Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Wore Wednesday (October 28)

Here a some recent outfits and some thoughts on them.

I never thought I'd like pattern mixing, but I recently started getting really interested in it, probably because I have been seeing it a lot on Instagram and on blogs. And I now really like it and want to do it more and more. I previously paired the striped blouse with a pencil skirt that has a pattern. This time, I paired the vertically striped blouse with my horizontally striped maxi skirt. I really liked the outfit, and it was super comfortable. It was nice to wear the maxi skirt one more time before it gets too cold since I had only worn in once this summer.
Another super comfortable outfit were my dark skinny jeans paired with a red tunic with a long necklace. I felt really good & comfortable all day!  It’s amazing how what you wear can influence your entire day. 
I bought the scarf in the next outfit many weeks ago and couldn’t wait to wear it. In fact, it got quite warm later in the day, so I only got to wear it for a few hours. I brought a cool necklace for the afternoon when I took off the jacket and scarf.   

On Saturday we were busy running errands, going to a beerwalk, and to a birthday party. I was comfortable in skinny jeans, a grey tee, and a long cardigan. The interesting part of the outfit is the turquoise necklace, which I love.


On Sunday, I wore tights & a knit skirt that I got more than five years ago, but I had never worn them. I can actually see myself wearing them a lot! It’s good to take a long hard look at what’s in your closet once in a while! The skirt is a bit shorter than what I normally wear, but the tights are opaque, so I think the length of the skirt works.

Finally, on Monday I wore my Missoni for Target dress again. I previously wore it by itself, but this time I added a turtleneck underneath for warmth.  
Questions: What’s your favorite accessory right now? I still love my necklaces but am getting more and more excited about scarves. I may have to add a new one soon…

Be well,

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekly Meals & Weekend Fun (October 26)

Our weekend was quite busy.

On Saturday, there was soccer, a birthday party, and a beerwalk in Willow Glen (Andy’s writing gig is tough!). Beerwalks are a lot of fun since you get to visit businesses that you may not otherwise visit in charming neighborhoods (Willow Glen, Campbell, Japantown). Last year, I bought some great boots in Willow Glen. Unfortunately, we only stopped by for a little bit as we had to get to the birthday party.


And on Sunday there were two more birthday parties, including the kid's. We went walking every day, but I really missed our hikes this weekend...


It’s going to be another busy week, and I decided to make it soup/stew week. I already made the beef stew and the lentil soup and will make the other soup and stew during the week. Plus, the soups and stews will also work great for lunches. Everyone can decide what he/she wants to eat each day. I’ll also have some bread for the boys and may make some grilled cheese sandwiches on request. Plus, there is a big bag of washed lettuce, cucumber slices, carrots and radishes for salads

Stew 1: Slow cooker beef stew. This is a recipe from Tami at Nutmeg Notebook. Tami became vegan a few years ago, and she has great vegan meal ideas on her blog and on Instagram. We don’t eat a lot of meat, and I love getting meatless meal ideas and recipes from her. But this is an old recipe that used to be one of her go-to recipes when she still ate meat. I really like it, and it’s super simple as it cooks itself. I doubled the recipe and froze several portions.
Stew 2: Veggie Chickpea stew. I used to make this stew all the time but then somehow forgot about it. I’m excited to make it again.
Soup 1: Lentil soup.
Soup 2: Curried carrot soup. - This is a Conscious Cleanse recipe that we love all year.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? Did you get to relax enough? We had a lot of fun, but, unfortunately, our weekend was a bit too busy. What’s on your menu this week? I’m excited about stew/soup week and hope it’ll make the week a little less stressful.

Be well,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Feeling My Best During the Holidays

I love fall. After all, it’s Andy’s and the kid’s birthday, there is pumpkin everything, it’s (supposedly) cooler, I get to wear scarves (hopefully soon for longer than an hour in the morning!), there are candles on the table and spiced cider on the stove… But then again, life always gets extremely hectic this time of year. I find there is less (or no!) me time, our meals are uninspired because I just want to get something/anything on the table, I sleep less, and eating “whatever" certainly doesn’t help me feel or look my best.

For the last few years, I have tried to focus on health and well being during the holiday season. Making health and well being a priority has made the holiday season a lot more enjoyable for me. At times, to achieve overall well being requires actually giving up something. We have made sure not to attend every holiday event but only those that fit in our schedule. I also carefully choose what I put into my body so that I can feel my best.

