Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl feat. Zero Waste Almond Milk Maker, Almond Cow

GUYS! Need to tell you about my new almond milk maker from Almond Cow. I had been wanting to start making my own plant-based milks, so when Almond Cow approached me I was so excited! Basically, it’s a super easy nut milk maker that takes less than a minute to make once you’ve prepped and soaked the nuts.

There is a fast-growing trend for plant-based food products in general, especially dairy replacements, following research about the effects of the dairy industry on the environment, including environmental pollution, harm to animals, and negative effects to human health. A great resource for  learning about the negative health effects of dairy consumption is nutritionfacts.org. Here is the link to dairy specific topics.

Consuming lots of dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream is very engrained in our society, and an important part of our traditions and culture—but people often don’t take a step back to ask why we do this and how the consumption of dairy products affects others and our planet. This is one of the many reasons I’m a vegan.  

I’ve been buying plant-based milks at the store for years now and they’re great – love them! However, most of the packaging is not recyclable and has bits and pieces of plastic and there is often many other additives in the milks. These additives aren’t bad necessarily, but it’s nice to know exactly what’s going into your food and there is a sense of pride in making your stuff from scratch.

I started off with making some classic almond milk, chocolate almond milk, and then dove into a tasty smoothie bowl. Without further adieu, here are the recipes:

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ALMOND MILK:

makes 2-3 pitchers

-1 cup soaked almonds (4+ hours)

-6 cups of water

-Pinch of salt

-1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

-4 tbsp agave nectar 

- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (for the chocolate almond milk!)

SMOOTHIE BOWL:

makes one serving

-1/2 cup frozen berries

-1 frozen banana

-1 cup almond milk from above recipe 

-1 tsp of chia seeds

-1 tsp of flaxmeal

-1 tsp of hemp seeds

-4 tbsp granola 

-1 tbsp gogi beries

-2-5 strawberries sliced

-Half banana sliced

-1/4 of mango sliced

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ALMOND MILK: 

1. Take 1/3 of soaked almonds and place in cup of Almond Cow

2. Add water into base of Almond Cow

3. Close container and press Almond Cow button on top

4. After Almond Cow turns off, pour out milk into a pitcher container

5. Stir in rest of ingredients

6. Repeat process 2 more times. The Almond Cow portion size makes about 2-3 pitchers worth.

7. For chocolate almond milk, stir in the cocoa powder until blended completely

*Rather than tossing almond pulp, you can save/freeze pressed almond pulp to make almond cheese or compost scraps!

SMOOTHIE BOWL:

-Blend frozen berries, frozen banana, and almond milk

-Pour in a bowl and add remaining toppings; granola, gogi berries, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxmeal, sliced strawberries, sliced mango, and sliced banana.

-Enjoy!

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Flagstaff / Grand Canyon / Sedona feat. Eco Brand Groceries Apparel and Lillian & Co

As spring winds down and turns into summer, my schedule has gotten so busy that I’m actually writing this a couple months late. I really need to be more prompt in writing after a trip! I went on a trip to northern Arizona at the end of March and into early April with my parents and boyfriend, Zach, during his grad school spring break.  Here is the short and sweet version, and some info Groceries Apparel and Lillian & Co.—two companies I worked with on this trip.

We drove from Scottsdale to Flagstaff and spent the afternoon there. We enjoyed a Thai vegan lunch at Red Curry, and went on a short hike nearby after lunch. We then continued our drive north to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Once we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we checked into El Tovar for two nights--a beautiful historic hotel right at the rim--and did a little sunset walk—it was simply spectacular.  The location I would rate 10/10, hotel 7/10—very nice, but dated, older, smaller rooms—so much history!  The hotel and surrounding Grand Canyon area had instituted strict conservation measures due to a water shortage.  All food service in the dining area and throughout the hotel used disposables since washing dishes for a hotel would use excessive amounts of water.  While my inner “eco-warrior” was uncomfortable with using all the plastic and disposables, sometimes there are other more immediate priorities to address. The Grand Canyon surrounding area was experiencing a water and environmental crisis. AHH!! It was actually kind of funny sitting down to a fancy restaurant and being served on paper and plastic plates and dishes.

The Grand Canyon was seriously so stunning! I have been to the Grand Canyon a few times, but each time it takes my breath away with how beautiful and vast the canyon really is. It is just impossible to capture its true expanse and majesty in a photo.  We did all the touristy stuff there is to do on the south rim for two days and ate at the 3-4 local restaurants there.

We then made our way down to Sedona where we stayed at the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa for a few nights. We hiked, we ate, we explored, we enjoyed the spa, we watched the sunset, and we enjoyed each other’s company! We also went to one of my favorite Arizona restaurants, Picazzo’s. Although it’s not a vegan or gluten-free place, the menu has sooo many vegan and gluten-free options. I’m not gluten-free, BRING ON THE BREAD – but as a vegan, I do feel the celiac’s struggle with eating out sometimes.

I worked with sustainable fashion brand, Groceries Apparel, on this trip which was so much fun--I love spreading their message! Their factory is based in Los Angeles (I toured it last September!), they sustainably source materials, dye “in house”, use 100% organic and recycled fabrics that don’t kill the planet, and are ethical all the way around in their business practices. I’m wearing cream organic cotton Lindsey Top, black eucalyptus fiber Cypress Tunic, black eucalyptus fiber Mariah Top, and the navy eucalyptus fiber tencel Magnolia Cardigan. Their products are so soft, biodegrade, are free from all the toxic chemicals and are classic pieces that won’t go out of style.

I also had the pleasure of working with Lillian & Co, which is a USA-based jewelry line, which empowers women through thoughtful and inspirational messages. I’m wearing “Wandering Free” in rose gold and “Adventure Is Out There” in gold. I love the adventure and explorer vibes, so these messages are personally inspiring to me, but there are so many other inspirational and faith-based messages for all types of women and their interests and values.

Overall, my road trip with my favorite people was so much fun. Can’t wait to do it again sometime soon!

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What constitutes eco and ethical fashion?

When people ask me about my interests, and I tell them "eco and ethical fashion", many have never heard of these terms--and so there is often some confusion about what I am even talking about.  So I'm here to clear things up and provide you with some information and perspective on something very near and dear to my heart. 

"Eco" (ecological or sustainable) fashion is clothing that is kind/good to the EARTH, and "ethical" fashion is kind/good to PEOPLE (and animals).  Eco fashion is not always ethical, just like ethical fashion is not always good for the environment--but when your fashion items are both eco and ethical, its a win-win for both the environment AND people! 

 Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

EXAMPLES OF "ECO FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Buying secondhand from a thrift or consignment store (this is the most sustainable option): 1. These items are discarded or donated as the owner no longer wants them. If these are not given to a secondhand store or new owner they will be thrown away, likely into landfill waste. 2. You can use less gas by shopping at small, "local" thrift and consignment stores that are often within your own community.  3. You are literally REDUCING your total purchases at a normal retailer, the cost of the item (your wallet thanks you!), and your environmental footprint, REUSING someone’s discarded clothing, and RECYCLING the items back into your closet so the pieces can have a new life. 

-Buying secondhand from an online store such as Tradesy, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, thredUP, etc. Buying online as opposed to in person is slightly less sustainable as you have to factor in environmental pollution from packaging materials and shipping/transportation.

-Buying something secondhand that is still new from online or in-store. Not all secondhand items have to be "used". Although buying new secondhand items is slightly less sustainable than buying used, it still offsets the manufacturing and production impacts in comparison to buying new straight from the company or retailer. A great item to buy secondhand that is new is swimwear, as it seems unhygienic to most people to purchase swimwear worn by other individuals. 

-Using more sustainable fabrics such linen, hemp, modal, tencel, etc. Bonus if you use organic! 

-Using recycled fibers, fabrics, and materials. An example would be using old plastic bottles to spin into fibers and then into fabric to make a new shirt. 

-Upcycling fabrics and clothing items. This is not to be confused with recycling as upcycling does not go through a shred>spin>new fabric cycle that recycling does. Upcycling keeps the general fabric components. An example would be cutting up an old t-shirt and making a reusable grocery bag out of it. 

-Purchasing products from companies who implement sustainable practices and elements in their production, factories, packaging, etc. 

-Purchasing products that use natural dyes like vegetables or seaweed instead of harsh chemical dyes that impact your health and the environment.

 

EXAMPLES OF "ETHICAL FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Having a "Sweatshop" free environment: There should be no harsh working conditions for the employees, all the design and production and shipping facilities and factories must comply with state/country regulations and standards.

-Fair Trade: Workers are compensated fairly for their work in accordance with regulations and wage guidelines.  

-Any initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc. that a brand may have that is dedicated to social/environmental good.  An example could be an artisan jewelry company that donates a percentage of profits to the World Wildlife Foundation or charity wellness programs for the artisans who make the jewelry. 

 Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

OVERLAP - CAN BE BOTH ECO & ETHICAL

Made in America: Most clothing items made in the United States are not necessarily eco-friendly or sustainable. However, if the clothing is made in the United States, wages and working conditions in American factories are usually better than in other countries, due to stricter regulations and workplace standards. However, there have been reports that there are still sweatshops in the US where workers are not earning minimum wage, or are required to work long hours or work in other potentially hazardous conditions, so try to do some research. By shopping local(ish), you also cut down on transportation pollution. Something shipped within the same state or country has much less of a transportation environmental impact than something shipped from overseas. Some companies take greater measures to implement sustainable practices and materials than others. Depending on the company or brand though, you could be shopping both eco and ethical made in the USA items! Bonus: by purchasing items within country or state lines, you're also supporting the economy and hardworking Americans! 

Made in Europe, Australia, or Canada generally have similar working conditions to the US. 

Vegan Fashion:

Vegan fashion includes clothing items that are free of any animal products! This means no leather, suede, wool, silk, cashmere, fur, etc. The debate of vegan fashion needs to be addressed--you can make the case that it is eco or unsustainable and you can also make the case that it's ethical and non-ethical.  Every situation requires a bit of thoughtful analysis--Here are a couple of examples:  

Example 1: Company X sells Vegan shoes for ($10 - $30)

-Eco: Good because you're using much less resources to produce the fabrics and materials to make the shoes. Bad because this particular company is known for its pollution, harsh chemicals, etc. to produce shoes--thus potentially harming both the environment and workers' health. 

-Ethical: Good because you're not harming animals, but not so good because this company may cut corners in taking good care of their employees, and not pay them a fair wage for work, and there have less than good working conditions in their factories. 

Lower price point items are typically made cheap, do not last as long, but are much less likely to have animal products, whereas most more expensive items (unfortunately) are made with animal products and are durable. This is not the case with all brands and items though.

Example 2: Company Y sells Vegan shoes ($500+)

Eco: This company as a brand is dedicated to sustainability efforts in every area of its development and production.

Ethical: This brand is ethical all the way around - to humans, animals, and the environment. 

Promoting and practicing sustainable initiatives. Environmental sustainability is both a concern for both ethical fashion and eco fashion. While it is both eco and ethical--there is sometimes a conflict in that you can't always afford to buy the most expensive items you'd like--a good time for shopping for resale.

 

Reflect

I hope this information helps you think about the purchases that you make and the types of companies you support. This has been quite the learning process and journey for me over the last few years and I’m always learning more about this topic and am happy to share with you all. As sustainable/ethical fashion awareness grows, so does the industry. Consumer demand drives companies to make changes, so the more we learn and talk about these issues, the more companies will shift their mindset. Let’s #MakeShiftHappen! 

Zero Waste Toothpaste feat. Gondola Bamboo Toothbrushes

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I’d like to encourage conversation about “living more sustainably”.  Small changes can make a difference! I try my best to introduce and continue sustainable practices whenever possible (and practical).  Many of us create a lot of unnecessary waste in our beauty and hygiene routines. *Queue the sighs and eye rolls*

BUT HEAR ME OUT! I’m not saying you have to be super rigid or extreme about your getting ready routine, but why not try to implement a more sustainable option every few days? Or even better, make it your daily routine if it works well for you!  

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I started using a compostable toothbrush a little less than a year ago and have since gone through a few of them (your toothbrush should be replaced every couple of months!).  They are gentle on my sensitive teeth, but also clean the teeth and gums very well. The best part? I can reduce my disposable plastic consumption! Gondola brushes are one of the best deals out there for bamboo toothbrushes, and you can find them on Amazon.

I started using bamboo toothbrushes after I saw reports of plastic toothbrushes (and other plastic) that ends up polluting the environment--floating in oceans, littering beaches, and ending up in the bellies of marine creatures. Plastic doesn’t fully decompose, it just degrades, eventually getting cut up into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics-- Yikes!

