For Christmas in 2014 Mike and I went to visit his sister and her husband in Australia. We were lucky enough to go for 3 weeks and I wish I had written about the trip when we returned but I didn’t get around to it. Now, too much time has passed for me to recount all of the details of the trip but, luckily, traveling with Mike’s family means there was a spreadsheet! Below is a summary of what we did each day and a few pictures of life down under.

Mike and I had a rocky start to this trip (one that I, unfortunately, remember too well) and had major difficulties getting from California to Sydney. There were quite a few but the highlights (lowlights?) were a 24 hour flight delay, leaving us in LAX for longer than desired, and washing our underwear in the sink for a few days because our luggage stayed in America long after we had left.

We were supposed to meet Mike’s family in Sydney on 12/21/2014 but we didn’t get there until the 22nd. Nonetheless, we got there!

Day 1, 12/22/2014 – Sydney

We arrived in Sydney and took an Uber to the airbnb that we rented. The house was a nice, 3 story place. Each couple got their own room, there were 3 bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, and big deck for us to relax on. I remember being pretty stressed that I didn’t have any luggage to unpack but there wasn’t anything we could really do except shower and borrow some clothes. Luckily Mike’s sister and I are close in size.

Mike’s parents went for a walking tour of Sydney while we got ready and had a much needed drink (even if it was probably before 10 AM!). Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybodyyyyyy… Except Wendyyyy. We found out Mike’s sister was pregnant! It’s pretty crazy to think about that now, having met Ella this past Christmas when we went to Canada.

For lunch, we tried something new and went to a place where you grilled your own food. I’ve since forgotten the name but still remember how good the lamb was! We spent the afternoon grilling and drinking beer before taking a ferry to Manly beach. It was insane to see the Sydney Opera House with my own eyes and I think the moment I realized I was actually in Australia.

Sydney Opera House
A windy afternoon

At Manly, the beach was windy (a sort of premonition for the trip) and we all quickly decided another drink indoors sounded better. We then took the ferry back and headed to the airbnb where I’m sure we figured something out for dinner and then fell fast asleep.

Day 2, 12/23/2014

At this point we learned that our luggage was still in Los Angeles and that we would be given ~$60 a day for clothes until it arrived. Off we went to spend an afternoon sopping where we stocked up on underwear, dresses (for me), shorts, shirts, and bathing suits to get us through the next couple of days without our luggage.

Lunch was at a Mexican joint nearby and then some window shopping for the girls and table tennis at a pub nearby for the boys.

Day 3, 12/24/2014

Mine and Mike’s luggage was still MIA so we didn’t have tennis shoes to join on the Blue Mountains hike that Barb and Dan went on.

Instead, “the kids” went out to explore. We walked from Bondi to Bronte beach which, according to Google maps, is just over 1.5 miles. The walk was gorgeous but windy! We stopped along the way for fish n chips. Everyone told me how fresh the food in  Australia was and I found it to be pretty true!

After beach bumming for most of the day we took a bus back to the airbnb and grilled  Christmas eve dinner on the deck.

A little rest on our walk

Day 4, 12/25/14

Christmas morning!

Wendy and Andy actually live in Melbourne which meant none of us were “home” on Christmas eve or Christmas. This was also the first Christmas that I was away from my family which was paradoxically really hard and easier than I expected at the same time…

We woke up to stockings (thanks Barb and Dan!) and enjoyed coffee with Bailey’s and mimosas. We lazily ate breakfast and opened presents, trying to really get into the Christmas spirit.

Mike and I STILL hadn’t got out luggage by this point and we were leaving for Melbourne later that day, which added to the stress. Luckily we knew that they had arrived in Sydney. It was only a matter of actually getting them… We deiced to go to the airport early in an effort to track of bags down while Barb, Dan, Wendy, and Andy went to the Botanical gardens.

After more miscommunication and scrambling around, we finally got our luggage!

Only to part with it again for the flight to Melbourne.

