5 Ways to Stay in Vacation Mode

It’s the Monday after vacation, you’re burnt out and not sure how Friday got further away while you were gone. Know the feeling? Try these tips for keeping the Saturday morning vacay vibe alive and you’ll never dread a post-vacation weekday again. 

  1. Pick up a novel

Whether it comes from the stack of books on your nightstand or a lonely title sitting on your Amazon wish list, crack open a book you can’t stop hearing about. Don’t have a book at the ready? Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy which is my absolute favorite stop for book suggestions. Maybe join Goodreads and  take a look at bookshelves of friends.  The only rule? You are not permitted to choose a book that feels like homework. Now isn’t the time to force a classic upon yourself, no Dickens allowed. Coming home from vacation means reentering reality and a quick detour into a delicious book is just the thing to soften the blow.  

  1. Exercise Outside.

Ever notice how hotel gyms are totally empty? No one who knows how to truly vacation enters the sad mini-room tucked near the hotel pool. What you do see are tourists sporting Fitbits and the like, staying active outside. Why ruin the fun by coming home and zoning out on the treadmill while following along with CNN subtitles?  Get outdoors, even if it’s next to the community pool and do something good for your body. Yoga, lunges, meditation, a run, doesn’t matter. We aren’t trying to replace your routine hot you,  just giving you little post-vacation treat you won’t regret.

  1. Dig In…to a New Culture

Keep the wanderlust alive and get lost in someone else’s world for a few days. Set aside 10 minutes each day to learn what you can about the people living in the place you’ve always wanted to visit. Learn how to say something romantic in a different language, watch funny commercials from abroad, roam through country-sides with Google Earth.  The goal is to keep your horizons broad and open. We often come back from vacation with an appreciation for the size of our world, but quickly close ourselves back into our comforatble walls. Grab a bottle of Italian wine, pick up some French cheese and spend your first free evening back home watching a top rated travel documentary. Netflix has your back.

  1. Make a Restaurant Worthy Recipe on the Weekend

To truly keep yourself in vacation mode, you’ll need to stay excited about food! While we can’t continue indulging in Hawaiian Hula Pie or Texas sized nachos, we can keep our taste buds on their toes! Early in the week, search for a recipe with amazing reviews. You’ll want to take your time with the whole process to keep it from feeling like another chore you’ve fallen behind on. Plan to shop for your ingredients by Thursday night and carve out a couple hours (if needed) to really dive into the whole cooking process on the weekend. No shortcuts!  Keep a glass of wine and a great playlist in the kitchen and don’t forget to truly sit down and enjoy that meal with your family, no paper plates allowed.

  1. Go to bed early on Sunday night

The laundry pile is high, the number of clean dishes are low, there’s a lot to do after being away. Do your preparations for the following week anytime before noon on Sunday. Get those weekend chores done mid-week. Take advantage of Amazon Fresh or Instacart for your grocery shopping, switch to a dry cleaner with free pickup and delivery, in short…delegate. When was the last Sunday you spent truly enjoying the day and playing with those you love? No meal prep, no shopping, no laundry. Plan your evening backwards, starting with the time you want to be in bed with lights off. Backtrack and plug in things that help you relax, be it wine, a bath, a hike or maybe that travel documentary you’ve got in que. Come Monday morning, you’ll feel like you can conquer your week, refreshed and rejuvenated. Isn’t that the whole point of vacation after all?
*Pop back in soon for a post full of Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood tips. Better yet, subscribe at the top of the page and have it delivered!

 

Movie Fuel’s Surefire Oscar Picks and La La Land Orange Julius

 

The 2017 Oscars are here and so are Movie Fuel’s favorites! He truly missed his calling as a movie reviewer, so if you know anyone who works for Entertainment Weekly, put in a good word. Take the time to read his La La Land review, his insights and comparisons always astound me…seriously guys, he’s good! And as and added bonus, I have an Orange Julius inspired La La Land Smoothie you can quickly whip up before the opening number and dress mocking begin!