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I also use homemade “zero-waste” toothpaste and supplement this with natural toothpaste products which can be purchased at most health food stores. Since you hopefully are taking care of yourself to brush your teeth two to three times a day anyway, it’s nice to switch up your toothpaste products a bit for some variety, and have your store-bought brands last a little longer.  Plastic toothpaste tubes are one more piece of plastic that ends up in the trash once all the toothpaste has been squeezed out. The very few that you do find with metal-based packaging are extremely difficult to recycle.

Fair warning… zero waste toothpaste will not have the same creaminess and smoothness as store-bought brands, but they it is still very effective in cleaning those pearly whites! The baking soda/coconut oil based ones, like mine, may have a little salty taste as well.  Spirulina powder assists in the re-mineralization of teeth but also gives it that nice minty green color. This recipe is refreshing, but go in with an open mind and remember this is not your typical toothpaste! So without further adieu, here’s the recipe!

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Zero Waste Toothpaste

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- 3 Tbsp coconut oil

- 1 ½ Tbsp baking soda

- 30-35 drops peppermint essential oil or extract

- ¼ Tbsp Spirulina Powder

(Bonus if these are organic!)

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- Combine ingredients in small container. I used a tiny glass mason jar.

- If coconut oil is crumbly or not completely smooth, melt over heat or in microwave.

- Cool toothpaste in fridge until it solidifies to room temperature coconut oil structure

- Apply a small amount to  your bamboo toothbrush, and brush brush brush all tooth surfaces, and concentrate on the gumline--for two minutes--then rinse – you know the drill!

TIP: You can use a small metal spoon or wooden scooper to apply toothpaste. Don’t dip your brush in the paste directly… that’s how you can spread germs! You can also transfer your mixture to a reusable squeeze tube if that makes it easier. Hope you enjoy!

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My Low-Waste (Vegan) Lifestyle

I do my very best to reduce trash and disposables in my life, but I am not full “zero-waste”. I eat no animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and honey) and avoid wearing animal products like leather and suede. I’d like my lifestyle choices to be kind to the environment in as many ways as I can. 

I cleared my closet of animal products when I moved to California almost 2 years ago. I may still have a few items with leather embellishment and maybe a wool hat or two but it's hard to tell exactly what it's made of if it's missing a materials tag. Not going to lie — me being a fashionista my whole life, this cleanse was tough, but I feel so much better now! 

I think that this is a big step toward living in a more sustainable manner.  I've only personally met a handful of people that live a full vegan lifestyle and only one that was “zero-waste” — sure I see the ones on social media, but in general, these lifestyles are very rare. When you limit all of your shopping options to this level, it can be overly restrictive. Anything extra that you can do to reduce the amount of animal products and garbage/waste that you consume or produce is a good option! I like to think of searching for vegan low or zero-waste items as an opportunity and challenge to find more sustainable items/products/food. It makes me very happy when I choose kindness for both people and the planet.  :) 

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So, while I am moving towards more “zero-waste” options, I am really more “low-waste”… I could never do full “zero-waste” for a few key reasons: 

1. Convenience, time, and my taste buds are a big factor. I like my tofu, tempeh, soy/pea protein vegan meats, seitan, almond based yogurt, vegan coconut milk ice cream mochi (when I can find it), and vegan cheese. I just don’t have the time or resources to make all of these products myself. I can make a bomb cashew cheese and cashew cheese sauce, fresh pesto, lentil bolognaise sauce, and attempt some homemade seitan or nut milks – but the rest of the items seem pretty out of my league. If you know where to get some of these products zero-waste around Long Beach (or LA/OC within a reasonable distance) let me know!

2. I like to wear makeup. Nothing too crazy, but just the basics! I haven’t found a vegan, cruelty-free, makeup brand that has the products I normally use with a recycling program or with compostable/fully recyclable packaging. If you know of any, hit me up! I also go through makeup extremely slowly, which is a good thing — it’s not like I am using a lot of product or packaging. I’ve had my daily eyeshadow and bronzer for at least four or five years, so some perspective is in order!

3. You must consider your own living environment, and others. Composting in an apartment can be obviously difficult, and impractical, depending on your living situation. We currently have limited freezer space for me to freeze scraps and take to a composting site later on. I would love to start composting someday — I saw a super cool composter that turns food scraps into soil within 24 hours on Kickstarter! Expense, appropriate space, and facilities is a common barrier, so you may certainly have to scale back what you can do until you can be in the proper space, place and time. Having a yard, garden, or a really convenient setup makes a huge difference in how all this can work. Typically local urban gardens will take your compost or in some big cities have services or drop off sites. You also don’t want your struggle for an environmentally low-impact lifestyle to have a high negative impact on your relationships with your roommate, spouse, or significant other. While being kind to the environment is important, people come first — for some things, it’s always best to just do your best, and not obsess! 

4. A lot of mailed packages arrive encased in Styrofoam or other non-recyclable materials. I did learn recently that the City of Los Angeles will recycle styrofoam, but Long Beach will not even though it's technically LA County (sigh). And yes, the items delivered I cannot get second-hand or at a thrift shop. Whenever I know I can buy something elsewhere without the waste, I do so! I’ve heard of some zero-waste people taking these materials back to the post office, but I need to look more into this. 

5. Traveling and eating out can be a barrier as well. I always bring my metal cutlery set but often when doing either of these things, restaurants prepare meals with unnecessary disposables despite ordering from more health conscious/vegan-friendly places.

6. Medical and necessary health products are a must. If you have regular medicines, get sick, or have another issue that requires medical attention, you need to use the proper products to aid your health — many of which have extra waste and packaging for sterilization and sanitation purposes.

Despite my handful of barriers, I’m really trying my best to reduce plastic use and disposables when I can. I’ve been researching zero-waste places to buy products around me and have found some great spots. One spot in particular is called Co-Opportunity in Culver City. It is amazing! They have a location in Santa Monica too but it doesn’t have a deli. They have so many items in bulk. You can get apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, liquid soaps, detergents, lotion, buy zero-waste by bringing your own containers or buy the glass mason jars they have there.

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I had been using zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars, and although I loved the shampoo, the conditioner didn’t actually make my hair silky or help me get out knots so I was super excited to find some liquid shampoo and conditioner that I could refill! It’s vegan, eco-friendly, smells like lavender, and works wonders. What a find!

I’ve been in the process of replacing my pantry items into jars. I got a label maker — yeah I know, also not technically zero-waste, but it reduces a lot of packaging in the long run and I need to know what’s in my jars! It’s been great to see my pantry evolve.

