Upon arriving at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Bruce and I just knew that we weren’t going to be ready to leave just 2 nights later.

Nestled in the mountain jungle about an hour and a half from the airport, this little eco-resort was the perfect salvo to a long flight and a treacherous mountain road from the airport. El Silencio came highly recommended by a friend we were visiting in San Jose, and we instantly fell in love with the location and misty mountain vibes.

We pulled up to the main lodge late in the afternoon, and were welcomed by the hotel staff with a cool and sweet Costa Rican iced tea, and given an overview of the grounds — then, brought up to our cabin suite, boasting gorgeous views of the mountains, a swinging porch sofa, and a hidden patio jacuzzi (!!). Our bags were already in the suite, along with a handwritten welcome note, and a pico de gallo + guacamole appetizer that was so good I drank the juices from the bowl when we gobbled up the root veggie chips and dip.

The staff had preemptively heated up the jacuzzi for us, so we get settled in, ogled at the warm decor, and hopped into the tub to let the water draw out all the stress from a day of travel and wrapping up work emails!

Sidenote: to say that I was “stressed” leading up to this trip was a vast understatement. I recently accepted a full-time job that I’ve beec really excited about, but learning how to balance a few of my long-time freelance clients alongside a day job has been a struggle to say the least. So up until the plane landed, I was desperately trying to finish photo edits and design projects — and I knew that if I didn’t wrap them up, I’d never stop thinking about them. But sure enough, upon landing in Costa Rica, I was able to close my laptop and turn off my work brain for a few precious days! So climbing into a jacuzzi was exactly what I needed to just relax, just in time to really kick off our first international vacation together since early 2019.

One of the things that really drew me to El Silencio was the variety of activities they offer, from guided hikes, night jungle tours, cooking lessons, and fly fishing, to name a few. We were only staying for a couple of nights, but we met a few other travelers who were there for several days, and thrilled to take on some of the activities we didn’t have time for — but in the meantime, we opted for hiking on our own to the 3 waterfalls exclusive to El Silencio’s property. It took us about an hour total, and we considered it to be a pretty easy hike — more like a walk through the jungle with minimal climbing! On the way, we checked out the on-site greenhouse, as well as the chicken coop and trout pond. I’ve been to tropical places before, but nothing quite like a true rainforest. It rained most of the time we were there, but being able to see the mists work their way through the mountains and even some areas on the trail itself was nothing short of magical.

After lunch in the lodge, we joined another couple for horseback riding around the property, which was a gorgeous way to see some of the grounds. I am not much of a horseback rider, and happened to get a sassy horse named Cacao that was mostly focused on snacking on foliage on his own terms. We figured out a recipe for compromise eventually, to Cacao’s dismay.

When it came to the meals, everything we ate was nothing short of delicious, but breakfast was always our favorite meal of each day! Between flavorful chorizo, veggie, and eggs, to the typical Costa Rican breakfast of rice and beans, eggs, and sausage, we found ourselves salivating over the next breakfast we would be enjoying the the all-glass walled lodge with it’s beautiful views of the jungle and river.

Long story short, we’re still thinking about the most magical days we spent at El Silencio, and we are just dying to get back to explore even more of their gorgeous property!

Special thanks to El Silencio Lodge & Spa, which gifted a two night stay! I can’t wait to return, and to explore more of the Relais Chateaux Properties. Follow them on Instagram at @elsilenciolodge and @relaischateaux.

It took me way too long to get to Italy (and all of the classic European travel cities, really) — I had always focused my travels on the road less taken, namely because destinations like Tanzania, Mexico, and Morocco were exotic and always worlds cheaper upon arrival.

But last year was a rough one. I left my job at CAVA and took on an intense advertising job with long hours and lots of stress — and with the upcoming election and scheduled work events, Emily’s vacation days were limited in summer. So we decided to go big: the Amalfi coast.

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Fuck racism. Money talks — and here are some amazing, gorgeous Black-owned businesses that I’ve found through Instagram and Etsy, both in the last 5 years of searching for art, and in the last 5 days of looking for ways to amplify black businesses.

It’s not just what we do now, or this week, or next week, that matters. It’s how we change our habits to consciously choose and prioritize diversity for the rest of our lives to make this world a better place, no matter what color your skin is. As an imperfect, female, and biracial creative, this is something I’m consciously working on, when it comes to creating artwork and in deciding where to spend my money.

So, I put this list together to share the artists and shops that inspire me — and I’d like this list to be a living, breathing thing, that I can update as I learn more about everything our communities have to offer. If you have favorite artists and shops, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!

Jade Purple Brown

Aside from Jade’s gorgeous illustrations that make me wish I were her via Instagram, she’s designed for brands like Sephora, TikTok, Nike, and Tampax. Follow her, and check out Words to Live By, a book of inspiring quotes by fab women — designed by her, obviously.

Heritage Apothecary

I initially found this shop by searching for black artists and shop owners on Etsy, and after doing some hunting on Instagram, discovered her actual website (so shop there and help her avoid Etsy fees). How cute is this mini smudge kit?

Temi Coker

Another incredible artist I found through Instagram. Temi’s use of color just blows me away, and you can brighten up your home with one of his own very prints. This one will be hanging up in our home!

The Honey Pot

I’m a fool for colorful yet minimal packaging design, and The Honey Pot is no exception here. Founder Bea Nixon has a fab line of skincare products for your nether regions — so you can support a black woman-owned business and pamper yourself down there. Win win. I’ll be needing this soothing body balm, stat.

Mahogany Books

This bookstore’s URL is literally Black Books Matter — and you should buy books here before you hop onto Amazon. Hood Feminism and Such a Fun Age are both up next on my to-read list… and as a designer, I showed up for the covers, but stayed to support two bad ass female writers of color.


When I moved into my new place, I wanted to create an indoor jungle — and my friend Abra pointed me to the Jungalow on Insta, and I was obsessed. Check out Justina’s fantastic home decor collection… and give your plants a new home. I’m loving these abstract, organically shaped mirrors.

Note: no affiliate links were used in this post. Additionally, advertising is disabled on this post.

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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.

shampoo mouthwash floss stashers covers beeswax towels soap producebags

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).

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These days are crazy.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve never experienced anything quite like this — I definitely remember H1N1, SARS and MERS, but it’s almost surreal to go through an international threat like this.

With everyone working from home and social distancing, I’ve been trying to use my extra down time to write more, practice illustrating, and creating art. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ve resolved to take some online yoga classes, pick up meditation, and document the travels I’ve left mostly unwritten in the past year or two — because hopefully when things are back to normal, we can go back to exploring this beautiful world.

In the meantime, a playlist — all of my favorite tunes for the month, to get you dancing, singing, and focused on the future.

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