With all the weddings, birthdays and fall festivities this month brought, I’ve been trying to simplify my usual day to day hustle. This month has been full of activity, but also I’ve managed to rest more and simplify my weekly routine.
I used to stress out and mentally punish myself for “doing nothing”. I had a serious fear of FOMO (fear of the fear of missing out) Is that a thing? I’d put so many expectations on myself and wonder will I regret not attending this event or am I going to miss out on an opportunity? I would drive myself bonkers over making a decision.
Sometimes I would commit to something way in advance and then the days leading up to it I would dread it. It’s like when you find that perfect sweater you think you really need/want, so you jump the gun and buy it because you don’t want to miss out or hold off until it’s sold out in your size, but then it arrives and you’re like why did I buy this? I don’t want to wear this anymore.
Giving myself permission to do nothing has been a big adjustment, but I’m learning that by saying no to another thing, I’m saying yes to myself. I’ve realized that I can be so much more present for a few good things rather than committing to something I was unsure of to begin with and regretting it. Be honest with yourself and set boundaries.
Here are 5 ways I’m simplifying the everyday and hope that you can too!
Simplify your week
Agree to make one day of the week/weekend just for you. It can be tempting to be out and about, enjoying a sunny day in fall or to be the friend that always shows up. Take the pressure off of yourself! Show up for yourself by prioritizing rest. Of course non negotiables will arise, but when you have a few things lined up for the month in advance you can honor those commitments and assess whether you can really commit to anything else.
If overcommitting is a problem, plan the month out so that you can schedule the 1-2 days a week for yourself. If that means scheduling rest, write it down! You’re more likely to stick to it. If I’ve scheduled a workout or a yoga class, but I feel like resting instead, I honor that. Scheduling at least one day of rest during the week (preferably 2) with nothing on the calendar makes me so much more productive in the long run when the things I HAVE to do roll around.
Check out some great exercises on how to simplify in this book.
Simplify your workout
I used to be all about getting energy from HIIT workouts or going for a long run. I would hold myself to a strict schedule of getting to the gym 3-5 days a week. But for the past year, my body has been craving lighter, low intensity workouts. A yoga class, a brisk walk with Jack or some light weight lifting at home have been my go-to workouts.
Listen to your body and try not to be so rigid. Push yourself if you know you need the discipline, but switch it up if you start to get bored and dread working out at all.
Instead of a run, go for a brisk walk; Forego the HIIT and try a pilates class. Something as simple as a series of stretches or an at-home workout will save you time and allows you to really tune into what is working for you that day.
Check out my simple yoga wakeup video here. More coming soon!
Simplify your morning
Stop hitting the snooze button! I’m generally a morning person and feel most productive when I rise early, meditate before work and leave myself enough time to make my breakfast. Decide what you’re going to wear the night before and lay it out. (Just like in high school, right?!)
As much as it feels good to sleep for those extra 10 minutes, our snoozing habit leads us to rush out the door in a frenzy and ultimately start the day off with the sense of hurry.
Simplify your wardrobe
Stay away from trends. Invest in classic pieces that you’ll wear year after year.
Try a simple “uniform”. Black pants with flats and a button down shirt or sweater has become my work uniform and it takes the thinking out of my morning. Get a few pairs of basic black pants and rotate them. And when you’re feeling bored, you can always switch it up!
This sweater is the perfect addition to your fall uniform as the weather is getting chillier (size down).
Simplify your mind
Make a decision and stick to it. Don’t agonize over the what ifs. Think about it for a day; sleep on it if you have to. Write down the positives and negatives, but if it’s not a life or death situation, decide and be content with your decision.
Meditation has helped me to have the mental clarity to not dwell on situations. I’ve been working on a simple meditation called The Space Between. It allows us to be where we are right now, in the space between. Maybe something happened before that you keep going over and over again in your head or maybe you’re anticipating something that’s coming up.
This simple meditation helps with focusing on the present moment.
Try it: Close your eyes, inhale deeply and when you get to the top of the breath hold it for a moment. Focus on that pause. Exhale it out. Let all the air out and pause at the bottom. Focus on that moment. Repeat this for about 10 rounds of breath. You could also slow down or lengthen the breaths as you progress through the meditation.
How are you simplifying?
Now that the days are getting shorter, give yourself permission to simplify a few areas of your life so you can savor the everyday.
Have more ideas for simplifying your everyday? Share with me in the comments below or on my instagram page.
As I wrap up Self-Care September on the blog, I’m not retiring any of the practices that I’ve shared throughout the month. I’m just going to get better at them over time! For instance, today I took a two-hour after work and I hope to do that every single Friday from now on. I’ll be incorporating self-care rituals into my everyday and continue to be more mindful about how I view self-care overall.
With so much being wrapped up in a pretty bow and sold to us through social media today, it can be hard to distinguish the real from the gimmicks. I’ve become so much more selective about what I’m reading these days.