Baby steps people, baby steps! Kindness to people and the planet!  You can live a lower-waste life and make a positive impact on people and the planet through your example.

This is all pretty new and exciting for me and I’m happy to share the resources and practices I’ve learned so far with you. Here’s to learning more about a low-waste lifestyle, educating those who aren’t familiar, and to reducing your carbon footprint and environmental impact through daily actions and lifestyle choices!

Remember, you certainly don’t have to be perfect at all of this to make a big difference. Any little bit you can do helps a lot!

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Why no straw? Finding better ways to suck it up

There seems to be a war on plastic nowadays, yet so many people still don't see the harm in using plastic straws. For most of us, straws are an unnecessary convenience. Don't get me wrong, I love using straws, but I dislike the environmental impact that disposables are having on our environment.

My teeth are very sensitive to cold, so I like to use straws for cold drinks. It’s also nice when you’re drinking a smoothie (me everyday) and you don’t have to lick your upper lip after every sip and can keep your lipstick (if you’re wearing any) looking nice.

According to ocean conservation non-profit, 5gyres, “we use more than 500 million plastic straws each day.Get Green Now estimates that, “each year 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting plastic.” These are alarming statistics that should cause us to stop and consider our own overuse of plastic.

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Reasons to Reduce plastic straw use:

1. They are not easily recycled. This is because they are made from polypropylene (plastic number 5) which is not accepted by most recycling plants. Small single pieces of plastic are difficult to sort and recycle appropriately. Also, for sanitation reasons, straws provided in restaurants are often individually wrapped in additional paper or plastic.

2. They never truly biodegrade, they just degrade through cycles. Biodegrading is a natural process in which microorganisms decompose the item and the item is naturally recycled into new organic molecules and life. When something degrades, it just breaks down into smaller pieces, but it’s still just plastic. This eventually forms microplastics, which contaminate our waterways and oceans along with other pollution and trash.

3. They pollute our ocean, environment, and harm wildlife. Microplastics can get into our seafood, which you can then ingest. Yikes! Plastic pollution impacts much more than just the handful of species that humans choose to eat--turtles, dolphins, whales, birds, seals, sharks, fish, etc. and any other creatures in or near the water are affected. 

Although the convenience of plastic straws is great, it’s just not sustainable, and there are some better options out there.

I recently had the pleasure of working with reusable straw company, Eco at Heart. They specialize in stainless steel straws with normal and smoothie size variations as well as short, tall, and bent straws.

They are one of the many companies working hard to make a difference. Other companies make rubbery silicone straws and compostable paper straws, however the life cycle for these is not as strong. Silicone ones are great because they are washable, reusable, and won’t injure your mouth or teeth—however, they also do not decompose, biodegrade, and can’t be properly recycled. Compostable paper ones are nice for a one time use, but that’s exactly what they are – a ONE time use. You need to keep buying them and they would need to be composted each time to actually have a closed loop life cycle.

 

tips for reducing plastic straw use:

1. Invest $10-20 in some reusable straws (I recommend metal for long time wear and closed loop life cycle).

2. Next time you’re out eating at a restaurant, just ask for no straw – it’s that easy! 

3. If you work at a restaurant, only give straws if the customer asks for one. 

4. Cut back on super cold or icy drinks that promote straw use in general.

5. Bring your own straw. I have a little metal cutlery pouch for those times on the go that contains a small spoon, big spoon, fork, straw, and it used to have a knife until I forgot to remove it before I tried to go through airport security : (. You can always bring your own straw to use when eating out. Trust me, it’s not as weird as you think – people actually have commended me for bringing it!

6. If you opt for reusable straws, be sure to clean them thoroughly with the proper tools.

7. Young children should not be using metal straws as they can be dangerous. This is where the silicone ones are helpful! Chew on those bad boys all you want and no harm no foul. 

8. Be kind! Remember to not freak out if you see others using plastic straws. Some people (especially older and younger) need a straw because of functional or structural limitations in drinking or swallowing. You can always encourage reusables or no-straw in a positive way. This also applies to when you're at a restaurant and you ask for no straw and the waiter brings it in your drink anyway. There isn't much you can do here because it's going in the trash whether you take it out of your drink or not. You can try and save it for later and recycle it, but as stated above - plastic straws are very difficult to recycle. Just be polite and say thank you.

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Pinecrest Cabin feat. Gentle Fawn

Went to Pinecrest, CA a few weeks back with some friends and it was such a great trip! Our crew consisted of Kalista (@listyyloo) and her boyfriend Colton (@coltrainkilla) who were kind enough to host us at her family cabin, Daniel (@deer_dann) and his boyfriend Ish (@ohheyits_ish), Kelsey (@princess_kelbelle), David (@d_ardill), Erikson (@eriksonerise), as well as my boyfriend Zach (@zstude). 

I partnered with Canada-based brand, Gentle Fawn (@gentlefawn), as well for this trip and was able to get some rad content of their pieces. The green floral kimono, tan pattern kimono, lace-up v-cut sweater, pink lace dress, and green floral dress are all Gentle Fawn. 

We had a weekend full of adventures including photoshoots indoors and out (one of my fave things obviously), going to Pinecrest Lake, trekking around in the snow, eating lots, watching 90s movies, hanging by the fireplace, David getting his drone stuck in a tree, etc. But perhaps the biggest adventure of the weekend was staying in a cabin with eight other people and having the water pipes frozen! This means no showers, no washing hands/dishes, no flushing the toilet (unless you replace the water in the back of the toilet with a bucket of water from a leaky pipe), etc. It was unfortunate, but also was so funny and memorable.. boy will we have stories to tell forever! 

Zach was even such a trooper and (reluctantly) did couples photos with me! He's not a fan of photos at all, which is actually ironic knowing me haha. Dan did a great job with them!

I'm really looking forward to spending more weekends like this with friends in the upcoming year. They're so special, so much fun, all the photographers and models get bomb content, and it's loads of adventure without loads of cash. As much as I would love to take extravagant trips all the time, there are more affordable options nearby of places I've never been to that I'd love to check out! Perhaps the next one will be Big Sur or the PNW? We'll see. You'll have to stay tuned! 

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Vegan Beauty: Phlur Sustainable Fragrances

I probably have enough perfume to last me ten years right now, but when the influencer marketing group that I'm a part of, Obviously, approached me about working with the sustainable vegan fragrance company, Phlur, this was not an opportunity I was going to pass up!