  •  Best Picture: La La Land                                                                   
  • Best Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)                                                                                                                                   
  • Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)                                                                                                                                           
  • Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)                                                                                                                                          
  • Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)                                                                                                                                        
  • Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
  • Screenplay – Adapted: Moonlight
  • Screenplay – Original: La La Land
  • Cinematography: La La Land
  • Song: City of Stars (La La Land)
  • Visual Effects: Jungle Book
  • Animated Film: Zootopia
  • Foreign Language: The Salesman

La La Land (2016)

Starring: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

At a time when I could better understand and appreciate the art form, my mother introduced me to many of the 1950’s classic films, especially musicals. I became very familiar with actors like Danny Kaye and films like The Music Man, Singing in the Rain and Oliver!. The biggest difference with musicals is that they are often a purer form of entertainment compared to the standard drama or comedy. Musicals require a certain height of disbelief and force the audience to leave their “normal” world behind and enter a place where people dance in the streets, rooms in an apartment suddenly transition around actors and everyone in the movie knows each other as they breakout in a happy flash mob. The movie musical, similar to its rooted form on Broadway stages (and the Opera before that), has the greatest ability to transport an audience to the purest type of escapism and provides two more layers of expression other than standard acting; singing and dancing.

Director Damien Chazelle, whose directorial debut was the 2014 drama Whiplash, does an incredible job of creating something sentimental and classic but also very fresh. Within its opening musical number and pervasively throughout the film, we understand that La La Land is as much about what the city in which it is set represents as it is about our two main characters. Los Angeles, and more specifically Hollywood, has historically been a place that can create or crush the dreams of so many budding hopeful entertainers; for every Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence that breaks through, there are hundreds of thousands that do not. This is the story of two of those dreamers, one a traditionalist jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling), the other a saucer-eyed aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who serves as a barista on a studio lot just to be close to movies. Both have their sights on something spectacular and their aligned passion and pursuit creates a charming and endearing chemistry that draws them together.

In its simplest explanation,  La La Land is a musical love story about following your dreams. In between the lines, you’ll find a compelling film examining the cause and effect of the decisions we make while chasing those big dreams and how the power of disappointment drives us. What starts out as corny and unbelievable, quickly and confidently convinces the audience that what they are watching is not only different than anything they have seen recently, which adds appeal on its own, but also that a 1950’s retro style musical can still be cool in the 21st century landscape. Being different than the rest can be pleasing, doing so while maintaining a connection with the audience is even more special and is often the formula for some of the most successful and praised films of all time. Accomplishing this has become increasingly more challenging as more years pass and more films are produced.  

The films greatest strength may be the performance by Emma Stone, who equally expresses vulnerability and confidence in both subtle and bigger than life moments throughout the story. Yes, the stars aren’t classically trained singers or dancers, but in a way their imperfections help keep them relatable. The film also provides emotional punch that eats at our sensibility that life’s choices can unpredictably provide and take away what we love the most. I am not going to beat around the bush any longer, this is a beautifully written, acted and choreographed film (even the music is pervasive well beyond the viewing experience) and on Oscar night, it will easily win Best Picture. Only ten of 32 nominated musicals have won in Oscar history, including most recently Chicago 15 years ago, so another musical best picture is due for a win (the last one nominated was Les Miserable in 2012). If you are looking for escapism, inspiration or romance, go see La La Land, you won’t regret it.

 

Top 5 Films of 2016

  1. Hidden FiguresInspirational True Story of the unsung heroes of the NASA program.
  2. Zootopia – Entertainment for every age in the spirit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  3. The Accountant – Kept your interest to the very end, exciting action flick.
  4. Moonlight – Intense and tender coming of age story in the worst parts of Miami Beach.
  5. La La Land 

La La Land Smoothie

orangejulius

2 bananas
2 tsp Vanilla POWDER
1 1/2 cup milk
4 oranges, squeezed
zest of one orange
handful of ice

and blend!

Christmas Spending and Kombucha

Before we begin, I have to tell you that I was compelled to stop mid-Costco and take a photo of a book I never, ever want to receive. Ugh, Jeffrey. 

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Ok, now I’m ready. Hello and welcome back, I’ve missed you! We’ve had a season of learning how to handle something called Reactive Hypoglycemia. It’s a whopper of a mess and I’ll talk about it another time because I have something way more fun to share. Once again Mom, no I’m not pregnant. Two is good.


Ah, the holiday season, November and December are so precious.  These months are the time of the year when I score a Pottery Barn tree skirt for $6, schmancy candlestick holders for $3 and more miscellaneous Christmas crap than our home can handle for a few bucks more.  When my favorite thrift store brings out all they have stored for the past 11 months, everything hits the fan. EVERYTHING.

