Category: Lifestyle

No New Clothes For a Year — Sustainable Style Challenge Three Month Update

As some of you know, I started a self-imposed sustainable style challenge. I hashtagged it #nnc365, which means no new clothes for 365 days. I’m shy of 3 months in, and I have an essential update for you all. We took a trip to Los Angeles, and things did not go as planned. I bought some new things.

I Forgot My Bathing Suit For Our Beach Vacation

Our toddler had frequently been asking when we’d be going back to the beach ever since we got back from Hawaii in March. She kept building imaginary sandcastles on the dinner table almost every night; it was breaking my heart. So we decided to take a quick trip to California and hit our “local” beaches. The whole purpose of the trip was to hit the beach as much as possible. But guess who didn’t pack her bathing suit? Yep, it was me.

Key To Sustainable Style: Be Prepared

We arrived Tuesday evening, had dinner, hit up Target for swim diapers, and headed to the hotel. Wednesday morning, we were up bright and early with plans to have breakfast at one of LA’s excellent vegan spots and then head to the beach. I failed my challenge our first day at the beach. The weather was lovely, it was probably 10-15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas. I wore shorts, a white free people top, and espadrilles. Breakfast was great, but when we arrived at the beach, it started to get really warm. By the time we found and paid for parking, walked up and down the shops at Manhattan Beach looking for sand buckets and shovels, grabbed our beach things, and put sunscreen on; I was melting. My top had too much fabric, and it seemed to be insulating me.

If I Don’t Pay For The T-Shirt It Doesn’t Count, Right?

There was no way I was going to lay on the beach in this top that was cooking me like a baked potato wrapped in foil. So I told Marc I was going to buy a t-shirt to change into. I was disappointed in myself for not being better prepared. It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to change before heading to the beach. I could have avoided this situation, but this is real life, and these things happen. I reminded Marc of my no new clothes challenge, and he replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll buy it for you and that way you don’t have to buy anything new or even mention it.” Yes, technically he paid for the shirt, but I still count it as a fail.

Why I Started This Sustainable Style Challenge

Going into this challenge, I wasn’t thinking of ways I could add loopholes or extra exceptions to be able to make purchases while still in the challenge. Having Marc pay for my shirt, sounded like (and was) a loophole. I told him I was still going to count it as a fail and mention it to you all because this is what happened and you should know. I put myself in this challenge after watching the True Cost documentary and seeing the struggle those making our clothes live with every day. Their struggles are fueled by our obsessive compulsion to buy fast fashion and mindlessly stuffing our closets. We’re unknowingly funding slave labor. I wanted out. I wanted to do everything within my power to stop contributing to that system as much as I possibly could, that’s why I started this #nnc365 challenge.

Make Every Purchase Count

But here I was, standing at the base of Manhattan Beach, looking up at a hill lined with boutiques. I decided that if I was going to buy a new shirt, it should at least be made in the USA and be something I would use for a long time to come. The first three stores I checked were no good. Then finally, I saw a Michael Stars sign on a boutique window. I know this brand makes all their garments in the USA. They grow their own Supima cotton, which is always made here in the US, and their design and manufacturing are also done here. This means they are paying employees fair wages and providing safe working conditions.

Key To Sustainable Style: Know Your Brands

I went into the boutique and picked out a white, long sleeve, Supima cotton, crew neck tee. Why did I choose long sleeve if I was melting in the top I was already wearing? Well, for a few reasons. Firstly, this new tee is made of Supima cotton. This type of cotton breathes well and quickly wicks away moisture, this makes it an excellent fabric for hot climates. Secondly, the long sleeves will be great for layering since fall weather is upon us and we have some cold weather trips coming up soon. Thirdly, Supima cotton is a strong, durable fiber, that gets softer to the touch with each wash. These are essential things to always keep in mind when shopping. I really thought about how this new purchase would live in my life. How I would wear it, how cost-effective would it be, how would it hold up over time.

Key to Sustainable Style While Traveling: Plan Your Outfits

Walking over to the pier in my new shirt, I realized leaving my bathing suit behind was going to be a problem since we planned on visiting the beach every day. The next morning, my denim shorts were still soaked from our beach day, and I didn’t know what I was going to wear. I looked through my suitcase and realized I was very ill-prepared for this beach vacation. In the madness of packing for myself, our toddler, the groceries we didn’t want to spoil if left behind, and other miscellaneous things we’d need. I forgot to pack useful beach wardrobe staples. I typically plan my outfits for trips like this and pack them in separate containers to ensure I have enough clothing and don’t forget any part of an outfit.

So on the third day, we headed to Nordstrom Rack for a bathing suit only to find that they had ZERO options because fall had just arrived and every summer piece was long gone. I checked the one tiny rack of athletic wear they had, opting for running shorts and a cute cropped sweater. I picked these items because I knew I’d wear them many times again.

Am I Giving Up On My Sustainable Style Challenge?

So yes, I bought some new things. Three pieces in total. It’s not what I wanted to do, and I was a bit disappointed in my self at first, but not anymore. Sustainable style, to me, is a lot like veganism. It’s impossible to live 100% sustainably in this modern world, just like it’s impossible to live a 100% vegan lifestyle. But the point of veganism is to cause the least amount of harm with your everyday choices. It’s also about educating yourself on the impact your choices make so that you can make better choices for yourself, others, and our planet. And sustainable style to me is the same. I’m still continuing my #nnc365 challenge. This mistake isn’t going to be an excuse to give up. The silver lining is that I’ll be able to anticipate future errors of this kind and catch them before they happen. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise because we have a lot of traveling to do soon, but now I’ll be better prepared.

Labor Day Sales – How Fashion Bloggers Are Supporting Slave Labor & How We Can Stop It

Labor Day sales started a week ago even though Labor Day isn’t until tomorrow, Monday, September 1st. This day is huge for retailers and the bloggers that influence people like you to buy from those retailers. My inbox filled up with sale reminders from blogger platforms. I signed up for these platforms years ago when I first started blogging. These platforms give me access to affiliate links, resources to help me figure out what sells best and which items I should promote to get more sales. If you don’t already know, I get a small commission for every product sold via my blog. I never really paid much attention to these sale reminders because I never felt the need to push a plethora of items onto you all. I don’t like selling needless items. I like providing value and showing you helpful things/products. 

Don’t Fall Into The Labor Day Sales Trap

After seeing the film The True Cost this year, I decided to take a more minimalist approach to my wardrobe, for ethical reasons. I started closing my affiliate accounts and taking my name off blogger platform lists, newsletters, and pr lists. I didn’t want to clutter my wardrobe and home with more stuff and I don’t want to tell you to buy things you don’t need. These retailers are literal experts at making you think A) you need all these things they’re selling; B) the more you buy, the more you save; and C) you’re losing money if you’re not buying their products. Click here to listen to my podcast episode where I cover how to shop more consciously, sustainably, and with intention. 

It’s An Influencer’s Job to Sell You Things

This is always something that bothered me about blogging. I’d see (and still do) many bloggers cramming as many products into a post as possible in order to get you to buy more. Everyday there’s an entirely new outfit complete with new shoes and accessories. It’s not about style anymore. Maybe it was a first, but as the blogging industry grew and retailers noticed how much trust readers placed in their favorite influencers, they harnessed that buying power. It’s an old model with a modern delivery.

We tell our readers, via social media/blog posts, to buy the brand’s products and they pay us a commission. The more outfits/items we push on our readers, the more money we’ll make. That’s why you used to see a blogger/influencer post 1 outfit a day, maybe 2 sometimes, but in the last year it’s really ramped up. Influencers started taking to posting videos in order to showcase more outfits per post. I’m sure you’ve seen those short video clips where an influencer changes into 5 or 6 outfits in just 30 seconds flat. Then the description will show a link to buy the dozens of items seen in the video. This has been very lucrative for some bloggers, some of which rake in an average of $600,000 per year. Can you see how a blogger would be incentivized to create and endorse more looks/products?