Doing a Conscious Cleanse - a food-based cleanse - always helps me feel my best, and I often feel the need to “clean things up” in the fall. I should note that I often reintroduce only some of the principles I’ve learned from doing the cleanse at a time like this and don’t do another full-on cleanse.

I never thought of myself as the “cleansing type” before doing my first Conscious Cleanse. In fact, I probably had a lot of misconceptions about what a cleanse is (or can be; a cleanse is not/should not be a crazy crash diet - see more below). I don’t like extremes and instead prefer to enjoy most things in “moderation." And I probably would have never done a cleanse had I not been asked at the very last minute by a blogging friend to review it. I literally had no time to think, and once I had committed I decided to stick to it 100% and see what would happen.

And I am so glad I did. Because for the past (almost) three years, I have been able to fall back on the principles I learned from doing the Conscious Cleanse whenever my eating (and living) gets a bit out of whack (like right now).  Warm lemon water, big salads, soups, journaling first thing in the morning, other forms of self care, and more all help me get back to “normal.” Doing a Conscious Cleanse - or even just re-focusing on some of its principles -  always makes me feel better. 

When I did my first cleanse in January 2013, I discovered that I was sensitive to gluten (something I had suspected but didn’t want to believe since I thought it was such a “fad"), and it truly changed my life for the better as gluten affects my digestion, mood, and joints, and I feel a lot better without gluten in my life.

Here are some questions you may have about the Conscious Cleanse and my answers:

So what is the Conscious Cleanse? Do you get to eat only rabbit food and drink green juice? 

The answer is no. You actually get to eat lots of different foods while doing the cleanse (and there is a LONG list of delicious foods you can eat), and I like that you are never hungry. However, there is a list of common allergens (dairy, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten, etc.) that you are asked not to eat (and drink). At the end of the cleanse, you’ll reintroduce these foods one by one, paying close attention to how they make you feel. Since your body is “clean” and you introduce each food by itself, it is much easier for you to see how your body reacts to each food. It’s still hard for me to believe that I had never paid closer attention to the awful “side effects” I experience whenever I eat gluten.
Is it difficult to do the Conscious Cleanse? 

To be honest, the foods I eat when doing a cleanse are not that different from the foods I normally eat: lots of salads, soups, turkey/spinach burgers (without the bun), raw veggies with avocado, green smoothies, veggie stir fries, etc. So for me the food is not that different, and I am in fact cooking quite a few Conscious Cleanse meals regularly throughout the year. However, I do notice that I have to plan and prep more because the “convenient foods” (really packaged foods) I tend to grab when I’m busy and in a hurry are off limits: a piece of cheese, gluten-free crackers, chips & salsa, packaged sauces (they contain sugar and many other ingredients that are off limits), etc. I am just as happy with veggies and avocado cream or black bean dip (so easy & delicious!), a cup of soup with rice, or a green smoothie, but it’s important to have these foods prepped so I don’t get frustrated when I’m hungry. So the bottomline is: the Conscious Cleanse is not difficult to do, but you should spend a few hours a week prepping food to make the experience enjoyable. 

One thing that makes the Conscious Cleanse very doable is all the support you get while doing the cleanse - six live teleseminars, a private Facebook group where fellow cleansers as well as the coaches give great support, suggestions, and cheerleading, and daily email reminders that help you focus on different aspects of well being. The support truly makes a difference!

Why would you do a cleanse right before the holidays? 

I think right before the holidays is a great time to do a cleanse because it takes the focus away from food and lets you focus on other areas of your life that bring you lasting joy. One element of the cleanse is daily journaling first thing in the morning. I really love that added "me time” as well as other aspects of self care that are encouraged - taking a bath, going on a walk, doing anything nice for myself. Often when we grab food that in the end doesn’t make us feel our best, it is really something else we are looking for, and the cleanse always reminds me how important it is to take care of myself.

What happens after the cleanse is over?
After you reintroduce the foods you eliminated on the cleanse one by one, you are encouraged to live by the 80/20 rule. That is, eat according to the rules of the cleanse 80% of the time and enjoy little indulgences the other 20%.

Is a cleanse just a crazy crash diet?
The Conscious Cleanse is definitely not a crash diet. You are encouraged to eat until you are comfortably full, while being mindful. Since you eat healthy foods, drink no alcohol, and eat or drink no added sugar, it is likely that you’ll lose some weight on the cleanse. However, weight loss is not my primary goal for cleansing. When I did the cleanse for the first time, I wanted to find out what foods I may be sensitive to as I had a suspicion for quite some time that gluten “wasn’t sitting right with me.” I didn’t weigh myself during the first cleanse, but I know I lost some weight because my clothes fit a lot better at the end. During subsequent cleanses, I have focused on eating the best foods for my body and relying less on pre-made foods, sauces (my number one vice!!!), and caffeine (unfortunately, I recently fell off the caffeine wagon again….).

