Wellness

The #1 tool to keep you Zen for the Wed: Meditation

 You don't even need to be on the edge of a cliff looking at mountains to meditate! You can do it from home!

You don't even need to be on the edge of a cliff looking at mountains to meditate! You can do it from home!

I had this realization lately that I keep bringing up meditation as a solution to every problem I encounter. Talking to friends and clients alike, my recos are always including adding mediation to their routine. I was becoming an obsessed, broken record. But why?

I typically wouldn't refer to myself as a particularly grounded person. I'm one of those people who is always spinning in circles doing THE most. And like most people these days, when I do have down time, I get lost in the mindlessness of the never-ending scroll on social media. 

When I was forced to take my 10-15 minute occasional meditation practice to 30 minutes daily during my yoga teacher training, it really had an impact on my life. It changed the way I process small and large interactions in my life (not to mention time management skills!). When you are planning a wedding, life can be absolutely chaotic. It is a time you should cherish, and sometimes you just want it to be over. Meditation is an amazing tool to have in your stress management toolkit to keep you #zenforthewed! In this post I'll share the benefits I've seen in myself as well as some instructions on how to get started for yourself!


 

Benefits I've seen

  1. I have control freak tendencies (and I'm also surrounded control freaks- love you all!), and we live in a world where we actually have very little control. That is not to say that we are not in charge of our own fates, but we cannot live our lives in fear of what could happen. Meditation has honestly helped me to accept things that are out of my control. I know to focus on the things in my power to change and don't sweat the rest. This is maybe the number one benefit whilst wedding planning, IMO!!

  2. It helps me to process my emotions. One of the hardest things during my meditation is to let really painful emotions come up and to not suppress them. But by just sitting with the emotions, most times I just sit there, feel them fully, and quite often they pass. If for instance I am really nervous about something I have to do, the emotion will come back, but in a more manageable way. (Side note: getting married can bring up so many emotions, its okay to not feel absolutely ecstatic every day you are engaged. Feel the emotions, sit with them, and it will help you feel great in the long run!)

  3. There is no outright goal for meditating, and a "bad session" is just as important to sit through as a "good session". This aspect of meditation has helped me to detach from the outcomes of all my endeavors. I am not my successes or my failures, and it helps me to remind myself of that. And related to that...

  4. I used to feel like I needed to have a reason to do something. Sometimes it is okay to do something for no particular reason. It is okay to do things just for the sake of doing. Not everything has to be an achievement. I have been working on a very difficult puzzle for 4 months. I don't have any reason why I am doing the puzzle, and that is okay. It is worthy of my time too.

  5. When you meditate (at least in the style I was taught in), you are training your mind to come back to focus on the breath. While often that doesn't happen, if you are reliving your 4th grade trauma for the tenth time and then you remember to come back to the breath–it's still a success. That focus has extended beyond my practice and often helps me with my work! It's amazing when I can focus for any period longer than 5 minutes (YEP - my A.D.D. diagnosis is realllll).

  6. Meditation has helped me to become less reactionary. I'm always working to curb my natural lean towards defensiveness, and I've noticed that meditation has helped me to pause before I react. My husband will say something that will trigger me (love you, honey!) and I will actually pause and think before I respond. I will try to see things from his perspective before answering. So I guess I'm saying meditation has made me a better wife?! Just to be clear, I am not a master of this, but I have made a lot of progress in this area.

  7. It's crazy to think about how rarely I truly experience the moment I am in. Through my meditation practice, I have become more in tune with myself, and I am able to pull myself out of my technology and day dreams and actually be present in the moment. Life is so precious, I need to try to be there for it!

  8. Lastly, I am much more comfortable just being. I can just sit by myself and I don't feel the need to distract myself. It's wild that I didn't feel that way before, but I was always using things to distract me: social media, talking on the phone, Candy Crush, etc. It's like I'm comfortable being truly alone with myself. I notice that if I take a few days off meditating, I come back to the distractions more easily too!


How to Meditate

Did I sell you on it? Are you ready to try meditating for yourself? My instructions to get started follow: 

  1. Get comfortable in a seated upright position. You can be cross legged on a mat or pillow, sitting in a chair, or just sitting on the bed propped up with your legs out.

  2. Set a timer on your phone (you can use one of the apps below or just the normal timer). I recommend 10 minutes to start. If that seems like too much, 5 minutes is still beneficial.

  3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. I sometimes like to focus on sounds, but that is challenging if there are none! You can keep your eyes open if you visualize too much with your eyes. I find that too distracting most of the time though.

  4. When your mind begins to wander off, bring your concentration back to your breath. You can call yourself out and say "thinking" to help bring your thoughts back to the breath.

  5. Don't check your phone to make sure the timer is set. It is. :)

Before you start read this: 

I want to debunk the myth that meditation is peaceful or enjoyable. It can be, but it can also be downright torturous. Sometimes I would come out of my meditation sessions more frustrated than when I started. And that is okay. When you sit with yourself, all of your anxiety and embarrassing moments will come to haunt you. That will help you to return to the breath, but it will bring up lots of feelings. The key thing is to truly feel the emotions and to not push them down. This is also why I don't advocate using guided meditations. While I love Headspace (a guided meditation app), and that's how I got started meditating, I didn't really feel like I was diving deep until I was sitting in silence. 


Resources: 

An amazing book, "How to Meditate" by Pema Chodron, is a great resource to help you get started. 

Apps: 

Headspace - this man's voice is truly the most soothing sound in the world. Guided meditation is a great place to ease you into meditating. 

Stop, Breathe, and Think - Has a great timer function as well guided functionality. I like the stickers it gives as achievements. 

Insight Timer - A huge variety of meditations available on this app. In addition to it's timer, it's great if you want to explore the vast realm of guided meditation.


Are you ready to try meditating? Or is it already in your routine? Let me know what you think of this self care tool! -AHS

Mini Guide to Cape Town

cape town mini healthy guide

I have been blessed to have been to glorious Cape Town on two occasions, the first time to visit my BFF when she lived there back in 2012, and the second time I tacked on a visit after her wedding (May 2018) in Durban, South Africa. Both times I wanted to move there. I am a sucker for the combination of mountains and ocean in one location. But besides the absolutely jar dropping landscape; it has an enthralling history, a rich culture, and friendly people.  Photos featured are all my own. Attraction titles link (when available) to website resource. 

 

The great outdoors

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

 The magical Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.

The magical Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.

This may be my favorite place in all of Cape Town. For a small entrance fee you can wander the gorgeous botanic gardens. It was the perfect place to journal and reflect. Can't you feel the good juju even in the one photo above? There is an abundance of flora, fauna, and animals. One of my favorite things I stumbled upon was a tree canopy walk, which was super cool. Maybe the best part? They have free concerts and you can picnic there! 


