Category Archives: Lifestyle

Cooking Food Lifestyle

Jasmine Brocade Tea – FarLeaves

I am loving this cooler weather because it gives me an excuse to wear sweaters — like my favorite swing-style sweater with tennis rackets on it (which only implies that I play tennis, despite the fact that this is the first time this year I have used the word “tennis”). Sweater season is so short in southern California that I have to take full advantage of it…and so I have. Since I work from home most days and appear to people only via videoconference, I’m able to embody the mullet of outfits. Today’s mashup: cashmere sweater with statement necklace up top; fleece lined sweatpants and fuzzy slippers on the bottom.

The other amazing thing about cold weather is cradling hot drinks. I placed a Christmas order with Far Leaves Tea recently, because 1) it’s served in Michelin-starred restaurants like Quince and Chez TJ, and I do not currently have access to a Michelin-starred restaurant so this will do; 2) it was featured in this year’s New York Fashion Week, which I also do not have access to, with much fanfare, and 3) my sister-in-law just joined their team. Also, did I mention that it’s served by tea sommeliers in high end restaurants (hm, tea sommelier, has a nice ring to it. Perhaps a future career.)? And that Google brought them in to train them on how to properly brew tea?


One of the things that arrived was a beautiful gift box wrapped in a bespoke Far Leaves tea towel. Inside was this:

Those little balls on the left are Jasmine Brocade tea. When you add water to these little guys, they start to blossom:

unfurling slowly:

til they’re in full bloom:

Wanna see it in action? Watch here:

This added a touch of sophistication to my otherwise sweater-sweatpants day. The best news? FarLeaves has kindly offered a promo code to share with my readers! Enter code xmas15 at checkout to get 10% off your online order. Because I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want tea like this!

Happy brewing!


Fashion Lifestyle Shopping

#seesummerbetter with Warby Parker

When the folks at Warby Parker invited me to try their sunglasses and share the way I experience summer, I squealed. Because:

1. I love glasses. I have terrible vision and in the animal universe I would be a mole. With glasses, I have overcome my genetic predisposition to be the one in the herd consumed by a lion.

2. I also happen to be covered in moles.

3. I love what Warby Parker does with their buy a pair, give a pair program.

4. It’s Warby Parker.

I tried 5 pairs of sunglasses:


and set about my summer business in them. I’ve been posting the pics to my Instagram account; here’s a roundup:

I spent an afternoon with my friend Alyson, where we had lunch at a new nearby eatery and then walked around the shops afterward. I can’t resist a pretty flower, so here I am helping myself:

Then we headed off to one of our favorite local gardens, where I wrestled the camera from her hands and took a shot of her wearing the Battens. After which I am just sitting.

My kids spend a lot of time at the ranch in the summer, so sometimes I help lead a horse to water (or other things that require neither skill nor grace).

No summer is complete of course without beach visits.

And sunsets.

And after all that running around, I love to just relax in my back yard with a good book.

How’s your summer shaping up? Feel free to share your own summer pics with #seesummerbetter!

Health Lifestyle

TMI Series: The Moon Cup Menstrual Cup

Alert! Alert! Turn away now if:

  • You want to read about food right this minute
  • You’re squeamish about blood and bodily functions
  • …and probably if you’re a man

I am about to venture deep into the nether regions of TMI land, and pretty far away from food, but I have experienced something so life-changing that I feel like I have to become an evangelist. Mostly so that I can stop blabbing about it to my husband to whom I believe I am giving nightmares.

***UPDATE: The good folks at (makers of the Moon Cup) have offered my readers 10% off their purchase! Use code TMI10. Thank you Gladrags!***

If you’re like me, getting your monthly period is no cause for celebration, and is, in fact, and exercise in planning and preparedness. In short, it’s a huge pain, literally and figuratively. So recently when a friend asked if I’d ever tried a menstrual cup, I thought I’d research. I’d heard of them before, most recently from reading the Zero Waste book, but the author was also doing things like looking into using moss as toilet paper and sewing her own maxi pads, and I just wasn’t ready to go there. Even though I compost.

