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SUNNY IN SANTA BARBARA

Oh how I loved you, Santa Barbara. Adored you, really. Can we just talk about the Ukelele band that assembles near the harbor and plays tunes like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? How about picnics on the beach as the sun sinks down in the pink sky?

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Santa-Barbara--10

Our plan was to explore Santa Barbara by bike so we packed up our baskets and headed out on the trail that goes along the water. I’m absolutely convinced I want to see every city ever by bike. The salt air in our hair, and sun on our faces felt so good!

We headed down State Street looking for a mid-morning pick me up and ended up ordering the yummiest almond milk mocha’s three mornings in a row from The French Press. Easily the most charming coffeehouse on State Street with easily the best coffee, too!

Santa-Barbara-french press

It was still early in the day and life was just getting started at the end of the pier. We sat for a few moments and watched the day’s first fisherman cast their lines, store keepers open their shutters and took in the smells of the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company [I have a shellfish allergy so we didn’t indulge but I’ve heard they serve up some magic]. My sweet-toothed Mr. didn’t mind the candy shop too much, either!

Santa-Barbara-Wharf

Santa-Barbara-shellfish-co

State Street is a happy mix of local shopping and national brands housed in Spanish style buildings complete with quaint courtyards every few blocks. It was hard to pick a place to eat lunch and I’m sure there are more well known places but we let our noses lead us back into a courtyard to a seemingly hidden restaurant with the most insane brunch. El Paseo‘s courtyard dripped with old-world charm and absolutely enchanted us.

Santa-Barbara--16 Santa-Barbara-El Paseo

Can you visit Santa Barbara without checking out the mission?  It was Sunday and services were in full swing so we couldn’t poke around as much as we wanted but it was clear why they established the Mission where they did – its a truly beautiful spot set in the gently rolling foothills with panoramic ocean views…

Santa-Barbara--13 Santa-Barbara--12

The beach was still calling and we decided to spend our last evening sprawled out with a picnic. At the recommendation of a local, we headed towards Lazy Acres [think Whole Foods, but local] to pick up some seriously good Falafel, Tabbouleh and Hummus and stopped every chance we had along the way to listen to the Ukulele group, boats coming in and out of the harbor and surfers catching the day’s last waves off the point.

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This place is magic I tell you. 

INSPIRED MOMENTS: EARLY APRIL

I don’t know about you, but creatively my brain just does not operate in a linear motion. One minute I’m looking at the plants in my house going “I really need a cactus, ‘Marc – Cactus’ are so cool, we need a cactus.'” to the next minute thinking “How much longer is it going to take to grow my hair? I want a killer braid”.

Instead of flitting from one thought to the next without remembering where these ideas came from, I’ve decided to share them here. I’ll keep it short and sweet in the hopes that maybe a few of these items will inspire you, too!

inspired moments 4:13

 

 

Cactus’ want one, need one. Could these Cactus gardens I’ve been seeing all over instagram be any cooler?

Annie over at MontgomeryFest is one talented lady and her whimsical brush calligraphy makes me want to run right out and pick up some brush pens.

I purged nearly my entire house last weekend. I hoped it would look more like this.

Since getting home I’ve made a point to see my girlfriends, drink wine and talk.

It’s so life-giving. As mentioned above I’m growing my hair out really long because all I really want is an epic braid.

Being Vegan can be hard at first, these oatmeal cookies [sans egg] are making it a teensy bit [ok a lot!] easier!

Currently crushing on easy spring outfits with ladylike details.

Always plotting my next getaway. Andalusia is climbing the list.

 

So tell me, what’s inspiring you right now?

6 SIMPLE STEPS TO GAIN BRAND CLARITY

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As 2015 winds down and the promises of a New Year loom, many of us are taking stock of our lives, exercise habits and work. I certainly don’t have any gems of wisdom for you when it comes to exercise routines, but may have a few when it comes to work…

If you’re like me [and nearly every client I work with] you’re already heaping things onto your plate for 2016. Its going to be a year bigger and badder than every before right? I’m totally with you, but I’m also a fan of stripping the bulk away and going back to the basics before you can build up again.