 

“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” —Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer 

 

Are Your Labor Day Sale Items Supporting Slave Labor? 

Cheap Garments = Cheap Labor = Human Exploitation 

Gap sweatshop raided in India found children as young as eight working there (left). Gap embroidered shirt (right).

Big shopping days like Labor Day, are massive earning days for influencers. If you’re following any fashion bloggers you’ve probably already seen a few Labor Day Sale “Must Haves” posts. You are made to think you need these items and you’ll be saving loads of money by purchasing from these curated lists. Millions of you buy into those posts, but what you won’t see are the many massive negative effects of this type of consumerism. These blogger sales lists are typically full of items made in unethical shops where workers are exploited. You can recognize those items by their price point and their country of origin. If a garment was made in Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Sri Lank, or China, it could very well be a product of slave labor. 

Forever 21 Labor Day Sale Ad 2019- $5 Tops are Unethical and Unsustainable
Forever 21 Labor Day Sale Ad 2019

There is no way to ethically and sustainably produce and sell a shirt, or any garment, for $5. Purchasing items at such a low cost means someone else is paying the true cost in the form of forced labor. There have been recent reports of H&M still using child labor. Additionally, hundreds of workers from both GAP and H&M have reported daily abuse. For more in-depth coverage on the topics of cheap garments, cheap labor, human exploitation, unsustainable production, toxic chemicals produced by the fashion industry, and more, see my IGTV video which you can watch by clicking here. 

It’s a very common practice among bloggers to buy massive amounts of cheap clothing from fast fashion retailers like Forever21, FashionNova, Shein, H&M, Zara, TopShop, Amazon, to name a few, in order to create as many outfits as possible. Typically bloggers market their cheap finds as “budget-friendly” or “dupes”. They may think the’re doing their readers a favor, I thought I was when I did this, but they’re not. We have the power to decide what kind of conditions these exploited workers will have. If we stop buying fast fashion, they’ll stop making it. If we demand more ethically made clothing, brands will have to pay workers more and provide them with better working conditions. It’s my responsibility as a blogger to share this with you all and it’s our collective responsibility to shop more conciously and ethically. 

 

“The customer has to know they are in charge. If they don’t like it and don’t buy it, we don’t have jobs.” – Stella McCartney

 

Are Your Labor Day Sale Items Supporting Animal Cruelty? 

Then there’s the animal exploitation aspect. Most bloggers use a lot animal materials in their outfits. There is nothing chic about using animal products in your wardrobe. There are many faux versions of these materials now. Here are some of the most commonly used animal materials. 

Leather: used for shoes belts, bags, jackets, coats, accessories, etc.

Wool: used for coats, sweaters, tops, pants, blankets, socks, gloves, jackets, hats, rugs, shoe linings, coat linings, dresses, shawls, pillows, handbags, etc.

Feathers: used for dresses, skirts, coats, jackets, accessories, jewelry, handbags, pillows, duvets, etc.

Fur: used for coats, jackets, shoe linings, coat linings, fake eyelashes, accessories, rugs, pillows, home decor items, etc.

Silk: used for shirts, dresses, jackets, coats, pants, accessories, shoes, home decor, etc.

The methods used in producing these items are horrific. If you haven’t seen how fur is produced, take a look at this 60 second video (warning: it’s explicit). Click here to watch on Youtube.

How can you spot the difference between faux fur/leather and real fur/leather? Click here for my post on how to tell if your clothes and shoes are vegan. 

Most (I assume) fashion bloggers don’t know about the cruel and horrific ways animals are tortured and killed for their skins and fur. I certainly didn’t know up until 2 years ago when I went vegan. But once I learned, it was obvious that eliminating animal products from my wardrobe was the right thing to do. If you agree with that using animals is cruel and unnecessary, send this post to your favorite fashion/style blogger and tell them to stop using animal products. 

Are Your Labor Day Sale Items Supporting Environmental Degradation?

The best thing you can do to avoid buying unethical, unsustainable, anti-animal friendly items during Labor Day Sales is to not buy anything at all. If there’s an item you truly need, consider the following options. 

Repair

Instead of throwing out your freshly ripped tee or jeans, consider taking it to an alterations shop to have it repaired. These types of repairs only cost a few dollars. You can also fix ripped jeans yourself by adding a fun and decorative patch in matter of minutes with just an iron, no sewing required. 

Recycle

Consider recylcing your unwanted clothing into new items. Old jeans can be turned into shorts. A hole can ruin a shirt but if you choose to add more holes it becomes a cool new distressed tee. You can also remove sleeves off a shirt and now you have a new shirt, I’ve done this with ruffle sleeve shirts. Conversely, you can add sleeves to a sleeveless shirt to create a whole new look. 

Swap

Instead of buying new items, consider having a swap party with friends, family, neighboors, or all of the above. You can swap unwanted items for new items to freshen up your wardrobe or even household goods. 

Thrift

Thrift stores are a great way to shop sustainably. When you buy new items, you create a demand for more new items which means more resources will be used to create those items. Shopping thrifted does not create a demand for more new items, in this way we save resources and directly stop funding forced labor. If thrift store options are limited in your area, consider thrift shopping online. Click here to read my post on the top 5 places to thrift online. 

Cheap Garments = Unsustainable Production Methods = Toxic Chemicals Dumped into Our Environment

Cheap Garments = Poor Fit = Short Garment Lifespan = Garments Quickly End Up In Landfill

Cheap Garments = Poor Quality = Item Warps/Fades/Rips = Garments Quickly End Up In Landfill

Buy Ethically Made/ Sustainably Sourced

If you really need to buy something new, look for an ethically & sustainably made option. Websites like DoneGood.co can help you source great options. You can shop from catergories like Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Eco-Friendly, Made in the USA, Recycled/Upcycled and more.

Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge Review | Week 1

Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge Review | Week 1

Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge Review | Week 1

Finding a weight loss program is a daunting task. There are SO MANY to choose from. Finding one that meets your needs and budget can be really challenging. I signed up for the TrueStrength 8-Week Challenge from Veganfitnes.com. I’ve looked at various options but decided to try this challenge because it’s made by vegans with a focus on vegan nutrition. However, you don’t have to be vegan to do this program. I asked my Instagram community if they’d like to see a weekly update with my thoughts and opinions and I received a resounding yes. So this is my review for week one of the Vegan Fitness TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge. 

Why A Review

I wan’t planning reviewing this program. I was going to do it for myself to get healthier and not really share anything about it. However, after the first 2 days I had so many thoughts about it that I thought should be shared. I’d want to know these things before spending this kind of money on a program. I’ll cover who this program is for, cost, whats included, what’s not included, meals, nutrition tracking, extra costs you can expect, and more. I hope you all find this helpful. Ok, let’s get started.

What Is This Program?

This is an eight-week fitness training program to help you get fit. The program comes with a vegan nutrition plan, basic nutrition information, planned workouts, and simple how-to videos for both the workouts and some food. You’ll also be granted access to a private facebook group to join other who are also currently doing the challenge. Once a week, there will be a livestream with the founders of the program where there answer pre-submitted questions. 

The Cost

This cost for this eight week program is three hundred dollars. You can recieve $10 off the program total by clicking the following special link. Click Here.

Preface

Before we get into the review I should tell you some information about me and my fitness level. Before the challenge I was regularly working out 3-4 days a week. Some days are just strength training, others are just cardio, sometimes it’s yoga, somedays it’s a combination of these. I work out because my work leaves me idle most days. I’m typically sitting at a computer for hours on end, so moving is quite necessary. I’m not a stranger to working out. I’ve hired professional personal trainers in the past. I hired the first one when I was 18 years old. This was when I was introduced to the world of macros, counting calories, the app My Fitness Pal, and basic “nutrition”. The word nutrition is in quotes because what I learned then was nutrition as influenced by the meat and dairy industry. 

