Thursday, May 29, 2014

Avon Walk


Hey everyone! Tim and I have decided to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in San Francisco. Well, let me rephrase... it was all Tim's idea.

So, I thought about just brushing over this post & directing you to our Team Page for information. However, I guess the point of starting this blog is to be transparent. My life consists of a lot more than styled Instagram pictures and walks through San Francisco and new material possessions. Of course, I don't share too much else because let's be honest, what's the fun in that? In fact... it says a lot that this photo got nearly 200 likes, yet this one didn't even get 50. However, I figure if you're here- at my personal blog- you do care a little bit about my life and what I have to say, so I'll continue.

Since the day I was born, cancer has been a large part of my life. When I was in my early 20s, I decided to have genetic testing done due to my family's history. Turns out, I have BRCA2. In short, BRCA2 is a genetic mutation that makes me very susceptible to breast [and many other forms of] cancer during my lifetime. Bummer, dude. However, I like to think of my situation as having a one-up on science. I know my risk, so I'm able to always be one step ahead of the game. I'll be able to catch anything & everything before it becomes a problem. I have a genetic counselor who makes sure I get regular screenings & a great team of doctors who are really nice. I also have an extremely loving, kind, and proactive fiancé who does things like sign us up for the Avon Walk.

[On a side note, I want to make it clear that I'm not always positive about this stuff. I actually think it's pretty much total crap. I hate that I have to go to appointments & have invasive procedures & always be expecting or waiting for the worst. Yet, that attitude comes & goes. Sometimes, I realize I'm really lucky. Other times, I'm furious. Just keeping that level of honesty I promised up front.]

As a couple, we're very fortunate to have great healthcare and live in a city with such great medical teams just a few blocks away. However, Tim felt it was time we did something more. When I agreed to sign up for the walk, I was under the impression it was a fun run that would end with brunch & bottomless mimosas. Turns out, it's a 2 day, 40 mile walk all through San Francisco. In addition to walking until our legs fall off, we each have to raise $1,800. We've decided to do all fundraising as a couple [Go Team Lamb!!] to make it easier, but that means we're looking at a final sum of $3,600. Yikes!

What I like about the Avon Walk is that they're very clear on where the money goes. [For information on that, click here.] They're dedicated to the whole picture: medical research into the possible causes, prevention, treatment and cure of breast cancer, clinical care for breast cancer patients, support services for patients and their families, educational seminars, and early detection programs. I've also heard that the walk itself is a life-changing experience, & I'm looking forward to finding out what that means. At first, I was a little hesitant to move forward with this.... mostly because I don't get the brunch I imagined. But, the more I've researched, the more I saw how important it is for us to participate and reach these goals to help women everywhere. I am so grateful for a partner who sees the big picture and signed us up. I guess in many ways, just signing up has already been life changing.

SO ANYWAYS. The point of this post is that we need your help. If you're able to make a donation [no matter how small], we'll be tremendously grateful & indebted to you. We believe that with the support of our friends, families, and communities- it will be no problem to meet our monetary goal and truly make a difference.

For more information on our team or to make a donation, click here. To make a donation, click the "Donate to Team" button that will be located right underneath our photo. 

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Club: Where'd You Go Bernadette, Parts Two-Four


Hello, readers!! Book Club, Parts 2-4 is in session! Here are this week's questions:

1. We finally get a glimpse at Bernadette's history. Were you surprised at her impressive past? And did you find it made sense of the present, or confuse her personality traits more?

2. Bernadette's letter to Paul really breaks everything down. What were your thoughts while reading? What would Elgie think?

3. In these sections, we got a closer look at the gnats. What is your opinion of Audrey & Soo-Lin now? Do you have more (or less) compassion for Audrey? Is Soo-Lin out of  line?

4. We finally have a closer look at Elgie & his work. Do you see any similarities between Samantha 2 & Bernadette?

5. OK. So the intervention clearly ended poorly. What was your immediate thought on Bernadette's whereabouts?

Don't forget to answer (and interact!!) in the comments below. My answers will be there as well. See you next week for the grand finale + Twitter chat!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Club: Where'd You Go Bernadette, Part One


Yesterday I had computer problems, which means you all got an extra day to read Part One of Where'd You Go, Bernadette! I have to say... I LOVE this book. I really love the writing style, and the look into the personal conversations of the characters. So interesting, right? Here are a few questions to discuss. I'll leave my answers in the comment section, and I hope you do too! If you haven't started reading it yet-- then SPOILER ALERT! Don't read the comments!

