More to Come

A significant amount of time has passed since I last put pen to paper, or keys to the board, and wrote anything on the little old blog. Call it being busy, or not making the time, or not feeling “inspired” to write. I’ve been in a mode of consumption over the past year and am exhausted by the tunnel vision of it all. Balance is always the goal but I’m self-aware enough to know I bounce from wall to wall, trying to claim either all of the experiences or all of the R&R I can take til I feel restless again. Moving to Montreal is prompting some of this new-founded energy to explore new opportunities, and capitalize on the ambitious energy I’m feeling to pick the pieces of this website back up again. Stay tuned…

Currently

Reading.

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. Not surprisingly, I selected another novel from the post-apocalyptic genre to consume. Based in the canyons of Los Angeles and across the southwestern United States, this book also forewarns readers of the strain damaging effects that overconsumption has on our resources. Watkins’s staging of the barren, salt-ridden Central Valley hit home.

Gold Fame Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus

In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

For the moment, the couple’s fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. Heading east, they are waylaid in the desert by a charming and manipulative dowser – a diviner for water — and his cultlike followers, who have formed a colony in a mysterious sea of dunes.

Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

Drinking. Jittery John’s Cold Brew, which does not leave me jittery at all.

Jittery John's

Jittery John’s

Purchased from The Market to keep me more than awake during office hours, this is one of the richest, boldest concentrates I’ve had to date. JJ’s is pricier at $16.99/32oz  than my typical supermarket cold brew choice, Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate, $7.99/32 oz, which is not surprising but well worth the convenience cost for a quality product.

Creating. A Halloween costume for Hailey’s first night of trick or treaters. I am envisioning turning a white retriever mix into a classic My Little Pony, Starshine. Considering she was patient enough to let me paint her nails, I’m hopeful she’ll let me transform her into her more colorful spirit animal with non-toxic hair dye.

Starshine

Starshine

Whiskeytown Waterfalls

After spending a few years living and hiking in dry and dusty SoCal, the verdant hills of Northern California never cease to surprise me with its lush, rolling landscapes. I had the privilege to experience one of the greenest, wettest hikes to date on the Brandy Creek Whiskeytown Falls Trail, tucked away in Shasta County during a weekend cabin getaway.

Brandy Creek Trailhead

The Brandy Creek Falls Trail is a round-trip, non-looping hike covering about three miles. To get to the trailhead pictured above, you’ll first need to check in with Park Services to pick up a parking pass because, California and state property. The five dollars spent is more than worth it to ascend the side of a waterfall. The incline is described as moderate and is likely suitable for hikers of all skill sets.

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I would recommend making a trip in early spring to help ensure the snowpack is melting and streams are flowing, though I’m sure the landscape would be just as beautiful without as much (or any!) water flowing. As you can see in these photos, there must have been plenty of snow falling over Shasta this previous winter!

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The higher you choose to ascend the hairier the climb becomes. Hikers will likely leave with wet socks as they find themselves traversing mini-streams, bridges and hopping across rocks to get the best view of each waterfall.

The Parks Department built hand rails and stairs over the most eroded areas of the trail closer to the mouth of the waterfall, which families seemed to appreciate as they helped their kids navigate the wet steps. There were even a few brave souls daring enough to swim, all of whom let out a curse or five after diving into the pools below each fall.

waterfall pools

The Whiskeytown Falls trail even allows hikers to channel their inner Cheryl Strayed when signing the trail register near the top of the trail at the last climbable waterfall.

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Tips:

Directions: This link will lead you to a PDF-download created by the National Parks Services to guide you to the trail as well as provide a brief overview of the . trail’s flora and geography.

From the NPS website, “NPS Trail Summary: Brandy Creek is noted for five large cascading falls that sweep down across the polished granite rock in the upper box canyon. Upper Brandy Creek Falls plunge in a unique split formation through the steep vertical walls. The umbrella-leafed indian rhubarb is one of the first spring flowers to appear, displaying an array of brilliant pink blossoms. In the fall, the leaves of the indian rhubarb turn a bright orange color. The trail to the falls was improved in 2005 with hand-hewn rock steps and a metal railing to help hikers safely reach the top of the waterfall. Please stay on the trail and watch your footing on the slippery rocks.”

waterfall levels

Unless you live in the Redding area, Whiskeytown is not the easiest hike to drive to for an afternoon jaunt. There are plenty of wonderful Airbnb cabin rentals, as well as a few smaller inns in the nearby town of Weaverville. If you’re looking for hiking fuel I would suggest the delicious Mamma Llama‘s spicy biscuits and gravy, a rare find on the West Coast. You’ll be ready to hike all of Shasta!

Happy Trails.

 

Currently

Reading

“Instagram Analytics” |Fashion blogger Gal Meets Glam‘s husband simplifies how to determine which posts resonate most with your Insta-audience and what trends to follow to earn an uptick in followers.

