Lessons from a Vegan-ish kitchen

Meal Prep

I believe in the power of my every day choice to abstain from eating meat or dairy and how that helps decrease my carbon footprint. Without getting too much into the politics, I realize that eating vegan is a lifestyle not just a diet; and that with any lifestyle, it takes time and practice to continue on any given path. I heard someone explain a “vegan-ish” lifestyle like this, “It’s like being a Christian – if you sin, it doesn’t mean you need to quit being a Christian, you keep aiming for a Christian lifestyle that practices your morals”.  So when you “mess up” and eat meat or a piece of cheese, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a vegan.

Now, I know some vegans who would probably get upset at the above statement, but like I said, I don’t want to get too much into politics and I think there needs to be a more common ground for those interested in making a change- no more of this “you can’t sit with us” attitude towards those lost in the grey area of vegan-ish land. Everyone’s journey towards awakening must start somewhere.

So here! I’ve compiled a “tip” list of things to ponder over if you are considering making a transition into the vegan lifestyle…

Find a buddy

The first time I attempted a vegan diet was after taking an environmental science class my sophomore year of college and feeling alarmed about the reality of my carbon footprint. Long story short, I gave up quickly after I gave in and ate some carne asada tacos. Fast forward to 2015 and I met my Fiance who was practicing a vegan diet. I was a bit intimidated at first and the independent person in me felt  it unthinkable to try a diet just because a guy I liked was doing it, but I had to push my ego aside and find facts that resonated with me and persuaded me in the first place. So as we started dating, I decided to eat vegan when I was with him- which was usually just the weekends. Then I gradually started adding days when I was by myself- for me that was Wednesdays- and from there it got easier. So grab a friend or a coworker, try to find someone you see on a regular basis and make the effort together. It will be a lot easier when you have someone to hold you accountable.

Find your flavor

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 I grew up in Los Angeles with a Filipino mother, so my flavor profile usually leans towards Asian cuisine or tacos. With that in mind, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for a quick vegan meal that incorporates some tricks I learned watching my mother cook. For instance – soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, and lemon. Those four things alone whether used together or not have been the gateway to so many flavorful dishes I have made now in my adult life. One of my all time favorite lazy vegan dinners is a bowl of brown rice, steamed spinach topped with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Sometimes I’ll add ginger if I have it on hand. But from there you can build- add tofu for protein, or use some frozen vegetable gyoza from the freezer section of your market to top it off and bam! you have a palatable meal…oh and don’t forget the Sriracha.

Thai and Indian curries are another one of my favorite dishes to whip up and so I keep the staples for that in my kitchen- curry paste, coconut milk, and other spices – when I need to eat my vegetables before they go bad, this is a great dish to cook because you can basically put everything in a curry.

Learn how to grocery shop and the basics of cooking

Now I know that to some people, this may sound a bit silly. But it took me a while to learn the properties of certain foods and how they were best prepared to maximize their flavors. For instance, did you know that you should soak your potatoes (cut) in some water and dissolved sugar to achieve that soft french-fry like goodness on the inside? Neither did I and boy does it make a difference! Learning how to simmer and when to add certain vegetables makes a difference, like eggplant for instance, you add that towards the end of your stir fry so that it doesn’t get slimy, and you add the carrots and potatoes first so that they can cook all the way through- so on and so forth.

Here is my shopping List with some notes! 

At first I thought meal prepping on Sunday’s was the way to go. But then I quickly found out that I was spending most of my grocery budget on the ingredients for one meal, and I would grow tired of eating the same thing throughout the week, resulting in wasted food. I knew that making scrappy meals on the fly was my strength so I decided to focus on items that I knew I could “paint” with when it came time to get creative in the kitchen. So here is how I tackle grocery shopping:

Grab your proteins! 

  • soy chorizo
    • tacos
    • throw in some hashbrowns and you have a bomb breakfast hash
  • tofu
    • stir fry
    • curry
  • tofurky italian sausages
    • pizza
    • hot gogs
    • pasta
    • vegetable ratatouille
  • meatless ground beef
    • Pasta “Meat Sauce”
    • tacos
    • Pizza
  • Jack Fruit Protein – When I want to treat myself
    • Found at Safeway they have multiple flavors. I enjoy the Teriyaki and BBQ.

Add in your grains

Now if you don’t have grains already, this will be a bit of an investment the first time around, but once you have them, they last a lot longer than your other food groups. So stock up on:

  • rice
  • pasta
  • quinoa
  • nuts ( I prefer to have raw cashews because so many vegan recipes call for cashews- cheese, sour cream…)

Condiments 

  • soy sauce
    • stir fry
    • curry
  • pasta sauce
    • pizza
    • pasta
  • mustard
    • dressing
    • hot dogs
  • ketchup
  • apple cider vinegar
    • works wonders with red cabbage
  • white rice vinegar
    • just a part of being filipino 😉
  • Balsamic glaze
    • great for sauteing vegetables in
    • salad dressing

Other

  • Nutritional yeast!
    • this is a big one because, as I mentioned, a lot of vegan recipes call for this
  • Something fermented – Sauerkraut, pickled veggies.. always an easy way to take a sandwich or hot dog to the next level!
  • Finely ground flaxseed meal
    • this is what I use to replace eggs when I bake! It’s a 3-1 ratio 
      • 3 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon of flax meal
  • coconut milk
    • this is another important staple because it’s a great replacer for heavy cream when it comes to baking, and it’s a staple in the curries.
    • I prefer this brand because it isn’t as fatty as the other ones: 

