Category Archives: Lifestyle

Dacor’s Modernist Collection at Pebble Beach Food and Wine

Today’s home kitchen is the centerpiece for entertainment, creativity and great conversation, and at this year’s 10th anniversary of the Pebble Beach Food and Wine festival, home appliance brand Dacor introduced its new Modernist Collection. The sleek, clean and contemporary design featuring stainless steel and glass.combined with its innovative features are a plus for the home cook and professional chef. Here are some photos from PBFW:

Mixologist Joshua Perry of Monterey’s Restaurant 1833 featured drinks at PBFW’s Grand Tasting

Harissa Noodles with slow cooked lamb, kaffir line, and sumac via FIG Chef Yousef Ghalini

Chef Curtis Stone Cooking Demo in the Modernist Collection kitchen

Just Chillin’ at Dacor’s On the Rocks Ice Bar

Chef Fabio Viviani and Molly Sims entertained an intimate group of diners at the Dinnertime Meets Showtime event. 

More info on Pebble Beach Food and Wine at  pbfw.com

More info on Dacor at dacor.com

Healthy Eating in San Francisco

Food Fashionista Healthy Eating San Francisco

There once was a time when going out and eating healthy meant having to succumb to a feeling of depriving oneself. You either had to skip the good eats on the menu and order that bland and boring salad or had to visit that dated restaurant with the 60’s decor that none of your friends wanted to join you at. Fortunately, this is no longer the reality. With more and more people opting for wellness in their dining choices whether it’s for personal or health reasons, there’s a strong demand for clean-eating out options. You no longer have to be THAT person asking the restaurant to alter to your vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free eating habits. Although not all of these restaurants are strictly plant-based or vegetarian, you’ll find something at several or more of the following to cater to your stricter-dining preferences.

Healthy Eating San Francisco

Greens Restaurant

One of the pioneers of vegetarian and local, organic cuisine in San Francisco, Greens has been around since the first Star Trek motion picture came out – 1979. Located in Fort Mason right along the breezy marina, the dining room offers zen waterfront views while guests can enjoy conversation and a nice selection of first and main-course items reflecting the changing California seasons. Sample entrees include the Mesquite Grilled Brochettes with vegetables and tofu in muhammara sauce or a linguine with Chantrelle mushrooms and slow roasted Juliette tomatoes. For those without time for a full sit-down meal, there is a Greens to Go in the same location where you can order soup, sandwiches, coffee and pastries to take with you.

Visit Greens at: greensrestaurant.com

Nourish Vegan San Francisco

Nourish

The Inner Richmond used to be a place where one would mainly only find tons of MSG and cheap ethnic eats. In the last couple years, the neighborhood, just like the rest of the city has evolved and with those changes has come a welcome addition of new and diverse businesses and dining offerings. Nourish is a tiny cafe in the avenues with an all plant-based menu. Their toast sampler with housemade gluten-free bread is a welcome way to start the day with its choice of ten various toppings. The avocado is a favorite along with the sweet almond milk ricotta with fruit. Nourish is also conveniently located right across the street from a Yoga Tree studio, so it’s a good pre-or post fuel station to enjoy a plant-based bite and drink before or after an hour-plus of downward dogs and planks.

Visit Nourish Cafe at: nourishcafesf.com

Gracias Madre San Francisco

Gracias Madre

It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian or carnivore. Gracias Madre will induce cravings that keep you coming back for more. Organic, vegan Mexican cuisine complemented by a full-service beverage program with an extensive mezcal and tequila list is why you’ll find crowds here every day and night of the week. Start off with the Guacamole and warm house-made tortillas and move on to one of their many flavorful entree choices. Their Uno and Dos bowls are a filling choice and will go well with that extra batch of tortillas that you’ll want to order. If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to skip dessert. Their seasonal cobblers are decadently satisfying and are accompanied with a scoop of vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream.

