THE FIRST FIVE YEARS

One of my favorite musicals of all time is called The Last Five Years by J. R. BrownI know it by heart and although it’s a sad story, it’s also enduring. Two people tell the story of their five year relationship, she from the end to the beginning and he from the beginning to the end. Sounds confusing, but it’s really lovely. Each tell the story from their point of view and only meet in the middle, where they sing one song together and then are back on the path to their ultimate demise. The point of mentioning this story, and the reason that I think I love it so much is that it accepts and confronts the truth, that marriage is hard, it’s complicated and it’s rarely what you see on social media. It’s getting to know someone more deeply than you ever thought possible. It’s teaching each other things, staying curious and being champions for one another. It’s being vulnerable long past the first few dates and in new ways. It’s good at times, it’s bad at times, but it’s also so rewarding.

Today I’m celebrating five years of marriage with my husband and it’s so amazing to look back on the last nine years of our life together. The places we’ve gone, the journey’s we’ve been on together. The moves we’ve made, the push and pull of two upstaging, ego filled Leo’s trying to share their feelings, work together and understand who we are together. It feels like a lifetime already, but there’s so much more to go. I can’t believe how much we’ve both grown, both together and individually.

I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned and then I asked my other half, W, to be a guest on this post and share his thoughts as well:

What I’ve learned (and am still working on):

Stop striving for perfection and be present with the person right in front of you. The day after our wedding was a hurricane, not ideal, but oh well, it was still an insanely perfect day.

Growing together and as individuals is equally important.

Meet halfway, and also decide what’s truly worth arguing about. Let it go. Don’t pick fights because you’re scared.

Feed the whale. Before we got married, Wyatt and I did a marriage success course (yep, it’s a real thing and I totally recommend it!) and the thing I remember most is that you have to reward good behavior, that’s especially true for men (their words, not mine :).

Stay curious.

Have integrity. If you say you’ll be there, be there. Make your relationship a priority every day.

Don’t fear change. Thinking that a relationship will ‘change us’ causes us to become guarded. Call it growth instead of change. Growth is inevitable (and amazing) when we choose to share our lives with someone else.

Listen. Seriously. Put your phone down and hear what the other person is saying, be curious, be understanding.

Sometimes going to bed mad isn’t such a bad thing, resolution is often easier after a good nights sleep.

Keep exploring. Each other and the World.

What W’s Learned:

Focus on your own individual happiness. This way you can bring joy and love to your partner when you get to spend time together. 

I consider my wife my best friend, I share everything with her good or bad. This friendship is imperative to our relationship.

Time apart is awesome, every time I’m away from my wife, I miss her – we are independent souls and individualists so this time apart is an important space to create and then get to refill!

Make decisions together and be OK with the answer when it’s NO. The more important decisions you work through as a couple, the stronger the bond. 

Touch each other – even just a pat on the butt or holding hands often – it’s something to remind us that we are sensual beings and to take it easy.

Learn the signs of a bad argument and draw lines around the communication. My wife and I occasionally get stuck and dig our heels into an argument. It’s better to take a walk, blow off steam etc. before saying something that leaves a mark. 

Sex – often, it matters. 

You can’t make the relationship be anything other than what it is. Life is too short to try to change people. I accept my wife and love all the nuanced behavioral traits as a part of what makes her whole.

Explore the world together. For my wife and I, rarely are we as alive as when we are visiting a new country- Romantico!

Be curious, learn about what makes her happy. I often ask to try something out that she’s interested in. Right now we’re cooking Blue Apron together. 

It’s been an awesome journey and I’m so excited for the next five years to come.

GOODBYE 20’S, WELCOME 30’S

This weekend I turned 30 and I’m over the moon excited and so ready to enter this new decade. Not to put any pressure on it, but I have a strong feeling my 30’s are going to be more amazing than my 20’s could’ve ever hoped to be. I’m not sure why everyone is so scared to leave their 20’s? Frankly, I’ve found this past decade to be somewhat unnerving.  I mean you get out of school and everyone is like, ok, you studied something random for four years, now go and be a productive part of society, ok?!  I mean entering the workforce at exactly the moment the economy took a dive has been interesting, to say the least. Plus, apparently I’m a millennial, I get that now and am actually ok with it thanks to this new podcast, the most recent episode, ‘Screw it, I’m going outside,’ basically sums up my career path thus far.

Thirty feels like the age of wisdom, maybe the path will begin to become clear, maybe not, and that feels more ok. NOTHING IS A STRAIGHT LINE! I trust that every step I take and every person I meet is moving me in the right direction.

I have to say, though, when I wrote down everything that I accomplished in my 20’s I realized two things:

  1. I’m really hard on myself. It’s never enough. Why do we do this (ladies, I’m looking at you)?
  2. I actually accomplished a lot and I’m pretty proud of it.
  3. I spend too much time comparing and that is pointless!