To be continued…

Food and Lifestyle Book Reviews

Last year, I read some really good books that inspired me. Read on for the titles, authors, and quick synopsis.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan – This book was left in my office by a co-worker I never met and was going to be thrown out before I swooped it up. It sat on my shelf for a couple months before I finally started reading about Colin’s chronicles of living a life with little to no impact, in Manhattan of all places. I found this book to be eye-opening and inspiring. It really makes you think about how much we all consume on a daily basis. There is also the No Impact Man documentary which I watched after reading the book. Highly recommended!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon I’ve mentioned this book on the blog before and will likely continue to do so. I’m not a mom yet but found this book insightful and very interesting. The author moved from Vancouver to France – where her husband is from – with her two young daughters and spends a year learning the “ways” of the French and their non-picky little eaters, very different from (most) kids in North America. The book describes cultural differences between how food is viewed, prepared, and eaten in North America vs. in France, along with antidotes and a few recipes for readers to try at home.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub – This book was another winner and really helped me solidify my gripes against sugar.  Eve and her family spend a year with a very limited sugar intake. I absolutely loved this book. For some unexplained reason, it made me feel nostalgic for a life I’ve never lived. Eve’s way of describing her hometown in Vermont (in my mind, seemingly perfectly simple… think: Gilmore Girl’s Stars Hallow); paired with her relentless quest for more knowledge about sugar; and her  detailed accounts of her findings, feelings, failings, as well as successes, made for a delightful and educational read!


In the past years I have dabbled in quite a few other books about eating and living a compassionate, healthy, informed and educated lifestyle. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t make it completely through all of the following books and, for the ones I did read entirely, it has been years since I’ve finished them, so these descriptions are quick and unrefined.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan – This book is an obvious one. This is basically a staple in any “health conscious” person’s kitchen/home and though, as my grandpa pointed out, Mr. Pollan doesn’t have any credentials in nutrition (he graduated with a degree in Journalism), his thoughts and “rules” resonate with me (and many others!).

Eat only foods that will eventually rot …that’s just good sense. (Although I would respectably add a timeline in there because we all know there’s that smart ass ready to tell us that  McDonald’s goes bad too. Eventually.)

Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel – I found some gems in here about letting go and just living; urging you to realize food should not be the devil or your best friend; like her rule You Can Have It All, Just Not All At Once – what a relief and a perspective shift! This book helped me let go of some serious limitations I was putting on my diet. Worth the read.

The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel – Bethenny lists tools and provides recipes in this book for healthy, non-stress noshing.

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin – I first read this book in college and still remember the authors advise to Trust No One (not even them). I love this advice to this day because it’s so true! In the end, you know your body better than anyone. With conflicting information from experts telling us Paleo Is The Only Way To Live in one article and then Veganism being The Cure For Cancer in the next, it is especially important to do your own research and come up with your own guidelines.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone – This book is all about being a Vegan with a capital V and living well… kindly. Surface level, I felt kind of judged while reading this book. Alicia outlines the steps to become a vegan and then a “superhero” vegan (someone who, if my memory serves me right, eats only nuts, seeds, and maybe a few leafy greens, like on their birthday, as a treat). But, if you can leave your ego out of it, this book is a good one with a meaningful message. It includes pretty pictures and recipes to start A New Vegan Lifestyle. Yeah!

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba – Okay, I don’t know what the deal is with celebrities writing lifestyle books now (what happened to fragrances!? asking for jLo…) but I’m completely on board with it. Overall I didn’t love the book – and was more interested in an inside glimpse of her life – but it highlighted a few tips and tricks here and there and I dig her message so, it’s all good. Money well spent.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz – I should probably give this book a second chance but I could barely get through the first chapter… I like Cameron Diaz well enough but I distinctly remember feeling like I was reading an unedited letter while perusing this book. To me, her thoughts sounded scrambled and sporadic… like she didn’t really have an end goal… but the book seems to align with what I’m interested in so I’ll make an effort to try again and let you know how it goes.


Stay tuned and eat your greens.