Today I’m sharing a few books and blogs I’ve been reading throughout the last month as part of my ritual of winding down in the evening. And instead of listening to music when I go on runs with Jack, I listen to my favorite podcasts. Each one of these reading choices has served as a reminder of how I can evolve and improve a bit more each day. Perhaps more importantly, they have guided me in finding contentment in the here and now. I hope my selections will inspire you to live your life more fully too!
Mindful Mondays- A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance
This resource was shared with me by a fellow yoga instructor and mindfulness teacher. A publication by Little Flower Yoga, this weekly email would be great for classroom teachers as well as parents. As an eighth-grade English teacher and yoga instructor, I’ve been including this resource in the classroom. Every Sunday you’ll receive an email for the week ahead. It includes a mindfulness article, a kid-friendly video and a breathing exercise that can work for kids and adults alike! Visit here for the direct link to sign up.
I couldn’t be more grateful for this resource as I started teaching a yoga and mindfulness class at my school this year. It has been a great addition to my teaching arsenal. I also discovered this book and have been using it as an additional resource in classes. It offers breathing exercises, yoga postures with easy to follow instructions and inspirational quotes throughout.
Little Flower Yoga also offers trainings for teaching yoga to children. They have both in-person training as well as webinars and online.
If this blog didn’t already exist, I would write it. It’s the perfect mix of all the things I love including French culture, food, fashion and how to live simply luxuriously.
Shannon Ables is such a refined, authentic person. She’s a high-school English teacher and blogger who wants to bring the simple pleasures or as she calls them, petit plaisirs, to her readers. A very well-read woman who shares the best books, her podcast often features guest authors and shares all the tips on how to live a fulfilling life.
View this post on Instagram
Simple daily details that just make me smile: tea, fresh bread from the neighborhood bakery, hydrangeas (surprise, surprise 😉) and time begin wearing scarves (and of course the curious nose of #tsllmyoscar ). #tsllsimpleluxuries #tsllhydrangeas
A post shared by Shannon Ables (@thesimplyluxuriouslife) on
Each week she puts out a This and That post where she recommends books, articles, recipes and signature style pieces. She recently posted this article which I’ve been reading to my students and yoga clients. These 10 Truths that Will Change the Way You See Yourself Today has been such a profound reminder of all the ways in which we see ourselves and how we can shift that perspective as well how we can change the stories we tell ourselves about what has happened to us along the way.
If you haven’t heard of this book, you may be living under a rock. Just kidding, but not really. My friend over at @becomebetty recommended this book over the summer and I finally dove into it. This is another good one for reframing the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. It’s full of great tips and and motivating stories that Rachel has experienced. Full of humor and truth, this book is a friendly reminder that we are not what has happened to us.
Some of the lies (chapter titles) are “I’m Not Good Enough”, “Something Else Will Make Me Happy” and “I’ll Start Tomorrow”. I find this book to be especially helpful for those of us who want to take a leap and do something different with our lives, but that little voice inside of us keeps getting in the way. Entrepreneurs and career changers alike may really appreciate Rachel’s words in this book.
Rachel’s podcast RISE also has episodes where she reads chapters of her book to you, so if you don’t want to read the book you have the option of listening to the audio version. She also has RISE Together a podcast about relationships that I want to dive into next!
This podcast is great for yoga instructors and practitioners alike. It’s so much more than information about the postures. Andrea Ferretti talks about the sutras, yoga as a business and has other yoga instructors on the show to share their journey.
If you don’t mind some of the silly banter between her and her husband when he’s on the show, the you just might like this one!
Eastern Body Western Mind
This was one of the required readings for my Yoga Teacher Training and I keep coming back to it time and again. I’m intrigued to learn about the whole person and this has helped me understand why we are the way we are. It’s basically a guide to the chakras which explains all about our personal development from the inside out. Learning the chakras is not a small task. There is so much to know and thankfully this book breaks in down in an easy-to-read yet comprehensive way.
If you’re interested in learning about the chakras, this book is a great place to start!
What books and blogs are you reading and what podcasts are you tuning into that make you feel good? Are they helping you on the path to living more fully? Share them with me in the comments or on my instagram page.
I hope you took the time to care for yourself this month. It’s so important for us to slow down and have those rituals we can turn to when we need them most.
Wishing you well.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, right? But who wants to make it on a busy work day? I try to squeeze in every last minute out of my sleep and I really don’t want to spend a lot of time in the morning preparing my breakfast. Here are my 5 go-to, easy breakfasts that are just as healthy as they are delicious.
Yogurt and granola
A simple grab and go breakfast, no cooking required! Yogurt is such a good source of probiotics (good bacteria) and it’s high in protein, depending on the variety you get. I really like the Trader Joe’s almond butter coconut yogurt. Probiotics in yogurt also promotes digestive health and boosts the immune system.
Add some chia seeds, honey and granola and you have yourself a balanced breakfast that slightly sweet, but still healthy.