Even while on a diet focusing heavily on meat, dairy, and eggs. I was able to loose weight and get fit. My trainer at the time had me eating string cheese, cottage cheese, spoonfuls of peanut butter, and plain hardboiled eggs as go-to snacks and sometimes also as lunch. While consuming these foods high in saturated fat, I still lost quite a lot of weight. I dropped from a size 12 to a size 6 within about 10 months. I learned how to workout, meaning which types of exercises to do to target the desired areas. I learned how many set and reps to do, I learned how to use gym equipment, and much more. 

All this to say, I’m not a novice to the gym and I know about conventional nutrition. However, I don’t consider myself a very “fit” person, meaning I don’t have muscle definition, I don’t have low body fat, I can’t lift large amounts of weight. Keep this in mind when reading the following review. 

TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge Review – Week One

Choose Your Preferences

You’ll start off by answering some questions and entering some basic information about yourself like age, height, and weight. They’ll also ask you to upload pictures of yourself in a bathing suit to track progress, this part is optional but highly recommended. Then you’ll choose between the shred program (weight loss) or bulk program (muscle gain). I chose the shred program.

You’ll also choose between a home workout or gym workout. I chose the home workouts because I can’t always get to the gym since I have a toddler. For food, you can chose the conventional plan or the meal prep plan. I initially chose the meal prep plan. They give examples you can follow for both. You’ll then receive a slightly customized program. I write “slightly” because it’s not as customized as a program would be if you were training one on one with a personal trainer.  

What I Don’t Like About The TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge 

This Program is Not For Everyone

Let me start off by saying I thought this program was for everyone. It isn’t. Even though I workout 3-4 times a week, I would consider myself a beginner because I’m not very strong. I would not recommend this workout program for beginners. If somewhere it clearly explains who this program is for, someone please let me know because it wasn’t made clear to me. I only realized this after doing the first workout and joining the discussions in the private Facebook group. I definitely struggled with the workouts this week. A lot of people in the group expressed the same feeling. After doing the workout myself, I could see why other people were also struggling. Keep in mind, everyone received different workout plans customized to them and their goals. 

Week one consisted of 5 workout days and 2 rest days. The workouts each have 9 or 10 exercises plus 20 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio. Each workout consists of 3 sets of 10-12 reps for most. Let me give you an example of why this program is not for beginners. Day five’s workout started with pull ups; there is also the option of assisted pull ups. Even when I was at my fittest when I was a 18 and a size 6, I could not do a pull up on my own; I was barely even able to do assisted pull-ups at that time. Currently, I can’t do either. I’d be a bit worried about beginners starting this program injuring themselves with some of these exercises.

My last thought for this is that you’ll have to buy some equipment if you chose to do the home program. So far, I’ve purchased 2 sets of dumbbells and a resistance band with handles; I spent $85. I guess I was also expected to buy the pull up bar (additional cost) but I chose to just replace that exercise. You’ll also need to get the paid version of My Fitness Pal app, which costs $10 per month, in order to track your macros.

The Meal Prep Plan Is Very Plain

A lot of the prepped meals contain fake meat to get the required amount of daily protein. A lot of people don’t have access to these fake meats so I would really take that into consideration if you’re thinking about purchasing this program. There’s also a lot of protein powder required. This will be an added cost which can get very expensive depending on the type of protein powder you decide to use. One of the daily meals consists of a protein shake. Another consists of a smoothie bowl with added protein powder to meet protein and calorie goals.

Lack of Guidance From Admins

I incorrectly assumed from the founders’ promotion of this program that there would be more guidance than there is. I also thought, they’d be more involved in the private facebook group with answering questions. There was a live Q & A with Nimai and Bianca (the founders), in the evening of the first day of the program. They answered questions but I’m not sure where the questions came from. I never saw a spot to leave questions before the live Q & A. I also requested to be added to the private FB group after signing up but wasn’t granted access until the next night so I missed the live Q & A, which I wanted to watch live to see if I could submit questions during it. The session was saved and posted afterwards so at least there’s that.

The private FB group is great for those that need the community aspect. However, they also ask and answer each others questions about workouts and nutrition. Which, in my opinion, is not super helpful for these two topics because most of the people in the group are not super knowledgeable on these two topics. There is an email where we can contact the founders directly so I guess I’ll start making more use of that. Hopefully, they’ll be quick to reply to messages; so far, according to other users, it take a while to hear back from them.

What I Do Like About The TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge 

Planned Workouts

Having a planned workout saves a lot of time. This is one of the main reasons I purchased this program. I’m knowledgeable on workouts and how to workout, like I said earlier but I didn’t want to think about and take time to put together a workout plan. This helped with that. 

The Meal Prep Plan Is Easy

I know, this is in both what I don’t and do like. While I don’t love the meal prep plan, as stated above, I think they are useful for those that are completely new to plant-based eating (not everyone in the program is vegan), don’t have any idea how to prepare food, or don’t care too much about taste. The meal preps are basic and straightforward. They’re not terrible but they’re also not impressive, which I understand because they are there to serve a specific purpose and not to indulge in. There are also about 45 basic standalone recipes in the program that one could choose follow. 

Basic Nutrition Info

I do like that there is basic nutrition information. They explain what macros are and there are simple how-to videos for making tofu taste good. This would be really helpful for beginners. 

The Final Say For Week One

Would I recommend the TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge? After this first week I would say no. Personally, I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything. I purchased this program because I thought I’d learn something new. I already know how to workout, track macros, and eat a healthy, low fat diet in order to loose weight. I also have the same plant-based nutrition certification from eCornell as one of the founders of the program.

If you’re looking to lose weight, get fit, and healthy, you need three things: a workout plan, which there are many of for a significantly lower cost (around $20/month), a plant-based diet meal plan (also available from various sources for a much lower cost, approximately $30), and an app that tracks your macros and calories (my fitness pal, $10/month). Cost is a huge deciding factor for most people when choosing a program. My total cost for this program has been $395 so far. Keep in mind this total does’t include protein power, which I’ve chosen to exclude thus far. 

TrueStrength 8 Week Challenge Discount Code

If you’re still interested in this program, you can use get a $10 discount off the total by clicking this link

My Daily Program Updates

You can follow me on Instagram for daily progress pictures and video. I post what I eat in a day as well as some snaps from the gym. To follow me on Instagram click here. 

 

The Best Vegan Chicken Salad | Quick & Easy + Makes a Great Make Ahead Meal

Part of our Easter Sunday Picnic.
Salsa, Guacamole, Lemon Creme Cookies, and Melon Salad from our Easter Sunday picnic.
Vegan Chicken Salad and Vegan Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches.

Lemon Print Table Cloth | Mixing Bowls (similar) | Glass Tuperware

We had the yummiest chicken salad this past Sunday at our Easter picnic. I’ve tinkered with this recipe over the last year and it’s absolute perfection now. Omnivores and vegans alike love this salad. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I get asked for the recipe every single time I share this salad with someone new. I’ve been meaning to share it with friends and family but I thought it’d be best to post it here for everyone to enjoy and this will also save me having to send like, a dozen emails, lol.

So what makes this vegan chicken salad so great? It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory, for starters. The dried cranberries and hint of maple syrup give this dish just the right amount of sweetness. There’s also some cold celery and almond slices which lend a great crunch. Chickpeas kick up the fiber and protein content and the vegan mayo is free of saturated fat (artery-clogging fat), yay! You can use any kind of vegan chicken but my favorite one so far for this dish is Gardein’s Meatless Chick’n Strips. I sauté them lightly then let them cool before chopping. This vegan chicken salad is perfect as a sandwich with some crunchy lettuce for lunch. It’s also great for groups; served with tortilla chips for your next get together. This vegan chicken salad is best served cold, making this a great make ahead meal.

Vegan Chick’n Salad Recipe

Time Prep: 20 min | Cook Time: 10 min

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 bag Gardein Meatless Chick’s strips, lightly sautéed, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 can (15 oz) organic garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Original Veganaise

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon organic maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Place the drained chickpeas in a large mixing bowl and mash them with a fork. Place the rest of the ingredients into the same bowl and stir until combined. Cover and chill for a couple hours or enjoy right away.