30 events that have transpired and lessons I’ve learned in the last decade that have helped shaped me:

  1. Lived in NYC for five glorious years
  2. Worked in theatre in NYC and saw more shows than I can count
  3. Travelled to Spain and Tokyo on my own on my first big adventure that forever changed me
  4. Switched career paths and left theatre to find my calling in health and wellness
  5. Worked for several amazing companies including Wanderlust, Integrative Nutrition and now sweetgreen making friends for life and gaining amazing experience
  6. Met and married a really cool guy that I met in a night club through odd circumstances. The odds were probably against us, but I love him more than ever and we’ve been married five years in August!
  7. Got married in Montauk on the beach
  8. Travelled a ton with above mentioned dude and have had a million incredible experiences with him in Australia, Indonesia, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico and more states than I can count.
  9. Learned that travelling and experiences are the best things to spend money on
  10. Learned that obsessing over food gets you nowhere, balance is everything
  11. Became a health coach
  12. Quit smoking
  13. Lost my Grandma to cancer
  14. Moved coasts twice
  15. Welcomed my niece Anjali into the world
  16. Welcomed my baby sister August into the World and embraced my modern family
  17. Supported my Mom through recovery and my sister through pregnancy
  18. Went to Thailand to deepen my yoga practice and get certified
  19. Taught yoga at my home studio and others in Brooklyn
  20. Did the AIDS walk every year that I lived in NYC
  21. I actually get paid to write for amazing companies and people- what?!
  22. Built this blog and am writing for so many others that I don’t get to write here enough
  23. Wrote a musical about dance music culture
  24. Danced on stage at Red Rocks twice
  25. Danced on stages all over NYC and Denver
  26. Completed the full Landmark Education program
  27. Became a dog mama (twice!)
  28. Worked at Wanderlust festivals around the US and Canada, practiced with the greatest teachers and made the most amazing connections and friends
  29. Realized the importance of keeping the good people close and losing the ones that don’t build you up, inspire you and help you grow.
  30. Learned the importance of self-care!

This exercise of looking back was really powerful for me and a great reminder that we never give ourselves enough credit, never appreciate all of the work that we’re doing, all of the growth that we’re experiencing, all of the lives we’re impacting. Is every day perfect? No! Not by a long shot. Honestly, some days I want to just give up, I get worn out and anxious, I wonder what all of the hard work is for, but it’s coming, I know it is, and it’s so exciting to think about the possibilities.

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In my 30’s I’d like to give back more, find a company that I can really grow with (or create my own), extend our family, become a gardener, spend more time with friends and so much more TBD…

SISTER TRIP TO PLAYA MUJERES + A LOW SUGAR MOJITO RECIPE

The last couple of months have been really busy (indicated by my lack of new posts, oof)! I’ve been working almost non-stop, but thankfully my sister C is a super planner and she forced me to book a sister trip to Mexico several months in advance to celebrate our 30th b-day coming up in July. She truly is the Yin to my Yang and so glad she made me lock in a date as we were both very ready for a break when the trip finally came.

As most of my readers know I travel a lot but C has a 2-year old and works full-time so she hasn’t been anywhere in WAY  too long so I let her pick the spot she wanted to go and she chose Playa Mujeres in Mexico. Near Cancun, this was a much longer trip than Cabo for us, but well worth the long travel day!

Playa Mujeres is about 30 minutes from the Cancun airport and we both flew in around the same time so we were off the plane and on the beach in about an hour, pretty awesome! We’ve both been to nearby Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and heard great things about the beaches and warm water and were happy with a less party-centric vibe, so we were super excited to check it out and have a stress-free week of sunning, lounging and eating.

Resort Highlights

We chose to stay at Excellence Playa Mujeres, one of three resorts owned by the same company on a long stretch of literally perfect white sand beach. Excellence is adults only and has insane reviews on Yelp so it seemed like an obvious choice, and overall, we had an amazing experience.

Rooms, Pools and Spa

The rooms are all similar in layout (or so we heard), but vary in location. In such a large resort there are several buildings that are a good walk from the beach, ours was one of those, but was right on the lazy river pool (see below) which was so peaceful and relaxing. We were also really close to the spa and gym so no complaints there! Rooms closer to the main building, beach and large pools are presumably much louder and less private but do offer a quicker trip to the beach. But let’s be honest, a few more steps on vacay never hurt anyone!

Our room was so nice, had a beautiful balcony, big whirlpool hot tube, giant bathroom and nice couch for lounging. The only downside was the terrible wi-fi, but it was kind of nice to disconnect! If you’re going for a honeymoon or big anniversay I’d say it’s worth the splurge for the first floor rooms with swim up access to the lazy river and private sun beds, but otherwise you’ll be happy in any room!

Deciding where to chill each day was a challenge…

We spent a few days laying on the beach and the water was a perfect temp, plus, the kayaks were free to take out which provided some nice afternoon exercise.

