Guide to Savannah, Georgia

This post is dedicated to Forrest Gump (His famous bench is in Chippewa Square).

Yes, I know he’s a fictional character but he’s been a beloved character to millions of people. What I love about him is that he attains all of his successes through his innocence and his imperviousness to contamination by the business of living. He never negotiates his spirit regardless of his fears or insecurities. He remains authentic through and through and that is beautiful. His goal isn’t to live happily ever after, it isn’t to finish the plot, resolve the conflict and roll through the credits. He realizes there’s more to life – life is a process that we will always work on.

Savannah is an enchanting southern escape. Defining it is difficult because it has the classic southern charm with a quirkiness mixed with grace and hospitality. There is also a romance to this city that cannot be explained until you walk (this is a perfect walk anywhere city) through the beautiful squares.

*This is Keith’s favorite US city. He equates it to a classic Hollywood starlet.

1) Historic Squares: Savannah has 22 breathtaking squares with grand live oak trees and ample green space. All of the squares are located within walking distance of one another, so seeing them all in one day is doable. If you’re pressed for time, limit your journey to the picturesque squares along Bull Street.

  1. Live Oak Trees: I’m not a nature person, but these trees are massive, magnificent and hauntingly beautiful.

  1. Cemeteries: There’s no better place to learn about Savannah’s history than in her cemeteries. Colonial Park Cemetery, located in the center of the Historic District, features gravesites that date back to the mid-18th century. Laurel Grove Cemetery, on the city’s west side, is a haunting reminder of Savannah’s segregated past, with separate sections for whites and blacks, along with a Civil War burial ground for Confederate soldiers. Bonaventure Cemetery, on the city’s east side, boasts breathtaking views of the Wilmington River.

  1. St. Patrick’s Day parade: The parade, the second largest in the nation, is held every year on March 17 (except when the holiday falls on a Sunday), but expect the party to get underway a few days prior and continue until the last pint of Guinness is chugged.


  • Kehoe House – Exquisitely restored 1892 Renaissance Revival mansion in the historic district, this luxury bed and breakfast is quaint and beautiful. We spent our anniversary weekend here. It’s in walking distance to everything.


Respect the Food:

  • Huey’s: Cajun-creole cuisine that is SO good. I was obsessed with the gumbo and the crawfish etoufee.

  • Wilkes Dining Room (closed on weekends + month of Jan / cash only / no reservations): There is always a line but it’s DELICIOUS Southern home cooking. Family-owned since 1943, the lunch crowd finds seats at one of the large tables-for-ten shared by strangers. By the time the meal is over, you are no longer a stranger. Located in the same building as the original Wilkes House, the Wilkes Pied-A-Terra property is a perfect place to stay during your visit to Savannah.

  • The Olde Pink House: We had our anniversary dinner here. Savannah’s only 18th Century Mansion, the Olde Pink House was named for the beautiful shade of “pink” stucco, which covers its old brick. Food standouts? Reynolds square platter, mac and cheese poppers, pulled pork, blackened oysters and crispy fried lobster tails. Wow!

  • River Street Inn: Gorgeous for a cocktail at sunset. Was an old converted cotton house.

  • Clary’s Café: Wonderful breakfast – The Elvis! The Victorian! Country fried steak! Also, a great post-drinking morning meal.
  • Back in the Day Bakery: Fresh-baked bread, cupcakes and fork-ready pies – hearty portions at this vintage bakery & espresso bar.


  • Just do a bar crawl on the waterfront

Must See / Excursions:

  • Hit the cemeteries – Its strangely beautiful and peaceful
  • Forrest Gump’s bench (Chippewa Square)

  • Horse and buggy ride tour to see the city – so romantic!
  • Pop into any antique store.
  • Take one of the bus tours (if you don’t do horse and buggy) because you get to see all parts of the city and can journey back to your favorite spots. Remember it’s a walking city.

  • SCAD Museum of Art is part of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and housed in an 1853 train depot.
  • Just walk around and see what you run into!


My Favorite NY Ramen Spots

This post is dedicated to Renee Iselin, my Ramen partner in crime, and Sats Gawa, a world-renowned ramen expert hailing from Japan – he knows the real deal!

It’s in my blood. I love soup, and I especially love Ramen. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food. I have sampled some amazing ramen throughout Manhattan and wanted to share my favorites.

Zundo-Ya: The soup base has integrity. Pork bones are simmered in a special pot called a zundo (hence the name) for twenty hours, creating a thick, creamy liquid. To ensure the results are as close as possible to the broth found in Japan, the team “softens” the water using a closely guarded technique. The blend incorporates some dried fish into the sweet and salty mix, adding more umami flavor than most compounds have.

Ipuddo: In 2008, this was the place that made me fall in love with Ramen. It’s authentic Hakata tonkotsu pork soup. You cannot go wrong. Expect a wait.

Takashi: I stumbled upon this gem when my girlfriends and I wanted to try premium Japanese and American beef. The selections are delicately prepared and served raw to be grilled right at your table (yakiniku). Note: they serve a variety of very decadent meats (raw liver and flash-boiled achilles tendon). I discovered through my friend Simon Kim, owner of Piora restaurant which happens to be down the street (more on his place later!) that Takashi served a LATE NIGHT BEEF BROTH RAMEN!!!! Pure ramen heaven. Here’s the info!

Mei Jin Ramen: Hip Japanese place for ramen & izakaya-style small plates with an adjoining cocktail & dessert bar. The chicken spicy miso ramen and curry beef ramen are exhilerating.

Totto Ramen: You simply cannot go wrong with any of the ramen varieties. The assortment of additional toppings is ridiculous, and they even serve ‘specialty’ ramen. Be experimental and play with your noodles!

Hide Chan: The Tonkotsu Ramen is a rich creamy pork bone soup with thin long noodles. Tonkotsu, which means pork bone, usually has a cloudy white colored broth. because it’s made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours. The result is a hearty pork flavor and a creamy consistency that rivals milk, melted butter or gravy. The ramen is hearty and delicious.

Mr Taka: The ingredients are carefully selected and there is a lot of care that goes into these slurp worthy noodles. One of the owners ramen restaurant in Japan, Bigiya, was listed on Michelin Tokyo in 2015. It was the first year for Michelin Tokyo to list a ramen restaurant and there are 5000 in Japan. It’s worth a trip here.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as more ramen joints open up, but for now, these are my staples. Enjoy – slurp up and #stayinspired.

La Dolce Vita! An Italian Adventure.

La Dolce Vita! An Italian Adventure in Venice, Verona, Padua, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Palermo (Sicily)

This post is dedicated to my father and mother’s family: The Caruso and the Rossi Clan – I am blessed to be an “honorary” Italian.

Italy is remarkable. It’s a kaleidoscope of regions and experiences with an incomparable artistic and cultural heritage that coincide with natural wonders fueled with a feisty passion for living. Throughout Italy, the local character and color is astonishing mainly due to the survival of regionalism, old traditions, customs and lifestyles coupled with a healthy interest in food, perseverance of history/events and elaborate commemorations of everything imaginable. In summary: everything is a celebration. I could get used to living like this…

Chapter 1:  Venice

Posted on 3QT separately:

Chapter 2: The Veneto Region (Verona and Padua)

Verona is a vibrant trading center and the second largest city in the Veneto region after                             Venice. It also boasts many Roman ruins, second only to those of Rome itself!