Surprisingly, many fragrance companies still use animal bi-products and/or test on animals. You would think with advancements in technology they wouldn't have to, but it's a sad and realistic truth. The odd products range from, "wax-like pathological growth found in the stomach and intestines of about one in a hundred sperm whales, and also in the pygmy sperm whale," to the male musk "stored in a hairy pouch just the size of a golf ball, in front of the penis" from a Siberian Musk Deer, to castoreum which, "comes from the castor sacs of the beaver, which occur in both males and females between the pelvis and the base of the tail." The list can go on forever, but if you'd like to learn more you can visit this link or do some of your own research online! Knowledge is power!

Information like this is not well-known and is hidden by the name brands, big corporations, and advertisers as they want to portray the ultimate luxurious fragrances - to you (the consumer) to buy buy buy. And guess what?! It works! Many people only buy fragrances because of the name brand and how the brand symbolizes wealth, power, beauty, etc. - it's all marketing! 

Phlur is a whole different type of fragrance company - no big corporations, no department stores, no harsh chemicals or additives, no celebrity-endorsed advertisements, no animal cruelty, and no weird and unnecessary animal products. This keeps the scent vegan, pure, and natural. You can feel confident putting Phlur on your skin knowing it was thoughtfully made with consideration and respect for your beautiful skin, your health, animals, and the environment!

What more can a girl ask for in a perfume? Oh ya! It needs to smell BOMB. Good thing the peeps over at Phlur know what they're doing. Every scent I tried in my sample set and full size bottle were amazing and could be worn so effortlessly. Loved being able to try these out. Big thanks to Phlur for my new favorite scents!

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TGS Unplugged - Palm Springs

This trip was one for the books! TGS Collective (@tgscollective) put together a rad weekend at an AirBnb in Palm Springs for us creatives to UNPLUG from social media. We all can get so caught up in social media, we can get lost in the present.

Unfortunately though, in this generation in order to have a successful and lucrative career in the creative world -  whether you're modeling, photographing, filming, styling, designing, etc. -  you have to have be hustling and working hard online. It can be overwhelming at times for sure. This weekend was a time to unwind, set goals, and get inspired!

This weekend brought together such an awesome crew; TGS' leading lady - CEO and founder,  Alex Morehouse (@chiefwolfblood), photographer and TGS Collective Manager, Daniel Woods (@deer_dann), and fellow photographers Erikson Erise (@eriksonerise), and David Ardill (@d_ardill). Models included Kalista De Hart (@listyyloo), Tiana Ingram (@rosetiana_), and Andrelina Perazzo (@andrelinaa_). Not everyone knew or had met one another before the trip, but by the end of it we were all super close!

Before the trip, I had gone to Goodwill to find some interesting pieces to shoot with. Sometimes the crazier the clothing, the cooler the shot. Or it could turnout weird.. but that's up to you - the photographer and creative visionary! Many of the pieces in the photos below ya girl thrifted up a storm to find, and I'm so glad that I did because they turned out bomb! I'm a strong believer in that if your outfit is no bueno, the photo will likely be no bueno as well.

This is part of the reason I love to style my own models - if they're on point, you're on point. I got the pearly beaded blazer, white lace cover-up dress, red oriental top (Tiana bought it from me after the session!), sheer fringe kimono, floral romper, navy blue floral dress, and black sheer embellished dress - all between $5-$9 apiece. Recycled fashion KILLIN' the game! WHAT WHAT?!

We spent the weekend creating, laughing, relaxing, editing, sharing Photoshop and Lightroom tips and tricks, styling looks, eating, bonding, and overall just loving our lives away with the freedom from social pressures and the outside world. We encouraged each other, helped one another, and we left feeling motivated and ready to conquer our business goals. We all had our own stories and our own obstacles, but together we all had one thing in common - we love creating and we're ready to work our butts off to get where we want to be. 

THANK YOU GUYS FOR INSPIRING ME! And for a killer weekend.. And for killer pics. Much love.

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Ethical Companies that are Making a Difference: Artisan & Fox

I feel as though it's important to highlight companies who are really making an effort for change. Whether it is environmental sustainability, humanitarian, health, or animal welfare issues - it's game on. Artisan & Fox is an ethical artisan based marketplace where you can find unique pieces made humanely all over the world. By purchasing from artisan-based companies rather than big corporations, you're cutting out the fast fashion crap that's no bueno. Fast fashion has serious impacts on our planet, on the manufacturers (dyers, sewers, cutters, laborers, etc.), and you - the people wearing the clothes! Don't believe it's that bad? Watch the documentaries True Cost or Riverblue or read more about the effects of fast fashion in the Beyond the Label "How to Shop for Shi(f)t" sustainable fashion guidebook my team and I published this fall. 

When I received my choker necklace from Artisan & Fox, everything it was packaged in could be considered zero waste and plastic-free. How do they do this you ask? They have foldable cardboard boxes that fit your item and use folds rather than plastic tape to adhere together, the shipping label was paper with a sticky back (no tape!), the inserts were paper/cardstock, and they used a canvas reusable sachet for the necklace. It made me so happy to open the package knowing that it was prepared so consciously with respect to the environment. I was given a card telling me who made my choker. It was made in Kenya by artisan Ojiko - so cool!

The transparency with companies like this amaze me and keeps me wanting more. I want to support and hear the stories of the men and women who craft pieces, who love what they do, and who are treated ethically and fairly. I wish to not hear about the atrocities that fill the lives of fast fashion workers, because I hope there comes a day where consumers will value quality pieces made humanely rather than a $5 tee made my an abused child worker in Asia and there won't be those stories to tell. But until then, all we can do as consumers is to speak with our wallet (and voice if you're like me!!) and educate ourselves on what goes into making a piece of jewelry, a garment, shoes, etc. and how they effect you, the workers, and the planet. Thank you Artisan & Fox for being a true example of an ethical humanitarian company - and for my necklace of course! :)

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Mammoth Lakes feat. Lovestitch Clothing

Ever since I saw the most mesmerizing photo a year ago with a girl in steamy hot natural pool surrounded by snow, I knew I needed to visit Mammoth Lakes! Took me a while to plan and get a crew together after I first learned about it, but needless to say it was one of the most fun and memorable trips of 2017! I collaborated with Lovestitch Clothing @lovestitchclothing on this trip as well, so many of the looks I'm wearing are from them - the blush tied top, paisley printed long sleeve maxi dress, and the black floral long sleeve dress. Loved these outfits for the vibe of the trip!

