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IG Podcast Ep 7. wanderlust + authenticity.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known someone a lot longer than you actually have? This is definitely the case with Dannie, who is a 20-something powerhouse, running her own marketing company called LE Consulting and dabbling in many other projects such as the Side Hustle Gal. I enjoyed speaking with the windy city dweller and think you will enjoy listening to her positive, yet authentic perspective on life. She talks about her life as an entrepreneur, book worm and traveling fiend. We dive into why traveling is so good for the soul and our favorite places we have traveled to so far. Dannie and I also discuss how her college program was a huge part in how she became an entrepreneur in the first place. Enjoy the show!

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Show Notes:

To reach out to Dannie, find her on Instagram.

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uncomfortable transitions & growth.

I still remember the first time adulthood really smacked me in the face and knocked me down hard, I mean flat on my back hard. I kept thinking to myself if this is what being an adult is about, I want out. No thanks, I’m done adulting! I’m going back to collage.

Although I’m very stubborn about change and uncomfortable transitions, there is one thing that this journey called being an adult has taught me and that is when I am uncomfortable it means I’m growing as a person.

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I feel like most of the time I go through a transition kicking and screaming (internally at least). Wanting to resist every turn and bump and then all of a sudden before I know it, it’s over. It’s like the feeling after a storm, you’re not sure what quite hit but at the same time there is this eerie sense of calm until the next storm hits. Almost every time I go through this, I find significant personal growth has taken place. I realize that all the struggling and uphill climbing was worth it, because in the end it helped mold and shape me into the person I am today.

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day trip guide: napa.

As I discussed in a previous post about the art of weekending, my husband and I have been taking full advantage of living in Northern California with many day and weekend trips nearby. One of our favorite day trips is Napa. We live a little less than an hour away so a day trip is usually what we do but this could easily be turned into a weekend trip as well.

We had a friend in town a couple of weeks ago who requested a trip to Napa so wine country it was. An insider tip, if your driving to Napa from Sacramento on weekend, l recommend leaving earlier rather than later. Napa is also on the way to San Francisco and traffic can get a bit out of hand.

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I’ve lived in Nor Cal for three and a half months and have been to Napa three times now. Perhaps I should be embarrassed but rather I will just admit my love for wine and the great outdoors instead. I’ve gathered my favorite wineries below. Enjoy!

The best Napa wineries:

Classiest Winery: I recently discovered Alpha Omega winery on my last trip to Napa. The rolling landscape, fountains and patio create a more up-scale experience. I will say, be prepared to spend $30-40 on a wine tasting (a bit pricier than some). The ambiance and views were well worth the price. If I had to describe what this place felt like I would use the term “country club”.

Best Overall Winery Experience: Castello di Amorosa is one of my all time favorite wineries and is one I’ve been to almost every time I go to Napa. The winery houses a beautiful castle that makes you feel like your in somewhat of a mix of Tuscany and Scotland. Beneath the castle is the tasting room where you can sample a variety of bold reds and crisp whites. I’m a red wine lover and this winery has the most rich and bold wines I’ve ever had. The whole experience of walking through the vineyard, exploring the castle and the exceptional wine selection make this one of my favorite for overall experience.

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Favorite Casual Winery: Although I used to drink this brand of wine in college, going to the Menage a Trois winery was a favorite of mine for being so casual. The tasting room is fairly small but my recommendation is to buy a bottle and take it outside. The views are absolutely incredible and you can play as much ladder golf or life-size Jenga as your heart desires. No snootiness here, just fun!

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Winery with the Best View: Hands-down Scribe winery has one of the most incredible views I have ever seen. It makes me forget that we’re in Northern California and transports me to Tuscany, Italy. They have an abundance of picnic tables and blankets that you can take your bottle or glass of wine out to and sit on the hillside overlooking the wine valley.  I believe this winery is on the Sonoma side but it’s definitely worth the short trek.

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Still being new to the area, I would love any additional recommendations you have on the best wineries to go to in Napa or Sonoma.

** Thank you to our good friend Don James Bolerjack for some of the photos!

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west coast fall.

Fall is my favorite season by far! I love the changing vibrant leaves, cooler temps and pumpkin EVERYTHING! But this year is different.

I’m in California instead of Kansas City, which means less of a dramatic seasonal change. However, the leaves do still change color here in Northern California so all is not lost! The temps are starting to go from 90/100 degrees to 75/85 degrees, which is a BIG deal, people! This new change in temperature has got me thinking about my fall wardrobe in a new light. My chunky knit sweaters are going to have to wait a couple more months to make their debut but I’m learning how to embrace fall with some of my favorite staples, just in a new way.

