Routines amidst Adventure

We all look to our routines to give us a sense of consistency in our lives. While I love (and seek) adventure and the unknown, I also revel in the comforts of the known and the familiar. The next few months is a true adventure for our family – we are going back to London as a family (we haven’t been back all together since we left last December) and then we are continuing on for a Southeast Asia adventure for a couple months – and then back to London for a few weeks to say goodbye to our home.

As I started packing for this upcoming trip (and editing my luggage so I wouldn’t be taking half a closet with me), I had to think strategically about everything that I absolutely needed for both London and Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. What are my essentials? What do I need to prepare me for every day, whether we are seeing friends and family in London or saying goodbye to the home we built or on a junk boat in Halong Bay in Vietnam?

When we first moved to Los Angeles and I was trying to make this new town feel like home, a girlfriend shared some well-received advice. She told me to carve out routines and things that are familiar – we went to Farmers Market every Sunday morning in London as a family – and so we started doing this in Los Angeles, and suddenly, we felt at home. We went to dim sum in London every Sunday afternoon, and as soon as we added this into our Sunday routine, our new life suddenly felt more familiar.

I’ve always started the day the same way – wake up and put on my robe (I’ve just been sent this Parachute Robe which I LOVE!) and boil the kettle for a hot water and ginger (I love this Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder) and then a cup of my favorite English Breakfast Tea (Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason is my favorite and comes in such a pretty tin that the kids love to play with afterwards…)
Since we moved to Los Angeles and I’ve jumped on the wellness wagon, I’ve also added another two steps to my morning routine – a glass of Green Vibrance which we call swamp water in our house (it takes pretty horrific but it is so jammed with vitamins that it has to be good for me – and the face I make when I drink it sends all the children into fits of squeals which they love…) and finally a morning shake of either The Clean Program or Nuzest Clean Lean Protein which I blend with half a frozen banana and a handful of blueberries and a spoonful of almond butter. (Depending on what I’m needing and how I’m feeling, I also play scientist in the kitchen and might chuck in a handful of spinach and half an avocado…) Both the swamp water and the shake additions to my morning routine have been incredibly helpful, giving me a dose of vitamins and also now our school days start SO early and with three kids that I’m getting ready out the door, I have no time to feed myself – so I multitask and drink my shake and tea in the car on the way to drop-off…

While I was packing, and thinking about the importance of routine admits the chaos, I’ve added Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend teabags (easier for grab & go while traveling than the tea leaves), Green Vibrance (comes in individual sachets which makes it so easy!) and my Clean Program shakes (my favorite is chocolate – and if you buy the entire cleanse it comes in little sachets which makes easier for traveling). AND because we will be in London for a few weeks upon our return from Southeast Asia (and I will likely be wanting some creature comforts after braving Thailand jungles…) I’ve also packed my favorite Parachute Robe.

My girl scout training taught me to be prepared – and my experience moving, and the importance of routines has reminded me that if we even have just one thing a day that is familiar, then I can brave the adventure. So I’m prepared for it all – robe and swamp water in hand!

What are your little routines that help you get through the day? Comment below and let me know – as I’m always looking to add more little moments to my day.

Life is either a daring adventure… (aka #HermerHoliday)

So, as I mentioned last week, one of the things that came out of our Burning Man experience was the realization that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” We all get so much more when we push ourselves – when we are living just beyond our comfort zones. Matt and I are both inspired more – as parents, as a couple, and as entrepreneurs, when we are living just beyond the edge. This isn’t to say that we don’t love our nights in pajamas with a good boxset (Ozarks anyone?!) but we’ve learned that it is all about the mix for our family.

A couple things happened this last month in the Hermer household: 1. We signed on our first restaurant site in Los Angeles (YAY! – proper announcement to come when we get all our ducks in a row) but due to timing, this won’t open until 2018 so we have a window of time before we need to get working on it 2.: I’m working on a new EXCITING project (YAY!) but the first few months of my new startup can be done remotely. 3. As we make Los Angeles our home, we’ve decided to sell our home in London. 4. We learned that California law requires children to be formal school from the 1st grade (our eldest Max is in Kindergarten this year).