1. Why do you think that the author is telling the story from Bee's perspective? What does it show you about the mother/daughter bond between Bee & Bernadette?

2. What do you think of Bernadette? Is she totally crazy, and if so-- is it a new development?? What do you think made her go off the deep end?

3. Do you think Bernadette is rude, or is she justified in her hatred for the gnats & Seattle? Are you on her side?

4. What's your opinion on Elgie? Do you think he is a good husband and father, or has work swallowed him up? Do you think he's a good match for Bernadette's energy?

I can't wait to hear what you all think, and check back on Monday for a discussion on parts 2-4. Happy Reading!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Latest Beauty Finds


Since I cover beauty for Rue Daily's "Beauty Beat" column, I get the chance to try a lot of great [and not so great] beauty products. There are SO many products out there, shopping for makeup and skincare can get really overwhelming. Plus, a lot of products are good but not memorable. However, once in awhile I come across things that I'll be using for a LIFETIME. And what's the point of knowing the BEST beauty products if you don't share?? Here's what has totally blown my routine out of the water... in the best way possible:

1. The Lip Scrub by Sara Happ: My friend Jamie [of Blush by Jamie Rose] sent this to me, and I am SO grateful she did. I'd never used a lip scrub before, but I also rarely wore lipstick because I felt like it always looked cakey. Well, it was the dead skin that made lipstick look so terrible!! You take a little bit of this scrub and massage it into your lips, then wipe it off with a tissue. And the result is HOLY COW, smoothest lips ever. I can finally wear lipstick! I can't believe I've gone so long without knowing the wonder of lip scrub. I also really like the flavor of this. Couldn't recommend it more.

2. Bareskin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation by bareMinerals: I don't blog about it very often, but I have the WORST skin. I deal with a lot of breakouts which always result in dark spots on my face. UGH. I've never really loved wearing foundation, but most days- I just have to. I am a big fan of bareMinerals, and when I found out they were launching a NEW liquid foundation- I knew I had to try it. Boy, I have never loved a makeup more. It's a tone-correcting mineral foundation & also a serum... which improves the appearance of dark spots over time. [AKA this was designed for me.] Plus, you apply it with a really cool brush. You just add a few drops to the brush & then apply in a circular motion. It's the best coverage ever & lasts all day long!

3. Dirty Pretty Things by Gressa Skin: I just discovered Gressa Skin, and am officially their biggest fan!! It's a chic, eco-skincare line that uses organic, wild-crafted, and sustainable ingredients only. I used to think eco meant it wouldn't work as well, but Gressa proved me wrong! Dirty Pretty Things is a cleanser you use 1-2 times a week, and it really helps revitalize my skin. It's a powder that you mix with water, and then massage onto your face. It kind of tingles [so cool] and my skin really feels refreshed & renewed every single time. It's my new favorite skincare ritual! [Also, be sure to check out Gressa's lip balm- Lip Boost BARE. Just the right amount of color!]

4. Ultra Hydrating Body Cream by Amlactin: When we got back from Mexico, my skin was SO dry for weeks and weeks on end. I tried this cream from Amlactin, and it totally saved me. I use it all over when I get out of the shower, and have seen a noticeable improvement in the quality of my skin. My legs finally feel smooth again, my arms don't have that tight, dehydrated feeling, and I'm convinced this is what helped my tan stick around. Seriously! Plus, it's really affordable [one of the best prices I've seen for such a high quality cream]- always a plus in my book!!

5. Treatment Cleanser by Marie Veronique Organics: I was introduced to Marie Veronique Organics through Rue, and I'm confident I'll be using this line as long as I live. I was really apprehensive about using face oils at first [oil on your face? doesn't that seem totally counterintuitive??], but I trusted the girl who recommended it. AND, I basically owe her for the rest of time. My skin hasn't been this clear in MONTHS. The cleanser is extremely nourishing and has given me a new approach to skincare. I used to think I needed to really dry it out, but it's actually quite the opposite. I've found breakouts clear up & heal much quicker when my skin is nourished, and I have FINALLY stopped breaking out altogether. This cleanser = total game changer.