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This even lacks a bit of Christmas spirit, so I added some festive hats to lighten the mood.  This year, I was 15th out of about 100 in the line which forms an hour before the 400 square foot second-hand store opens. 40 people and their empty boxes are allowed in the store at once.  At this point, we all forget that we are celebrating Jesus and pretend the apocalypse is tomorrow and our family’s only chance of survival depends on THAT gold trimmed placemat set. You want those Spode Christmas plates? You best be prepared to knuckle fight Grandma for them, and she don’t mess. 

That said,  I friggin’ love that sale. 

In an almost easier shopping story, I bought a new car. I mean, um…I bought a new car with my husband’s money. Ugh. I picked out a car and he went to buy it. Don’t kick me out of Pantsuit Nation. (Spoiler alert, I voted for Hills).

I’m obsessed with my new car, but we can’t live in it if we need to. I’m fairly sure that’s not supposed to be the measure of a good vehicle. But honey, let me tell you, if you haven never owned a minivan, you don’t understand that secret sense of security when thinking of possible zombie invasions and the like. The idea of a car large enough to stand in, lie down in and carry a couch in is a tough one to release. So ya, I miss the minivan life, but I don’t miss the threat of my kid’s door falling off, the knocking from the vent, the crappy brakes and the rest. 

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Are you totally ready for the best thing I have purchased this month? You is gonna die. 

Maybe you won’t. But you know who will? My brother, Ron. Now that I think about it, maybe my brother Matt will too. Definitely my mom.

If you can withstand it, let me tell you the story. 

My friend Jody and I love to drive a good 20+ miles for our favorite cup of coffee, an Iced Mint Mojito from Philz in Oakland. I’ve written of this concotion more than once, you should be familar. No booze in the cup, just muddled mint, 2 T. brown sugar, straight up cream, coffee and ice. It’s amazing and I have no caloric regret afterward. I should, but don’t. 

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When time allows, we often venture to nearby shops and explore. We’ve found all kinds of treasures, including a secret hipster nook of Oakland, Temescal Alley, a stop for all things stylish, overpriced and millenial. If you like to have your non-dairy ice cream scooped for you by a 20-something with ZERO shame over her long armpit-hair in a tank top, visit Curbside Creamery and bring about $8.

This week we found Preserved Goods,

a kitchen shop focused on traditional methods of preserving. Think of us as a hardware store for developing your pantry. We provide a community-oriented space to learn, share and shop for healthful products and do-it-yourself supplies. 

Pickling, kefir grains, sourdough bread starters, cultured food, kitchen supplies for the homesteader, butter jars. This store is the most exciting place I’ve been all month. (Comments to yourself, friend).

I know that churning your own butter is probably a clearly paved path to hipsterville, but it’s also so dang delicuous, so what’s a girl to do?  

Fine, I’ve never churned my own butter, that was a lie.  I just need you to believe me that this store is so, so much fun. Ok, here’s my favorite purchase of the season….a Kombucha starter set!

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Kombucha is brewed and sweetened black tea, that sits out for 7-21 days to ferment with the help of a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). It sounds like something you are supposed to avoid, right? The gal at Preserved Goods gave us a taste of her homemade Kombucha and it was better than any I have ever tried. I can’t wait to report back and let you guys know how it turns out.  Tell me this wasn’t the best purchase? Wait, you don’t have to, my brother will for you. 

Happy Holidays Friends!
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Bananas Foster Bread (GF)

The plan was to make some healthy Moringa muffins this weekend (actually last weekend).  Instead, I decided to treat myself to a day without my kids being angry at me. So, I made Bananas Foster Bread, also known as the downfall for all healthy cells in my body. 

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 Like, die, die. Also, I’m really sorry for anyone who may be reading this and has had a loved one venture to heaven recently. Seriously though, if they would have eaten this bread, they’d die too. Again. 

Everyone and their grammy believes they own the best banana bread recipe and they are right. Everyone owns it, folks. It’s always the same thing! Butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon or nutmeg, milk, bananas, nuts and maybe some chocolate chips. Nothing new, except the people who drop in a cup of oil. So nastylicious. The secret to banana bread is….the topping!