Visit Gracias Madre at: gracias-madre.com

Healthy Eats San Francisco

Little Gem

If I lived in Hayes Valley, I’d probably be here at least five days a week. Opened by TKRG (Thomas Keller Restaurant Group) alums, the restaurant is sleek and modern, yet comfortable. Everything they serve is free of dairy, gluten, and refined-sugar. Chef Dave Cruz has the innate skill of creating comforting dishes that are both aesthetically pleasing while feeding the soul. The Hen of the Woods Mushrooms on Beans & Rice is a dish that you’d like to cozy up with a big warm blanket near a wood-burning fireplace. With all the dishes at Little Gem, you’ll consistently find fresh, seasonal ingredients and farm-raised produce. And although high quality, Little Gem offers a welcoming and affordable menu.

Visit Little Gem at: littlegem.restaurant

Urban Remedy Vegan San Francisco

Urban Remedy

With several locations around the Bay Area and growing, UR has built quite a following for their fresh, cold-pressed juice cleanses and grab and go organic food and snacks which are all certified non-GMO, gluten free, and low glycemic. While most people opt to just grab and go, UR offers a few tables inside to enjoy a healing meal solo or with a friend. The macro bowl with quinoa and roasted cumin sweet potatoes is a fan favorite, and their PB & J meal-in-a-cup with raspberries, almond butter, almond milk, stevia, brown rice protein, coconut sugar, and chia seeds is a quick and easy post-workout boost. The Sour Cream and Chive Kale Chips and the Banana Brittle are so addicting that you’ll second guess if they’re really good for you. Don’t worry, they are.

Visit Urban Remedy at: urbanremedy.com

As Quoted San Francisco

As Quoted

This bright white and minimalist-chic cafe in Presidio Heights offers salads, open-faced sandwiches, pastries, soups, and a multitude of beverage options for those non-seekers of gluten, dairy, nut and soy. Their taco salad is a mound of protein power with jicama, black beans, chicken, romaine lettuce and cumin dressing. Their bone broth by the cup is perfect for those chilly San Francisco days (which are almost every day of the year). As Quoted has become the spot for the stylish neighborhood mom set to meet, eat and catch up. Bring a book and find a seat at the communal tables in the back to enjoy an afternoon latte including their Fresh Turmeric one with fresh ginger, coconut oil, almond milk, sea salt and coconut sugar.

Visit As Quoted at: eatasquoted.com

 

This article, Enjoy Healthy Eating at These San Francisco Spots, originally appeared on Chowhound.

Manolo Valdés at Place Vendôme – Paris, France 

You never know what you’ll stumble upon while strolling through the majestic streets of Paris, so it was a delight to turn a corner and run across these huge, magnificent sculptures by Spanish artist Manolo Valdés.

It was a very hot day in Paris approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit and I was tempted to take shade under the large aluminum hat.

The recently re-opened Ritz Paris sits in the background. And just to note, even when there’s no artwork in this historic square in the 1st arrondisement, the Place Vendôme is awe-inspiring so these stunning works by Valdés were an added bonus. 

This public exhibition of Manolo Valdés’ sculptures lasts from September 8 through October 10, 2016.

Carrying the Light at Waikiki Beach – Oahu, Hawaii

travel influencer blogger food fashionista mika takeuchi

On this Throwback Thursday, I’m thinking of this quote from Shakti Gawain: “The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.” It’s true. You can’t have a bright life with dark thoughts or outlook. There will always be negative voices even within yourself telling you a dream is impossible, but that’s when you have to dig deep and find the shining light within. We all have it and the more you feed it, the brighter and stronger it will be. But the same also goes for negativity so don’t feed into that. You are more powerful than you even realize and just like the sun sets and rises every day, you have a new day ahead of you today to shine, spread and carry your light brightly. Namaste.

Photo taken August 2016 at Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii.

VIMMIA Activewear – Wear Good and Do Good

Mika Takeuchi VIMMIA Lifestyle Blog

On a recent afternoon in cities across the U.S. – New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., stylish activewear brand VIMMIA partnered with Maria Shriver’s A Woman’s Nation, a non-profit organization created by Shriver, on their initiative, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge, which recognizes that women are the epicenter of the global Alzheimer’s epidemic and challenges organizations to do cutting-edge research on women’s brains to defeat this mind-blowing disease. On this health-focused afternoon, people of all shapes and sizes gathered at their local Equinox for a half day of yoga, cardio boxing and meditation along with seminars on nutrition, sleep, and Alzheimer’s education.

