Don't be afraid to fail (+ my fave summer OTS top)

I've been meaning to blog consistently for the past few months, but somehow it keeps getting put on the back-burner.

The cool thing is, if I've learned anything in life, it's that there's never a reason to give up on your goals. Even if you fail at completing your goals for months, or years, or even decades, you can pick up at any time and JUST. DO. IT. Just do it. It's that easy (Nike got it right). It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be anything other than what you can put out there. But just do it. Because what's worse than failing? Never even trying.

Here's me failing at swinging. Yes, the thing that first graders do.

Here's me failing at swinging. Yes, the thing that first graders do.

Aside from chasing goals, another place I've learned to be fearless is fashion. In the past, I'd watch awesome trends go by and feel like I couldn't pull them off. But nowadays? I find the style within the trend that looks great on me. Fashion isn't about looking perfect, it's about being interesting and finding the style or cause that makes your look unique.

Shop this look below! (Dog not for sale.)

Shop this look below! (Dog not for sale.)

Current example: off-the-shoulder tops. I love this look, but in the past would've just let it go by, never wearing it myself (common ways I used to talk myself out of wearing a cute top: my arms are too fat, my boobs are way too small, what about those love handles, etc.). Fast-forward to now, and instead, I've found an OTS top that flatters my body, and is on high rotation in my wardrobe.

Check out that lace detailing.

Check out that lace detailing.

I love this specific OTS top because it accentuates the shoulders with a lacy edge, fluffs out in the front and back to cover any muffin-top action, and is roomy and comfortable to wear all day. I paired it with my everyday pair of jeans and the cutest pink bow slides. It comes out looking ultra feminine without all the usual work of having to wear heels or dresses.

Shop the look:

Cheesin'

Cheesin'

#swinggoals (not the sexy kind)

#swinggoals (not the sexy kind)

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Can we also talk about this view for a sec? Locals know about this spot, and it's one of my favorite lookout points in San Francisco: the top of Dolores Park. If you trek all the way up to Dolores Street and 20th Street, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of downtown SF, with a lovely bench to enjoy your time looking out. The area is also surrounded by an overgrowth of colorful flowers to set the mood. And in the summer, someone always brings out a huge tarp to make a slip-n-slide for adults, kids, and dogs. What could possibly be better?

Ahhh...

Ahhh...

So here's your daily reminder to just go for it (whatever "it" is for you). Don't be afraid, because the worst thing that could happen is that you learn and grow.

Photos by Hannah Anisa

A romper for summer? Yes you can!

I've been a fan of rompers for a while, but I never thought I could pull of the trend - most rompers I tried on were too tight and too saggy in all the wrong places (diaper butt anyone?). But then, I found it: the right romper. It was definitely a hallelujah moment.

Isn't it beautiful? So what was so different about this one? One word: the FIT. 

Here are some tips when you're looking for a romper:

Loose but still shows off your figure

Finding a romper for everyday wear means that it shouldn't be skintight, but should still cinch at the waist so you have an hourglass shape. You want to show off your overall figure while still leaving something to the imagination.

Side note: I actually got this romper in a size larger than usual because it just fit better, and I'd rather have it look good than try to squeeze into a specific number. Who made up these sizes anyway, and why should we care about them?

Balanced amount of material

Because rompers show off a lot of leg, balance that out with a classic, covered top. Long bell sleeves, off-the-shoulder, a simple boat neck - all of these work well with shorts, so they also work well as the top part of a romper. 

Keep the accessories simple

A romper is already a statement piece, so keeping accessories simple and classic is a great move. I chose to pair my romper with ankle boots, but you can also easily pair it with slides or sandals. Watch out for tall boots - they might take you a bit too far into go-go-dancer territory.

The thing I love most about a romper is how versatile it is. It works in different kinds of weather, and easily goes from day to night. It's also extremely comfortable, and showing off leg (without anything else) made me feel sexy and confident. So find that romper, put on those boots, and stomp it out girl!

Hawai'i: Hawaiian Crown (eats)

I randomly found this place on Yelp when we were searching for acai bowls in Hilo - it's a nondescript storefront that doesn't look open, so we definitely wouldn't have found this if we weren't searching specifically for it.

But once you're inside, oh boy! One of the owners was there and he was so sweet and so knowledgeable. He made a special acai bowl just for me (their regular acai bowls contain pineapple, and I'm allergic). The bowls were fresh and delicious, and they told us about their chocolate plantation and the drying process while we waited. There's a cute little shaded backyard overgrown with plants where you can sit and eat outdoors.

The most amazing thing about this place? They have UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE. That's right, chocolate nibs that are just pure cocoa plant. No sugar or added ingredients of any kind. What does this mean? This is chocolate that I can actually eat!

*MIND BLOWN*

The little brown flecks you see on the bowls above are sugar-free chocolate nibs (you can buy them online here). I hadn't had chocolate in 3 years, so this was an amazing experience.