Make a crumble, make a drizzle, make something to jazz up your banana bread. On that note, if anyone, anyone at all, is able to create a photo of banana bread with jazz hands, email me right away. 

No segue at all here, just gonna move on. This is probably old news to most of you, but I still can’t get enough of this particular meme…

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You know what else I want to talk about? Gut microbiomes!

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I know, it sounds so boring. If you don’t already know however, gut microbiomes are like the Keymaster from Ghostbusters. Your whole world is locked into your gut, seriously. Skin conditions, depression, anxiety, thyroid connections, fatigue, brain fog and cancer…it’s all in your gut. Well, cancer isn’t really in IN your gut, but your gut has the key to preventing the disease. 

Research on the gut microbiome has exploded over the past few years. This bold new frontier may just provide the string theory of all human disease. “Name just about any ailment plaguing us and you’ll find some ­researchers discovering the microbial angle for a connection,” says Leach, whose latest book, Bloom: Reconnecting with Your Primal Gut in a Modern World, is due out this fall. – Eating Well

One more quote. If I broke it up into two, I figured I could trick you into reading two short things instead of one super long. Sorry, I should have had more faith in your reading stamina

From birth to age 5, children receive more anti­biotics than during any other five-year period in their lives. One of Leach’s colleagues, New York University microbiologist Martin Blaser, M.D., believes antibiotics have “deranged” the micro­biome—even causing some species to go extinct—and that their overuse is why many health problems, including type 1 diabetes, obesity and allergies, are on the rise.

Why am I talking about this? It’s an ulcer update!

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Our lives are in the balance of our guts. All the symptoms that we keep masking with mega-drugs are often tied to the good vs. bad ratio of gut bacteria. We got it wrong. I say we like I’ve had any actual part in the world of medical research. 

We (using it loosely now) may have even got the appendix wrong. Turns out, it might not be a left over piece of intestine we once used to process tree bark. The appendix might just be an extra pool of good bacteria, which can be sent into our gut. – Science Focus

You know what else is up and up and coming in the gut world? Fecal transplants. They super heal and yes, I totally understand how freaking nasty that is. 

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To really talk about all things microbiome, I’d need to start another blog. My poor sister site, SheEmbarks.com is already there, sad over not getting enough attention. So, I’ll point you in a starter direction if you are interested. 

Here are nine ways to start taking betta’ care of your belly (by Dr. Mark Hyman)

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. One of the best ways to maintain gut health involves cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and jacking up gut-supporting fiber.
  2. Make 75 percent of your plate be vegetables and plant-based foods. Your gut bugs really love these high-fiber plant foods.
  3. Eat good fats and get an oil change. The good fats we mentioned earlier (like omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil) will help with decreasing inflammation, giving healthy gut bugs a chance to flourish.
  4. Supplement smartly. Beyond the numerous benefits (including reducing inflammation), studies find omega 3 fatty acids can support healthy gut flora.  You should definitely supplement with an essential fatty acids formula, if you’re not regularly eating wild-caught fatty fish.  You can find professional-quality formulas in my store. Take a good probiotic supplement.This helps reduce gut inflammation while cultivating health and the growth of good bacteria.
  5. Add more coconut. Studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride or MCT oils. One of my favorite fats, coconut oil and coconut butter, contains these fabulous fat-burning MCTs.
  6. Remove inflammatory fats. Cut out bad, inflammatory omega 6 rich fats like vegetable oils. Replace these with healthier oils like extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  7. Add fiber-rich foods. Nuts, seeds, and a special fiber called glucomannan provide prebiotics and feed our healthy bacteria.
  8. Add fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso contain good amounts of probiotics so your healthy gut bugs can be fruitful and multiply.

The above recommendations are not miracle cures.  They are the actions that lead to normalized gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the reduction of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medication.

Bulletproof your gut

Underground Wellness resources

So, that’s what I’ve been working on. Which is why I can tell you that one slice of this banana bread wrecked me for 36 hours. Totally bloated, 2 pounds of water retention, SO much indigestion and total belly aching. Gluten wasn’t a factor this time, leaving my other arch nemesis, SUGAR. While I can attest to the total deliciousness of this recipe, I can affirm my statement from earlier, you will die. This bread is the downfall of both my healthy cells and society altogether. But…oh lawdy, lawdy it tastes so good. 

banana bread

 

GF Bananas Foster Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12 slices
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour
  • 4-5 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ c butter
  • ½ c pure maple syrup
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes,
  4. While bread is cooling, melt together butter, syrup and vanilla over low heat. Take mixture off burner and whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over bread and enjoy heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Seriously, WHERE’S THE BEEF?