I love a good liquid breakfast and I’m not talking about mimosas (although I don’t mind those either!) When I know it’s going to be a busy morning at work and I won’t have time to sit and eat, I’ll quickly mix a few ingredients in my magic bullet and off I go.
I’ve been experimenting with different flavors over the last couple of years, but I always come back to my old faithful. A little bit sweet, but protein packed and easy to drink, I reach for strawberry, banana, peanut butter, cacao, chia seeds, almond milk and if I’m in need of some greens I add spinach. I use frozen strawberries so that I don’t need to dilute my smoothie with ice. I also add a quarter cup of yogurt when I want it a bit thicker.
It doesn’t get more simple than this. I use 1/2 of one ripened avocado and sometimes I mash it with lemon and salt and other times I slice it and add lemon and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning. I toast my multi-grain bread, spread the avocado on and voila: Avocado Toast. Who said this had to be an overpriced basic breakfast? For me it just hits the spot!
Peanut Butter and Banana on an English Muffin or Ghee on Multigrain Toast.
I’m a big fan of bread in the morning. If I need the energy I reach for the peanut butter and slice a banana and if I’m not really in the mood for breakfast and just want something light, ghee on toast is my go-to.
Ghee, or clarified butter, is not only delicious, but it’s strengthens your bones and promotes healthy weight loss. You can totally make your own ghee, but I like the Banyan Botanicals ghee, which comes from small family farms in Northern California where the cows are given tender loving care, grass-fed, and pasture raised.
Kale or spinach omelet with feta and tomatoes
When I have more time I’ll whip up an omelet. If you don’t have enough time to make an omelet on an average morning, you can pre-make little egg omelet muffin cups. Find the recipe I use here.
Take two eggs and add a dash of water from the faucet. Option to add salt here if you’d like. Then you beat the hell out of them- a little trick my Grandpa taught me (in those words!)
Heat up a tablespoon of ghee in a non-stick pan (These are my favorite) Sauté the kale or spinach to let it cook down a bit. Then pour the egg mixture on top and let it cook at low heat for a few minutes. Fold over the sides of the omelet with a spatula and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. One more flip to seal the deal and you’re done!
Add a multi-grain english muffin and some Bonne Maman jelly or spreadable cheese and your breakfast is complete.
What are your go-to, healthy breakfasts? Share them with me on my instagram page or in the comments below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to go and take care of you!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
It has been one heck of a summer, but I’m seriously ready to get back to some of my routines and rituals like eating better and taking the time to truly sit and savor as many moments as I can after a long day’s work.
I’ve been redefining what self-care means to me and I’m dedicating a whole month to it on the blog. The complaint I hear the most amongst friends is that they don’t have enough time for self-care. I couldn’t agree more, but I also don’t want that excuse to allow my days to wither away without taking full advantage of the time that I do have. So I’m excited to share with you a few simple self-care tips and tricks that I’ve integrated into my daily/weekly routine that help me to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Maybe you’re already doing these and don’t define them as “self-care”. I’d love to hear the simple ways in which you spoil yourself in the comments below!
Journal/Write a Gratitude list
You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again because it always helps put things into perspective. I’ve been doing this once or twice a month when I’m feeling extremely grateful as well as when I’m feeling some kind of lack. The latter might be an even better time to do this as we tend to get carried away by what we don’t have rather than acknowledging all the good that we do have.
Spend the first or last 5-10 minutes of your day jotting down a few of the things you’re grateful for and see how that list grows! I always like to go back after a few weeks or months time and reread my gratitude lists. This is a reminder of how fortunate we really are.
Give Yourself an At-Home Spa Treatment
I love splurging on a facial when I can, but treating my skin to a weekly face mask when I can’t make it to the spa is such a simple and affordable alternative. I’ve been using Caudalie products for a few years now and during my last visit to their West Village location, I tried the glycolic peel mask. I’ve been using it once a week ever since and I love it. It’s my 10 minutes of pampering during the week and leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft yet firm. Finish it off with their night oil and you’ll wake up feeling like a million bucks. I’ve also been loving this moisturizer. It’s light, yet very hydrating.
I’ve also been doing a deep conditioner for my hair once a week. I pick one day where I leave in my conditioner for 10-20 minutes before rinsing. My hair feels so healthy.
Create a Home Sanctuary
Carve out a space in your home where you can escape to when you need to just be. Break out the candles, burn some incense or diffuse essential oils. Set up a comfy reading chair, or meditation pillow and make the space clean and uncluttered. Add a few plants, like succulents, for aesthetic and voila(!) your sanctuary awaits. Don’t have too many distractions in your space so you can focus on being present whether it’s to read, journal or meditate. Speaking of meditation, I’ve been using the insight timer for a few weeks and there’s a great variety of free guided meditations on there. If you’ve been looking to start a meditation practice, but don’t think you can do it, Insight timer is a great starting point.