Suddenly, we realized that we have a pocket of time in our lives as a family to do whatever we want. As we are going to sell our home in London, I wanted to go back to London and say goodbye to the home we built and where we raised our family. Building the house was Matt and my first big project together – it really was a labor of love. And though the time is right to close that chapter as we live our California chapter, I also think it is important for us as a family to say goodbye to our London home.

Max and Jake have also been missing their London friends and family – in particular, Max misses the London rainy puddles, Jake misses the big red buses, and we miss our friends and family (I’m not forgetting Sadie here, but to be honest, she is pretty happy if she is on my hip). So we thought that it would be a good time to go back to London, say goodbye to our home, and visit friends and family.

And then, Matt and I thought, well, we are in London, and we have some time – lets do something else… while we still can. While we still can educate our children in the school of life – before 1st grade starts. So, we’ve gotten a bit adventurous and in the spirit of YOLO (and hatching this plan in Burning Man – uh oh!), we’ve booked tickets from London to Southeast Asia FOR 8 WEEKS. Are we crazy? YES! Are we excited? YES YES YES!

Though we are still in the process of planning the trip (which does give me some level of anxiety as we are leaving for London on October 1st – less that 2 weeks!), we’ve decided to throw Sadie on our backs with Max and Jake in our hands and head to Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Even as I write this, I’m thinking WHAT ARE WE THINKING and yet, this year has been all about adventure and Matt and I want to continue it as long as we can, while we can.

While our children are young, we want to soak them up – away from the screens and away from the daily schedule of life – and actively make memories as. SO in the next 10 days, we’ve got a lot to do. First of all, if anyone has suggestions on where to stay or what to do in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam, please comment below! AND if you have suggestions on what to bring traveling with young children – comment below! The next 10 days are going to be crazy as we try to plan this trip, pack for everything from London life to Angkor Wat for a family of 5, and wrap up the work that we’ve started in LA, so that when we come back in January, we can hit the ground running.

Wish us luck – and of course I will be figuring it out along the way – so expect more blog posts on how to get through an around the world trip with toddlers (and enjoy it).

Love xx

Below are a few pix from our attempts to get our Southeast Asia visas. For years, we’ve always said SMILE when a camera is shoved in our children’s faces – so needless to say, Max, Jake, and even Sadie are well trained to say CHEEEEESE when they see a lens. For visa pictures though, they DON’T want a smile. You are just supposed to look serious. I was crying with laughter trying to get our munchkins to be serious – it is SO hard to be serious during these moments…

Let the adventures begin!

 

Sadie is JUST starting to take a few steps. I’ve got to video her more as it is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. The CVS we went to in the Palisades also doesn’t really have a passport booth for pictures – we had to do a makeshift shopping cart situation to make her sit still for a moment.

Forget about getting Sadie to give the camera a serious face – we just had to get her to LOOK at the camera. It took our entire family – and some other shoppers – to get the shot.

This was taken before we explained that visa pictures were nonsmiling pictures. I’m not actually sure this is a smiling picture, but it is the face Max makes when we asked him to smile. Which is actually hilarious – and makes us all smile.

This is his serious face.

Jake trying not to smile. It is SO hard for a 3 year old to be serious!

We got there in the end! Perfect not-smiling picture!

 

 

 

“HOW WAS BURNING MAN?”

So for the last two weeks, I’ve been asked the same question one trillion times: “HOW WAS BURNING MAN?” Fair enough. And by now though I should have my answer, it still takes me awhile to collect my thoughts about this.* *the lag might also be due to the three nights AT Burning Man but more on that later.  The truth is, is that it IS hard to explain. It is like going to Mars. It is like having a baby. Before Matt and I went to Burning Man, a friend sent us this video and now after returning it is totally right on the money. It was EVERYTHING. (but it was also HOT!) (I’ve just watched this video again and it makes me want Pancakes…. anyone else?)

