Category Archives: Holidays

Travel Tips: Las Vegas

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Ravenous for a romantic getaway?

Longing to luxuriate in Las Vegas?

Eager for engaging entertainment?

In search of a veg-friendly vacation venue?

What you COULD do is cut the Craps, hit the Strip, and go for the Wynn!

The majority of my trips to Vegas have been for business purposes.  Recently, I returned for a romantic weekend getaway with my husband.  This was my Mother’s Day gift, and I had a FABULOUS time!  Here is a rundown of recommendations, based on my visit:

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We thoroughly enjoyed our accommodations at the Wynn Hotel.  Spacious suite + vegetarian/vegan menus + spectacular spa = WYNN-ING!

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One of my favorite meals was on the patio at La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway.  Here, I ordered the vegan Mushroom Tortellini with Arugula and Cashew Cream Sauce.  Sooooo good!

Other noteworthy vegan meals included:  Le Cirque at Bellagio (we splurged on their Vegan Menu, with wine pairing); Botero at Encore (we ended one of our evenings here with a vegan dessert); Terrace Pointe Cafe (Wynn) for breakfast; and Tableau (Wynn) for brunch.  It was nice to not have to stress-out over where to eat, or agonize over the menus.

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Ooooo YES I DID!!!  I finally got to see “O” by Cirque du Soleil, and I loved it!  This was the second part of an amazing date night with my husband, after dinner at Le Cirque.

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During our romantic getaway, we treated ourselves to 80-minute Custom Massages, and marinated for more than half of the day at the Wynn Spa.  The facilities were beautiful, and the amenities were plentiful.  As someone who worked in the spa industry, with a passion for all things spa-related, I appreciate that.

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The primary focus of our trip was experiences, versus stuff.  However, I had the opportunity to pick up a couple of items while exploring The Shoppes at The Palazzo and The Shops at Crystals.  I received excellent customer service in both places.

During this romantic getaway, we were inspired to plan a kid-friendly Vegas summer vacation.  Stay tuned for more details in another post.

It’s great to be back on the blog.

Thanks for reading!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

Let It Go: Highlights from 2014

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Me in my master bedroom on Mother's Day 2014.

Me in my master bedroom on Mother’s Day 2014.

As this year comes to an end, and I look ahead to 2015, I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened. Although I booked more jobs than ever in 2014, my biggest moment of the year was my cancer scare and the major surgery that followed. My faith and fortitude were tested in ways that I never expected. I am so grateful to God, my family, friends,  colleagues, and health practitioners, who saw me through this scary ordeal. I blogged about my experience here.

At church, last Sunday, my minister preached a sermon titled “Let It Go,” and encouraged us to deal with any unresolved issues from this year. After service, I told him that I planned to contact the first Gynecological Oncologist (GYN-ONC #1) that I consulted with during my health crisis. My intention was to contact his office earlier; but I wasn’t ready to “go there” emotionally. I am happy and relieved to report that I spoke with GYN-ONC #1’s nurse yesterday, then spoke with their Nurse Manager today. I informed them of the outcome of my situation, and the surgical approach that was taken by GYN-ONC #2. In addition, I took the opportunity to point out some of the circumstances around my consultation with them that were off-putting to me, in hopes that they might improve their services. I was humble, vulnerable, yet forthright in delivering my message.  I had great conversations with both nurses, and felt that my feedback was well-received.  I felt so free!

I am so relieved and excited to ring in the new year, having dealt with one of the biggest burdens on my heart from 2014.  Whatever unresolved issues that you may have from this year, I hope and pray that you are able to “Let It Go,” and start fresh in 2015.

I wish you a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Rainbow Grocery

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*singing*

“Sooome-WHEEERE, o-ver at Rainbow, are greaaat fiiinds…”

From herbs to housewares, there is so much to explore.

 

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And so my anti-Black Friday experience began at this AMAZING, worker-owned co-op in San Francisco.  No crazy hours, no camping-out, no crowds, no ridiculous lines, no pushing or trampling , no BOGOs or desperate discounts, and no commercial hype.  Just good people, with positive energy, offering great products, with smiles.  Sign. Me. Up.