Highly recommend this place if you're ever in Hilo, and make sure you ask lots of questions of whoever is working there, and try out all their samples! They also sell pineapples, macadamia nuts, different chocolate bars and chocolate-dipped fruit, and mixing chocolate (their coffee drinks are half hot chocolate).

Check out my #ootd that day (and their lush patio):

Address: 159 Kaiulani Ave #105, Honolulu, HI 96815
Hours: 8AM-6PM daily
hawaiiancrown.com

Why every woman needs a jumpsuit in her life
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I'm one of those people who likes the idea of putting together complex outfits with tons of accessories, but in my day-to-day reality, running from photoshoots to meetings to appointments, I usually just end up putting on something easy, comfortable, and quick in the morning. My go-to for a long time was trendy jeans, but about a month ago I discovered the unicorn of the fashion world: jumpsuits.

Jumpsuits are magical. A cute jumpsuit is literally the only piece of clothing you have to put on before walking out the door (though don't forget shoes!). You can accessorize a jumpsuit if you want, but you don't have to, and you'll still look put-together.

PROS:

  • it's really a hard piece to mess up style-wise (just make sure it's a bit flowy for office and everyday)
  • it's super comfortable to wear (no bulges here)
  • it easily goes from office to night out
  • there are endless different styles that are flattering on any body type - culottes, wide leg, skinny, off-the-shoulder, open-back, halter-top... and so on

CONS:

  • going to the bathroom involves taking off your top (not the worst)

I've basically been living in this floral culotte waist-cinched jumpsuit that I bought last month. I pair it with my tan oxford slip-ons or brown booties and cute sunnies, and I'm good to go, which is so perfect for those mornings when I have to run out the door.

So for those days when you're feeling down, rushed, or just lacking creativity, throw on a cute jumpsuit and life will instantly get better.

Scroll down to shop this look!

jumpsuit similar here | shoes similar here | sunnies similar here

Photos by Hannah Anisa

Hawai'i: Golden Goat (eats)

I'm really bad at writing long articles with lots of recommendations, so instead I decided that I'm going to recommend one spot a day from my trip to the Big Island (Hawai'i).

We didn't find this amazing hole-in-the-wall cafe until the end of the trip, but it turned out to be one of our faves! They have a tiny menu - acai bowls, smoothies, beef or pork lunch bowls, and tacos - but the food is so delicious that it doesn't get old. We tried the acai bowls and the lunch bowls, and both were extremely flavorful. The lunch bowl, especially, was filled with so many delicious goodies that our mouths exploded from happiness; goodies such as sauerkraut, peanut sauce, fresh veggies, brown rice, and flavorful marinated meat.

Aside from the food, the owners and clientele are also chatty and awesome. Both times we came, a variety of people came and went, and we enjoyed chatting with all of them. On the second day, we had a prolonged conversation with 3 different Californians who moved to the Big Island for different reasons, and a family on vacation who just made the decision to move as well. The owners of this shop bought land and built a completely off-the-grid house, so they their only bill is property tax - a whopping $200 per year. 

The cafe is just a tiny kitchen with a small bar and stools outside, but the it's the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast or lunch. It sits on the main street of Pahoa. "Main street" is a loose term, because while it is the street where all of the restaurants, bars, and stores are located, don't expect any city vibes here. The town and the main street are tiny and bohemian, and overrun with nature. People don't wear shoes or shirts because it's forever 85 degrees, and they don't have to. For the size of the street, it's surprisingly packed with incredible eats (this is coming from a San Francisco foodie, so it's a tall order to impress me).

If you're ever on the Island of Hawai'i, you have to come here. It's worth the drive.

Tip: lunch bowls and tacos don't start being served until 11am. This place also taught me that "spider" in Hawaiian is "nananana," which makes them a lot less scary.

I'll be sharing my faves from Pahoa and other parts of the island over the next few days and weeks, so stay tuned!

Address: 15-2929 Pahoa Village Road, Pāhoa, HI 96778
Hours: 9AM-4PM mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sat
www.facebook.com/goldengoathawaii

Allison in La La Land

I had the most amazing trip to LA a few weeks ago, and had the opportunity to shoot with some new bloggers, as well as one that I shot with previously in Palm Springs - Allison of www.butwhatshouldiwear.com. We had a ton of fun romping around Melrose Ave, and actually ended up finding a lot of the Palm Springs vibes in Los Angeles (not surprising, since we both love succulents).

Two locations that we came across that were especially Palm-Springs-y were a shop that was being painted with palm leaves and a cactus garden (both within a 1-block radius!). Allison styled the cutest date night outfit for these locations, with a lacy crop-top and gorgeous wide-leg striped pants. Moral of the story - you don't have to go far to find amazing backgrounds. Just keep your eyes open and your styles ready!

Major weekend sales from some of my faves!