It has be said that Matt nor I would have ended up at Burning Man without some dear friends who made it all happen. We received an email from said friends in March asking if we would want to join them at Burning Man. I immediately responded to the email saying “IS THIS SPAM?” The couple who initiated the trip are not the couple that one would immediately think as burners and yet the fact that they were going (and that we would be adventuring into the playa with dear friends) made it all the more palatable. We were first timers all together and in the spirit of YOLO, Matt and I decided why not? (And we are glad we did).

After doing a bit of social media research (thank goodness for pinterest!), a few weeks prior to Burning Man, I headed to Cosmo and Natalia on Melrose (the costume mecca) to buy our Burning Man gear. From what I could glean from my googles of Burning Man, it really was all about the costumes. RIGHT? (wrong. but still sort of right). After a couple of hours, I got all the essential non-essentials (Swarovkski Miliary hat, Beyonce sparkle aviators, body jewellery, and hip belt for essential eyedrops, lip balm, and headlight) and also got VERY excited about the unknown of what was to come.

SO much of my life is planned out – I appreciate the structure of my daily life but equally the prospect of going off the grid for a few days, in Beyonce sparkle aviators, is quite appealing.

Matt and I packed up our costumes (too many to count but of course, once I was there I could have had several more), lots of LED glowlights (for night riding of bikes across the sand), goggles (for the dust storms), lots of lotion (for dry cracked skin – the air is extremely dry), and also our sense of spirit and adventure.

We flew into Reno and drove a couple hours into the desert to Black Rock City. As we neared closer the entrance, I had those butterflies in my stomach of excitement and nervousness. Burning Man has SUCH a build up – what if it didn’t live up to our expectations? What if I hated it and wanted to get out right away? How was I going to cope of 3 nights away and really mostly out of touch (we ended up having spotty wifi and luckily my Mother was staying with the children, but still I always have anxiety when I leave the kids).

We drove into the dusty entrance (see below) where we showed the welcome crew (all wearing Tutus as we arrived on Tutu Tuesday – yes, this is a THING) and then we were asked to get out of the car. The welcoming committee then explained a little about Burning Man, what we should expect, what we could get out of the experience, and then asked us to get down in the dust. Yes, literally we were asked to sit in the dust and do dust angels. The truth is, is that I found this all a little much, but actually, the whole point of this experience, which I learned, is to go for it. Dive in. Soak it up. Leave your judgements at the gate and just try it all and embrace it.

Our arrival – the Tutus were welcoming us on Tutu Tuesday (and then asking us to lay down IN the dust and submit to Burning Man.

We had a lovely ‘camp’ with friends – a few RVs with A/C and showers (thank goodness!) and a couple yurts and all the Trader Joe snacks we could eat (JOY!). We spent the next few days biking across the playa dust, meeting friends at other camps, checking out the sculptures and artwork in the early morning (when the French Cafe was giving out coffee and fresh baguettes at 8AM IN.THE. MIDDLE. OF. THE. DESERT), and late at night, when all the lights were creating the most magical city atmosphere.

Our camp’s “Possible Plan” – wouldn’t be nice if every day only had a ‘possible plan’? As a day NEVER seems to go as planned anyway!

Burning Man isn’t a festival at all – it really is like a city that pops up for a week – filled with every type of person you can imagine, wearing every type of outfit (and wearing none at all).  Our camp made a sort of schedule (see above) when friends were having parties at their camps but we found that the best way to experience Burning Man is to let the days or nights unfold as they might. Our favourite evening was when we were heading back to camp and then one of my friends heard amazing Donna Summer singing – so we redirected our tribe of bikes down a dusty bath to this incredible Donna disco diva dance party – where we boogied for an hour with new friends… before again heading home.

Matt and I on the first night – we had arrived an hour before and were en route to our first party at ZOO camp (look how CLEAN we were! look my gold boots still had a bit of gold peeking through the dust!)