Table Mountain

There are various routes to hike your way up Table Mountain. Back in 2012 I did it with the girls and almost died (not really, but it was hard) and my camera actually did die, and I got no pics from the top. It was very sad! However, if you aren't into the hiking route, there are gondolas that take you to the top! All of the view, none of the work! Also, the best part of the gondola IMO is that if you hike to the top you can gondola down. 


Lion's Head

 Me at the top of Lions Head! Very proud moment indeed. 

Me at the top of Lions Head! Very proud moment indeed. 

This hike is not as intensive as Table Mountain and relatively quick, but if you miss the sign you could end up climbing vertically with random ladders and chains built into the side of a mountain, ahem, like me and apparently this guy. That being said I have a fear of falling from great heights, and I was able to push through and hike this by myself. It was definitely scary at times, but I think if you were with another person it would be a-ok. The views are absolutely unreal, and not to miss. 


 Boulders Beach... where my penguins at? 

Boulders Beach... where my penguins at? 

 This look brought to you by 2012. 

This look brought to you by 2012. 

A gorgeous beach laden with, big shocker, boulders and also where the penguins call home. It's a perfect place for a chill afternoon, get some sun and spend some time with our feathered pals. I took hundred of penguins pics. All of the cuteness. Honestly, I don't have anything to add. Could you imagine anything better? 


 Groot Constantia, you beaut. 

Groot Constantia, you beaut. 

 Baboon friends who attacked our picnic. Don't worry, official "baboon security" came to our rescue! 

Baboon friends who attacked our picnic. Don't worry, official "baboon security" came to our rescue! 

This winery is gorgeous and the oldest wine producing farm in the country. It's a great option if you want to include wine tastings in your trip but don't want to head all the way to Stellenbosch (the major wine region). Groot Constantia is easily accessible from the city tour buses. If you're lucky, you will get to see some baboons like we did! 


Cape of Good Hope

 Views from the Cape of Good Hope

Views from the Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope Cape Town South Africa

Known for its stunning scenery, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Our guy, Bartolomeu Dias, was the first modern explorer to round the cape in 1488. It used to be thought of as the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, however, modern cartography tells us that isn't quite right. 🤔🤔🤔 Go there for some stunning views and a feeling like you are on the edge of the world. 


Camps Bay

 Oooo Table Mountain, your backside looking good, girl. 

Oooo Table Mountain, your backside looking good, girl. 

camps bay beach view cape town

Beautiful beaches. Great dining options. No brainer. It's probably one of the more accessible beaches if you are staying in the city. It feels like you've stumbled upon a beach town in the midst of the city.


History

The stunning landscape makes it easy to forget some of the heartbreaking history in this beautiful place. I recommend you read up on apartheid before you travel there, because while it ended in the 90s, it has shaped a lot of what exists today in South Africa. 

District Six Museum

JPEG image-24209C8B2C98-3.jpeg
District Six Museum Cape Town South Africa

Robben Island

robben island freedom
"We want Robben Island to reflect the triumph of freedom and human dignity over oppression and humiliation." -Ahmed Kathrada, Prisoner

Robben Island was home to a maximum security prison that held Nobel Laureate and former president of SA, Nelson Mandela, for 18 of his 27 years in exile. Two other political inmates held there, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, also went on to become president of South Africa. 

It is definitely a somber experience visiting the island, but being there to learn and feel the history are the makings of a life changing trip. 

This article is a great read for further information.

 View of the mainland from Robben Island. 

View of the mainland from Robben Island. 


Wellness Finds

Mojo Market

Mojo Market Sea Point Cape Town

Mojo market is an indoor market with beach views. Amazing food and drink (see below) vendors and some really cool unique boutique retailers. There was also a yoga studio down the street, but I was sick so I wasn't up to it that day. That being said, the Sea Point area seems like the go to for all your wellness finds! You can even go for a run on their beachfront running path. 

Beetbox RX

 High Vibe juices, crystal bowls, and sourced 95% from local farms- ya can't beet it! (pun intended)

High Vibe juices, crystal bowls, and sourced 95% from local farms- ya can't beet it! (pun intended)

 Yep poke made it all the way to SA. This bowl hit the spot after a long day of touristing. 

Yep poke made it all the way to SA. This bowl hit the spot after a long day of touristing. 

There is no shortage of spas or yoga studios around, but as I didn't have a chance to experience them, I won't elaborate on my findings. If you want more- this article from Well + Good was very helpful! 


More Touristy goodness

V&A Waterfront

cape town V&A waterfront harbour
Cape Town V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is probably the tourist Mecca, but it truly is beautiful. There are lots of great dining options and awesome shopping. There are actually a lot of really cool local artisans around, but you have to look for them in the sea of mass retailers.  And yeah, you can find an almond milk matcha there. #winning


Greenmarket Square

Located in the heart of the city, there are some super cool markets. It definitely is targeted at tourists, but you can find a lot of really cool local artisan finds there too. You can definitely barter, but try to do it ethically. If you are coming from the US you can probably afford to pay their mark up. It's a safe area, but people with ask you for money or to buy them food. The architecture surrounding the square is gorgeous and makes for a scenic shopping trip. 


Accomodations

The Tree House Boutique Hotel

I only have stayed at one hotel in Cape Town, but I couldn't recommend it more. The Tree House Boutique Hotel was amazing and the staff were beyond helpful. My stay came with complimentary breakfast, which was incredible. It had a transitional fresh tree house vibe with hints of balinese. Basically, made for me. It was walking distance to the V&A Waterfront, the boojiest Woolies (Woolworth's) I've ever been in and some great restaurants and gelato! 


Things that I still haven't done but think you should do

Bo-Kaap - Beautiful, cultural rich neigborhood

Company's Gardens - lovely gardens in the city center

Muizenberg beach - colorful shacks on the beach? Yep, that's Muizenberg. Great for surfing or beach yoga!

Stellenbosch - incredible wines come from Stellenbosch. Wine tasting sounds like a pretty romantic way to spend your honeymoon!


A note on water conservation in Cape Town

Cape Town is running out of fresh water. To prevent this, they have enacted lots of water conservation efforts in order to preserve water. This has deterred lots of tourism from the city and country. I can tell you, this did not negatively affect my stay in any capacity. If anything, it helped me to realize just how much water I waste on a daily basis. Please do not overlook this glorious place for that reason- the lack of tourists has had a huge impact on the people and the economy. 

