Empowering Women through Exotic Scents

My London girlfriend has made the move to Los Angeles, which is SO nice to have an old friend in town, but also she is pretty incredible… Amy, besides being an amazing mother to two gorgeous boys, is the creator of Sana Jardin, the first socially conscious luxury fragrance house. Through her fragrances, she is supporting the women of Morocco – and so through this blog post, telling you all about Sana Jardin, the circle continues.

Sana Jardin was created with the belief that a bottle of perfume can transform lives and change the way business is done, empowering the workers at the source of the luxury fragrance industry. Through Amy’s luxury fragrance, she teachers social enterprise skills and enables female harvesters in Morocco to epicycle floral waste from perfume production into a line of candles and orange blossom water, for sale through their own cooperative which retains 100% of the sales.

I love rituals, so in reading about Sana Jardin, I love learning that high priestesses used fragrance and essential oils to heal and elevate themselves to higher realms and that female orange blossom harvesters were called upon for their delicate touch and calm demeanor.

Equally as important as the social justice, Sana Jardin smells gorgeous – the seductive jasmin, heady amber, and warm sandalwood bottles the secret garden of social justice.

Check Sana Jardin out here – you will love the gorgeous scents (and along the way, will be helping other women)

Love x

Surviving Long-Haul Tot Travel

Well, we’ve been back from our travel adventures for a few weeks but with the holidays and three kids with the flu, I’m only now starting to screw my head on straight (and sit down at my desk – oh hello friend!) I’m backlogged with the blogs I need to write of all the things I’ve learned while we were adventuring so this is the first of many post-travel downloads.

I haven’t calculated how many miles we flew (because I’m not sure I want to boast about our carbon footprint but also because I hate math) but suffice to say, it was a lot. We did it all – long haul, short haul, front of the plane (JOY), back of the plane (meh), and I picked up some tips and tricks along the way.

Obviously the first part of any long haul flight is the airport adventure – I won’t repeat myself so check about all my airport tips here on the post I did about Airport Life, where the essentials also for a long haul flight are necessary iPads and earphones, travel treats, and a travel first aid kit. But for really long haul flights, you need more in your arsenal. You need to be able to whip out magical new activities, you need the best of the best for getting your kids to sleep (there are no black out shades on the plane!) in the craziest of places (no starfishing here kids!). Here are my top tips below to getting you to where you are going with your marriage in tact and your kids alive:

Pengunio Travel – This isn’t just for travel folks, I am now bookmarking this website for all my gift-buying for my family and all the other munchkins in our lives. It is the perfect educational edit of books, games, and activities – so needless to say, was incredibly useful for all our flights, but also for quiet time in the hotel room after a day at the beach or those 15 minutes when we’ve ordered our dinner and the kids are hungry and need an activity or there will be world war meltdown.  The boxes come in different themes, so you can buy depending on if your little one is more into jungle, under the sea, castle, fashion, outdoors, holiday… OR you can filter by city (New York, San Francisco, London — so the box is curated to WHERE you are going (SWEET!) – OR you can order a la carte too – (I’m writing myself a to-do right now to order more of the coloring activity books as the boys loved those!) *OH* AND they tuck in an adorable cuddly penguin to cuddle with on the flight – which my kids LOVED and of course was their snuggly for the entire trip.

+ Plox Box – I learned about these handy little boxes whilst we were in London, so we took them on our flight from LDN to LAX and thank goodness for the delights within! Max and Jake (Sadie snoozed through in her Cozigo – see below) colored in little backpacks (or because it is a British company, ‘rucksacks’) and wrote about their holiday in their holiday journal and we chatted through all our adventures using the travel activities book. If you have any godchildren or friends who are taking their children on a vacation soon, this is a great gift.

 

+ Plane Pal This is another genius invention – obviously created by someone who had children who were sleeping ON them on one too many flights. The Plane Pal inflates in that empty space below a child’s seat so that their legs don’t dangle (and kick the seat of the passenger in front of them – er… SORRY!) and so they can curl up comfortably for a proper snooze (rather than getting a terrible crink in their neck from laying on the armrest.

 

 

No this isn’t a picture of Sadie – I just nabbed it from the Plane Pal website – the pictures I took weren’t as good as this but here you can really see how useful this little contraption is!

 

Cozigo – Sometimes I come across a new trick that I just WISH I knew about years ago so I could have put it into good use with the boys when they were toddlers – this Cozigo is one of those items that every mom needs from day GO. For years I always brought along a dark pashmina to hang from the ceiling and attempt to block out the airplane glaring lights so I could get my kids to sleep. Gone are the days of trying to MacGyver  an inflight blackout cover. Enter Cozigo. Not only does it work to block out the light on the airplane bassinets but also on most every stroller – so while the boys were splashing in the pool, Sadie could have her midday nap in darkness. It made us SO much more flexible with our activities – as we weren’t tied to be in the hotel room so our little princess could get her beauty sleep. Even now as we are back on the ground in LA, I’m managing three busy kid schedules and realizing that on Friday afternoons, I’m going to be tucking the Cozigo in our stroller so that Sadie can have her nap while Jake has his soccer game – so this is a trick not just for travel but for life.