 

Family Trip to Kauai, Hawaii 2019 | Where We Stayed + The Most Family Friendly Spots

Did you know Kauai is also called the Garden Isle because it is SO green and lush? The next morning after we arrived I posted several Instagram stories showing the islands gorgeous vegetation. It’s super green and brimming with big bright flowers. Most areas look like an untouched jungle. I got at least a dozen messages of people saying it looked like the scenery from Jurassic Park. Well, that’s because Jurassic Park was shot on Kauai! Good eye, you guys. If you’re thinking about visiting Hawaii with kids, Kauai is a pretty awesome choice.

You’re probably wondering how to vacation in Kauai with kids. A lot of parents also commonly ask, “is Kauai safe for kids?” Let me ease your mind and say yes, Kauai is perfectly safe for kids of all ages. Kauai is basically a circle with one highway stretching along the perimeter. However, the highway ends on the west shore and doesn’t connect to the north shore, so if you want to drive from the west to the north, you’ll have to go 3/4 around the island to get there. This island has four distinct shores, which I discuss below. Read on to discover how to vacation in Kauai with kids.

Kauai with kids

The allure of Kauai is quite unique. It has a slow-paced way of life, with a calm and charming ambiance; this was one of the main reasons we chose Kauai. Marc and I first visited Kauai back in 2014 and we fell in love with it. Being familiar with this island is another reason we chose this spot. Additionally, Kauai is super family-friendly. We saw a lot of families all throughout our 10-day stay. Most families had kids under the age of 5 and the majority of parents had infants. We also saw a lot of couples on their babymoon.

Pros of vacationing in Kauai with kids

-Family friendly

-Safe (low crime rate)

-Calm beaches

-Shallow beaches

-Kid-friendly activities

-Easy to get around

-Little to no traffic

-Grocery stores open late

-Major retailers like Costco & Walmart

-Super friendly locals

The main goal of this trip was to celebrate Athena’s birthday. Last year, we threw a party for her first birthday which was more for us. We got all the pictures and did the very typical first birthday thing with lots of decorations and a big cake, etc. This year, we wanted her to enjoy her birthday more. Since she loves being in the water, we decided to take her to the beach. The main purpose of the trip was to relax, enjoy our time with Athena, and make sure she enjoyed the trip too. We planned a couple of activities but that was it. Mostly, we wanted to take it easy and relax on the beach while our toddler made sand castles and splashed around. If that’s how you’re looking to spend your vacation too, then Kauai is a perfect choice.

What’s the best time to visit Kauai?

The best time to visit Kauai is in April and May. We visited in the middle to end of March this time around and the weather was excellent about eighty percent of the time. The average temperature was about 75 degrees during the day and it would drop to about 62 in the night time. The other time, we did see a bit of rain and cloudy skies, which we love, but it doesn’t make for a great beach trip. It’s also a bit windier in March. April and May have excellent weather, sunny and warm with only the tiniest bit of rain in small stretches and mostly on the north shore. The humidity and heat really start to ramp up in June and July so be aware of this if you’re traveling with small children and infants.

Family Vacation in Kauai – Where should you stay?

The only airport is in Lihue which is located on the southeast part of the island. The south shore, where we stayed, is a 25 minute drive from Lihue.

The north shore – Princeville

This part of the island has the nicest resorts including the St. Regis. Everything is a little pricier in this area and a is little more ritzy. This is also the rainiest part of the island. While the beaches on the north shore are beautiful, they are not calm. This means, the surfing is great but it’s not very suitable for young children. There are lots of restaurants and shopping available and the landscape is stunning. From some areas, you can see mountains, rainforest, and ocean all in the same view! Princeville is also where you’ll find the magical, swimmable, sinkhole known as Queen’s Bath.

Be sure to stop at the scenic overlook point in Hanalei, it’s breathtaking.

Hanalei Bay beach. It tends to be cloudy and rainy on this part of the island and the waves are not the best for kids but with close supervision, it’s a beautiful spot to relax.

The east shore – Kapaa

Kapaa is the most affordable part of the island. It’s also got great restaurants, especially if you’re looking for vegan food in Kauai. We had a bit of a hard time finding vegan food on the rest of the island, but Kapaa had the most options. One particular restaurant worth noting is Eat Healthy Kauai, it’s 100% plant-based; vegan or not, this place is a gem for foodies. Kapaa is also very family-friendly. One of our favorite kid-friendly beaches in Kauai, Lydgate Beach Park, is here. It’s a treelined beach with a shallow enclosed swimming area, perfect for kids 5 and under. There’s also a huge park area next to the beach with lots of shade where your little one can run around for hours. They’ll also enjoy chasing the chickens that roam free. This area also has lots of spots with tables and benches, perfect for a family picnic. Lydgate Beach Park is a long stretch of land, if you’re looking to get to the kid-friendly swimming area, follow the directions for the Kauai Bike Path, it gets you the closest. Be advised, traffic on this part of the island can get heavy and there’s no way around it.

 

At Lydgate beach wearing our matching Atocha necklaces. This beach is perfect for toddlers, the water is calm and shallow.

The south shore – Koloa

This is where we decided to stay, mainly because it’s where we stayed last time and we loved it. The south shore of Kauai is the most family-friendly part of the island. It is also the sunniest part of the island. It has two very kid-friendly beaches, Baby Beach & Salt Pond Beach, that are enclosed and have shallow waters, perfect for little ones. Koloa has all the conveniences nearby including, shopping, restaurants of all categories, grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, souvenir shops, parks, and beaches of course.

Salt Pond Beach is another great beach for toddlers, the water is calm and shallow. This is where all the locals go and it doesn’t get packed like other beaches.

Free hula show at the Shops at Poipu Village.

They even have free hula shows at the Poipu Shopping Village on Mondays and Thursdays at 5 pm, they have the kids join them on stage at the end and it’s really cute to watch. By the way, Poipu Shopping Village has the world famous Puka Dog- featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations, and they have a vegan hot dog option! Just a few minutes up the road is another great shopping spot, The Shops at Kukuiula, where you can find a beautiful selection of produce and local foods at the farmers market every Wednesday from 3:30-6. Fun fact: Kauai’s south shore is the safest part of the entire island, it has the lowest crime rate. Traffic on this part of the island is minimal. Lastly, the south shore is home to Kauai’s famous tree tunnel, which you’ll pass through whenever you leave or enter the south shore, don’t worry, you can’t miss it.

The west shore – Waimea

Kauai’s west shore is beautiful and home to the Waimea Canyon State Park. We didn’t find any suitable activities for a toddler in this part of the island but if you’re traveling with your partner or your teenagers, it might be fun to check out the hiking trails. The canyon views from the overlook points are gorgeous.

Where to stay in Kauai with kids

The walk from our villa at Poipu Kai to Poipu Beach. You can see the beach at the very far end. Note the paved sidewalk to the right.

Poipu Beach Park

You’re probably wondering where to stay in Kauai with kids. If you read about the islands 4 distinct shores, you’re probably leaning towards the east or south shore. Of the two, I would highly recommend the south shore. Specifically, we stayed in Poipu, which is the very southern part of the island at The Villas at Poipu Kai. This place was amazing and perfect for families! It sleeps six and would be perfect for a large family, two smaller families traveling together, or, in our case, one small family that just wants a lot of room. This is the exact listing for the place we booked (I got A LOT of questions about this in my Instagram DMs). However, the actual villa that was reserved for us was more like this one. It was a three bedroom (2 masters), 2.5 baths, 1600 sq ft, with a kitchen, living room, dining area, and a patio. One of the most popular beaches, Poipu Beach, is just a 6-minute walk from our villa. It’s such a pretty walk too; there’s a paved pathway that takes you straight there and its surrounded by grass, trees, flowers, birds- it’s lovely. You can see videos of our villa over on my Instagram stories Kauai highlight here.