** Note this blog went through a rebrand and is now veg vibes; which aligns better with the direction I organically gravitated towards. It’s all about your vibe**

South Lake Tahoe

We’ve been planning a trip to south lake Tahoe since the end of last year with 4 other couples and it finally happened this past weekend! Tahoe is the perfect weekend escape if you live in the Bay Area since it’s only about 4 hours away and has a bunch of activities to do in the summer or winter. Mike and I usually frequent north lake (you can read about our trips here and here) but south shore has more of a party vibe and is better to go with friends.

We spent most of the weekend in a cabin we rented with everyone but Mike and I drove up on Thursday, before most of the others, and shared a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with our friends Ben and Sandra. This way Mike and Ben could hit the slopes on Friday, and Sandra and I could hit the sushi bar.

When we got there around midnight but Ben and Sandra were still about 45 minutes out and we couldn’t check in without them since the hotel was under Ben’s name. Instead we grabbed a beer in the casino and tried not to inhale too much because of all the smoke.

On Friday the guys went straight to the lift while Sandra and I spent a leisurely day getting coffee, sushi, drinking wine, and watching Ellen. Around 6pm most of the other couples arrived and we got ready for dinner at MacDuff’s Pub. This place was cute and cozy, basically a quintessential Irish pub. Half of our group ordered the truffled mac n cheese and, as good as it looked, I knew it would be too rich for me so I got the corned beef and cabbage instead. After dinner, we played Anomia, a card game that involves a lot of quick thinking and shouting at each other.

Saturday started with a lazy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fruit + a coffee run. It could be just me but heading to Starbucks with a huge list of coffee orders makes me feel oddly very much like an adult…

Back at the cabin, armed with caffeine and Chromecast, we alternated between watching Beyonce and Justin Bieber music videos. (Also, very adult like, for the record.) Finally around 1pm we collectively decided it was time to go outside and play in the snow. We gathered our gloves, hats, beers, and googles to go sledding nearby.


I was starving when we got back to the house and was stoked that I had leftovers from the night before. After scarfing down the rest of my corned beef and cabbage, it was time to hot tub! While we were soaking in the jacuzzi the last couple arrived. We all went to Cold Water Brewery & Grill for dinner with the intention of going to the casinos after.

Mike and I split pretzel bites with beer fondue, a rice + veggie bowl, and fish & chips. It was a lot of food and we just couldn’t rally after. The whole group was tired and suffering from food comas so we went back to the cabin and fell asleep.


On Sunday there was another coffee run and some brunch action back at Cold Water Brewery & Grill, where we saw monkey bread on the menu the night before and had to go try it.

Overall the weekend was filled with more beer than vegetables and essentially no exercise but a lot of fun in a great location!

Stay tuned and eat your greens.

** Note this blog went through a rebrand and is now veg vibes; which aligns better with the direction I organically gravitated towards. It’s all about your vibe**

Yoga Mat Confessions

I have a confession. I workout like a grandma.

I don’t push myself to the max.

I rarely break a sweat when I “work out.”

I like to go on leisurely walks and do simple yoga flows.

Sometimes I will add in a 5 pound “strength training” circuit.

I always say I am going to push myself harder and get stronger, faster, more toned, …better. But after I run I feel like I have a cold (no joke, my nose runs, my body aches, my head hurts) and I cannot physically lift more than 10 pounds without ruining my form.

I see some of my friends on Instagram with their rock hard abs and strong legs and think dayyymmmn… if only I had the time… 

But, the thing is, I do. I do have time to hit the gym and keep increasing the pounds I lift; even if I tremble and shake and can only do one repetition at first. I have the time to play soccer – or pick up another cardio focused sport – and work out while having fun so it doesn’t even feel like a work out. If I really wanted to, I could carve out time in my day for working out hard; like I find time for writing and walking and yoga and for reading every label in the grocery store (it literally takes me hours to shop for food).

But, for me, working out for any reason other than to move (because, let’s face it, we all feel better after a walk and some downward dog… we just do) and to mentally decompress just isn’t my thing.

So I officially declare that I accept my “grandma” workout tendencies. My stomach is soft and my thighs touch. My calves jiggle and, guess what?, so do my arms. Most days I opt for modifications while I do my chaturanga. I walker slower around one corner just to deeply inhale these insanely delicious purple flowers on my block. 