This morning I woke up to major sales from 3 of my fave brands! So I had to share the excitement (and savings) with you:

 

Rocket Dog

Rocket Dog is a little brand that most people haven't heard of, but they have super cute and affordable shoes, and I've been a huge fan of theirs for over 5 years. Their shoes are high quality and last a long time - I've bought many pairs to test this out.

They're currently having a Cinco de Mayo spring sandal sale on their site (only for the next 24 hours) - use the code RDCINCO25.

Click below to shop some of my fave styles:

Blowfish Shoes

Another one of my fave shoes brands that most people haven't heard of is Blowfish Shoes. They have the most comfortable boots and booties ever, and their styles are super cute.

This weekend they are offering 50% off sale items with the code CINCOX10. Ladies, that means the shoes are basically free! Don't miss this.

Some of my favorite styles from them:

Forever21

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Forever21. Yes, it's fast fashion, but that means it's cute, affordable, on-trend, and I don't have to worry about accidentally getting it in the dryer (shrink alert!) or getting dirt on it.

They're having a 55% off summer kickoff sale this weekend! Omg, so excited! You don't even need a code, just go to their site and shop the sale.

Shop some of my current season faves below:

Julia recommends: Best nail salon

I have been THE WORST at blogging over the past month. I profusely apologize. It definitely is a bigger time commitment than I ever imagined.

BUT, I'm getting my butt (hah) in gear, and we're doing this thing, together. I want to start writing about recommendations because I've lived in SF for 24 years so I definitely know a few places here and there. Plus, people ask me all the time where to go to get/do [insert need/desire here]. So here we are.

This edition of Julia Recommends is ... (drumroll please) ... my nail salon! I usually just go for a pink/nude/grey color, but this week I was feeling extra saucy so I got this adorable (schizophrenic?) mixed canvas kind of deal. Take a look for yourself (and notice that pretty much anything I hold, ever, has to do with boba tea, obvs):

I've been to quite a few nail salons in the city, and Sophia's Beauty Lounge is definitely the best. This is the only place that consistently gets the correct nail shape that I want, and where my gel mani doesn't chip.

PROS:

The location is easy to get to (not far from 24th Street BART), the space is relaxing, the women who work there are super sweet, and there's always a chick flick going on TV (what a great excuse to waste an hour watching Clueless for the 100th time!). When you first walk in, they put a hot or cold compress around your neck and offer tea or water. Their massages area strong and amazing.

CONS:

They book up pretty quickly, so if you want a weekend spot, definitely schedule a few days to a week ahead. They're also a bit pricier than some other places ($40 for a gel mani), but honestly, it lasts 3-4 weeks so you're paying for quality.

Also, you'll likely meet Sophia (the owner) and she is the sweetest person ever! Tell her Julia sent you ;)

 

Sophia's Beauty Lounge

3420 Cesar Chavez Street, San Francisco

(415) 285-9777

Open Monday-Saturday 10:30am-7pm

Blooms + tassels + first time bloggers

One of my favorite things to do is take photos of bloggers who haven't worked with a professional photographer before. The vibe is a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and endless possibility, which is intoxicating. It's so fun to answer questions and guide them through the experience, while also watching progress into getting comfortable, having fun, and finding the rhythm of being in front of a professional camera.

I've found that bloggers are driven ladybosses who know what they want and work hard to get it. I love being around that energy and sharing tips with each other, since I've started blogging too.

I recently got to shoot with Kara from bostonalamode.com in one of my favorite locations - above Dolores Park! She styled the perfect California Spring outfit - a floral jacket, sunny yellow statement tassel earrings, and gold glitter heels. Seriously though - florals, yellows, and gold are my favorite accents right now. Kara was super sweet and has a great personality that shines through the lens. I instantly spotted this beautiful house with a brick and metal gateway and lots of greenery, and we knew it'd be perfect for this outfit.

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Check out all of the photos from our session below, and don't hesitate to email me if you want to book a session! I promise you'll have fun and come out with great photos <3

My guide to Palm Springs (Part 1): Where to eat

Last week, my hubs and I went to Palm Springs for the first time to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary. It was honestly our best vacation ever! I've heard so many great things about Palm Springs, and yet it was still even better than I imagined it.

We have a tendency to not plan activities ahead of time, which often leads to not doing a lot when we go on vacation. This time, I wanted to make sure that we took advantage of our time in the desert, so I created a surprise advent calendar (I'll post a step-by-step DIY tutorial for it soon) and wrote down lists of places to go and things to do. I'm so glad I did this, because we ended up enjoying so many activities and restaurants, and came across a few surprises!

I finally sat down to write my guide to Palm Springs. In part , lets talk about the food! There are some seriously delicious spots in the area. I even came across an amazing sushi place. Fresh fish in the desert? My mind was blown. Keep reading for all of my recommendations, plus the places I wish we'd gone!