First off, for those of who you are unfamiliar with the concept, a menstrual cup is a silicone cup inserted in largely the same way as a tampon, but instead of absorbing the flow, it catches it. At first glance this sounds very, very messy, but…it’s not. And if you have a sick fascination like I do with the output of your Biore strips, I think you’ll actually enjoy it.

I started investigating online and found thousands of reviews from women talking about how life-changing the cup has been for them. And after having gone through my first cycle with one, I can confirm that for me, the following claims held true:

  • I really appreciated the no-paper-trail, no-landfill-polluting nature of the cup. That is, no crinkly papers to deal with, no garbage created in your (or someone else’s) home, no worries about whether your tampon is going to clog up the plumbing. I’m usually mortified at the amount of waste I create each month, and this month — maybe just a few extra sheets of toilet paper. The cup is reusable for a number of years (the manufacturer of the Moon Cup mentioned that their customers use it for up to 10 years).
  • I found it more comfortable than a tampon, and it doesn’t “fall out” like some tampons do.
  • Because it doesn’t absorb like a tampon does, the risk of TSS goes way down, and you don’t have to worry about the uncomfortable removal of a tampon in the later days of your cycle…if you know what I mean.
  • I had less cramping with the cup. I have no idea why this is the case but other women mentioned the same thing — I’m not going to complain.
  • I had just about no leaking with the cup (and this is my first time ’round, so I was learning), and I am on the heavier side of the normal flow range, I always leak with a tampon, and I was using o.b., which I found to expand laterally better than the other brands. The cup forms a suction along the vaginal walls — so generally, no leaking.

If you’re about to embark on this adventure for the first time, there are a few things to know:

  • Cups come in different sizes and shapes. You’ll want to get an idea for how far up your cervix is before buying, because having a cup right up against your cervix can cause cramping. This tutorial shows you how.
  • This link and this one have pretty comprehensive comparisons of the measurements, shape and texture of the various cups on the market. If you’re going for bigger capacity, like what you would get with the Diva Cup, just be sure that the cup isn’t going to end up right against your cervix. I liked the idea of bigger capacity, but started with the Moon Cup (US — there is also a UK version) instead and I probably have to change it more on heavier flow days than I would with the Diva Cup, but it is completely comfortable. I also cut the stem on my Moon Cup about 3 mm and that made it perfect for me. The Diva Cup talks about a “twist” to pop it open, but my Moon Cup pretty much pops open on its own. It also comes with a cheerful yellow gingham carrying bag which seems to say “Yay period!”
  • There are also slightly different insertion and removal methods that work with each cup, but there are plenty of great videos that show you how to insert and remove a cup. Ladies, you must break the vacuum seal before pulling out the cup, or I imagine it could be quite painful.. With the Moon Cup in particular, I find that the best method is to grab the stem with toilet paper, for better grip, and then to break the seal by pressing one side of the base of the cup away from the wall, and wiggling it down side to side. When it’s low enough, I grasp the base of the cup with my thumb and forefinger, and this gives me a good handle on the cup so that there’s no messy spilling. You do have to be unafraid to get your fingers up in your business, but that wasn’t an issue for me since I was an o.b. user anyway. Just dump the flow into the toilet. I found that after a few runs I was able to do the removal with very minimal mess.
  • Ideally, you’d rinse the cup with soap and water before reinsertion, but in a public bathroom, you can wipe it down with toilet paper and reinsert until you can wash it. I’ve read about people bringing water bottles or peri-bottles with them in stalls for the rinsing, and that sounds like a good idea too. Other women said they just carried two cups, and would stick cups to be cleaned into a plastic baggie until they could get home.

On my heaviest days (for context, I would soak through an o.b. Super Plus tampon in 2 hours, and any other brand within 1.5 hours), I found that emptying the cup every 3 hours was sufficient and resulted in no leaking (if I used a Diva Cup, which has larger capacity, I might be able to go for longer — but I’m a little worried that it will hit my cervix). For the first time ever, I went without a backup pantiliner or a pad…though I would advise on heavy days using a pantiliner just in case. Now that I’ve gone all eco I think I’m going to try these reusables from Gladrags, the distributors of the Moon Cup US. On lighter days, I only needed to empty it once or twice a day, and I had no problem swimming with it on a heavy day. And overnight it was a DREAM. None of the gross issues I’ve had with overnight pads, and ZERO leaking (I emptied right away when I got up).