The look I’m sharing today is a take on my new approach to West Coast fall. The olive green top I’m wearing screams autumn with its color, yet the short sleeves and lighter weight fabric make it bearable to wear. It will also be great for layering under a leather jacket in the winter.

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I’ve been waiting for the perfect fall shoe to come into my life and these brown suede fringe booties are it!! Not only are they fairly comfortable but they have a peep toe, perfect for the warmer weather I’m now experiencing. These would be absolutely adorable paired with a printed boho dress that are so popular this year.

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The only way I know how to experience change is by diving head first into it. Although, I’m many miles from home, familiarity, friends and family, I’m trying to look at this move as a brush stroke in my larger adventure. Nothing is permanent; however, we usually get so used to the changes that when it’s time to leave or move on, we never want to go. Change is happening, both with the season and life. I’m embracing it with my full being.

Outfit Details: Booties//Target (Similar Here), Jeans//Banana Republic, Top//Target (in-stores only), Purse//Michael Kors (Similar Here), Necklace//Kendra Scott

** Photo credit, Amanda Sebastiani.

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the serious weekender.

As described on Urban Dictionary, weekending is the antonym of “Mondaying”.

Everyone has their ideal vision of what a weekend might look like; everything from sleeping in, brunching, meeting up with friends or exploring something new. I love my downtime on the weekends to refresh and restart for the week ahead but I’ve also come to love the concept of weekending.

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After recently moving to California, I’ve discovered the art of weekend getaways and day trips. We live in Northern California and have some of the country’s most unique places at our fingertips so we’ve tried to take a weekend/day trip any free couple of days we can get our hands on.

Some that we’ve explored have included South Lake Tahoe, Napa, Amador Valley (great local wine) and El Dorado Hills (great for hiking). Next up on my list is Big Sur, a friend and I are thinking about going glamping at this ridiculously cool Airbnb.

Weekending requires a certain level of planning but also spontaneity. It’s best to approach it with a bit of wanderlust. Having a day or two to explore as you go, to see what you’ll run into is the best kind of weekending. However, you need to iron out a few details such as where to stay and what to pack.

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What to pack… this can be pretty daunting for a full-on vacation. But for a weekend, have a little fun with it.

Here are my weekending essentials:

Essential #1: A sturdy yet minimal bag to carry all your weekend essentials. One of my favorites is here.

Essential #2: A swimsuit. Living on the West coast means a lot more warm weather so I want to always be prepared, whether it be a hot tub, lake or the ocean. Here is one I just recently ordered. It’s a super unique cut and it was inexpensive.

Essential #3: Shades. Gotta have ‘em!

Essential #4: Small notebook to capture inspo. I always carry around a small journal to capture anything that inspires me along my travels. Usually traveling is my biggest source of inspiration and creativity so this is a must-have for me.

Happy weekending loves! There’s a lovely, wild world out there. Go explore it!

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The power of visualization.

We all have people we look up to in life and take to heart everything they say. For me, one of those people is my Aunt. She is a strong and courageous woman who has experiences a lot of life. Despite the trials she’s dealt with, she’s never stopped trying to curate her best life. She said something to me that really stuck out, which was “visualize exactly what you want and then go make it happen.” She told me that she had envisioned a job that would provide enough for her and her family to survive off, yet provided her the flexibility she needed to work from home most days. After years of working her tail off, she was finally able to land a position that gave her exactly what she had wanted.

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I remember going through a period of time where nothing felt right. As I was digging deep and trying to get through, my Aunt’s words again came to mind, ‘visualize exactly what you want and then go make it happen.’

I sat down and made a list of everything I wanted in the next phase of my life, everything from being able to bike/walk to work, take a lunch break, live in a place where I could spend a lot of time outdoors, etc. I remember thinking it felt so far off to have all of these things. Now that I’ve transitioned to the next phase of my life, I can say that I have most all of these things now. However, I can’t say that I didn’t worry and struggle through the process of getting here.

I think we can all take away this valuable lesson from my Aunt, which is to identify and be clear about the things that you want or need. If we never verbalize or write these things down, there isn’t anyway we can hold ourselves accountable in reaching these aspirations. I’m not saying that we need to be ungrateful for the things we have but I am saying that you deserve to go after and receive the things you want in life, especially if you’re willing to put in the hard work it takes to get there.

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Natural Self Care

I’ve been obsessed with natural products, everything from makeup to skin care to supplements. I love knowing that what I’m putting on my skin or in my body is healthy for me and isn’t filled with preservatives or chemicals, which can disrupt your hormones (sign up for the IG newsletter for more on this).