Invest in yourself
A huge shift in my self-care over the past few years is feeding my passions outside of work. I felt like for too many years I was going through the day to day motions without really tapping into my purpose. When I decided to leave my second job over a year ago and pursue yoga teacher training, I felt so liberated and empowered. I was tapping into a new calling. I listened to my heart and took the leap.
Investing in yourself is about educating yourself. Once I finished YTT, I realized how much I didn’t know. It’s a big responsibility to guide yogis and there’s SO MUCH to learn about anatomy, chakras and the list goes on. So over the summer, I took some in-person and online trainings for additional yoga certifications. Not only did I meet some great people, but I learned a ton. If we don’t fuel our passions by making the time and financial investment in them, we may never reach our full potential.
Where can I start?
Not sure how to invest in yourself, where to start, or feeling unclear about the direction of your life? This month my friend and Kundalini teacher, Courtney Clifford is hosting a workshop at The Guided Healing in Brooklyn with Kundalini Yoga, Meditation, Facilitated Journaling and Sound Healing. If you’ve never done Kundalini, it is a powerful practice. “An uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices, Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning “truth is my identity.” The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness”- Yoga Journal.
Check out Courtney’s site here to sign up or see other offerings. Invest in this evening of self-care and you never know what it can stir up inside of you to get you more aligned with where you want to be.
Set The Tone in the Evening
Unplug from phones and computers an hour before bed. When you set boundaries and time frames for “logging off”, you create more space for yourself and the evenings become more sacred.
Make a cup of chamomile tea, draw yourself a bath or read a book just for pleasure. Start to settle in an hour before bed and make the last hour of your day just about you. Slowly incorporate this into your routine by getting to bed 30 minutes earlier at least twice a week.
Now Go and Take Care of You
So how are you incorporating self-care rituals into your days? I’d love to hear what you’re doing in the comments or on my instagram page.
Thanks for reading! Until next week,
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The third and final installment of this Pacific Northwest travel guide ends with 24 hours in Seattle. The last leg includes a roundup of what we ate, where we stayed and something a little touristy, but so worth the experience.
If you’re looking for a chill city with cooler temps, a laid-back vibe, and a great food scene from what I experienced, then Seattle is for you!
From Olympic National Park, drive to Bainbridge Island to catch the ferry to Seattle. This is about a 30 minute ride. As you come into the terminal, you’ll get fantastic views of the Seattle skyline and the Pike Place Market. I was pretty giddy as we were out for the woods and into the city. A warm welcome indeed!
But first, breakfast
After we packed up our camp, we drove through Sequim, Washington to fuel up with a big breakfast Country Breakfast at The Oak Table Cafe.
This family establishment serves up the fluffiest pancakes and some real farm-to- table breakfast. Think Walla Walla onions from East Washington that were picked that morning and delivered to the restaurant that afternoon. The French style omelet with heaps of sharp cheddar cheese and chicken apple sausage was the quintessential country breakfast in Washington.
Piggies in a blanket is their signature dish. 3 breakfast sausages wrapped in pancakes. Yes, pancakes! Espresso is really big in Washington and they have drive-up espresso stands every few miles. Definitely pair your country breakfast with one of the espresso drinks here.
Inn at the Market was a perfect location for our 24 hour stay in Seattle. It’s within walking distance to many restaurants, shopping and the Pike Place Market. The rooms are comfortable, clean and spacious. There’s a beautiful rooftop terrace with lounge chairs, tables and a daily happy hour to enjoy sunset views of the Puget sound.
Eat and Do
Shopping at Pike Place is a very unique experience with hundreds of local artisans selling their wares. It can get a bit overwhelming, so hold out for that special something. Maybe aromatherapy from All Things Lavender ?!
For once, shopping was not at the top of my travel to-do list, but eating my way through this city was.
Start at the Old Stove brewery. Grab a cold beer (I went for the Streaker Citra Pale Ale-YUM) and sit outside for a great view of the Puget Sound.
The food options at the market are endless so try as much as you can. The fish is literally the freshest it gets in this country. The diverse array of options ranges from Filipino cuisine, to empanadas, to Greek and Moroccan, but we settled for some raw oysters and fried clam strips to kick off our foodie adventures in Seattle at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar. Located just off the marketplace, it was the quiet we were looking for amongst the throngs of tourists at the market. It felt like our little secret place!
En route to meal #2 of the day we stopped for some Russian pastries at Piroshky, Piroshky which smelled amazing, but tasted just meh. I would liken it to a dry croissant. It wasn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t go back. I really do like saying the name though, Piroshky, Piroshky.
Sushi to be Savored
We knew we couldn’t leave Seattle without having sushi and Sushi Kashiba did not disappoint! Not only was the sushi super fresh, but the level of service we got at the bar was top notch. The bartender perfectly paired our dinner selection with a Washington Viognier and was incredibly knowledgeable about the sushi. He also gave us a bunch of suggestions for our next meal.
