Meow Moment: Happy Birthday, Shep!

I know I have a slight, or #letsbehonest not so slight, tendency to obsess over my furbaby. But, this month it's all about him. It's his birthday - he's officially a whopping FOUR years old! (What, you don't celebrate your pet's birthday? Shame on you.)

When I think about it, it's hard to believe I've hosted this fuzzy little monster in my home for that long. Truthfully, though, I can't imagine my home being complete without him anymore. He's a bit of a terror at times, but aren't we all? Pets have a magical way of changing our lives - and Shep came into my life right when I needed him. He's taught me patience and the importance of stability, but above all, he's taught me that sometimes you just need a good nap and some unconditional love to make all your problems melt away.

Here's to the cat who jumps in all of my pictures, who likes to whine until I pick him up, who puts up with all of my overbearing snuggles and kisses, and who is - hands down - the best heating pad on the planet (which is just #purrfect now that the weather is getting cold again).



Day Trippin': Apple Picking at Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm

As soon as there was even so much as a hint of chill in the air this season, I knew it was time - time to go apple picking. *Cue happy dance.*

Call it basic (sidebar: I kind of hate that everything that is actually fun is now gleefully given this negative term), call it tradition (three years is enough to call it a tradition, I think?), or call it whatever you want (I can't stop you). There's really nothing like being able to go out into a real-life orchard, picking your own fresh apples straight from the tree, and eating them in a field of green grass, wandering around with some good company. Last year, we took a trip out to Outhouse Orchards, a place I had been to once before - but this year, I needed a change.

There are so many orchards in the New York area that it's pretty darn easy to find another; and with the guidance of a fellow apple-lovin' friend, we trekked upstate to Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm, camera in hand to document the brilliance of a full orchard at the beginning of the season. There were apples all over the trees - some branches were so heavy with them that they grazed the ground with the weight of the fruit, ripe and ready to be plucked. So pluck them is exactly what we did. Our bags stuffed and our tummies full of goodness, we headed over to the next stop: the pumpkin patch.

If you follow me on Instagram at all, you know that I like to name my pumpkins. I believe that every thing you bring home with you that's going to occupy your life for a matter of time deserves a good name, don't you? (Or am I the only one that named my toaster?) This year, my miniature pumpkin was nice and round - with a gorgeous, symmetrical grooved pattern if I do say so myself - and a curved, but not wonky, stem. I saw him and knew we were meant to be; and I named him Gregory because he looked like a Gregory. 

And what is a trip to the orchard without apple cider donuts, I ask you? It's nothing. Not ones to miss out, we waited in line to grab a half dozen warm apple cider donuts (each, not to share, mind you), paired with fresh hot apple cider (natch), then snatched a picnic table outside to nosh. I ate two donuts sitting there, and tried my best to save the rest for the next day - but, properly failed after I got home and ate the other four. Le sigh. Apple cider donuts just aren't the same the next day, right? I was doing myself a favor. Finally, I grabbed some fresh farm corn from the market as my friend looked for some canned goodies, and we were off.

And what of the other apples? Well, y'all know me too well, I think... They're going into a pie. Recipe to come! Also, sorry, but I just *have* to throw this in here because I think it shows my true enthusiasm for fresh apples:

Have you ever been apple picking? I'd love to hear what you do with leftover apples, and if you have the willpower to control yourself around apple cider donuts (unlike me). Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail: hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Enjoy fall, y'all! Them apples need to be picked; they won't pick themselves.


My Recipe Book: The Best Avocado Toast (Vegan)

When it gets chilly out, I have a tendency (like many humans) to turn to things that comfort me. And, being a carb-lover, one of my favorite things on the planet is fresh, warm, toast. As a kid, my mother would occasionally make us cinnamon sugar toast as a special treat - and to this day, I still keep a small container of cinnamon sugar in my spice rack (here's how to make some for yourself). Now that I'm older - and admittedly looking for a less sugary snack - I've been searching for other ways to kick bread up a notch, with different spreads and toppings as well as experimenting with making it in the toaster, the oven, or on the stove-top.