I don’t drag myself to the gym before daylight or try hard for muscle definition. That’s just not how I roll. I work out slow and soft… It’s a bike ride to the farmer’s market over an hour on the treadmill. It’s a light flow on my patio on a nice day over the 26 postures in Bikram yoga. It’s low-impact and minimal results. It’s letting go of the “perfect” body and, really, the time it would take to achieve it…

But, please know, that if you do subscribe to the No Pain, No Gain notion, I salute you. You are likely physically stronger than I am. You choose to dedicate your time and energy and hard work to your body, while I reserve those efforts for other aspects of my life. You probably have more strength (more muscle, more endurance) than me, but we are equally fierce. Neither is better as long as we are both happy and healthy.

On that note, make no mistake, this is not an anthem for not moving at all. I’m not writing this as an excuse to throw in the towel and swear off all exercise. I am not asking you to join my tribe and rebel against CrossFit. I am by no means saying I rather watch Netflix all day than be outside, working my feet and legs, breathing in the air, and knowing my heart is working a little harder pumping my blood throughout my body.

I have to move. I have to move for my mind and my body. But I don’t have to move for results. I can simultaneously respect the hard work it takes to get abs of steel but not become a slave to the gym myself.

I choose to take the hour a day dedicated to my body doing something that releases tension instead of creating soreness, but that’s just me.

Stay tuned and eat your greens.

** Note this blog went through a rebrand and is now veg vibes; which aligns better with the direction I organically gravitated towards. It’s all about your vibe **

Veg Lunches

I am a huge advocate for bringing your lunch to the office. It will generally be healthier, save you money, and you can use the time spent driving around town to get food to take a walk around the parking lot instead! (Which legitimately is what I do on days that I’m in the office.)

Mike used to eat out every day (talk about a pricey habit!) but decided to bring a lunch from home 2 days a week instead; which has saved him money and has likely given him better health.

**Note when Mike started bringing lunches to work, he would make them himself but I quickly took over having a self-proclaimed OCD state of needing to know exactly what and how much food we have in our house at any given moment. (Seriously, it’s a bit weird how well I know the contents of our cabinets and refrigerator.)***

Most weeks I make Mike some variation of a hummus sandwich. When we did our No Sugar Cleanse, we learned that sourdough is the best bread to eat (if you’re trying to avoid sugar). I start off with four slices of Trader Joe’s sourdough bread and spread hummus on all pieces. Then I top with whatever veggies we have on hand – which usually includes cucumbers, carrots, and tomato. Sometimes, on a “good week” (we joke), I use sprouts too.  I will also pack a piece of fruit, maybe some chips, and Mike has lunch!

Occasionally I will pack him leftovers or just make one sammy and pair it with soup but basically hummus sandwiches are all the guy gets. (Side note, I should be mixing up his lunches with homemade burritos now, since I have so many frozen.)

This week I decided to spice up Mike’s lunches with a Can you even handle it? Instead of relying on my go-to hummus sandwich, I got a tad more creative and made him vegetable farro. (Farro is basically quinoa’s cousin – but is made from wheat – so far less trendy.)

Aside from being a believer in bringing your own lunches to work, I am also a big fan of frozen vegetables. I usually have peas and corn on hand and vary between broccoli, green beans, and a few other good ones! (Who am I kidding?! They are all good;)

This week we have frozen peas, (corn – not included in this recipe) and broccoli. I also had fresh carrots and onions. While my farro was boiling in the broth, I sauteed my veggies…


…Then added the cooked farro right on top…


…Mixed it all together and stored in glass containers for Mike’s lunch this week.


This veg packed meal – paired with more vegetables red peppers and cucumbers to dip in hummus (can’t get away from the stuff!) – is a healthy, cheap lunch for Mike that should leave him full and satisfied.

Stay tuned and eat your greens.

** Note this blog went through a rebrand and is now veg vibes; which aligns better with the direction I organically gravitated towards. It’s all about your vibe **