The lovely ladies that accompanied me on this trip were Hannah Sesser (@hannahrosesesser), Sarah Lydia (@thesarahlydia), Haley Hudson (@darlinghaley), Jazlyn Sward (@jazlynnicollete), and Claire Dean (@clairealydean). Chiara Spee (@chiaraspee) joined us for the first day but unfortunately was not feeling too well so she headed home early. After we carpooled up to Mammoth and met at ZPizza, we shot around the Mammoth Visitor center until dark and made our way to the Airbnb. We struggled for an hour or so getting into our Airbnb.. turns out when you view your trip itinerary from the email they send you and on your account online it doesn't include the dreadful scavenger hunt your host messaged you months back to get the keys. Haha what a joke it was. We thought we were going to have to turn around and drive six hours home because we couldn't get in and couldn't afford to drop another few hundred dollars on a hotel nearby. Thankfully by the grace of God we were able to get ahold of someone who gave us information about where to retrieve the keys. Definitely was freaking out for over an hour, but once we got inside all was good. We finished off the night at a bomb Thai restaurant. We had a very veg-friendly crew on the trip so ordering and eating out was a dream because we could all share!

Saturday started off with brunch and then off to Convict Lake. It was such a beautiful site - snowy peak mountains surrounding a cool blue lake. It was so windy though, almost blew us over a few times. Shot around and explored the area and then went to lunch. We decided to try and find these magical hot springs that I had heard so much about. Turns out the visitor center can't even tell you about them because they don't have proper facilities or bathrooms so we had to go off of some random blog post directions. We parked the second car (Sarah's) before we headed out on a bumpy dirt road. Sarah's front right tire got caught in a sunken hole filled with water and we couldn't get the car out! At this point, we we're freaking out, thought we had to call a tow truck, have my car tow her car out, etc. neither of which were good options. We ended up finding a random toilet seat in the lot and covered the hole with it so Sarah could maneuver her way out of the hole while we all pushed the car (in our decked out outfits mind you). It was quite the site to see haha but it worked! So we all hopped in my car and went down this sketchy dirt road for about 20 minutes before we realized the hot springs were nowhere close to there and we'd made a wrong turn. WWOWWW. All of that just to have to turn around because we messed up. We ended up making the most of it though and finally found where we were supposed to go about 2-4 miles away. Ah-ha! We finally made it to the magical hot springs! We walked down a wooden path for about ten minutes only to arrive to have each hot spring packed with people. At this point, it was almost sunset and we didn't have much time to shoot anyways. We made a decision to come back for sunrise the next day to shoot instead and for now just hang and shoot around the area. So back to the Airbnb we went for the night to share stories, snacks, drinks, and talked for hours.

Sunday we woke up around 4:45 to catch the sunrise at the hot springs. Since we had been there the day before but didn't shoot in them, we knew right where to go this time around. There were a couple people there at that time surprisingly but we worked around them and everyone was pretty friendly. I photographed the girls and then snuck some in of me at the end that Hannah and Jazlyn took. These shots though - so good! Life and trip complete!! We finished up and headed back to our Airbnb within an hour or two. We packed up our things and finished off our trip at brunch before carpooling back down to Los Angeles. Seriously had the best time with these girls on this trip. Mammoth Lakes you will be missed!! Until next winter!

 

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Joshua Tree // In A Desert Daze

Welcome to the desert!! Yay! Definitely one of my favorite places for a mini getaway in California.  I had the opportunity to shoot with some pretty awesome girls and rad brands on this trip. The models included Allison Kelly (@butwhatshouldiwear), Raeann Langas (@raeannlangas), Ally Rubbo (@allyrubbo), and myself (@allisonsherman4 / @allisoncarolcreatives). I also photographed when I wasn't modeling and was accompanied by other photographer Kate Mitchell (@sixthousand.minutes). Included brands we worked with were Shop Lux Clothing (@shopluxclothing), The Little Avocado Shop for jewelry (@thelittleavocadoshop), San Diego Hat Company for (most) of our hats (@sandiegohatcompany), and Elison Rd (@elison_rd) for clothing as well. One of my fave mostly vegan shoe brands, Coconuts by Matisse (a branch of @matissefootwear), we got to shoot for as well! We had the cutest airbnb to shoot around, explored the area, and shot until dark. Thank you all for such an awesome time, you rock!

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Pioneertown

After a couple nights in Joshua Tree for a retreat with friends, we met up with some other creatives and shot in Pioneertown. The photos really speak for themselves - wild wild west and vintage inspired, like we went back in time! Our team consisted of Jazlyn Sward (@jazlynnicolette), Leila Zandy (@leilazandy), and Haley Hudson (@darlinghaley) all as models, Alex Morehouse (@chiefwolfblood) as a model and stylist, and Tim Herman (@mr.therman) as a model and TGS support. The second photographer was Daniel Woods (@deer_dann) and Ish Barron (@ohheyits_ish) also assisted the team as TGS support. It also happened to be Ish's birthday! Yay! We shot until dark and once we were done we had dinner at the Pioneertown restaurant. We celebrated Ish and our wonderful day with new friends and old. Definitely some great memories from this trip and shoot!

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Mendocino - Eco Travel & Vegan Resort, The Stanford Inn by the Sea feat. Feroshchick

Over Labor Day Weekend, my dad planned an awesome family trip for us to Mendocino! There were many things to celebrate as it was my 24th birthday on the 4th, my brother, Nathan, and his wife, Deanna's, 3rd wedding anniversary on the 12th, and my mom's 60th birthday on the 13th. So it was pretty much a celebratory present for us all to have a nice trip together and see each other. My boyfriend, Zach, came as well. 

We all flew from different cities and met in San Francisco. Zach and I came from Long Beach, Nathan and Deanna from Tucson, and my parents from Phoenix. It took a while for all of us to land, get the two rental cars, and be on our way to Mendocino. 

We stopped for a lovely lunch at a cute vegan Mexican place called Gracias Madre in SF (not to be confused with the West Hollywood Gracias Madre - completely different restaurants!) that was fab. Unfortunately, San Francisco was in a heat wave with 100 degree weather and no place has AC so that was a brutal few hours in the city. Found a cute bookstore boutique with some vegan baked goods too so my dad and I got some pastries. 

We then continued on our way to Mendocino on super windy roads through the mountains, forest, and coastline. Such a beautiful drive! I'm sure a lot of you are thinking, "why would they go to Mendocino out of all places?" Well... it just so happens that Mendocino is home to North America's eco-vegan resort, The Stanford Inn by the Sea, which my mom and I have been dying to go to! 