It’s completely up to us what we choose to do/make/put out into the world with our time. Before you fill up your calendar for the first few weeks of 2016, take the next 10 minutes to gain some serious clarity about where you’re at and where you’re going… 

  1. What are three things I do well in my business?
  2. What are three things I do because I feel like they will lead to success?
  3. What are three things I could eliminate doing everyday because they no longer serve me/my business?

When you’ve come to some conclusions on the three questions above, use these actionable tips to be more productive in 2016…

     4. What are two ways I could expand upon/highlight/capitalize on the things I do well?

     5. Are the the things I’m doing to garner success actually converting to success? [Use cold, hard numbers  here!]

     6. Eliminate the three things that no longer serve you or your business! TODAY. 

You work for yourself because you wanted to run the show, right? If you continue devoting time to the things that don’t benefit you or your business, you’re taking time away from the efforts that you do enjoy/make your business profitable. Take the time you have freed up and focus it towards the things you have outlined in #4. Passion is power, friends. It’s the fuel that drives many entrepreneurs to success and I hope 2016 is everyone’s best year yet!

2016 planner download

Finally, because there’s nothing better than feeling like you’re on the right track and starting the year out with a fresh planner- I’m making the 2-in-1 Personal/Business Planner that I developed for my own use available for free download! 

Here are the downloads:

7×9 Daily Planner Page

7×9 Weekly Planner Pages

Full Daily Planner Page

Full Weekly Planner Pages

P.s. If you’re ready to Detox & Define your brand in 2016, sign up for my newsletter [in the sidebar!]. I’ll be launching an intensive e-course in less than 60 days teaching every last step to creating an amazing Lifestyle Brand Identity! 

CREATING A CALIFORNIA COOL BATHROOM

It could be the perpetually gray skies or because we’ve been away from home most of the last 3 months, but I’m feeling inspired to make some small changes around the house after the New Year – mainly in the form of paint. The gorgeous but dark navy paint in our itty bitty powder room feels so. dang. heavy.  I can’t get enough of the airy, light, naturally inviting California Cool spaces crafted by Amber over at Amber Interiors. Her designs are decidedly minimalist, but entirely not at the same time. Heres what I’m thinking…

california cool bathroom

White paint. It’s the palate, the essential first step and it has to be a perfect, bright white.

The rug is item numero dos. A pretty kilim is where its at. They punch up the color and add character. The size and color options at Lulu & Georgia are hard to beat – I like this one!

california cool bathroom sconce

What is it about glass vintage sconces that somehow feel beach? Is it only me? Either way, the room needs more light and I like the uniqueness of a vintage bulb!

california cool bathroom ladder turkish towels

Natural woods are really what warm these spaces up and I like what they lend. Our powder room doesn’t have any already occuring natural elements so I’ve ordered this fun bamboo ladder to display a few turkish towels I picked up in some of my favorite colors.

california cool bathroom plant

It’s time for the prim and proper orchid to retire and be replaced by something more organic and free flowing. the idea of something tall that reaches its way up the wall and fills the space with life is extra exciting to me. A few easy branches in a simple container and voila!

california cool bathroom art

Finally, some great art that also adds color is absolutely necessary. I inherited a stunning Otomi from my late grandmother that I plan to use, but I think these palms, beach prints, or vintagy texts would be equally welcomed.

1,4,5 //2 // 3

2015 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

 

2015 holiday gift guide for her, for him, for hostess, for best friend, for foodie, for traveler, for girlboss, for petsRegardless of the fact that tradition was thrown to the wind this year and the Christmas music was blaring before Thanksgiving even began – Christmas always has a funny way of sneaking up. There is something to be said for simplicity and choosing things that would make for a truly thoughtful gift – so with that in mind I picked a few things that I think could easily travel outside of their assigned categories and make anyone on your list happy!