Must See / Excursions:

  • Romeo and Juliet: We are all familiar with this tragic story. At the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house) No 27 Via Cappello, Romeo is said to have climbed the balcony. In reality, this is actually a restored 13th century inn, but people still line up to see (myself included). The Casa di Romeo is a few streets away and the Tomba di Giulietta is displayed in a crypt below the cloister of San Francesco al Corso on Via del Pontiere.

  • Piazza Erbe: Colorful market built on the site of the ancient Roman forum and considered the center of Verona.

  • San Zeno Maggiore Church: Unusual medieval bronze door panels with extraordinary carved scenes honoring Verona’s patron saint.
  • The town of Padua is not far from Verona and is an old university town with an illustrious academic history. It houses a major museum complex which occupies a group of 14th century monastic buildings attached to the church of the Eremitani. A must visit spot is the Cappella degli Scrovegni dating back to 1303. The frescos of Christ are stunning and reveal what a powerful influence this art was on the development of European art.


Chapter 3: The Tuscany Region (Florence and Pisa)

The cradle of the Renaissance, but also a vibrant witness to new forms of creativity in wine, food, fashion and artisanship, Florence is magnificent. As a writer, I was tickled pink to know that writers such as Dante, Machiavelli, and Petrarch contributed to the city’s literary heritage, though it was the paintings and sculptures of artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo, and Botticelli that turned the city into an artistic capital. I was only here for a day, but it’s a compact city and a majority of the sites can be seen on foot. (Brian and Liz Shick – thank you for the tour)

Must See / Excursions:

  • Explore San Marco area: These buildings once stood on the fringe of the city serving as stables and barracks (lions, elephants and giraffes were held there). It’s fun to see the hustle and bustle of the young Florentines.

  • Explore the Duomo area: Dante was born here! It retains its medieval feel and is home to the Baptistery, one of the city’s oldest buildings. The richly decorated Duomo – Santa Maria del Fiore has become Florence’s most famous symbol.

  • Santa Croce: This gothic church is home to the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. The setting is a masterpiece but realizing the company you are keeping is incredibly humbling.

  • Uffizi: Offers a chance to see the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings – there is nothing left to say. A must see.
  • Piazza della Signoria: The great bell used to summon citizens to public meetings and it’s a popular promenade for visitors. The piazza’s statues commemorate the city’s major historical events.
  • Cappella Brancacci: The church of Santa Maria del Carmine is famous for the Brancacci Chapel, which contains frescoes on The Life of St. Peter.
  • Shopping in Florence: There is a kind of magic when shopping on these medieval streets. From family-run businesses, artisan workshops, high end designers, local goods, antiques, fine arts and FOOD, there are few cities comparable in size that can boast such a profusion of high quality shops.

  • Near to Florence is Pisa, known for its Duomo, Baptistery, and Campanile (Leaning Tower) which are all testaments to the city’s scientific and cultural revolution.
    • Duomo and Baptistery: Pisa’s famous Leaning Towner is now the best known building on the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), but it was intended as a campanile to complement the Duomo which is one of the finest Pisan-Romanesque buildings in Tuscay. The Baptistery houses a marble pulpit carved with reliefs of the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Presentation, the Crucifixion and the Last Judgement.
    • The Leaning Tower of Pisa: Begun on 1173, the Leaning tower started to tilt on the sandy silt subsoil in 1274 before the 3rd story was complete – and there are 8 total. It has been defeating the laws of gravity since.

Chapter 4: Rome

(This paragraph was taken from Wikipedia – it summarizes the history better than I could have)

Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at only around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city’s early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilisation and by some as the first ever metropolis. It was first called urbs aeterna (The Eternal City) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BCE, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy. Rome is also called the “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World).

I will return to Rome. There was not enough time to see everything and the city is truly glorious. Italy’s capital is a sprawling, cosmopolitan center with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. It’s a global playground twirling with passion and energy. Rome has a bounty of things to see and the mix of its architecture is a testament to its past: ruins, baroque squares and Renaissance gardens combine to give the city its enticing edge.

Respect the Food:

  • The Flavors of Rome: Roman cooking is slow and inventive. Pasta is the vital ingredient and the best dishes are simply prepared with the freshest ingredients. I can still taste fresh vegetables (artichokes), the fruit (lemons are the size of softballs), the bucatini all’amatriciana with spicy tomato and bacon sauce. Try everything.

  • Camp De’Fiori: It use to be the place of public executions, but is now a picturesque market by day. At night, it turns into a hub for nightlifers with restaurants and bars open for business
  • Piazza Della Rotonda: City square on the south side near the Pantheon. In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk. La Campana is nearby – Rome’s oldest trattoria (1518).

  • Piazza Navona: The Stadium of Domitian built in the 1st century AD is here. It was an open space stadium where the ancient Romans went to watch games. It was called the Circus Agonalis (competition arena). Check out Il Cantuccio – dazzling celeb place – for a delectable Roman meal.

Must See / Excursions:

  • *The Colosseum: It’s an ancient amphitheater and Rome’s most legendary landmark. This Roman icon, where gladiator battles once entertained more than 50,000 spectators has a maze of subterranean chambers which caged the fierce animals used in the battles – over 9,000 wild animals were killed.

  • The Roman Forum: It was originally a chaotic area with food stalls, brothels, temples and the Senate House but soon became the ceremonial center of the city under the Empire. Think House of the Vestal Virgins, Temple of Castor and Pollux, The Temple of Romulus, Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius.

  • Palatine Hill: Located in the same archaeological area as The Roman Forum, this is the spot on which the first settlers built their huts, under the direction of Romulus. It is one of the seven Hills of Rome and is located in one of the most ancient parts of the city.
  • The Pantheon: This was the temple to ‘all gods’. The maze of streets around it is a mix of lively restaurants and cafes.

  • *Vatican City: The world capital of Catholicism is the world’s smallest state.

  • Tens of thousands of people visit the Vatican to see St. Peter’s Basilica, masterpieces by the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael, and the Sistine Chapel. It is a UNESCO-listed complex with a collection of galleries filled with classical and Renaissance masterpieces, including the Sistine Chapel frescoes. Stroll through rooms like the Gallery of Maps, with its golden, vaulted ceiling; the Raphael Rooms, painted by Renaissance artist Raphael; and the stunning Sistine Chapel, considered to be the Pope’s home chapel, with Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement. Finish with a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church ever built and one of the holiest and most important sites in Christendom. The Pietà, one of Michelangelo’s earlier sculptures that depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion, is breathtaking. St. Peter was martyred and buried here, and became the residence of the popes who succeeded him. This was one of the most overwhelming experiences of the trip. Everything is grand and almost larger than life. You are completely humbled regardless of religious affiliation by this experience.

  • Fontana Di Trevi: Rome’s largest and most famous fountain features figures of Neptune flanked by two Tritons, one trying to master an unruly seahorse, the other leading a quieter beast, symbolizing the two contrasting gods of the sea.

  • Arch of Constantine: The triumphal arch is one of Imperial Rome’s last monuments built in AD 315 a few years before he moved the capital of the Empire to Byzantine.

