For the past several months, I’ve made a significant effort to reduce my plastic usage — and while it’s hard to go completely plastic-free, I’ve found it pretty easy to find reusable alternatives for some every day items that contribute to a ton of plastic waste.
Growing up in California, in a family that loves camping and backpacking to get away from the crowds, has made it easy to see the impact humans have had on our environment — you wouldn’t believe how much plastic trash has found its way into the most remote parts of the world.
But it’s also easy to forget how much plastic you buy and throw away on a daily basis — a bottle of soda here and there, your medication, and even your regular grocery items like coffee and milk! So I thought I’d pull some of my favorite reusable, non-plastic alternatives that I started purchasing to help me remember to waste less, and avoid buying plastic altogether.
Note on shipping: When it comes to reducing your plastic usage, it’s also a good idea to think about where you get your products. You’ll see some Amazon links in here for convenience, but Amazon tends to send you a large box filled with plastic packaging that isn’t suited to what you’ve ordered. Eco-conscious shops, on the other hand, ship with really thoughtful packaging that uses zero plastic (and honestly, is designed so well, it’ll make you smile).
Let’s talk about bread. And let’s talk about life.
For those of you who go way back with me — you’ll already know that Arabic classes took up the majority of my time in college. I met some of my favorite people, discovered my favorite foods, and daydreamed about someday living in the Middle East, basking in the heat and eating my weight in mana’eesh.
But something that we learned early in our intro courses was the word for bread: khubz. And in the Egyptian dialect, there was a synonym for bread — the same word you used for life: aishe.
Ah, Tulúm. The first time I visited, I was 22, and took a 60 peso “luxury” bus from my Airbnb in Puerto Morelos, and to be honest, I wasn’t even that interested in going. But once I got to the view from the cliffs at the ruins, I was hooked.
This was in 2012. Back then, the now-famed Hartwood had been open maybe 18 months (and I didn’t even go to that part of Tulum until my third trip). Only a few of the hard hitting hotels existed back then, and they weren’t even on my radar. That first time I went to Tulum, we walked from the ruins to Playa Paraíso, which was more than enough to make me fall in love with this seemingly undiscovered paradise. And for the record, even then, it was far from undiscovered.
Something I love about my job is that I get to explore cities in the US — and when it comes to personal travel, I’m typically focused on getting out of the country. A couple of weeks ago, we opened our first (and then second) restaurants in Austin, TX… so I got to spend a few days exploring the city, working from coffee shops, and hanging out with coworkers and friends.
Luckily, one of my favorite travel buddies lives in Dallas — so Nickerson drove out to Austin to hang out and splurge on a bougie weekend with me. Nothing beats alternating coffee with rosé and constantly hunting for air conditioning on a hot, summer Texas day. Here are some of my favorite bites (and sips) from my week in Austin!
Last summer, I got roped into the organizing crew for Dîner en Blanc, an amazing event that happens on different nights all over the world, where thousands of attendees meet at an undisclosed location for a flash mob, picnic dinner.
This year, the location was so perfect — the Carnegie Library, located right smack in the middle of DC. And, since my assigned meeting point was in Chinatown, the 350 people headed to the location with me didn’t even have to get on the metro. Talk about convenient!
Just over six months ago, I started working for Cava. Man, how that time flies. Man, how cool is it that I get to create stuff like this, all day, every day? And it feels like things are just getting started. California, we’re comin’ for ya.
It had been a while since I had last been to H Street.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love H Street. Hell, I lived there for a couple of years, and then some. My time on H Street preceded what H Street looks like today. Remember Toyland? Before The Big Board? That and New Citi Pizza were our jam.
Needless to say, every time I head back there, it feels like there are a billion new hot spots, and always feels a little bit like home. I made a chalkboard wall in the kitchen of the house we lived in — it better damn still be there, because there’s some great typography with our house address on it. 823 4th Street, I’m looking at you.
Anyway, when I got the chance to hit up the A Creative DC irl meetup at Maketto, I jumped on it. I had been dying to see this space for so long, and it did not disappoint.
It had been an aggressive Friday — Cava hosted breakfast at Creative Mornings DC, and then we searched/explored the Toki exhibit in an abandoned building, and after Maketto, I had a photo shoot and several other projects planned. But we made it through.
And I ordered the braised beef sesame pancakes, which I expected to be a sort of sandwich, but in all actuality fit right in with the theme of my day: aggressive AF. Images below.
It was delicious. And, as you can see from the photos, the space is stunning. If Maketto existed back in 2013, I might not have ever moved.
Sometimes, a ladies’ road trip to a BBQ joint and a thrift shop are the perfect way to kick off a 3-day holiday weekend. Shaeda and I discovered a few favorite places in a little town called Winchester, by way of Sydney Lianne. If you ever find yourself out that way, check out Bonnie Blue Bakery — your biggest dilemma, as Lauren put it, will be “deciding between the plate with two meats or three.”
Life is good when you’ve got your ladies, a day off of work, and a two-bottle-of-wine-pit-stop in Middleburg.
Burgers have and always will be one of my favorite food items… and when I started doing more food photography for work, I found myself cooking less and out to eat more. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough to have some pretty damn good burgers — and plenty of photos of them. Here are a few.
I’m very fortunate to be working in the food industry in DC — since moving here almost six years ago, I feel like I’ve not only witnessed DC breaking out of its shell, but I also identify myself in this movement. I’ve learned so much as a blogger, a photographer, and an eater in this city… I’ve been able to grow with it.
These days, I don’t cook as much at home — I get so exhausted from massive recipe cooking photo shoots at work — but I do get to treat myself to some of my favorite restaurants when friends are visiting or when I’m covering stories for BYT. An absolute favorite of mine is Le Diplomate, a French casual spot a whopping two blocks from my apartment (and dangerously close to my office). When Fabrice, the pastry chef, revamped the dessert menu a bit, I got to tag along and taste, photograph, and chat through the whole shebang.
We started off with a couple petit plateaus — perfect, as I had been starving myself most of this day in anticipation of four courses of dessert, all paired with dessert wines.
The profiterole — choux pastry, caramelized banana, ice cream, chocolate, and chocolate sauce that melts the chocolate. Gif below.