Listen, I'm not re-inventing the wheel here by any means, but when it comes to toast, you've got a fresh palate to work with each slice.

I know that I'm not the only one who has a passion for toast; last year, the "artisanal toast" trend really took off, with restaurants charging upwards of $4 to $5 for a slice. I'm not sure who the first person was to ever put avocado on top of their toast in the morning - but let me tell you, that person is a genius. I mean, I love avocados in every form, y'all: guacamole, sliced in a wrap or sandwich, on their own with a little salad dressing on top (yum). But the first time that I put avocado toast in my mouth, I knew it was going to be a new go-to for me.

Avocados are a magical super food. Each one is packed with nutrients and vitamins, on top of those ever-important antioxidants - lowering your risk of certain diseases, making your skin more vibrant and healthy, and protecting your vital organs. On top of that, with pink Himalayan sea salt (similarly packed with a ton of minerals and vitamins) and cacao nibs (which have a ton of fiber and more antioxidants than you can dream of), this version of avocado toast is a health kick, disguised with a sweet and creamy taste. The texture of the avocado complemented by the hint of chocolate in the cacao nibs? It takes me to a downright heavenly place every single time.

The Best Avocado Toast (Vegan)
Recipe by yours truly. Easily adaptable! 

- Your Favorite Bread (I usually pick up the latest multi-grain from the local bakery - be sure to ask and make sure it's vegan!)
- Half of a Fresh Avocado
- A Splash of Lemon or Lemon Juice (optional)
- A Pinch of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
- 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of Cacao Nibs

1. Take one slice of bread and toast it in a toaster until *just* golden crisp.
2. Take half of the avocado and smash it with a fork - until it's a good creamy consistency, but there are still small hunks of it left whole.
3. Sprinkle the masked avocado with fresh or organic lemon juice, and garnish with a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt.
4. Spread the mashed avocado onto toast, and top with cacao nibs. Enjoy with fresh blackberries and a hot cup of your favorite tea. 

Do you like avocado toast - or any toast, really - as much as I do? Share a picture with me on social media or by e-mailing me at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Happy eating, y'all!


Five Things: Sunsets of Late

As summer comes to a resounding close with an unmistakable chill in the air and a dreary, rainy week ahead, I find myself thinking back to the sunsets over the past few months of the season that I've been taking the time to really embrace life and remember the beauty around me. The thing I love about sunsets is that no two are ever alike - no matter how similar the days are, each one is uniquely magical in their coloring and formation. And every time I look at a sunset, I remember this notion, and it reminds me that no matter how hard I try, I can't predict what tomorrow will bring. But the fact that another day is right around the corner - full of beautiful mistakes and love and the unpredictability of human nature - this always keeps me on my toes.


Little Things: Gopi Shah Ceramics Zodiac Lantern

If there are two things in the world that I love having around my house, it's ceramics and candles. Give me a chance to combine the two of those, and I'm happier than a unicorn eating cake on a rainbow, y'all. When Gopi Shah reached out to me, introducing this amazing collection into my life, I could not have been more in awe. Upon seeing the array of unique, handmade ceramics and pottery from San Francisco, I was star-struck. It seemed only right, then, that this Zodiac Lantern should make it's way to my doorstep - in the form of the Cancer zodiac constellation, naturally. When lit, the stars shine though, creating a mystical and heavenly scene, making them perfect for any astrology-loving hippie (like yours truly).

FYI: This product was given to me for review by Gopi Shah Ceramics. All opinions are my own, as always.


Seven Questions With One Love Organics

My newfound obsession with natural, organic beauty products began just earlier this year, so I still consider myself a newbie. It's been a bit of a snowball effect, where one tiny change in my bathroom cabinet made a huge difference, and soon after I found myself diving head first into learning more about just how good these products are for my skin. And, if I had to choose just one brand that I cannot imagine how I've lived without before now, it would easily be One Love Organics. My skincare routine consists of a regular circulation of products, for sure, but lately I've noticed that I cannot seem to keep myself from plowing through OLO's feel-good brand; so much so that I decided that I needed to reach out to skincare guru and founder, Suzanne LeRoux, to pick her brain and hear more about her collection. Enjoy her in-depth beauty tips below! (PS: Want to try some One Love Organics for yourself? Visit their website here. You're welcome.)