To give a little background, I was vegetarian for seven years and went vegan over two years ago. My mom is a bit of a health nut and soon became vegan once I did after learning of all the health benefits, treatment of animals, and environmental impacts. Over the last six months, the two of us have had quite an effect on our other family members and friends. 

Nathan, Deanna, and my boyfriend, Zach, eat mostly vegan with the occasional cheat meal, and my father, Scott, eats mostly vegan as well with mainly pastries being his cheat. All pastries are "vegan" in Scotty's eyes haha. Deanna's family also has adopted a more plant-based diet as well as many of my parents' friends. 

Although it was late at night, we were welcomed at The Stanford Inn and then got settled into our rooms. The lobby was cozy with couches, a fireplace, plant-based recipe books, vegan lifestyle books, local vegan wines (I know I know, it's weird that all wines aren't vegan, it should just be grapes!), toys, nik naks, etc. I could tell this place was going to be a blast. These people get me!!

In the next couple of days, we did a lot of fun things together! We explored the resort and their facilities, the garden, went in the pool and jacuzzi, went mountain biking through the forest, explored the nearby city of Fort Bragg, went canoeing, ate sooo much delicious vegan food, and went to the little downtown area of Mendocino. We saw otters, crabs, and seals too while canoeing because it was an estuary -  it was like a river/ocean which was super cool and different! We also celebrated my birthday on the 4th! 

The drive back to San Francisco was much shorter than the drive there. Nathan, Deanna, Zach, and I left on Tuesday as we had school/work to get back to but my parents stayed a few extra days and continued their road trip up the coast to the Pacific Northwest. It was such a wonderful trip with my fam and Zach, my heart is so full from it! 

I also recently collaborated with vegan-friendly bohemian boutique, @feroshchick, so many of my outfits pictured are thanks to them! Shop my looks here: Sleeveless Midi Dress with Lace DetailMatilda Lace Tank, Sleeveless Ruffles and Lace Dress (sold out - sorry babes!),  Draped Ribbed Sweater Poncho,  & Boho Striped Ribbed Cardigan.

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Sequoia National Park

A few weeks ago, I went on a day trip to Sequoia National Park. The trip was organized by one of my very talented photographer friends, Daniel Woods. We carpooled to Bakersfield where Dan lives, which is the halfway point between Los Angeles and Sequoia. We had a big group but unfortunately most of the models bailed last minute so it was mostly photographers. This did not stop the fun though! 

We then caravanned through the canyons and forest to get to Sequoia where we continued on the windy roads. We were supposed to meet up with another car full of people there as well, but as luck would have it - there was no phone service! Our group of four cars got split up and since no one could call or text anyone we just did our own thing. The park was pretty packed since it was peak season and on a weekend so that didn’t help either. Thankfully, a couple hours later we ended up finding each other at the Giant Forest shuttle station! Tip for next time: BRING WALKIE TALKIES - or you’ll lose each other haha. 

Once the group had been reunited, we wandered through some meadows and a forest path that led us to the most beautiful lookout of the mountains during sunset. We took so many photos but we also took the time to appreciate our surroundings and how incredible it all was. 

After dark, some stayed to get starry Milky Way photos until dawn (they turned out so good!), some drove back to Los Angeles, some drove back to San Diego (I know, I know.. don't know how they didn't fall asleep!), etc. and I drove back to Bakersfield and stayed the night with a college friend of mine, also named Allison, who just moved there. :)

It's hard to put into words how creative trips like this make me feel, but I saw a quote today that really resonated with me. It said, "jobs fill our pockets, adventures fill our souls." - pretty much spot on. I've been so busy with my job lately that it's really been the weekends and adventures like this that have been keeping me sane. Anyway, can't wait for more amazing days like this one!

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Models: 

@jessicagjurashaj @jessicagunzs @_markohhpolo @sosodrunk 

If you want to see other photos from the trip, be sure to check out the hashtag #DWxSNF

Death Valley x Tony Bridal & The Secondhand Society

A few weeks ago, I went on a day trip with some photographer and model friends to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley. I don’t know why we decided to go here in summer because we almost died of heat exhaustion haha but the photos still turned out amazing and we have memories to last a lifetime.

I recently collaborated with two different companies and thought this trip would be perfect to shoot them at. I have been looking to shoot a bit more bridal stuff because – let’s be honest – brides have the money to spend on photos and ya girl needs more paid gigs! Plus, I’m all about a romantic fairytale type of shoot. Tony Gallegos (@tony.bridal) is a local Long Beach wedding dress designer from Mexico.  Him and his husband came along on our adventure and it was such a pleasure to have them! The two dresses were very elegant and detailed in their construction - seriously so stunning!

The other brand accompanied on our excursion was the Secondhand Society (@secondhand.society). They are a recycled fashion subscription box company that sends you personally styled pieces once a month ranging from purses, dresses, accessories, pants, etc. – whatever your preference is! You fill out a style quiz with your likes/dislikes and sizes prior to receiving a box. They even check out your Pinterest fashion boards to make sure they’re picking out styles you would like! I received a complementary box from them with a dusty blue BCBGMaxazria dress, black and grey printed Free People kimono, gold fan brooch, gold and black circle earrings, and a silver/turquoise bohemian style bracelet. The box value is insane – just the retail price of the dress is likely $150-$250 but you get 4-5 pieces for as low as $27 a box (depends on the plan that you choose)! There are so many subscription boxes out there, but very few are committed to sustainability issues. By using thrifted, vintage, and recycled fashion finds you are working towards decreasing textile waste and manufacturing emissions, off-setting your carbon footprint, giving unwanted clothes a new life, and the list goes on! One of the easiest ways to live more sustainably is to shop secondhand – but still keep in mind to buy quality over quantity!

Our trip consisted of 14 photographers and models collaborating and creating content collectively. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s such a beautiful experience and makes you feel so alive to be exploring, wandering, and working with new friends and old to create not just to create art together, but memories as well. The best photos are the ones that have a story behind them or the ones that make you feel something. That’s what we hope to gain on these trips. We made photo stops along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, shot at Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America), the rainbow rocks in Death Valley National Park, and ended the evening shooting at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes until dark. We took a moment on our way out of Death Valley to get out of our cars, star gaze, a few of us attempted to get some Milky Way shots on our tripods, lit sparklers, and danced in the lone road to music.  There were no other cars for miles, just us and the desert. You know those moments that you’ll remember forever - those moments that make you feel like you’re apart of something so much bigger? This was one of those moments.  So much love to all the people that came and to our trip coordinator Laurence (@photosby_laurence) for making it happen! Can’t wait for our next adventure together!

