1.30.2015

Seattle Adventures // Starbucks Reserve Roastery

starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
It is no secret that Seattle is the Starbucks (and coffee in general) capital. People here take their coffee very seriously, which can actually be a bit intimidating at times! We tried our best to find a few local coffee shops to try out and it was a nice experience. It is also no secret that I love Starbucks. I am not ashamed to admit it! I don't even care if it makes me a "basic white girl" (also, that phrase is so mean...). I just love it! One thing that was high on my list of things to do in Seattle, was to go to the brand new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. I received a video e-mail about it from Starbucks and decided that since we were going to be in Seattle, we had to go! It is just several blocks away from the original Pike Place Starbucks location, but is definitely a completely different experience.starbucks-3 starbucks-4
The whole idea behind the Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is to be a completely unique, one of a kind place where Starbucks can really hone in on more specialty practices and options of what they are most passionate about: coffee. Here, they are able to roast beans that you can't get anywhere else in the world, share a peek into the roasting process with their visitors, hold workshops and tastings, and offer a completely different, more specialized menu than their regular stores.starbucks-5
We got to see the beans being poured into their packages, the sealing process, and how the labels are attached. We also got to see the beans being prepped for roasting and how they are roasted.starbucks-6 starbucks-7 starbucks-8 starbucks-9
What is especially unique about the Reserve Roastery, is that all of the beans they serve are roasted in house. You can see above that they are even funneled to the coffee bar by pipes freshly after being roasted, and then you can choose the beans you want!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
The menu at this unique shop is also completely different than you would find at a regular Starbucks. I'm pretty sure the poor baristas are asked about 25 thousand times every day if they can order a caramel frapuccino or a white chocolate mocha. Instead, this Starbucks focuses more on the art of more specialized drinks. When you order a coffee drink, you get to to pick the specific beans you would like and how you would like your coffee made, like on the Clover machine, dripped, or in a French press. So many choices, but that is what makes this place special!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
 I settled on a classic vanilla latte (can't remember which beans or process!) and Dai got an interesting drink that is made with sparkling water, 2 shots of espresso, sweetening syrup, and mint. Needless to say, he hated it. I actually don't blame him... It was a little too different unfortunately. BUT, we tried something new! We also shared a delicious chocolate espresso tart, and were given little cookies with our drinks.starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
While the line to order was out the door and down the side of the building, we wandered inside and were actually able to snag seats at the bar! When you are lucky enough to find seats at the bar, a barista gives you a menu and serves you like a waiter, so it was really nice! Definitely beats waiting in a long line to order the exact same things and not have a place to sit. It was a nice place to relax and take in everything that was going on. Plus, all of the baristas are much more interesting and 'artsy' than you may find at a regular Starbucks!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
We had such a lovely time wandering around the Reserve Roastery that I didn't really want to leave! I wish that I had a book or my laptop with me so that I could hunker down and have some blogging time in a cool place like this :)

If you ever visit Seattle, you should definitely make a stop here for an experience that is much different than you will find in your hometown Starbucks! I also hear that they will begin doing tastings and workshops (like a latte art class!) soon, so hopefully you can take advantage of those too :)

1.29.2015

Whole30 Halfway Check-In

Whole30, healthy, clean eating, whole foods, healthy habits, weight loss
Today marks Day 15, the halfway mark, of Whole30 for me! (You can find my first Whole30 post HERE!) It really feels like it has been much longer than that, but I am really proud of myself for reaching this milestone. I debated whether or not to start for so very long that I never really thought I would get this far! I am happy to say that I have gotten this far without ever even thinking about quitting. It just is not an option for me, as I want to prove to myself (and Dai, the skeptic!) that I can do it and commit to something.

After all, I (and you!) can do anything for just 30 days.