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The spices and teas tho’…

I could [literally] stop there; but I didn’t, and I won’t.

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I live here, in the Bath and Body Department.  And THIS, my friends, is where I nearly lost my mind!  It happens every time.

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Despite my desire to [permanently] move in, I had to keep it moving.  So, I made my final selections and checked-out.  I appreciate the sweet employee, who suggested that I include one of their reusable canvas bags in my purchase.  It’s a souvenir that’s guaranteed to make me smile.

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But wait!  There’s MORE!  Did you know that they recently added a cafe???  Oh yes, they did!!!  I concluded my experience with a custom-blended Pumpkin Spice Latte, from their special Holiday Drinks menu.  YAY and YUM!

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Wanna see what I got???  Here’s a look at some of my loot:

Sjaak’s Almond Butter and Peanut Butter Bites

Matcha Green Tea & Spirulina and Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark Chocolates by Vosges Haut-Chocolat

The Big Yummy Double Chocolate Brownie by Wholesome Chow

Herb Pharm Calendula Oil

Valentina’s Home-Brewed Magickal Mineral Bath Salts (True Love, Sweet Dreams, and Prosperity)

Propolis Extract by Y.S. Eco Bee Farms

100% Pure Virgin Coconut Hand Buttercream

Evan Healy’s Whipped Shea Butter for Lips

*singing*

“If happy, lil’ ole me can find…great stuff at Rainbow…

…GOOO…EX-PLOOORE…THOOOSE…AIIISLES!!!”

A Healing Oasis At Home

Me in my master bedroom on Mother’s Day 2014.

During the weeks prior to my surgery, I was in major nesting mode.  Seriously!  You would have thought that I was having another baby!  NOT!!!  Since I knew that my hospital stay would be short-lived, in comparison to my recovery time, I planned to create a “new and improved” environment  where I could rest and recover, while surrounded by friends and family.  Although I added extra errands to my pre-surgery schedule, I was quite pleased with the results.  In fact, I was so excited to get home to my sanctuary, that it motivated me to do whatever was necessary to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible.  Here are some things that I did to create a healing oasis at home:

1.  Add aromatherapy:  I purchased an aromatherapy diffuser and a “Calming” essential oil blend of lavender, bergamot, and clary sage from Desert Sage Herbs.  I plugged the diffuser into the wall and took my room from blah to spa!  In addition, I treated myself to Cire Trudon candles in the Abd Al-Kader and L’Admirable scents, and placed them in my entry and living areas.  *sigh*

2.  Plant placement:  What better way to liven up a space than with plants?  I visited a local nursery and brought home a Dracaena ‘Janet Craig.’  Low-maintenance, air-purifying, and health-promoting, I am loving it, and I look forward to adding more greenery to my mix.

3.  Bring on the bedding:  Knowing that I would be spending a lot of time in bed, I felt that it was important to make mine as comfortable and inviting as possible.  I managed to keep things budget-friendly by doing a “spruce-up,” as opposed to an “extreme bed makeover.”  I bought this sheet set in Midnight/Ivory during a sale at West Elm.  Yesssss!  Then, I found a Peacock Alley coverlet set at Tuesday Morning.  Score!  Finally, I purchased a duvet set at Home Goods, which had all of the right colors to tie my master bedroom together.  Gotta love it when that happens!

4.  Clear out the clutter:  I believe that clutter to the eye is clutter to the mind.  So, I purged and organized my space before surgery because I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy to do it afterwards.  I’m so glad that I did because I am enjoying my space that much more.  For me, a clutter-free, organized space produces a calming effect.  Ahhh…

5.  Let there be light:  I sleep next to a large window in my bedroom.  Everyday, I open my shutters to let in sunlight and to enjoy my backyard view.  It’s so simple, and it [literally] brightens my day!

6.  Soothing sounds:  I have surround sound speakers in my master bedroom.  So, I asked my family to play smooth jazz, classical, and relaxation music for me to enjoy.  One of my favorite Internet radio stations is Calm Radio Om.  Sooo nice!

How do you create a healing oasis at home?

 

 

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!

 

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!

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!

 

 

Happy Independence Day!

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