Embracing the Pure Life

Jenny, founder and designer of Pure Life Jewelry, sent me a few pieces from her newest collection and I’m obsessed! All of her items are handmade in Phoenix, AZ (Yay, my hometown!). With her small batch production, being crafted in the states, and sweatshop free environment she is doing wonders for ethical jewelry. By purchasing her products, you’re also supporting the economy and local business. We are all guilty of purchasing items from overseas or from companies who likely don’t have the most ethical practices, but by choosing quality over quantity, local over import, etc. we can make a difference. Plus, her pieces are so cute and definitely fit the gypsy boho vibes everyone is going for nowadays (lol me).

I headed out to one of my fave coastal photo-shoot spots, Terranea Cove, in Rancho Palos Verdes. It’s also one of the few places in that area with 24/7 free parking! I was shooting a girlfriend of mine (@serenalisaa) and her boyfriend (@drlord) for some content. I’m trying to expand to couples photography as well as portrait/lifestyle. Anywhoo, I was able to sneak in some shots at the end!

In my first look, I’m wearing the Dreamer Necklace and Pyramid Mixed Metal Ring accompanied by my newest recycled fashion find (rust sweater) from Buffalo Exchange.  You can really tell how carefully crafted her pieces are and I thought the golden and copper tones of the jewelry matched well with a warmer shade and outfit.

My second look included the Moonstone-Moxie: Radiate Love Ring which I paired with a high-collar tank and patterned velvet kimono.  These I had purchased way back in the day before I had even heard of sustainable fashion, but the top is Brandy Melville and my kimono is from the notorious mom store Chico’s. Can you guess who I was shopping with when I got this? Yup, mom haha. The silver and light purple stone on the ring complemented the costal ocean vibes and my cooler toned neutrals.

One of my favorite parts about working with small American businesses is that you get a personal interaction with someone and form professional relationships. It’s more than just seeking ethical and sustainable companies to work with. Jenny was such a pleasure to work with and is so passionate about what she does. It can be difficult to start a jewelry business (or any business for that matter), so show her some love and check out her work! 

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San Francisco Girls Trip

I recently went on a girls’ trip with Autumn (@grlwithbangs), Nicole (@nicoleliolie), and Kaitlyn (@kallme.kaitlyn) to San Francisco and it was such a blast! I’ve only been to SF once or twice before this when I was younger so everything was pretty new to me!

 

Day 1:

We drove from Long Beach to San Francisco – if you aren’t familiar with this drive you can do it a few ways. In order to get there by lunchtime, we took the inland route on the interstate 5. We made a couple pit stops, one of which was a photo-shoot on the side of the road rocking our GRLFRND Denim in the middle of nowhere haha but it’s chill. After lunch, we stopped by the Mosiac steps overlooking the city and explored around in my car. We then got settled in at Hotel Fusion where we were staying and started getting ready for dinner.  The hotel was in a touristy area but the staff weren’t all that friendly and our room was a little cramped. But hey, I guess that’s San Francisco – everything is squished! We decided to go to trendy Asian restaurant/bar Hakkasan (yes the same one in Las Vegas but this one people actually eat at and there isn’t a dance floor). The girls and I decided to have a little fun and once we had a drink or two our fake British accents came out for about two hours on and off but we were convinced we had the bartender, waiter, and restaurant staff fooled. FYI we didn’t haha. The waiter came and apologized at the end of our meal (he thought he was being rude in his response to my vegan questions haha) and ended up bringing us some complimentary sorbet because of it! It was so nice of him!

 

Day 2:

We ate breakfast at this cute vegan café called Nourish. Autumn had picked it out and I had no idea it was vegan so when we showed up I got super excited! I had a yummy green juice and a breakfast toast sampler. The rest of the day was jam-packed – I felt like we did so many activities. We went to Chinatown, saw the Painted Ladies (from Full House), and went to Haight & Ashburry- the mecca of hippie town and LSD. We stopped at two places for lunch – Veganburg for Autumn and I and a café across the street for Kaitlin and Nicole. Probs the best vegan burger I’ve ever had. They also had loaded fries that were bomb – 10/10 would recommend. We later visited the Palace of Fine Arts, which was pretty much just a beautiful park, small lake, with huge palace-looking structures. We had attempted to go see the Golden Gate bridge after but traffic was so bad and I made a wrong turn which cost us about 30 minutes to an hour so we decided to save the bridge for day 3.  Nicole has some cousins about an hour outside from SF, so they came to have dinner with us at Boudin at Fisherman’s Wharf. As we were finishing up dinner, two of my old Industrial Design classmates from college got seated at the table behind us with a friend of theirs. Such a small world! I had actually been messaging one of them earlier that day to meet up but as you can tell from our busy schedule that it was difficult.  We let them finish dinner, parted ways with Nicole’s cousins, and the four of us went back to our hotel. My college buddies came over after and had some drinks at the downstairs bar, Club Fusion, with Katilin and I.  Supposedly SF doesn’t have much of a club/bar scene, but low-key it was rager down there! Overall, it was such a fun and busy day exploring the city!

 

Day 3:

We checked out of our hotel and went to the Golden Gate Bridge. We didn’t actually cross it; we just went to a nearby coastline park to hangout for a little and get some photos. We were really looking forward to finding some swing that overlooks the bridge but we were already running late on getting home and it would have been a mile or so hike to get to so we decided to save it for the next trip. We also kind of messed up for breakfast today. We were all doing some research on our phones and I found this cute café to go to in the financial district. Not only was trying to find parking that wasn’t $25 the most stressful and time-consuming thing but once we did find parking and walked 15 mins to get to this café they were closed. I guess businesses aren’t open on July 3rd for the holiday the next day. So we ended up doing the most basic option there is and just grabbed some breakfast items at the nearby Starbucks.  We then started on our drive back home to Long Beach. Because of recent mudslides the route on the coast home is closed around Big Sur, so we drove as long as we could on the coast until we had to cut over inland. We had to stop a few times for photos (of course) haha but it was a nice (but long!!) drive home.

I think next time I’d like to make it a four-day trip, or maybe fly if we’re going to do it in three – we all felt a bit rushed to see everything. Overall though, this trip was so much fun and I can’t wait to have more girls’ trips like this in the future. 

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