1. Let's start with the basics! Tell us about your history and how you came to start One Love Organics. 

Beauty products have always been my first choice for a treat. The textures, the scents, the packaging—I adore them all. I love the way I feel after treating myself to a beauty treatment or new product. To me, it is the perfect, guilt-free and healthiest way to indulge. Over time, I found that I wanted to learn more about the ingredients. I wanted to know how could I make these products with the highest grade and healthiest ingredients available to others, too? In fact, the day my husband called for our first date was the same day my first set of essential oils for an upcoming aromatherapy course arrived. For the next eleven years, I studied aromatherapy, herbology, holistic skin care and then created natural beauty products. The process became rather time-consuming as I balanced my full-time career with my studies so my husband encouraged me to pursue my passion full-time.

2. You believe in the power of a well-executed beauty ritual, so I have to ask - what's yours?

Every morning I massage a small amount of Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser for about one minute into my skin using our cleansing sponge and make sure to care for my throat, jawline and the spot behind my ears. For toning and firming, I apply a small amount of Morning Glory Caffeinated Firming Serum to my face. Then, to moisturize, I use 3-5 drops of our antioxidant rich Vitamin C Facial Serum on my fingertips and gently massage it into my skin. To help me brighten and de-puff my eyes I rely on Vitamin E Eye Balm, but only sparingly. I always end each day with a thorough double cleanse because it is the most effective way to prep skin to receive the benefits of a serum, treatment product or facial oil. I pre-cleanse at night by massaging a small scoop of Skin Savior Balm onto dry skin for about two minutes, and then use a warm, damp washcloth to gently remove the excess. I turn to Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser again for cleansing and follow up with 3-5 drops of Love Springs Eternal Youth Preservation Facial Oil. Finally, I press a liberal amount of Vitamin E Eye Balm around my eye and brow area, and then over my lips. I also live by our dry shampoo, Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo and used it for two years before we released it to our customers. I put it on my hair before bed to absorb oil overnight. The next morning I was up with great second or third day hair. Sometimes I will use it during the day to refresh and add volume. I love it.

3. You also have mentioned that you indulged in self-care in college and law school to help keep your sanity intact. What was your routine like back then, and how has it changed?

Back then, my routine was focused on makeup and immediate results. Bronzers, highlighters, mascaras, the right lipstick. Those were key for me. I spent the most time and money on these products. My skin didn’t look that great, of course, and nothing I had ever tried worked to clear up my skin. I had not discovered natural and organic products at this point yet. I was focused on the superficial, too, and had no idea that the right products would create clear, glowing skin … and that I would no longer need to wear bronzers, highlighters or mascaras. My approach now is skin-care based, not make-up based.

4. What ultimately drove you toward the organic, all-natural approach to beauty? What lessons have you learned in the process?

Aromas—they really drive me. They helped (and still do) me relax, get energized and flourish creatively. So, my studies began with aromatherapy. When I really learned how the power of plants works, it was quite a discovery for me. My education on essential oils, plant-carrier oils and plant hydrosols lead me to use them as skin care. In less than a year, my skin looked better than ever. I was in awe. Nothing was as powerful as plants—and I tried everything in department stores and doctor offices. It's all about the plants. We have obsessively studied where to find the freshest, highest quality plant materials available on the earth.