We also loved the spa! Each treatment starts with a hydrotherapy experience, similar to a Scandinavian spa with different temperature pools, a sauna and steam room to loosen you up before your massage.

Food in Review

Not gonna lie, all-inclusive resorts tend to make me a bit nervous, I’ve had not so great experiences before and as someone who tries to eat well, even on vacation, usually the food leaves a lot to be desired and is super greasy, processed and not very fresh. At Excellence I was really pleasantly surprised. With ten different restaurants on the property there is certainly plenty of choice.

C and I really loved that the portions were very small, after all, it’s super easy to overeat on vacation and the homemade bread alone was enough to make us super full. Our favorite restaurants were Basmati for Indian food, Toscana for both the fresh breakfast and lunch buffet (you know I love breakfast), and Spice for the Hibachi, Teppenyaki dinner, which is the only meal that has to be reserved. We also loved the Mexican restaurant with an open ceiling and amazing singer and guitarist who sang authentic songs throughout dinner. Most people also loved Chez Isabelle, the upscale French restaurant, and we liked it, but found it pretty heavy, plus, the wait was over an hour and we both hate going to bed super full.

Regarding booze, the options were pretty vast and the bars abundant. Apparently, you can get top shelf booze in the Excellence club, but C doesn’t drink and I didn’t want to overdo it, so we stuck with the basics. My favorite was a mojito called the Hemingway (sans sugar), I’ve put the recipe below, it was a really unique combo and dangerously tasty!

Day Trip to Isla Mujeres

One of our favorite parts of the trip was a day trip to Isla Mujeres on a catamaran. Isla Mujeres is just beginning to gain popularity (or so it seems), although, Playa Norte, has been named one of the top beaches in Mexico and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We started with a brief snorkel and were bummed that we couldn’t go to the Musa Museo an underwater art museum created after the last hurricane in the area to help re-build the reef. After the snorkel we docked near the downtown area and rented a golf cart to ride around the island, such a fun way to take a spin. The best stop by far is the turtle farm sanctuary founded by a fisherman to help protect sea turtles. Next stop was an amazing overlook to get a fresh coconut water and then the mayan goddess statues of which the island was named for.

In Closing…

While I generally prefer to travel farther afield from the all-inclusive realm to really experience all that a place has to offer Playa Mujeres was a really nice opportunity to just disconnect, completely relax and be pampered. We were able to workout in the nice gym, do a yoga and zumba class, swim and eat whenever we felt like it and that’s pretty freakin’ awesome!

Have you been to Playa Mujeres? Would love to hear what you loved here or on Facebook!

HEMINGWAY MOJITO RECIPE (SANS ADDED SUGAR)

Ingredients:

6 fresh mint leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Club Soda

1 shot Bacardi Limon

3 oz. champagne

Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish

To Make:

Step 1: In a rocks glass, add the mint leaves and lime juice. Muddle to release the mint oil.

Step 2: Add the rum and fill the glass 3/4 full with ice. Add a quick splash of club soda and top off with the champagne. Garnish with the mint sprig.

A GOODBYE LETTER TO 2015

Thanks to E.B. for introducing and offering this end of year practice. I recommend everyone try this, it’s felt very liberating getting these words out and saying goodbye to the good and the bad!  

Dear 2015,

Before we say goodbye I want to thank-you for everything that you have been and everything that you have not. This has been a year of change and opening, learning, feeling alone and embracing a new life. You’ve asked me to find growth and accept change in new ways, starting with a cross country move from NYC to Berkeley. Leaving friends and a life that was invigorating and inspiring, but draining and ripe for change was a sudden and intense experience.

You forced me to help my family in a time of need, mourn the loss of two people close to me, not just through death, but also separation, which often feels worse. Alternately, you allowed me to welcome in health and light for my Mom and be with her through an amazing transformation.

On the West coast you’ve put me through the ringer and asked me to truly consider what the work is that I’m after and that will feed my heart and soul, I’m still on that path, but my writing truly lights me up and I got to do so much of it this year; meeting new people, writing for amazing brands and entrepreneurs, stretching my skills and giving me some time to enhance my own blog and clarify my work.

You gave me my dream home in the hills surrounded by nature where I can really let my mind wander and get great sleep. You’ve given me new friends and re-connected me with a few oldies that I’m so glad to have near me!

2015, you’ve asked me to be ok in extreme change and it’s been really hard and uneasy, but I know this is something that I’ve needed to work on for some time. Fortunately, I have the best partner anyone could ask for and this year has been one of hard truths and growth for us as well as we learn more about one another and discover what nearly a decade of togetherness looks like and who we want to be as a pair and individually.

You’ve also allowed me to rescue the sweetest little being I’ve ever met, a 6-lb Chihuahua named Bernadette who has brought me so much joy and love I can’t even describe it. I feel my love and dedication to animals growing non-stop and I truly desire to commit myself to helping bring change for them next year. 