Let's take a moment to review the basic Whole30 rules. For 30 days, you are to cut these things out of your diet:
+ Dairy
+ Soy
+ Legumes
+ Grains
+ Alcohol
+ Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
+ Carrageenan, MSG, & sulfites

The idea is to eat whole, clean foods to let your body recover from all of the junk we tend to fuel it with, and to see how your body reacts to certain things once you start adding the off-limits food back into your diet. Ideally, this is an eye-opening, life changing experience that will encourage you to change your lifestyle for good, simply because it is what is best for your body.
Whole30, healthy, clean eating, whole foods, healthy habits, weight loss
So, now that I am halfway through my first round of Whole30, I am here to check-in with you all! Something that inevitably comes with Whole30 is a lot of cooking! For someone like myself who is always on the go, not often home, and doesn't grocery shop much, it is definitely a big change. Believe it or not, I really enjoy it though! I enjoy my trips to the grocery store to stock up on veggies, fruit, and protein, my cute mini shopping cart filled to the brim with colorful things that I know are good for me.

Forcing myself to prepare and eat 3 meals per day has also been an interesting challenge for me, as I am typically someone who skips over breakfast, maybe has a snack or something small for lunch, and eats a larger dinner. Carving out the time to start my day off with breakfast has been an especially nice change for me! I definitely feel like I am doing something kind for my body and mind.Whole30, healthy, clean eating, whole foods, healthy habits, weight loss
When it comes to cooking, I have found that the quickest and easiest way for me to put a meal together is to throw some veggies and meat into a skillet and see how it turns out! I am not the kind of person who enjoys spending a lot of time in the kitchen or making a huge mess to clean up. Dai says that I need to branch out and try to make new things, but I have found a formula that works for me! Plus, the way I see it, it is best for me to keep things as simple as possible because if it gets to be too much work or too time consuming, I am less likely to stick to it. That's the honest truth!

When I talk to someone about Whole30, they inevitably ask "So, what do you eat?"
Here's a look at a typical day of Whole30 eating for me!

Breakfast:
I usually start with scrambling 3 organic eggs and add veggies to the egg mixture or sauté some in a separate pan. I like to top my eggs with guacamole or some avocado, as well as maybe a bit of tomatillo salsa. I also like to have some fruit on the side, like berries or oranges.

Lunch:
Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausages have been a life saver for me! When I am in a time crunch or want to keep things as simple as possible, I chop a couple of those babies up and sauté them in a pan. I then either put them on a bed of lettuce with some veggies for a nice salad, or also sauté some veggies to mix them up with. Guacamole or avocado is a must on everything. I'll also maybe have a small amount of fruit on the side.

Dinner:
For dinner, things vary a bit because I actually cook for my nanny family and generally end up eating at work. I have been doing my best to make the meals I cook for them Whole30 friendly or easily modified for myself. Typically though, I will make meat, like chicken, and lots veggies on the side! I really enjoy roasting veggies in the oven, especially sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Snack:
It is advised to refrain from snacking as much as possible during Whole30, but some days you just need a little boost to get you through to the next meal. When this happens I usually have a handful of raw almonds or apples/bananas with almond butter. Bananas with almond butter is my very favorite "treat!"
Whole30, healthy, clean eating, whole foods, healthy habits, weight loss
Overall, I have been feeling pretty great! I have been keeping track of the Whole30 timeline, but I have thankfully found that my experience hasn't been as severe as described. I suffered from headaches for a day or two, but those have passed and I have been doing really well. I have been sleeping better, have a bit more energy (that is supposed to be kicked up several notches very soon!), and am over all in a better mood! I have noticed that I have definitely lost some weight and am less bloated/inflamed, which has been really nice. I was also previously suffering from aches and pains in my feet nearly every day, but I just recently realized that those have completely gone away since starting Whole30! I also have been sleeping better and waking up more refreshed, which is a great bonus :)

Bottom line: Is it hard?
No, it is not hard. Like the Whole30 website points out, beating cancer is hard, giving birth is hard, and losing a loved one is hard. Eating whole, healthy foods is not hard. It definitely takes will power and dedication, but it is not hard.