The only downside to using more natural products is the cost, which can sometimes be double the price of drug store finds. Although there are products that I will often splurge on (hello argan oil shampoo!), I have found that a couple natural items are serious rock stars when it comes to self care and can be found in almost any grocery store.

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Coconut Oil

My favorite brand is Trader Joe’s organic cold-pressed coconut oil. A bottle is roughly $9-10 dollars but lasts for months. Do you remember the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who puts Windex on everything, I feel like I do this with coconut oil. Seriously, what can’t you do with this stuff? My favorite uses for it (beyond eating it) include putting a tablespoon in a hot bath with a few drops of lavender oil. I also use it as a body moisturizer. It smells amazing and definitely makes your skin feel very noursihed, you just have to let it sink into your skin for awhile so it’s not greasy.

Lemon

We’ve all heard of putting lemon in a hot mug of water and drinking it in the morning to reap health benefits. However, going beyond that I have been using fresh lemons as face toner. I just squeeze a little bit of the fresh juice on a cotton swap and swipe it on my face. The cool tingly feel of the lemon definitely perks up my skin in the morning and feels very refreshing.

Mint Leaves

My latest habit is making my own fresh mint tea before bed every night. If you have a green thumb you can grow your own mint, otherwise you can buy a fresh bunch from any health food store. I like to take a few leaves and put them in a loose leaf tea strainer. I love almost any type of tea but I especially enjoy this one because it is so natural and doesn’t require a tea bag (you have to be careful of the bleach in some tea bags).

Make sure to subscribe to the Influential Gal newsletter as I’ll be sharing all of my favorite natural product resources soon.

Happy healthy living!

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Saying Yes to Your Creative Soul Within.

When I was younger, all I ever wanted to be was an artist. It didn’t even matter what kind, I just wanted the ability to work with my hands and create. I had a childlike curiosity about everything around me and was never afraid to lean heavily on the right side of my brain and the skills that came most naturally to me.

As I grew older, I felt more pressure to develop the science and math skills that came easy to my left brain acquaintances. Over time, I became more focused on developing these skills because I thought they were more “right” than creativity. I even became accustomed to finding hobbies, internships and other experiences that fit with these more technical qualities. It’s as if the world was saying, “these skills are more useful for the real word, the creative skills just aren’t as important.”

Although I think it’s important to be well-rounded in all areas, I have always felt that since that key time growing up, I’ve neglected and pushed aside my want and need to be creative simply because I thought it was wrong or looked down upon. After a few “adult” years of struggling with this gap, I’ve come to terms with being okay needing to embrace my creative side every once in a while. I feel like now I see the value of being creative and the joy and new point of view that a little left-side thinking can bring to an area in my life.

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Since my recent decision to embrace creativity in all aspects of my life, I’ve started small habits to slowly build up my creative muscle again. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to create or be original or solve a problem differently so I’ve compiled a few small things you can start with today.

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Adult coloring books are bomb. I still remember the day my mother-in-law gave me my first adult coloring book. Knowing I was in a stressful situation at work, she thought it would be the perfect thing to help clear my mind. Little did she know, she encouraged me to start a new habit. Plus, I really did miss using colored pencils and markers. I feel like a kid again!

Switch it up. This could be as simple as taking a different route to work than you usually do or try substituting your usual breakfast of eggs with a new chia seed pudding you’ve been dying to make. The point is to push yourself out of your normal routine and in doing so getting your brain to think and approach a situation differently.

Get Moving. If you’re feeling very lackluster with no imaginative willpower whatsoever, get up and get moving. Every time I get my body moving, the creative juices start flowing. Don’t feel like you have to do you’re hardest workout, but at least do some yoga, go on a walk outside or perhaps do a little dance to your favorite song (always a sure way to feel inspired).

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Minimalism, the practical way

There has been so much hype around the concept of “minimalism” lately. I’ve read blogs and have watched videos on minimalism to see what this “new-age” concept is all about and I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical, especially those who give up all aspects of consumerism. This exploration got me thinking about how those of us who are intrigued but don’t necessarily want to give up our Starbucks and Banana Republic could apply these concepts to our life. Because I completely agree with a lot of the principles of “more is less” and sometimes it’s healthy to get away from the mentality that more stuff will make us happier.

With all of the research I’ve recently done, I’ve summarized a few things I think are completely practical yet may turn you on to the minimalism lifestyle and its benefits.