You took me on so many adventures I can’t even count. Not only in this big move but also around the World to BerlinCabo San Lucas, Whistler, NYC, LA, Australia, Colorado, Calistoga and more. You’ve kept Wanderlust in my life literally and figuratively and staying in that community has meant so much and I know I’m not meant to be still. 

2016 is a year of expansion, not staying in something that doesn’t resonate, continuing to find my true path and staying present throughout the ups and downs. Feeling less constriction in change and being open energetically to what may come, continuing to strengthen my body and settle my mind through an ever changing yoga practice.

Thanks for everything 2015, you’ve been real but it’s time to move on. Goodbye 2015.

All my love,

C

TRAVELING AUSTRALIA: A GLIMPSE AT SYDNEY AND THE PERFECT WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS

When I was a kid my dream was to travel to Australia. For a few years I even collected koala bears and kangaroos in a variety of forms, from stuffed to porcelain and also started a piggy bank to save up. For some reason life got in the way and we never made it but finally, over a decade later I made it to the land down under and it was more amazing than I could have ever imagined! 10 days in Australia is just not enough. Choosing the perfect destinations was hard, to say the least, but we made a decision and got some great advice on must sees. We began our trip in Sydney and then headed up to the Whitsunday Islands and it was hard to choose what to highlight!

SYDNEY

There is a ton to see and do in Sydney, I had no idea what to expect, I only know a few people who have ever been so I had to do some digging for the top sites, not only tourist attractions but also more local, and of course, the best food!

We stayed at the Shangri-La in an area called “The Rocks”, on a hill above Circular Quay (pronounced Key), which is the popular harbor that you’ve probably seen photos of. The hotel was really beautiful and the view of the entire harbor was incredible. I was alone for the first few days of my trip, so I really got to explore my way aka see everything possible and walk everywhere! I wear my husband out with all my walking, seeing and doing, so it’s always nice to have a little bit of time alone to just wander and think and envision and explore, there’s nothing like it!

The Rocks is really interesting. It’s the most historical area in Sydney and holds a lot of historical buildings and interesting architecture but is also a hip nightlife spot and sits next to the cruise ship docks. I noticed equal numbers of tourists and locals flocking, here which gave it a much more authentic and local vibe.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 

On day one in the height of my jet lagged unconsciousness I wandered out to the Museum of Contemporary Arts “Artbar” because I’d been told earlier in the day that the theme was Mad Max style dystopia and there would be rooftop drinks and DJ’s etc. I’m so glad that I went, it was really cool to see amazing art in a really interesting setting with some crazy costumes (pics here to see what I mean) and cool curation! I don’t know much about modern art (except that the creepy movie rooms scare me) but this museum, and the event especially were very unique, not to mention the view from the rooftop was absolutely incredible.

HUNTER VALLEY WINE COUNTRY:

Just 2.5  hours from the city is the beautiful Hunter Valley known widely for it’s Semillon production along with other varietals (Yep, fancy words, I know my wines…wink). Anyways, our guide Flynders (seen in the photo lying on the ground) was really fantastic and I got to meet some great people, primarily Americans living in Sydney, but also a German and young European couple who had been working on an organic farm, amazing! The wines were also great! Unlike wine country in the U.S. these wineries were much smaller and more laid back. We tasted several wines at each stop and then were invited inside to try anything else from the list that we liked; this made for a long day, especially since we also stopped at a chocolate  factory, vodka tasting room and cheese tasting room, OMG!

BONDI BEACH

Bondi Beach is really well known as a hotspot year round but we were lucky to be there during the Sculptures By The Sea exhibit with hundreds of works of art created by artists from around the World. There were so many stunning works and I’ve added a few of my favorites below, but I definitely recommend you check them all out on the website.

MANLY BEACH

I ventured out to Manly on my third solo day and I’m so glad that I did! The boat was jam packed with locals headed to catch some waves for the day. After a 40-minute ride we pulled up to the docks and I was really confused because I didn’t see any waves at all, in fact, just the opposite, totally calm mellow water. However, I quickly caught on that all of the hoards of people were crossing the street and walking along an amazing wide street lined with adorable boutiques, ice cream shops and cafes that led to the other side of the island which was indeed the total opposite. Rough, wavy, windy and full of surfers. Manly felt like a perfect beach town. I met an American nanny who asked about my shoes and we walked together for awhile while she told me her story. Next I did some shopping and enjoyed lunch at a small restaurant where plants grew on the walls and everyone was in a swimsuit, I loved Manly and could’ve stayed longer. If you go, you should try to spend a day or two there.