It has been a wonderful, sometimes challenging, life changing 15 days! I am ready to tackle the next 15 days and beyond!

People often have a lot of questions about Whole30 and I would love to answer any that you may have! Just comment below with whatever is on your mind :) I will maybe even put together a separate Q&A post depending on how many questions you lovely readers have!

If you are interested in keeping up with my day-to-day Whole30 progress, you can follow my separate Instagram account @JessWholeLife!


1.27.2015

Life Snippets // 2

life snippets, life, winter, january, california, beach, new year, 2015
January has been quite the month and a great start to 2015! We started the month off with an adventure in Seattle to celebrate my birthday, and the month is ending with a new semester, work, and clean eating. It has been a pretty busy and long January! I got pretty sick, spent some time getting better, and had the longest winter break ever. No complaints here about that last one :) I have also been so blessed to be so loved on with dinners, lunches, a manicure, and thoughtful gifts to celebrate my birthday all month long!

Took my nephew Julien to the dog beach with us over the weekend! It was so fun, but definitely tiring to keep up with him all day. Dai is rethinking kids haha // I got the prettiest gel shellac manicure with my aunt // A Whole30 breakfast! // A super cute puppy I met!! // The beach on a foggy day // My boys <3 // A happy Friday feeling special, put together, & organized!
life snippets, life, winter, january, california, beach, new year, 2015
I've been working more on my additional college applications and planning for the next steps with that. A lot to consider! I've been pretty dedicated to Whole30 this month and I am so happy with my progress! I will be sharing more about that later this week :)

Julien knocked out as soon as I buckled him into his car seat after the beach! // Marly is the best little driving companion // I went to dinner with my dad (the night before starting Whole30!) to celebrate my 21st birthday and got my first piña colada! Yum yum.

Well, there's a little update for you all! I know I haven't been blogging so consistently this month, but I definitely want to get back into doing outfit posts more often and all around blogging more regularly!

Oh, also! Blog Buddies Network is going so well and is growing every day! We would love to have you join if you haven't already :)


1.23.2015

My Blogging Essentials

blogging essentials, blogging tips,
Happy Friday, friends! It has been a pretty good week over here! The new semester started yesterday, so I am just getting back into the swing of school again and also searching for something to do with all my extra time since I am only taking one class. I'm thinking another nanny position for the mornings or maybe an internship of some sort! I am really looking forward to having more free time than in past semesters though so that I can be a more consistent blogger :)

I always enjoy getting a peek behind the scenes of other bloggers and what tools they use, so I thought I would share a bit about mine! I am no blogging expert of course, but it is always nice to share what I have learned along the way :)

+ Macbook Pro
Obviously, a computer is essential! Believe it or not, there are bloggers out there who can get away without one by using a tablet or something, but I am definitely not one of those bloggers! I use it for everything and couldn't imagine trying to put a post together without it. For photography things alone it is my rock. I do have an HP laptop (that is in dire need of a new battery), but I prefer working on my Mac, especially since it is smaller and easier to bring along for a busy girl like myself.

+ Mouse
When I am using my laptop for long periods of time or am editing photos, I use a mouse. It is much faster and more comfortable for me, plus gives me more control in photo editing or designing on the computer. Mine has a small USB nub that plugs into the computer and wirelessly connects to the mouse. I never leave it behind when I am planning to get some blogging done!

+ Editorial Calendar
Once I started utilizing an editorial calendar, the blogging game changed for me. It helped me to be so much more organized, allowed me to easily plan days, weeks, or even months ahead, and motivated me to stick to the schedule I had planned. For a while I made my own calendar sheets, but then I found a simple monthly planner in January 2014 from Sugar Paper's line for Target. I was sure to snag another one up for this year because I love it! It is nice to have all of the months together in a small booklet.