 

Has this inspired you to head to Cape Town for your honeymoon? Let me know if you have any questions on this glorious place, I would love to give you any pointers from my experiences there! Happy travels! -AHS

Should you switch to natural deodorant before your wedding? A breakdown of transitioning to natural deodorant

Natural deodorant has been around for years, but I've noticed a huge uptick recently in people ready to make the shift! It has been on my mind for a while, and for a while I mean about 13 years. My step-mom is a breast cancer survivor and since she went through the experience, natural deodorant has been on my to-do list (continue reading for the "why").  But when is the right time to make the switch? Would it be okay to do before your wedding? This post walks you through my experience switching to natural deodorant and my recommendation for when to make the switch.

Why to switch

I'm not a super smelly or sweaty person.... or so I thought. I had been using a regular solid antiperspirant stick for years. It worked very well, but, the main active ingredient was aluminum

Why do regular antiperspirants use aluminum? It blocks the sweat glands, preventing sweat from coming out. [Sweat itself doesn't smell, but when it interacts with bacteria on the body, it can create an odor. This is why depending on who you are- you may be more or less smelly. Different types of bacteria thrive on different skin types. This is also why good hygiene is key. Shower, people!] But what is the issue with aluminum? From Cancer.org: 

"Some research suggests that aluminum-containing underarm antiperspirants, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and have estrogen-like (hormonal) effects.
Because estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer. In addition, it has been suggested that aluminum may have direct activity in breast tissue." 

That being said, it is important to note that no studies have confirmed that aluminum could increase breast cancer risks. Another doozy that has been associated with aluminum products - Alzheimers! Again, there has been no scientific evidence proving there is any link. However, the way I see it is science is fickle, studies are often flawed (anyone who has ever paid attention to nutrition studies are super aware of this!), and there is always new data emerging. I would rather be safe than sorry! Thus the search for the perfect natural deodorant commenced. 


My experience 

First, let's talk about the fact that everyone is different, and my experience may be different than yours. But, switching to natural deodorant has been a bit of a struggle for me. 

So far I have tried 3 different varieties of natural deodorant. And the key operating word is deodorant - not to be confused with antiperspirant. As stated above, antiperspirants block the sweat from coming out, deodorant just masks the smell. And that is a big change to get used to.

Option 1: Life Stinks

life stinks natural deodorant what to expect when you transition to natural deodorant

The first has been in my beauty bag for years. It's called Life Stinks by the Duggan Sisters. They are a small, local (yay!), Chicago business. It comes in a powder that smells like lavender or cedar. You can also purchase a "Stink Stick" that you put on first if you are a heavy sweater. I tried it for awhile years ago, but couldn't make the commitment. Mostly, I felt like I sweat much more compared to my normal antiperspirant (which isn't a knock on them, just the nature of the beast). I gave it a shot again recently when I started testing out natural deodorants.  At the end of the day, I'm just not into the powder, but it is purely personal preference. I throw it in my gym bag and will put it on post sweat to help absorb the moisture, but not for daily use. I like the feeling of putting on a stick. It is closer to my original routine and is an easier transition. Ingredients: aluminum free sodium bicarbonate, tea tree oil and lavender or cedarwood oil

Option 2: Dear Me

Dear Me Organic Deodorant

The second try was Dear Me Natural Organic Deodorant. I found them on Instagram and I decided to give it a shot. As of right now they have one scent blend called, "Make My Day". It smells great. This was really my first hardcore attempt at switching. I started with it at the beginning of March. It worked beautifully for the first month. I wasn't particularly sweaty or smelly! Success! Then at the end of April I brought it with me on my trip to South Africa. Let's just say my body had not transitioned to a warmer climate and neither did the deodorant. I was stinky. And it was a challenge. I returned home from the trip to warmer weather in Chicago, and the problem persisted. I was showering twice a day just to keep the pits stink-free. That being said, it definitely could've been the "detox" time period I had read about- when your body is expelling toxins and smelliness is increased for a while. I did also get some mild irritation and redness when I first switched, too. It went away though. BUT–I used it the entire time I was in yoga teacher training–and I felt like it held its own! 

Another random consideration, the first ingredient in Dear Me is coconut oil, which means at warmer temperatures it will melt. You can store in the fridge and get a refreshing cool feeling when you apply in the morning, but don't leave it in your beach bag. I really did like this deodorant a lot and it lasted me for about 4 months. I would definitely consider bringing it back for the colder months. Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Beeswax, High Quality Baking Soda, Arrow Root Powder, Peppermint Essential Oil, Palmarosa Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil

Option 3: Native

native natural deodorant switching to natural deodorant
Native natural deodorant ingredients aluminum free paraben free

For the last month I have been using Native deodorant. It is another stick blend. There are actually quite a few scents available- I opted for the seasonal blend, Rosé (duh). I also purchased a little mini of their bestseller, coconut & vanilla. It's a bit harder (doesn't use as much every application) than Dear Me, so I think it will last awhile. So far I really have liked it.  There are quite a few more ingredients in it- but it really works very well. I still am a lil' stinkier at the end of the day, so I reapply (and really scent is truly gone- it doesn't feel like I'm covering it up with perfume or something) or I shower before bed. Honestly, this is the first time I feel like life is business as usual since I switched to natural deodorant this winter. What I found super interesting is that they have a probiotic in their ingredients - L. acidophilus! I'm curious to know if by adding that bacteria it changes the dynamic of the smell. If any of you know the answer, please share! <3 Bonus- if you decide to try Native and use this link we both get a free mini-deodorant. Yes, pls! Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Arrowroot Powder, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Shea Fruit Butter, Coconut Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyglycerol-3 Beeswax, Jojoba Esters, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), L. acidophilus, Dextrose, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Fragrance

The Outcome

My conclusion - there isn't a simple answer. The effectiveness appears to go up with the number of ingredients in the deodorant, but I would prefer a simpler blend. As of right now I am happy with Native, but I haven't ruled out trying the others again, or trying new blends. It's interesting because we all have different bacteria that thrives on our skin- so there is not one answer that works best for everyone! I would recommend trying out any of the options above to see how they work for you. I feel like I've finally become comfortable with using natural deodorant- my next mission is to get my husband to try it too! 


What to expect when you switch from a normal antiperspirant to a natural deodorant

 Helpful tips for switching from Native!&nbsp;

Helpful tips for switching from Native! 

  1. It's not business as usual. Things will feel different under there. It takes time to get used to an increased level of perspiration. 
  2. You may be stinkier for a period of time while you detoxify- or not. Some recommend doing an armpit detox mask. I didn't try, but perhaps would help eliminate the toxin stink period. 
  3. Some natural deodorants may stain your clothes. I didn't notice this more so than my previous anti-perspirant, but it's good to be aware of. 
  4. Shave your pits the night before to prevent irritation. 
  5. Reapplying is your friend. 

 


The Verdict?