BLUE MOUNTAINS (AKA NO MOUNTAINS DUE TO RAIN):

Our Blue Mountain trip wasn’t all of the mountainous wonder that we’d envisioned when signing up. But, it was still a good time. This just so happened to be the same day of the Melbourne Cup, an event that seemingly all of Australia takes the day off for. Much like the Kentucky Derby, everyone puts on big hats and goes to a bar to drink all day. A local explained that each year there is one big race and many small ones, and this year a female jockey won the big race for the first time ever, pretty amazing! We also paid a visit to scenic world with many, many squealing Japanese tourists (my fave) and very little scenery. Finally, the highlight of the day, a trip to a wildlife park to say hello to some Australian wildlife! This was so much fun. We got to pat a koala bear on the booty (as instructed) and feed some wallabies. We also got to check out other native animals that I’d dreamed about seeing forever!

ONE & ONLY HAYMAN ISLAND & THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

…Skip to Wyatt and I re-uniting, heading back to the airport, flying to Hamilton Island. I have to start with thanking my friend Kelly for this amazing intel. I had never heard of the Whitsunday Islands until she told me I should check it out. Kelly basically said these were the best beaches she’d ever seen and I was sold! I’ve seen some great beaches so I was ready to be totally wowed!

The One & Only experience is just like it sounds, completely one of a kind. (p.s. they are not sponsoring this post, but I’d gladly come back :). We disembarked the plane at the tiny airport on Hamilton and stopped by the O&O desk and that’s it, they got our bags, led us to our taxi (a yacht) and we were on our way to paradise. We also got champagne for the trip, not a bad deal! Hayman Island is a tiny chunk of land that is super secluded and private for hotel guests only. The resort was recently renovated and is completely beautiful and luxurious. When the boat docked at Hayman there were golf carts waiting to take us to the main building and there each guest got their own guide to give us a tour and complete the super brief check-in to our room. Because we were celebrating our anniversary, we also had chocolate and more champagne waiting in our room. I was overwhelmed to say the least. This is why we go on yearly honeymoons, married life is hard!

Our stay was so magical. Giant breakfasts every morning, easeful but active days in which we took long walks out on the sand flats, laid in comfy beach chairs or big beanbags in the pool, took sunset hikes and a kayak snorkel trip and finally went to the Great Barrier Reef to Snorkel! I wrote a ton about the reef for GLDMNE, you can read that here, and I will here say I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m usually a wary snorkler but this felt so free and wide open. There is nothing around the reef so coming upon it by boat was remarkable, the water so clear you can see the fish and turtles right through it.

Leaving Australia was not easy! I felt very at home in this place across the globe which didn’t surprise me since every Australian I’d ever met has been so kind and generous. Hopefully we’ll make it back again some day and if you’re planning a visit I hope this will help you choose some great sites to see!

A CHARMING CHRISTMAS VISIT TO BERLIN

If you haven’t been to Berlin, I highly recommend adding it to your destination list! Recently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin wall, the city, which was once separated into East and West is now unified and a place of amazing culture, art, and innovation. Although the city still holds some immense heaviness from the destruction of both World Wars, but there are also uplifting surprises around every corner. I’ve travelled to Berlin during a couple of different seasons and it’s always so magical. The winters are really cold but the architecture and scenery make it amazing year round!

This trip was a whirlwind! Only 48-hour with my husband was such a whirlwind, but fortunately it’s very walkable so you can take in a lot in a short time.  Below are a few of my favorite spots, both top tourist stops and some more ‘local’ attractions as well.

START WITH AN AMAZING GERMAN, ASIAN AND EVERYTHING- IN- BETWEEN BREAKFAST

I may have mentioned it before but I love breakfast, like a lot, especially on vacation! Wyatt and I were thrilled to find one of the most amazing and vast buffets we’ve ever seen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Charlottenburg Berlin, I could’ve spent an entire day there eating not only German and American cuisine, but also a full spread of traditional Japanese goodies (my obsession with Japanese breakfast food is a post for another day)!

TIERGARTEN AND VICTORY COLUMN

Literally translated, “Animal Garden,” the 520 acre park is a great place to begin your walking tour. The park has been around since the 1830’s and was originally an electoral hunting reserve, hence the name. Today the park is home to multiple governmental and parliamentary institutions. As you stroll you’ll notice many statues and monuments, but the most visible is the Victory Column, a 70-meter-tall structure built on a roundabout with a gold statue of Victoria, the ancient goddess of Victory, now dubbed ‘Golden Lizzy’ by locals. Completed in 1873, it’s well worth climbing the 285 steps to the top of this magnificent monument for the sweeping views. Also, the leaves match my hair so that was an added bonus 🙂

BRANDENBURG GATE

Continuing the walk from the Victory Column you’ll get a great view of the approaching Brandenburg gate and Potsdamer Platz beyond it. The gate is a strong symbol of the immense change that Berlin has undergone over the years and is an important symbol of what the city has overcome. The gate is the monumental entry to “Unter den Linden”, the renowned boulevard of linden trees, which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. Today the gate is a symbol of unity and peace and a meeting point for residents of the city to celebrate anniversaries such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

UNTER DEN LINDEN BOULEVARD

After walking through the Brandenburg gate you’ll find yourself on a lovely tree lined pedestrian mall (if the season is right, that is), great for taking your first rest stop, having coffee or tea, and taking in the busy city around you. The trees, like the rest of the city, have had a long history of being cut down and then regrown, the current trees were replanted in the 1950’s.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

Located one block south of the Brandenburg gate is the memorial to the victims of the holocaust. The site is covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stele“, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field, creating an eerie but amazing visual impression. There is also an underground museum in the information center which pays further tribute to the victims, listing every known victims name and displaying important historical timelines of more personal artifacts like letters and family stories.