+ DSLR Camera
I love the convenience of an iPhone as much as the next girl, but a blog needs real, high quality photos! At least once in a while ;) I have owned a DSLR for five years now and it has practically become an extension of me. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend investing in a starter DLSR and learning to shoot in manual. You will be amazed at how it will instantly punch up the quality of your blog. (This is a great starter DSLR and a newer generation of the one I started on)

+ Memory Card Reader
I really dislike connecting the cord between my laptop and camera to transfer photos, so a card reader is a must for me! I like that I don't have to have my camera present to transfer the photos and can simply just grab the memory card to take along when I know I will be needing the photos off of it.

+ Sketchbook
This is where I write down all of my ideas for potential blog posts. There are notes and fragments of ideas strewn about its pages, which I love. Whenever I am in need of an idea, I go to the beginning of the book and flip through the pages, looking for inspiration or ideas I may have forgotten about. It keeps me sane!

+ Highlighters & Pencil
These may be silly and obvious, but are essential to me! In my editorial calendar, I plan all of my posts out in pencil because sometimes life happens and things don't go according to plan. When I publish a blog post, I highlight the square on the calendar that the post is on in green. On days that I don't blog, I cross the square out in orange. It is a great visual way for me to see how my blogging month is going and to see where I can improve or celebrate.

+ Photoshop
I do not understand how any bloggers can possibly survive without Photoshop. It is my lifeline! I use it for nearly every single post, whether it is to add text to an image or resize images so that they fill the entire posting area of my blog. I know there are ways around Photoshop, but for me it is definitely an essential!

+ Lightroom
Photoshop is great for so many things, but when it comes to photo editing, Lightroom is hands down the best. I have been using Lightroom for a year and a half now and I can't even tell you how it has dramatically changed my editing process! It is so much faster, more streamlined, and simply more high quality than it ever was with Photoshop alone!

+ Flickr
My friend Britt mentioned to me that uploading her photos to Flickr instead of directly to Blogger has made such a difference in the quality, as Blogger tends to distort things. Since great photos are very important to me, I gave it a shot and haven't looked back! It may require a bit more work, but the difference is definitely worth it to me! I highly recommend comparing the processes.

+Photobucket
Before I started using Flickr to upload my photos instead of Blogger, I used Photobucket for a while. It was alright, but I found that Flickr was much better quality. Though I don't use it for blog images anymore, I still use Photobucket for all of the other elements on my blog, like the header, sidebar, etc. I have found that it is better for that than Flickr is and is an easy way to get the job done.

There you have it! I hope it was fun to get a behind the scenes peek at my blogging routine and that it was maybe even helpful to some of you!

What are your blogging essentials? Do you agree with some of these? Do you have an essential to share that isn't on this list?

Have a fun, relaxing weekend! It is sunny and 66 degrees here in CA today and all weekend, so I will definitely be soaking that up :)


1.19.2015

Seattle Adventures // Pike Place Market

seattle-1
I realized that I have yet to post about our trip to Seattle (with the exception of my birthday), so here I am with the first installment of our adventures! With being sick when we got home and adjusting back to work, things have been a bit crazy! I haven't even started school yet or began my supplemental college application, so we shall see how things go when all of that is added in as well ;)

Anyway, I thought I would start with our time exploring Pike Place Market! We ended up coming here a few times throughout our trip since we really enjoyed it. It was definitely a zoo here with all of the people still soaking up the holiday break! I had seen so many photos of the iconic Pike Place Market (especially this sign!), so it was really cool to actually be here myself :)
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During our time in Seattle, I always loved the views of Puget Sound and all of the boats and such. We obviously have a huge bay here, but there is just something different about the views of the water here! So beautiful.seattle-4
We opted to take a 2-hour tour of the market with a company called Savor Seattle. It was a great time and really helped us to understand the history of the market and its purpose, which we definitely wouldn't have learned just wandering around on our own. We also got to try a lot of little bites to eat from vendors in the market area, like clam chowder, seafood bisque, mini doughnuts, Opal apples, tea, smoked salmon, and crab cakes.seattle-5
Our tour guide was really funny and kept our interest the entire time, which was definitely nice. We were also able to find a Groupon for the tour, so I recommend looking for one before you book to save a lot of money!seattle-6 seattle-7
We decided to visit the market again on our last day in Seattle since there were still some things we wanted to do like eat fish & chips and oysters (well Dai did anyway haha seafood is not my thing), grab some mini cinnamon & sugar doughnuts, and get some Opal apples to take home because they are the best! Never have I been so excited about apples.seattle-8 seattle-9
So there you have it! Our little visit to Pike Place Market. Looking through these photos really makes me miss Seattle! I hope we get to visit it again sometime, maybe this time in summer :)