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On the bright side, I did find myself this treat at Costco…

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My husband got a kick out of all the labels on this box, he considered it Cocoa Krispies all the same.

Let me tell you a secret, I am a bit of a Vegan fraud. Not meaning I get to secretly enjoy a scoop of ice cream or bites of a burger, oh no, no, no. My animal bits are ingested without taste, they are in my supplements to cure my (almost)-ulcer. Wait until you see what is in some of this stuff! First, a bit of boring back story. If you scroll down, I won’t be offended, because I won’t know.

Only a few days into taking the prescribed Prilosec, I knew I wanted off. Not only did I feel crummy, but it was defeating any actions I had recently been taking to heal myself from a leaky gut. PPI’s like Prilosec, Prevacid and Zantac supress stomach acid, which would allow a forming ulcer to heal itself. The problem with supressing acid is that I haven’t been making nearly enough, for years. I know this because of an amazing digestive enzyme I had started taking and found immediate results with. It was obvious that I hadn’t been properly digesting food for the majority of my life. For the first time in my life (that I can remember), I wasn’t hungry after eating. Open heaven now, ’cause I can die happy.  Until my forming ulcer interrupted everything. Enzymes are shelved for now and here is what I am taking instead. 

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A mix of (brace yo’self): Okrah, bentonite (a type of clay), cow liver, pig stomach and pig brain. Mixed of course with some other healthy stuff. I’m pretty sure that makes me a Vegan liar. Vegans don’t eat brains.

The other supplement I take is a Chlorophyll mix, much less scary. This combo works, though, like seriously works. I have to actually remind myself that I need to eat carefully. While waiting for these to come in to my Chiropractor’s office over President’s Day weekend, I tried about $100 worth of other supplements from Whole Foods, with no luck. My stomach was pissed and if you are reading this in the UK, my stomach was angry, not drunk. 

On another food note, Indian food and I are having an emotional affair right now. We are forbidden to be together, but oh do I long for the day when we can reunite!

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Ready for another complainy girl story? I apologize, I really do. Gonna tell it anyway.

President’s Day weekend in California was beautiful, we had to get outside. After a trip to take the lamest 1 mile hike in the Bay Area, we ventured into Berkeley in search of ice cream.  Whadda ya know, there’s a creamery right next to Philz Coffee! 

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BUT, I CAN’T HAVE COFFEE. 

This is like telling Donald Trump he can’t have hairspray. Things will just get UGLY.

So, despite my best judgement and Google’s warnings, I headed in for a decaf version of my kryptonite, Iced Mint Mojito. I ordered extra sweet and creamy to cut back on the coffee, which also allowed for my 8 year old to take a sip. Now he thinks all coffee must taste like minty milk if you add a bit of sugar. I will move his college savings account over to a Starbucks savings account on Monday. 

But look how fun this little corner Philz is! So many students studying on a lovely Sunday, glued to their screens. I can’t help it, I love it. This would totally have been me in college too. Except, I didn’t go to UC Berkeley, despite our similarity in student loans. I also would never have sat in front of a computer on a Sunday. So, what the hell am I talking about? This wouldn’t have been me, I just like the idea.

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Trust me, I know how ridiculous this post is. When coming up with a title, I really wanted to write, “God, I Miss Jack!” Not knowing who would remember this movie or even understand what I was talking about, I opted for a different 80’s reference, ha!

Poor Audrey. I feel her pain, but I couldn’t care less about Jack, I want some ribs, girl!

With all those complaints out of my system, I can go on to tell you that I actually feel really, really good. I started taking some vitamins that have made my energy skyrocket. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I may stretch out the Vegan thing a while past my next blood results, it just feels really good. Barbecue season hasn’t started yet, so I still have a bit of confidence that I can stick with it. 

Do you have any gluten free, vegan recipes to share? Do you also have some diamonds you aren’t using? If the answer to either of those is yes, I’ll wait to hear from you.