See? Not JUST for travel! Obviously when used as a bassinet cover it is brilliant for long haul travel but equally for a day at the park!

 

Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe Backpack –  This backpacked saved us on countless occasions – it saved our laptops and iPads from getting wet (waterproof even when a bottle of water spills RIGHT on our electronics), when we were running through an airport (I obviously didn’t listen to my own advice about getting to an airport with plenty of time to spare), we didn’t have to rummage through any pockets for our passports because we knew exactly where they were (in the passport pocket!), we didn’t lose our keys to our LA or LDN homes (they were on the built in keychain), and probably saved our marriage as my husband didn’t feel silly carrying a backpack that looked like he was heading to Yosemite. In fact Matt just had to pop to LDN for a few days and he grabbed this backpack with him – it is super chic and the essential travel backpack *write yourself a note right now to buy it for your guy for father’s day – you’re welcome* And actually, it is great for someone who commutes to work with their laptop too – so I might get one for my brother… (Ben if you are reading this, erase this from your mind).

Okay, that is MOSTLY it. I haven’t included the obvious –  packing an extra set of clothes for you AND your kids in case an accident happens… Sadie managed to get through one of her extra t-shirts, one of Jakes, and ended up landing in Singapore in my extra t-shirt – BRAVO! And of course, my top tip if your children are screaming then hand them to your husband and run to the front of the plane and pretend you don’t know that crazy family.

But really, long flights are hard but they are finite – I always start counting down the hours as soon as we get on the plane, and eventually, well, (with the help of my friends listed above), you will get to your destination and the party can start.

Love xx Marissa

AIRPORT LIFE: Tips for traveling with tots

Flying with tots requires both navy seal training and a doctorate in patience. Neither of which I have, but I’ve made enough mistakes along the way and I’ve had enough practice that I do have a few tips when flying with tots.  Before you even get in the air, you still need to navigate the airport – and with the chaos of crowds and the joys of delays – airport life itself is an adventure. Obviously, the more time you give your family for checkin, the less stressful the entire experience is. There is nothing worse than running through an airport, dragging your screaming children behind you, trying to catch a plane. (We did this once years ago, and we won’t ever make that mistake again). The second time, is to be prepared. If you are organized, it can really be seamless. Here are my tried and tested airport tips for happy tots (AND mummies and daddies):

+ BABYZEN YOYO stroller: You need a stroller that you can fold up easily and tuck in the overhead compartment – so you won’t have to wait for your stroller on the runway or at baggage claim. There is nothing worse than being the first one off the plane – and then having to wait (while your child(ren) have a tantrum on the floor of the airport) for your stroller. I’ve tried several travel strollers over the years – and the Babyzen Yoyo is the sturdiest, the chicest, and the easiest to fold up. I only discovered it with Sadie – BUT am getting a lot of good use out of it now. I also love the clip on umbrella (has been perfect for sunny strolls) and also zip on footmuff (for chilly London mornings).

Babyzen Yoyo Stroller essential for overhead airport packing

+ LO & SONS Catalina Deluxe Tote Bag and Fjallrraven Backbacks for the kids: This is the perfect tote bag for kids. Not only does it match my grey yoyo – it is light and I just swing it over my yoyo or my arm. It is permanently connected to my yoyo hanging from the back – the bottom zip compartment holds all of Sadie’s extra nappies and change of clothes for her – and a t-shirt for the boys (should disaster strike – it inevitably does) and inside has plenty of room for all the essentials. And I love all the secret hidden pockets – for all the extras that you need along the way. For the kids, I love the Fjallraven Kanken mini backpacks. Big enough to carry their earphones and a snuggly and a snack, and small enough for them to carry on their back. I always think, the bigger the bag, the more you fill it – so I wanted smaller backpacks for the kids as otherwise inevitably they want to fill them up and then the bags are too heavy and they won’t want to carry them. So here, problem solved. Perfect size, very durable, and super cute.

Catalina Deluxe Tote Bag from Lo & Sons that I’m obsessed with – casual, chic, and has so many great hidden pocket for airport essentials.

+ AWAY Carry-on: Not only is this the most genius luggage ever (charging station within!) but also sleek and chic – which makes me feel more organized. If it looks good, I feel better and calmer – and the entire experience is nicer for everyone. AND when I know I can charge the kids’ iPads, I feel like I’ve got money in the bank. AND these carry-ons are lightweight and roomy inside, so I can pack as many travel treats and snacks as I want.

+ Ipads & Headphones: This is obvious (duh!) – I’m not the perfect mother who keeps her children entertained with wooden toys on a long-haul flight – of course we have some great inflight travel crafts and tricks BUT I always have a well-stocked iPad for each child before we travel.  I love these indestructible ipad cases and these kids headphones by lilgadgets.