What do the Villas at Poipu Kai include?

The properties are really large, it feels like being at home. We had a full kitchen with appliances including a blender, instant pot, baking pans, etc. We let them know ahead of time that we were traveling with a toddler and they provided a highchair and pack n play at no extra charge. There was a large dining table and stools lining one side of the kitchen counter. Each unit also has a washer and dryer, which was super helpful. They provided 3 large packs of detergent, plenty of towels, including beach towels and beach chairs. The living room had a huge tv, as did the master bedrooms. The third room also came with a tv, though not as large. Both the master bedrooms had walk-in closets. The larger master bedroom had a huge tub and double doors leading to the patio. We got the best villa, the one right behind the pool, which I loved because we could still see the pool clearly but had a lot more privacy from the plants and rocks partially blocking our patio.

Vegan smoothie cups from Anake’s Juice Bar, a 3-minute drive from the Villas at Poipu Kai. Note all the plants surrounding the patio.

Breakfast on the patio. Note the large boulder providing more privacy to our patio. Behind the boulder is a waterfall that leads into the hot tub.

If you want the exact villa we rented with the more private patio it’s villa number B111. Not all places in Kauai have air conditioning, like the condo we rented during our first visit, but these villas all have a/c and ceiling fans in every room. My favorite part of the villa was the wall to wall glass doors that open up linking the patio with the living room. 

The entire resort is not a true resort but does have that resort feel. They have self check-in which means before you arrive, you’ll get a code to enter on the keypad to your villa’s front door. When you arrive, you simply enter the 4 digit code and let yourself right in. The staff that runs the property is very friendly and quick to reply to any problems and concerns. The microwave in our villa wasn’t working so we called to get it fixed. They couldn’t fix it straight away so they bought a brand new microwave and set it up right away. I also appreciated the quiet hours rule from 10 pm- 6 am. There was a large group of people loudly celebrating someone’s 21st birthday at the pool but promptly dissipated at 10 pm. Any parent with sleeping toddlers will really appreciate this too.

The Villas at Poipu Kai also have a clubhouse with a gym. In the center of the property is a beautiful pool with jacuzzi and a man-made waterfall. The pool area is enclosed, offers a grill area, and is surrounded with lounge chairs. I really appreciated how clean the property was kept. Every morning I’d see the staff members out there working to ensure every part of the property was clean and the landscape well manicured. Click here to see details, a full list of amenities, and book your villa at Poipu Kai.

How to save money on your Kauai vacation

Pro tip: I saw the listing for our villa wasn’t booked up like some of the other lower price point villas. Seeing that they were having trouble filling that particular villa due to the higher price point and seeing that we would be staying for 10 days, I decided to call and ask about a discounted rate. A very nice and friendly gentleman helped me and answered all my questions. We ended up getting a really nice deal and we booked it in less than 15 minutes. It was so quick and easy!

The most kid-friendly beaches in Kauai

We spent our entire 10 days hitting up all the kid-friendly beaches. On the first day, we took the 6-minute walk from our villa to Poipu beach. The waves here can get pretty wild but during the mornings it’s typically tame and suitable for children. The rest of the days we alternated between Lydgate Beach, Salt Pond Beach, Baby Beach, and Hanalei Bay Beach (this one being the farthest and least-kid-friendly). On the last day, our flight didn’t depart until 6 pm but we had to check out of our villa at 11 am so we decided that day would not be a beach day.

Baby Beach

Baby Beach. This spot is only a 6-minute drive from the Villas at Poipu Kai.

Instead, we took Athena for a train ride at the Kauai Plantation Railway to see the animals. The train ride is a 40-minute ride through Kauai’s first sugar cane plantation which covers 405 acres. You’ll see all types of fruit and flower trees as well as animals. The train makes one stop where patrons can disembark and feed the pigs a snack. Our toddler loves trains and had a blast on this little field trip. Ticket’s for adults are $20 per person, tickets for children 3-14 are $14, and children under 3 ride for free. This is a great activity to do on the last day because it’s close to the airport, just a 10-minute drive between the two spots. You can ride the train, then have a relaxing dinner before heading to the airport. Be sure to check out the shopping at the plantation, they have Atocha jewelry for sale, which is made from real sunken Spanish treasure!

On the train at the Kauai Plantation Railway, stopping to feed the pigs a snack.

Let me know in the comments if I missed anything or if you have any questions about traveling to Kauai with kids. You can also reach me over on my Instagram at @jeanettepadillavega or send me an email directly at jeanettepvega@gmail.com. If you know someone who could use this guide, make sure to share it with them!

Guest Post: Diana Edelman Founder of Vegans, Baby Shares 10 Las Vegas Spots with Amazing Vegan Food

Las Vegas is on fire with vegan options. Recently,  the city was ranked 10th in the nation (let that sink in for a moment, since in 2016 there were less than a handful of all-vegan restaurants) for being vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

If you’re looking for a place to dine and enjoy amazing vegan offerings, the options are abundant.

It’s my job to go out and try all the vegan food in town, and I get asked all of the time where to eat out. These are some of my top picks, based on nearly three years of eating out for Vegans, Baby, which is proud to provide the city’s only comprehensive guide for vegan- and vegan-friendly dining (and more) in Las Vegas.

Want more vegan options? Check out the Las Vegas Vegan Dining Guide, loaded with the best vegan food in the city with nearly 100 suggestions for where to find all of the amazing eats in town.

VegeNation: Any visit to Las Vegas needs to include VegeNation. With two locations in town (Downtown and the ‘burbs) their global street food and rotating seasonal menu is super popular with the locals. Be sure to try their mac and cheese pizza or their Chicky Chicky Bang Bang, a spicy chicken sandwich.

The Modern Vegan: Opened in March 2018 and leading the charge for vegan restaurants opening this year, The Modern Vegan’s menu boasts a whopping 100+ dishes. Their specialty is comfort food, so be sure to order the corn dogs or Louisiana Fried Chicken. And, save room for dessert. Closed Monday – Tuesday.

Violette’s Vegan Organic Cafe & Juice Bar: This fun and hippie restaurant off-Strip focuses on organic comfort food and veganized food like nachos, mac and cheese, sandwiches, burgers and more. For healthier options, check out their juices, smoothies or bowls.

Go Vegan: This gluten-free restaurant is all about natural eating — their menu is heavy on the raw and healthy. Head there for breakfast and treat yourself to the breakfast platter with tofu scramble or omelette, gluten-free muffin and more.

Simply Pure: Located in Downtown’s Container Park, Chef Stacey Dougan’s Simply Pure serves both raw and cooked goodness, including their famous lasagna with tofu ricotta (this meal is a must). It even comes in a gluten-free version.

Tacotarian: Vegan Mexican food at Tacotarian will have you doing a happy dance. With more than a dozen tacos to choose from, the vegan restaurant also serves up traditional Mexican eats and fun dishes like Taki-covered elote and Frito pie.

Chef Kenny’s Asian Vegan Restaurant: Chef Kenny Chye’s restaurant is your go-to for Asian cuisine in Vegas. His sushi is incredible and lets you indulge in rolls you’d never thought you’d have again, like the Rainbow Roll. Bonus: the orange chicken is gonna fool your omni friends.

Blinders Burgers & Brunch: This northwest Las Vegas restaurant is all-vegan and offers a variety of creative burgers. Choose your patty — veggie, Beyond or Impossible — and then order up what suits your fancy. They also offer a weekend brunch that includes pancakes with crispy Herbivorous Butcher bacon.

Good Pie: Craving pizza? Head to Good Pie. Las Vegas doesn’t have its own vegan pizza spot, yet, but this is a must. The Detroit deep dish, gluten-free (yes, you read that right) is the stuff dreams are made of.

Beauty & Essex: If you’re looking for a high-end restaurant on The Strip, Beauty & Essex fits the bill. Perfect for vegans and omnis, this dining experience comes complete with eats like herb crusted tempeh, flatbread and desserts that will blow your mind.

