My Mama Mint Experience

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I nestled into a JetBlue Mint seat the morning after the 2016 election results rolled in. I was tired, and in need of nourishment. I was ushered to my space by a flight attendant who smelled like a fresh-linen candle and quickly handed me a “refreshmint” (hehe, good one JetBlue) cocktail.

My first twenty-ish minutes in a plane are usually laced with anxiety, but not this time. As I settled into my cushy airplane nest (a Mint “seat” is much more than a seat) I felt safe, cared for and free of my usual need to wring my hands and breath deeply (in a kind of creepy way) until we reach cruising altitude.

The alchemy of the following Mint elements is what made my experience so… well, minty.

The Nest

I walked onto this flight with a bone deep yearning to bury myself in blankets and check out, and was hoping I wouldn’t be met with the standard itchy, thin and strange-smelling airplane blanket. My nest came with a comforter-esque blanket and full-sized pillow. “Oh yeah,” was on repeat in my mind and body as I laid my seat flat (!), sunk my head into the pillow and cocooned myself into the blanket that easily covered my entire body.

And the partition between myself, and the kind lady seated next to me, saved her from being exposed to my drooling-sleep-face.

The Food

As I slid my seat out of the supine position, my candle-scented flight attendant re-appeared to ask what food I wanted from the small plate menu created by the NYC restaurant Saxon + Parole. The menu read like an ode to edible art, each item unique and begging me to have a try.

After an embarrassing amount of time hemming and hawing (and salivating) over the menu I ordered the Tuscan kale salad, goat cheese tortellini soup and pan-seared halibut with roasted cauliflower.

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Then I ate, and it was everything.

The Drink

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Most wines served on airplanes make me feel hung-over before I reach the bottom of the plastic cup. But JetBlue’s wine-service, curated by wine expert Jon Bonne, only offers the good stuff, like really good stuff; the stuff that makes your taste buds happy, body warm and fuzzy and mind strangely more creative and capable. And the bubbly is just as lovely. (Yes, I tried both. And had them put Bailey’s in my cappuccino.)

The Entertainment

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The blue glow of the large screen situated in my nest knew how to tickle my fancy. Unlimited access to programs I could watch without conferring with another adult and my three-year-old? Yes, please. Although I usually sink my airplane time into work, I let my laptop stay in its case and binged on movies with ratings naughtier than a G, as I took tiny bites of Blue Marble Ice Cream.

The Gifts

My persona can usually be summed up by the words “stale, tired and cranky” halfway through a long flight. So, I wanted to bear hug the flight attendant when she handed me a Hayward “designed for her” kit right as I was entering the “stale” realm. The denim clutch (that is so chic I now use as a clutch) was filled with an orange towelette, lip balm, breath mints, screen cloth, earplugs and a non-itchy eye mask.

Oh, and then there was the farewell gift box of chocolaty, buttery, uber-yummy treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery that served as my dinner when I arrived at Hotel Commonwealth. The apple was nice too.

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The Lack of Arrogance

I adore the “Mint Experience” term versus “business class” or (bleh) “first class.” The lack of snootiness in the terminology employed by JetBlue conveys the message that they offer a special experience I can choose to treat myself to, not an area of the plane I deserve to be in because I’m somehow “better than” the folks sitting in the more affordable seats (the seats I’m usually sitting in.)

As a mom, my alone time usually equals being squished in my car during traffic, but no more. This mama is skipping those daily fancy coffees in favor of saving up for a Mint experience on my next solo flight, because I deserve it, and so do you.

Your Guide to a Luxury Family Vacation in North Lake Tahoe

If you’ve been looking for a watering hole in the sky, whose waters are swirling with unpretentious grandeur, family friendly thrills and mega-yummy food, pack up your swim suits (or snow suits) and hoof it to North Lake Tahoe.

To minimize the stress pangs birthed from figuring out the logistics of a vacation (especially when humans under the age of 21 are involved!) I’ve collected my North Tahoe faves, and those of my nearest and dearest who called North Tahoe home for over ten years, so you can slide into this haven with nary a worry in sight (just a bunch of pine trees in sight.)

Where to Stay: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

Read more on Huffington Post!

How to Take Your Camping Cuisine to The Next Level

Food prep has always been the metaphorical poison oak rubbing on my leg when I go camping- my main criteria being “what will be the least fussy food to make?” After spending half a day using my mad-Tetris skills packing my car with half my house, I have no desire to be a short order cook of crappy food when I get to the camp site.

But, what if campfire food could be both easy and delicious? (I would go camping more.)

I spoke with Shane Hammett, avid camper and chef de cuisine at the Lone Eagle Grille in the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, to get the (beefed-up) skinny on how to make campout eating a (easy) fine dining experience- albeit fine dining a la fold out chairs, dust and bug spray.

Here’s how to jazz up your campfire cuisine without having to skip the hike because you need to clean up after lunch and start prepping dinner.

1. Build the Right Kind of Fire.

Trying to cook on a campfire without the right kind of fire is like trying to scale a mountain trail in heels- you can do it, but it will take a long time- and it will suck.

Read more on Huffington Post!

My Fast Food Addiction Almost Ruined My Life

I gave up fast food because it was killing my spirit, and probably my body too.

Fast food used to be my crutch. Each time I’d receive disappointing news, get into the headspace of not being “good enough,” feel fat (ironic much?), or have a hangover, I would buy fast food. It was so easy.

When I was younger, I had become idle in pursuing my passions, I was addicted to harmful romantic relationships, and completely detached from my body. I used to have a ritual of starting each Sunday like this: Brunch with my girlfriends, which would turn into mimosas on the beach, followed by a movie, so we could take a nap.

On my route home, feeling tired, hungry, and sad, I would pass a McDonald’s, a Taco Bell and a Wendy’s, side by side. For a while my pattern was to go to Taco Bell and order a few different options. If I was in the mood for sugar I would also stop at McDonalds or Wendy’s for a shake.

I would then drive home and eat all the stuff, half of it in the car.

I ended each week laying in bed hating myself.

Read more on Delish!

Michelle Obama Reveals Her Family Used to Eat Takeout Every Night

IMG_7647Did you know that the First Family used to eat takeout every night?

They were just like us, a busy family with 48 hours worth of to-dos to accomplish in 24 hours, children that needed to be fed, and a preference for couch sitting versus taking walks at the end of a long day — oh, and no private chef.

I received this used-to-eat-a-ton-of-takeout tidbit when I went to the White House for a Let’s Move event hosted by Michelle Obama. Let’s Move is an initiative Michelle started in 2010 to end childhood obesity by introducing healthier foods into schools, incorporating exercise into lesson plans, and supporting families in continuing these healthy habits at home.

The idea was birthed when Michelle took her daughters to their family physician (before they lived in the big White House) and was told they needed to make some changes to their diet.

Read more at Babble!

Food Lover’s Guide to Austin, Texas

Photo: Jeremy KeithPhoto Credit: Jeremy Keith

If Austin, Texas were a perfume it would smell like barbeque, with an undertone of breakfast tacos and craft beer.

I was going to write a “Best Places to Eat In Austin” article, but that would be impossible, seeing as there are hundreds of “best” places to eat in my wacky hometown.

This is a tiny sprinkle of Austin eateries that will leave you fat, happy and searching for more.

Read more on Flight Network!