5. What does the "Luxury of Less" ethos of OLO mean for you?

My husband and I practiced law together for five years before we had children. When we had children, we did it like we do everything—with gusto! With a busy law practice and two babies, we were completely overwhelmed and wanted to find our “key” … our solution … to life. We read The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhr and it inspired us to make changes. Janet, like me, gave up a law career to simplify her life. My husband and I learned that living simply is not about being frugal or denying pleasure. Not at all. It is not about living on a tight budget or being minimally aesthetic. Instead, living simply is about being fully aware of the choices you make, the life you live and seeing the relationship between the two. So, there is less. Less clutter. Less debt. Less stress. But, also more. More joy. More freedom. More of the things that really matter. This ideology became the basis of our line and created a beautiful transformation for our family's lives. It then inspired us to offer a simpler approach to beauty. We focus on a few supreme products, not up-selling a medicine cabinet full of mysterious jars. Our customers have really responded to and appreciate our honesty.

6. Do you have any secret beauty weapons that you bust out for the summer season?

Yes! A great scrub, like our Vitamin C Body Polish, is really the key to getting a great, close shave, smooth glowing skin, the perfect mani/pedi, an even fake tan… really the list goes on and on but it starts with a good scrub!

7. Finally, you're on a desert island. What is the one product can you never ever live without?

The first product I created and One Love Organics’ bestseller: Skin Savior Balm.

One Love Organics


Destination: Crater Lake, Oregon

Okay, okay. Enough teasing, right? I've wanted to share a lot of the otherworldly sights we saw at Crater Lake and in Oregon with y'all. There are pictures from the Instagram feed, of course (y'all know I have my #instahabit), and some of them I also shared in this post, because I just couldn't wait. Let's be real, though, the main reason that vacationing to a new place is fun is because I love learning things about the places I visit - and Crater Lake National Park was obviously no exception. I mean, I come from a planning family. We don't mess around with this stuff. My father made a binder with labeled tabs for the entire trip (true story). My mother, similarly, had a handbook that spelled out all of the things we would see, with descriptions of each scenic outlook and each geographic detail, with mileage so we knew exactly where they were. Like I said, we don't mess around.

Upon arrival, and peeking out the window of the airplane closing in on the landscape below, I could already see the mountains - which, of course, made me feel instantly at ease. Mount Hood especially was so near the wing of the aircraft that I felt like I could reach out and touch it, and smell the icy snow cap on top. After landing, we drove the four and half hours or so to the Crater Lake Lodge, nestled on the side of the rim of the crater, which was the only establishment for miles and miles around - or at least it felt as much. Down below it was an almost mythical view of the bluest waters you've ever seen, and a perfect view of the island among them, Wizard Island. All of this, by the way, could also be clearly seen out of our rooms' windows in the lodge. Un-freakin'-real.

Crater Lake, I've learned, is one of the most unique and incredible wonders that our country has to offer. I've seen a lot of things, but water that is bluer than a perfectly blue sky? I can tell you right now: it's a sight that I won't soon forget. It's the deepest lake here in the United States, and among the top ten deepest lakes in the entire world, at just under 2,000 feet deep (depending on where you measure it). On top of that, it's also the clearest fresh water found nearly anywhere in the world - and the depth combined with this clarity is what gives it the rich blue color. But Crater Lake is unique for so many other reasons, y'all. Almost 8,000 years ago, this crater didn't exist yet; it was an enormous stratovolcano called Mount Mazama. When it erupted, nearly the entire volcano fell back into itself, creating a collapsed caldera which then began to fill with water, ultimately creating Crater Lake. And, when we were walking down into the crater to take a boat out onto the lake, I couldn't stop myself thinking about how truly mind-blowing it was that we were, quite literally, inside of a volcano. An inactive one for the moment, sure, but a volcano nonetheless.

If I continued on with all the fun facts that I learned about Crater Lake and it's formation, I'd probably be writing a small novel. So, with that in mind, here are some more pictures from the trip, and maybe a few more tidbits I grabbed along the way. I just can't not share them.

Mount Hood, pictured outside of our airplane window as we landed in Portland, is another stratovolcano in the same family that Mount Mazama was in - the Cascade Volcanic Arc up in northern Oregon.

The trees surrounding the crater were covered with lichens that looked like the coziest felted green coat. There are over 100 species of lichens in the entirety of the park, and more are yet to be discovered.