  • Piazza Di Spagna and the Spanish Steps: The network of narrow streets around this Piazza forms one of the most exclusive areas of Rome – Via Condotti. This is the most famous square in Rome.

Chapter 5: Naples & Campania Region (Pompeii)

The UNESCO-listed site of Pompeii is worth the trip. After the volcano’s infamous AD 79 eruption, lava and volcanic ash destroyed the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Evidence of those ancient streams of lava is still evident in the area. Once a thriving Roman city, Pompeii is best known for its archaeological digs, which are home to a wealth of relics.

There were preserved fossils and other ruins, plus plaster imprints of the town’s victims who were buried for years (there was a dog on a chain frozen in time!).

The ability to wander the streets and see how locals lived before the ashes took over is amazing. You’ll see where ancient shops, cafes and even brothels existed.

Chapter 6: Amalfi Coast

Discover one of Italy’s most beautiful stretches of coastline: The Amalfi Coast (aka: Brielle’s retirement). The picturesque towns combine stunning Italian scenery, archaeology and history.


The town of Amalfi was a former naval power now famous for its cliffside perch on the coast of the Tyrrenhian Sea. The views/cliffs are scary and breathtaking. Relax over a coffee or limoncello at a café.

Oh, and there is a Hotel Caruso… I think I need to stay here next time…

Chapter 7: Sicily (Palermo)

Active volcanoes, Greek ruins, remarkable landscapes? Palermo is an eclectic crossroads of Mediterranean and northern European civilization I also have a soft spot because my father’s family is from here – The mighty Caruso Clan!

*Keith and I were here in August. It’s hotter than hell. The only other place on earth we experienced such heat was XI’AN China (check out that post). We rationed water and dripped sweat but continued to explore this amazing town. The softball size rice balls and pizza fueled us…powered by pizza had a whole new meaning.

Respect the Food:

Make sure you eat!!!!! Sicilian food bears the mark of medieval influences. The Arabs introduced sugar cane, rice and certain citrus fruits, and the strong flavors of caponata (aubergine and caper salad), arancine (filled rice balls), cassata and cannoli (both filled with a sweet ricotta cream) are tasty testaments to the kind of culinary culture which evolves only over the course of centuries. Artichokes, harvested in winter and spring, are thought to be native to Sicily, while lamb and swordfish are so popular that they might almost be considered “national” dishes. Everything dish is perfection.

Must See / Excursions:

  • The Mafia (means hostility to the law) is an international organization founded in Sicily. It developed against a background of a cruel state, exploitative nobility and severe poverty. By the late 19th century it had become a criminal organization thriving on property speculation and drug trafficking.

  • Vucciria Market: Dating back 700 years, this spirited open air market is filled with more fresh food than you can imagine, Chinese imports, toys/junk, and hidden gems that are squeezed into the maze-like streets. The market has lost its tenuous links with its mafia past.

  • The Crypts

  • Teatro Massimo: Beautiful opera house located in the Piazza Verdi
  • The Casa Professa: Stunning baroque church
  • Quattro Canti Quarter (Baroque Square)

Chapter 8: Where I Still Need to Go

Milan, Naples, Sardinia, Capri – I’m coming for you!!!! #stayinspired

Ciao for now!

20 Signs You Are Succeeding in Life from Lifehack

Well, another year ended and in classic human form, we re-evaluated what we did and didn’t do, trying to get closure, creating new goals/resolutions and having faith that the best is yet to come.

For many years, I viewed success through my career, love life, financial situation, tangible goods, travel… It probably sounds like all the ‘Enlightenment’ stories… but in the end, it didn’t satisfy me and was never enough. I didn’t feel successful even though I was fortunate enough to have what I did. Something was missing.

I came across this beautiful list that re-defined success in such a wholesome, balanced way and wanted to share. Seems that we are all probably much more successful than we give ourselves credit for. I bet most of us are starting 2017 on the right foot!

This was posted on the site.

Enjoy and #stayinspired.

  1. Your relationships are less dramatic than they used to be.

Drama is not maturity. As we age, we should develop maturity. So maybe your relationships were drama-filled in your past, but if you have moved beyond that, then you are successful.

  1. You are not afraid to ask for help and support any more.

Asking for help does not equal weakness. In fact, it is a strength. No person has ever succeeded in isolation. It takes teamwork to accomplish goals. Asking or help is a sign that you have grown as a person.

  1. You have raised your standards.

You don’t tolerate bad behavior any more – from other people, or even yourself. You hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t spend time with the “energy vampires” in your life anymore.

  1. You let go of things that don’t make you feel good.

No, this is not narcissistic even though it might seem like it. Self-love is success. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t serve your purpose, or drags you down.

  1. You have moments where you appreciate who you see in the mirror.

Ideally, you should appreciate who you see in the mirror at every moment. But even if that doesn’t happen, if you do it more than you used to, then that is success. Love yourself. You are awesome.

  1. You have learned that setbacks and failure are part of self-growth.

Not everyone can have success 100% of the time. That’s just not realistic. Life is about victories and losses. So look at your setbacks as stepping stones to something better. In reality, there really is no such thing as as setback. It’s all just part of a wondrous journey.

  1. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you.

If you have figured out the people who “have your back” and recognized the ones who only pretend that they do, then you have succeeded. This is a painful realization, but once you learn to see the signs of betrayal, you can stay away from those people.

  1. You don’t complain much.

Because you know there really is nothing to complain about. Unless you really have gone through some horrific life experience and had unimaginable losses, most of what we all experience on a day-to-day basis is just mundane. And successful people know that. And they live in a space of gratitude.

  1. You can celebrate others’ successes.

Just because other people succeed, that doesn’t make you a failure. Applaud the people who rise to the top. The more positive energy you give to other people’s victories, the more you will create your own.

  1. You have passions that you pursue.

You are not stagnant. You know you have something wonderful to contribute to the world. You have unique talents and gifts. Not only do you know that, you pursue it.

  1. You have things to look forward to.

If you don’t have exciting things going on in your life that you are eagerly anticipating, then you are slowly dying inside. Successful people create goals that they are passionate about pursuing. They let this excitement drive their life.

  1. You have goals that have come true.

Even though “failures” are a part of life, you have stuck to your goals and dreams long enough to make them come to fruition. You have some tastes of victory. It fuels you.

  1. You have empathy for others.

A person without empathy is dead inside. Empathy equals spreading love and positive energy into the world. Successful people know this. They love others as if they are family.

  1. You love deeply and open yourself up to be loved by others.

Love is risky, and sometimes scary for people. It’s the one thing we all strive for, but it’s also intimately tied to the one thing we fear the most – rejection. If you open your heart enough to love and be loved, then you are successful.

  1. You refuse to be a victim.

You know that life doesn’t always happen to you. Many times, you are a co-creator of your life experiences. Successful people know this and refuse to be kept down by life experiences. The rise up and conquer anyway.

  1. You don’t care what other people think.

You know you can’t please everyone. You know that the standards with which society judges people is many times unrealistic. So you just keep true to yourself and love the person you are.

  1. You always look on the bright side.

Life can be full of disappointments – if you choose to see them that way. Otherwise, they are learning opportunities. No negative experience is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.