So when is the right time to switch to natural deodorant? I don't believe there ever really is going to be a good time, but I would wait until after your wedding! Maybe even wait until you get home from the honeymoon. If you are ready to take the plunge, I would start at least 6 months before wedding. I think there are too many X factors. Pit stains on a white dress? Worrying about lifting your arms when dancing on your big day? Detox stink kicking in on your honeymoon? I would stick to what has worked for you in the past. Don't change anything up unless its not working! After the wedding passes you have your whole life to test out what works for you and your bod!


Have you tried natural deodorant? Did you make the switch before the wedding? Any brand recommendations to try? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a note here or on Insta/FB. - AHS

Morning Rituals And Why You Should Have One (Especially When You Are Planning A Wedding!)

morning rituals gratitude journal erin condren planner superfood latte

I'm obsessed with having a morning ritual. Ever since I heard Tim Ferriss talk about them on his podcast I have been intrigued with getting mine right. It's a super important part of my day as an entrepreneur who works from home. It helps get my head right and start the day on the right foot. However, the more chaotic your life is, the more you could benefit from a strong morning ritual.  If you start your day off rushing through your shower and running to catch the train- you may need a morning ritual even more! When you are planning a wedding you essentially have taken on a second job. Having a morning ritual adds a bit of peace to your day - it's a win from the very first moments of the day. I think we all need that!

There are so many benefits to having a morning ritual, but of course it varies depending on what you include in it. What I love about my morning ritual is that I know I'm starting my day off doing something to take care of myself before the madness begins!

It is always a work in progress and it has evolved over time. I'm going to give you a couple examples so you can craft your own perf version! One that I used for a while is referred to as the "Miracle 6". It takes 6 minutes of your morning.

  • 1 minute of silence.
  • 1 minute of affirmations. 
  • 1 minute of visualizations
  • 1 minute of scribing (journaling)
  • 1 minute reading
  • 1 minute of exercise 

To break it down: 

The minute of silence is without your phone, eyes open or closed, just sitting for a moment int peace.

The affirmations are just a list of positive things to remind yourself of daily. They help keep your mind positive. Example of one: "Today I am surrounded by love and abundance in my life." I think about what I am struggling with overcoming mentally and then write some out, or google positive affirmations until I find what I need. :)  

The visualization is a form of goal setting, and it may take some time to write before your review it daily. You want to think about what you are hoping to achieve in your life. It could be long term or just a few months away. Think about what you are hoping to see in your life and write it down. Get as descriptive as possible, so when you read it, it evokes emotion and gets you excited! You should really see the vision clearly. 

Scribing is essentially journaling. There are many forms you could do. Some people do morning pages - a practice where you practice writing 3 pages of long form stream of conscious journaling (I tried it, it wasn't my cup of tea - but many, many people swear by it!). It also is hard to do in one minute. I preferred gratitude journalling, where I write 3 unique things I'm thankful for each day. 

 I read this when I was practicing the Miracle 6 morning ritual- it was perfect in small snippets.&nbsp;

I read this when I was practicing the Miracle 6 morning ritual- it was perfect in small snippets. 

Reading- pretty self explanatory. If you are doing the Miracle 6 I think it's best to read something with small insights, like my favorite, Tao Te Ching. Or a personal development book (see right) where you can get something out of just reading a page or two. 

Exercise- again this is just one minute, so something like jumping jacks, crunches or push ups are good to get the blood flowing! Or you could take the yoga approach and do a sun salutation or two!

There were aspects of this routine I really liked, and it worked for me for awhile. But as I evolved, so did the ritual. When I added true meditation into my routine (not just a minute of silence), it changed the dynamic of the morning. I found it really hard to just read for one minute, and it kinda felt cruel to stop at one minute. Then I would read more, and then the routine would last much longer. I've taken some things I really liked from that ritual and incorporated it into my current routine. 

I've included my morning ritual is below. It is not my every day- right now I am at about 3 days/week. And sometimes I don't do all of the components, but if I get one of them done, it is an accomplishment!  


My morning ritual

  • I go downstairs and start the coffee. If I'm feeling really on it, I will use the frother and make a superfood latte (I froth almond milk, cacao powder, and brain octane oil). 
  • I then write in my gratitude journal. I write three things that I am grateful for.
  • Sometimes I will do a visualization and/or affirmations.
  • I pray for a few minutes. 
  • I meditate for 20-30 minutes. 
  • Then I get up, get dressed, and make my bed.
  • Boom! Ready to start the day!

 a simple day with my gratitude journal and coffee.&nbsp;

a simple day with my gratitude journal and coffee. 

This process takes me about 60 - 75 minutes when I do all of the components. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. 

If you have been following along, you probably understand how important coffee is to me. The smell tells me its time to start the day. When I have the superfood latte, I'm starting my day with nutrients that are fueling my body. Just one small step to start the day right. 

I love my gratitude journal because it really helps me cultivate an abundance mindset. I have so much to be grateful for every day.

Praying helps me focus on what truly matters and gives me perspective.  

Meditation deserves its own post. It helps me focus on the present moment. It helps me to be still in my world that is moving so fast. It helps me to just be. I will do a follow up post on meditation soon. 

I used to not make my bed. But now, I realize that making the bed (and keeping my space clean) helps my mind focused and clear. Besides that, it starts my day with accomplishing a task. There are so many things are out of my control, this is one small thing that is definitely within my domain. 

So in sum, having a morning ritual helps me to start the day: 

  • with good nutrition
  • in a positive mindset
  • at peace with what I can and cannot do
  • goal oriented
  • and accomplished

Pretty powerful stuff, right? All of those things are pretty critical during wedding planning! I encourage you to start your own morning ritual! The "miracle 6" is a great place to start.

Do you have a morning ritual already? I would love to hear about how you start your day! Leave me a comment below or on social! If you haven't seen I finally launched the Shed FB page. Go on and give it a like for me! xx, AHS

Gut Health 300

At long last, the practical final installment of the gut health series! This post is to help provide practical tips to increase probiotics and prebiotics in ya life to increase your gut/ overall health! Before you get started you may want to recap the previous posts in the Gut Health series. 

 

Probiotics

Here are some of the easiest ways to add healthy bacteria into your gut! 

