BlogTour California: Learning About Self-Care

One of our sponsors, Mr. Steam, teaches me a thing or two

I have no idea where to start as I sit here in one of my favorite coffee shops, staring at the screen. Do you know that feeling? When you have approximately 80 kabillion things to write about or work on—so much that you’re a little overly-amped about it the night before—and then you sit down and… nothing. Blank slate. Ack!

Many schools of thought would say, just write! Which is why I’m sharing my inner-monologue with you right this moment instead of beating myself over it per usual. There’s been a lot going on. Of course I would blank out on the first day that a sense of calm would settle into my bones. A sense of calm. That seems rather odd to write out. I haven’t had that in weeks. 

Not a bad way to wake up...

Not a bad way to wake up...

Caliza-winery.jpg

No, that’s a lie. I felt that way in California on the third morning of BlogTour California.** We’d spent the night at this adorable string of coastline hotels in Cambria, near Sonoma County. They're pretty unassuming from the outside as you drive past, but they’re hiding pure, get-away-from-it-all bliss inside. My room was appointed with a fireplace and two extremely comfortable chairs for reading next to the window while listening to the waves crash against the rocks across the two-lane road. Mobile phones don’t work inside the hotel (don’t worry, there’s WiFi), and while the rooms have televisions, it’s hard to remember that they’re sitting there. I swear that three days of quiet reading and writing at this hidden gem would cure anyone of whatever is making his or her head scream. We all have those moments. I’ve been having a them off and on since the summer. I have this looming spectre of a book hovering over me while I have virtually no child care after noon on most days and a husband who, until recently, was out of the country every week for work. The house has been a trash heap, a little person is trying to drop naps, that same little person is afraid of the toilet, and the bigger little person is wanting to be involved in more and more after school activities. Moms and dads everywhere face this from time to time and we tend to forget that we have to take care of ourselves, as well. One of my big lessons for 2014 has been that if I don’t do the self-care thing I'll sometimes become grumpy and jumpy and I get an awful lot of headaches. It’s something that we preach to our friends when we see them having a rough time, but how often do you give the Self Care Preaching to yourself? My time spent on the BlogTour—particularly the day that flitted back to my brain a couple of paragraphs ago—ended up being my self-preach.

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The lovely Bacara Resort and its fabulous architecture and views.

The lovely Bacara Resort and its fabulous architecture and views.

Our wine dinner table.

Our wine dinner table.

The night before that dawn on the coast, our group had attended a wine dinner at Caliza Winery. We had so much fun, it was the perfect opposite for the scene that would envelop me the next morning. We were all glowing thanks to having spent that morning at Bacara Resort refreshing ourselves with yoga, Mr. Steam, and lunch. We learned about Mr. Steam's latest venture into the world of bath and body products. You may know that the company is part of many fine residential homes in the form of personal steam shower systems. This was my first lesson in steam. I’ve been to a few steam rooms at various spas, but didn’t really know what it was all about. I knew that steam opened up pores in the skin and can help with sinus pressure, and always felt a little more relaxed when I’d walk back out of the white-tiled room, but I really had just gone in because it was there. Because it was at a spa and therefore seemed like something you do when you visit a spa. Martha Orellana, the company's VP of Sales & Marketing, taught us that steam therapy can actually be a significant way to initiate a system of self-care. Martha has her own Mr. Steam therapy system in her home and spends a few minutes a day reaping the benefits to her immune system, skin, emotional well-being and state of mind (you can tell—she’s balanced and beautiful in the most fun, outgoing ways). In order to enhance the home steam bath experience and make it more like a personal hammam, Mr. Steam has come out with a line of beauty products called TALA Bath & Body, which include a Bath & Body Rhassoul Lava Clay mixture, Bath & Body Beldi Black Soap, a Hammam glove and Bath & Body Argan Oil. After practicing yoga on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean we headed for the resort’s spa (okay, so there were TWO days of calm bones), where we smeared the sticky, dark mixture over our skin, relaxed on chaise lounges as we felt the mask start to pull our faces nice and taut as they dried, and then relaxed even further as we settled onto the tile of the steam room. We sat and chatted until the mask re-softened, then washed it off, scrubbed our skin with the soap when we each took showers, and finished off with the argan oil on our skin (and hair for me, because I’m always looking for something to keep its consistency from turning into straw). 

Okay, so here’s where I tell a little secret… when I get stressed out I break out. Not like a typical acne breakout. I get these nasty, humongous pits that bury themselves deep under my skin. It’s gross. I had one of those suckers on my chin that day, and the mask drew enough yuck out of my pores to take it down considerably. *Knock on wood* I haven’t had one of those stinkers return since I’ve been using the mask a couple of times a week. Since we haven’t begun to even plan our home re-do we don’t have a steam shower in our narrow circa 1991 master bath (but you’ll hear from us when the time comes, Mr. Steam!), so I call on the Old School to steam my face with the mask—water and essential oils (usually lavender and eucalyptus) in a pot on the stove, which I stand over with a towel over my head as the heat releases steam. A steam shower would be a bit easier, don’t you think? 