But really, more colorful David Yurman Bangles, the NY Times 36 hours bookset and Rudy’s Barbershop Products, please? Pretty please?

for her: David Yurman Bangles, Mark & Graham Tote, Teavana Teaset, Lake Pajamas

for him: Patagonia Fleece, Rudy’s Barbershop Products, This Is Ground Tech DOP kit, Moscow Mule Mugs

for the hostess: Giada Cookbook, Food52 Cheese Board, Dot & Army Reusable Paper Towels, Cork Wedge Drink Dispenser

for your best friend: Pom-Pom throw, Seda France Candle, Bauble Bar Tassle Earrings, Oui Oui Oui Tray

for the foodie: Stak Ceramics iPad dock and Spoon Holder, Cookie Box, Julia Childs Quote PrintBees Knees Spicy Honey

for the girlboss: Killin’ It Notepads, Russell+Hazel Acrylic Collator, Big Magic Book, Inslee 2016 Calendar

for the adventurer: NYT 36 hours USA & Canada / Europe, Bose Headphones, Mark & Graham Travel Pouch, Sheinside Scarf

for fifi +fido: Pure + Good All Natural Shampoo, Rope Leash, FuzzYard Bed

#OPTOUTSIDE ON BLACK FRIDAY

badlands national park

A few weeks ago my husband and I returned home from 6 weeks of living on the road, traveling the Western half of the United States [if you’re interested, read more here]. We left home excited and wide-eyed about all the things we would see and the experiences we would have. Let me preface this by saying neither of us are really campers or skilled outdoors-people…

For 6 weeks we ate up pavement, reconnected with friends that had moved away, did a lot of jumping in and out of the car, smelled the salt air, marveled at the canyon walls as we hiked through shallow streams, ate some really good food and some not so good food, went to bed early and woke up with the sun – more or less we were in awe of the beauty, the changing landscapes and just how much there is to see as each day passed.

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I had all these ideas of the things we would experience and feel, but these things differed greatly from the idea I had of what they would be on the day we pulled out of our driveway. To sum it up, the feelings we came home with were ones of fullness, gratitude and most importantly, perspective.

We lived in a space the size of our not-that-big master bathroom for 6 weeks and we didn’t miss one. single. THING. that filled our house. For those of you thinking “I’m not outdoorsy” let me just say that I completely understand. I’m not one to spend my weekends heading out on a hike or to corral my friends for a camping session. However, after this trip I know intimately that getting out and experiencing the incredible spaces we are surrounded by can be life-giving. We’ve made a conscious effort to focus on #experiencesnotthings. It feels totally freeing not to be amassing more unneeded “stuff”. [but, oh how I really wanted those Sugar Paper gift boxes at Target!]

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I think what companies like REI are doing by paying their employees to have Black Friday off and #optoutside is an incredible statement about what the holiday’s should be about. Relaxing, re-charging and spending time with the people you love. 

So, for this reason – I won’t be posting any Black Friday deals or even putting gift guides up until after Thanksgiving has passed. Instead, I want to let you know that many State Parks are offering free admission on Black Friday. 

If you want a suggestion of great National Parks to go to or things to see, shoot me an email! I would love to hear from you!

GLUTEN + DAIRY FREE CHOCOLATE S’MORES CAKE

gluten-dairy-free-chocolate-smore-cake

In my house, dessert is such an indulgence. My sweet-tooth husband keeps his stash of cookies and sour gummies tucked away in the pantry, but that’s pretty much it. I call it self-control, some call it self-deprivation – I’ll agree its somewhere in the middle ๐Ÿ™‚

Before last Sunday’s family dinner my sister called to let me know I “better not be bringing any of my disgusting gluten and dairy free items” the challenge was on.  I was determined to make them think this cake was buttermilk-laden, white flour goodness. And you know what? TOTAL SUCCESS!

chocolate-smores-cake

This Chocolate S’mores cake is every bit as rich and delicious as one made with dairy and gluten and had everyone going back for seconds:

 