Want even more vegan restaurants? Here’s a guide to all of the vegan restaurants in Las Vegas.

–Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby which aims to make being vegan easier around the world. She also is the author of the Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide, founder of Las Vegas’ vegan dining month — Veganuary Las Vegas, and runs the Vegans, Baby Vegan Food Tours. Follow Vegans, Baby on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, find out where to shop for vegan goods in Las Vegas on Instagram, and stay up-to-date on Diana’s projects on her Instagram.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide | Mindful Gifts for Everyone on Your List + Plus Gifts That Give Back

Gift giving can be daunting, am I right? With the holidays right around the corner, you’ve probably already googled “gift ideas for mom” or “gift ideas for women” and most certainly “gift ideas for men” because they’re especially hard to shop for! What about that one person that doesn’t need anything or has everything?! Yep, I’ve been there too. Don’t worry, this year, I got you covered!

Are you ready to give gifts that are going to really resonate with your loved ones? Are you ready to give with intention? Are you ready to give a gift that will be remembered and cherished for many years to come? GOOD! This holiday gift guide is going to knock your socks off! Not only are these gift ideas awesome, but most of them also give back! Yep, they do good for others, meaning you’ll be feeding two birds with one scone. 😉

Holiday Gift Ideas | Books

Let’s start with books. I love gifting books because they’re the gift the keeps on giving. A single book can completely change someone’s life. Take, for example, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. This information in this book can be used to reverse heart disease, but please, don’t take my word for it. Go read the 1,700+ reviews on Amazon where readers share their testimonies and lab results. This is some really powerful reading. I’ve been gifted many books over the years, everything from fiction, to non-fiction, to cookbooks, which I still use to this day. Cookbooks make life easier and I’ve loved collecting them since I was a kid. Here are some of my most recent favorites.

 

1. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically-Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure

The New York Times bestselling guide to the lifesaving diet that can both prevent and help reverse the effects of heart disease

Based on the groundbreaking results of his twenty-year nutritional study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn illustrates that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease but can also reverse its effects.  Dr. Esselstyn is an internationally known surgeon, researcher and former clinician at the Cleveland Clinic and a featured expert in the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has helped thousands across the country, and is the book behind Bill Clinton’s life-changing vegan diet.”

2. How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger

“From the physician behind the wildly popular website Nutrition Facts, How Not to Die reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.”

3. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health

“You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet. More than 30 years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.”

4. The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

“Bestselling author, longevity expert, and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner reports on health, fitness, diet, and aging, drawing on his research from extraordinarily long-lived communities–Blue Zones–around the globe.”

5. This Cheese is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home

“In their debut cookbook, The Plantpower Way, Julie Piatt and her ultra-endurance athlete husband, Rich Roll, inspired thousands to embrace a plant-fueled lifestyle, and through their advocacy efforts, podcasts, and talks, countless people are now enjoying healthier and more vibrant lives…Filled with the essential tips, tools, and mouth-watering recipes home cooks need to immerse themselves in the world of nut-based cheese-making, This Cheese is Nuts will demonstrate why nut cheeses should be part of any healthy, sustainable diet.”

6. Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

New York Times Bestseller!

 

Holiday Gift Ideas | Journals

Journals are really trending right now and I’m predicting they will be one of 2019’s biggest trends. Gratitude journals, particularly, seem to be the most popular. Why is this? Well, it seems like this trend started with CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs; many of whom, speak about the power of practicing gratitude and being mindful of the things we have. This is a practice I’ve completely embraced in the last few months and I even started a #gratitudechallenge over on my Instagram. Exercising gratitude is easy and has the power to completely transform your life. I find that since starting this practice, I’m more mindful in more aspects of my life, I have a sunnier disposition, I handle “bad” situations better, I’m kinder to others, I’m nicer to myself, and I have a more positive outlook on life and the world around me. Here are some of my favorite journals.

1.52 Lists for Happiness Journal

2. Good Days Start With Gratitude Journal

3. Diario De Gratitud

A gratitude journal for Spanish speakers. Diario de gratitud en espanol.

4. Start With Gratitude Journal

 

Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

 

1. Love Your Melon Pom Beanie

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

2. One Hope Wine Gift Box

One Hope Wine partners with numerous nonprofits to help support causes that support animals, children, women, veterans, education, environment, and health. Partners include Pencils of Promise and Room to Read.

3. Conscious Steps Mens Gift Box—Socks That Give Back

This box supports the movement to combat deforestation, protect our environment, and repopulate our oceans.

4. Ceramic Oil Diffuser

An oil diffuser is such a great gift to help your loved ones unwind and relax. This one is so simple to use, just fill the water cup to the line, add a few drops of essential oil, and push the start button. Not only is it super easy to use but the soft glowing light and vase design are so pretty; it makes a stylish addition to any room. It also doubles as a night light!

5. Lush Charity Pot

“This rich and generous cream contains seven ingredients sourced from our Sustainable Lush Fund projects that support regenerative agriculture around the world. With every purchase of Charity Pot, we donate 100% of the price (minus the taxes) to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.”

6. Raw Sugar Body & Bath Gift Set

This product gives back! For every product purchased, one bar of soap is donated to a family in need. This brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

7. Raw Sugar Holiday Body Wash Set

The product gives back! For every product purchased, one bar of soap is donated to a family in need. This brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

8. Roma Rain Boots

For every pair you buy, a pair is donated to a child in need.

9. Krochet Kids Fox Ears Beanie

This gift gives back. Krochet Kids creates life-changing jobs through the making of apparel and accessories. They also provide social impact programming that helps communities get out of poverty.

10. Conscious Steps Womens Gift Box—Socks That Give Back

Each box plants 10 trees through Trees for the Future, promotes early detection of breast cancer through Keep A Breast, and empowers women with access to safe water through Water.org.

11. Love Your Melon Black Beanie

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

12. Gift Prime

This is a gift everyone needs. I’ve been using Amazon Prime for years but when Athena was born, we used it nearly every day. This was invaluable to us because it saved us from having to go out for every little thing I needed for ourselves, the house, the dog, and the baby. Every parent knows the hassle of packing up the baby for a “quick” trip to the store. There’s no such thing; every trip somehow turns into a 2-hour long journey.  If you don’t know what to give someone, give them the gift of express delivery. Prime also comes with tons of free movies and tv shows as well as free audio books.

Prime Trial

If you’d like to try it for yourself, use this link to get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime.

13. Ruby’s Dream Big Socks

These rainbow sock are not only really cute, they also give back! Ruby’s Rainbows

“Ruby’s Rainbow is a nonprofit that grants scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes, helping them achieve their dreams of higher education while spreading awareness of their capabilities.”

14. Naja Wonder Sports Bra

Naja offers lingerie and activewear. Their products are made by single mother and female heads of household. They pay above-market wages, provide healthcare, and support child educations with stipends.

15. Matas Traders Hammered Disc Bracelet

These beautifully crafted pieces are made by artisans in India and Nepal. They come from rural areas, tribal villages, and urban slums looking for a chance to lift their families and communities out of poverty. Your purchase supports these artisans and their families for generations to come.

16. I Have Done Love Necklace

This necklace supports the Aleksander Fund by donating $12 for every I Have Done Love necklace sold. The Aleksander Fund is a scholarship to send a woman in need or who have suffered a loss to one of Jen Pastiloff’s healing retreats. It’s named after Julia Anderson’s baby boy who passed away in July 2016.

17. Love Beauty & Planet Rose Gift Set

100% of the gift set profits go to The Recycling Partnership.

18. Petit Vour — A Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Subscription Beauty Box

This is not your ordinary beauty box. These boxes are packed with high-end, vegan and cruelty-free makeup, perfumes, and beauty items. This is the perfect gift for anyone who loves animals as much as they love pampering themselves. Use code: GIFT NOW for 50% off your first box.

19. Deer Sleep Mask

These are currently on sale. Buy one get, one free!