MariaShriver - VIMMIA - Food Fashionista

The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge partners with leading researchers, scientists and major non-profit organizations to create landmark Alzheimer’s research funds to finance gender-specific research on women’s brains and challenges women and men to get educated, engaged and empowered to defeat this mind-blowing disease. Through the partnership, one dollar from every legging sold through May 30, 2017 will go directly to The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge.

“At VIMMIA, we have been dedicated to health, fitness and philanthropy since our founding.” says Ardy Raminfar, VIMMIA Founder and Creative Director. “The physical and mental wellbeing of women is at the core of our business and philanthropy model, and we are proud to partner with Maria Shriver and A Woman’s Nation to help fund research for this devastating disease.”

Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista VIMMIA

I love my luxe VIMMIA activewear including the VIMMIA Wind Jacket. It’s so versatile, that I could and do wear it in and out of the yoga studio. I wore it above on a recent summer day in Paris’ Le Marais district. It’s also lightweight enough to throw into a small purse and proved to be quite weatherproof on a recent afternoon when it shielded me from the sudden pouring rain on the Champs Élysées.

For more info on VIMMIA, visit vimmia.com

For more info on Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge, visit thewomensalzheimerschallenge.org

 

Nobu- Malibu, California

Nobu Malibu - Food Fashionista

Nobu Malibu is located on the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway and offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. On a warm Southern California day (which is quite often), it’s ideal for a relaxing day of lounging on the patio with a table spread of chef Nobu’s signature drinks and dishes. They also offer breakfast on Friday through Sunday.

Nobu Malibu - Food Fashionista

Glasses of Louis Roederer, Brut Champagne

Nobu Malibu - Food Fashionista new style sashimi

Nobu’s famous New Style Sashimi. See the recipe and make at home here: http://bit.ly/1O3Ojo9

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Lobster Shiitake Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing – a must-order dish.

Nobu Malibu - Food Fashionista Mika Takeuchi

Being fed lobster isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon. Just remember to bring sun glasses and wear sunblock if you plan on sitting on the patio. Although breezy, it can get toasty out there.

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Ocean view from the patio

 

Nobu Malibu

Address: 22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265
Phone: (310) 317-9140

Kendra Scott Jewelry Comes to Northern California

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I was just off a flight from Paris and needed to fight the jet lag, so headed down south (from San Francisco) to sunny San Jose’s Santana Row. Kendra Scott fashion jewelry was touring California with their airstream, and dropped by for a one day show. I wasn’t familiar with Kendra Scott previously, so was excited to check out their accessories and learn more about them. I was especially intrigued by their Color Bar in which you could design your own jewelry. You just pick out the stone and accessory style of choice, and voila, they make it right there for you. It’s a fun and quick way to create a unique, personalized piece that’s all your own. And, it’s very affordable with most price points in the $50-$75 range. I’m big on the power and energy of crystals and natural stones so was pleased to see some of my favorites including pyrite and rose quartz in the mix.

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Just put on a tee and pair of denim and throw on one of these Kendra Scott necklaces and you’re good to go…

Mika Takeuchi - Food Fashionista Santana Row Kendra Scott

Nothing beats jet lag like a good dose of sun rays with that vitamin D and some exercise to get the blood pumping. Just remember to wear your daily sunscreen.

Santana Row Kendra Scott Village California Bistro

One also needs fuel to shop, so I grabbed a tasty lunch at Village Bistro – which is located smack dab in the center of Santana Row with its breezy courtyard seating. This is their Tomato Bruschetta with fresh mozzarella pearls, Franchessi bread, basil pesto, baby heirloom tomatoes and balsamic reduction.

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This Phyllo Baked Brie isn’t the most photogenic, but was seriously satisfying with its mix of sweet and savory with caramelized apples and toasted almonds. I could not stop eating it.