  1. You accept what you can’t change.

Let’s face it – there many things you can’t change in life. All you can change is how you view what happens. If you can change your negative perspective on situations to a positive one, then you are successful.

  1. You change what you can.

And let’s face it again – there are many things you can change in life. Successful people don’t sit around accepting the negatives that are changeable. They get out there and do something about it!!

  1. You are happy.

To me, this list is the ultimate definition of success. It doesn’t matter what the balance is in your bank account, how big your house is, or how many fancy vacations you take. If you are happy, then you are succeeding in life.

Even if you don’t see yourself in many of these 20 things, don’t fret. It’s okay. Be happy that you see yourself in just a few. In time, the rest will come. You just need to keep moving onward and upward.

What 2016 Taught Me – The Year in Review

2016 was a roller coaster ride. There were supreme celebrations, unexpected obstacles, health tragedies and recoveries, humbling moments, transformations and trying to make sense of it all. I realized sometimes you just have to surrender to life. Everything happens for a reason.


How empowering is it to know you actually get to create your story? As a recap for this year, I decided to post what I learned in hopes that it could somehow help, guide and inspire you.

Disclaimer: I have no fancy degrees. I can only offer my honest experiences from what this year taught me.

If I had one piece of advice:  Everyone wants to feel needed, validated and secure.

The absence of meaning, the loss of self-identity and the lack of devotion to something are the strongest challenges we face. If we can find ways to complete these needs and offer them to others, we will truly live happy, complete and balanced lives.

What’s the greatest gift you can give: Give the people you love your full TRUST, potential and attention. We are only validated when we are acknowledged.


Actions speak louder than words: I have heard this all my life but it rings true. It’s not what you say but what you do that defines you. And by you doing things, you give others the courage and inspiration to do it, too.

Health is imperative: This includes your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical self. Combining conventional medical approaches with appropriate alternative therapies to create the most effective healing program is essential. Disease is more than physical. We are born with a self-healing program inside us that is designed to be capable of fixing anything – our bodies are the perfect machine. Nature has also given us every resource necessary to heal. Healing spiritually in conjunction with contemporary medical treatments is a win/win. Our bodies are living history books of us! Our health becomes a living, breathing biographical statement that conveys our strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears. Bear in mind, I’m not saying that we should blame ourselves for becoming ill, but rather recognize that illness develops as a consequence of behavioral patterns and attitudes that we do not realize are biologically toxic until they have already surfaced.

Avoid power symbols: We have structured our lives around money, authority, title, beauty and security… and at what cost? (Trust me, I have been very guilty of this and still need work) We need to break free of these beliefs that no longer serve our personal development. Unplug from these symbols so they no longer have power over you. You are an original! No one has or ever will be like you – you are one of a kind. Take advantage of that knowledge and declare yourself extraordinary.

Coping vs. Healing:

  • Coping: You have learned a more constructive way to deal with the pain/issue but it isn’t healed.
  • Healing: Permanent healing is when you are in full balance (Mental, Spiritual, Physical, Emotional).
  • You want to HEAL. (I am still working on this, too)

Even the ‘winners’ have downtime: When you read about world-changing people, you find there’s always an ‘exile’ season. They experienced an apparent failure that set them back, but ultimately enabled them to fulfill their purpose. It might have seemed like an unproductive period to most but these were the most important times.


Death: Death is not a failure to heal. We are born at the perfect moment for our energy to enter this earth and there is a perfect moment for us to leave this earth.


Process-oriented with instant gratification: Yup, that’s our culture and we love our goals, resolutions and results…quickly. This has worked for and against me throughout my life. It’s enabled me to push through to completion because I love the feeling of finishing things, but at other times, when I’m considering starting something that I know will take a while, I have a tendency of freezing up and not assigning the proper timeline to get it done/get motivated. I have succumbed to the fact that this is a process for me and it will take the rest of my life to perfect. It’s not a goal of achievement but an ongoing goal of process and an ever-evolving experience. In a culture that seeks instant results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance.  Be strong, present, and steadfast.

People Pleasing: I suffer from this tremendously. So now I ask myself –

  • What am I trying to prove?
  • To Whom?
  • For What?

What makes you memorable on social media: We all post and want those likes and approvals (see first learning). From all the posts I’d consider ‘successful’, I noticed they all incorporated the following.


  • Social Currency: We share things that make us look awesome whether it’s the full truth or not.
  • Triggers: We remember what’s top of mind.
  • Emotion: When we care (good or bad) we share.
  • Public: Build to show, build to grow.
  • Practical Value: It’s some form of information you can use (and share).
  • Stories: Information that can be communicated under the guise of idle chatter.

You have control over NOW: The moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life. Create the life you deserve to live in this present moment.


Framily: This is my combination of family and friends. Being adopted, it is not about a blood link for me. My family, or framily as I call it, consists of the people that truly ‘have my back’, know when I need something before I need it and don’t hesitate to be my biggest cheerleaders when I do something great but also constructively criticize and share necessary feedback when I am plummeting down the wrong track.

*If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you*


Patience: I struggle with this, too, but if achieved it’s truly the most genuine expression of confidence, acceptance, serenity, and faith in your own ability.  It’s a sign of strength.

Rejection: It happens to everyone and hurts like hell. It makes us question our identity and value. Remember, your struggle is part of your story.  Being rejected from something you want often means you are being directed toward something you need…to take the next best step forward.

Digital Detoxes are Mandatory: I became a slave to my devices. If I wasn’t checking emails, I was texting or checking in on Facebook, Instagram, Linked In. It became non-stop and very stressful feeling the need to stay ‘in touch’. As painful as it was, I realized I needed to manage this relationship better.


  • Change expectations: I started to fall into the trap of being available 24/7 and reacting to everything immediately. Solution? Redefine my availability and stick to it.
  • Out of sight, out of mind: When I see/hear my device go off, I react. Solution? Simply remove it, put it in another room or put it on airplane mode – these will all remove the temptation to check it.
  • Learn when to multitask: I thought I was a rock star because I could multitask multiple projects and be plugged into my social media all at once. Wrong! I was trying to get that satisfaction of completeting things and in the end nothing was being done at 100%. I reconciled that if I’m doing something that requires a very high quality, something represents me or something has time pressure on it, it’s not the time to multitask and play with the device.
  • It’s ok to do nothing: One of the scariest things I ever heard. How could you NOT want to be productive? And then I realized, move slower to go faster. Being unstimulated calms you down and actually allows for reflection which ultimately leads to creation. There is a lot of value in the quiet, simple moments.

Choose to improve: Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become. Remember you are a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be from this moment on. (And sometimes you need a little help along the way…)

Circle of Influence: Research has shown that we virtually become like the average of the 5 people we spend most time with. Chew on that nugget of information…

Choose your words wisely: Words have both the power to hurt and heal.


Your words have an impact on your life and others. You should ask yourself if your words foster love or bring harm. Listen to the people you encounter. If we talk to others and listen, we create the possibility of mutual sympathy, understanding and tolerance.

Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever. You only lose what you cling to. The one constant in the universe is change. What is real is the existing moment, the present that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions. Because of ignorance, an ordinary mind conceives them all to be part of one continuous reality. No life story is one chapter long.  No chapter tells the whole tale.  No mistake defines who you are.  Keep turning the pages that need to be turned. Embrace change.