 

Raw Remedy

I almost don't want to admit it, but we came here literally every day of the 10 days that we were in Palm Springs (one day I even went twice). That's how good it is. It's also right in downtown Palm Springs - super convenient and soooo cute! All of the storefronts there are covered in blooming bougainvilleas (and no, I still can't pronounce that word, haha). What we had:

Everything we tried was totally yummy. They also have soups, salads, burgers, tacos, and wraps, and they're all raw! We didn't try any of those, but I can only expect that they're also delicious. We met the owner, who was super nice! He was excited about healthy living and enthusiastic about his shop (so committed, he even has a custom license plate on his Jeep!). The cafe itself is cute and strangely eclectic, as if a hippie from the future decorated it. There's awesome outdoor seating, and little cups full of puzzles that you can do while you hang out.

Summary: Natural healthy smoothies and snacks. Go for the food!

116 La Plaza, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Reservoir

Part of the Arrive Hotel, this place was hands-down my favorite place to eat lunch+dinner. You can either sit in the open-air patio, indoors, or at the pool bar on the other side of the restaurant - all of these sitting choices are magnificent! The hotel is gorgeous - mostly wood and cement, every last detail is thought out and beautifully designed.

We came here a few times for both lunch and dinner. For lunch, I recommend the tacos, which you can mix and match. I tried the Carne Asada, Korean BBQ, Chicken Pastor, Tamarindo Shrimp, and Sesame Tuna. The tuna one was the only disappointment - the rest were delicious! For dinner, the side of coconut rice and peas is a must, and I had the Arugula Salad with added Carne Asada. It was the best salad+steak in.my.life. If you're Paleo, or just a fan of salads+steaks like me, then you have to try this.

The staff is so nice, and the vibe is chill, whether at night or during the day. They have misters during the day to cool you off from the desert heat, and a super cute (IG friendly) Ice Cream & Shop[pe] right next door. Go here!

Summary: fresh American food with Southern American influence. Go for the food and ambiance!

(inside Arrive Hotel) 1551 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Gyoro-Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

I stopped here for lunch and was in a major hurry. The staff was so sweet, and brought my food out super quickly so I wouldn't be late to my shoot! Their fish is amazingly fresh (the chef said they fly it in from LA). The space is huge but really well decorated in an old-fashioned Japanese style. There's both indoor and outdoor seating.

Their dinner menu is a little on the pricey side, but their lunch specials were super affordable! I had a Chirashi Bowl and it was one of the most delicious ones I've ever tasted. The restaurant is in downtown Palm Springs, so it's super convenient. Seriously, no excuse - if you like Japanese food, come here!

Summary: fresh Japanese. Go for the food and ambiance!

105 S Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

This place was on my list of must-go's, and Brad agreed to come here even though it was a bit out of our price range. The entrance is strange because there are actually three entryways, and you end up coming in through the patio, but the hostess is inside and on the other end of the restaurant. Once you successfully find the hostess, though, you're all set. The decor inside is breathtaking - cement, metal, and hanging light fixtures create a dark and romantic ambiance with tall booths and a long center table.

We sat outside on the patio, which was also a beautiful environment. String lights and desert trees are in abundance, and the patio is sheltered by buildings on all sides.

The food was all styled to perfection, and very tasty. This place was one of my favorites. We had the Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo, and Wood-Fired Pizza. Every dish was a magical blend of art and flavor. I was dying to try the Truffle Risotto, but couldn't justify it at $45 a pop.

Definitely come here for the experience, and make a reservation!

Summary: gourmet American food art. Go for the food and ambiance!

800 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

The Farm

We had brunch here - it's a tiny space that seems to always be packed, so a prior reservation is definitely recommended. You walk in and sit in a gorgeous courtyard that feels straight out of France. The restaurant is French-themed, with picnic-feels during the day.

I ordered the Croissant Breakfast Sandwich and Brad had an omelette. The omelette was good but nothing special. My sandwich was delicious, but really heavy (so prepare to be stuffed!). They had really yummy fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'd probably come again for the breakfast sandwich, but not very often - it's a bit pricey and the wait is long.

Summary: French-influenced American brunch. Go once for ambiance.

6 La Plaza, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Customs Coffee

This cafe is too cute! Very Instagram-friendly, with tufted seating, wood ceilings, metal + glass chandeliers, and marble tables on the patio. They serve local coffee from Joshua Tree Coffee Co., and baked goods. Plus, all of their details are blogger-chic-pink (like #thatpinkdoor). Customs is connected to the Arrive Hotel (my fave - more on that later). Make sure to ask for some stickers when you order!

Summary: Blogger heaven. Go for the coffee and decor!

1551 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

El Jefe

This is a hipster Mexican restaurant inside of the Saguaro Hotel. They have a Happy Hour menu during the week 3pm-6pm, and a Taco Tuesday menu. The food was delicious and the decor reminiscent of old-timey Wild West movies. We were there during the week, so it wasn't too loud or rowdy, but it seems like the kind of hotel where it gets that way on the weekends. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, we ran into a rambunctious group of girls.