EAST SIDE GALLERY, WALL MEMORIAL AND CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

All three of these sites are amazing to see, but if you can’t make them all, try to at least check out the memorial gallery for a great look into the immense history of division between East and West Berlin from 1961-1989. The East Side Gallery, established in 1990 and located in central Berlin, pays tribute to the freedom of Berliners after the collapse of the wall in 1989. The gallery is located on the so-called “hinterland mauer”, which closed the border to East Berlin. The gallery consists of 105 paintings from International artists and is the largest open air museum in the World. Checkpoint Charlie is the name given by the Western Allies to the most well known crossing point between East and West Berlin, and is now home to an open- air exhibit with information on the history of the wall, escape attempts and the importance of the checkpoint to military personnel.

EAT LOCAL

We’re lucky to have an amazing friend, (and DJ) Mike  as our guide for an evening on the town in Friedrichshain, a great neighborhood with a lot character. He picked a Russian restaurant, Cafe Datscha for us and the food was amazing. We skipped the Russian vodka selection but still enjoyed the atmosphere and authentic decor including huge piles of Russian newspapers, very authentic!

NEUE HEIMAT (“NEW HOME”)

The second stop of the night was a tour of this awesome food and flea market. Neue Heimat generally opens it’s doors on Friday evenings and lures locals in with food trucks, drinks and live music and local owned craft shopping, all of my favorite things! I was amazed by the design of the space, shipping containers and what Finding Berlin calls, ‘a gloomy but romantic indus­trial set­ting that was dec­or­ated lov­ingly,’ I couldn’t agree more! This market definitely rivaled our favorite Brooklyn holiday markets!

KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH AND CHRISTMAS MARKETS

If you’re lucky enough to visit Berlin during the holidays you’ll get a special treat, Christmas markets that pop-up all over the city! Warm up and stroll around the little shopping villages with Gluhwein, similar to mulled wine, but even better! We had pretzels and bought a giant ‘Berlin’ inscribed cookie to bring home. The market near our hotel also happened to be on the site of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which appears to be two churches in one, both the ruins of the original and a super modern new version right next to it. The site is now a famous landmark and war memorial in West Berlin.

Although 48 hours in Berlin is definitely not enough time to enjoy everything the city has to offer, you can still get in an amazing tour and a ton of steps, if you’re counting. Seeing the city by foot is definitely the way to go!

A WEEKEND IN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY AND THE SCOOP ON ORGANIC GRAPES

We grow like the vines, suspended in time, gaining deep roots, learning our true nature. The greatest pieces of each of us lie in our commitment to that growth and desire to let our paths unfold in a way that is clear and true, not elegant and perfect– although ultimately the universe makes it so.

Recently I turned the big 2-9, which is not yet the big 3-0, but I’m still feeling like this will be a big year. A ton has happened (see previous posts) and I feel like I may be entering in to that phase of life where I’m truly coming in to my own. Welcoming new experiences and people, stressing about what I’m going to “be” when I grow up, but knowing that I’m getting closer and closer and in the meantime finding contentment in the present moment, the experiences I’m so grateful to have while also embracing the unknown.

I love wine country so when Wyatt asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday it was an easy choice. This trip was absolutely amazing, and Wyatt and I had a truly incredible time, it felt like we were much farther than 1.5 hours from home. We tried tons of great wine, didn’t spit much of it out ( or really any for that matter) and got to reconnect with each other in the beautiful setting of vines and rolling hills. Having visited a lot of wineries throughout America and France I was so pleasantly surprised by the selection of wineries in Napa and Calistoga. The vines are perfect but not all white with spray and the hills (see Long Island wineries, gross) are lush and gorgeous. Here’s a recap of the trip in photos.

First stop, Public Market in Napa. Had to eat at Ca’Momi, the amazing pizza place I’d tried the weekend before during Wanderlust Squaw Valley. The pizza is so good and seemed like a great chose before starting tastings.

Super cute little shops really reminded me of Chelsea Market (I miss you!!) with a wine country twist. Loved this little home store full of eclectic housewares and fun books like this one, obviously an important read for every foodie!