Allow yourself to be a beginner: When the student is ready the teacher appears. At 35 I thought I knew so much. Yes, I have had many life experiences, but this year humbled me into realizing I am still a student in so many ways and should embrace all the teachers that come into my life. They are everywhere and will teach me what I want to be and what I don’t want to be – both are valuable.

No one owes you anything.

You are not a product of your circumstances:  You are a product of your decisions.  It’s about deciding to NOT let your frustration or fear decide your future.

Be kind to all: Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.

At this stage in my life: If it doesn’t make me happy, make me better or make me money, I don’t make time for it.

Hours: We all have the same amount of time in a day – how will you use them?


The 6 Best Doctors: I have this as my screen shot on my iphone. Whenever I’m feeling ill emotionally or physically, it reminds me nature has my back and I will heal.

  • Sunshine
  • Water
  • Rest
  • Air
  • Exercise
  • Diet


…And sometimes these bad boys can be great doctors,, too 🙂


Don’t believe everything you are told: Ask questions and be curious. Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Observe and analyze.  When you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

True control is being able to control your mind: To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.

Make self-care a daily priority: How can you help others and be of use to this world if you are unhealthy?


Never is never right and always is always wrong.

You are an original: Every life is a chance to change the world. Every life is an experiment the universe has never attempted before. Being (who you need to be) + Doing (what you need to do) = Having (what you want to have). This takes commitment and only YOU can do it. Also, remember, that the knowledge you accumulate and share cannot be stolen or removed, it is timeless and ageless, and in many ways just like you.

Replace jealousy with admiration.


Forgive (if you succeed in doing this, let me know how).


Give up labels: They only create boundaries and are relevant to a person’s experiences.

Things to Shut Up About:

  1. Your Goals: Plans should be guarded with diligence until you are able to achieve them. Being loud about everything you do enables others to steal them, cripple you with timelines, demoralize you….
  2. Your Deepest Thoughts: What you think about certain topics should be your belief and not what you try to inculcate into others. Learn to understand that your thoughts are your interpretation and not the objective truth.
  3. Philanthropy: Helping another is charitable work and does a whole lot to the development of individuals and our society. Its more value when you do not seek recognition for such benevolence.
  4. Your Lifestyle: It’s simply not worth putting your emotional conditions out to all. Expecting appraisals from people is not necessary.
  5. Your Family’s Dirty Laundry: Not only is it disrespectful and unwise to bring conflicts within your family to others, it devalues you and your family as these stories are usually passed on by the people you told them to which, in the end, makes matters worse.

Consume Mindfully: Be thankful for the nourishment good food provides, and be aware of what you put into your body. Think about it before you buy it. Is it really something you need, or just a transient desire (I am known for the latter)? Pay attention to the effects of negative media you consume – this is not all about food, folks! Ask yourself: is it helping me to grow or learn, or is it a form of distraction? Eat less to taste more.


Changing the Game: Too many people try and change the game before they even learn to play it. Learn it, own it, then change it.


Detachment:  Others call it a law of success or learning how to let go emotionally. I like to think of it as separating ourselves from the expectant pressures that actually block us from living to our full potential. When we allow ourselves to release the emotional attachment to certain outcomes, we open up a new route for ourselves and, instead, find a route to freedom. We learn to let things be how they are instead of creating ideals in our minds of how we think things should be. And we learn to trust that we are where we are supposed to be. After all, trust and faith are the most fundamental components to our success. Detaching emotionally from the outcome of our desires does not mean we lose the desire itself. The key is to hold on to our intention. Our intentions push us to reach our desires.


Embrace the ‘Chapters’ of your life. Remember the good life isn’t made only of major moments. It’s the everyday ‘ahas’ that bring you close to what you’re wishing for.


On my website, Three Quarters There, I wrote this at the launch 1 year ago…it still holds true.

Simply put – Your life is your party. You get to create the invite list, the experiences, the décor, the soundtrack. Enjoy the process, but remember as long as you continue to strive for greatness, you are most likely Three Quarters There. That is my life message.


Start writing your damn story! Cheers to 2017!




This post is dedicated to the Shick Family. They gave me the opportunity to visit this amazing city – a thank you is truly not enough. I also dedicate this to Adam Ponsi and Linda Gomes – their honeymoon in 2017 will take them to this magical city. #stayinspired


Venice: The medieval city is postcard-perfect. It flourishes with Gothic, Byzantine, Rococo and Neo-Classical architecture. Its intricate network of canals winding through ancient cobbled alleys and under bridges is sublime. Venice is a window into the Italy of the 5th century. Nestled in a crook in northern Italy on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, it is laced with 170-odd waterways, which are spanned by 400-odd bridges. You can see the gondolas which replace workaday motorboats on the canals – you will not see a single car or even a bike.

Venice is built on top of an unstable lagoon. Read: its sinking, and worsening. Recurring floods have only sped up the structural damage inflicted on Venice’s low-lying brick buildings and the priceless St. Mark’s Basilica. A mere 3.3-foot rise in sea levels would put the city underwater—a reality that focuses not on “if” but “when.”

What does this mean -> Go see it now!


General Info:

  • Currency: Euro
  • Tipping: Most restaurants include a service charge, but 10-15% is appreciated


  • Hotel Villa Braida: Super cozy hotel outside of the actual city (25 min drive and arrangements can be made with hotel staff)
  • Aman Canal Grande: Set beside the Grand Canal – magnificent.
  • Metropole Hotel: A walk from St. Mark’s Basilica. It’s also home to the Michelin starred Met Restaurant (pan-friend scallops coated with black bread crumbs!)


A Venetian meal has many courses, and it can take a few hours to work your way through them all—from an antipasto seafood platter (or the classic sarde in saor, Venetian sweet-and-sour sardines) through spaghetti alle vongole (with clams) or risi e bisi (rice and peas) and grilled catch of the day to a cheese platter or tiramisú for dessert. Side note: I loved them ALL!

There are several great places to eat between Piazza San Marco and Ca’ d’Oro. I recommend either the simple yet hearty and authentic fare at Austria La Campana hidden in plain sight on the main drag (or, a bit out of the way, Trattoria Cea), or splashing out on lunch at the excellent Bistrot de Venise, many of its recipes from Renaissance-era Italian and French cookbooks.

If you prefer quick, cheap bites, there are two excellent tavola calda joints selling hot, prepared foods near the Rialto Bridge.


More places to Eat:

  • Caffe del Doge: Coffee snobs paradise near the Rialto Bridge.
  • Rialto Fish Market: Medieval market is open-sided and offers everything from crabs, octopus, squid, monkfish and more. There is also a horse butcher next door….


  • All’Arco: A neighborhood osteria (casual tavern) that serves wine and cicchetti finger food. Armed with ingredients from the nearby Rialto market, this family run tavern is a must stop!
  • Osteria di Santa Marina: Local eatery with delicious tuna tartare with shaved truffle and tagliatelle with cuttlefish and pistachio pesto….oh and plenty of wine.
  • Antiche Carampane: No fuss, seafood focused trattoria. Sign on the door” No pizza, no lasagna, no menu turistico” Get the soft shell crabs that are deep fried and the tagliolini with baby octopus.
  • Quadri: One of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants. 7 courses…. and so utterly romantic.


