Closet Makeover!

Closet mess before
AVALANCHE!!! The before…

Transforming an awkward master bedroom closet into a custom dream closet in one weekend for under $300.

You know it’s trouble when your closet just heaves a sigh of defeat, surrenders to gravity, and deposits your beloved wardrobe in a sad heap on the floor.  For two years, this 3 foot by 4 foot micro walk-in closet has screamed for help.  It’s never maximized its limited space or even come close to earning the title of MASTER closet.   I asked the professionals.  After two quotes ranging from $400 to $1300 (!), neither was able to supply the storage and versatility that I need.

My house is tight on closet space, which isn’t unusual in my area, but leaves much to be desired.  I kept telling myself, “If this closet were in Manhattan, it would be downright luxurious.”  So how could I turn an NY mentality into a California reality?

 

 

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Why NOT Guatemala?

Why NOT Guatemala?

When I talked about heading to Guatemala for a getaway, everyone asked, “Why Guatemala?”

To which I answered, “Why not Guatemala?”

I social media stalked Guatemala for months- it looked like the perfect destination to escape to with the BF while my son was away with his dad.  A 5 hour flight from L.A., brimming with natural beauty, culturally interesting, and a combo of off-the-beaten-path-enough-to-be-adventurous, yet tourist-friendly enough to feel relaxing, Guatemala looked dreamy.  I was sold.

 

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Energy Healing at Tikkun Holistic Spa

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I’m wearing a plain t-shirt and baggy shorts, Korean spa-style waiting for my treatment with Dr. Hata.  Tikkun Holistic Spa is a serene oasis, offering not only lovely massages, facials and scrubs, but holistic treatments operating on a different level, energetically.   I’m into this stuff.  On my spiritual path, I went from being a skeptic, to finding energy work to be a very enriching, healing experience.  I had visited Tikkun earlier to shoot video with Rachel from Club Momme and Jamie from I’m Not The Babysitter, (coming soon!) but didn’t get a treatment myself.   Tikkun owner, Niki, told me I absolutely had to try Dr. Hata.  Very little was described to me, other than that I would love it.

I have no idea what to expect.

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The Anti-Salad

Sometimes salad gets so boring and predictable.  Been there done that.  Enter the ANTI-SALAD.

I have an allergy to ground corn, and a gluten-free preference, which makes Mexican food so much less fun than it used to be.  Last spring, on a retreat in Chacala, Mexico, I stumbled upon tacos using jicama instead of tortillas.  Genius!   Playing around with ingredients in my fridge I assembled this bad boy:

Tuna Poke Jicama Tacos

 

 

 

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Here’s what’s stacked up:

  • jicama, sliced into 1/4′ rounds
  • guacamole
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • red cabbage
  • tuna poke
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • shredded carrot
  • squeeze of lime

I love these tacos because they deliver all your veggies, are low in calories, they’re more fun to eat, and surprisingly filling.  (BTW, I don’t have tuna poke on hand all the time, but my dad had just caught some which I had over-seasoned, so the fresh veggies really offset the saltiness of the tuna.  A good quality Asian market may stock poke, but if you have fresh tuna, it’s super easy.)  Jicama tacos or tostadas are zesty, fresh, crunchy and bright, just like a salad, but, not.

The culinary combinations are infinite.  Thai marinated grilled chicken with pickled red cabbage, drizzled with David Chang’s fish sauce vinaigrette.  Pollo asado over refried black beans with salsa fresca and pickled red onion.   Baba ghanoush topped with za’atar spice, cucumbers slices and roast cauliflower.   Yogurt underneath a crisp veggie burger, topped with fresh herbs, a squeeze of citrus and you’re done.   I had a great time just playing in the kitchen with a brand new canvas.

What combo would you most like to try?

 

Gluten-free Black Bean Brownie Bites

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I’m a big believer in having your cake and eating it too.  I love healthy food that doesn’t taste so darn healthy.  These flourless black bean brownies are fudgy, low in sugar and decadent, all while providing fiber, iron, antioxidants and magnesium.  IN A BROWNIE, PEOPLE!