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Although the Kendra Scott airstream was a one-day visit, they will be opening a permanent store in Santana Row this year. They also have plans to open up in Walnut Creek and eventually in San Francisco.

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Thank you, Santana Row for helping fight the jet lag. You definitely succeeded. I’ll see you again soon.

Visit Kendra Scott.com to see all their fab jewelry styles

 

Little Gem – San Francisco, California

Little Gem Salad

Little Gem in Hayes Valley is a big, bright neighborhood gem. They’ve only been open since December 2015, but it’s one of those places that makes me wish I lived even closer. I’d be there all the time – breakfast, lunch, dinner. It’s just the kind of vibe that makes you feel welcomed at “home”.

During the day, the contemporary space’s expansive windows shine a glowing natural light upon the entire restaurant interior. You order at the counter and are given a number on a pastel ombré piece of reclaimed wood before choosing a seat at a barstool or table.

The menu is gluten, dairy and sugar free. I tend to mostly cook this way at home, so even before my visit, many friends and colleagues asked me if I had tried Little Gem yet. They knew it was a place that mixed in well with my daily at-home lifestyle and I was pleased when I finally visited. The people and space had a sincere, warm energy and the menu ingredients are all mindfully sourced from local farmers and artisans. It’s always refreshing to have a place that shows healthy, high quality dining options can also be affordable and satisfying.

Founders Eric Lilavois, John DiFazio and Chef Dave Cruz were all physically and presently working at the restaurant behind the counter and in the kitchen during my lunch visit. Lilavois was most recently the Chief Operating Officer for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group so it’s no surprise that Little Gem, although approachable and casual, had a clear and polished professionalism about it.

Little Gem Hayes Valley - Food Fashionista

Napa Valley Honey Lemonade prepared with local Marshall’s Farm Honey

Little Gem San Francisco Chef Dave Cruz

Window view of Chef Dave Cruz in the Little Gem kitchen. Before this new endeavor, Chef Cruz worked at several restaurants in New York and California including serving as the opening chef for Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville.

Little Gem San Francisco - Food FashionistaGrilled Trumpet Mushrooms on Beans & Rice w Rancho Gordo beans, Tuscan kale,  tomato-bacon stew.

Little Gem Flat Bread - Food Fashionista

Mixed Vegetable Flatbread with caramelized carrots, cauliflower, broccolini, kale, almond-onion puree

Little Gem Salad

Asparagus & Radish Salad with pea shoots, soft boiled egg, romaine lettuce, celery, green goddess dressing and addition of King Salmon

Little Gem Hayes Valley

Little Gem

Address: 400 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone:    (415) 914-0501

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest at Carmel-by-the-Sea

Chef Michel Bras Olivier Roellinger Relais Châteaux GourmetFest

The third annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest returns to postcard-perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea on the weekend of February 25-28. And as in previous years, you will find the most illustrious names in food and wine descending upon California’s Monterey Peninsula. This year’s culinary celebration will feature 17 Relais & Châteaux chefs from around the world participating in a total of 18 unique events spread throughout the weekend. In addition to the showcased gastronomy, carmaker BMW will have some of their newest cars on display during the occasion; and several renowned wineries will be pouring rare vintages.

Relais Chateaux GourmeFest

Pastry Chef Liz Miller Blackberry Farm Ron Mendoza Aubergine

Pastry Chefs Liz Miller (Blackberry Farm) and Ron Mendoza (Aubergine) during the plating of Milller’s dessert course of Strawberries, Coconut Meringue, Crème fraiche Ice Cream and Candied Pecans at the GourmetFest 2015 Grand Women Chefs & Winemakers Luncheon 

Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Blackberry Farm

Festival founder and L’Auberge Carmel Proprietor David Fink will be hosting along with the stellar local team at Aubergine, the restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel led by Executive Chef Justin Cogley and Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza. Keeping with tradition, Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest will be headlined by several three star Michelin chefs with a 2016 lineup including David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos), Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco), Michel Troisgros (La Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France) and Hiroshi Nakamichi (Restaurant Molière, Sapporo, Japan). There aren’t many places where you’ll be able to experience the cuisine of these international culinary masters up close and personal and all in the same location, but once again, you will have that special opportunity soon in Carmel at GourmetFest.