  • 1930’s era Harry’s Bar – 1948 Giuseppe Cipriani christened his signature peach bellini cocktail – must have if visiting Venice.



  • Hotel Danieli’s Bar Dandolo: Sean Connery drank here during the filming of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. You can’t help but feel like James Bond here 🙂

Must See / Excursions:

  • Ponte dell’Accademia (at sunrise)
  • The Grand Canal


  • Piazza San Marco: The famous square is flanked by grand municipal buildings with a triumvirate of tower, church and palace at the end. This was where Venice announced itself to the world. One of the shops bears a statue of St. Theordore, the city’s dragon-slaying patron before St. Mark, and the other a winged lion, the symbol of the city and it’s 1000 year rebuttal of autocratic rule. Prisoners were executed between the columns – yikes!


  • Santa Maria della Salute: Built in the 1600’s to celebrate the end of the city’s last great plague.
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica: Kill two birds with one stone by being at the Basilica di San Marco before it opens at 9:45am; that way you (a) get to see its treasures and the thousands of square feet of glittering mosaics, and (b) won’t have to wait in a long line, which can stretch the wait to as long as an hour or more later in the day. It consists of onion domes and Gothic spires, statues and gold mosaics. This was an expression of power vs. faith.
  • Pala d’Oro: Do pay the small, separate admission fees to see the Pala d’Oro altarpiece and to visit the Marciana Museum upstairs (great close-up view of the mosaics from the balcony level).
  • Libreria Acqua Alta: “The most beautiful bookstore in the world”. It’s not, but it’s an experience in itself.
  • Doge’s Palace: Be there before 11:35am to take your (pre-booked) “Secret Itineraries” tour, which in 90 minutes gives you an amazing insider’s glimpse into the hidden offices, courtrooms, archives, and prisons from which the true Venetian Republic ruled for 900 years.


  • San Marco Campanile: The bell tower which actually opens before the basilica itself. Hit this one first for city panoramas from the top.
  • Ca’d’Oro: Venice’s Ca’ d’Oro (Golden House) is a gorgeous 15th century palatial home housing the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti museum. Ca’ d’Oro is one of the best preserved and most impressive of the hundreds of patrician palazzi lining the Grand Canal.
  • Rialto Bridge: Cross over the Grand Canal to the bridge. It’s a Renaissance stone span lined by shops…and food! Take a few minutes to wander the stalls of the Rialto Bridge on the far (S. Polo) side, then thread your way south through the S. Polo district to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.


  • A Cicchetti Crawl: Cicchetti (proucounced “chee-KET-tee”) are Venice’s verison of tapas. These are finger foods from bars called bacari traditionally washed down with an ombra (shadow), a small glass of wine. Cichetti run the gamut of, well, pretty much anything you can stick on a toothpick: calamari (in rings, or just tiny whole octopi), fried olives, cheese, sarde in soar (sweet-and-sour sardines), potato croquettes, polpette (meatballs—of beef or tuna), grilled polenta squares, salami…the list goes on. On the calories I accumulated.


  • Casino di Venezia: Since the 1600’s people have been invited to throw their money around in elegant surroundings. With the slot machines juxtaposed with Renaiissance art, it’s quite a decandent experience. Caution, you will most likely walk in with more money than you walk out.
  • Take a Gondola Ride
  • Other Trips from Venice:
    • Murano Glass: There was a time when the trade of glassblowing was an elite pursuit dominated by craftsmen in the Venetian Republic, most notably on the island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon. It’s a must see. The products are breathtaking and $$$. I totally bought gold glasses. It’s the Italian in me.


  • Giudecca: Run down area home to prisoners and exiles (Michaelangelo spent a few years here in the 1520’s) but it feels like Brooklyn.
  • Shoreditch: artists and musicials – Elton John has a place here.

There is so much here that seems on the brink of falling apart or melting away. While many buildings have been restored, many are still crumbling. This is part of Venice’s appeal. The city dates back to the 5th Century, and emerged as a major world power in the 10th century. It looks it’s age…and that’s what makes it fabulous.

San Francisco & Napa Valley/Yountville – 2016

Built on 43 hills, covering 49 square miles and surrounded by water on three sides, San Francisco packs an incredible number of sights into a small and compact area. The ‘City by the Bay’ is a vibrant place to see. I have visited a few times for work and pleasure, but this last trip was with my best friend, Linda Gomes, and it was truly memorable. A tremendous thank you to Michael Stedman, Trish Mannion, Kathy Mannion, Yao-Hsuan Huang and Barclay Webster for helping cultivate this list over the past few years. 


General Info:

  • Currency: US dollar
  • Tipping: 15-20% appreciated


  • Parc 55 Wyndham (Union Square Area): Cost effective and great location.
  • Hyatt @ Fisherman’s Wharf: A 5-minute walk from the shops and restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf, this upscale hotel is 3 blocks from Ghirardelli Square, and 4.3 miles from the east end of Golden Gate Park.
  • Sir Francis Drake (Union Square Area): A historic 1920s building just off Union Square. Part of Kimpton Hotels, the amenities are fantastic – the hotel hosts a free afternoon wine hour and has a glamorous top-floor lounge, The Starlight Lounge. The views are beautiful, the Yoshi’s Fix cocktail is delicious and although I haven’t made it yet, I heard the Sunday Drag Queen brunch is terribly entertaining. It’s also pet friendly. 
  • Westin St. Francis: This upscale hotel dating to 1904 was once visited by Queen Elizabeth II, and is 1.8 miles from downtown San Francisco. Can we say Starwood points?!

San Francisco Dining:

  • Yank Sing : My personal favorite dim sum. Keith and I rang up a $200 tab – yes, we are fat. Linda and I came in second place at $115.

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  • Michael Mina: Expert waitstaff and world class sommeliers. Classic California cuisine!
  • Original Joes: Old school Italian. They also have a great hamburger.


  • Sons and Daughters: Contemporay American influenced by the seasons. A 28 table restaurant with a beautiful open kitchen.
  • Foreign Cinema for brunch: Truly a magical destination with an outdoor space screening films. Amazing brunch focusing on Californian-Mediterranean fare.
  • Brenda’s French Soul Food: NOLA take on fresh gumbo, crawfish, beignets, po’ boys & other Big Easy bites. The watermelon ice tea is glorious. No reservations so get there early!


  • Wayfare Tavern: Feels like a British Pub. It’s known for it’s fried chicken. It’s good, but Willie Mae’s in NOLA will always be my #1. There was just a little more soul in the batter. What stood out during this meal was the mac and cheese and the burrata whipped potatoes.


  • Locanda: Every pasta was outstanding, and we tried them all. Amen!

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  • Tony’s Pizza: Coal fired to Roman style – ’nuff said.
  • Liholiho Yacht Club: Hawaiian, Indian & Chinese dishes in a brick-walled space with booths. I am on a mission to eat everything with poke. The tuna poke, sesame oil, radish, nori cracker was ridiculously delicious. The other stand outs were manila clams, coconut curry, fresh turmeric, naan & grilled shortrib, escargot, bone marrow, mushrooms, fresh horseradish.

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Napa Dining:

  • Bouchon: Thomas Keller’s French bistro serving traditional fare in the Yountville area. The french onion soup is outstanding and you cannot go wrong with the steak frites.