No Kids for Me, Thanks” |  Covers the multitude of reasons why more and more couples choose to remain child-free, alongside the “profound dread of being conscripted into the community of other mothers — the sociality of the playground and day-care center, and at the endless activities and lessons that are de rigueur in today’s codes of upper-middle-class parenting.”

“In Paradise: A Novel” by Peter Mathiessen | “One week in late autumn of 1996, a group gathers at the site of a former death camp. They offer prayer at the crematoria and meditate in all weathers on the selection platform. They eat and sleep in the sparse quarters of the Nazi officers who, half a century before, sent more than a million Jews in this camp to their deaths. Clements Olin has joined them, in order to complete his research on the strange suicide of a survivor. As the days pass, tensions both political and personal surface among the participants, stripping away any easy pretense to resolution or healing. Caught in the grip of emotions and impulses of bewildering intensity, Olin is forced to abandon his observer’s role and to bear witness, not only to his family’s ambiguous history but to his own.”

“How Fashion Co-Opted Coachella” | “Luxury and commercial fashion brands alike are going bigger and bolder each year at the festival, spending more and more aggressively and staging grander and ever more Instagrammable events. Hordes of young, attractive festival-goers strolling hand in hand across the polo fields, or posing with the ferris wheel in the shadow of the sun, have become a image fashion houses are eager to sell—proximity to the actual festival notwithstanding.”

Craving

Brown Ale and Cheddar beer cheese soup.

Any and all types of trout. I’m hoping to catch one next week on a cabin getaway in Redding.

Coveting

Everything Anthropologie, always. Especially this, this and this.

This simple, delicate gold cuff.

Everyone’s The Sleeveless in Chambray

Reading: “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout

It unfortunately is not too often I find a story, in the case a memoir, and am so mesmerized by its contents I consume the text page by page till the story is complete. Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett’s “A House in the Sky” was one such page-turner I was lucky to encounter thanks to Amazon recommendations. Amanda’s story begins in rural Canada, where she escapes a difficult upbringing skimming through National Geographic, then scrimping and saving each paycheck after landing a well-paying waitressing gig. Amanda travels first through South America, followed by Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Her following trip to Somalia leaves her jailed for over a year, her captors not-so-patiently waiting for their ransom demands to be fulfilled as Amanda fights to escape her imprisonment and find peace in her predicament.

Summary: 

The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Memorable Quotes:

“Because that’s the thing about the exact moment when you get somewhere that has required effort: There’s a freeze-frame instant of total fulfillment, when every expectation has been met and the world is perfect.”

“What was reckless, I decided, was the way people were writing off huge swaths of the world as unsafe, unstable, unfriendly, when all they needed to do was go and see for themselves”

“It is an obvious fact that you can never look ahead with clarity at your own future or anybody else’s. You can’t know what will happen until it happens. Or maybe it dawns on you the split second before, when you get a glimpse of your own fate.”

Thoughts:

Memoirs such as Lindhout’s force you to wonder the strategies you would take if placed in the same position and how much torture you would be able to endure in captivity when facing unspeakable abuse. No one deserves that type of treatment; however, I can’t help but pinpoint her reckless mentality toward traveling alone through some of the world’s most dangerous places without repercussions. While “adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you,” Amanda put herself in the face of danger without consideration, even after being briefed about the risks, ultimately leaving her housed by the militia these warnings mentioned. While “A House in the Sky” is harrowing in its detail of Amanda’s tribulations documenting her year in captivity, the documentation of her increasing resiliency and compassion toward said captors is not one you will quickly forget.

King Mountain Hike | Larkspur, California

Larkspur is one of the more beautiful areas of Marin, which speaks volumes considering Marin as a whole is spectacular: I have yet to encounter land so close to a city in the U.S. that is unparalleled in terms of sweeping vistas and stunning sea cliffs with miles and miles of ocean to be seen in the distance. Today’s sunny afternoon lead us to the King Mountain Loop trail, a little-known 108-acre parcel that is part of the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD). We located a trail head just off of a beautiful neighborhood whose homes looked like cabins with well-tended gardens and gazebos, all of which added to the charm.

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Considered an easy 3.3 mile loop by Bay Area Hiker, note that if you are a weekend warrior looking to become King of the Mountain you will face steep uphill climbs with the sun beating down at your back. Dry California heat can seem a rarity in foggy Northern California, and we felt the sun on our backs on the initial ascent from the base of the climb till reaching the shaded forest. While King Mountain hike is not a “destination” hike and you are not setting out with a location in mind, you will enjoy the stunning views of Mt. Tamalpais from the trail as you near the top of the mountain.

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In addition to Mt. Tam, hikers have the chance to spot views of the Transamerica Pyramid on their descent as well as sweeping views of Mill Valley, Corte Madera and San Rafael’s Coyote Creek.

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What stuck out most was how verdant the trails and surrounding areas were, and am thankful the rains last week combined with the onset of spring allowed nature to show its true colors. There was an unbelievable amount of green growth around the trail, especially considering the amount of french broom known to overtake the landscape, not allowing indigenous plants the chance to grow.