WINERIES WE VISITED AND THE SCOOP WITH ORGANIC WINES

We loved the first winery we stopped at in Napa called Frog’s Leap. They had such amazing wines and even better, a gorgeous garden full of every veggie you can imagine, so freakin’ awesome! We visited this winery because it was on the list of organic wineries in the area so of course I asked the tasting staff a whole bunch of questions about what that really means; Are there no pesticides? Are the grapes grown differently? What’s the deal with sulfites? I was really intrigued and surprised by the answer, here’s what they have to say:

‘Believing that a grapevine should be grown in healthy soil that supports all the nutrient needs of the plant, Frog’s Leap has been farming organically since 1988. We also believe that most of the great and historic wines of the world have been made from non-irrigated grapevines, and to that end Frog’s Leap farms all of its vineyards without irrigation.

We adhere to the premise that the greatest wines are those that most truly reflect their soil, climate and circumstance (collectively referred to as “terroir”), and that it is the winemaker’s role to simply stand back and let the natural beauty of the grapes show through.

We don’t make great wine, we grow it.’ –Frog’s Leap

Super cool, right? Totally. But, here’s the tricky part. Almost all wines contain sulfites, a sulfur compound used to increase shelf life, stop yeast from growing and kill bacteria in the wine. Sulfites also bring out the pigments in wine and make red wines redder. In the U.S. organic wines must be both grown organically an also have no added sulfites, while in the Europe the distinction means that the grapes are grown organically but may or may not have added sulfites. So, are sulfites really bad for you? In small quantities no, however, more and more sulfur is being added to processed foods, so limiting intake of those foods and drinking organic wines is recommended to not overdo it. A small percent of people (appx. 5%) are very sensitive and need to avoid sulfites at all costs.

Should you buy organic wine?

The basic answer-Yes. Whenever possible. On top of sulfites, the other problem with non-organic wines is the prevalence of toxic chemicals, fungicides and pesticides that can wreak havoc on health. Pinot Noir drinkers should be especially cautious as this varietal is very difficult to grow without the use of pesticides.

THE FOOD

The ‘too pretty to eat’ beet salad ever at SolBar

Veggie breakfast skillet with poached eggs from SolBar Calistoga

Our cute little corner table with a view at Calistoga Kitchen. Amazing food with sweet local charm. I had fresh hand made pasta and Wyatt had slow cooked pork ribs that had been cooking all day on-site. The chef came out to talk to each table, creating a really great vibe!

SOLAGE RESORT AND SPA CALISTOGA

This pool was ok…;) (photo via Solage Instagram)

Solage provides each room with their own bikes for the duration of the stay. We got some bike riding in to Lava Vine, a neighboring winery and also a bit farther to Envy Wines. Both were lovely and the ride over was completely awesome!

The spa pools were incredible with private men’s and ladies areas for clothing optional bathing and steaming. I also had an amazing mud bath style treatment with a twist. I watched my mud be handmade and chose an aromatherapy oil to go in it. Next, I went in to a private sauna when the mud was applied and allowed to set for 20 minutes and then rinsed off completely. Step two, I was led to a private bath and soaked for another 20 minutes. The room was so airy and bright, heaven! Finally, I got to lay in a 0 gravity chair (what!?) and put headphones on and almost instantly fell asleep. Afterwards, my skin was super soft and smooth and felt incredibly refreshed. Highly recommend this treatment if you go.

Solage is all about fitness, with a full gym on-site and a yoga studio we were able to work off a few of the million calories we ate and drank each day.

Cruisin’ thru the vines

Solage is such an amazing mix of hip, classy and laid back we absolutely enjoyed our time there. Pure luxury and they’ve literally thought of everything!

PRODUCT LOVE: GIVESCENT

It’s hump day and therefore a perfect day for a product review! I’m so excited to share GIVESCENT today! It’s no secret that I love essential oils and smelling pretty so I’ve been on a journey in the last few years to find a smell that a) lasts b) smells good c) isn’t full of nasty crap like every other perfume out there. I’ve mentioned a couple of my favorites in past posts, but today I’m talking about a new find from super woman duo, Elena B and  Alexandra L P in NYC. The scents were conceived during Brower’s time in Italy, and her desire to capture and recreate the experience, the pace, and especially the lovely smells. Through some tinkering in their kitchen GIVESCENT was born. As a travel lover, I think this product is genius because all of the places I’ve visited leave a strong scent memory with me and I would LOVE to recreate each one, especially my honeymoon in Bali, don’t get me started.

To add to the #fierce factor of these scents, each purchase supports women’s organizations like Every Mother Counts and Women for Women International.

Let’s talk first about how the order arrives in a super cute hand stamped little reusable bag (great for traveling with jewelry btw), and some info about the product. Very simple, but elegant, featuring Browers signature bright whites ( she’s the reason I own a pair of white yoga pants but I can’t wear them because of the 100% chance of spilling immediately).

The signature scent is described as “a captivating blend of sun-ripened citrus and spicy vanilla inspired by the first sultry summer days in Italy.” Ummm, yes please!