Chef Shiro Kashiba, also known as The Sushi Sensei of Seattle, opened Seattle’s first sushi bar in 1970. He was classically trained by Jiro Ono who you may know from Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This was a truly special dining experience and we would’ve stayed here all night if we could!
Finally to satisfy your sweet tooth, try Shug’s soda fountain and ice cream bar. A Seattle staple serving up sundaes, coffee and ice cream cocktails. Shug’s was a great way to end the night. We got the Sunday’s Best which was the homemade vanilla with fresh fruit, a waffle cookie, whipped cream and a cherry and the Brown Derby– a Mighty O chocolate donut with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. It was a sweet ending to a sweet day.
All the Coffee
The last and final stop in Seattle was a morning well spent at Starbucks Reserve. This is an experience. It is unlike any coffee shop or Starbucks I’ve ever been to. My favorites here included the chocolate bread with orange marmalade and a the prosciutto with parmesan and arugula croissant.
The coffee options are abundant so make sure to try something different. Check out the menu and a barista will guide you toward what your taste buds are craving. It was so hard to go back to basic Starbucks after the exotic options served at the Reserve store.
So there you have it, a 24-hour foodie adventure in Seattle. I hope to add more to it on my next trip. Have you been? Share in the comments below and let me know where to go next time.
Spending two days out in the woods initially didn’t sound like much of a vacation to me. I’m not a hiker and the only outdoor activity I do in the summer involves swimming in the ocean. But, I was persuaded that the weather would be cooler in the Pacific Northwest and Olympic National Park had more to offer than just hiking trails.
So I went off into the wilderness and geared up for what nature had to offer. Camping and hiking can be fun, but they also challenge you in different ways. Using your resources, having the perseverance to continue up a mountain when you want to give up, and putting in the effort to set up your “home” is all part of the experience.
And to everyone who doubted my outdoor skills, you’d be very proud of me. I survived the wild with limited cell phone service and no shower for two days! This vacation was a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively.
If you read part one of this travel guide, you already know that this trip began in Vancouver and continued onto Victoria, BC. From here The Black Ball Ferry Line will take you to Port Angeles, Washington. Stop by The Olympic National Park Visitor Center to pick up your map and ask any questions you might have before entering the park.
Part of the journey is driving from place to place and there’s so much to see along the way. Drive about an hour to Marymere Falls at Lake Crescent. After a day hike, drive 90 minutes to the Kalaloch campsite. (For all my Twilight fans, you’ll drive through Forks along the way!)
If you’re renting a tent and other equipment, you can have it shipped to the Eighth Avenue UPS store in Port Angeles. We went with Outdoor Geeks for our camping needs. Make sure to reserve your equipment in enough time to have it for delivered in time for your arrival.
Swain’s general store in Port Angeles has everything for your camping/hiking needs. If you forgot to order or rent something, Swain’s will likely have it. Don’t leave without getting a bag of the 25 cent popcorn on your way out!
Fuel up for your day with smoothies and sandwiches at Country Aire Natural Foods. This place is a smaller scale whole foods, but so much better! Some of the specialty items included local honey, Washington state wines, delicious smoothies, fresh deli sandwiches and baked goods like lemon-fig cookies.
This market is a one-stop shop for all the food you’ll want to grill up at your campsite.
Hike to Lake Crescent where there are two trail options. Marymere is an easy, mostly flat trail that you can complete in under one hour. The payoff is a gorgeous waterfall.
Mount Storm King trail is a much longer, harder and steeper hike, but the payoff is unbelievably beautiful. As hard as it was and as sore as my body was the next day, the view from the top made it all worth it. This hike can take you close to four hours so get an early start and bring snacks with you to enjoy for when you get to the top.
Camping by the Beach
Kalaloch Campground is a great choice for beginner campers like me. There’s access to bathrooms and running water. The campsite is just a short walk to the beach and you can hear the waves crashing from your tent. It’s magnificent. This is one of the rainiest places in the country, but we lucked out with sun and warmth on the trip The days are long here and the sun sets after 9 pm in the summer. Walk down to the beach to check out the tree of life and definitely don’t miss the sunsets.
Stop along the way
Ruby Beach is unlike any other beach I’ve been to. It’s like something you only see in pictures and movies, but it actually exists! The driftwood and sea stacks are a sight to see!
Camping in the Rainforest
Solduc Falls is a beautiful area of Olympic Park with natural hot springs, waterfalls and a few easy hiking trails. The hike to Sol Duc Falls from The Sol Duc Resort was a flat 2.8 miles.
Just when you start to wonder if you’re getting close, you hear the sound of rushing water get a little bit louder and you arrive to this…
Take a different route on the way back. Lovers Lane trail is another 3 mile option.
Enjoy the night sky with a bottle of wine and some s’mores around the fire. A good night’s sleep awaits you when you’ve been trekking through the rainforest for miles and miles each day.
There’s no better teacher than Mother Nature to show you how to slow down, breathe in the fresh air and savor each moment you have in this lifetime.