20. Love Your Melon Blanket

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

21. S’well Teakwood bottle

This water bottle keeps your water cool for 24 hours and hot drink hot for 12 hours! It was created to reduce single-use plastic water bottles and is now the most popular water bottle on the market. S’well partners with UNICEF and other important charities to do great work.

22. S’well Gold bottle

23. S’well Pink Bottle

24. S’well Silver Bottle

25. Future World Changer Tee 

Use code: SITEWIDESALE for 50% off your purchase.

This tee gives back. “Each year, millions of women and children are trafficked into sexual exploitation in India.  Sudara Freedom Fund and the certified B-Corp, Sudara, are working to change this by providing hope and opportunity through living-wage jobs, skills training, and education.  This change is possible because people like you are making donations to Sudara Freedom Fund and customers are purchasing Sudara goods.”

26. Cuddle and Kind Sebastian the Lamb Stuffed Animal 

For every doll purchased, Cuddle + Kind donates 10 meals to children in the USA and around the world.

27. Cuddle and Kind Lucy the Lamb Stuffed Animal

For every doll purchased, Cuddle + Kind donates 10 meals to children in the USA and around the world.

28. Krochet Kids Fox Stuffed Animal

This gift gives back. Krochet Kids creates life-changing jobs through the making of apparel and accessories. They also provide social impact programming that helps communities get out of poverty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non Candy Halloween Goody Bags

 

Goody Bags | Ghost Erasers | Mini Erasers | Glow in the Dark Bracelets | Bat Rings | Spider Maze | Monster Finger Puppets

This year will be our second year giving out non-candy Halloween goody bags. Last year was Athena’s first Halloween. I started thinking about what I would do when she became of trick or treating age. I really hope that by then there are more houses handing out non-candy treats. I’ve always loved Halloween, the costumes, the trick or treating, the fun decor, what’s not to like? However, now as a parent, I see this holiday a little differently. I’m definitely concerned with the amount of sugar kids consume nowadays. Not wanting to contribute to this, and also to set a good example for Athena, I decided to make Halloween goody bags filled with toys. It was around this time last year that I either saw a teal pumpkin on someone’s porch or heard about the teal pumpkin project. If you’re not familiar with the Teal Pumpkin Project, it’s a movement encouraging parents to give out non-candy Halloween treats to make the holiday more inclusive to those with food allergies. These bags are also great for vegan kids, which are also not able to eat most of the candy given out on Halloween. The fact that there are kids with food allergies never even crossed my mind so when I learned about this project I convinced me even more to make these goody bags.

I decided to make this a tradition. Last year I got all my supplies at the Dollar Store. This year I saw so many cute items, perfect for these bags, at Target so I just bought everything there. It was pretty inexpensive too. Target has really been stepping up their game when it comes to the under five dollars items bins near the front of their stores. I Linked all the items except the Halloween sticker boxes and the Halloween tattoo boxes. I searched high and low for these items online but I just couldn’t find them. However, I’ve checked two locations near my house here in Las Vegas and they still have these boxes, I think maybe they’re just not available online.

It took me about an hour to make 40 goody bags. I took my time and sipped on a latte, I love this little Halloween tradition. There are all kinds of cute ways to decorate these types of goody bags but I wanted to keep it simple so I bought these orange bags with the bat print. This pack also comes with ghost-print bags, but I didn’t use them. I also bought a couple packs of bat rings. I tied the goody bags using the bag ties that come with them, then I put a ring around the bag tie to cover it up and make the bags a little cuter. It’s so easy and they turned out great!

Athena has been having a blast with all these goodies. She already made off with a handful of the mini erasers. Lol. I can’t wait to hand these out to trick or treaters. Also, if you’re too busy to make these goody bags (not that it takes long at all), Target also has these little Halloween mini play packs. Each one is about the size of your palm and comes with a mini coloring book, 2 crayons, and a sticker. Each bag is only $3 and has 8 mini play packs inside. Athena really loves these, she asked for one while we were still in the store and she colored the whole time I was shopping. I’m keeping a few extra for future shopping trips. 😉 I couldn’t find the link for these but they still have them in store. You can find all these supplies at Target.

My Favorite Podcasts: Inspirational Conversations You Need to Hear Right Now

If you’re like me, you have trouble staying motivated and inspired. It’s not easy when there are so many distractions all around you. The news crushes our hopes for a better tomorrow. Social media makes us feel inadequate through comparison. And we can even get lost entirely in the roles others expect of us, mother, daughter, father, employee, etc. Well, today I just want to remind you to take a deep, long breath and remember that you are your unique self, and you deserve to go after all your dreams. The world needs you to create, teach, innovate, and bring more beauty and joy into the universe. Now, do you need some inspiration? Great because I have some for you! 🙂

Today I want to share with you my absolute favorite podcasts. I had coffee with one of my girlfriends a few days ago, and I was telling her about some of these when I realized I need to share them all with you! Honestly, every single episode I’ve listened to has been either super insightful, inspirational, interesting or all three. For those of you with iPhones, do you know that your phone comes with a podcast app and that podcasts are all 100% free?! YEP! Open your phone and look for a little purple icon with a picture of a microphone on it. That’s your podcasts app! Tap on it to open it and search for any of these podcasts to start listening right away. There’s nothing to sign up for or pay for. You just find the podcast you want, tap on an episode title that sounds good, and it will play. It’s the best thing ever! If you don’t have an iPhone, do not fret! There are other easy ways to listen, such as by downloading the Google podcasts app, Stitcher, Audible or any other similar app. You can also listen on your desktop via the podcast webpage. Click on the podcast names below to listen or find them in your podcast app.

The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

If you want to be inspired to unlock your inner greatness, this podcast is the one you’ve been waiting for. Lewis Howes speaks with a variety of phenomenal and inspirational individuals from all walks of life. These conversations are inspiring, enlightening, and valuable. There’s so much to take away from each of these episodes. You’ll be left feeling energized and with a renewed sense of motivation for whatever it is you’re aiming to accomplish. I’m not exaggerating when I say this podcast is a treasure trove of inspiration. Go listen to it now! And while you’re there go ahead and subscribe because you won’t want to miss a single episode.

From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl

I love Yoga Girl, aka Rachel Brathen. This is another inspirational podcast that you’ll definitely want to subscribe to. Rachel is so down to earth, funny, humble, inspiring, and overall a great person. After listening to a few episodes, you’ll feel like you know her personally. I sometimes forget we are not actually friends— because she doesn’t know I exist, lol, but you’ll feel like you know as a close friend. She’s built this incredible empire and yet is still so relatable and humble. You don’t have to be into yoga to enjoy her podcast. In fact, most of her episodes are not about yoga. She speaks a lot about self-care, self-development, and mindfulness. And while I’ve been completely turned off by these topics in the past, mostly because it was from people that were disingenuine, Rachel is entirely herself.

One of my favorite episodes is from June 8 of this year, titles “Yoga with Usher and An Emergency Toolkit for Wellbeing.” The toolkit part is what really made me love this episode. It has several wonderful tools you can use immediately to bring inner peace and calmness into your life. It’s so worth listening to, I hope you’ll all check it out. If you want to skip ahead to the emergency toolkit bit, it starts around the 24-minute timestamp. Fun fact: Rachel’s baby, Lea Luna, is one day older than Athena.

The Rich Roll Podcast

If you’re interested in adopting a plant-based diet, or recently went vegan and are looking for some guidance or support, or aren’t ready to take the plunge but want to learn more about a plant-based diet and lifestyle, this is the podcast you want. Rich Roll is well-spoken, easy to listen to, and he interviews the best people on nutrition and athletic performance. I’ve been listening to this podcast for a couple years now, and there are some episodes that I’ve relistened to a few times because there’s just so much information to take in. In one of my favorite episodes, guest Dr. Zach Bush speaks about the history of pesticide use—like Roundup— on crops and the severe ramifications it has on our gut lining as well as on our individual cells.