Produce

I am fortunate to have a farmers market a few blocks away from my house every Wednesday and Sunday. It is actually a lot cheaper than the grocery store and the quality a lot better. Now if you’re like me, there is just something about the farmers market that makes you want to buy everything! All the fresh fruit and beautiful flowers are all so inspiring. But the reality is, you must buy what you can eat! So after much learning, I limit myself to spending ONLY $20 or less and have kept this rule of thumb: 

3 hearty vegetables

 3 Herbs for flavor 

1 leafy green (or purple) 

2 different types seasonal fruit to snack on

  • Hearty vegetables: I like some variation of the following, these tend to have a longer shelf life too.
    • zucchini
    • eggplant
    • Potatoes
    • tomatoes
  • Leafy greens (or purples)
    • red cabbage – this stuff goes a long way!
    • kale
  • Herbs- leafy herbs have the shortest shelf life, so don’t get too excited and over buy… just get what you need.. and keep them OUT of the fridge
    • onions- always
    • garlic – always 
      • you can never go wrong starting out each dish with garlic and onions in a pan… never!
    • Basil
    • Mint
  • Misc.
    • lemon or lime- always
    • fresh flowers – if there is room in the budget 😉

 

I hope I was able to synthesize everything in a way that makes grocery shopping and cooking a lot easier. Once you have your condiments (flavor) and grains stocked, everything else can be purchased and added based on your cravings. When you think about grocery shopping based on flavor profile, it will make cooking a lot easier as well, because everything you buy, in theory will go together. I am not a chef, and I’m not claiming to be a vegan blogger, just an efficient human being 😉 – hence PlannerCreative. So as I continue to learn along the way, I’ll keep sharing ways I find to be the most time efficient and budget friendly ways to live a vegan lifestyle. One more thing: Pinterest is your BEST FRIEND! It’s as simple as listing a few ingredients + “vegan” and you will have all sorts of inspiration to choose from.

Thinking about making the switch? What are some concerns you have in terms of time efficiency and budgeting? List them below and let’s get talking 🙂

Peace easy,

D. marie

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June 2017 Layouts

Illusions of Productivity, Picture Diaries

A little late on this one, but I’ve had a pretty busy month.

A lot of big things happened in June :

I had a performance, which always takes a lot of time and energy to prepare. But then once that performance was over, it cleared up my weeknight commitments allowing a lot of time to sit and think about my life, which can be a very overwhelming for a Virgo!

Learning how to be still is difficult .

I was apartment hunting with my boyfriend. Then I was looking for someone to fill my current apartment because – Hooray! We found a place.

There were a lot of little things in between: Friends in town, SF Pride, brunches, coffee dates, and consulting projects.

Motivation and inspiration was sparse, especially in a sudden bout of change. Here are some blogs/websites that really helped me remember my goals and focus:

https://tinybuddha.com/ – Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives

The Orange Dot – Headspace: Meditation Made Simple

John WestenBerg on Medium – Productivity, Motivation, and Failure

What are some blogs you enjoy reading?


Alas…. my June 2017 planner layouts ❤

 

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Happy Planning!

-D. Marie

An Ode the The Richmond District- San Francisco

Creative Writing
*feature photo by Andrew Nassih

I have been slowly packing up my room of six years in San Francisco. When I think back on the past two times I have moved in my adult life, it’s been an interesting experience to meet this unsettling, unsure, excited, anxious feeling that seems all so familiar but so foreign and complex at the same time. I’ve been here before, but my spectacles held a different shade.

These familiar, yet unfamiliar feelings- They’re like walking through the same dream, same scenario, same lines, but in different themed costumes… Being trapped in a sort of deja vu, that you just can’t get a grasp of. Life is funny in that way; I guess feelings, emotions- they orbit like the planets. Some pulled closer than others, occurring and reoccurring more frequently. Some having more obvious effects on how we live and dissect life.

Now at this stage in my life, I am face to face again with this feeling of uncertainty, and resurrecting insecurities covered with uncontrollable excitement as I try to see what it looks like on the other side of the tunnel.  Then there are the occasional waves of retrospective sadness as you realize your attachments to your nest, your nest that has nourished your soul for so long.


An Ode to the Richmond District, SF

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An Ode to the past six years of my life.

Although I am not moving far away from you, I’ll still feel like I’ll be worlds away.

I write to you now from the comfortable, creaky, IKEA framed bed, nestled in the quiet back corner of my Victorian flat.  I’ll be leaving my three lovely, quirky roommates, who have shared the ebb and flow of all the particles that have made me me.

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You have housed a great chunk of my life and provided a safe haven of park life, coffee shops, and Genki crepes.

You have opened my eyes to a hidden world of Burmese food and Szechuan cuisine; you’ve made this LA girl miss the fog when it’s gone – The fog, whose name is Karl by the way…

Gone will be the ocean breeze awaiting me after a long day across town. Gone will be the foggy haze, Muni delays, and the conditioned inconveniences of carting half my life downtown in my backpack.

I will miss your peaceful laundromats and friendly neighbors who leave great pieces of furniture out on the street.

And to my room, I leave you now like a shell to a cocoon. Your walls may be thin, so thin that at night I can here my neighbor snoring; and the paint on your walls may be a little chipped- but to me there couldn’t have been a more perfect place to grow in San Francisco, than in this back room with the bay window overlooking the smashed gardens.