I hope you found this guide useful in planning for your future trip to the Pacific Northwest. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.
I recently spent 5 days in the Pacific Northwest and fell in love with yet another destination I’m quite sure to return to. This trip was a bit of a different experience for me as I spent some of it sleeping in a tent, but more on that in Part 2.
I’d been hearing such great things about Vancouver, British Columbia for quite a while. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend Phillip, he jumped at the chance to plan this trip. Together, we got to experience and appreciate another part of Canada (remember our trip to Mont Tremblant?) just in time for Canada Day! We also made our way over to beautiful Victoria, BC.
If you’re looking for destinations with lots of charm and natural beauty, put Vancouver and Victoria on your list.
Alaska Airlines has frequent flights to Seattle and Vancouver. We knew we were ending our trip in Seattle so we opted to fly into Sea Tac airport, rent a car and drive to Vancouver. It was a 6 hour nonstop flight from New York City to Seattle and a one-hour drive to Vancouver from there.
On day 2 we took a 90 minute ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria which was $90 USD per vehicle. BC Ferries provided a first class experience. This convenient way to travel throughout Canada also brings some beautiful views of Galiano Island and the San Juan Islands along the way. Buy your tickets in advance and arrive to the ferry about 30 minutes early. There’s a cafe on the boat, but you MUST stop into Sweet Thea Cake Company for a croissant at the Ferry hub before boarding.
Vancouver is a quaint, walkable city with lots of food and drink options. After 10 hours of travel we were ready to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the Canadians. Since we would be in the city for less than 24 hours, we narrowed the down neighborhoods we would visit to Gastown, the Waterfront district and Granville Island.
Eat and Drink
My favorite picks are Cactus Club Cafe for the best cocktail menu and light bites. Fresh fruit cocktails and frose are the specialty there. Get the guacamole with chimichurri sauce. It’s one of the best guacs I’ve had! There’s music and a big crowd. Sit at the bar for faster service.
Granville Island is a seaside village and foodie haven. Wild Canadian Seafood serves up lots of yummy options like poutine, chowder and plenty of seafood straight from the Pacific Ocean. My must-try here was the lavender chai latte served with lavender rum. Yum! On a Sunday, most places close on the earlier side, so definitely get here early to enjoy.
Stay at the Delta Inn and Suites, Vancouver in Gastown which offers easy access to most neighborhoods by foot with comfortable, well designed and spacious rooms. The hospitality and efficiency of service here is one of the best I’ve experienced for a chain hotel.
24 hours in Vancouver was just scratching the surface, but the short time spent here just gives us an excuse to go back and see more!
See and Do
The Butchart Gardens are by far the most beautiful public gardens I’ve ever been to. You simply cannot visit Victoria without going here. Once home to the Butchart family, this has since been turned into fifty-five acres of exquisite gardens.
Visit for the 5 different gardens and stay for lunch, afternoon tea, or gelato.
Stay, Eat and Drink
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and Guesthouses is a triple threat. With a waterfront restaurant, brewery and rooms right on site, Spinnakers is the perfect destination for your time in Victoria.
Upon arrival to Spinnakers you’ll be greeted with a beer flight and chocolate truffle tasting. Dine on the outside patio with views of the harbor or sit upstairs in their brewpub.
The Heritage House is a beautiful Victorian home converted into 5 guest rooms. Each room provides a homey stay with a full bathtub, fireplace and patio. If you followed along on my instagram stories, you got a sweet tour of our room!
Out on the town
After checking into our home away from home for the night and getting a buzz going, we walked along the harbor into town to see what else Victoria had to offer.
Although a bunch of places were closed in observance of Canada day, we managed to find a great bar in downtown Victoria. Bard and Banker is another establishment full of history. The bar opened in 1885 as the Bank of British Columbia. Robert Service was a banker, but an even more successful bard (poet). His writings became so profitable that he was able to leave the banking industry and focus solely on his writing. Hence the name, Bard and Banker. He lived most of his life in France and the wine list here is heavily influenced by that.
Besides the cool history, this place has a great vibe and gave me feels of a classy London pub.
An Unphogettable send-off
We capped off our stay in Victoria at Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro. This authentic Vietnamese cuisine did not disappoint. We had heard that Asian food in this region was a must-try and I wholeheartedly agree!
I hope you enjoyed part one of my guide to the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned for parts two and three coming soon!
I’m so excited to bring you a beautiful evening of yoga, wine and live music at grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden on Thursday, July 19th from 6-8 pm.
Last year I started teaching yoga at this beautiful garden and it brought me so much joy to serve the community with weekly outdoor yoga classes. This year I was lucky enough to snag a plot and start growing my own fruits and vegetables alongside a community of welcoming gardeners. The beginning of this growing season has brought an abundance of lettuce, tomatoes, kale, strawberries and so many other delicious vegetables.