I am blessed to have girlfriends who plan amazing get-togethers on the regular, all I have to do is show up with a dessert like this (and wine) and we’re all set.  These make the perfect indulgent, yet guilt-free treat.  Read more

Sunflower Butter Granola

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There’s a certain gluten free peanut butter granola that I can’t get enough of.  I love it with chocolate almond milk as a late night indulgence, or over greek yogurt with chia seeds and fruit for breakfast.  The only problem is, it costs around $6 a bag, which categorizes it as a luxury grocery item for me, making my inner penny-pincher clench just a little every time I buy it.

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After making the Minimalist Baker’s banana bread granola this weekend and seeing how easy it was, I set out to recreate my favorite luxury snack.  Read more

Classic Banana Pudding- gluten-free & vegan

On the first rainy day here in Los Angeles in months it only felt right to spend Sunday afternoon baking in the kitchen.  Truth be told, I’ve still got my eating pants on from Thanksgiving, and a million reasons to hit the gym hard, but as a guest at two feasts this year and host of none, my fridge is sadly, leftover-free.

I’m vegan-curious, and (mostly) gluten-free, but at a recent lunch with my tribe, I had a dessert that I can’t stop thinking about: Banana Pudding.  A southern classic from K’s nana.  It got me thinking about creating a gluten-free and vegan version.  As we officially enter the season of desserts, wouldn’t a less guilty and allergy-friendly option be great?  Here’s the recipe from my rainy day research, which if I do say so myself, is pretty darn delectable.

Classic Banana Pudding

Step one: whip up some gluten-free vanilla wafers, inspired by GFJules’ recipe:

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How Hello Kitty Con sucked my soul

How Hello Kitty Con sucked my soul

When I first heard of Hello Kitty Con, I was ecstatic.  Just a year younger than me, Hello Kitty has been a constant presence in my life.   Birthdays were marked by rainbow Sanrio bags adorned with tiny trinkets, like a stamp, bell or eraser.  My Aunties would give me the best gifts: diaries, stationery kits, colored pens and pencil cases.   For my first home, I bought a Hello Kitty Toaster Oven. (still cooking- 15 years later!)  My family bought me a Hello Kitty beach cruiser as a bridal shower gift.  She’s my homegirl.  My mascot.  And now, my spirit animal?

On my recent retreat to Peru, where I would least expect to see her, there she was.  Her first appearance: a restaurant in Lima.  A couple celebrated their anniversary next to me with this cake.

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On the retreat, a serious, shy woman from Canada, who didn’t seem to have much in common with me, giggled like a little girl when we connected over our love for the flamenco dress-wearing Hello Kitty charm hanging off her phone case.

The next day, we took a boat trip down the river to a local village, meeting artisans from the Shipibo tribe.  The tiny village had cinder block walls mixed with clapboard and dirt roads.  There she was again, waving to me from a t-shirt hanging on a clothesline.

In the middle of the Amazon jungle, I’m contemplating my spiritual connection with the universe, when it occurs to me:  What if my god, spiritual guide, Read more

Playing hooky…

Freelancing can be rough… but it can also be beautiful.  If you let it.  My usual mode on days where I’ve been given the “gift of time” is to hustle as hard as I can.  Drumming up new work, finishing old projects, learning new skills, networking, prepping….I usually feel guilty if I take time for myself to do anything except a workout, and a little internet shopping.  But some days, you just gotta say f*ck it.  It’s okay to play hooky, in fact it might just be the most important thing I have to do today.

 

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My good friend Tara, who blogs about self-empowerment through dance, threw a little mid-week birthday celebration at the swanky Four Seasons Westlake Village, just outside of LA.  I admire Tara, because she is so present and alive and isn’t afraid to treat herself well.  We talk all the time about having faith that if you jump, the net will just appear, but it seems easier for her and other people than for me.  I’m still working on not feeling guilty to treat myself well.

What would happen if for a few hours today I hung with my girlfriends instead of behind my computer screen?  My main hesitations regarding money and productivity are illusions created by an anxious mind.  So just for today,  I put my penny pinchy hesitations aside and said yes.  Yes, I’m in.  Yes, I’ll hang by the pool today.  Yes, I’ll be a lady who lunches.  And pays way too much for a pedicure.   And YES, that sounds like just what needs to be done today.

What did you do the last time you played hooky?