So, do you have any new beauty favs?? Also, be sure to check back on Tuesday! I've partnered with one of these brands to do an AMAZING giveaway. Wahoo!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Better World Book Club


It's time to start the L&L Book Club with Better World Books!! 4 lucky winners should have received their books in the mail, but I want to give the rest of you a chance to read along. Better World Books is generously offering a 10% discount on our first book, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette." Just use code LLBookClub at checkout! The price is only about $10 AND they'll match your purchase with a donation... so you have no reason not to join!

Still feeling apprehensive? Let me assure you... this book club is not going to be too intense. Here's a brief outline of what to expect:

Monday, May 19: Post discussion on Part One of the book. [This will give everyone time to get their books & get started.]
Monday, May 26: Post discussion on Parts Two-Four.
Monday, June 2:  Post discussion on Parts Five-Seven + a Twitter chat!! We all will have [hopefully] finished the book & be ready to discuss in full!

Each post will have about 3 discussion questions & be pretty laid back. This isn't going to be an exam or anything, and I won't be tracking who skips out on questions. And, I strongly encourage wine [or tea] as you sit down to chat about the book with the rest of the club.

SO, head over to Better World Books to pick up your copy. Just don't forget to use code LLBookClub at checkout! And if you post anything on social media, make sure the rest of us can see your post by using hashtag #BetterWorldBookClub.

Now that we've got the logistics out of the way...  it's time to start reading! :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Upgrade!

Yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my iPhone. I have a pretty good record when it comes to phones... I have never broken one. I actually take an obscene amount of pride in this accomplishment, but mostly because I am SO FRUGAL that it would destroy my heart if I had to break down and pay for a new phone after cement decided to shatter the screen or something. So, I've been avoiding updating to the 5S because my 4S works perfectly fine. Sure, it was a little bit slow and sometimes it crashed and occasionally it said I had too many photos and wasn't allowed to take anymore. And from time to time, the battery life was about 3 hours shorter than I felt it should be. Nothing terrible, but nothing magical either.

So, I'm excited to say I am the proud new owner of a shiny, gold, super fast iPhone 5S. But, in order for it to stay shiny & new, I need a cute case!! Here are my top picks:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

TULUM: Travel Guide



I'm a little late getting this post up, but if you follow me on Instagram... you may have seen that real life has just been a little bit busy as of late. We've been traveling-- up the coast to Sea Ranch & across the country for the wedding of our dear friends. Then, I got sick. And basically stared at the wall from my bed for 4 days straight. Excuses aside, I'm pretty sure that if I say "I'll do something on the blog on this day," I actually mean "about a week or so after that." This post is just really long and I kept starting it... and then closing my laptop. However, as promised... here is my TULUM TRAVEL GUIDE!


One of many unique murals along the jungle road. 
Sunset view from Mezzanine. 

I know I mentioned it time & time again in my previous posts, but Tulum is truly magical. It's romantic and artistic. Pelicans soar along the coast, iguanas sunbathe in the sand, kite surfers dot the horizon and cool art abounds along the road. It is one of the most gorgeous places you can imagine. The jungle backs right up to the beach and the Caribbean water is sparkly, turquoise, and the perfect temperature to lure you in each afternoon. Tulum is still rustic & most hotels are eco-friendly-- so if you're looking for a luxurious, all-inclusive resort like you'll find in Cancun or Cabo, well, this might not be the place for you. However, if you're looking to head off the beaten path, recenter and relax, and laugh for hours over good food and even better margaritas- then it's time to start packing.

HOTELS:

Since we hadn't been before, our 10 day trip was spread out over 3 different hotels. This allowed us to really get to know the entire area and have a better idea of where to go next time!