Growing the Mission
The mission of the Lincoln Park Conservancy and grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden is to involve the entire community in a healthy eating initiative by growing fresh fruits and vegetables, educate children about good nutrition and different types of healthy food, and provide a place for all ages to come together to work and learn about sustainability and healthy eating.
I knew I had to take part in growing this mission (no pun intended!) when I saw the larger impact on the community.
Please join me on July 19th from 6-8 pm for a one-hour yoga class, live music by Omar Ramirez, and a selection of delicious wines and hors d’oeuvres.
Donation: $35 to benefit grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden and help to bring more programming to New Rochelle and the greater Westchester community. Space is limited! RSVP here.
Let’s enjoy a summer night together while supporting the community too!
Summer is so close I can taste it! One of my favorite things about summer is practicing yoga outdoors. There’s something about practicing under the sun that allows me to connect with nature and get into my body in a different way. Outdoor yoga is abundant this season and I’ve included a few options in this post.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to practice on the rooftop of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with the amazing Lauren Taus. The practice, the view and the community were unbelievable. As a celebration of Global Wellness Day, Mind Body Access and Athleta NYC hosted this beautiful event with a day of yoga, pilates, reiki and beauty. It was such a special treat to practice with this community in this extra special space.
If you’re looking to practice outdoor yoga, here are a few opportunities for you:
Select Saturdays in June, July and August at 10 am with ME at the grow! Lincoln Park Community Garden in New Rochelle. Classes are $5 and all proceeds directly support the Lincoln Park Conservancy. Find peace among this beautiful sustainable garden with a gentle yoga class and meditation suitable for all levels. You may even get to bring some fruits and veggies home with you! Register Here. Bring your mat and a water bottle. The first class in on June 23.
Summer Solstice in Times Square
Thursday, June 21. Check out this link for registration and schedule. You’ll be surprised how you can find calm in the busiest part of NYC!
Wednesday, June 20th at 5:30 PM. Court Street, between Main Street and Martine Avenue White Plains, NY. In light of recent events, this cause seems so timely and necessary. I know we all have someone in our lives battling mental illness and showing up to our mats on this day in support of mental health can be our first step. If we know that wellness welcomes everyone and everything maybe we can invite more of the messy stuff into our lives and create that space for our loved ones too. Sign up here.
If you’re looking to go even deeper with your practice off the mat, there’s an amazing Heal Yourself workshop happening this Saturday, June 16 at the beautiful La Palestra in The Plaza Hotel in NYC. My teacher and friend, Bee Bosnak, is hosting her signature workshop for the last time this summer. Bee creates the space for us to show up as we are and dig into vulnerability. This practice allows us to ignite what we’re passionate about and speak our truth. This workshop will be a taste of what I experienced during my yoga retreat in the south of Spain last summer. Offering a vinyasa flow practice, journal time, meditation and sealed with a deep rest, this is sure to be a magical day.
Get tickets here.
I’m having a wine and yoga fundraiser for the garden in July. Although I can’t reveal the details yet, it’s going to be a pretty spectacular event and I can’t wait to share it with you once it’s official!
Traveling throughout Europe has been a mostly easy and stress-free experience for me. I’ve learned that you can cross countries by train relatively inexpensively within a few short hours. While planning a trip to Paris, I knew I wanted to make one more stop in Europe before heading back to the states. For about 100 US dollars you can travel from Paris to Amsterdam on a clean, comfortable and fast-paced train in only 3.5 hours. Nap, snack, read and before you know it, you’re there! I found the best rates on goEuro.com.
Here are my tips for visiting Amsterdam in 48 hours!
Getting there and around the city
If you’re flying into Schiphol airport, it’s very convenient to access other cities from here. There are trains and other means of transportation in the same terminal and access to lockers if you’re only in town for a short layover. This is great if you don’t want to worry about lugging your bags around the city.
From Amsterdam Centraal, you can walk to the City Center or get in a taxi (if you have heavy luggage). You can also travel to many other European cities from here.
The bus system is a good way to check out different neighborhoods. Bus fare is €2.90 for use within one hour and you can purchase it on the bus using a credit or debit card only. They don’t accept cash on the buses.
More than anything, Amsterdam is a GREAT walking and biking city. Now I know why the air feels so clean and fresh, everyone is riding a bike!! You can easily traverse different neighborhoods by foot.
The Jordaan neighborhood was a great choice for a home base in Amsterdam. You can feel like a local while still experiencing a few tourist attractions here. It’s perfectly situated right along the canals for lovely walks down the picturesque streets. I could live here.
The Linden Hotel was a great find by my forever travel companion, Debbie. It’s within walking distance of everything you can see and do in two days. There’s a bus stop conveniently located one block away from the hotel as well.
Upon arriving a few hours before check-in, the hotel concierge offered us a coffee, a place to hold our bags and a map of the city with all the must-see attractions. He gave us a great breakfast recommendation and made us feel right at home. The decor of this place exceeded our expectations with the perfect blend of green and pink details, free postcards for the taking and so many little extra special touches. The Linden Hotel was the perfect stay for two chic women traveling together.