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

With an abundance of food and wine festivals these days, Relais & Châteaux has done an exceptional job of curating a  standout event that delivers only the best of the best in food, wine and luxury brands for a festive, high-quality wining and dining weekend. There is also an online auction where you can bid on several of Relais & Châteaux’s most extraordinary properties. The auction will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the CSU Monterey Bay hospitality program.

For a sampling of what you can expect at this year’s GourmetFest, here are some more photo-worthy highlights I captured at last year’s R&C GourmetFest weekend:

La Playa Carmel Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

La Playa Carmel was the setting for the Opening Party

Chef Tetsuya Wakada Relais Chateaux

Chef Tetsuya Wakada & team plating their Salad of Aburi Alaskan Salmon w Daikon & Myoga 

Tetsuya Wakada

Chefs Olivier and Hugo Roellinger Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Chefs Olivier & Hugo Roellinger served Oysters with Cured Lemon and Morita Oil sharing the spirit and spices of their seafront Brittany property, Les Maison de Bricourt with its vicinity near the bay of Cancale and its oyster farms. They will be returning to the 2016 GourmetFest cooking together at the Father & Son’s luncheon. 

Chef Olivier Roellinger Oysters Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Carmel by the Sea SunsetCarmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula not only offer incredibly beautiful nature views year round, but a variety of the freshest, locally-sourced seafood which you’ll be able to enjoy while in the area.  

Ernst Loosen - Dr Loosen Wines

German Winemaker Ernst Loosen (Dr Loosen)  is all smiles in Carmel 

Chef Justin Cogley Aubergine Carmel Relais ChateauxChef Justin Cogley (Aubergine) serving Rainbow Trout with Seven Herbs and Smoked Trout Roe (below) at the Opening Night Welcome Party. 

Chef Justin Cogley Aubergine Rainbow Trout

relais chateaux gourmet fest

Chef Francis Wolf (Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey)’s Panna Cotta of Cultured Goats Milk, Sweet Clover, Arctic Rose Flat Oatcake, Green Alder Candied Beet and Birch Syrup paired with a 1990 Philippi Barrel Aged Auslese at the Cuisine and Wines of the World Dinner at Seventh & Dolores.

Chefs Michel Bras Olivier Roellinger Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Legendary Chefs Michel Bras (Bras) and Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons De Bricourt) discussing their game plan for the dishes at the much-anticipated and sold out Taste of France luncheon.

Michel Bras Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Carmel

Chef Michel Bras’ L’endive Farcie, parfum de truffes paired with a 2008 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône Valley

Olivier Roellinger GourmetFest Carmel

Chef Olivier Roellinger’s St. Pierre “Retour de Indes” – Hommage to the 18th Century French Mariners paired with a 2011 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-A-Vent, Beaujolais 

relais chateaux gourmetfest women and wine lunch

The All-Star Team at the Grand Women Chefs & Winemaker’s Luncheon

Gaja Wines GourmetFest Carmel

2005 Gaja Gaia & Rey Chardonnay Langhe from Piedmont, Italy was paired with Chef Annie Féolde (Enoteca Pinchiorri)’s Risotto with Prawns, Licorice Powder and Asparagus Marinated in Red Wine (below).

Chef Annie Feolde Risotto

Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Carmel

Pre-lunch cooking demo at the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen at La Playa Hotel’s courtyard featuring 3 Star Michelin Italian Chef Annie Féolde and team from Enoteca Pinchiorri.  

Chef Lanshu Chef (Le Mout Restaurant) Relais Chateaux

Chef Lanshu Chen (Le Moût Restaurant) plating her Pigeon with Yilan Style Pork Liver, Chantrelles & Lapsang Souchong Tea paired with a 2012 Wayfarer Vineyard Pinot Noir from Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County, California and a 2012 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley, California. 