I had the Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Brad had tacos (I don't remember which ones). Both the soup and the tacos were very tasty. Also, if you like to drink, they have an impressive wall lined with fancy tequilas.

The one disappointing thing about this spot was that we came on a Tuesday specifically for the Taco Tuesday menu, where you can order tacos a la carte for cheap (rather than the regular taco plate that comes with 3 of the same taco). To our surprise (and to the waiter's surprise), the Taco Tuesday menu is only available from 6pm-9pm. The waiter actually let us order off of it, and then came back 5 minutes later only to say that actually we couldn't. Frustrating! I'd definitely come back for the Taco Tuesday menu, but the regular menu was a bit pricey for the amount of food.

If you come here, also make sure to explore the hotel a bit. The interior design is colorful, fun, and a blogger fave!

Summary: hipster Mexican. Go for Taco Tuesday.

(inside Saguaro Hotel) 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Draughtsman

The name of this restaurant is a cute play on words because it's very much a fancy pub/sports bar, but the theme is actually blue drafting paper with technical drawings all over. I came here for both lunch and dinner. The reviews on Yelp say that the staff is rude and the kitchen is slow. It's not true about the staff, but the kitchen is indeed very slow. I do recommend coming here, but preferably for lunch on a weekday. Also save some time to play with the jumbo-sized Connect-4 and Jenga on the patio! They have a few other games as well, but these two are as tall as you!

They have some super fun menu items, like a Thai PB&J, asparagus fries, and a grilled mac and cheese sandwich. Brad tried the mac and cheese sando, and it was really amazing - not too gooey, just the right amount of crunch. I had the Pilsner Tomato Bisque soup and the beet salad for lunch. All of the food was great, but it did take a while to come out.

I came again for dinner and that was a bit of a disaster. An hour into waiting for my food (their signature burger, no bun), I ask the waiter and he found out that they accidentally gave my order to another table. Super weird because I had a very custom order (maybe someone else in the restaurant also ordered lettuce instead of buns and asparagus instead of potato fries.. but somehow I doubt it). They brought out my order 5 minutes later, but it was wrong. I finally ate about an hour and a half after sitting down.

Summary: playful American food. Go for weekday lunch!

1501 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

King's Highway

This is the restaurant inside of the Ace Hotel. The hotel itself is gorgeous, with desert hipster decor (Ace Hotel is a favorite for me and the hubs). The restaurant is a throwback to a road-side diner from the 70s. The vibes in the restaurant were fun, but I personally was disappointed by the food.

I tried the Karma Burger, which is their vegan option - I'd had one recently at By Chloe in NYC and I was craving it again. Unfortunately, it tasted nothing like the one I was craving, and in fact, I couldn't finish it because I really didn't enjoy the taste. Brad had the Desert Highway Burger and said it was good.

The one super cool thing about this place is that they host Bingo on Monday nights during dinner. The woman who leads it is a retired performer and a staple of Palm Springs - she and her co-hosts are super entertaining, plus you can choose to share your booth with strangers! We met some awesome Canadians in town for work. If you're coming for Bingo night, definitely make a reservation. They have two rounds per night, and it fills up.

There's also a coffee bar during the day that serves Stumptown, and a bar at night called Amigo. There is a photobooth, but it was broken when we stopped by.

Summary: mediocre American diner food. Go for Monday night Bingo.

(inside Ace Hotel) 701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Birba

Really popular pizza place, they offer gluten-free and cauliflower crust. The vibes here are amazing, especially at night. Most of the restaurant is outdoors, with romantic lighting and a wall of shrubs protecting you from the street. The restaurant seems to fill up, so I'd recommend making a reservation. They do have first-come-first-served seating on the outer edge (on couches!) as well as at the bar if you do happen to come here on a whim.

We had the Three Kale Salad and a custom pizza. The salad was incredible - beets, avocado, seeds - a ton of flavor. The pizza, however, was really sauce-heavy and made me feel super gross afterward. I didn't even eat the leftovers the next day (whaaat!). Brad enjoyed the pizza but agreed that it was heavy. We tried to order the cauliflower crust, but they were out, so we stuck to gluten-free.

I'd recommend coming here for the vibes/decor alone, but maybe steer clear of the pizza (unless you like the heavy stuff).

Summary: hipster pizza and Italian. Go for the ambiance.

622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Fruit Wonders

This is a smoothie shop on the main strip in downtown Palm Springs. To be honest, we only came here because Raw Remedy was closed that day, but this place was good as well! I had a bit of trouble communicating what I wanted (unfortunately I always have to customize my smoothies because they always come with honey and other sweet things that I don't eat), but ended up with a great drink.

