The City by the Bay

Birthday travels this past month took me to a city I've long wished to visit. San Francisco, the lady by the sea, full of culture and history, tech giants and small coffee shops, Ubers and trolleys, and, best of all, people. Oh, the people. I could not get enough of the diverse array of humans filling up this bustling metropolis.

We ventured through most of the districts, but I doubt we even scratched the surface of what this city had to offer. There are so many inspiring shops and incredible artists. It's a city of progress, always changing and growing, and it’s taking the world with it.

Per usual, with my birthday falling in the lovely season of spring, we arrived just in time for a storm. Within a few hours of landing, we were walking in pouring - dumping, actually - heavy rain. We gathered our courage and forged ahead, determined to not let the rainfall ruin our adventure. Armed with boots, coats, and umbrellas, we walked about the city for three days and loved it!

Here’s a compilation of few of our favorite stops and shops; hopefully, they inspire ideas for your next visit to the ever-intriguing City by the Bay.

| Food + Drink to Savor |
  • Café St. Jorge
  • Tartine Bakery
  • Miette Confiserie
  • Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Bi-Rite Markets
  • Bi-Rite Creamery
  • Absinthe Brasserie
  • Tacolicious
  • Ferry Building
  • Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

| Spots to Gawk |
  • Mission District
  • Bernal Heights Park
  • Mission Dolores Park
  • Alamo Square Park
  • Patricia’s Green
  • Embarcadero Promenade
  • Palace of Fine Arts Theater

| Shops + Streets to Peruse |
  • Health Ceramics
  • Hayes Street
  • Maker Moss
  • Chestnut Street
  • Taylor Stitch


Makeup Love

Our biggest organ is our skin, right? Well, then it makes perfect sense to treat it with care and enhance it with the best products you can find (or afford...). As a self-professed product snob, I may have a few suggestions for you! I have many suggestions, but today I'm sharing what's currently made it into my daily routine. 

I live for real, high-quality, truly clean products. Naturally, (pun intended) they are worth more. I always face an internal battle when it come to choosing which products to bring home. Over the years I've developed a system. When I discover new lines or products I categorize them into three tiers - gold, silver and bronze. Gold is the ultimate, silver is really good and bronze is much better than the normal. This helps me navigate my purchases. Basically, when finances are easy breezy, gold and silver products are fair game. 

Currently, my daily routine includes silver and bronze products, because - let's be honest - my golden products are made of Natural+Lovely dreams! I will have to take another post to share the golden products I would slather myself with if money were no object. Today, you  will get a little peek into my current makeup loves!

Let's start simple. Foundation and primer are a must. Laura Mercier captured my attention years ago when I heard the line was gluten-free. Now I love it because it balances clean ingredients with perfect coverage extremely well. It creates a soft natural glow and beautifully supports illuminators, bronzers and blush. The primer locks in moisture, protects my sensitive skin and even allows for my skin to breathe while wearing foundation. My go-to Laura Mercier products:

Summer is steadily approaching and bronzers and illuminators are sneaking into our bags. My favorites come from Bare Minerals, a classic, and W3ll People, a new addition to the natural makeup scene. Bare Minerals's bronzer is an easily applied powder. With a quick sweep of the cheek bone you will look healthy and sunkissed. W3ll People's bronzer is a stick that can be applied with a brush or gently with your ring finger. I've been favoring the Bio Bronzer of late..

Pencils for the eye and brow. I don't often wear eyeliner, but when I do my favorite lines are Tarte or Dr. Hauschka. I am also newly obsessed with the brow pencil from Laura Mercier! 

Lucious mascara. I have searched wildly for the perfect reliable brand. I have longer lashes so mascara tends to smudge or wear-off easily. I've tried waterproof, mineral, highly-toxic, and natural brands. I stumbled upon Pacifica's mascara only a few months ago and I have yet to be disappointed! It's the perfect shade of ebony black and stays in place all day long. I've even been asked where I get my eyelashes done multiple times since wearing Pacifica. They're real folks. Seriously, try Pacifica. 
  • Pacifica Mascara - Stellar Gaze Lengthen + Strengthen in Supernova

I hope this glimpse into my bag has inspired you today! Are you a clean product snob too? What can you not live without these days? I'd love to hear what your top products are right now!