In this new moon, this resurrected orbit of emotions, confidence shines through in knowing that the time spent here has been tried, TOUGH, and true. I’ve cried, cursed, laughed, and strummed the guitar super loud while singing at the top of my lungs when no one was home. I’ve re-arranged you about a million times, each time bringing me new inspiration. I miss you everyday when I go to work. I’ll miss you even more when I’m gone.

Now take me to the sunny side- The Tenderloin, where the walls will be even thinner, the air less ocean breezy, and the Indian food a-plenty; the views a bit more gritty and the commute (time) a bit less shitty.

Cheers to you Richmond District and to this place I’ve called my home. I’m really, really gonna miss you.

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* The 5 Fulton bus connecting you from Ocean Beach to Downtown, Howard and Main Street.

Monthly Mood: New Moon, New Skin, New Fire.

Monthly Mood

Finally a four day weekend! Can I get an Amen?!? This monthly mood is more of a recap of all the craziness that happened in June and the final culmination of which I am about to drop in 3..2..1..

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I just signed our first lease to a tiny little studio downtown.

I still have to take a moment and let that all settle in when I say it out loud (or type it out loud?). In the six years I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in one house, with people I get along with, and in a wonderful neighborhood – the Richmond District. Now I’m packing up my beautiful spacious bedroom and moving into the Tenderloin! In Defense of the Tenderloin, Here is the view from our new balcony:

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I’m really excited about this move. So many craft projects to try, so much space to organize (I am a Virgo, I just can’t help myself..)  and a whole new chapter to create in this city.  I look forward to sharing some new inspiration with you all.

I’ve been obsessing  over studio layouts, DIY home decor, and balcony gardens on Pinterest. If you’re on there, follow my boards!

This month my good friend Andrew Nassih  was in town from Los Angeles and we did a quick photo shoot rendezvous in my new hood 😉 We didn’t plan it this way, I actually had no idea I would be moving  at the point these pictures were taken; I also had no idea this photo shoot was going to happen! But the timing couldn’t have been better. Check out his work – I love the grit to his style and I’m stoked that I get to be a part of the collection.

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As the last bits of June unfolded, especially after the new moon, I’ve felt a need to purge and recenter my inspiration. Now with this new move, July will be about shedding my old skin, and rebuilding the fire. I look forward to seeing you all on the other side!

Thanks for stopping by, more to come! I  Just wanted to drop a line.

D. Marie

June Creative: AvocadaMamma

Monthly Creatives

Discover My Favorite Creatives!

This segment is dedicated to all my creative muses. Each one of them on the daily hustle, working hard to support what they love the most. Whether it’s music, art, personalities, jewelry, or clothing, I support it all. I hope you take the time to check out their pages, like their socials, and show them some love.


Taylor & Nathaniel

Creators of AvocadaMamma: A multi-platform resource for recipes, travel/meal prep help, guides to eating and products to shop for.

Meet my beautiful friends Taylor and Nathaniel! Aren’t they cute? 😉 I met these two while I was living in LA. Both of them have such a unique, pure glow, that once you meet them it’s no wonder these two souls were meant to connect and CREATE!

Nathaniel is a photographer, currently attending film school. You can check out his photography and latest projects at nathanielperales.com. Taylor is currently pursuing acting, and was recently in the Hollywood Fringe Festival production “Confessions of an Arab Woman” .

When I first saw their AvocadaMamma Youtube video pop up on my Facebook feed, I was so excited for them because it just made so much sense! I enjoyed catching up with them on their latest projects and hope you enjoy this interview! As creative people, it’s always refreshing to connect with other creative minds, who also have a razor focused, business mindset! These two are killin’ it and they’ve given me a new wave of inspiration, so thank you Taylor and Nathaniel!

Don’t forget to (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE) subscribe and like them on YOUTUBE and INSTAGRAM! ❤


How would you describe your art?

We believe in creating a better world through educating people to change their dieting/lifestyles. We want people to understand that it’s possible to live longer, feel better and sustain yourself longer by eating healthier. So we are using Taylor’s background in acting for the front of the camera and Nathaniel’s skills as a photographer/director to create Avocadamama. A multi-platform resource for recipes, travel/meal prep help, guides to eating and products to shop for.

How long have you been working on your craft, how do you feel about where you are right now and what are you excited about for the future as an artist?

T: We started this in January. We began with making simple recipes in my kitchen, and now we’ve expanded a little further. We’re now making travel videos, reviewing products, reviewing restaurants, and we’re using our knowledge to create small videos for others to use for guidance on the vegan lifestyle. Eventually, we’d like to create an easy vegan 1 month guide to follow for our followers to have a way to understand what is the easiest, healthiest way to loose weight and change their eating habits for a long period of time, not just until they lose weight.

N: I feel like we’re in a perfect place. At this point, this is just really fun for us. I get to learn how to cook and teach others how to cook while practicing my craft. And Taylor gets to think about food in a way she hasn’t before because this is about educating people. I’m excited for our future episodes as I continue to practice and play with different ways of presenting the information. There’s definitely a craft with “How to” do something.

When and how did you meet?