Their specialty item is aguas frescas, and the staff happily give out samples. We didn't try those, but the reviews are very positive about them online. I'm not sure if the shop is being renovated, but the decor is definitely lacking - not a place we wanted to hang out in. Definitely a great backup for a quick in-and-out smoothie or bowl!

Summary: fresh juices, smoothies, and bowls. Go if Raw Remedy is closed.

264 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA (menu)

 

Places I wish we'd gone (but ran out of time):

  • Wilma & Frieda's Cafe - popular American brunch spot among bloggers
  • Rooster and the Pig - Vietnamese
  • Eight4Nine - American brunch + dinner with fun high-gloss white decor
  • The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge - farm-to-table pre-fixe dinner
  • The Edge Steakhouse at Rancho Mirage - steak with an amazing view
  • Coachella Valley Brewing - local brewery and taproom

Part 2 of my Palm Springs guide with activities to do is coming soon! Also watch out for a post on the inaugural season of Desert X (an art show all over the desert!) and the how-to for the DIY advent calendar.

<3

Introducing: nicecream! (recipe inside)

Some of you know that I eat Paleo, which means no dairy, no processed sugars or processed foods, no alcohol, no gluten, minimal grains. Basically it's mostly meats and vegetables, and some fruit. It may sound terrible at first, but it makes you feel great, is super healthy, helps you naturally lose weight, as well as other benefits like clearer skin and more energy, and honestly it's not that difficult once you pass the 1-2 month addiction/craving period. I can go on and on, but I'll save that for a later post.

It's exciting to me to see more and more businesses popping up that sell alternative foods that fit into a Paleo lifestyle. With summer coming up, I wanted to share a much healthier alternative to ice cream - nicecream!

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I bought this one during my trip to Palm Springs at an awesome juice bar called Raw Remedy, but it's actually super easy to make at home. Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 bananas (thickly sliced and frozen)
  • 1 cup frozen berries of your choice (I love strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut milk (or any creamy nut milk, such as cashew milk)

Blend everything together in a blender until it has a thick, ice cream consistency, and ta-dah! That's it! You can top it with your favorite toppings, such as fresh berries and coconut shavings. You can also put any ingredients in there that you'd put in a smoothie, such as pre-frozen pitaya or acai.

I want to see photos of your nicecream! Tag me in them on IG if you make this at home! <3

Mixing fashion with killer views

I love it when bloggers want to step out of the box and try something different, so when Christina (classtige.com) asked if there were any city views where we could shoot, I knew just the place!

Billy Goat Hill Park has been my favorite lookout over San Francisco since I found out about it when my husband and I moved to Glen Park last year. The view spans from the Bay Bridge over to the Peninsula. There are huge trees, a lookout point, a swing, and a great mini-hike down into the Mission. The houses in this area area also incredibly gorgeous, and a great background for blogger shoots.

But back to Christina and her outfit! This girl is usually very demure, so I was surprised to see her rockin' this sexy velvet jumpsuit and showing off some cleavage. It looked great on her, and the city background brought it all together.

Billy Goat Hill Park
300 Beacon Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

Mom goals with Dita

I love working with new bloggers because I get to help them feel comfortable in front of a professional's lens for the first time, and to figure out their esthetic. Last week, I got the chance to photograph Dita, a young, super fashionable mom who recently moved to San Francisco from Stockholm (@sf.stockholm). Not only did I get to photograph her... but she brought her daughter to the shoot as well! It was my first time doing a shoot with a baby in tow! She was adorable and I loved every second of it. We even got her into some of the photos, which I think is the sweetest thing. To share your love for fashion with your little girl, so much so that you want your fashion blog photos to include her? Swoon!

We walked around gorgeous Noe Valley and the weather was PERFECT. It was sunny and around 72 degrees, despite the fact that it was actually supposed to rain that day. This look was Dita's last one, which was super fun because it fit perfectly with the weather and this white brick wall we found.

I really enjoyed watching Dita interact with her daughter because it was so clear how much she loves her. All of my friends are having kids at this time in their lives, and it's really inspirational to see them juggle having a family, careers, hobbies, health, and just life. I've always known that I never wanted to have kids, and I'm happy that it's becoming more mainstream to choose that path because when I was younger all I was met with was "Oh, you'll want kids when you find the right man" (found him, still don't want them), or "Once you hit 30, your hormones will kick in and you'll want to make babies" (I'm 31, no baby-making hormones yet).

People sometimes ask me why I don't want to have children. There's a lot of reasons I could say (overpopulation, global warming, political turmoil, etc.), but really it's none of those things because it's not a choice; it's just part of who I am. Some girls dream of being moms from childhood, but although I played house as a little girl (I've always wanted to be married), I never played mom. It's just not in my DNA to grow and care for a little human. It's like asking someone who doesn't like strawberries why they don't like strawberries - no real reason other than the fact itself. And that's definitely reason enough!