So, yes, I think you’ll probably lose some weight, but I don’t think weight loss should ever be the main motivator for doing a cleanse - feeling your best and finding out what does and does not work for your body should be your main motivation for doing a cleanse. Also, it’s a great way to “reset” your body. It’s so easy to get used to too much sugar, salt, sauces, etc. And your body expects these flavors. Once you take them out completely, your taste buds will be happy without them or much less of them.

Where can I find out more about the Conscious Cleanse? 
I have written numerous times about the Conscious Cleanse over the past few years. Here are some of my previous posts:

If you are interested in the Conscious Cleanse, you can find out more information here. The next Conscious Cleanse starts on November 4. In fact, that’s when the transition period to the cleanse starts, and you make one change a day for five days (like eating more vegetables or reducing, and eventually eliminating, coffee).

But you don’t have to do a full-on cleanse to feel better in the next few months. Just focus on one or two things that you’ll do for yourself every day! It could be anything: eating an extra serving of veggies each day, limiting (or eliminating) caffeine or alcohol, cutting back on sugar, reading for 30 minutes each day, not over-scheduling yourself, doing some yoga first thing in the morning, making time for a walk each day - the list goes on and on.

Questions: How are you going to take care of yourself during the next few months?  

Be well,

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase the Conscious Cleanse through one of the links, I earn a commission.]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wrap Love

Wraps are everywhere. On blogs, on Instagram, in magazines. Unfortunately, they are not quite yet in my life as it’s been still too warm to wear them.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a beautiful, reversible wrap from Nora at Jacket Society. I follow Nora on Instagram and read her blog, and I really like her style. This was my first purchase from her site. Ordering was quick and easy, and I got my wrap within a few days. There are so many more items on her site I’d love to own...

It cooled down just a bit over the weekend, and I tried on the wrap in the morning.

IMG 1775
IMG 1788

And then I reversed it…

IMG 1787  
IMG 1785
I can’t wait to wear the wrap! It’s soft and warm (and not itchy at all, which is very important to me as I’m very sensitive to itchy sweaters, etc.). 

I usually post what I wore the previous week (and my thoughts on my outfits) on Wednesdays. If you are interested, you can check out all my outfits on Instagram

Questions: Do you own a wrap? What’s your favorite piece of clothing at the moment? 

Be Well,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Weekly Menu & Weekend Fun (October 19)

We had a low-key and relaxing weekend.

On Friday and Sunday, we went hiking at Rancho San Antonio. Parking can be a challenge on the weekend, but we have found that if you just wait in one of the parking lots (instead of driving in circles, trying to “chase” someone who is leaving), you usually get a space before too long. There is also street parking in the nearby neighborhood, and the walk into the park is pleasant.  

We also made it to a Pumpkin Patch. At first the kid thought he was too old (and cool), but he ended up enjoying it.

Here is what’s on the menu this week:

Meal 1: Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken and Fried Rice - this recipe is from Andrea at Living on Cloud Nine. It sounds delicious, and I’m sure the boys will love it.
Meal 2: Baked sweet potatoes with cheese, salsa, & black beans & a salad.
Meal 3: Butternut squash/kale soup with white beans. I made this for the first time a few weeks ago. At the time, the kid didn’t particularly care for it, but I thought it was delicious.
Meal 4: Salmon burgers & roasted veggies.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What’s on your menu this week?

Be well,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I Wore Wednesday (October 14)

Last Wednesday, I decided it was time to bring out my “work pants.” I paired them with a grey/white striped blouse and a grey cardigan. I really like the blouse/cardigan combo. Plus, the blouse is super comfortable.

On Thursday, the black pants made a repeat appearance when I paired them with the “work” blue/white striped blouse I recently got at Banana Republic on clearance. I like the outfit, but it’s dangerously close to my work  “uniform” (black (or grey) pants and a not too exciting top) I so easily get stuck in. I am determined not to let myself fall into a “ work uniform rut!"

On Monday, I made sure to switch things up with a dress, cardigan, and a scarf. It was chilly in the morning, and the scarf worked well, but it got way too hot later in the day. I brought a necklace to replace the scarf with. I know I have said this before, but I’m really looking forward to playing with scarves!