T: We actually met on the streets of Pasadena, CA. It was this back and forth of seeing each other for a few months, waving, smiling at each other and wanting to say “hi” but never stopping to talk. We’d be so close too, seeing each other where Nathaniel worked, one time he chased after me on the streets of Old Town Pasadena from a cafe to invite me to his art show but I wasn’t able to go. I eventually came to terms that I would never see him again and then we saw each other a couple weeks later and finally exchanged numbers! That was 5 years ago in October.

N: It was good times. 😍

Tell me about the Ah-ha moment you and Nathaniel had when the first fruition of AvocadaMama came about?

T: We’d actually talked about it for a while now. Nathaniel would tell me all the time how he thought my talent in the kitchen would make a great Youtube channel and he could do the filming. It’s funny because we put it off for so long until finally one night it happened by chance because we were planning to grill the Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat and Nathaniel said “lets film it and see what happens”. Then we got such a great response from our peers so we decided to just go for it.

N: When we decided to film that first episode about the Beyond Meat Burgers I looked at it as a challenge and to use my skills as a film editor to make something interesting that people might want to watch. Taylor’s quirky personality is so addicting to watch, and I think my editing style matches her weirdness hahaha so after watching the footage we had, and the edit that came from it, I knew there was something special here.

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Both of you have a professional mindset when talking about your powers combined, What is the creative process when it comes to hashing out business plans? Is it a fluid conversation or is it something you set limits and boundaries to? What are the benefits of dating your business partner?

N: It’s actually really awesome. We always talk about our passions and dreams together so there’s not really any boundaries. The coolest part about this, is we love food anyway. We love eating together and talking together and going out to restaurants. So if anything, it’s just brought us closer because it gives us more reasons to hang out and create stuff. As far as like a formal business plan, we mainly use this app called Quip http://quip.com to write and share our ideas with each other. It has all our ideas spread out and organized in folders. Whenever one of us updates a file, the other person gets updated. It’s really easy to use. We have many plans for our future and the hardest challenge so far is time and the fact that we don’t live together. I think as we continue to organize our workflow we will have to set specific hours a side to just do Avocadamama. Because when we’re together we definitely do like to lolligag and just spend time together haha.

What is the creative process when it comes to making a video? (do you have a script, improv, etc.)

T: We use a joint project folder app quip as Nathaniel mentioned, and we have a list of foods we want to make. We usually pick a recipe based on the weather / time of year / holiday coming up.

N: We don’t really have a script but we do talk about what we want to accomplish, in what order the episode will go and what steps are in the recipe. We do a lot of talking and working together to figure out what we want. Usually we’ll make mistakes and have to re-shoot certain lines because Taylor says “umm” and pauses in between thoughts a lot. She’s a little spacey sometimes. LOL. We’re still optimizing this aspect of our channel, as any business continues to morph and define their strategy. Even though we’re like 13 episodes in, we’re definitely still defining ourselves. I don’t think you ever stop growing and every new episode is a new discovery in this awesome process.

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What is your mission statement? What is your ultimate goal?

N: I would say our mission statement is to educate people about a vegan, plant-based lifestyle in a fun and endearing way. A lot of people in my life look at a plant-based lifestyle as something difficult, snobby or too restricting and what we’re trying to show people is that it is definitely not difficult and can actually open you up to a lot of foods you wouldn’t really try with the normal American diet. I think you can tell from our personalities in our videos that this isn’t a snobby thing, we’re not talking down to anybody and we’re not begging for people to not eat meat. We’re just saying, hey if you’re having health problems or your trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle we have some really good recommendations and recipes that can help you try something new that tastes good and is really good for you.

What project(s) for AvocadaMama are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

T: Taking Avocadamama further with our reach. Right now we get a ton of traffic from family and friends, but we really want to go beyond that and influence people all over the world. But for now we’re traveling a lot so we’ll be visiting some awesome vegan restaurants that we’ll get to blog about spread the word about their food.

N: We got a couple of ideas up our sleeves. Our website is almost finished which will act as a larger resource for people looking for more information than our videos. We are going to be writing articles about places we eat, different ingredients we use and general plant-based lifestyle advice. We’ll also have opinion pieces about vegan culture as well. We are also beginning to think about products. Taylor wore these awesome pants that she made at the Eat Drink Vegan fest and she’s thinking about making them into a product we sell. We also want to recycle old clothes and put our logo or vegan text that people can buy. Taylor mentioned earlier a “getting started being vegan 30 day guide” that we’re in the process of outlining and designing. A lot of stuff in the pipeline that we’re both very excited for.

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As LA residents, what are your favorite vegan restaurants?

T: Oh there are so many delicious spots in LA. I love raw food and there’s a place called Sun Cafe that has really good food. For go-to delicious fast vegan food I love Veggie Grill. There’s a vegan sushi place that I love so much called Shojin, located in a mall in Little Tokyo. It’s so random but I love the food, they use mushrooms to make the scallops on a “baked scallop roll”! I’m drooling just thinking about it!

N: One of my favorite spots is Kitchen Mouse. Another great one is called Gracias Madre by the same people that own Cafe Gratitiude and Sage. I also love the Munch Truck in Highland Park on Fridays. Also, Organix is super bomb.

Where are some places on your vegan destination wish list?

T: Well actually I’ve always been interested in the vegan food in New Orleans, and low and behold, we just got tickets to go out there for my birthday in October! So we’ll be checking out the spots out there. I’m also really interested in exploring vegan food in middle America and checking out the places where people with less options could find meals and ways to modify local eats to be vegan. Maybe we’ll have to do a road trip some day!