  1. The easiest way to get more probiotics in your life is to take a probiotic supplement. For more info on how to pick the right one - read Gut Health 200. However, they are expensive, and if your gut is already in good shape, it may not be necessary to continue long term. I always advocate to try to get the bulk of your nutrients from whole foods, and here is no different. 
  2. Lean in and switch to the 'booch instead of soda. Kombucha - you've probably heard of this bubbly, magical drink. It is actually fermented tea, and is an awesome way to get more good bacteria in your life. Make sure you find brands that keep the sugar to no more than 4gs per serving. Bonus, if you are hooked on soda- it is a great substitute!
  3. Add more fermented foods into your life! Fermented foods such as kimchi (the national food of Korea! A spicy pickled cabbage dish) or sauerkraut (European origin pickled cabbage dish) are #shedapproved and are loaded with the good stuff. This is particularly good in the winter when fresh produce is less available (or historically was less available! That is how people would stay healthy all year round!). While Kimchi is not available everywhere, you can opt to go to a Korean mart and they are typically sold there. Many grocery stores sell sauerkraut. If those aren't in your neighborhood you can always make it yourself (Links: How to make easy kimchi at homeHow to make sauerkraut in a mason jar).  
  4. Greek yogurt (or Siggi's Icelandic style) and kefir are Month 1 #shedapproved and a great source of good bacteria. You know that watery stuff that sits on the top of yogurt? Don't pour it out or avoid it- that's where the healthy bacteria live! Be sure to mix it in fully! My one warning here is to avoid added sugar in your yogurt/kefir. Better to get the plain, full fat versions and add your own berries and honey! 
  5. Beer and Wine! Whaaaaat? Alcohol? Yep. The catch? Commercial beer is rigorously filtered and won't have the health benefits. Just another reason to try home brew! Also, don't overdo it. It negates the health benefits! Stick to one beer or glass of wine at a time (2 tops!) to maximize the benefits and prevent weight gain!  

prebiotics 

Prebiotics keep the good gut bacteria happy and healthy! Because they need food too! The key to making gut bacteria happy? FIBER!!

  1. Freeze pre-ripe (lightly green still) bananas to add to your smoothies. You don't notice the flavor/texture difference as much as if you just ate them outright. Bonus - there is less sugar in these nanners so they are better on the waistline!
  2. Raw dandelion greens salad with raw asparagus (see recipe below!). Refreshing, light, crunchy, and yummy!
  3. Jicama chips (I mean fries. I swear I don't know where these Britishism are coming from)! So refreshing in the heat of summer. Check out the recipe below! 
  4. GG crisps/crackers. Month 1 Shed approved and LOADED UP with fiber. Be sure to look for the ones with psyllium husks (pumpkin and sunflower seed versions have this) on the ingredients list for gut friendly bonus!
  5. Any other fruits and veggies you like. The key here is the fiber, so leave the skins on (where you can - ie cucumbers, apples, etc) and eat up all the pulp you can! 

Here is a list of some of the top prebiotic foods not included above: 

  • Raw chicory root - the top source, with almost 60% fiber
  • Raw Jerusalem artichoke 
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw onions 
  • Cooked onions
  • Whole wheat 
  • Legumes

This is by no means an exhaustive list, it's more of a prompting to get some new healthy eats in your routine! I hope you found the Gut Health series educational and beneficial. What are you going to do to add more gut friendly foods into your routine? Leave me a comment here or on Instagram! - AHS


Mexican style raw Jicama fries 

jicama fries chips mexican style tajin gut health prebiotics

Ingredients

  • 1 jicama
  • Extra virgin olive oil (start with a tbsp, add as necessary)
  • Tajin* or other chili lime seasoning blend to taste

Instructions

Peel jicama with a vegetable peeler. Cut into "fry" shape. I made mine a bit thicker. Coat lightly with olive oil and Tajin. Eat immediately for a filling snack and/or appy!

*Tajin is a Mexican spice blend that is amazing on fruit- it's incredible on watermelon too! You can order off amazon or get it at your local Mexican store if there is one close to you! You can also make this gringo style with paprika, onion powder, and chili powder.  


Dandelion Greens Salad

(adapted from the SHED program) (serves 1) 

This salad is an amazing summer detox salad and gut health booster! 

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 apple, chopped (skin on!)
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 cups dandelion greens
  • 3 spears of raw asparagus, chopped into 4 bites pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1⁄2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of parmesan (optional)

Instructions

Mix ingredients in a bowl and enjoy a crunchy gut healthy lunch! 

Put a little (self) love in your heart...

 When I look at the pose above, I first think to myself, "Woof, those calves. And I have a long way to go to make this pose look good!" It takes me a moment to reset and appreciate how far I've come and appreciate that tan instead!

When I look at the pose above, I first think to myself, "Woof, those calves. And I have a long way to go to make this pose look good!" It takes me a moment to reset and appreciate how far I've come and appreciate that tan instead!

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Sometimes I see circles under my eyes. Sometimes I see bloat from last night's pizza (yep- I eat pizza!). Sometimes I see a whole lotta thigh. Rarely when I look in the mirror am I like, "damn that's a fine looking lady in there!" But why don't I? I suspect I am not alone in this. 

There are probably a lot of contributing factors, and I do not want to diminish them - but I will focus on two reasons for the purpose of today's note. The first is comparison. A natural human tendency that has been magnified by the omnipresence of social media. We spend our days longing for what other people have- their banging bodies, their DREAM weddings, their perfect husbands, adorable babies, charming houses, fancy cars, and exotic honeymoons. We spend a huge bulk of time assessing other people's lot in life and comparing ours to theirs. This isn't to say that we dwell on it or it takes over how we live our lives (sometimes yes, sometimes no) but regardless it happens on the daily. Sometimes we know we are doing it, other times it is operating in the background - but still happening. 

The second reason is judgement. Comparison feeds judgement. Example, so-and-so buys a beautiful new home – "But who would want to live there? It's the middle of nowhere!" Someone posts a selfie - it's attention seeking and/or desperate. Someone cuts you off on the highway - they are an a**hole. Immediately we affirm our own choices and lifestyle, building our own ego at the sacrifice of tearing down someone else. We judge other people and ourselves ALL of the time for EVERYTHING. And that includes what we see when we look in the mirror. 

And it's exhausting. 

And it doesn't serve us.

And in fact, it has a negative effect on the way we view ourselves and others. We need to knock it off. 

Less judgement, and more love. 

We need to love ourselves. Seriously, love every part of ourselves. We need to cut out the negative self talk. We are KWEENS ladies! And stunning rays of light filled with love. We are pure magic. When we acknowledge this, it helps us to see that in everyone else. 

Today is #internationalyogaday, and with it, comes a challenge. Love yourself and then love others. That's our mission. But how to shift our mindsets? It's a big task, so let's break it down.  

 

Step 1. Acknowledgement

Sit with a journal and a cup of (insert beverage of choice) and do some self reflection. When do you tend to compare yourself to others? Is it comparing that bling on your finger to your friend's? Does it happen when you look in the mirror and you think about the Instagram model you follow? When do you tend to judge? Does it manifest in road rage? Again, is it social media? Your favorite Bravo TV stars? 

Just take the time to think about how comparing and judging show up in your life. If after reflection you truly do not compare or judge, please teach a class and invite me! 