Now you know this has to be good if I’m as excited about this as I am about food. Feel free to ask questions below in the comments and I’ll try to get you the answer. Thanks for not fainting!


And on the 5th Day, She Recycled Bras

I had drafted a post about days 4-8 of my 15 day decluttering challenge (getting rid of 7 things per day) but  you probably don’t need or want to know exactly what I gave away. Suffice it to say that it was frighteningly easy to find 7 things to donate, sell or give away for every day of the exercise, and I liked it so much that I’m still trying to purge every day. Some things I learned:

  • You can opt out of credit card and insurance offers in the mail by going to 
  • You can donate gently used bras and even clean underwear to organizations like AmVetsThe Bra Recyclers recycle bras and distribute them to women in need around the world. Women’s shelters also frequently have use for bras.
  • has a list of direct mail companies and how to contact them for removal from mailing lists.
  • Go to to opt out of receiving the phone book.
  • You can get good resale value on recognized labels on eBay. I have a lot of items from Anthropologie, Free People, J. Crew and Barneys New York in my closet, and have made over $300 in the past 30 days selling items that are still in good, wearable condition. It’s also a good, disciplined way to manage my closet — using the funds I get from selling my old clothes, I can buy new ones — fewer in number as a sort of self-regulated replenishment.
  • Converse recycles old sneakers at its stores, any brand, and makes them into soft surfaces for use on playgrounds.

Judging my the number of fancy, lacy bras in my drawer, at some point I must have anticipated becoming a burlesque dancer before veering slightly left into the world of venture-backed commerce. In any case, many of these gems were barely, if at all, worn, and had excellent resale value on eBay. One recently sold for over $20 after waiting patiently in my drawer to see the light of day. Somewhere, a burlesque dancer is happy with her bargain.


De-cluttering Challenge! Days 2-3 + Sold App

sold App
Image courtesy of Sold

Still doing the 15-day de-cluttering challenge: For 15 days, you get rid of 7 things per day by recycling, selling, giving it away, or, as a last resort, disposing of it.

I have a few items that I wanted to sell, and thought it might be a good time to try out the Sold iPhone app. It’s supposed to optimize the price that you get for, say, a 1-year-old iPod. You take pictures of your item and describe it; Sold scans the internet for like items to suggest a price for you. If you like the price, Sold will post it for you on sites like Amazon and eBay, and when you have a buyer, it sends you a prepaid, pre-labeled box with bubble wrap included so all you have to do is plop it in and ship.

I tried it with one of my kids’ pairs of Joe’s Jeans. Snapped pic, wrote description. Sold went trolling for a price…and came back to me the next day saying that it couldn’t find consistent demand for it online.

Their blog has some guidelines on what sells on Sold. I suspect that electronics with very specific specs tend to do well — the type of thing that a bot has no trouble identifying. So when I have something that I think might fit the bill, I’ll try again.

But for now, I’ve listed eight items on eBay…so far. I won’t count them in my daily count til they’re sold, but I have bids on 6 of them so far!

Here’s my challenge list so far:

Day 1 – 6 tops, 3 skirts, 1 dress
Day 2 – 27 books, sent to my kids’ school for their used book fair
Day 3 – 2  tops, 1 kids’ leotard, 2 pairs socks, recycled a box of old business cards, 2 books

How’s your challenge going so far?



De-cluttering Challenge! Day 1

I’ve been reading Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home and feeling a little guilty about all the packaged waste I create. Meat? Wrapped in plastic. Cereal? In a box. Bea’s been able to get her family’s annual trash production to one quart per year! That’s about as much as I produce in a minute.