Mezzanine: In a word, Mezzanine is DREAMY. This place = sigh. It was the most luxurious of the three hotels, and I may be biased because it IS where we got engaged- but we'll stay at Mezzanine each & every time we return to Tulum. The employees are kind & personable, and the food is some of the best Thai food I've ever had. We stayed in a Sea View room, which was quiet and comfortable. It had a safe [which, unbeknownst to me, hid an engagement ring for a day or two], a very comfortable bed, a loft, and the nicest bathroom I'd see in Tulum. It shares a deck with the other 3 rooms, and has private seating for watching the sunrise. Each morning, coffee is delivered to your doorstep with a nice handwritten note from the staff.

The property has really beautiful landscaping. There are sun beds where you can work on your tan, shaded hammocks for reading, and plenty of boho-inspired seating for sipping cocktails in the shade. If you don't stay here, you must visit for happy hour [2 for 1 margs!] and dinner. We ordered the Crab Won Tons every time we dined here, and I really loved the Khao Pad Basil.  I basically hate that I can't eat here every week. I can't wait for our next visit!

Tim on the sunbeds at Mezzanine. 

Mezzanine from the beach. 

TulumBay: TulumBay was our second hotel. There is no restaurant attached, but it feels like it's right in the heart of "town" so you can easily walk to many other restaurants along the road. Because of this, it's a little bit noisier. We stayed in a Balcony Terrace Room, which felt like a treehouse. You had to climb up a winding wooden staircase to get to the room. It was much more rustic and had a very traditional Mexican interior. Our room had a private deck with a view of the ocean. We also had a safe to store our belongings. They have a private beach which is only shared with 2 other hotels [keeping in mind that each hotel only has about 10 rooms], and it also has a gorgeous private terrace with amazing views. This hotel has an adorable cat named Maria who snoozes on adirondack chairs. I just loved her. TulumBay was by far the cheapest hotel we stayed at, so if you're on a tight budget- this is a good bet. However, I'll be honest- I don't know if we'll personally stay here again. We discovered a lot of other really neat places which are worth the few extra dollars.

Walking down to TulumBay's private beach.  
An adorable bikini shop right next door to TulumBay.

Om Tulum: We ended the trip at Om Tulum. We LOVED staying here!! There is a great bar & restaurant attached with gorgeous views. It's got a great balcony, so you feel like you're eating on the beach and you're only a few steps away from your room. The food is good, and the margaritas are strong. The staff is made up of some of the nicest people we've ever met. It's nestled alongside other hotels, and you can walk for miles on the beach in either direction. Our hotel room didn't offer any sea views, but it had air conditioning--- a total luxury as we were starting to get a little sick of the humidity. We actually weren't sure about this place when we booked it-- but couldn't have been happier with our stay. [On a more personal note- we told them we'd just gotten engaged, and housekeeping went above and beyond to help us celebrate. Picture flower petals in a heart on the bed, and adorable towel creatures... like a bride and groom swan. My heart exploded!]

DINING:

Mezzanine: As I mentioned, this is some of the best Thai food I've ever had. It's a must! Thai food seems weird to order on the beach in Mexico, I know, but it's a welcomed break from tacos & guac everyday.

Dining at Mezzanine. 

Posada Margherita: The best pasta I've ever had in the history of time.

El Tabano: This is located along the jungle road, and we would have passed right by it... but I got multiple Instagram comments urging us to go. We are so glad we did! We had fish tacos & sangria. I actually HATE fish, but I DREAM of these tacos. Delicious!


Mateo's: A good staple for drinks and an afternoon snack. The food is nothing to write home about but the atmosphere brings you back. Plus, they have wifi which is handy when you're trying to email your BFF to tell her you're getting married! ;) I suggest ordering a Coco Loco... which is a coconut filled with rum. Be prepared for an afternoon nap on the beach.

Zamas: The food wasn't great, but the atmosphere was perfect. REALLY great live music. We'd go back for that alone!

Puro Corozón: REALLY great mojitos!!

Papaya Playa Project: LOVED the menu. A ton of unique flavors & unexpected ingredients. The property is really beautiful- we'd love to stay here next time and at the very least, will definitely go back during the day to enjoy the beach club. TIP: Don't order PPP from the cocktail menu. It's a fruit/veggie slushy and I definitely just wanted a cocktail.