The rooms are small, but they make up for that by providing stroopwafels on your nightstand! There’s an espresso machine offering the most delicious make-yourself cappuccinos for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up on your way out to see the city!
You can get very reasonable rates for this neighborhood at 100-200 US dollars per night. I would definitely stay here again.
If you’re like Debbie and I, your vacation is a mix of experiencing the local culture, shopping, eating and some sightseeing. In 48 hours you can fit in all of this!
Anne Frank House
It’s VERY important that you plan this ahead of time. You cannot buy tickets at the museum. You MUST buy them online in advance. Tickets sell out quickly, so I suggest picking your dates and purchasing at least one month in advance. They are 10 euros, but if you wait too long to book, go to stubhub.com and purchase them for a hefty markup at 50 euros per ticket. This was still worth it to me to experience the real space that Anne Frank and her family were hiding in.
The museum is so well done with real video footage and artifacts of the Frank family. You’ll get a guided tour through the museum with the headphones provided to you. Be ready for some steep stairs as you make your way up to the area where they lived. Photos are strictly prohibited out of respect for the family and other visitors who may have been affected. It’s quite an emotional experience and photos would just tarnish that.
The House has been restored since Anne Frank lived there. Go around to the side of the building to see the original architecture of the house. You can take photos here.
Spring is a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam because all the tulips SHOULD be in bloom, but due to an unseasonably cold winter, the tulips at Keukenhof were scarce. So at a 45-minute drive from the city center, we didn’t want to go there to see only few tulips. So although we visited at prime tulip time, it all depends on Mother Nature! However, a good alternative was the Tulip Museum right in town. They had a plethora of flowers that you could shop and take home to plant. Two-months later and a gorgeous Amaryllis plant I brought home as a gift has bloomed beautifully!
(Pronounced da peep) is another great neighborhood for shopping and walking. Check out the open air market for souvenirs and all sorts of fresh food. There are a few cafes and eateries as well as thrift shops and yoga studios here.
The 9 Streets for shopping
There are so many great small boutiques with unique gifts for yourself or to bring home to your friends.
I scored a beautiful dress at Samsoe & Samsoe (a Danish company with such great quality clothes and accessories), that I plan to wear to the number of occasions I have coming up this summer!
If home decor is your thing, definitely visit Entrepôt Holland. They carry a beautiful selection of jewelry, art, and decor designed by all local artists and artisans. This was like visiting a museum. You can find so many beautiful pieces at very reasonable prices. It’s one of those stores where you walk in and think I can’t afford anything in here! But to my surprise I found a number of unique gifts to bring home including a pair of earrings for my sister and Debbie found a gorgeous handmade flower vase that we both swooned over. The best part was the wonderful store owner offered us low-cost shipping as we didn’t want to pack such fragile gifts. They don’t currently have online ordering, but if you see something you like on their instagram page, send them a message and they will gladly ship it to you.
You’ll get a diverse array of food options in Amsterdam. Authentic Dutch cuisine can be found, but you have to look for it. Don’t leave Amsterdam without trying the local beers, stroopwafels, fries, apple pie, and fresh mint tea.
Piqniq is a wonderful local spot with only a few breakfast options, but you can’t go wrong with anything there. Get the chai latte for sure. We enjoyed a traditional breakfast with a cute cat napping next to us.
VleminckX fries in the Centrum neighborhood- wait on the curbside line to get your afternoon snack.
Cafe Wester to enjoy a beer outdoors and people watch along the canals.
Food market De Pijp- hot off the press stroopwafels, fresh squeezed juices and other Dutch delicacies like meats and cheeses.
Apple Pie at Winkel 43– Winkel’s apple pie was the single best food item I had in all of Amsterdam. When locals recommended it, we knew we couldn’t leave without trying it. Sit at the bar for faster service because it fills up and you may be waiting in line for a while. Trust me, this pie is worth the wait. Debbie and I are the sharing type, but my only regret is that we didn’t get one for each of us! I will go back to Amsterdam just for this pie and if you know me, you know I mean it.
De Reiger was the real deal Dutch cuisine that we were looking for. The food and beer were on point. Just be prepared for a menu that’s only written in Dutch! The waitstaff will try their very best to translate it for you. But if you want to know before you go, we ordered the ravioli appetizer and the fish special. If you’re into IPA’s try the brouwerij’t ij. This was a solid meal in Amsterdam.
Cafe Duende is the oldest tapas bar in Amsterdam. You can’t go wrong with the tapas and red Sangria. It’s another great local spot if you’re staying in the Jordaan neighborhood.
End your stay with a nighttime stroll through the city. The canals are lit up and it’s just one more way to appreciate all the beauty that Amsterdam has to offer.
Have questions? Recommendations? Leave me a comment below or on my instagram feed!