N: Road trip would be super awesome. Avocadamama a la Anthony Bourdain style.

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Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more unique creatives ❤

On Diets vs. Lifestyle

Illusions of Productivity

I was having a wonderful conversation with friends over the weekend over some sweet treats and wine about healthy habits (ironic, I know). As I happily indulged in a glazed Krispy Kreme donut, I found that I wasn’t engaging in the normal internal dialogue and guilt of “oh it’s OK, I’ll start eating healthy tomorrow” which would then usually give me permission to indulge even more. Instead, I was enjoying every last morsel of that donut and after I was done, I was done. There wasn’t this crazy ravenous sugar monster inside me wanting to eat as much as I could before my “cleanse day“. It was in this moment of donut bliss that I realized I had finally broken through years of unhealthy eating habits and perceptions.

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“Even my conditioning has been conditioned…”

For starters, my sister and I weren’t allowed to eat any sweets when we were young. It’s funny now to think about how I would hustle hard on the playground- I’d persuade my classmates to swap my pretzels for their Twinkies, or my cheese-its for some gushers. Then, when I’d go to a friend’s house, I would eat as much sugar as possible.

In addition to the binge habits that I developed through deprivation of sweet foods early on, I’m half Filipino, so grazing all day over rice and meat during family gatherings was something I just grew up with. Eating everything and a lot is sort of mandatory in my culture. When family gatherings rolled around, it was a given that I would eat until I was uncomfortable and in pain, and just stuff myself until I felt like I was ready to pop!

Now, let’s throw in the fact that I played competitive soccer all my life… playing it so much made working out a chore at times. I remember during my off season, my teammates and I would just binge and binge on junk food, sit around, and just wait until training season started before we “got back into shape”. Saying that it was “seasonal” is even being a little gracious to tell you the truth… all we needed was ONE day off from practice and we would be stuffing our faces with burritos and cupcakes and all the heavy stuff we couldn’t eat before practice or a game. This cycle continued through college and it wasn’t until I was 25, and started dating a vegetarian (who is now vegan) that I realized I had it all wrong. The perception of the words cleansingdiets, and getting into shape were just making it harder and holding me back from being my healthiest self. I’ve wiped all these words out of my vocabulary and replaced it with just one: Lifestyle. 

Whether you have chosen a vegan diet or not, erasing those words from your mind body and soul, will help you achieve the health goals you want.

I always knew that I should be working out a little everyday (I would always curse myself on the field my first week back from a break); I always knew I should eat everything in moderation, and I always knew I should make my own meals to ensure the best quality goes into my body. But as we all know, it’s easier said then done. So what I hope to give you here is some insight and tips that I’ve gained and learned through my crafty planner journey and how it’s helped me improve my healthy lifestyle.

Tip #1. From Diet to Lifestyle – Don’t put a timeline on it.

In talking to friends, and also something I experienced myself, switching to a vegan-ish (more thoughts on that term coming soon 😉 ) lifestyle has helped me make healthy choices everyday instead of seeing it as a punishment for X amount of time. The problem with that, is that once you hit your finish line, you start to #treatyourself, and that one treat turns into a whole pint of ice- cream and a downward spiral back to square one.

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Tip #2. Don’t Lie to Yourself- Log it!

Since March, I’ve been working on the habit of logging my food. I’ve never really been into this and to be honest I only started doing it because I bought a new planner when I wasn’t supposed to! #plannerproblems. At first I had a hard time keeping up with it; but now I’ve realized that seeing all the meals and snacks listed in front of me, has stopped me from my mindless munching.

I make a goal to strictly log my meals Monday-Thursday, the days that I go to the gym. Then over the weekend I loosen up a bit and just enjoy whatever comes my way.

BUT in building up the habit of food logging, I noticed that even when I’m not making a point to log my meals, I’ve developed the habit of eating with awareness. I no longer eat when I’m bored, and I still choose to eat clean.

*side note- you’d be surprised how unhealthy you can still eat as a vegan…I’m totally guilty of being a lazy vegan and eating overly processed food* 

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This is a picture of my fitness journal. It has vertical logging space for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with snack space in between. When I started, I was finding that I was running out of space to fill in all the snack breaks I had. This helped me quit that habit and focus on eating substantial meals instead. On the right, I’ve added a Health Tracker to keep track of my healthy habits that will help me reach my goals: drink tea, take vitamins, stretch at home, and take a walk during my lunch break.

You’re food log doesn’t have to be fancy, you don’t even have to count calories. Getting into the habit of writing down every meal and every little snack is a great way to start. Try it! Challenge yourself for two weeks!

Tip #3. Reflect, Review, and Revise!

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This is the most important! Like I said, I started my habit tracking and food logging in March, I was kinda just doing it for the fun stickers 😉 . It wasn’t until a month in that I realized I should revise a few things. So for April I started the habit tracker, making it a goal to log my food everyday. I also started a weekly reflection every Sunday as a part of my habit regimen. This was a total game changer!

I’ve always been one to journal about my emotions, but never even THOUGHT about writing about my health habits. When you journal about your emotions and experiences, you learn from them. You learn about your thought process, how to better communicate to yourself and others. When you reflect on your weekly health habits, you are able to look back on your strengths and weaknesses and revise a plan to make it work. It also pumps you up for the upcoming week. Goals are no use if you don’t look at them from time to time, and setting time to reflect, review, and revise is the foundation to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

What to write about in your Health Journal:

Every Sunday I reflect on food and fitness. This past week I noticed that I didn’t make grocery shopping a priority, so therefore I bought too many meals, and in doing that, I wasn’t able to keep a balanced vegan diet. I noticed that I ate a lot of carbs and not enough vegetables. So I revised my plan, got my a$$ to Trader Joe’s and meal prepped for the week. Meal prepping is hard! But this is the new challenge that I hope to turn into a lifestyle.