During the days, we rode our bikes around, discovering little camps along the way that were making and giving away everything from bracelets to fresh vegetable juices to chai teas (they were delicious, even in the heat) to hosting group meditation classes. We didn’t join the orgy camps (but there is always next year, HA!) but we DID see a lot of wonderful incredible sights – it really just struck me the beauty and creation that is possible if you give people the opportunity.

This little house on the prairie was amazing – it rolled around on wheels (there was a blue grass band playing on the other side) and on the side you can see in the picture, they were baking fresh cookies from the little kitchen.) It was incredible!

 

This is one of the annual sculptures – The Temple. As I understand it (comment below if I’m wrong and tell me!), the artist was building a sculpture and during the process, one of his friends was killed in a motorcycle accident, so he turned the sculpture into a temple and every year since, there has been some type of temple / memorial at Burning Man. It was very emotional inside – Burners posted pictures and notes for friends and passed loved ones and it was very spiritual inside. It has to be said, I definitely had my own moment as well – and just being there in that shared space of thought and reflection has changed a relationship in my own life and I’m grateful to have had that moment to visit the temple.

At night it was more of the same, but also totally different in the dark. The desert, which is blazing hot and dusty during the day (everyone said that this year’s Burning Man was the hottest and dustiest on record – YAY!), is FREEZING at night! I was virtually naked during the day and then needed to bundle up in faux furs and long underwear at night (while still trying to stay somewhat fabulous… thank goodness for my friends at Amethyst Daze who made the most amazing outfits for me and made me feel sexy, even in the desert, and even after three kids). The playa at night is like nothing I can explain – (again, here is where that youtube video actually resonated to me after I returned) – imagine Disneyland at night for grownups married with a bit of Ibiza and Times Square. There is music in every direction and absolutely no rhyme or reason or order to it – and yet somehow even with Art Cars driving around the desert and everyone riding their bikes in every which way, there seems to be some type of organised cohesive flow. It made me think that if everyone is just in the moment, and enjoying the journey and the experience, we can get along just fine.

One night on the playa in our friends’ Art Car. (Silly selfie face after too many vodka sodas!) x

Thank goodness for my partner in crime (and life and everything) to be able to share this experience with. This is us at a friend’s disco night party – the DJ saw us boogying with each other and gave us this glow light heart to hold.

The truth is, is that I am wearing 2x layers of spandex here – BUT I felt great and it was SO fun and liberating to dress up in crazy silly costumes. And obviously I had my Beyonce glasses which made me feel like a rockstar. (I must wear these more often!)

This won for favourite costume of the trip. When I first put it on, it was sparkly and smooth – so if anyone knows of a good feather dry cleaner, please let me know! Not sure when I will wear feather suspenders again, but I feel like they are a costume box essential, right?

A huge part of Burning Man is the artwork. This Tree of Life was amazing – the lighting changed from blues and greens and yellows to pinks and purples and reds. Burners just flocked to it – it was mesmerising at all times of day.

This is a perfect example of some of the random surprising wonderful things you will discover on the playa. This box of saltines and soup can were actual structures that once you walked inside, you were welcomed with… SALTINES and TOMATO SOUP! perfect and random and lovely.

On our night art ride one evening, we went to see The Man (every year the man is different – this year he was housed in a sort of temple … you can see the man glowing inside). At the end of Burning Man, this is burned.

The days were hot but the nights were VERY cold! Matt and I were prepared with our faux fur jackets for our evening bike rides across the playa.

Our gang riding our bikes and discovering more playa art (and some shade underneath) x

Goodbye Burning Man. (Until next year, or whenever we have the courage to do it all again).