Lanshu Chen Pigeon Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Relais Châteaux Taste of The World

View the entire Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest schedule here, which includes these standout events for 2016:

Welcome Party (Thursday, February 25): The must-attend event of the weekend. This strolling dinner shines a spotlight on world-class Relais & Châteaux chefs – including all four Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs – at stations paired with famed wine estates and beer & spirits producers and luxury vendors.

• Rarities Dinner (Friday, February 26): An extremely limited, 10-course dinner meal-of-a-lifetime prepared by three Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs: David Kinch of Manresa, Joshua Skenes of Saison, and Michel Troisgros of Troisgros. This spectacular dinner is parked with rare wines directly from the Chateau, Domaines and Estate cellars.

• Wild Mushroom Hunt & Lunch with Ranger Chuck Bancroft (Saturday, February 27): Retired Point Lobos Ranger Chuck Bancroft and his team of mycologists lead guests on a wild mushroom hunt through the pristine 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve in upper Carmel Valley. Following the hunt will be a sumptuous wild mushroom lunch prepared by the Preserve’s Host Chef Jerry Regester and Relais & Châteaux Chef Matt Zubrod of The Little Nell with accompanying wineries pouring rare vintages from Galante Vineyards and Dawn’s Dream.

• Father & Sons Lunch & Michel Troisgros Cooking Demo (Saturday, February 27): Delight in a lunch prepared by two iconic French father and son chefs, Olivier and Hugo Roellinger of Les Maison de Bricourt and Michel and César Troisgros of Troisgros. The lunch, paired with some of the most highly sought after wines made in France including Chateau Grillet and Domaine d’Eugenie and finished with the wines of Napa Valley superstar Araujo, is preceded by a cooking demo in the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen and Champagne Taittinger reception.

• Taste of the World (Sunday, February 28): Experience a “strolling Route du Bonheur” in which wines, many from local Monterey County wine estates, are paired with bites from Relais & Châteaux properties from all over the world.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the 2016 GourmetFest, visit:

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

carmel by the sea sunset

…and while in Carmel-by-the-Sea, make sure to take in the magnificent sunset. This photo was captured a few minutes before last year’s GourmetFest began. Absolutely magical start to an unforgettable weekend.

 

Eat and Drink Charitably this Holiday Season

Mika Takeuchi, Food Fashionista GEV Magazine Cover

Thank you to GEV Magazine for featuring Liam Mayclem (CBS), Leslie Sbrocco (Check Please! Bay Area), Joel Riddell (Dining Around), Marybeth LaMotte (Red Carpet Bay Area), and I in this month’s holiday issue focusing on charitable giving. We all share a passion for dining, but we also believe in the importance of giving back to the community.

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 Love the comfy, casual vibe and cashmere-blended fabric of Kit & Ace

The photoshoot took place in San Jose’s Santana Row and it was a festive time filled with lots of laughter, stylish threads, and the ultimate glam squad from Atelier Salon.  Photographer Vinnie Gotti did a fabulous job of making the day as comfortable and fun in front of the camera as well as off.

Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista GEV Magazine

Ted Baker Dress and extra big hair…it’s all mine though! 

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When you’re a child, it’s so exciting to see what presents Santa Claus is going to deliver down that chimney and if he’s going to indulge in those cookies you baked and left out for him. As you grow up and fast forward to life as an adult, the holidays have a whole different meaning and become much more about what you can give rather than what you will receive. The end of the year is a time when the weather is crisp, leaves are shedding and you naturally become more reflective. Like the changing seasons and foliage, I find myself looking back at life and the past year and seeing how much change and growth has occurred. The holidays are a reminder that another year is coming to a close and while we’re here, life is about giving, loving, sharing and having tons of gratitude for all the blessings surrounding us. Being grateful for the special people in our lives and all that we’ve been blessed with is so key. The holidays come so quickly every year, and in this day and age of cell phones, social media and the internet, everything happens so quickly, but it’s so essential to slow down and remember what’s truly important. The holidays are a reminder that giving isn’t an exclusive once a year, end of year kind of thing. It’s a necessary and contagious habit that we can easily incorporate into our lives all year round.

Read more about what the holidays mean to me and why I’m so passionate about giving back to the community in this issue of GEV Magazine.