This fitness planner has a spot for a Progress Selfie, but I feel weird flexing for the camera, so I just use that space for more health reflection. And not to mention, Polaroid film is expensive and I’d rather save it for other things ;).

Mood tracking is another great thing to include in your journal and also new goals for the next week that may develop. I definitely develop new goals as I let others slip away… and that’s OK! That’s all part of the revision process. =)

Happy and Healthy!

All in all, adopting a healthy lifestyle perception will help get rid of the guilt and self loathing associated with words such as diets and cleansing.  If you need a scoop of that Ben and Jerry’s, go have some! But know that you can have another scoop tomorrow. Log your food, but don’t just log it and forget about it, go back, review it, take note of what you’re putting in your body. Most importantly, be honest with yourself and make it fun! I started doing this because I love stickers and wanted something else to decorate and feed my #planneraddiction; so find a way to make it fun! Healthy choices should make you happy, not miserable.

Keep it up!

On Burnouts & Inspiration

Creative Writing, Illusions of Productivity

Feature Photo Cred @fitnessxart

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It’s a fact – I have too much on my plate. I have FOMO (fear of missing out) and a desire to learn everything and do everything. I work a full time job at a non-profit and do social media consulting on the side; I’m in two music ensembles; I have a personal blog (hello thanks for stopping by); I workout 4 times a week; I’m in a relationship (shout out to my awesome boyfriend <3); and I try to keep up my professional network and friendships. It’s CRAZY. I know. But I’ve always operated this way, packing my schedule to the brim. I am often finding myself in a position where I feel burned out. Here are some quick fixes to recharge my inspiration when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

First things first – routine is everything & a little inspiration along the way can help.

First of all, routine is the key. In case you couldn’t tell from the theme of my blog, I’m all about planning, down to the last second. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t stick to my weekday goals and schedule, then I get overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes time to have professional meetings, rehearsals, or even dates! I feel unprepared, stressed out that I have to catch up (which I ain’t got time for!)

I’ve joined a couple entrepreneur and solopreneur group chats on Facebook that have been really inspiring and has helped me realize that I’m not alone in my insanity. One thing my favorite girlboss duo Sarah Elder and Andrea Holland of PRtraction said was that being an entrepreneur means you’re working ALL the hours, contrary to what people assume (you know, that you get to choose your hours).

My other favorite duo are bloggers Linda and David of Kinlake, they travel the world and work remotely as digital nomads. I love their segment ‘Gone Nomadic’ explaining their journey. It’s encouraging to hear how they debunk the myth of the freelance traveler; it’s more than just wandering around aimlessly – it takes a lot of planning, preparation, structure, and discipline in order to have that freedom.

When I start to get lazy, I change it up.

More facts – I change my bedroom layout quarterly (maybe even more), sometimes all I need is a fresh start. When all my clothes have been piled and scrunched at the foot of my bed for days, maybe a week, with shoes and purses and unopened mail dispersed all over my room in disarray – I know it’s time to move my furniture around.  To me, there is nothing more inspiring than a fresh new layout, a fresh new look, and a fresh new environment.

In a study done at the Princeton Neuroscience institute, they found that physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus and process information. The clutter competes for your attention, wearing you down and resulting in frustration. Scientific proof or not, I’m sure many of you can relate and agree with this point that in order to get things done, you need a clean desk, countertop, canvas, etc. I know decluttering is key, but sometimes I can lose the inspiration, and that’s why rearranging my room resurges my excitement to have an organized clean space. It’s like buying a fresh pair of white sneakers: for the first couple of days, maybe even weeks, you try your best to keep them clean, paying attention to all the scratches and marks, brushing them off at the end of the day. But after a while, you start to let it go, and eventually they become a bit battered and grey and become your go-to pair for a pickup game of soccer in the park. Then it’s back to the shoe store for a fresh pair.

Dressing for success really is a thing.

On a more extreme level – I like to change my look (obvi); my hair has been blonde, pink, blue and now I just chopped it all off. But I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or bottle of dye). But, in this same vein, a less extreme way would be to clean out your closet, sell your clothes and refresh your wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be a huge money venture, one-thing-in-and-one-thing-out is what I (try) to say. You can sell your clothes and buy some pretty awesome gems secondhand.

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In an interesting article by the Wall Street Journal,  Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success, Ray A. Smith states that in dressing up and dressing the part, people were more productive in a work setting. Outward confidence begat intrinsic confidence. Better dressers even tend to think more abstractly – which is the style of thinking seen in senior executives and other people in power.

I like to think about being a little girl and playing around with my mom’s lipstick and high heels. My mom, as a businesswoman, was always wearing the classic 90s pencil skirt with tights and high heels. To me, this carved out my perception of what being a woman was. My sister and I would play dress up and play out these scenarios of working in an office and such. Likewise, as I got older and I started interviewing for jobs, there was and still is a sense of excitement when I get to put on a pair of pumps and walk the walk. All of a sudden, with every high heel click-clack, I felt a bit more feminine (read: powerful).