Yesterday was a hot day, but it was cool in the morning, and I was only on campus for a short time (and changed pretty much right after I got home). I kept things all black. I really like the top and didn’t want to distract from it with any jewelry.
Questions: What’s your favorite piece of clothing or accessory at the moment? I got two casual blouses on clearance at Banana Republic (each one was about $10 after various discounts) in the last few month (one is the grey striped one above and the other one I wear a lot on weekends; see it on Instagram here). I love how comfortable they are and how well they fit. I also got the “work blouse” above at Banana Republic recently; I like it, but it just isn’t as comfortable as the others.

Be Well,

Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekly Meals and Weekend Fun (October 12)

Andy and the kid have birthdays this week, so we celebrated a bit by going out to eat a few times, and Andy got to drink some craft beer (yes, that’s really not that unusual…).

We started the celebrating with lunch at Veggie Grill. I usually get the Banh Mi salad (I’m in love with it - the delicious, glazed, slightly crispy tofu, the cilantro, all the veggies and the spicy peppers - so good!), and Andy really likes the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ sandwich. (We also really like the buffalo wings from the appetizer menu.)

But Andy decided to switch things up and got the Buffalo Bomber; he really liked it. I also switched things up and got a “pick a pair.” I chose a cup of tomato soup (the seasonal soup right now) and 1/2 All Hail Kale salad. It was a great choice. I like that the salad came with the dressing on the side as I only needed very little of it because of all the textures and moisture from the tomatoes, corn, and beans in the salad (and I really don’t like overdressed salads).
On Saturday afternoon, we went to Santa Clara Valley Brewing where Andy tried their Imperial Oatmeal Stout on cask with cocoa nibs and New Mexico chilies. I had a sip, and it was delicious - really smooth and chocolaty. By the time I wanted to have a second sip, it was all gone! We also played several card games. I love that Santa Clara Valley Brewing is a kid-friendly place.
We started Sunday with a hike. 
And then the older kid took us out to a Korean meal to celebrate his new job.    
In other news, I really wanted to add a wrap to my wardrobe and finally ordered one early last week from fashion designer Nora Minassian of Jacket Society. I received it on Thursday, and it's beautiful. I follow Nora on Instagram and read her blog, and I am always impressed by her amazing style. Unfortunately, it’s still really warm, but I’m really looking forward to wearing the beautiful wrap soon.
Here is what’s on the menu this week.

Meal 1: Teriyaki chicken, rice, & broccoli.
Meal 2: Salmon & grilled veggies.
Meal 3: Veggie stir-fry with rice noodles.
Meal 4: Lentil soup.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What’s on your menu this week? 

Be well,

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I Wore Wednesday (October 7)

Following are a few of the outfits I wore in the last week and some thoughts on them.

Last Wednesday, I wore a pencil skirt that has some movement and extra fabric on the bottom. I love that it moves when I move. I also love the length of the skirt; it hits me right at the knee, which I think is perfect. I paired it with a lightweight tee/cardigan combo in purple/maroon. I have a fun purple necklace that goes with the tee/cardigan.
On Thursday, I wore a black/white dress with a turquoise necklace. I love that necklace and have worn it with many different outfits and colors. I like the contrast of the turquoise with the black/white.  

On Friday, I took the kid to piano practice (I usually can’t go, but we changed the time this week as the kid had an independent study day, and I loved watching him), ran errands, did a few hours of correcting and lesson planning, and went on a few walks. I therefore dressed very comfortably: jeans, black tank, a lightweight black cardigan, and comfortable shoes. To make the outfit a bit more interesting, I added a handmade glass necklace.   

 I needed a little pick me up on Monday, and my Desigual dress always does the trick.
Yesterday, I wore a faux wrap dress I got at Gap five years ago when we visited Disneyland with the kid. I can still picture the mall where I bought it. I love it when memories are attached to clothes! I haven’t worn it very often, but I really like it and it’s super comfortable. Plus it has specks of red, blue and green, so I look forward to playing with different accessories.
When I look at my outfits from the last few weeks, I am happy that I wore quite a few of my jewelry pieces. I know I wear more of my jewelry (many pieces I’ve had for 15+ years) because I hung up most of my necklaces on a wall where I can see them. In the past, I more often than not wore a simple silver necklace day in and day out because it was too difficult to find an appropriate necklace. Yet, I had so many pieces to choose from; they just weren’t accessible…

Questions: What’s your favorite way to accessorize? I love rediscovering my necklaces, and I look forward to wearing my scarves when it cools down a bit more.