La Zebra: Delicious breakfast options!

The view from the patio at La Zebra. 

Om Tulum: They have really good pizza [though it's not quite what you'd expect, a little thinner and a unique dough], yummy fajitas, and strong margaritas.

Coqui Coqui: SIGH. Sorry bloggers. This is hard for me to do. EVERYONE kept telling me that we HAD to go here. We heard it was just the most magical place and such an incredible experience and that we MUST go. We walked up from the beach and the property was stunning. I was really excited, it was exactly what I imagined and everything was so beautiful. We ordered two margaritas... & were greeted with some of the worst service I've ever experienced. I was really bummed out. The waiter basically implied we shouldn't be there. Honestly, I hate to draw judgment based on one individual. But, I probably wouldn't go back. I will say that their perfumery IS magical-- everything smells intoxicating. And I've heard the hotel rooms are lovely, and the spa treatments are divine. Who knows, maybe next time would be different?

We had Casa Jaguar, Hartwood, & Casa Banana on our list-- I've heard nothing but raving reviews! We will definitely make it next time.

ACTIVITIES:

Cenotes: A cenote is a very popular attraction in this area. It's basically an underwater cave in the heart of the jungle that has filled with freshwater due to erosion. You can swim and dive and explore. Okay, it's a little scary. There are tiny fish that nip at the dead skin on your feet. And it's a little dark. BUT, I was brave and jumped in- and it was SO beautiful. A perfect excursion if you love adventure! I recommend taking a guided tour OR at the very least, renting snorkel gear so you can see the rock formations under the crystal clear water.

Ruinas: The Mayan Ruins of Tulum are located right on the beach. They are very beautiful and it's interesting to learn about the history. But. We went at around 9:30 AM and it was JAM PACKED with tourists. It was the opposite of relaxing and we were pretty stressed out. Tim had watched documentaries and was so ready to dive into the history, but wasn't really able to take any of it in. Next time, we'll try to head to Chichen Itza which is inland- and hopefully not as crowded? Also, I've seen a few Instagram pics where people can see the ruins from a boat tour. Definitely something to look into?

Tulum Ruins. 




Walking: Seriously. Just walk along the beach for miles. And miles.

One of the many jungle shops. If you're hoping to get a straw hat, bring it with you. Not a ton of cute options once you arrive!

TRANSPORTATION:

Bus: You can take a bus from Cancun for about $30, then take a taxi to your hotel. You can walk almost everywhere!!
Rental Car: We rented a car at the airport- we might not again. It was handy while we got to know the area, and when we headed to the cenotes or down the coast, but it would be nice to not have to worry about it all week. Plus, they really got us [price wise] with insurance add-ons.
Scooters: Our friend Willie rented a scooter. We were so jealous! Next trip, we will probably take the bus from the airport & then rent two scooters to zip around town.

PACKING GUIDE:

Swimsuits + cover ups. As far as fashion goes though, I stopped caring like... right away. Don't try to pack 3 pairs of jean shorts, 10 dresses, or any jewelry. Tulum is VERY casual.
Sandals- one pair should suffice. I [foolishly] packed a few pairs and only wanted to wear my flip flops the whole time.
Sweater/Chambray. It can get cool in the evenings!
Mascara & lip balm. It's the ONLY makeup I wore the entire time.
Bug spray. The mosquitos are killer.
Sunscreen. It's expensive in Tulum. However, if you do run out-- head to a pharmacy [NOT a beach side shop or grocery store]. You'll get the best deal!
Anti-Itch cream. For your bug bites, or if you're like me... heat rash. :(
Reading material.
Flashlights. You can walk along the beach to dinner each night, but it's handy to see where you're stepping!
Pesos! You get the best deal when you pay with pesos. I hate international transaction fees.


WHEW. I think that's it! I have to give a special thanks to Cathleya, who sent us a VERY comprehensive guide & a ton of Tulum tips before we left. Plus, her mom just so happens to be the executive chef at Mezzanine. She visits a lot and was generous enough to give us all of her insider info. :)



TulumBay. 

If you're planning a Tulum trip of your own and have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. However, I think it's obvious that we really, truly loved it. :)