GIVESCENT is free of alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and sulfates and Cruelty free. Ah-mazing!

I’ve been wearing the scent for about a week straight and I can honestly say it’s magical. It wears much more like a perfume than the other oils I’ve tried, in fact, I’ve found less is more with this one which is nice because even the tester will last forever!

My only wish is that the next scent be Asia inspired. Ladies, I’d like to put in a request for that!

Look for other reviews coming soon including Nourish Snacks and Adina G’s new book: Skin Cleanse!

What are your favorite non-nasty perfumes? Let me know in the comments!

*disclaimer- GIVESCENT provided me with this product to sample and write about, but of course these opinions are my own.

CABO SAN LUCAS TRIP DETAILS AND LOTS OF PHOTOS

Now that we  live in California the need to escape to the beach in the winter is not nearly as emergency level, but it’s still so nice to get away and take a break together and just re-connect with yourself and your significant other.

This post has a lot of photos, which I don’t usually do, but to give a little background, I used to love photo shoots. When I was a dancer we took pictures all the time in tiny costumes, on top of buildings, pretending to be super models. Growing up as an actor I feel in my element in front of a camera and although I’m definitely not a top model, I just have a lot of freaking fun shooting pictures, it’s a creative outlet for me. However, in the last few years I’ve stopped taking pictures almost altogether. I’m still in my twenties (not much longer), but I feel like my body is a lot different than it was in my early twenties so like every woman everywhere I guess I’ve become a bit self conscious. However, now that I’ve started sharing more about my life here at Fresh and Fierce I’ve also started taking more photos of my day to day and while traveling, and totally love it again! Wyatt talked me in to shooting some pics in my new high waisted swim suit on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas Mexico and we had so much fun! I was really happy to get some good shots of my Tattoo that I had done in Williamsburg over a year ago at Eight of Swords, the owner Dave is an amazing artist! More on that someday…but for now let’s talk about the beach…

Cabo recently experienced a really bad hurricane, but the area has rebounded surprisingly well. A lot of the resorts are still closed, but Cabo Surf, where we stayed, was back up and running with a whole new wing of rooms and a great beach! I loved the laid back vibe of Cabo Surf, there were only a few people on the beach each day and the resort was quiet and the staff very friendly and helpful. This hotel is not near the main tourist drag, so we were thankful the food was good and we didn’t really have much reason to leave. The rooms were very nice and we could hear the waves crashing every morning, so great!

Now that I’ve tried out a high waisted suit, I think everyone needs one! This one was around $20 on Amazon. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it so I didn’t want to spend a lot to try it out. Sun glasses are from Urban Outfitters and hat is from Amazon as well, and was great because it could be totally scrunched up in my bag. The earrings I got in Thailand at a market and unfortunately lost one on this trip, sad! The whole ensemble was very affordable.

Ok , so moving on from my silly posing to the coolest thing we saw while on the trip, Whales!! I’ve seen a lot of sea life before, but this was a first and totally amazing experience, I can’t even describe it. We went on a super cheesy, but admittedly fun pirate boat and got great views of the whales. We (W) got these awesome shots. As soon as we left the dock a baby whale and his mama were playing in the bay, jumping and flipping their tales, so cool to watch! At one point the whale swam right under our boat!

Every year several whale species migrate from the chilly Arctic waters to the Baja Peninsula where the temps are just right to give birth and rear their babies. I totally get that, I’d rather have a baby in warm water than cold! I’d recommend going out on a small inflatable boat in you get the chance to get even closer to the action!

Food: For me, the most important part of visiting any place is experiencing their food, and finding a good salad if at all possible. We ate some amazing food in Cabo, which kind of surprised me since I haven’t had that experience in every part of Mexico. Our resort had great food and we went in to San Jose Del Cabo with friends to have a meal as well.

Flora Farms was my favorite. It’s a really popular farm to table spot where Adam Levine apparently got married. I see why he would pick the venue, it’s so gorgeous, and although we got there just as the sun was setting still got to see the beautiful gardens in their full kale-growing glory.  This restaurant was certainly a highlight of the trip. Such great food and ambiance, it’s like a trendy New York hotspot, but in the middle of nowhere. We had an amazing meal in the garden and I got some shots of the surroundings including this over the top palm tree, farm stand of veggies grown on-site, and my tasty carrot margarita.

We were so lucky to have some friends in Cabo as well to show us around. They took us to the beach one day where we lounged around and drank beer and ate guac. Ahhh, vacay, how I love you! If you find yourself getting married in Cabo and need amazing bridal hair and makeup you have to check out our friend Neysa, she is so talented and will definitely make you look fierce on your big day!

Hope you enjoyed this photo filled post, I certainly had fun writing it! Look for more travel posts on the blog soon!

Have you been to Cabo? What did you love? Let me know in the comments.