Finding Rest

Rest is as good as discovering gold these days. Amidst the pressing realities of work, home projects, fitness and food goals, budgets, and daily emergencies, finding rest can seem impossible, but is it?

I’m not speaking of bodily rest, though that is just as difficult to secure. Instead, I’m referring to a form of stillness in the soul, a peaceful contentment that rolls steadily and continually over the shores of your heart and mind, stabilizing and soothing you as the troubles -that will undoubtedly come- reveal themselves. It is a skill, a training of the mind, a discipline if you will, and a lifestyle that must be demonstrated for each new generation of women. And so the question arises, have we, the current women of the world, been taught this beautiful skill? Do we have the ability to find peace in our day, to be the eye in the middle of our storms? I submit that we do not.

Women, we have collectively lost this necessary grace. Our days consist of frantic running about, trying to make the most of every opportunity. Efficiency is our mantra. Multitasking is as normal as breathing. Speeding between work, errands and appointments is considered a necessary evil. Are our efforts actually effective?

Each day ends with us losing ourselves in the plot of our latest Netflick obsession or endlessly scrolling through our Instagram and Facebook feeds because our brains are mush. We struggle to find balance with our work, our health, our families, and our friends - losing sight of those dreams and goals that once provided us hope and inspiration. Must we wait until we are on the quiet sandy shores of a Hawaiian island or find escape on a serene mountaintop to regain our rest? Can we not find stillness here, in our present moment?

There are countless solutions touted on a daily basis: Instagram presents various quotes and essentials oil remedies; Pinterest guides us through meditation how-tos, multitasking tips, and sleep dos and don’ts; and the Huffington Post reports stress and relaxation studies for us to consider. The information is endless. Yet, despite these facts, we continue to struggle. How do we truly establish a restful life, without dropping all of our responsibilities and moving to Iceland?

An obvious answer remains: simplify, simplify, simplify.

Not everything is in your control. Your job, for example, cannot just be eliminated. I would suggest that simplified concentration could actually improve your efficiency and productivity. Single-minded focus on your client, topic, or team member can be incredibly effective. Adjustments could include: using a timer at work to control the amount of time you spend on each client or project instead of checking your email, editing photos and proofreading an article at the same time; switching out an intense daily workout for a contemplative walk along the sea to reflect on a hectic day; or meeting with a friend to catch up instead of reading updates on Facebook while cooking dinner and posting your latest gym photo to Instagram. It will mean learning how to say “no” to what is needless and “yes” to what is meaningful in your life. We cannot avoid the necessary, but the fluff – the wasted time – in our lives needs to go.

Why do we fill our lives with fluff? There is a voice, an internal drive, pushing us to do more, make more, and be more. Women, we are enough. We are valuable just as we are. Soak in this truth. We are free to work and play hard, but if we stop our worth does not decrease. The true test of a woman at rest is her ability to grasp her worth without measuring it by culture’s standards of beauty, wealth, and fame. These elusive expectations do not hold her. She lives intentionally and soars high above the tide of culture.

As seemingly simple as simplification may appear, it’s imperative that it be done in accordance with your unique temperament and lifestyle. Ask yourself: are you a vivacious extrovert with a drive that rarely dims, but may cause you to underestimate the hours in a day? Or are you more of a gentle introvert with a deep desire to see others happy, but admittedly can’t say no? Identify your natural gifts and unhealthy defaults. Know yourself; understanding your tendencies will help you uncover the actions needed to quiet your life.

Develop a productive lifestyle and live with purpose; you will find success with your to-do lists at work and at home. You may even encourage and inspire women around you towards a renewed life of joy and internal freedom.

A woman at rest possesses an irresistible aura. She radiates life. We too can radiate. Choose to pause, reflect, and live intentionally within the storms of this life. Be different and pave the way for the women of tomorrow.

Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie

A sunny and fresh spring afternoon has permitted me the time to share this dear recipe with you.  It is a jewel of a cookie my friends. I wish I could hand you a warm freshly baked cookie right now, one that's been browned to golden perfection just the way you like it.  Little nibbles to savor as you read through my thoughts of late.  Yes, I have been quite contemplative these past few weeks. Though this in and of itself is not too rare, it's more the focus of these thoughtful energies that draws attention.   I have found myself entrenched in study these past few weeks.  The body and food's effect on it being the main subject of study, of course, as is my usual focus, but I have been educating myself on a more specific approach.  One that I have purposefully avoided for some time now.  I arrived in this place of study because of various experiences and emotions.  This month has been a time of frustration, confusion, humility, gratitude, depth,  joy, curiosity, growth and passion. All of these feelings have combined to redirect my focus and give me the courage and desire to attempt a daring feat.  

My body is requiring a new look at food.  To put it simply, I need to heal.  Elimination of foods has been my game for the past six years and it has not produced the change I wish to see.  Oddly enough, there is a scientifically-proven approach that could truly heal my gut and bring an end to many if not all of my woes.  Why have I not tried this before, you ask? Well, because unless all other options have fallen away, most would find this route extremely arduous.  Challenging lifestyles and ways of eating is not revolutionary to our home, yet I still find myself taken aback by the intensity of this approach.  

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD for short focuses mainly on destroying all bad bacteria so that the gut lining has a chance to heal, SCD has had a 70 to 100% success rate with those that follow it rigorously. Another option, a branch of SCD is the Gut and Physiological Syndrome or GAPS. Taking a similar approach, GAPS simply incorporates a different probiotic and includes various detoxing remedies.  I am simplifying both greatly, but believe me these two methods are dramatically changing lives as we speak.  

As I continue to study and research I find my reasons for avoiding SCD and GAPS disappearing.  If others have embraced this adventure enough to see success, then I believe with God's strength, His grace and my Love's support I could possibly see this through. 

I have chosen to share this process with you because you have demonstrated such kind support in the past. A new style of cooking, baking and living will of course flow naturally into my future recipes and posts. May these various alterations surprise you and provide inspiration for your own life.  I am looking forward to discovering what I can conjure up within my new guidelines. I have been entrusted with a new challenge, with it will come a much needed change. I am already feeling lighter just by sharing this with you. With this refreshed spirit I will, as of this moment, actively choose to see the beauty in it! To full health! Cheers!

 {Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie}

1 1/2 cups Cashew Meal
1 cup Almond Meal
3/4 tsp Sea Salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda, gluten-free
Dash of Cinnamon, to taste
1/3 cup Coconut Oil, organic, extra-virgin + cold pressed
1/3 - 1/2 cup Maple Syrup, pure + real
2 tbsp Vanilla
1/2 -1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan. Whisk all of your dry ingredients together in a large glass bowl  Add in the liquid.  I always measure my coconut oil first and then follow with the sweetener to ensure every bit finds its way into the batter.  Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.  Allow the dough to rest for at least 15 minutes.  Prepare your baking sheet with cocout oil or a pastry mat.  Scoop a tbsp of dough, roll it into a little ball and place on your baking sheet.  Space each cookie about an inch apart. This batch should yield 15 cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on your oven.  The longer they go the crispier the surface and the richer the color.  Our favorite is when they're just barely golden, still moist and doughy. If you're not careful this cookie will capture your heart with it's chewy sweet and salty nature.  Bake away and enjoy my dear friends!

French Market Basket

The simplicities of a market basket are not to be lost, but there are some key features I look for and appreciate in my baskets. For those looking to acquire their first, here are some guidelines I like to follow:

  •             The tight weave of a traditional french market basket.  
  •             A wide opening to improve the ease of filling it to capacity. 
  •             Enough space to fit that extra goodie you weren't expecting to find, but just had to...   
  •             Sturdy leather handles are a must. A rich burnt caramel color is my go-to. 
Many baskets offer various lengths of handles. I tend to opt for one with both. These baskets are typically used for trips to your local farmer's markets, but they may also be used to carry blankets, the makings of a picnic, wood and even laundry. A market basket is a beautiful necessity for the classic home. 

If looking for your first, I would suggest one of my favorite online shops, Mur. This darling corner of the web carries many charming, artisanal and useful pieces. I hope you enjoy browsing their selection as much as I do!


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