 

Step 2. Forgiveness

The next step is to forgive yourself and forgive others for being this way. We have to absolve ourselves from this. These habits are ingrained from childhood and perpetuated by the culture we live in. Let's not beat ourselves up over being judgmental. That defeats the purpose of this whole exercise. 

 

Step 3: Radical acts of self care

How did we get to self care? Well, what is at the heart of comparison? I believe it's our own feelings of inadequacy. Showing yourself some care is the foundation of self love. Do something for yourself every day. Take time for yourself. Whatever that means for you. By caring for ourselves, we nurture self love. It helps us to live more comfortably in our own skin- which helps us to love others better, too.

Self care is not selfish.

I repeat, SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. When you are feeling drained and out of gas - it is really easy to get into negative self talk patterns. Beyond that, it also hinders our ability to serve others. So take the time to refuel. It is so important for your mental and physical health. Don't know where to start? Take a break from wedding planning and try some of the suggestions below:

  • Spend quality time with loved ones.

  • Buy a coffee for a homeless person.

  • Take a bath.

  • Laugh. Really hard.

  • Watch trashy tv, or whatever gives you joy.

  • Bask in the sun.

  • Dance by yourself.

  • Get a mani/pedi.

  • Do nothing - guilt free.

  • Do something you have wanted to do for a long time, but never had the time.

  • Go for a walk in nature.

  • Read a book.

  • Take a nap.

  • Exercise (in a way that sparks joy!).

  • Call a friend.

  • Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful.

  • Meditate.

  • Take a social media/technology hiatus.

  • Eat a hearty nutritious meal.

  • Eat whatever you want, and without judgement

 

Step 4: Judgement Detox

Now that we have acknowledged our habits, forgiven ourselves for them, and have built up our self love... it's now time to take a break from the judging. This is really, really hard - because it is ingrained so deep. And it's not always showing up the way you would think. For example, today I was trying to back into my garage, and a neighbor had left what I think was an air conditioning unit outside their door, which prevented me from getting in my usual way. I was so annoyed. I was thinking about how inconsiderate that action was. Why didn't they move it to the side? Was this a handy person or was it the neighbor? Someone doesn't know the protocol... Judgement after judgement after judgement. And then I stopped myself. I realized, it was highly unlikely that they even realized it inconvenienced anyone. THEN I realized, I manage to get into my spot, just fine. I spent 2 minutes thinking they were horrible people, and realized I worked myself up over absolutely nothing. 

And this story isn't rare. I'm sure I do this 10x a day.

Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to spend one day completely judgement free. Only loving thoughts towards yourself and others for just one day. That doesn't mean the judgements won't arise, but do your best to quash them when they come. AND double whammy, when they come up- don't judge yourself for having the thoughts! 

 

In summary

The world we live in is full of judgements. By giving ourselves some self care, and by choosing to judge less, we will love ourselves and others more! Yoga reminds me to have a beginner's mind, love and accept myself where I am at, and to love others unconditionally. I hope that through reading this post and doing this exercise, it helps you do the same. 


Are you going to participate in the self care and judgement detox challenges? I would love to hear if you participate and how it went! Use #shedselfcare and #shedjudgementdetox so I can see! -AHS

Wellness Hack: Frozen Foods

Wellness hack benefits of frozen food

Today I decided I needed to share with you my biggest wellness secret...FROZEN FOOD. Yeah, I said it. Frozen. Food. I'm not talking about old school TV dinners, I'm talking about REAL food, just frozen. 

How is this a hack, you say? Because it seriously keeps me on my game. It's an excellent tool to keep in the Shedding toolkit. Here's why: 

1. It helps you SAVE money!

If you are buying plain frozen veggies, many times they are less expensive than buying fresh! I know, it's crazy! Most of the frozen vegetables I buy are not more expensive than if I bought them fresh. Don't get me wrong, fresh is great, but not necessary for every meal! 

Also, when you have food that is at it's peak ripeness, and you know you won't have a chance to use it before it goes bad? Throw it in the freezer! Say no to food waste! 

2. You don't miss out on any nutrients

How? Doesn't freezing destroy the nutrient value? Actually, in most cases it preserves the nutrients! Most frozen foods are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness when the nutrients are prime for the eating! A lot of time food travels thousands of miles to get to its destination. During this time, many fresh fruits and veggies lose some of their prime nutrients. This is also why shopping local is best! :) Who knew frozen could even be better for you than fresh?!

3. You are always prepared! 

So if you are like me, and are never home OR if you are planning a big trip- frozen food will save you when you come home. Let's say you get back late and have to get right back into a crazy work week upon arrival? No time for the grocery store? No problem! You have all the fixins for a stir-fry or a burger in your freezer!

4. You save time! 

No chopping, washing, trimming or peeling for you! If it's frozen, it's ready to go! This turns an hour long meal prep into 30 minutes. And who doesn't love that?

 

Here are some of my favorite frozen foods and foods to freeze! 

  • 3 minute microwavable packages of brown rice. These are my absolute favorites. I mostly use them in buddha bowls or stir-frys. Also great for soups too! 
  • When I'm going on a trip I buy enough meat for 2-3 weeks and storing anything I won't use that week in the freezer. Chicken and ground turkey are my go-tos, but even bacon works! Meats defrost beautifully if they aren't in there too long! 
  • Frozen shrimp- I buy cooked and uncooked. When I'm really tired it's great to have cooked shrimp ready to go for a pasta dish. 
  • 2 ingredient frozen turkey burgers. So easy, so healthy. What's not to love! 
  • Trader Joe's has an Organic Quinoa, Kale, Sweet potato, Carrot bowl thing that is an easy meal when you are not in the mood to cook. 
  • Frozen riced cauliflower- I use this instead of brown rice to lighten the carb load when I need a lighter meal! 
  • Broccoli florets- I pretty much could use these in any dish. 
  • Bell peppers- Same as above. 
  • Frozen berries for dessert- I love to eat these whole in the Winter. It's almost like eating ice cream. My favorites are cherries and blueberries. 
  • I love throwing overripe fruit in the freezer for smoothies. You could also throw them in with cottage cheese or use them in chia puddings! 
  • Spiralized veggie noodles - easy peasy ready to go! 
  • Frozen shelled edamame - another #shedapproved snack

 

What do you guys think? Into frozen food or not about it? I'm also curious to know what else do you freeze? I am all about expanding my frozen food repertoire – I would love to hear any of your tips for me! 

 

 

Superfood Profile: Bee Pollen

benefits of bee pollen superfoods natural allergy prevention

In honor of allergy season being in full swing,  I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight on Bee Pollen and why it is so extraordinary. 