+ Iphones: I also upload games and tv shows to my phones as well – JUST. IN. CASE. Always good to have extra entertainment – trust me. You might not need it, but if you do, you will be grateful.

+ Charger and Adapter: If you have your AWAY Carry-on with you, just remember to bring your cord and you are set. If you don’t have a charging carry-on (silly you and get with the program!), bring an adapter just in case.

+ Apps & TV: Our favorite apps are Hip Hop Hen (for reading and writing on the go – the boys love it and makes me feel like I’m not a useless mom sticking my kid in front of a video game) and Mickey Mouse’s Color & Play. I’m also a huge fan of Audible.com – so I download a few new stories for the munchkins to listen to.

+ Travel Treats: I always have a plastic bag (the best are the pack of 3 from Marks & Spencer – you get all 3 but I tend to use the smallest bag for packing in carryons) but any clear zip cosmetic bag will do with a few travel treats, a few small crafts (my favorite are these small foam craft kits from Baker & Ross), and a card game (Spot It and Woodland Happy Families are small enough to be tucked into a little backpack and hours of fun.) More on the best travel crafts and travel card games for kids in an upcoming post.

+ Snack Pack: Fill another M&S clear zip bag – again the small one – with snacks – more on the best travel snacks for the whole family in an upcoming post.

+ Carry-on First Aid Kit: Fill ANOTHER M&S clear zip bag – the smallest one – with all you need for your flight (bandaids, children’s tylenol, stickers, couple sticks of chewing gum (for tears), vaseline, cool pack…), again, watch this space for another blog post on travel first aid.

+ Pacifier Connector: Sadie doesn’t use a pacifier normally, but I like to keep one on hand for when we travel – for sucking during take off and landing and also just generally calming when necessary. A strap keeps it connected to her and not on the floor.

+ ADEN & ANAIS Security Blanket: When Matt and I started thinking about starting a family (a thousand years ago), we didn’t want having babies to hamper our travels – of course traveling would change, but we still wanted to explore the world – even if it meant throwing our kids on our backs. Our maternity nurse Patricia recommended these Aden & Anais security blankets as a lovie for our baby Max. Rather than a stuffed animal, these are easy to wash, you can buy and pack a few (easy to fold small), and also are GREAT for putting over tired eyes as a mini blackout on planes or in airports. I always stuff one of these for each child in the front zip of his or her backpack. Max rarely takes his out anymore, but just likes knowing it is there. Jake loves to hold his on the plane, and Sadie loves playing peek-a-boo with hers (and snuggling with it of course).

So now you have it. You have a few clear (so you can see inside) small zip bags of emergency answers – first aid, snacks, and travel treats – and a few other essentials. Oh, and remember to check that you all have your passports before you walk out the door.

I promise to do more posts – to get you out of the airport and into the air – until then, sending love from Vietnam (where we’ve just survived another flight from Hoi An to Hanoi).

Love xx

MODERN LUXURY ORANGE COUNTY

ACROSS THE POND – AND BACK AGAIN by Leslie Paxton

Marissa Hermer hit celebrity status with the Ladies of London – then her SoCal roots called her home.

When Marissa Hermer (marissahermer.com) of Bravo’s Ladies of London moved back to SoCal earlier this year, she dressed her three young kids and herself in proper English attire (her boys in button-down shirts, trousers and dress shoes) for an outing on the Santa Monica Pier, where visitors typically aren’t known for their sartorial splendor. “I experienced such a level of culture shock,” says Hermer, “which is ridiculous, since I grew up here.”

Hermer did, indeed, spend her childhood in Laguna and Newport before heading off to Middlebury College in Vermont. After graduation, she began a public relations career that took her to New York and London, where she met English restaurateur and nightclub owner Matt Hermer. She moved to London in 2009 and became a key part of the family business. She eventually opened her own restaurant, Top Dog.

Then in 2014, Ladies of London came calling. She declined the offer several times. Then Matt asked, “Why don’t you do it?” She starred in all three seasons (the show ended in 2016), with her high-risk pregnancy (Sadie is doing fine) providing nail-biting drama on the final season. The pregnancy – which allowed her few activities other than cooking – also provided fodder for her newly published cookbook, An American Girl in London ($17, Rodale), featuring traditional British favorites with a healthy California twist.

The family spent several summer vacations in Newport Beach, and then planned a six-month stay in the Pacific Palisades, which quickly became permanent. While they still own restaurants and a home in London, plans are in the works now to open dining establishments in West L.A. and O.C.

In the meantime, Hermer enjoys frequent jaunts back to O.C. – her mom lives in Newport; her dad in Laguna Beach – breakfast at the Penguin Cafe in Laguna, a Fun Zone afternoon on Balboa with the kids or a sunset Duffy cruise around Newport Harbor with chips, guacamole and Coronas. “The West Coast is home now,” she says. “I love the change in lifestyle, that we’re right on the ocean and I have sand in my toes.”

 

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