I believe it's so important for women to have choices and to be respected for choosing the right path for ourselves. I love meeting moms, but I also love meeting women who don't want to have children. We're a minority, and it took me a long time to feel like I was still a bona fide woman, even if I didn't want to grow another human in my belly. I have lots of love and nurturing in me, it just isn't directed towards wanting to raise a child.

But don't get me wrong - I love baby socks/clothes/toys/everything (they are the cutest)! I'll just forever be the cool auntie <3

My summer smoothie recipe

Breakfast has always been a difficult meal for me. I'm often in a rush in the morning, so something quick and easy is best. Unfortunately, a lot of breakfast foods take time and effort, and those that don't are often very unhealthy. For a long time I just ate cereal or a baked good for breakfast, but a few years ago I went on the Paleo diet (meaning I cut out processed sugar, dairy, gluten, and alcohol from my diet, as well caffeine) - best decision I've ever made. It also meant that I had to find something else to have for breakfast.

I don't fully remember how I came to the realization that smoothies make a great breakfast (I add chia to make mine more filling), but I'm so happy I did. It's really the perfect breakfast - not too heavy, full of Vitamin C, easy and quick to make. Over the years I've experimented and perfected the recipe to include the flavors I love: sweet and tangy. Below are the ingredients and the super easy steps to make this deliciousness for yourself.

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    What you'll need:

    • a blender (or Vitamix)
    • 1 banana
    • 1 white nectarine
    • 4 frozen strawberries
    • 6 frozen blackberries
    • 8 frozen raspberries
    • 1/3 cup Chia seeds
    • 1 kale leaf
    • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
    • 1/4 cup water

    Some tips and tricks:

    • I prefer to buy fresh berries and wash and freeze them myself. Store-bought frozen berries are not as fresh and don't have the same amount of nutrients. It's also tastier to freeze the berries rather than just use berries out of the fridge because it makes that smoothie colder (I don't add ice).
    • Any kind of kale works (I prefer Lacinato kale). To make the smoothie more green, just add more kale! Kale has a very distinct flavor, so if that's not your thing, you can also substitute in spinach, or whatever greens you like.
    • Fruit juices can be really sugary and from concentrate, so I recommend being really careful with what you purchase. My favorite brand is Evolution Fresh - it's organic, cold-pressed, 100% juice, has Vitamin A, C, Calcium, and 20 grams of sugar (which isn't bad for juice). If you aren't a fan of the tanginess of grapefruit juice, you can substitute it with coconut juice, which is a lot sweeter.
    • I add chia seeds because they are filling and add thickness. I used to add granola, but it's actually very sugary and gluten-heavy, so it ends up being unhealthy (even the kind that's advertised to be healthy).
    • I love spring and summer because it's stone fruit season, and white nectarines are seriously one of my favorite fruit. During winter I skip this ingredient because it isn't available.
    • If you love coconut as much as I do, I highly recommend adding frozen raw organic coconut meat - you can do this instead of the stone fruit.
    • You can also add frozen organic acai if you're a fan, or to turn this recipe into an acai bowl.
    • I add water to the smoothie because fruit juice is really intense in flavor and high in sugar. You can skip this step and just use more juice if you prefer.
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    This recipe makes 1.5-2 cups of smoothie, depending on how thick you want it to be. You can add more water if it's looking too thick, or less water if you want to turn this into a smoothie bowl!

    Step 1:

    Start by throwing the banana and berries into the blender first.

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    Step 2:

    Add the chia seeds. I like to add them before the kale so that they are more evenly distributed.

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    Step 3:

    Rip the kale leaf into pieces off of the stem and throw the leafy parts into the blender. Toss the stem away (it's too thick and sinewy to eat).

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    Step 4:

    Cut the peach into pieces and throw them into the blender.

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    Step 5:

    Pour in the grapefruit juice and water.

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    Step 6:

    Blend!

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    If it's not blending well or looking too thick, just add more water or juice.

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    Enjoy!

    That's it - easy right?

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    This is my solution for a quick and easy breakfast. I just pour it into a tumbler (my favorite is this Wow Wow Lemonade one I got in Hawaii) and run out the door!

    Go try it and let me know what you think! <3

    Styling with Lauren: Uniqlo all day

    Lauren of pinkonthecheek.com recently styled a full outfit just from Uniqlo! Honestly, I kind of thought that Uniqlo only had super casual activewear, but apparently, they now also have seriously stylish pieces for the office and going out, called the Drape Collection. I love the way that Lauren styled boyfriend jeans with a long blazer - it's so comfortable but looks put together.

    Also, this is the first time that I've ever shot in Brisbane, and let me just tell you that it actually looks like we were in some desert town (Palm Springs? Arizona?). Lauren and I went on a mini adventure to find the secret location of Boba Guys (shh) and when we saw how cute the little town was, we decided we had to do a shoot there. Can you believe that there are cacti of that size in a little town just outside of SF? I can't!

