellen is a sustainable food activist, food policy expert, social entrepreneur, and all around badass. I met Ellen a few years ago at a TEDx event, where she was giving one of her four TED talks, and she quickly became one of my inspirations.

In “We the Eaters,” Ellen lays out her manifesto - that by changing our dinner plates, we can change the broken food system, and really change the world. She explains:

"We the Eaters" weaves together the global stories of hunger and food insecurity that I saw so often in my work with FEED with the state of our domestic food system that leaves too many Americans unhealthy and overweight. There are concrete ideas about how every Eater, aka each of us, can make changes on our plates to improve the systems that bring us all food everyday.

I love concrete. I can't wait for my copy to arrive. Go buy yours here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Currently Obsessed With: Soba Noodles

Image Source.
Friends, let me introduce you to my newest obsession: soba noodles. I'm seeing them pop up all over my favorite blogs, and I'm wondering if soba is the next quinoa or brussels sprouts. These little guys are from Japan and are made from buckwheat flour so they're gluten-free, low-cal, high in protein. Soba also contains all eight essential amino acids, cancer-fighting antioxidants and heart-healthy nutrients. 

Pair them with some veggies and you've got a full on party. 

I made the ginger scallion bowl this week, and I can't wait to try all these other recipes. Do you have any go-to soba dishes? Do share. xo.

More recipes here, here, and here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Best Homemade Granola

Every year, my mom makes a huge batch of this granola to give out as Christmas gifts. I usually run out in March, grieve a little, and then try to convince her to make more. This was the first time I've made it myself, and I couldn't believe how easy it was. Maybe it's my inner Monica Gellar, but I felt a little bit triumphant in creating something that's more delicious and way healthier than what you can buy in bakeries or stores.

what you need: 
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (be careful if using organic - it burns easily)
2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (my EVOO of choice for cooking & baking)
1/2 cup good honey (get local honey - it helps protect against local allergens)
1 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced into small pieces
3/4 cup dried cherries

how to make it:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine oats, coconut, almonds in a large bowl
  • Whisk together the honey and EVOO in a small bowl, pour over oat mixture until it is evenly covered
  • Pour granola onto a baking pan, spread evenly (line it with parchment paper or a silpat if you don't want it to stick)

  • Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn 
  • Exact baking time varies by oven - just stay close & watch it around 20 minutes - it will be done when it has an even, golden brown color

  • Once cooled, mix in the apricots, cashews and cherries (I like keep the dried fruit minimal, but you can also add in dried cranberries, dried figs, etc.)
  • Voila! Add some berries and greek yogurt, and dig right in
  • Store the rest in an airtight container

Confession time: after I made this, I definitely had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Several days in a row. I dare you to try and not do the same.

(Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa's homemade granola. All photos by the talented Rachel Ashley.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rainy Day Links

In San Diego, we're experiencing this little-known phenomenon called weather this weekend. It's so rare for us to have a stormy day, much less an entire stormy weekend. I'm really appreciating the occasion to pause and hibernate for a few days. But before I sign off, I wanted to share a round up of what I've been reading this week...

A recipe for a hot ginger toddy that I'm planning on making later today, when I'm snuggled up on the couch with a good book.

Why I'm working on adding more fermented foods to my diet. Recipe coming soon for kimchi brussels sprouts.

This minimalist, library-themed hotel in Thailand that I can't stop day dreaming about.

Homemade, healthier nutella. Yes, please.

My girl Michelle Obama announced this week that food labels are getting a makeover, with more realistic serving sizes, prominent calorie counts and an added sugars column.

Have you heard of laughter yoga?

Cute, printable Oscar party ballots.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Photograph: Greg Kandel for Vogue Italia, November 2007 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Setting Intentions for 2014

Image Source

Last year, I decided 2013 was for living. For traveling, saying yes to life, investing time into relationships, and celebrating milestones like 30th birthdays and friend’s new babies.

I’m now realizing that 2013 was for embracing all of life and learning to be thankful for struggles, because you find meaning and growth when you open yourself up to them.

I learned that change is hard and sometimes long, but possible. I learned that you can’t control life, but you can control how you respond to it, and maybe that’s more important. I learned that you can’t do everything, and that’s okay. Sometimes you need to say no to good things in order to say yes to the most important things.

2013 was for living. 2014 is for dreaming.

The New Year is always a time of promise, but I’m especially excited for 2014. Many of my friends know that I made a decision to leave a job I love and an organization I helped build to go out on my own. Its terrifying, heartbreaking, exciting and full of possibility all at the same time. I want to continue the journey of lessons learned from this year and embrace all the change and unknowns ahead.

With that, I’ve decided to set intentions instead of resolutions. I want to be intentional this year with how I’m living rather than what I’m doing. So, these are my intentions for 2014:

  1. Learn to be still and to be comfortable in solitude. Creativity and discoveries and small beautiful revelations only come in times of stillness.
  1. Choose gratitude and mindfulness over worry and fear. Don’t listen to insecurity and self doubt  - they may be the loudest voices, but they are not truth.
  1. Explore. Create. Write. Dream.
  1. Wash my face every night, because I need a practical one, and because I'm 30. It's time to get serious about skincare.
I’ve also been inspired by these 5 Mantras for the New Year from The Glitter Guide and might be channeling them all year. Can I get an amen on the last one?

Here’s to a new year full of dreams and beginnings.