The Palisades is a unique structure on the rim of Crater Lake that was created from an older lava flow on the side of what once was Mount Mazama. Underneath it rests smaller rocks in a glacial till that allows for the seepage of water out of Crater Lake, helping to control the lake's water levels.  

Meet my friend. This lil' guy is a Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel. They're found all over the park - including on Wizard Island. They're quite friendly.

One of my absolute favorite things to see was Phantom Ship, which is the second island found on the lake. It's such a teeny tiny island, but it has it's own little ecosystem! There are seven different kinds of trees, a few varieties of wildflowers and lichens, and colonies of nesting birds at some times of the year.

The Pinnacles are incredible to look at, because they seem supernatural. They were formed by gas deposits as a result of the volcanic activity from Mount Mazama - when that gas in the ground escaped (through openings called fumaroles - another great name), it created a cement-like structure, which time and erosion has now allowed to stand tall out of the valley below.

Another friendly encounter. This little one came to visit us as we were picnicking for lunch. He's a Clarks Nutcracker, and his kind are seen all around the park.

We climbed to the top of Wizard Island, which is a cinder cone that had erupted inside of the crater after it had already started filling with water. Bonus: on top of Wizard Island is another crater, called "Witch's Cauldron." It's basically a volcano inside a volcano (simplifying it way too much, but roll with me). 

To anyone else, this just looks like a dead tree in a lake. But this one is special - they call him The Old Man of the Lake, and it's a mountain tree (a hemlock, if you're wondering) that's been chilling out, floating upright in Crater Lake's waters for over 120 years! He's never in the same location, and has been known to travel over 3 miles in a day across the waters on some days, so it was special we got to see him.

And of course, the sunsets were insane.

All photos credit to: Yawner
Instagram: @yawnr


Spotlight: Photo Diary of Crater Lake National Park

As you might have read in earlier posts, I was in Crater Lake National Park with my family on vacation earlier this month, and I am still reeling from the times we had there. You can read more about it in later posts to have a full diary of the time we spent there, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some captures of the scenery from the ever-talented Yawner (who also makes beautiful music, check out his site!) of the trip. They were so incredible that I thought they deserved their own photo diary. I'll let them speak for themselves:

All photos credit to: Yawner
Instagram: @yawnr


Five Things: Instagrams from Crater Lake, Oregon (#ICYMI)

In case you missed it, I was in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon for the past 7 days with my family (see my below post). It was a magical adventure, full of all the things I love in life - nature, freedom, and laughter. I think that, at the heart of it all, is why I consider myself a hippie. There's no place I feel happier and more at peace than surrounded by nothing but family, trees, and spectacular views in a national park or vast wilderness of some sort, no buildings to be seen for miles.

Some of my favorite writings of all time come from John Muir, who wrote: "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." This is eerily accurate for me. Every once in a while, I simply *have* to escape from the city and get into a place where nature can have it's way with me. It's not out of negativity for New York, per se, but rather, it's a refresh button when I can be reminded of things that are so easily forgotten in a sea of people and a jungle of concrete.

For the other like-minded hippies out there, I wanted to share a few of my favorite Instagrams from the trip (ya know, #ICYMI). Check out our handle (@hippieteaparty) for more goodness. Obviously more pictures are going to be uploaded in the next few days for a more spectacularly visual adventure. I'm just waiting for my jet lag to settle down and my social batteries to recharge being back in the city.



Vacations with my family are the absolute best, y'all. I mean, vacations in general never really disappoint, do they? I'm so excited that I'll be heading out west - to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon - to hang out with the gang, explore the great outdoors and visit some vineyards. Feel free to follow along on the instagram feed, @hippieteaparty, or to check back here on July 8th when I'm back in business. In the meantime, though, have an amazing Fourth of July weekend. I hope it's as fun-filled for you as it's going to be for me!

PS. Above pic was from a trip to Jackson Hole with the fam, a few years back. Can't wait to share all the amazing pictures sure to come out of this trip. 

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