    I love shooting with Lauren because she was actually a friend before I ever photographed her. It's always such a blast to hang out and get killer shots together. Her blog is especially awesome because not only does she write about fashion, but also lifestyle, travel, and tech tips for being a better blogger. She's also the one who inspired me to add more lifestyle photos to my Instagram feed. Thanks Lauren for being you!

    Winter in SF

    Unlike my NYFW experience, winter weather in San Francisco is generally what you'd call Fall weather anywhere else in the country. So what does that mean? Sweaters and warm drinks and scarves, oh my! Amanda of Mela Moda wore the epitome of this season's winter sweater for this shoot. It was comfy over-sized, over-the-shoulder, neutral color, and had bell sleeves. What more could you want?

    Amanda is lucky to work close to Ferry Building in SF, so we ventured out to grab some Blue Bottle Coffee and shoot. It was a typical San Francisco winter day - rain, rain, and more rain - but the great thing about the Ferry Building is that the food and shopping are indoors! During the weekend, they also have a wonderful farmer's market outside (watch out for a separate post on that).

    But back to the sweater. Amanda bought it at a little boutique in Hayes Valley called Acrimony. It's super cute, so if you live in SF or are ever visiting, definitely go check it out. Hayes Valley in general is one of my favorite neighborhoods in SF. It's actually fairly small, but within a 5 block radius you have an adorable little park, a dozen incredible desert shops, another dozen amazing restaurants (Rich Table is hands down my favorite), a ridiculous amount of delicious food trucks and coffee shops, a bunch of clothing boutiques, wall art... the list just goes on and on. I seriously can't say enough good things about this neighborhood. There's even a Boba Guys there (and you all know how I feel about that).

    Anyway :) Enjoy the pics from our shoot in our little slice of heaven!

    Shannon and the shirt with two roses

    Around big holidays, most bloggers want to take holiday-specific photos to help inspire their followers to get into the spirit of things. Valentine's Day is definitely no exception. I did quite a few sessions for the holiday of love, and the best part is that you really start to see bloggers' individuality come out when they're all styling for the same event.

    One of my favorite Valentine's Day sessions was with Shannon of Style by Lolly. She went girly, but still edgy. Instead of roses, she picked tulips. No dress, but jeans and a tee. She did keep the red lips and glittery heels, but they were wedges and she paired the whole outfit with a statement necklace.

    We shot on a rainy day on her rooftop deck. The clouds perfectly diffused the light over the water so we could see all the details of the Bay Bridge. Seriously guys, this view is to die for!

    Orange bell bottoms? Yes, you can!

    I was supposed to shoot for the first time with Kelsey at NYFW, but our schedules were so hectic (and the weather so terrible) that we missed each other. So instead, we caught up back in SF!

    I know that the 90s are back in style, but Kelsey brought it with a flashback to the 70s. Orange bell bottoms, huge sunglasses, and colorful fur, perfectly styled with white and gold accessories. What you can't tell from the photos is that Kelsey is actually short, but did she stun in this outfit anyway? Yes she did!

    This just proves to me all the more that you can rock it in any style you want, as long as you pair the outfit with confidence and love for yourself.

    NYFW: Checking the High Line off my bucket list

    I haven't been to NYC as an adult. The only time I'd traveled there before was to visit my aunt and uncle when I was 10 years old. I barely remember that trip, but I think I spent most of my time in their Bronx apartment, eating pizza and listening to my older cousin's ska collection.

    I also have to mention that I'm a huge Sex and the City fan. No, like, really, really big fan. Asking my Maid of Honor to read Carrie's poem at my wedding, big.

    For both of those reasons, I was so ridiculously excited to experience NYC as an adult. It's the City of Dreams after all! There are countless iconic locations in New York - the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, the Flatiron Building. But the one location that I was most excited about visiting and shooting is the High Line. 

    I'd heard about this park from a photographer friend years ago. He made it sound dreamy - an old highrise train track turned into a beautifully designed, modern park. You can walk amidst the trees in the skyline of New York, looking into the 5th floors of office buildings and hotels, admiring the waterfront views. And let me tell you... it's absolutely everything I imagined.

    The only bad part about winter is that the wind was so cold and so strong that it made it almost impossible to shoot. Thankfully, I was taking photos of Brianne (scrubsandsparkles.com), who is a tough cookie familiar with East Coast winters. She even braved the cold without her coat! We were only able to tough it out for about 15 minutes before the wind blew us away, but we got some amazing shots from one of my (now for sure) favorite places in New York.

    I can't wait to go back in the summer and spend some quality time here!

    For those curious, here is Carrie's poem that was read at my wedding (and yes, I cried):

    His hello was the end of her endings
    Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
    His hand would be hers to hold forever
    His forever was as simple as her smile
    He said she was what was missing
    She said instantly she knew
    She was a question to be answered
    And his answer was “I do”