So will Matt and I go back? I think we probably will.  Because we didn’t get our Playa names this time. And also I did buy the most amazing beaded body chain which I was too chicken to wear this year… but I should at some point before I’m 80. It does take awhile to unwind from the heat and the dust and the extremeness of it all – but it was an amazing experience and because Burning Man changes every year with the different camps, different people, different artworks, it will be new every year.  This was our reconnaissance year – we would certainly do some things the same but also a lot of things differently. But in the end, the three days of totally switching off, being carefree, and just enjoying each other and the adventure of it all was priceless. OH! AND during one of our afternoon roséfuelled chats (which is when the best ideas happen), Matt and I hatched plans for another Hermer family adventure (I can’t wait to tell you guys in a couple weeks!) because as we experienced at Burning Man and as Helen Keller said so perfectly, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Back-To-School Healthy Snacks and Lunches

I do love live television – there is a buzz I get about having an ‘air’ time – and prepping whatever I’m going to do or say… so when my friends over at Good Day LA called to ask me if I would come onto their Wellness Wednesday morning show to talk about my favourite Back-To-School Lunches and Snacks, I jumped at the chance!  Live TV AND sharing my favorite kids snacks and lunches with viewers? SIGN ME UP.

I wear this A.P.C. dress anytime I want a little color pop – and who can resist some photoprops – thankgoodness for Oriental Trading Company where I find SO many fun things for props and playtime.

Snacking is different in America than in London. I never really thought about snacks for the kids – sure something for them to nibble on but eating in public is sort of uncouth in London. I was taught that children eat at home, at the table, and have a proper meal – they certainly aren’t eating ‘on-the-go’ or ‘in-the-car.’ But LA is different. Our kids are ALWAYS in the car. And where as in London, our children were younger and so were home for lunch and their nap and I could easily cut up some apples and cheese for them, in LA they bounce from school to swim practice – and need something that travels with them, keeping them bouncing until dinner. In London, our children’s schools had in-house chefs that prepared their snacks and lunches, using local, organic ingredients. In LA, I wake up every morning and pack lunchboxes for Max and Jake, and Sadie for the park. Let’s be honest Moms, (raise your hand here) the morning routine of packing lunches makes us all want to bang our heads against the wall.

Thank goodness for my Fritatta which I make in muffin tins for on-the-go snacking and lunching and a few other recipes that I’ve included in my An American Girl in London: 120 Nourishing Recipes for Your Family from a Californian Expat. I’m also obsessing over Hippeas for organic nonGMO protein-rich snacking (you can order them here). Go on, order them in every flavor, you won’t be disappointed – they are totally addictive and delicious.

These Pottery Barn Kids lunchboxes are super cute AND you can personalise them… LOVE

SO, here is the solution, make it fun. Make it fun for the kiddos to eat, and make it fun for me to make. If I was packing the same lunch every morning, I would get SO bored – just as they would tire of eating the same thing.

Bentology has super cute colourful boxes that make packing balanced meals easy and Pottery Barn Kids has clever chic stainless-steel bento boxes. No more wasted ziplock bags and it also satisfies my inner control freak – love me some linear organisation.

 

Love the clean lines of these Pottery Barn Kids Divided lunchboxes

 

These Pottery Barn Kids sandwich cutters are great for making sandwich shapes.

 

These Bentology shapes are great for making veggies fun.

These pandas are adorable to stick into kiddie snacks

Check out my Fox 11’s Good Day LA segment here and make sure to comment below if you have any favorite lunch tricks and healthy snacks – I always love to hear new ideas!

Love x

AUTHORS NIGHT WITH HAMPTONS MAGAZINE

It seemed to fit that my final official press stop for my An American Girl in London: 120 Nourishing Recipes for Your Family from a Californian Expat was in the Hamptons – Matt and I were married in Southhampton seven years ago, so to celebrate the book that I wrote out of love for the food I cook for him and our family in the Hamptons was an honour and also special. And of course, it was a very good excuse to ask my mom to stay with the kids for the weekend and to escape with Matt for a few days without children (whoop whoop!) We could almost pretend that we were honeymooners!