Girl Boss Radio with Sophia Amoruso

Are you on a mission to build your empire? Are you a girl? Then you won’t want to miss this podcast. Okay, you don’ have to be a girl to get some information out of this podcast, boys can listen too, but they’ll have to enter a password, jk. If the name Sophia Amoruso rings a bell, it may be because you already know who she is. Have you heard of or shopped at Nasty Gal? Yep, that’s her company. Sophia started selling thrifted clothes on eBay back in the mid-2000’s. After being banned from eBay in 2008, she started Nasty Gal— a company she quickly grew to be worth millions. Girl Boss Radio features interviews with women that are thriving as entrepreneurs and, well, girl bosses. Guests include Charlize Theron, Tamara Mellon (co-founder of Jimmy Choo and fashion line Tamara Mellon), Aimee Song (creator of Song of Style), Miranda Kerr, and Leandra Medine Cohen to name a few.

Problem Solvers

Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, Jason Feifer heads this podcast. If you’ve started a company or are thinking of starting a project, a mission, a brand, or have any type of entrepreneurial goal in mind, you’ll need to listen to this podcast. Jason speaks with entrepreneurs that have overcome huge obstacles in creating their brands. Episode titles include “How do you find your first customers”, “People love your idea, but it doesn’t make money. Now what?”, and “Build an audience without advertising”.

Oprah’s Master Class

Do you really need me to tell you why you should listen to this one? Lol. It’s Oprah. I feel like that says it all. Okay, let’s get a little more descriptive. This podcast just recently launched and these interviews are different than those on her talk show. Instead of interviewing them, the guests just speak on their own, sharing their story with you. The format is different from other podcasts, this one feels more intimate. Each guest shares how they got into the industry, reached success, overcame adversity, and what inspired them. Guests include Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, and Shaq.

Ted Talks Daily

You’ve probably already watched a Ted Talk, or several, but did you know there’s a podcast? Yes! The Ted Talks Daily Podcast is a menagerie of talks from all sorts of different categories ranging from health to science to innovation. You can hear from experts in the field of arts, artificial intelligence, medicine, philanthropy, and so much more. There are about 500 episodes currently, with new ones added every day. This is an excellent podcast for those that are interested in a wide range of subjects.

The Birth Hour

I’m including this podcast for all the mamas that follow me. If you’re expecting or know someone who is, you’ll definitely want to listen to or share this podcast with them. It was immensely helpful to me when I was pregnant. In case some of you are not aware, birthing a baby can be crazy and wildly unpredictable. The creator, Bryn speaks with expectant mothers of all types. You can listen to first-time moms, moms that have had 10 kids, moms that gave birth naturally after a c-section (VBAC), moms that had c-sections after giving birth naturally.

There are interviews with moms that have given birth: in hospitals with doctors, without drugs, with drugs, in hospitals with midwives, at home alone, at home with midwives, in the car, etc. There is such a mixed bag of stories, it’s really very informative and insightful. This podcast really helped me let go of my fear regarding all the things I couldn’t control when it came to giving birth. I thought about some of these interviews during my nearly 30-hour long labor with Athena, and it really helped me surrender to the process of birth.

 

 

 

Las Vegas Dining: Wing Lei at Wynn (Birthday Dinner)

Watermelon martini and melon hor d’oeuvre.
Garden Dim Sum
Chilled vegetable roll.
Tiny chair for my purse. So cute!
After dinner, walking to the south valet.
Those are the doors to the south valet behind me.
Koi in the water. So beautiful.

Hi guys! I’m so excited to share my Wing Lei review with you all. I wasn’t planning on writing a review so I didn’t take too many pictures, none of our entrees. However, this immediately became one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas so I have to share it with you. My birthday was 2 weeks ago. As I mentioned on my Instagram, we kept it low-key with a nice, quiet, fancy dinner. I’ve been wanting to dine at Wing Lei for quite some time now but it didn’t seem like a place you’d want to take an infant, so I decided to wait for the right time to try it out. My mom flew in for my birthday and offered to watch Athena so Marc could take me out to a nice dinner. I immediately thought of Wing Lei.

If you’re not familiar with Wing Lei, here’s a little overview from their website: “Wing Lei, the first Chinese restaurant in the country to be awarded a Michelin Star and the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award-winning Chinese restaurant in North America, combines Chinese flavors with Western technique to create an exceptional dining experience at Wynn. A lavish gold and jewel-toned dining space draws inspiration from elements of classical Chinese architecture and design to create contemporary rooms that are rich and eclectic. Wing Lei features a view of a private garden that harbors century-old pomegranate trees and a gleaming golden dragon. The elegant surroundings pair perfectly with Chef Ming Yu’s menu—a masterful mix of Cantonese, Shanghai and Szechuan flavors—featuring delicacies like tableside-carved Imperial Peking duck, mu shu pork and wok-fried Maine lobster.”

The Ambiance

This dining room is beautiful. It feels very open and equally private. There are beautiful wall sculptures, walls draped in luxe fabrics, traditional Chinese architecture, gorgeous flower arrangements, and touches of gold that dazzle the eye. The entire space is elegant and lends a relaxing vibe. We sat next to the private garden that holds century-old pomegranate trees.

The Service

We made a reservation for 8:30 but got there closer to 9. It wasn’t until we arrived that I realized they close a 10. I got a little anxious because I like to take my time during dinner, well, during any meal. But especially for dinner I like to sit and relax, converse, and maybe have a cocktail or some wine. When we arrived the hostess greeted us with a smile and we were shown to our table. The restaurant was about a third full. Our waiter came out to take our drink order and he also had a smile on his face. Already, my anxiety started melting away. By the time he came back with my drink, about 5 min later, I completely forgot about my anxiety. The entire staff was really nice and professional throughout the entire night. We were never made to feel rushed even though we left close to 11. We let him know we are vegan and he pointed out some good options.

The Food

We, of course, skipped the animal products, instead opting for their vegan options and it.was.fantastic! Did you know that every single restaurant inside the Wynn has a vegan and vegetarian options? It’s true! That’s because Mr. Steve Wynn, himself, is vegan. Wing Lei doesn’t have a separate vegan menu but there are vegan options on the main menu. They started off our meal with a complimentary melon and vinaigrette hor d’oeuvre. Marc immediately said it was the best melon he’s ever had. I have to agree, it was soooo good and we were left wanting a bowl full of it, lol.

Garden Dim Sum

We started with the garden dim sum. This dish is meant to resemble a garden and the presentation is just beautiful. These delicious little dumplings are colored with vegetable juices like, red beet, corn, and spinach. They are filled with a savory veggie filling with a texture similar to a traditional dumpling. Topped with pea tendrils and edible flowers to add a bit of whimsy and color.

Chilled Vegetable Roll

This chilled vegetable roll is filled with mango, carrot, cucumber, mint, wrapped in rice paper and topped with a chili vinaigrette and micro greens. It was delicious, so refreshing and light but filling.

Vegetable Fried Rice

I was so happy to see this on the menu. Fried rice is typically made with egg so I asked if they could make it vegan and they said absolutely. I was so excited because I love fried rice. I could have used a bit more flavor but it was still really good and perfectly complimented the Gardein chick’n dish.

Sautéed Mixed Vegetables

Bell peppers, mushrooms, choy sum, baby bok choy, and broccoli in a black bean sauce. This dish was so flavorful and cooked to perfection.

Tai Chin Gardein Chick’n

Gardein chick’n with scallions and garlic in a black bean-chili sauce. This was amazing! It was so packed with flavor and cooked perfectly. I highly recommend getting this when you visit.

Tips

Wing Lei is located near the south valet entrance. We left our car at the north valet entrance and when we asked for directions to the restaurant, the nice gentleman that checked our car informed us that we could pick up our car at the south valet; so convenient!

The restaurant is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

There is a dress code. Business casual attire is required; shorts are not permitted and gentlemen must wear a collared shirt.

Children under five are not permitted.

To make a reservation by phone, call (702) 770-3388.

Have any of you been here? If so, how did you like it? I’m dying to go back!