So while I’m not yet prepared to go foraging for Spanish moss in lieu of toilet paper and the electric deer from Christmas is still going strong on my balcony, I am on a mission to de-clutter and simplify my life (she said as she ordered yet another compulsive item from Anthropologie). I got this idea from my good friend Danielle at Cozycakes Cottage who has a bazillion followers so she must be doing something right: she is participating in a month-long de-cluttering challenge from another blogger.

Now, I happen to be a person who develops emotional attachments to pens (they have souls), so I’m cutting myself some slack: I’m going to do a half-month challenge, and invite you to do the same. For 15 days, you get rid of 7 things per day by recycling, selling, giving it away, or, as a last resort, disposing of it.

I’ve begun.

It’s addictive.

And I’m realizing what a gluttonous lifestyle I lead, in a home full of things that could be enjoyed by someone else.

So here we go:

Day 1: I gave away 10 items of clothing — 6 tops, 3 skirts and a dress to my cousin Renee and her daughter Amy. All gently used, cute items that I never wear that look completely adorbs on them.

Are you in? Let me know what you’re giving away today!



Lifestyle Parenting

It’s a Pipeline Thing

CNN Money
Image credit: CNNMoney

A couple of months ago I was in a story on CNNMoney which features a photo of me taken by my 9-year-old daughter.   I’ve had experiences with a variety of photographers over time, from newspapers, fashion magazines to private studios — and the pictures that come out best are always the ones that my daughter takes. Maybe I’m just happiest and more natural when I’m with my family.

The story was about diversity in the tech / startup sector, and I was interviewed based on my past experiences as a woman in the space, as a past startup founder and CEO and now as part of another venture-backed company. In my experience, the lack of diversity isn’t the result of overt and intentional discrimination — I’ve had numerous male mentors and advocates throughout my career — but a pipeline issue. To date, there have been fewer women than men who’ve pursued fields of study or expertise that might land them in the tech sector.

Why does this matter? A lack of diversity hurts all around — in the venture capital world for instance, it can limit the type of investment and diversification of a portfolio — I saw this when I raised money years ago for a cosmetics venture. It can also reinforce stereotypes — the dearth of women in tech may make some believe that women aren’t capable of performing in that sector.

I was raised in an Asian-American family where it was expected that I would perform in math, and I went to a high school for science and technology where we cloned violets as freshmen, so tech was never something that was ruled out for me — in a way, it was expected.

I know that’s not the case everywhere, and it starts young. At my daughter’s school, some friends and I noticed that our daughters were saying that they weren’t good at math — even though they were getting As. This confidence issue isn’t  uncommon. We’re lucky to be at a great school where, once she was aware of this, the teacher worked hard to correct this distorted perception — but it did take work.

I’m hopeful that things are changing. I’ve seen more female VCs recently than I ever have. As a society, we’re more open-minded now about gender roles, more aware of early negative self-perceptions of girls in math, and there are clubs and organizations springing up that introduce girls to computer programming (which, by the way girls, is really fun!). Exposure to these types of disciplines helps build strong analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. We could all use some of that.


Crafts Gardening

Terrariums: a DIY Love Story

I’ve got terrariums on the brain. The one pictured above? I have it on my desk. I look at it. Then I also look at the picture of the same terrarium that I have on my computer. Desk, computer. Desk, computer. True story.

I saw the most amazing hanging assortment at Grounded in Encinitas, where you can buy supplies to make your own:

and I thought: that’s what I’ve been missing my whole life!

I didn’t buy them that day though. I just let it stew inside me like…well, a stew, til it boiled over and I woke one day with an unmistakable mission: MAKE. A. TERRARIUM.

You can get the cute little 6-inch orbs (which have a flat bottom so you can set them on a table) online here in bulk for less than the $14 or so apiece at Grounded (and if you click the link my kids’ school district gets a percentage donated toward their science, tech, art and music programs!), but I had to buy some just to carry out the calling immediately.

I wanted to populate my terrariums with air plants, or Tillandsia, which can grow without soil. Grounded has the best assortment of air plants that I’ve seen locally, but again, they’re at a premium ($4-9 apiece) to what I’ve seen on Amazon where you can buy in bulk (for around $2-$3 apiece for the more common varieties — more for exotics or larger plants). Tillandsia like bright, filtered light — so within 6 feet of a sunny window is ideal. Air plants are pretty low maintenance — just soak them in a bowl of water for an hour a week.