1. A solid clean-out every once in a while is a good thing!

Remember moving to and from college and in the process you would go through all of your clothes, shoes and accessories to identify the items you wanted to keep? Then the rest would either be donated or sold. I still remember how liberating this feeling was of pairing down to the essentials. I mean do I really need six black v-necks that all look similar? No probably not. So why wait for a big move or life transition to do this? I think it’s feasible to plan to do this at least once or twice a year. The new year has always been realistic for me as it’s the start of something new so I feel the need to clean out everything anyways and I usually have some time off work. Whatever works best for you, just make sure you’re being realistic with what you’re keeping. If you haven’t worn that fur vest in two years, probably a good idea to donate it.

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2. Get creative in the kitchen before you buy more food. 

Something I love to do (my husband thought it was a little strange at first) is eat most everything in my pantry and fridge before going to the grocery store to buy more food. Towards the end of this process, I definitely get some interesting lunch creations (rice, beans and avocados anyone?). But it forces me to be more creative with my meals and it’s extremely satisfying clearing out my fridge and pantry, yet not wasting it by throwing half-eaten items away.

3. More space = more stuff and more cleaning.

As my husband and I prepare to eventually move to Sacramento (he secured a residency position at UC Davis!), we are considering selling a majority of our furniture. We don’t want to haul everything across the country and our place will be smaller than what we currently have so it makes sense to pair down. I thought I would struggle with this but I’m extremely excited to have a smaller space and less furniture because we can start fresh but also be very intentional about items that we do buy in the future for our new place. Right now I’m not in any rush to decorate our new place because I’d rather take my time and only get items that I absolutely love and can’t live without. Also, with a smaller space means less rooms to clean. That’s a PLUS!

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Ultimately, you can apply the minimalism concept to any aspect of your life (or all of it if you’re feeling ambitious), just make sure you have the golden rule of ‘less is more” in the back of your mind.

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London Living, Part 2

One of my favorite things about living in London was the ability to wander around the city and find something new to do, eat and see around every corner. I felt like a child again, wandering around a new place with so much curiosity. Ever since I got home from London, I have reminded myself to apply the curiosity for exploring I felt in London to my every day.

For part 2 of Living in London, I’m sharing the best places to visit and things to do around the city. A few of my recommendations are the typical tourist things that are well worth it and a few are things I stumbled upon just by wandering around London. If you didn’t catch part 1 of London Living make sure to check it out which includes my recommendations on the best places to eat in London.

 

“Free or Inexpensive” Things to Do

  • The Refinery (Southwark) – We went here several times with my co-workers as it was right below our office. The Refinery has a urban chic atmosphere and the best part is you can get a 9 oz. glass of wine for about 5 pounds! In London, that’s a pretty good deal!
  • The British Museum (Holborn) – The museum is completely free and houses some of the coolest art such as the original Rosetta Stone. It was right behind where we were staying so I would venture over in the mornings when I wasn’t working to check out an exhibit or two.
  • Shakespeare’s Head (Picadilly Circus) – Talk about a place with character. Shakespeare’s head is a tiny bar (go early and stake out your spot) with a lot of history. It is rumored that Shakespeare’s relative started the bar.

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  • High Holborn – This is one of the coolest places I visited. High Holborn is a hipster hotel but has a cool bar/coffee shop/restaurant down below that everyone hangs out at.
  • Platform 9 3/4 (King’s Cross) – I know this is touristy but it was pretty cool to visit. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I highly recommend checking it out along with the shop right next door.
  • Harrods (Knightsbridge) – Largest department store ever! It was pretty cool to see but everything was crazy expensive. The secret tip is to go an hour before close (around 8 p.m.) and they have a lot of the decadent food on sale for half price.
  • London Bridge – I highly recommend going to the London Bridge and the Tower of London at night. It’s all lit up so you can see everything and there are no crowds. We ended up going one night after work and dinner and it was pretty magical to see.

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  • Finsbury Park – This is a neighborhood that is worth taking a walk or five through. We ended up staying in a new place for the final weeks and I walked through this neighborhood everyday on my way to work. I had total house envy the whole time.

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“Pricey but Worth It” Things to Do

  • The Orangery (Kennsington Gardens) – In London, tea is a big deal! So in order to fully embrace the culture we indulged in afternoon tea at The Orangery overlooking the Kennsington Gardens. It’s a little expensive but you get a three tiered cake stand of delicious desserts and finger sandwiches along with your own kettle of tea.

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  • Phantom of the Opera – Seeing a show in London is a must! You can literally see any Broadway show you want, which made it hard to decide. We ended up seeing Phantom of the Opera and it was Ah-mazing. The set, band, costumes and dancers were unreal!

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