Gluten + Dairy Free Chocolate S'mores Cake
Serves 10
A decadent, delicious and rich chocolate s'more cake that is completely gluten and dairy free. This recipe makes 3 tiers.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
For The Cake
Dry
  1. 2 3/8 Cups Gluten Free Flour [I like Namaste Brand Perfect Flour Blend http://goo.gl/tVCu97]
  2. 3 Cups Sugar
  3. 1 1/8 Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  4. 3 3/4 Tablespoons Baking Soda
Wet
  1. 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil [
  2. 3 Eggs
  3. 1 1/2 Cup Almond Milk [Any Dairy Alternative Milk would work]
  4. 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  5. Squeeze of Lemon Juice from Half a Lemon
For The Ganache
  1. 1 Bag [340 Grams] Dairy Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips [I used these from Trader Joes http://goo.gl/JZLFtN]
  2. 4 ounces Canned Coconut Milk
For The Toppings
  1. 1/2 Box S'moreables Gluten Free Graham Crackers
  2. 1 Bag Large Marshmallow
  3. 1 Bag Small Marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Grease your round cake tins with coconut oil [you will need 3]
For the cake
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the Oil, Eggs, Almond Milk and Lemon Juice
  2. Then mix in one-by-one the Baking Soda, Flour, Sugar and Cocoa Powder
  3. Beat ingredients together until you have a smooth cake batter
  4. Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into each cake tin and bake for 35 minutes
While The Cake Bakes
  1. Add half of the box of S'moreables Graham Crackers to a ziplock bag and crush them so that you have moderately small pieces.
For The Ganache
  1. When the cakes are out of the oven and have cooled for 5 minutes, begin the Ganache
  2. In a double boiler, add the Chocolate Chips and a small amount of Coconut Milk
  3. As the Chocolate Chips begin to melt, continue to stir well mixing in the Coconut Milk, add more Coconut Milk as you mix until you have added all of it
  4. Stirring often, you should create a velvety, thick liquid mixture.
Cake Assembly
  1. When the cakes are cooled and your Ganache is ready to be poured, put your first layer on your serving dish
  2. Lightly pour the Ganache along the edge of the cake, then pour a small amount in the middle and spread with a cake spreader.
  3. Sprinkle Graham Cracker over the ganache
  4. Top with small Marshmallows. Light your torch and gently brown the marshmallows.
  5. Add the second [middle] layer of the cake and repeat the steps above.
  6. Add the final [top] layer of your cake and repeat the steps above, adding slightly more Ganache and stopping before adding the Marshmallows
  7. For this layer you will want to arrange the LARGE Marshmallows on the top. Lightly brown this layer of marshmallows and voila! You're done!
Notes
  1. You will need a small torch and a cake spreader to assemble the cake.
  2. I used Kraft Marshmallows, Marshmallows are naturally Gluten Free even if it's not listed on the bag.
Adapted from Queen
Adapted from Queen
Luxe + Lillies http://luxeandlillies.com/

BATCHING TASKS: EMAIL

task batching email productivity

Over the next few weeks I’m going to post some information on Batching Tasks. If you’re not already doing this, I highly recommend it. Batching tasks has the potential to increase the quality of our work while doing so with less effort… seems like a no-brainer, right?

Why Batch Tasks?

Your brain works to efficiently group similar things together. Whether these are activities, tasks, ideas… the list goes on. Multi-tasking is a concept that anyone who wants to be more efficient and spend more time actually living their lives needs to completely block from their brain. Multi-tasking doesn’t work. When you group similar tasks together, your brain doesn’t have to switch gears every few minutes, therefore saving time you were previously loosing when you were priming your brain to think on a completely different level.

Checking our email every few minutes is a great [sometimes fun] distraction – but absolutely un-productive. By batching tasks together that we perform every day/week/month the quality of our work increases and we can do those things in less time, with less effort.

TB EMAIL

Email:

Email has the tendency to eat up the most significant amount of time during the day. It can get us completely off-track, distracted or sucked in to something new. Instead of constantly refreshing your email, check it in pre-determined blocks of time throughout the day. See below:

email-productivity

Importantly, use two of these blocks of time to specify the tasks even further. The by-product is a higher level of organization

  • Check and respond to ย your email 4 times a day in 15 minute blocks.
  • First 15 Minute Block: Delete emails and quick respond to others
  • Last 15 Minute Block: Delete emails, quick respond to others and categorize anything important from the day

You may be thinking, “My clients/boss/colleagues expect an immediate response.” It’s funny how organizing a task like this can make those responsesย which are needed immediately suddenly a little less immediate.

If you are a truly concerned, ย The Wonder Jamย advocates adding a sentence to your signature along these lines:

“Iย check my email 4 times throughout the day. Here’s why. If you need to reach me immediately, please call me at 555-555-5555″

* Think about using this tactic for Instagram, or Tinder, or reading your favorite daily website. It would give you so much more time to actually LIVE your life.