Author Archives: Lesley Cain

5 Green Things I Did During Earth Week 2014

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1. Livin’ la vida local:  I love supporting “mom and pop” establishments in my area. My car, body, and garden thanked me for it too!

2. Drink my greens:  I enjoyed a Skin Rejuvenator juice, along with a vegan strawberry scone, at the inimitable Pomegranate Cafe.  This mother-daughter-owned vegetarian eatery is one of my faves!  And dining al fresco was the perfect way to spend the day.

3. Say “gracias” with green: Why not honor the Earth by showing some love to those with whom we share it?  I made a deliberate effort to give cash tips to all of the service providers who worked hard to make my life a little easier.

4. Grow some greens: I’m really excited about my Spring garden, and spent some quality time planting, seeding, pruning, and nurturing. Best. Therapy. Ever. *sigh*

5.  Grab and go:  When I purchased this cute top and scarf from Anthropologie for my Spring/Summer wardrobe, I declined a shopping bag and hand-carried my items.  Every little bit helps…

Truth be told, every week should be Earth Week.  However you choose to celebrate it, be creative and have fun!

Take care and have a great weekend!

 

My Moroccan-Themed Birthday

So, what does a world traveler with a baaaaad case of wanderlust do to celebrate her birthday?  She picks a destination that’s high on her bucket list, and lives it up locally until her desire manifests.

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A day trip to Tangier, years ago, has me longing to return to Morocco; and I have yet to do so.  My birthday theme was driven by my desire to check out Joya Spa at the Omni International Hotel Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley, AZ.  Joya Spa is the only Arizona spa to offer a hammam-inspired treatment.  So, I booked their “Hammam Experience,” and added 50-minutes of massage to it.  BAM!!!

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Before entering the spa, I had fun setting my intentions by placing three stones in the blessing bowl.  Unable to settle on just one, I chose rhodonite (work), rose quartz (love), and hematite (health).  What can I say?  I have a lot going on…

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Then, I placed my hand on the crystal just outside of the spa entrance and said, “Buh-bye” to any and all negative energy, as I made my way closer to bliss…

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Here, I was slathered with a soap that felt like melted butter, then scrubbed with a Kassa glove and black soap.  Afterwards, I was doused with 3 buckets of warm water.  My skin felt sooooo smoooooth…

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After doing a circuit from the steam room, to the cold deluge, then the sauna, I entered this room.  Here, my massage therapist worked her magic with a flower essence-infused oil that helped me to put things into perspective.  Zzzzz…

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Shhhhhh…this is the Whisper Room, where I luxuriated on one of these beds, underneath a cozy throw.  I need some of these linens in my life…

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“Cheers!”  The staff at Joya Spa offered me a complimentary glass of champagne, in honor of my special day.  How could I refuse?!?!  I graciously accepted, retreated to the spa terrace in my swimsuit, and “marinated” poolside.  I was able to soak up some much-needed vitamin D, while chatting with other patrons, and enjoying this view.  Ahhhhh…

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There…that’s MUCH better!  If you are in the Phoenix area, and looking for an exotic spa experience, with lots of amenities, then jump for Joya!

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After an awesome experience at Joya Spa, I drove over to this Phoenix gem for lunch. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you!  Owner, Zhor Saad, of Alzohour Market & Restaurant offers authentic Moroccan fare that will transport you to Marrakesh in a matter of minutes.

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For my birthday lunch, I ordered the Kashkbadem (roasted eggplant sauteed with garlic and mint), Harira (traditional hearty soup with tomatoes, lentils, garbanzos, and cilantro), homemade Moroccan bread, and pita.  LOVED IT!

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Of course, I had to order dessert, riiiiight?!?!  I splurged and chose the Kunafa, which was rich, sweet, and creamy, with tons of texture.  Mmmmm…

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And here I am with my lovely hostess, Zhor.  She works hard (often by herself) to serve home-style cooking that is fit for a king.  Just like my day trip to Morocco, I enjoyed my visit to her restaurant, and I look forward to returning.

Shokran to Joya Spa and Alzohour Market & Restaurant for making my birthday special!

 

 

 

 

 

Healing Hands

As a massage therapy student, I was taught that energy follows intention.  I have found this to be true during my time as a practicing massage therapist, and in my daily life.

During my last trip to St. Louis, I visited The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit, to explore different healing modalities.  The owner, Deborah Zorensky, booked it up; and Massage Therapist, Marty Wolins, hooked it up…

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There are sooooo many cool things here:  jewelry, candles, books, aromatherapy products, clothing items, and more!  I had to refrain from indulging in retail therapy, despite my love for aromatherapy, bath products, and candles…*sigh*

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My Energy Therapy session with Marty began with a detailed intake.   During this time, we discussed the areas of my body where I hold the most tension, which is customary before a massage session.  In addition, I informed her of every injury, illness, and ailment that I’ve ever had in my life.  Then things got interesting, when I revealed ALL of my thoughts (real time, as they popped into my mind), conflicts, fears, disappointments, hopes, and dreams, before and during my session.  Oh, yes I did!!!