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  • Auberge du soleil: The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil is one of the most romantic experiences I’ve ever had. It has one of the best vantage points in the valley. With 10 consecutive Michelin Stars, the exquisite Mediterranean-inspired cuisine reflects the natural diversity and rich seasonal produce available in the Napa Valley. Keith and I were lucky enough to have a wedding anniversary dinner here…and we sat next to some of the NY Giants!


  • Rutherford Grill: Lively restaurant focusing on American comfort food – the skillet corn bread was life changing.


  • Thomas Keller’s French Laundry: The Ultimate. I’m still working on getting reservations one day…

I love wine. It’s no secret. It’s my kryptonite and I fully disclose that. It’s been the source of my greatest and worst moments and I cannot quit it… although my cardiologist has other views. Wine has an amazing way of pleasing all your senses. It breaks the ice between people, it makes the nerves and muscles relax, your eyes brighten and see things in a new light, tongues loosen, friendships are made/deepened and the whole world is so damn happy.


Visiting wine county is such a pleasure. Here’s a cheat sheet map from the Legendary Napa Valley Site: Napa Valley Winery Map

As for my personal favorites, here goes:

  • Chandon: All the etoile brands are magnificent specifically the brut. It’s made in Dom Perignon style and a fraction of the price. The 2006 tete de cuvee with is nutmeg flavor translates to a winter champagne on the palette.

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  • Robert Mondavi: The grounds are so magnificent and while I’m not a fan of super sweet wine, the Moscato is brilliant.


  • Darioush: So exotic and sexy. Darius II is stunning.
  • Inglenook: In 1975, Francis Ford Coppola purchased the historic Inglenook property, intent on restoring the estate’s legacy of creating world-class wines equal to those that founder Gustave Niebaum and his grandnephew John Daniel Jr. made for decades. I love the classic Rubicon.


  • Clos du Val: Clos Du Val Winery is a winery in the Stags Leap District. The Cabernet Sauvignons are beautifully done.
  • Cakebread: The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are outstanding.


  • Far Niente: Beautiful grounds/estate and the Chardonnay is delicious.


  • Chimney Rock (need advance reservations): Saving the best for last. If I won lottery I would try and buy this winery. By far, my favorite wines on earth. I have been known to enjoy a bottle myself. (I don’t know if I should be proud of that, but the wine is like drinking silk). The Elevage is my true love, but I adore the Cabernet Sauvignon. I also appreciate the Elevage Blanc which I consider the white wine for red drinkers.

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Must See / Excursions:

  • Fisherman’s Wharf
    • Jefferson St. Promenade: San Fran’s fishing fleet; Fish Alley (Jefferson btw Hyde and Jones) to view the fisherman at work.
    • The San Franscico Dungeon.
    • Red & white Fleet Bay Cruise: 1 hour and takes you under the Golden Gate and by Alcatraz.
    • Ghirardelli Square: Once the home of the world famous chocolate factory.
    • Thai Massage at Royal Thai Spa (5 minute walk from Pier 39).
    • San Francisco Maritime National Park.
    • Hyde Street Pier: The only floating National Park.
    • Pier 39: Renovated cargo pier with specialty shopts and dining.
    • Gotta love the street performers.
    • Sea Lions!


  • Vendors along Jefferson Street sell Dungeness crab from steaming cauldrons and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.


  • Cable Cars: Introduced to San Francsico on August 2, 1873, the wire-cable manufacturer Andrew Hallidie conceved the idea after witnessing an accident in which a horse drawn carriage fell, rolled backwards and dragged the horses and carriage downhill. The cable car created a vital link in the public transportation system. These beloved cars are the only vehicles left of their kind still in operation and are designated national landmarks.
  • Alcatraz: One of the cities top attractions, Alcatraz served as a harbor fortification, military detention facility and maximum-security federal penitentiary. Many mafia criminals and high-risk convicts spent their time here. Fun fact: the prison was the only one in the federal system that touted hot showers – a luxury designed to keep prisoners from acclimating to cold water. The island is only 1.25 miles from shore and there is no evidence of any successful escapes across the icy Bay. Nicknamed ‘The Rock’, it is accessible only by Alcatraz Cruise boats which depart daily from Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf on the Embarcadero. Purchse the tickets in advance.


  • The world’s crookedest street – Lombard Street: Located in the Russian Hill district, it’s 8 sharp turns on a 40 degree slope making it the world’s croodedest street. Note, speed limit is 5mph.


  • Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Golden Gate Park: Among the world’s greatest urban parks, approximately 3 miles long and a half mile wide, this treasure is covered with grassy meadows, bike trails, secluded lakes and gardens. Includes the Conservatory of Flowers, de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, The Japanese Tea Garden and Stow Lake.
  • Chinatown – Dragon’s Gate at Bush and Grant: Your senses are immedietly tempted by the aroma of the ethnic cuisine. The heart of Chinatown is Portsmouth Square where San Fran’s first Chinese immigrants settled in the 1850’s. Old St. Mary’s Church is the first Roman Catholic cathedral built on the West Coast. Stockton Street is the place to find traditional herbs, pharmacies, temples, produce, seafood and restaurants.


  • The Embarcadero: This is the waterfront boulevard lined with palm trees, historic pier structures and delicious eateries. The Ferry Buidling serves as the market from which the piers are numbered, odd numbers are located to the north and even numbers to the south.
  • Union Square Area for shopping.
  • Presidio: This area served as a military station for more than 200 years. Union regiments trained here during the Civil War.
  • Mission District: Mission Street is where you can immerse yourself in Latin American and Mexican rich cultural traditions. Valencia Street has become the epicenter of the gentrified Mission District. The eateries are on the ‘must-try’ list.


  • Japantown: Ramen noodles!
  • Day Trip to Napa – we used Ambassador Airport Service. They were terrific.
  • Trips to Sonoma and Healdsburg (small town in Sonoma): Home to many award winning boutique wineries.


Party By The Numbers

Working in the wine and spirits industry has definitely taught me how to plan and enjoy events. With the holiday’s approaching, here is a quick guide for party planning.


Invites: It’s always lovely to create custom invites and send them, but in this day and age, time is of the essence, and we are all on our digital devices. Step in: Electronic invites. They take the hassle out of party planning. At a glance, you and your guest can see who’s coming, bringing what, etc.


Bites Per Person: Did you know guests only eat about 6 appetizers per hour? Dazzle your guests with a nice assortment that will tickle their palettes.

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Spanish Tortilla Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchen’s Spanish Tortilla, as seen on Food Project:, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTA Show Name: 30 Minute Meals Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Networkimg_2842

Bottles Per Person: If you have a heavy drinking crowd, which I often do, add 2 more bottles

10 people = 3 750ml Bottles

20 people = 4 750ml Bottles

30 people = 5 750ml Bottles

40 people = 6 750ml Bottles

50 people = 7 750ml Bottles


Minutes to Chill Wine: If your fridge is full, set out a few bottles in ice buckets. By the time the guests arrive, they will be cold (Chill reserves in a cooler)

Ice: 4 cubes per glass (or 8 ounces of ice per person), etc… use those math skills!

Songs on your Playlist: 90 songs = 3 hours of uninterrupted music. Choose songs that create a vibe you want for each moment of the evening.