Anyhow, I don’t just owe Mr. Steam thanks for the fabulous morning of skin care and yoga. I owe Mr. Steam thanks for snapping me out of my own B.S. and making me take a moment to right myself. Self-care isn’t selfish. When was the last time you checked in with your inner monologue to see if it was asking for a little help?

**see what I did there? Circled back! That should be a song if it isn't already.

**I’ve mentioned before that we’d like to get to a less destructive phase of life first—you know, where our furniture doesn’t get peed on by little people who think the toilet is an evil monster

Planning a kitchen renovation that doesn't quite exist

The Sink I'm Coveting

image via nativetrails.net

image via nativetrails.net

I got to meet with the Native Trails CEO Naomi Neilson Howard at the last Architectural Digest Home Show, where she showed me the company's latest line of sinks. These farmhouse sinks are extremely durable (at the time the weather hadn't scurried me away from my garden, so I was thinking "potting bench!". 

But no. I have a kitchen to plan--eventually. This has been the general idea since we purchased our home three years ago. The kitchen layout is great--and the materials in it have gone unchanged since one of my best friend's aunt and uncle redesigned it during the late 1980s. I'd like to install hardwood floors, but plan to hold off on all of this until various animals and little people have stopped peeing on the current floor.*

The Native Trails Farmhouse Duet Pro copper sink is major wish list item for the renovation, whenever it happens. The copper used is from salvaged electrical wire and copper tubing that is melted down and then hammered by skilled artisans. The result is long-lasting and beautiful. Perhaps for Christmas Santa will convince Beastie B that all the cool kids use the potty, and then in the spring the Easter Bunny will bring me a kitchen project. A girl can dream.

*okay, various is a stretch. one animal and one little person who is almost finished with his diapers... I hope.

I'm not even sure where to begin. I can't even SPELL b-e-g-i-n.

It hit me the other day.

I was sitting in Silver Spoon Bake Shop with my big ol' headphones over my ears, typing an email to a friend who works in PR who has been helping me out. 

Do what? Helping you out? Why?!*

Well.

Well... I don't even know where to start. Or how to use non-idiotic sounding verbage because I'm still absorbing it all myself. There's also the fact that I'm pretty sure I can't share all of it quite yet (OMG I'm going to explode trying to wait on that part!).

So, last week I went to New York on what was supposed to have been a 12-hour trip (it ended up being 24). During that time I had a couple of meetings and saw a couple of friends. I came home with the realization that I need to have at least half of a manuscript written within a reasonable amount of time (holy shit!) and also with happy memories of unexpected time spent with wonderful friends at The Skylark (quite a sight at the height of Fashion Week!) and in a quieter corner at Sala One Nine (please deliver some Marget De Pato to Columbia for dinner tomorrow?!).

Two of my girlfriends looking totally gorgeous at The Skylark... I just look totally exhausted.

Two of my girlfriends looking totally gorgeous at The Skylark... I just look totally exhausted.

Is it possible to feel refreshed while simultaneously quaking with anticipation? I think I've managed to get there. Read on...

If I'd been smart I would have spent some of the time in New York refreshing my wardrobe. A few weeks ago I received an email that I never expected. I'd been asked to join an amazing group of interior design and lifestyle bloggers for the BlogTour California Road Trip in October, hosted by Veronika Miller at Modenus.

ROAD. TRIP. #hellsyeah

ROAD. TRIP. #hellsyeah

For five days I'll be traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco with a select group of bloggers whom many of you know quite well from their high-quality coverage of the industry. We'll be starting off with coverage of the West Edge Design Fair in L.A. and wrapping up with a design tour of beautiful San Francisco. I'm not sure I deserve to have so much fun at work! Is that even legal? The group trip is sponsored by DXV, Mr. Steam, Zephyr, and Miele.

Two days after returning to the East Coast I'll be off to Washington, D.C. for a conference and plan to slip in some visits with dear friends afterward. This trip is going to include two days of learning and bonding that I've wanted and needed for quite some time. 

So yes, I've a busy season ahead of me, and I'm beyond thrilled and thankful for it. I'll be blogging through it all, but for updates, photos, snippets, and scenes of after hours debauchery make sure you're following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Also be sure to watch for #BlogTourCali beginning Oct. 15!

*As you can see, I'm going through the 7 Circles of Exhaustion this week. I'm currently in the Fifth Circle, which includes delusional conversations with oneself.