I had my first experience with bee pollen a few years ago. I was working at a local juice and smoothie shop- and we offered bee pollen as an added superfood boost. I would put it in my smoothie every day, and I swear I never had a spring so unaffected by allergies. Knowing this information and how it affected my own system inspired me to learn more, especially as future years sans bee pollen were quite miserable. 

 

what is Bee pollen? 

Bee pollen comes into existence when honey bees harvest pollen from a variety of plant sources. The bees add their own goodness (nectar) into it, and store it in honeycomb. Through this process it becomes a bonafide complete superfood. It has amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and more! It's pretty incredible. It is not considered vegan because bees create it- however, no bees are harmed in the harvesting of the pollen. 

 

You've probably heard of pollen as an allergen itself, so why would eating it be good for you?

Essentially the thought is that it helps your body build its immune response to pollens. If your immune system is prepared, you will experience less symptoms once allergies are in full swing. This is also why buying local bee pollen is the best if you would like it to help with your seasonal allergies. When you use local bee pollen, the bees are harvesting pollen from plants that likely will be your triggers later. 

 

If I want to prevent allergies, when should i start taking it?

It's best to start a few months in advance to build up an immune response. So probably too late to save you this spring. You can start next month to prepare for autumn allergens, though! That being said, I've noticed a difference with one dose (probably placebo effect but hey, I'll take it!) - so I will still be taking it this spring, even though it's late in the game! 

 

I don't have seasonal allergies, why would I want to add this to my routine?

Key word: SUPERFOOD. This stuff is amazing. I mentioned its a complete food, so it essentially is a natural vitamin supplement. Here are some of the many reported benefits: 

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Protects against liver toxicity
  • Improved energy levels 
  • Improved gut health 
  • Acts as an anti-oxidant
  • Natural stress reliever
  • And many more! (Want to learn more? Check out "Further Reading" at the bottom of the page)

What to look for when buying 

As mentioned before- first and foremost- try to get it locally. I live in Chicago- but farms in other areas of the state or in southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and northern Indiana all would probably be fine because we all share similar Midwest weeds and plants. Check with your local farmers market or try Whole Foods, they often will try to use local vendors. 

Next, it's great to find kernels with a variety of color. They range from yellow to black - depending on what plants the bees took the pollen from. It you have a diversified mix it will help cover you to a variety of plant allergens. 

It comes in a variety of forms (capsules, liquids, etc.) but get the whole kernels. Less processing is always best! 

Side note: there are a lot of similar benefits to eating raw organic honey, however, it is really hard to find unpasteurized honey. The pasteurization process kills off a lot of the beneficial nutrients. Bee pollen on the other hand, not being a liquid, does not get pasteurized, so it retains it's nutritional integrity better. 

 

How to best eat it? 

 My preferred method of ingesting :)&nbsp;

My preferred method of ingesting :) 

I prefer using kernels on top of my smoothie bowls or mixed in to a smoothie (post blend). Always eat it with other food. If added to fruit it is supposed to activate quickly in the gut!

If you have any serious allergies (I'm talking anaphylaxis) ESPECIALLY to pollen, talk to your doctor about ingesting bee pollen. If you are worried you may have an allergic reaction, you can test by putting one granule on your tongue until it dissolves. If there is no reaction, add another. Repeat until you feel confident you will not have a reaction. 

 

Further Reading

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!

How Bee Pollen Could Cure Your Allergies - Mind Body Green

Top 8 Bee Pollen Benefits - Dr. Axe

Top 10 benefits of bee pollen - Be Healthy


What do you think? Will you give bee pollen a try? I am definitely going to add it back into my routine! Happy June! - AHS

Matcha Collagen Fat Balls

shed for the wed matcha fat ball
alexandra hayden shea matcha fat balls

As a special request, I attempted Lee from America's Coconut Fat Balls. I altered the recipe slightly to fit my needs, one of which was MATCHA. Cuz matcha is always a need right?

matcha collagen fat balls food processor

I added Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen, to boot. Why? Matcha contains 137 times the amount of free radical-fighting antioxidants as other green teas and you now can eat them! AND as you know from my collagen post there are so many benefits to adding collagen into your routine. Hello healthy hair, skin, nails, bones and joints! The works. This was a fun way to try out a new way to get my collagen into the routine!

If you follow Lee, you may know she is obsessed Coconut Butter. I have yet to try the magical substance, and it is not available everywhere. That's where my good friend ghee comes in. I substituted ghee for coco butter, and it worked really well. It probably gave the balls a slightly different texture. I think it's the reason my "balls" really look more like cookies. 

Ghee is a form of clarified butter and it's kinda amazing. It's great for people who are sensitive to dairy and it has a higher smoke point than plain butter. Confused about what it is? Clarified butter starts as unsalted butter that is heated on low heat, which causes the milk solids to separate from the rest of the liquid. The milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan after the butter melts. Any foam sitting on the surface is removed. Ghee takes it one step further- after the milk solids separate the butter is simmered until all of the moisture evaporates and the milk solids brown slightly in the pan. This gives ghee a richer, nuttier flavor. 

 I tried at first to fit them on a cookie sheet- my freezer was not big enough for that. So I switched to the plate.&nbsp;

I tried at first to fit them on a cookie sheet- my freezer was not big enough for that. So I switched to the plate. 

 Yep, that's Stolichnaya in my fridge. All about balance right? Fat balls and Stoli, what a combo.&nbsp;

Yep, that's Stolichnaya in my fridge. All about balance right? Fat balls and Stoli, what a combo. 

Ghee also has a lot of awesome health benefits - one of which is being anti-inflammatory which is one of my bigger qualms with dairy in general. It also helps to improve digestion, build strong bones, and even can act as a detoxifier!  To learn more about ghee's benefits, read this article.

Back to the fat balls... got a little distracted by glorious ghee there for a moment! I also thought I had dates in the fridge- and I only had one! So to make up for it I added a smidge of honey. I thought it would make them super sticky, but it didn't in the end! The original recipe called for 3 dates – if you would prefer that to honey! Also, apologies to any of you with nut or coconut allergies- just reading the recipe may cause you to break out into hives. 

What I loved about the balls is that they are a perfect snack. If I do a smoothie for lunch and I get hungry- it's the perfect balance and it really feels like a treat! I sometimes forget they are in the freezer - and it's so awesome to find them when I am really wanting a treat and can't find anything! Also side note: I do not advise eating these as an after dinner dessert. They are obviously full of fat, and your body will not have a good amount of time to digest them before bed! Better as an afternoon treat. :)

Oh, one more thing! If you want to make these matcha collagen style like I did, Vital Proteins is having a promo this week: buy one get one 20% off. It's going on through 5/28. So take advantage if you can! You can buy here.

