Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Sump Coffee

I started drinking coffee during my first summer as a corporate sales and marketing intern in St. Louis, Missouri.  Once a co-worker got me hooked, I was brewing at least a few pots a day for our department.  My “relationship” with coffee lasted for about a decade.  After changing my diet and lifestyle, I stopped drinking coffee and discovered a whole new way to “have a java.”  These days, I typically pass on coffee and coffee-based drinks.  However, I will make an exception, if the coffee is served in a unique or culturally-specific way.

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During a recent visit to my hometown, I had the opportunity to experience Sump Coffee.  Located in South City, Sump is just minutes away from the place where my coffee addiction started years ago.  It’s owner, Scott Carey, is [literally] the brain behind this shop.  A former Manhattan-based attorney, Scott shed his suits, shirts, and salary to return home and create something special.  Scott is passionate about coffee and prepared to school you.  It’s all about the bean!

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Scott puts his heart and soul into every pour, and it comes through in each drink.  His attention to detail results in a delicious beverage that you’ll want to savor while seated.  I like to think of it as “love in a mug.”  And who can resist a mug like that?

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Scott made me a dirty soy chai that warmed my heart and put a smile on my face.  I enjoyed it and the atmosphere so much, that I returned for a soy latte and more details about his journey.  You can read his amazing story hereSump Coffee is located at 3700 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63118.

If you love coffee, and you’re in St. Louis, you wanna be startin’ “Sumpin’!”

Back-To-School

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School is in session; and, this week, we are adjusting to a new environment (in my son’s case), new teachers, and new routines.  So far, we’re off to a great start.  In an effort to make our back-to-school routine more eco-friendly, here are two items that I purchased for my children:

1.  Eco-friendly water bottles:  I picked up two Kid Basix Safe Sporters in the 16oz size at my local Whole Foods Market.  The mud cap is a great protective feature for the sport top.  Also, I LOVE the wide mouth, which makes it easy to add ice cubes.  And the sleeve helps the kids to “get a grip.”  These bottles come in fun colors that I easily coordinated with their lunchboxes and backpacks.  Yep, I’m OCD like that.

The Safe Sporter 16oz in Marigold and Sea Green.

2.  Reusable sandwich and snack bags:  Earlier this year, I ordered the Reuseit Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags in two 3-piece sets (1 sandwich bag and 2 snack bags).  This week is our first time using them, due to my anxiety about the kids accidentally throwing them away.  A quick training session took care of that, as we wean ourselves off of plastic bags.  Again, I gave each child the set that best coordinated with their lunch box (I know, I know…).  Remembering to clean and dry them after school keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure.  Overall, I’m thrilled to have found this alternative.  Reuseit has great products, and helpful customer reviews to boot!

Reuseit Reusable Sandwich Bags in Black and Blue.

What are your favorite eco-friendly back-to-school products?

Aria’s Birth Story

As a holistic health enthusiast, I wanted the most natural pregnancy and birthing experience possible.  After all, I considered this another leg of my health journey.  Although my pregnancy was confirmed by an OB/GYN, I quickly left her care to pursue my dream.  This led me to the Bethany Birthing Center in Phoenix, where I received all of my prenatal care and, ultimately, delivered my first child.

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Since I love water, swimming, and taking baths, a water birth seemed like an ideal way for me to experience natural childbirth.  Although I did interview a few home birth midwives toward the end of my pregnancy, I decided to stick with my original plan to go to Bethany.  My husband and I both felt more comfortable with this plan for our first child.  We figured that if things went well, then I could do a home birth the next time around.  My estimated due date (EDD) was July 18, 2006.  After a few days of pre-labor symptoms, things got really interesting on July 16th:

I missed church that day, due to cramps, contractions, low backache, and other “fun stuff.”  My symptoms worsened as the day progressed, so I tried to relax in an aromatherapy bath that afternoon.  At around 5:30pm, I felt a contraction radiate around my torso.  This was a major turning point (Hello, active labor! ).  My husband and I consulted with my doulas, then he called the birthing center to find out if/when we should come.  Meanwhile, Doula Michelle came to our house and labored with me in my room from 7:30pm – 8:30pm.  She really saved the day, since my other doula was too far away and had to meet us at the birthing center.  On our way to Bethany, Michelle labored with me in the back seat of my car with my husband driving and my mom riding in the front.  Longest. Hour. Ever.

We arrived at Bethany at about 9:30pm.  There, I went to the restroom, then was checked by a nurse.  I was 5 – 6 cm dialated.  After I requested the jacuzzi room, the tub was filled, my lavender candle was lit, and my music turned on.  I continued to labor in the jacuzzi:  I laid on my side, blew raspberries, brayed like a horse, cried out, squatted, wagged my tailbone, did cat/cow stretches, and breathed deeply.  At this point, my fingers were pruning and I wondered if I could make it through.  The baby’s heartbeat remained strong and steady, which was a relief.  Labor hurt but not as much as I thought it would.  Finally, Midwife Connie checked me and offered to push the remainder of my cervix out of the way so that I could deliver my baby.  I agreed and she did.   My birthing team instructed me to hold up my legs, sit on the edge of the jacuzzi seat, and push.  At first, I felt awkward, but I finally settled into a position and went for it.  I was offered the opportunity to get out of the tub, but I refused to leave the water.   It really took the edge off of my labor.  8 pushes and 40-50 minutes later, I felt the baby’s head, which motivated me to push her out.  This was a magical moment for all of us.  My daughter was born, I helped to lift her out of the water, and placed her on my stomach.  Afterwards, I settled into bed, breastfed and rested.  What an amazing experience!