I found the most challenging part of the hike to be the stretch where the incline was not only the highest, but there were stairs added to the mix. Luckily this outdoorsman was up for the challenging and enjoyed running circles around us. Timmy is truly King of the Mountain.

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Want to hike King Mountain? Here are some tips:

  1. Directions: From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the exit for Sir Francis Drake Blvd west 2.1 miles. Turn left onto College Ave, right onto Woodland Rd, left onto Evergreen Dr, second right to stay on Evergreen, left onto Ridgecrest Rd, and follow to end (dead end).
  2. Exertion Level: 6.5/10 as the inclines truly pack a punch and make up for the flat terrain and downhill slopes.
  3. What to Wear: On a hot, sunny day I would suggest breathable material to cover you from the sun and keep you warm in the cool forests as temperatures can change abruptly.
  4. What to Pack: A bottle of water/energy drink per person. While this hike is 3.3 miles it didn’t seem strenuous enough to warrant packing trail mix or a piece of fruit.
  5. Hiking with a Dog: Well-behaved dogs can walk off-leash, but bring one in case a fellow pet owner’s pup hasn’t been to obedience school or your dog would  be hesitant around trails with steeper drop-offs. Leash laws don’t seem mandatory or enforced here as we passed a park ranger who smiled at our off-leash terrier.

“I’m so glad you didn’t say you were lucky.”

I had a meeting with Jill two years ago, in her office. She asked me about my career trajectory, and how I had transitioned from law to journalism to tech, across industries. I said I knew how to create good content, I can spot talent, and I work hard.

She said, “I’m so glad you didn’t say you were lucky.”

Your power does not come from luck. Your power comes from you, and what you invest in it every day, in the work and the sweat and the giving a damn. That is what you carry around with you, even as you walk out of your fancy top job for the last time. That is what you carry into the next thing, and there will be a next thing, because you are good and because that’s what you do. That is your capital.

Keep in mind luck is always a factor, in everything you encounter. But it is always what you do with that luck that drives the end result.

The Prettiest Girl at the Party. Jill Abramson and the New York Times. 

Sunglass Selfies by RedStar Shades

When I read about the opportunity to receive and review RedStar Shades sunglasses I immediately planned the setting. I would model my new gold, Polarized aviators at the beach. Naturally, I would tourist it up and have my DSLR-toting boyfriend shoot the famous campaign while I pretended to be Chrissy Teigen a la the 50th Anniversary Sports Illustrated cover, or ever.

RedStar Aviator Sunglasses

Mother Nature had other plans.

Last weekend’s 80-degree, zero-humidity weather had me at the beach both days. Being the born-and-raised Floridian I am, I assumed that once the temperature was switched to the “hot” setting, there it would stay through Christmas. Wrong! California came out of left field (get it? #cheapjokes) again, because this weekend’s highs are in the mid-sixties. Luckily these shades look just as stylish out of a bikini.

photo 1

Backyard Sunglass Selfies

RedStar Shades is a brand that specializes in high quality polarized, sports, and fashion sunglasses.  As well as crafting state of the art sunglasses, they also have a variety of watches and accessories. Not only are they asunglass company, but they are also involved with many promotions that include the sponsorship of over 1,000 charity and sport events. You can learn more about RedStar Shades on their About page.

photo 2

 Timmy <3s RedStar Shades. I <3 Puppy Kisses.

Interested in RedStar Shades? Lucky you, reader! The sunglass shop is offering a $500 gift card to shoppers when the following code, MTA14, is used in conjunction with your purchase. Please note the $500 gift card is free; however, buyers are responsible for shipping and handling fees they incur.

Happy sunglass shopping!

A Seafood Buffet of Books

I devour books. This has always been the case: I vividly remember spending weekends on the couch turning page after page, making my way from chapter to chapter, book to book. I spent Saturdays at the library, carefully selecting each week’s reads, analyzing whether the pages’ characters were worth the energy it took to become so far invested in their well-being.

Thankfully, technology is allowing users to consume books without the concern of late or lost fees. A new app, Oyster Books allows users to carry beach reads (hello, almost-spring!), biographies and self-improvement books with them during commutes, in line at the grocery store, and on lunch breaks.

oyster

 

In addition to its user-friendly iPhone interface, the application’s website grants early adopters of Oyster the privilege of a library at their mouse-holding fingertips. Gone are the days of the Dewey Decimal system, finding books to read with the click of a mouse has never been easier. Choose your poison: Oyster Books carries everything from Fiction & Literature to Religion & Spirituality to Children’s (hello, road trips and lines anywhere).

Admittedly, I accepted the free 30-day trial with a heavy dose of skepticism. This was mainly based in the fact I didn’t think Oyster Books would carry up-to-date, popular novels, and how wrong I was. The first book I swiped my way through was “The Art of Racing in The Rain,” mainly selected because all things dogs has taken over my life. There was laughter, there were tears and most importantly there was no waiting list.

If you are on the fence about downloading Oyster Books, jump. The only downside: the ever-present temptation of escaping into another world at a moment’s notice.