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At this point, I felt totally exposed, even though I was fully clothed on the table.  Marty performed a series of “holds” and light massage, based on the information that I gave her; and the results were P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L.  I had several big releases: I felt the tension leave various areas of my body, I cried, fell asleep, and shared even more of my innermost thoughts, during  the time that I was with her.  What a cathartic experience!  I felt amazing afterwards, ready to take on my daily tasks and the challenges in my life.

If you’re in St. Louis, and are looking for an alternative to a regular massage or spa treatment, check out The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit.

Open your heart and mind, and let the healing begin!

 

 

 

 

Turkish Delight

No, I am not referring to the starch and sugar-based, cube-shaped confections.  I am describing my long lunch filled with awesome culinary creations and great conversation with Chef Sureyya Gokeri at Cafe Turko, in Seattle’s Queen Anne District…

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The menu has lots of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.  YAHTZEE!!!  I was in the mood for mezzes, so Sureyya customized an Orient Express platter just for me.  *happy dance*

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Kisir from Eastern Turkiye, Wholesome Aegean Musakka, Beet Hummus, Spinach Hummus, My Mom’s Dolmas, and (my fave) Yam Hummus.  That’s right, I said Yam Hummus!  Some pita for dipping and Sureyya’s pickles completed this savory sampler…*drooling*

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I mentioned in a previous post that I no longer drink coffee on a regular basis.  However, I couldn’t pass up the Turkish Coffee here.  Don’t judge me…

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I should have called for back-up because there was no one to save me from indulging in all of these Turkish treats.  I was in mezzes heaven!

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Aaaaand I wasn’t about to leave without trying Sureyya’s No Guilt Baklawa.  It practically melted in my mouth.

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Part restaurant, part bazaar, Cafe Turko is filled with Turkish handicrafts and food products, which are available for purchase.  The open kitchen is no exception.  You can, literally, shop and sup at the same time!

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Here is my hostess, the inimitable Chef Sureyya!  Her hospitality and passion for her craft are second to none.  The food, atmosphere, and her stories provide a rich cultural experience.  And did I mention that Sureyya offers Turkish cooking classes, as well as traveling Turkish lessons?  I love one-stop shopping!  If you’re in Seattle, check out Cafe Turko.  You’ll be transported to Istanbul in an instant!

Afiyet olsun!

 

The Herbalist

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Sooo…how does someone who chooses to live life off the beaten path navigate one of the most commercialized days of the year?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone; but I started my quest to “enhance the romance” early this year with a trip to The Herbalist.

Located just a few minutes away from U-Village in Seattle, I found this holistic slice of heaven…

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When you walk in, the aromatherapy welcomes you. The interior is clean, contemporary, bright, and organized. I could have set up a cot in the back and moved in…

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Oils, flower essences, and herbs…OH MY!!!

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They always have a “tea of the day” for customers to try. I tried the Aphrodi-Tea.  Delicious!

So many goodies, so little time. *sigh*

They had a special display in the front of the store, specifically geared towards Valentine’s Day. And this, my friends, is where I went in for the kill…

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BAM!!!  Unrepentant Rose Soap, a box of the Aphrodi-Tea, the Sacred Union flower essence, and Rose Hydrosol came home with me. I could have acted a fool in there, but I managed to control myself.

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The owner, Tierney Salter, and her employees are so helpful and knowledgeable about their products. I will definitely return. Until then, I am glad that they take orders and ship.

If you’re in Seattle, check out The Herbalist. Or place an order and have them ship it to you. However you choose to do it, just do it!

Here’s to your holistic health, and have a great weekend!

Wayward Vegan

“C” is for comfort.  That’s good enough for me… *singing*

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Located in Seattle’s U-District, Wayward Vegan Cafe is my go-to place for breakfast (served all day).  I have enjoyed many meals here.  Now, it’s time for me to give them their props.

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Led by Colin and Tami Blanchette, the all-vegan crew is friendly and accommodating.  This unapologetic group of enablers will not hold you back when it comes time to choose from the plethora of options on their extensive menu.  In fact, they will often validate your choices, and acknowledge that you have a tough decision to make.

REALLY??? I thought that we were friends!!!

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We are.  And this is how my friends at Wayward Vegan say, “We love you.”