Code: SUMMERKICKOFF

So without further ado the recipe is below! 


Vital Proteins did not pay me to write this post. But they did provide the matcha! If you buy through any of the links I provide, I will get a small commission at no added cost to you. :) And just in case you weren't sure, my opinions all my own. 


Matcha Collagen Fat Balls

(adapted from Lee from America's Coconut Fat Balls) 

matcha fat balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup ghee, melted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 scoop Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medjool date (pitted)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 c. almond milk

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • (Some say a blender can be used instead, but I haven't tested it.)

Instructions

  1. Blend everything in a food processor until dough is achieved. Dough will be wet, that’s good!
  2. Roll into bite sized balls then lay flat and freeze. Once frozen, place in an airtight container and put back in the freezer for storing. They can last for a while in there! 
  3. Remove from freezer and let thaw 6 minutes before eating for optimal deliciousness!

Mini Guide to London

I love London: good eats, sweat, and all the culture – what's not to love?! After my trip there last month I decided to share some of my best finds (and TBH it's really what others recommended to me first). Just to be clear, this is by no means a comprehensive list, but just some highlights that I wanted to share. All of the places listed are linked (mostly in title).  I hope this round up helps you have a "well" (like wellness? get it?) rounded visit! (Side note: I wrote this mostly in the most oppressive layover at Heathrow ever. Seems fitting no?!)

Shoreditch Specific

Ace Hotel London birthday champagne and brownie surprise

Shoreditch is in East London, and is known to be an eclectic and diverse neighborhood. Incredible street art. Amazing coffeeshops. It felt like the perfect place to be. 

We stayed at the Ace Hotel, and could not speak more highly of the experience. It's a very cool place. Live music almost every night, awesome lobby designed for getting work done. Minimalist and hip, it felt very in tune with the East London neighborhood it resides in. Besides that, the hotel found out it was my birthday and sent champagne and brownies - they know a way to a girl's heart. 

East London Juice Co

Attached to the Ace Hotel, this is a completely women-owned and operated juice and crystal shop. My own Mecca. The ladies who work here are super knowledgable about their adaptogens AND crystals. I loved chatting with them. It's also externally attached to the Ace, so very convenient if you are staying there or in the neighborhood. 

 Chocolate Adaptogen Mylkshake

Chocolate Adaptogen Mylkshake

 East London Juice Co. menu and crystals

East London Juice Co. menu and crystals

Hoi Polloi

This is one of the restaurants inside of the Ace. I worked from here a couple days, great ambiance. On Sunday, my husband and I did their afternoon tea. There was live jazz that really set the tone. It was amazing. If nothing else, go for the perfect buttery scones. #treatyoself

 GF, Vegan Avo Toast at Redemption.&nbsp;

GF, Vegan Avo Toast at Redemption. 

Redemption

This spot is LEGIT. Vegan. Gluten free. AVOCADO THAT GOES ON FOR DAYS. I sat there by myself and ATE ALL OF THAT TOAST. ALL. OF. IT. A good spot to eat and read a book (I did!).  All of the good vibes. 

Dishoom

I had 3 independent friends recommend this place and it did not disappoint. Seriously, the best Indian food ever. Taste bud explosions on repeat. Everything was fabulous. My photos didn't do it justice (thus not featured). Click the link (title) to see the Bombay aesthetic. 

Andina

Peruvian tapas. Yep you heard that right. Another restaurant that makes your taste buds go BOOM. There wasn't one thing we tried that was mediocre. It's a small place, but packed with charm. 

 Triyoga - they also have juices and wifi! Another great spot to post up to get some work done post flow!&nbsp;

Triyoga - they also have juices and wifi! Another great spot to post up to get some work done post flow! 

Triyoga 

If you were watching my instagram stories, you learned that I may or may not have died during the Level 2 yoga class I took at Triyoga. It was a very challenging class. It seemed like everyone in the class was a regular, but they were very welcoming. Especially when I requested to be close to the wall once I learned there would be a lot of inversion work. The studio was pristine. They also do massages and pilates! So much to love! 

Spitalfields Market

The Spitalfield Markets are a cool indoor/outdoor year round market. From jewelry, to plants, to baby clothing, you can find it all there! Oh and not to mention some incredible smelling food vendors- we unforch did not have an opportunity to try them though! 

We went on a Sunday, but they are open 7 days a week. I believe the vendors vary. 

Brick Lane Vintage Markets

Brick Lane Vintage Markets Eats

Just a quick walk from the Spitalfields Market are the Brick Lane Markets (only on Sundays). Amazing vintage finds, handmade unique items, and MORE FOOD! (again that I didn't eat - I wasn't prepared!!) I didn't get any worthy pics of the vintage section because it was crazy crowded. But if you are into unique vintage finds, it's def worth checking out. 

Also of note, apparently up the road from there is a Sunday flower market. We really wanted to go, but we just got a little too cold. I hear its awesome if you are visiting in better weather. 

 

 

Around Town (Not Shoreditch)

Museums

Victoria & Albert Museum

As you can see from the photo below, it's worth a stop just to eat at the cafe. Some truly incredible exhibits, and just gorgeously curated. 

Victoria and Albert Museum V&A Museum Cafe

British Museum

Can you say Egypt? I would come back to this museum alone just for their Ancient Egyptian collection. I took the picture below, and right behind me was the ACTUAL Rosetta Stone. I almost missed it. This place is a must see if you are at all interested in history.  

British Museum Egypt Exhibit

 

Other key attractions

St. Paul's -  Westminster Abbey's less popular sister. This place is STUNNING! If you aren't going to services it does cost to tour, but totally worth it. Also, trivia fact, Princess Diana and Charles tied the knot here (instead of the Abbey) because it could hold more guests! It's one of the 2 places the royal family can get married. 

St. Paul's Cathedral London

 

Food and Drink

Coppa Club Igloos

We are full on in spring mode now, so not sure how long the igloos will be around, but they were an amazing place for Saturday "brunch" when we were in town. The food was great- I mean can you see that pizza?! And the view of the Thames and Tower Bridge was even better. 

Coppa Club Igloos London Rose
Coppa Club Pizza with Egg

Duck and Waffle

Speaking of views, Duck and Waffle has some of the best views in the city. And they had duck and waffle, which basically is an elevated chicken and waffles. It was to die for. My pics are dark didn't do it justice, so I didn't provide them. But it is definitely a perfect spot for a boujie night out. 

Other notable mentions: 

  • Hyde Park
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Walk around the neighborhoods of Notting Hill, Covent Gardens, and Marylebone
  • Natural History Museum 
  • The Tate and Tate Modern
  • All things Harry Potter (Platform 9 3/4, Studio tour, Cursed Child, etc)

Cheers, mates! -AHS