Though I had some postpartum challenges, my daughter’s birth was textbook-perfect, which is why I wasn’t “scurred” to home birth my son, 22 months later.  I’m so grateful that I was able to labor in the comfort of my own home, make the 1-hour trip to the birthing center, and have a relatively smooth delivery after 8 hours of labor.  I remember the soft glow and smell of my lavender candle, the soothing sound of Deva Premal’s singing, the comfort of the warm water, and the support of my doulas, my husband, and my mom.  This provided me with the perfect “home away from home” experience.  The 5-month road to recovery was a long one.  But my daughter and I went on to overcome many obstacles, heal, and bond.  And I couldn’t be more proud of my “peanut.”

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Happy Birthday, Aria!

Clean Getaway

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When my husband goes away on business, I hold it down at home until he returns.  Recently, I took a few trips of my own, sans children, and the tables were turned.  So, what happens when it’s Mom’s turn to travel?  Like many busy mothers, I tend to be more in-tune with the day-to-day operations and details of our household, so I plan ahead.  Here are some things that I do to make a clean getaway:

1.  Stock up on food, so that Dad doesn’t have to shop with active kids after a busy work week…YIKES!

2.  Batch cook 2 – 3 meals like pasta, casseroles, soups, and stews that they can heat and eat.  And don’t forget the cookies!

3.  Prepare school lunches in advance by pre-bagging the non-perishables for each day.

4.  Use disposable dishes and cutlery temporarily.  There are eco-friendly options like World Centric.

5.  Clean the house and laundry, so that everyone has clothes to wear and I don’t return to a dirty home.

6.  Run errands to the gas station, bank, dry cleaner, and post office to help eliminate the need for extra stops in my absence.

7.  Leave gardening instructions to maintain the fruits (and veggies) of my labor.

8.  Pre-select outfits for the kids, and hang them accordingly in the closet, to take the guesswork out of getting dressed.

9.  Plan the kids’ activities and entertainment, such as play dates, sports, and dining out with Dad.

10. Choose low maintenance hairstyles for the kids: a fresh haircut for my son, and simple braids/twists/ponytails for my daughter.

These suggestions are based on my experience in preparing for my recent travels.  My husband always appreciates my efforts to make his time at home with our kids go smoothly while I’m gone.  Whether it’s business-related, a girlfriend getaway, or a family matter, it helps to have a plan in place for your next trip.  Feel free to share your favorite tips for a clean getaway in the comments section.

Bon Voyage!

 

Crossroads Kitchen

Recently, I dined at Crossroads Kitchen for the first time during a visit to LA.  This gourmet vegan paradise was the perfect place for a birthday celebration for two vegan-lovin’ cousins.  In my opinion, it was much-needed and long-overdue.  LA has the “casual-vegan-dining-thing” down, so it’s nice to have a more upscale option.  Thank you, Chef/Owner Tal Ronnen!

Here, it’s as much about the experience, as it is about the food.  The atmosphere at Crossroads is beautiful.  Everyone on staff was warm, friendly, and engaging.  We were seated in a comfortable booth, at a candlelit table.  Once we made our selections from the menu, our server brought on the flavors, and we embarked on a gastronomic journey that we still talk about to this day.

Melrose Mule and Sunset & Vine "mocktails" at Crossroads.

Melrose Mule and Sunset & Vine “mocktails” at Crossroads.

For our drinks, we chose the Melrose Mule and the Sunset & Vine, and had them made as “mocktails.”  YES YOU CAN!  The Melrose Mule was light and refreshing, and the  Sunset & Vine was sweet and fruity.  Both drinks were delicious, and quickly disappeared.

Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup at Crossroads.

Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup at Crossroads.

Next, we enjoyed the Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup.  You can’t go wrong with kale, as far as we’re concerned.  And the Asparagus Soup was creamy and flavorful.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes at Crossroads.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes at Crossroads.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes…OH MY!!!  The flavors were amazing, and the presentation was awesome!  And the placement of the Artichoke Oysters on a bed of sea salt, instead of ice, was really creative.  Made from hearts of palm, the Crab Cakes were well-seasoned and had great texture.

Grapefruit Salad and Scaloppini at Crossroads.

Grapefruit Salad and Scaloppini at Crossroads.

Then we ate Red Grapefruit Salad and “Chicken” Scaloppini with marsala-glazed morel mushrooms.  The Red Grapefruit Salad was a nice palate cleanser in between some of our courses.  The Scaloppini was tender, nicely spiced, the sauce was wonderful, and we devoured it.

Chocolate Bundt Cake and Cannoli at Crossroads.

Chocolate Bundt Cake and Cannoli at Crossroads.

For dessert, we had the Chocolate Bundt Cake and the Cannoli with candied kalamata olives and almond cream filling.  INCREDIBLE!  The cake was rich and delicious.  And the cannoli were mind-blowing, with the candied kalamata olives providing an unexpected twist.  Whaaat?!?!

Chef Tal graciously came over to our table, where we showered him with compliments about the great food and service, then listened as he explained his approach to gourmet vegan cuisine.  His goal is to inspire others (regardless of their dietary preferences) by offering them foods that are familiar to them, go together, pair well, are easy to eat, and enjoyable.  He has done just that, and we’ll be back!

See you at Crossroads

Location:  8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, California 90046

Happy Independence Day!

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Source: Pinterest

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