Be well,

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekly Menu and Weekend Fun (October 5)

We had a longer than usual weekend as the kid had a minimum day on Thursday and an independent study day at Friday. I had to juggle my work around a bit, but it was great to have some extra time together!

Thursday was also the beginning of the kid's birth month, so the kid and I decided to go to Benihana for lunch to celebrate. Benihana is always such a fun experience. The kid got the California rolls, and I got the hibachi scallops.  
We also made sure to get enough steps every day and went hiking as well as on several beautiful evening walks.
On Saturday we went to the Mountain View Oktoberfest. Andy writes about the craft beer scene in the South Bay and enjoys checking out beer events. It was a chance to wear my traditional “Oktoberfest blouse.” I did cheat and wore it with jeans and funky shoes, but it’s always fun to dress a bit for the occasion. While it was fun to check out the Oktoberfest, it was a bit too crowded and noisy for me. I must be getting old…


But we went back to the Mountain View Oktoberfest for just a little bit on Sunday after our hike as Andy reminded me that it was also the beginning of his birth month, and that’s how he’d like to celebrate… It was a lot less crowded, and I enjoyed it a lot more.  


I didn’t get as much meal prep/precooking done as usual, but we did go grocery shopping. I also made veggie packs (we eat a lot more veggies throughout the week and they don’t go bad if they are all prepped and easy to grab) as well as some spiced applesauce in the slow cooker (I cooked a big bag of peeled & thinly sliced apples with 3/4 cup of water, a little cinnamon sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon & a bit of pumpkin pie spice on high for 3.5 hours). The spiced applesauce filled our kitchen with the most amazing smell. I look forward to having it in oatmeal with some yogurt.

Here is what’s on the menu for this week:

Meal 1: Scallops & roasted veggies - I was inspired by the hibachi scallops at Benihana. I know mine won’t be quite as good though...
Meal 2: Chili - It’s not quite “chili" weather yet around here, but I’m in the mood!
Meal 3: Butternut squash soup & a salad.
Meal 4: Spaghetti squash & mushroom casserole.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What’s on your menu this week? 

Be well,

Friday, October 2, 2015

Olive Oil Tasting

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by The Olivique - a Spanish olive oil company - to see if I was interested in trying their oils. Their oils are 100% olive juice and certified non GMO. They sounded great, so how could I say no?

I was excited when I opened the package and found four pretty bottles.

The Olivique Olive Oil
The extra virgin oils all have distinctive flavor profiles, and the The Olivique’s website has suggestions what to pair each oil with.

I decided to try the Picual first. It’s description is as follows: "Rich in oleic acid notes of wood and fresh herbs. Unique & with a strong personality.” The description is accurate. I decided to add a little oil on top of my mushroom, spinach, & egg breakfast, and I loved the flavor the olive oil added to the simple dish.  

Egg Mushromo Spinach Breakfast
Next I used the Cornicabra in a simple vinaigrette. The description of the Cornicabra is as follows: "A fresh flavor with notes of fresh herbs, tomato & even avocado. It enhances flavors in any dish, pairs beautifully with salads, toasts, vegetables and it's stability makes it famous for a mild yet present taste.” The Cornicabra worked beautifully in the salad dressing.
One of our favorite things to do on our weekly Farmers’ Market visits is to taste and compare various food products, such as cheeses, sauces, vinegars, and oils. So we decided to have some fun at home and did an “official tasting” of all four oils with some sourdough bread we had picked up at the Farmers’ Market. Andy was excited and said, “That’s all I need. Bread and olive oil. Perfect.”

It was fun tasting all of the oils side by side and comparing them to the descriptions on the website. All the oils taste excellent and matched their descriptions. Andy and the kid preferred the milder oils, but I liked them all and look forward to playing with them some more in different dishes. But there is nothing wrong with simply dipping a little bread in them either...
Olive Oil tasting 2
The Olivique is sold in stores in the United States and available in several stores in California (Jimbo’s Naturally, Vincente Foods, Bay Cities Market, Pacific Ranch Market, Marbella Ranch Market, Major Market, and Seaside Market).

Questions: Do you like olive oil? What’s your favorite way to eat it? 

Be well,

[Note: I was provided four bottles of The Olivique olive oil for free. No other compensation was provided. As always, all opinions are my own.]