I know I haven't been around on the blog much lately, but I am hoping to nail down more of a routine to ensure that I get my blogging time in. Sometimes I am just too tired at the end of the day to even think about working on my laptop! Well, anyway, you will see much more of me this week :)

Hope everyone has a great start to their week!


1.17.2015

Starting Whole30!

whole30, healthy, get fit, clean eating
Thursday marked my first day on the Whole30 eating plan! I've been considering taking on this challenge for over a year now, ever since my friend Katie did it. I put it off for a long time, thinking that I could never have the willpower to do it. Well, lately I started thinking about it more and more, checking out the Whole30 website, and reading a lot of blog posts about it. And guess what? I decided that I could do it. Me. And that there was no time like the present. So here I am towards the end of day 3!

For those of you who don't know what Whole30 is, it is a 30 day eating program that is designed to change your relationship with food and give you loads of health benefits, such as better sleep and more energy! You strip your diet of things like dairy, legumes, grains, soy, and added sugar of any kind. Instead, you eat simple, whole foods; You get your nutrition through 3 large meals filled with meat protein or eggs, loads of veggies, some fruit, and healthy fats from good oils, nuts, and avocados. Those are just the basics of the program, but I really encourage you to check out the Whole30 site to make a bit more sense of it!

I have been doing tons of research and have found that many people continue eating this way because of how amazing it makes them feel! It is also a great way to kickstart weight loss and keep the weight off.

My hope is that I will feel so great at the end of the 30 days that I will want to just continue eating this way! I am also hoping to begin losing weight and the journey of getting my health in check. I need to be the best me that I can be!

I will do another update midway through the program and again when I am finished, but you can follow my separate Instagram account for more frequent updates along the way :)

Are you trying to become healthier in 2015? What's your plan?


1.11.2015

Happy List // 7

happy, list, life
How is the weekend treating everyone? Good, I hope! It has been a pretty relaxing one over here. We haven't done all that much, except for having a coffee date, going for a walk, taking down the Christmas tree & decorations, doing a bit of shopping, visiting some family in the hospital, and enjoying a homemade dinner!

It has been a while since my last Happy List and to me the weekends are the best time to reflect on life lately. So, here's my latest list :)

+ Typing this with one hand because Dai fell asleep next to me on the couch while holding my other hand.

+ Free birthday perks. Thanks Starbucks & Rubio's!

+ Stila liquid eyeliner pen. It is amazing and is changing my liner game.

+ Finding out that I actually have nearly two more weeks off of school than I thought I did. This girl doesn't start back until the 22nd!

+ Watching Friends from the beginning on Netflix with Dai (who has never seen it!!!).

+ How kind and generous my nanny family was while I was sick last week. I've got some good ones <3

+ Reading up on all things Whole30. I think I'm ready to tackle my first round of it soon!

+ My Saturday night girl time complete with candles, PJs, twinkle lights, & Gilmore Girls.

+ Taking the time to thoroughly clean, organize, and unpack my room after all of our holiday traveling and festivities.

+ The new grocery store that opened up down the street. I've been loving grocery shopping now.

+ Sleeping in the past few days. Today I got up at 10:15am. No shame.

+ My new flannel sheets and heating blanket. I've never used a heating blanket before, but it has been a dream come true since my bedroom is always so cold.

+ Hansen's Cherry Vanilla Creme soda. It is bad, I know, but it tastes like my childhood.

What's on your happy list?