I also wanted to fill my terrariums with colored sand and preserved moss, which I got from my local Michael’s Craft Store. The sand was $2.99 a bag and the moss, for the colorful variety pack, was $7.99 a bag.


Then, just stick the plants in anywhere you’d like:


I played around with upcycling some bordeaux glasses I have:

and conceptualized a display using some glass flower vases I have stashed in a cabinet:

The possibilities are bounded only by the number of glass containers that you have. Old jam jars, vases, whatever — they’re all good.

I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I love about terrariums. Simplicity of construction? Ease of care? Yes. But maybe, in some way, it’s the ability to have complete control of a tiny spherical universe when we live in a world that can be so hard to understand.

Now, to wrestle with the question of how many terrariums is too many.


Food Lifestyle

What You Said: Your Favorite Chefs

What I like best about my first giveaway was that it gave me a chance to get to know my readers better. Some of you drop me a line once in a while, or leave a friendly comment; thank you — I love that! But I understand that many of you have lives to lead, people to feed and careers to advance — so I appreciate the time that you spent in answering the question in the giveaway. I’m not sure how many of you love numbers as much as I do but I’m a data dork and I’m not afraid to admit it. Here’s what you said:

The biggest category (22%) was Other Celebrity Chef — in this bucket are mentions of a myriad of talented chefs like molecular gastronomy pioneer Grant Achatz, master of Mexican cuisine Rick Bayless, Hawaiian specialist Alan Wong and the woman who needs no introduction, Julia Child. There were a large number of wonderful chefs mentioned here, but in the interest of making the graph legible, I lumped those with fewer than three votes in this category. The takeaway: our readership community has a refined and open-minded palate. Please feel free to invite me along on your next expensive culinary excursion. I would very much enjoy dining with you.

It seems that many of you are married to men who are handy in the kitchen. Given an open-ended choice, 17% of you chose to stay home and have your husbands do the cooking. Please reveal details on how you were able to procure such gastronomically gifted spouses.

Mothers and grandmothers followed closely, with Bobby Flay (7%) emerging as the leader of the celebrity chef pack. The other obvious conclusion from the data is that I am personally more popular (4%) than Rachael Ray (3%) and Masaharu Morimoto (3%), despite never even having been invited to participate in the studio audience of a cooking show.

I also enjoyed exploring the Male Celebrity category, where some of you indicated you would choose a T-shirt-optional Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Gosling or Zac Efron (over 18; I checked). One person chose Martin Luther King, Jr. and though I didn’t find any references online to his culinary prowess, the company would more than compensate for that.

Thanks for participating; can’t wait to learn more!



Shop and Do Good: 31BITS


Photo credit: 31BITSAll photos in this post courtesy of 31BITS

I’ve been squealing a lot lately, which I realize is unprofessional unless you’re a pig, but I did it again when I discovered 31BITS. This post isn’t about food, but it’s about helping people get food. That’s important.

I had the privilege of meeting Jessie and Alli from the gorgeous 31BITS jewelry line at a recent event, and these young women have a noble mission: to give women in Northern Uganda who were displaced by war an opportunity to overcome poverty by providing income, education and holistic care.  You can read more about the company’s story here, and watch the video below to see how this amazing company works.

To top it off, the jewelry is stunning. And versatile. And made of 100% recycled paper beads.

It’s for a good cause, I said, grabbing a handful of necklaces and bracelets.

The first handful was for me, because I’m like that. The second bunch: Mother’s Day, teachers’ gifts, upcoming birthdays.

You can get a bracelet for as as low as $10. Today I’m wearing the Starboard bracelet and I can’t stop looking at my wrist. When I wear the Camellia necklace in Mint Green, people are blinded by its glory (It’s a figure of speech. Nobody went blind from it. Still, it’s beautiful.) .

So go on, share this, spread the word and mouse on over to 31BITS to help make the world a lovelier place.