So when I start feeling a bit drab or like I’m half-assing my life, I change up my look, buy a new lipstick shade, chop off my hair, and I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world again.

Step outside of yourself. Meet new people. See new things.

I mean really.. duh.. this is a given. Like you didn’t already know this. But sometimes it’s easy to forget to just be still and observe. Sometimes when I forget to bring my laptop home from work to work on my other work or if I left my cello at my boyfriends house, I’m forced to think outside of my list of to-do’s.  At those times, (with my Type A personality let’s be real, god forbid I spend this accidental down time sitting on the couch) I get outside and start walking.

I’m fortunate to live in a city where there’s always something creative going on, always an open mic or poetry slam at a nearby cafe. When I get to be an observer of someone else’s creativity, I feel a sense of reassurance and empowerment. I’m not talking about watching an A-list top 40 musician in concert (of course there’s loads of inspiration and empowerment there) but I’m talking about seeing other hustlers who work day jobs who make it a point to pursue their creativity and share it. I always write my best poetry or have the best rehearsal after I’ve stepped outside myself and watched someone else perform their art.

Everyone is different.

What inspires you? I’d be interested to hear about what you do to recharge. So please share!

Thanks for reading and keep on hustling.

Monthly Mood- May 2017

Monthly Mood, Picture Diaries

It’s warming up in San Francisco, and I feel like time has slipped by so fast. My back burner list keeps growing, and that one thing I thought I’d have more time for next month is now here and the case is still the same – there isn’t enough time in the day.

There are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to do for Planner Creative; I want to change the format of my site, now that I’m finding somewhat of a flow, I’m realizing I need to rearrange some things. I also have a side business with my best friend working with social media and Planner Creative has been a personal way for me to explore using certain platforms to build a brand. For me, this is my passion project, a place for me to post content that I enjoy, content that I create for myself. In doing so, I’ve been learning a lot about WordPress, SEO, analytics, and all things under the social media sun. I learn by doing, and so here we are and I thank you for joining me in my creative space as I learn and grow as a storyteller – I realize this is what I really enjoy.

My day job has been pretty stressful, and this month things are finally letting up and I have some vacations set in place that I’m really looking forward to. This month I will be traveling to New Mexico! Living in the city, it’s funny how you can get a bit of island fever, so I really look forward to expansiveness of the beautiful desert. I’m also eager to try my hand at photography out there so we can look forward to that.


 Currently Listening to: Django Gypsy Jazz 

My boyfriend and I have been studying gypsy jazz together. He plays guitar and I picked up the stand up bass again. As a classically trained musician, it’s been fun playing out of my comfort zone relying on ear and intuition instead of the music sheet.

Django Reinhardt was born in Belgium. He injured two fingers in a fire accident and adapted his technique to accommodate his loss. He is known as one of the most important jazz guitar soloist blending in swing, Roma music tradition and his unique technique that even some four-fingered guitarist can’t match.

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Currently Reading: The Living Universe

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Who are we? Are we no more than a collection of elements that are experiencing a series of chemical and neurological reactions? Is there more to ourselves than our material-biological components? If we are beings whose consciousness can extend beyond our biological bodies into the reaches of the living universe, then our physical bodies comprise only the smallest fraction of the full scope of our being…

This is a re-read. After I quit college soccer, I went through this whole existential crisis. I was no longer a “student athlete” and I was living back at home, wanting to do more than just go to school. I was so annoyed with the fact that I had to waste my time and brain space working up this system we are told we have to do in order to do what we want.

For me this book put into perspective the beauty of my existence in this massive universe.

When we gaze at the enormity of the universe, with its billions of swirling galaxies, it seems natural to conclude that we are very small. When we see a universe that extends trillions upon trillions of kilometers, it is reasonable to think we are insignificant in the cosmic scale of things. However, this commonsense view of ourselves is radically mistaken. We are not small creatures. In overall scale of the universe, we are giants!

This passage really stood out to me the first time I read this book in 2010. So much so that as I looked up at the sky the other day while waiting for the bus, I remembered this paragraph, and then I realized how I never really looked up at the sky anymore. I’ve been grinding hard, walking fast from one place to the next, forgetting about the expansiveness of my existence. So I thought I’d track down this book and find some new existential inspiration; I could really use some profound thought in my life right now to help slow me down.


Favorite workout: The Stability ball by blogger Lushious Lifts 

My goal last month was to start incorporating a morning workout routine, since I was coming up with too many excuses after work. It was also too stressful for me to go to the gym after work with the list of other things I have to squeeze in on the weeknights. Playing soccer my whole life, I often struggled with working out indoors. I would get too frustrated on the cardio machines, and just didn’t have the focus. In April I really made an effort to work past the frustrations and it’s finally paid off. Waking up early has become a lot easier especially now that I’ve built up the habit of prepping my gym bag the night before.  To cure my workout boredom, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest to come up with my workout routine. One blogger I really enjoy is Karen Lushious . If you go to her website, she does each pose as a boomerang so you can see the full motion of the pose, which I think is pretty clever. I’ve been addicted to this workout below.

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Looking ahead: My hopes for this month

With summer right around the corner, I have a lot of things to look forward to, and a lot of things to keep afloat as I prep myself for success. Keeping track of my daily habits as seen in last month’s layouts  has really helped me stay on top of my game. As commitments wrap up, I look forward to having more time on my hands to create and reshape my lifestyle. Thanks for joining me on this month’s mood.