Matt and I arrived to the Authors Night tents to find that I was sat next to Florence Fabricant (my 21-year-old NYC-restaurant-PR-girl-self was passing out with excitement) and I took my place and started meeting some of the 2,500 attendees. I always love meeting fans of Ladies of London as most of the time, everyone is incredible supportive of the adventure that my family shared on Bravo, and it was a great opportunity to meet some new fans of my book – and share some of my favourite recipes. AND Florence even bought a copy of my book (again, passing out with excitement). And to top it all off, this wasn’t an ordinary book signing, but all proceeds went directly to the East Hampton Library, which you can see, I love libraries (not sure if you can actually see or hear – please tell me this was a bad microphone and I don’t always sound this squeaky). I edited most of my book in the Newport Beach Public Library last summer – and now I often hide myself away in the Pacific Palisades Public Library. There is something contagious about that feeling of productivity and *work* that goes on in a library – so if I really need to write or think, it is off to the library I go.
After a couple hours of signing, Matt and I headed to Michael Braverman’s Hamptons home where Hamptons Magazine toasted an inspiring list of authors, including yours truly.

Hamptons Magazine’s Dinner at Michael Braverman’s beautiful home.

It was really an honour to be amongst the talented funny eloquent women including Laurie Gelman, who wrote Class Mom (laugh-out-loud funny and reminds me why I’ve never accepted the position of Class Mom), the inspiring Elizabeth Vargas, and my new favourite instagram addiction Jessica Siskin’s Treat Yourself.

I signed hundreds of books for Harbor Books in Sag Harbor (in the process of writing this book, I’ve learned about the beauty and the power of indepdendent book shops – so if you want a signed copy of my book, give Taylor, the lovely owner a ring and she might be able to help you) and I reconnected with Hamptons Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Samantha Yanks who I knew a thousand years ago when I was that PR restaurant girl in NYC and ate way too much – and probably drank too much but who can resist just one more glass of Whispering Angel.

If you want a signed copy of my book, just call Harbor Books in Sag Harbor and I’m sure Taylor will be able to help you xx

Thank you Samantha and Hamptons Magazine for the opportunity to participate in your lovely evening – we SO enjoyed ourselves.
xx

I’m not sure what was so funny here – probably had to do with those glasses of Whispering Angel xx

 

Welcome to my new Home

My name is Marissa Hermer and I’m married to Matt. Together we spent a decade in London where we fell in love, built a business and a home, and gave birth to our three children, Max (5), Jake (3) and Sadie (1). A year ago in Spring 2016, I had a life-threatening pregnancy condition which led to a complicated delivery of our sweet baby girl, followed by post-natal depression – the entire experience left us burnt out and wanting more – more family time, more space, more sunshine.

As California native myself, we have spent family summer vacations in Newport Beach with my parents. My Welsh husband had grown weary of the Wales’ wet winters and London’s grey skies – he desperately sought Southern California’s sunshine, sand and surf. I was a bit more reticent. Though essentially we were moving back to my childhood home (which should be a dream fulfilled), it was bittersweet to me to leave the city that I called home. Ironic yes. As a American Anglophile, I was living my fairytale dream – I had met my Prince Charming, Europe was at our doorstep, and I fell in love with the pomp and circumstance of British life. Moving ‘home’ seemed a bit boring to me – like moving backwards – but I understood that my husband yearned for a California sabbatical and I rationalised there were worse things to do than move our family to Los Angeles for 6 months.

So we packed up our Chelsea mews home and planned operationally for running our businesses from the other side of the world, booked in school tours in Los Angeles for the children’s January start date, and moved to the Pacific Palisades.

Six months later, the sabbatical has morphed into a life chapter turned. Our children are thriving in the sunshine and space – we start our days on the beach looking for sand crabs and end it with pool time BBQs. We haven’t yet unpacked all the moving boxes, our children are hanging on to their British accents, and I still have my afternoon cup of English Breakfast tea – nonetheless we are starting to call this new frontier home.

In our move from London to Los Angeles, we are soaking up our family time, embracing west-coast wellness and food, and adding some California into our closets. As we make LA our new Hermer home, I welcome you to my new online home. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.

Love x Marissa