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A Breakfast Biscuit with a side of Garlicky Steamed Greens wins my heart every time. *sigh*

My other menu favorites include: Country Bumpkin, Biscuit Minimus, and Mac Daddy.  Yum!

Wayward Vegan Cafe is located at 5253 University Way NE in Seattle.

Oh, comfort, comfort, comfort starts with “C!” *singing*

 

 

 

7 Random Acts of Kindness

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Happy New Year!

I hope that you enjoyed your holidays, and that you are off to a great start in 2014.

That said, I realize that 2013 was a rough year for some folks, and that many are not off to such a great start this year.  Some people have witnessed the passing of their loved ones, ended their relationships, lost their jobs or businesses, experienced health challenges, and more.

Let’s lift one another’s spirits in 2014, and elevate our society as a whole, by taking opportunities to practice random acts of kindness.

Here are some recent examples of things that I have done for others, and that others have done for me:

1.  Drinks on me!:  Some of my fave moments were pulling up to the Starbucks drive-thru window, and picking up the tab for the people behind me who had already placed their orders.  The baristas were visibly moved, as well.

2.  After YOU!:  I went to my local Whole Foods Market to purchase some groceries, prior to my mom’s arrival for the holidays.  The person in front of me saw that I was in a hurry and that I only had a few items.  So, they let me check-out ahead of them.  I was so relieved, and grateful!

3.  Trading places:  My husband and I went to dinner at a busy restaurant before a holiday event.  Our names were on a wait list, and we were in a time crunch.  Two lovely ladies struck up a conversation with me, generously offered us their table, and took our spot further down on the wait list.  Another patron, who witnessed the act, commented, “Wow, there ARE some nice people in this world!”  Priceless!!!

4.  Changing lanes:  While driving on the freeway, it is so tempting to “challenge” that person who is driving super fast, weaving through traffic, and looking like an accident waiting to happen.  This season, I checked my attitude, moved aside, and let them pass.  Someone could have died, gone into labor, etc.  And it’s not worth my energy or my life to “teach them a lesson” at 60+ MPH.  Hopefully, they got where they needed to go, and everything worked out for them…

5.  You look mah-velous!:  I love fashion, and I often notice other people’s outfits.  I stopped many men and women in their tracks, and brought smiles to their faces by complimenting their clothing, accessories, and/or color choices.  And it didn’t cost me anything!

6.  Compliments of the chef:  Imagine my surprise when my new neighbors stopped by after Christmas to bring us homemade black bean hummus with carrots.  So unexpected, and sooooo good!

7.  Say cheese!:  Warm, friendly smiles are totally underrated.

This year, Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week is February 10 – 16, 2014.

But why wait???

Make someone else’s day!!!

 

 

Souley Vegan

Aaaaand speaking of Souley Vegan…have you eaten here?  Well, you should!  Founder/President Tamearra Dyson and her crew serve plant-powered, Southern-style classics that remind me of the food that my “Nana” used to make.

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Every year, during my Thanksgiving vacation in the Bay Area, I enjoy at least one meal here and grab some take-out for Thanksgiving Day.  This year was no exception, as my sister-in-law and I started our “Moms’ Night Out” here with dinner.

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My SIL loves the Portabello Sandwich, and “chased” it with some Seasoned Fries.  I opted for a plate of 3 sides:  Greens, Mac and Cheese, and a Biscuit with Gravy.  Some of my other menu favorites include:  Fried Okra, BBQ Tofu, Fried Kale, Okra Gumbo, Cornbread, and Peach Cobbler.  OMG…

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Cinnamon rolls, cookies, and cakes…OH MY!!!  We had to get dessert, right?!?!

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So, we ordered cake to-go.  My SIL chose the chocolate, and I went for the vanilla.  Truthfully, mine never made it out of the restaurant.  It was soooo good!!!

After dinner, we walked around the corner to the Regal Cinemas Jack London Stadium 9 to see Malcolm Lee’s “The Best Man Holiday.”  Loved it!

Souley Vegan is located at 301 Broadway, Oakland CA 94607.

Now go feed your soul!

 

 

Thanksgivukkah 2013

Yesterday, both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (a.k.a. “Thanksgivukkah”) were celebrated for the first time since 1918.  This will not occur again until 2070.  During the course of the day, my family and I got a “taste” of both.  First, we visited our Jewish friends in San Francisco, who were making preparations for their annual Hanukkah party this weekend.  Although we will miss the festivities, we offered to help in the kitchen…

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We made Hanukkah cookies, while we discussed faith, family, and the future.

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Aaaaand we [sacrificially] offered ourselves as “taste testers” for the persimmon apple pie filling, and a quinoa dish (Hey, somebody had to do it!).

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Their pet pig was overcome by all of the delicious smells from the kitchen, and waited in anticipation for a snack.  She was too cute!