Keep it moving, and happy planning.

D. Marie

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Planner Layout Review: April 2017

Illusions of Productivity

And just like, that another month flies by.

This month was all about daily habits. I kept a log of fitness habits, and personal habits, after a month of tracking, I can say that I’m finally feeling the benefits.

Top 5 Successes:

  1.  Went to the gym 3 times a week at the butt crack of dawn.
  2. Played more bass guitar
  3. Cut out unhealthy snacks
  4. Crossed 2 things of my “Life Maintenance” list (FINALLY)
  5. Incorporated creativity *offline* into my everyday life.

Top 3 Areas that need improvement:

  1. More cello
  2. Less multitasking. More focus – specifically at work.
  3. I need to go through my mail. -_-

This weekend I hope to catch up on a few blog posts I’ve been drafting, and some other creative projects I’ve been working on. Thanks for stopping by.

D. Marie ❤


Personal Planner

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My newest planner toy! The HP Sprocket photo printer. You can peel off the back and make them stickers! You already KNOW ya girl is scrapbooking like crazy with this thing ❤

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Fitness Planner:

I bought fitness stickers mid- month, so the other two weeks aren’t worth mentioning 😉

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Work Planner:

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Happy Planning!

On Creativity

Creative Writing, Illusions of Productivity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein


Working in front of a screen inputting and analyzing numbers all day takes a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I work full time and consult on the side, sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about all the things I want to do and have to do once I get home. It’s also hard to find personal time, I really need to carve it in anywhere I can. Having a Type A personality , I find it hard to sit still, there’s always something I should be doing.

With the constant need to feel busy, I find that cultivating my creativity helps satiate the angst I feel in empty spaces. Not only does it help my mind step away from my lists and anxiety, it gives me a fresh look at how to execute all of my projects. Even if you don’t consider yourself an ‘artist’ here are some reasons why you should incorporate creativity in your weekly or daily habits.

Creativity is within all of us.

Contrary to belief that the creative process is a right brain activity, Social Psychologist Graham Wallas’ model of the creative process emphasizes that from Preparation to Verification, creativity is a whole brain activity. When you think about it, humans in nature are a creative species, our ability to manipulate our environment is what sets us apart from other animals; so to say that one is not creative is to deny your innate ability to solve problems, which is essentially a creative process.

One of my favorite modes of creativity is sketching. The act of taking in a scene and translating it onto paper is a remarkable skill. Now, I’m not the best at it, but I enjoy tapping into the basics of perception, shadows, and shapes. The senses used to solve the problem of translation from the intake of what you see, to manipulating your tools to draw it on paper, is something I feel helps reset my brain when I’m having a stressful week or am in need of inspiration for words, or other departments of creativity.

When you draw, you become more aware of details and awaken many suppressed senses. While starting out my sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge you see above, it took me awhile to get the correct proportion of the towers, which even still could use some improvement. This mental exercise in itself- spatial improvement and functional connectivity –  helps relieves stress, sharpens your brain agility, and improves emotional awareness (Bolwerk, 2014).

Awakening of the senses.

This awakening of the senses that study after study proclaims art and creativity does for the brain, is something that is so important especially now in the digital age. One thing I hate about social media is that you can easily find yourself stuck down a rabbit hole staring at your phone screen! I’m guilty of this, and when I finally snap out of it, I feel like my brain has been buffering, numb, or blurry – kind of like when you use the street view on Google Maps and the image is a blurred collage of earth toned, pixelated streaks… yea, that’s my brain after wasting an hour of my life scrolling through Instagram.

One of the reasons I’ve started blogging is to expand my creative practice. I was telling a friend the other day that I kinda (key word KINDA) miss writing essays! That was crazy to hear coming out of my mouth; but I felt like in this ‘like, share, comment, tweet in 140 characters’ age, my thought process was becoming too shallow. So for me, blogging is another creative process where I can practice formulating complex thoughts and expand one simple idea into a beginning, middle, and end (like this post ;)).

Simple modes of creativity.

Even if you can’t commit to a full blown essay or mural of the Golden Gate Bridge, there are little things you can do to squeeze in that little bit of creativity. One of my favorite tips I heard from a colleague is that she challenged herself to write haikus on the bus instead of looking at Instagram. I don’t find myself writing too many haikus, but one thing I do enjoy is experimenting with descriptive language – writing a small paragraph about the scene I find myself in. I use my phone to keep these notes, and sometimes these paragraphs turn into something more that I expand on later.

Force yourself to learn something new.

I’m a huge fan of formal instruction, I take cello and bass lessons at a community center. I’ve finally convinced some of my musically curious friends to sign up for a class! The point is not to chase some pipe dream of becoming a professional musician, but to force myself to step away from the screen, learn something new, and awaken my musical senses. If you find that adding that little bit of creativity on your own is something you can’t commit to, then sign up for that guitar or ceramics class you’ve always wanted to try! Find a community center, many of them have sliding scale prices; you’d be surprised what your public library offers- plus you get the benefit of building your creative community.

Creativity is our super human power!

We are a creative species, it is our super human power and you should find ways to inspire yourself to create every single day. When we create, we are changing the structure of our brains, creating new connections in our neural pathways, lighting up different parts of the brain (Scientific American, 2007). Think about it this way – your brain is a muscle and therefore, you should exercise it like one. Don’t let your brain become a couch potato.