Plates: Guests will usually go through an average of 3 plates in an evening (think for the crab cake, the dip, the cake…)

 Hope these party tips help and enjoy the holiday festivities! #stayinspired

2016 Jersey City Restaurants

As a Jersey City, NJ resident, many friends ask me about places to go. After doing some research, I found an amazing site, Jersey City Upfront, that already posted on this! Here’s their list! Edward Bechold, this one is for you!

#stayinspired and enjoy!

Restaurant Guide


Find the Balance: 2016 Healthy New York Restaurants

I continue to work on the balance between being social and healthy. New York restaurant options are endless, my love of food and drink can be obsessive and I truly enjoy going out with friends/family to experience new cuisines/dishes/cocktails.

I know the extremes of being 100% healthy – no carbs, no dairy, no sugar, no booze, etc. I also know the other side of this pendulum – just go after it… and then I feel awful. I have struggled to find that middle ground. Experts say that 80% of the fitness and health battle is your diet.

Enter Lara Shriftman – a PR icon/influencer, mentor and friend. In LA, she introduced me to Real Food Daily. I couldn’t believe how tasty, satisfying and healthy the food was. I returned to NY on a mission to find and try as many ‘healthy’ NY restaurants as possible. After 2 years, here is my top 20 list – enjoy and #stayinspired

  • ReViVer: The original location is in Columbus Circle. A Flatiron one just opened! Every item on the menu is backed by a nutrient score (think vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and good fatty acids). I am all over the Lemon Chicken, Moroccan Tofu and Steak and Veggies Hot Dishes. The soups are also outstanding. Shout out to Yao-Hsuan Huang for introducing me to this place!


  • Hu Kitchen: Paleo at it’s best. It’s a casual, clean eatery with a changing seasonal menu. The organic pot pie at the bowl station is outstanding and if you like desserts, all of their paleo-approved versions could fool you. They also have the best crack coffee – fuel for the day!  Shout out to Lorin Carlino for introducing me to this place! 


  • Nix: I will admit, I was skeptical. How could luxe vegetarian be that good? Well, it is! Dinner reservations are strongly recommended. The tandoor bread appetizer was sensational. So many flavor profiles going on. On the lighter side, the heirloom tomatoes were outstanding, and the cauliflower tempura, charred brussels sprouts and tofu-skin pockets rounded out the bolder portion of the meal nicely. Jonathan Libutti, thanks for taking a chance with me on this place!


  • Ladybird: A ‘globally inspired vegan tapas bar’! The smoked cauliflower and baby beets are exquisite.
  • Rouge Tomate Chelsea: With an extensive wine list and a Michelin-star, the nutrient packed food is sublime and guilt-free. The pumpkin hummus and anchovy are power-packed snacks. The carrot soup and cauliflower under small plates are stand outs. The cod, venison and chicken are exceptional pieces of protein. I love pear, and they have a roasted pear dessert which is sinfully good! Orit, you got me hooked on the original! 


  • Farmer & The Fish: Three quarters of the ingredients are sourced directly from the restaurant’s farm in North Salem, New York. True to it’s name, the seafood is superb marrying spicy flavors to mix things up. The surf and turf offerings are my favorite.
  • Blossom: This was one of my earlier introductions to healthy restaurants. Lie to me! Buffalo risotto croquettes, a cheeseburger, southern seiten sandwich, lasagna, moroccan tagine. It covered all my culinary favorites! Brey and Keyla Pena, thank you for this intro. We even got Keith to eat it!


  • Urban Vegan Kitchen: If you love the Blossom empire, this is the more rocking sister. DJ’s play from brunch to dinner to keep the atmosphere lively. All the small dishes are unbelievable, but given my love for comfort food, I adore the baked mac n cheese. As for the large plates, how can you go wrong with a BLT, seitan and gravy steak and chick-un and waffles? I didn’t have room for desert but will try next time!
  • Bobo: Clean, light french food in a beautiful townhouse setting.


  • Dig Inn: There are various locations in New York. Their goal is to build a community through food. It’s a no frills, shared table style, nurturing setting for a casual and healthy meal.


  • Juice Generation: I have tried to get into  juices but failed miserably. I never feel full or satisfied. Instead of viewing them as a meal, I now use them as the ‘snack’ portion of my day’s consumption. Juice Generation has an awesome charcoal juice that I find very cleansing. Thank you Dennis Pena for this recommendation.
  • Westville: There are also multiple locations in NY. Where do I begin? For casual dining with a cozy restaurant feel, this is one of my favorites. I have been here so many times I should open my own in Jersey City! The entire menu is magnifcent. From classic comfort foods, to simply prepared dishes, to the most amazing vegetable assortment! This menu could work for anyone. There are not enough good things to say. Trish Mannion, this was one of the best dinner spots you ever recommended! I am addicted. 
  • Chalk Point: Seared octopus and truffled Jerusalem artichokes and burrata is a must to start. Their call out entree is the mustard crusted rack of lamb. As for veggies, you cannot go wrong with the Za’Atar spiced califlower steak and roasted carrots. Debbie Carlino, this was a gem of a find!


  • Café Clover: Seasonal and local focused and located in the West Village, the simple ingredients in each dish simply stand out in their purest forms. All of the fishes are exceptional good, and the chickpea spaghetti was a pleasant surprise.


  • Souen: Japanese macrobiotic food at it’s best, and one of the oldest ‘healthy’ restaurants in NY.  I love all the soups and noodle entrees (Pad Thai!), but the seafood dishes are fantastic, too.
  • Red Bamboo: This was my first vegetarian restaurant thanks to Tricia Kosnik Purdy. I was craving Chili’s buffalo wings and she suggested I try this place. All I thought was ‘Is she crazy? It’s vegetarian. There is NO way it could taste like a chicken wing.’ I take it all back. The bamboo nuggets, bbq wings and chicken parm could totally fool me. I love this place! It’s tiny and in a basement practically, but totally worth it.


  • Quantum Leap: Outside of Hillstone (can I consider that healthy – what do you think John Santos and Trish Mannion?!), the veggie burger is outstanding. Like, crave worthy! I went 2 days in row cause I couldn’t get enough. It’s like a little natural food mecca in Greenwich Village.
  • Eva’s on 8th: Another oldie but goodie. Serving since the 1970’s, this place has been an establishment for many. Simple preparations but a whole lot of variation and no frills atsmphere makes this place a great spot for a pre-post workout meal. Honestly, I love the entire menu and am working on trying everything.
  • V Spot: Thanks again to Brey and Keyla Pena my two favorite vegan friends. This was one of the greatest finds this year. Latin vegan food – who knew? Again, we even got Keith to eat it! I didn’t know where to start with the menu. Nachos, avocado fries, buffalo strips, quesadillas – it can’t get better!
  • By Chloe: Lorin Carlino, we might have given up our Soul Cycle once a week dates, BUT we always find new, healthy places to catch up. This was also recommended by the lovely Natalie Weeks – thank you! Love the grab and go option. The burger is delicious along with the air baked fries. And to add to that comfort, throw in the mac n’ cheese alongside the kale artichoke dip!


So there are all my tried and true recommendations for healthy places in NY! As we go into the holiday season and need places to eat & celebrate, I hope these are helpful!