I was [secretly] hoping to watch our friends make jelly doughnuts (wife) and latkes (husband); but yesterday was not the day.  Not to mention the fact that we lost track of time, and had to make a quick exit to get to our family gathering in San Carlos.  We arrived just in time to pray and feast with our cousins…

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This was the “official” family spread; however, my crew and I enjoyed alternatives from Souley Vegan.

Overall, we had a WONDERFUL day, filled with food, friends, and family!  This is my favorite time of the year; and the fact that two holidays collided made it even more special.  I hope that you enjoyed your day with loved ones as well.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

31 Rue Cambon

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

Fashion lovers and Francophiles unite!!!

During a trip to Paris, I had the rare opportunity to tour 31 Rue Cambon and the private apartment of Coco Chanel.  This experience was one that I’ll never forget.  I shared it with my cousin; and now, I am going to share it with you.

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Just standing outside of the building at this famous address is enough to excite any fashionista.  We arrived early enough to take a couple of deep breaths, calm our nerves, and prepare to savor this incredible moment.

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In the lobby, we waited for our guide next to a console with a picture of Coco hanging above it.  It was almost as if we were checking in with Chanel before entering her domain.  It reminded me of how I felt on my wedding day:  I was excited and overwhelmed, yet determined to focus, so that I would not forget any details.  So, I whispered a quick prayer for calmness and clarity, then braced myself for all sorts of fabulousness…

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The Haute Couture salon is absolutely STUNNING in black and white!  This is where approximately 200 clients worldwide are shown exquisite pieces from Chanel’s Haute Couture collection, and have them made to order.  I could have luxuriated on the couch for a while; but there was so much more to see.

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The mirrored staircase (designed by Chanel herself) is truly spectacular, and I was more than happy to make the climb.  This is where Coco debuted her collections.  I’m told that there is a clever way to take a picture of the staircase where a heart shape is formed behind the subject.  I now have an excuse to return…

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The fifth step from her apartment is where Coco Chanel sat and watched her shows, spied on her guests, and observed people’s reactions to her collections.  Retracing her “steps” was such a rush, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Upon entering Coco’s apartment, guests are greeted by a pair of blackamoors.  Chanel referred to them as her “friends.”  Life-sized and impressive, they really make a statement in the entry.

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Coco’s use of Asian screens as wall treatments, her eclectic mix of furnishings, and one-of-a-kind pieces made especially for her by friends (i.e. Salvador Dali), lends a world traveler vibe to the place.  Love that!  As we sank into the silk-covered chair in the entry, we were convinced that we each *need* one in our lives.

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Chanel did her own thing, both in fashion and in home decor.  She had her famous over-sized suede sofa custom-made for the salon, which was considered radical back in her day.  Numerous celebrities,  politicians, and royalty have been entertained in this room.  I felt honored and quite comfortable.

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This gorgeous custom-made chandelier was hanging over my head, while seated on the sofa.  Adorned with amethyst crystals, CC’s, and 5’s (Coco’s lucky number), it had me completely mesmerized.  *Sigh*…

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Fresh camellias, Coco’s favorite flower, are placed on this table daily.  Although this is routine for the staff at 31 Rue Cambon, as a visitor it seems as though they are making preparations for Chanel’s return.  The bouquet was so beautiful and inviting, that I felt inspired to place fresh flowers in my home on a weekly basis.

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Coco Chanel’s apartment has amazing statuary throughout the space.  There are so many stories behind the items and their placement, and the vignettes are captivating.  I would love to have just one of her fabulous pieces!

171Notice anything unusual?  The apartment does not have a bedroom.  Coco used this space for work and entertaining, then left to sleep in her suite at The Ritz.  In lieu of a bedroom, there is a lovely sitting room.  I had no problem finding a seat and basking in the ambiance.  Once again, Coco made use of screens as wall treatments:  beautiful, meaningful, and functional, just like the pieces in Chanel’s collections.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?  I pulled up a chair at the dining table, topped with gold dishes and lions (Coco was a Leo).  But with the gorgeous chandelier, Italian mirrors, statuary, and screens, there was so much to take in.  Who could eat with all of that eye candy?!?!?  I can see where Chanel’s current designers draw their inspiration for each season’s collections.

During our visit, Karl Lagerfeld was working diligently in his 4th floor studio to prepare for the Chanel fashion show during Paris Fashion Week.  We had hoped to meet him personally; however, it was not meant to be.  Still, we could feel the creative energy flowing.  Next time…

As we descended the cream-carpeted stairs, said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and left the building, we couldn’t help but feel a little sad that our time had come to an end.  Once we were outside, it hit us…DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN???

It’s good to be back on the blog.

Bonne Semaine!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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