Life Love Friendship and Death

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Happy Birthday sweet friend. Keri would of been 41 today. I am sure she is dancing with David Bowie teaching him how to hula hoop.

This is one of my favorite photos of Keri and I taken by my friend Scott Witter on her birthday in 2012 as part of his portrait series on fans of the band The Cure. Although Keri and I had grown up going to the same Catholic grade school she was a year older then me and we never had the chance to connect until I was put in an 11th grade history class in my 10th grade year. So, I took my history backwards. No one seemed to care. I think it was all part of a bigger plan. One day we had to draw papers to write, out of a hat, and I happen to get the coolest one. The Punk Rock Phenomenon. A few of my other classmates were very envious, including Keri, and it was that day that we discovered that we both loved The Cure and we have been besties ever since.

I moved to CA in 1999 and Keri moved out here a few years after me. At age 30 she developed breast cancer and had a double mastectomy as well as chemo. That was really hard on her as well as getting implants but she beat it and came out a stronger person. 5 years later she got lymph cancer, had some removed, and later found out she had bone cancer. She refused to do radiation or chemo again and instead treated it with juicing, eating organic and doing all sorts of natural cleansing of her system which I believe kept her alive a lot longer. Through all of this I saw the beauty and strength of my friend and I supported all of her decisions.

Over the last couple of years Keri’s health began to slowly decline and she was in pain a lot. She got Hospice care and my husband and I stepped in to help her more and more. Her friend Ron started coming down from Seattle for weeks at a time to help out and keep her company as well. All along I assured her that if anything were to happen that I would find good homes for her cats and things but I had never thought of what that would actually be like.

Keri was such a strong person and such a fighter that even as she began to lose more and more weight and sleep a lot more I wasn’t expecting her to pass when she did. We were planning Xmas Eve dinner for her, Ron and my in-laws and she was really looking forward to it. The Sunday before Xmas she took a turn for the worse and by Monday night she was on oxygen and pretty much unconscious. Ron came down and we were all by her side all week. She hung on until Xmas Eve morning and passed around 8:45am. When she took her last breath I heard a bunch of birds begin to chirp outside of her apartment which I had never heard before. It was beautiful and comforting. Keri had chosen to donate her body to Science Care and they promptly came and wrapped her in a black sheet with gold moons all over it (which she would of loved) and respectfully took her away. The 3 of us were left standing in front of her apartment looking at each other in disbelief. It was all so surreal.

The next few weeks were spent in a fog cleaning out her apartment, notifying friends, taking care of her cats while trying to find homes for them (her friend Amy stepped up and is temporarily housing all 4…we still need homes for the sisters Black and Sabbath) and closing out accounts. I have never been in this situation before. It was totally overwhelming especially while trying to grieve. I am so thankful for the strength and love of my husband and my family and friends.

Going through all of this has greatly changed my perspective on life, whats important to me, and how little “stuff” means after your dead. I have been completely drained and have only had the energy to put into work, yoga and spending quality time with friends. Work feels good and familiar, meaningful and purposeful. Yoga has given me peace and mental clarity and seeing friends gives me a charge of positive energy and love.

Science Care cremated what they didn’t use and sent me her ashes. They tried to deliver them Friday but I wasn’t home and I had to go pick them up at the Post Office first thing Monday morning. I hadn’t thought about how this might feel. My only concern was actually getting her out of the DT Long Beach Post Office as they have lost packages of mine before. When they finally located the box and handed it to me there was a big sticker on it that said CREMATED. My stomach sank. I carried the box over to the mailing station as I had some other things to do and placed it on top thinking how surreal it was that my best friend was in there. Then I took it to my car and placed it on the passenger seat where she used to sit. Nothing could of prepared me for this. When I got home I opened the box to find a big, black plastic box inside and a little crystal pyramid with a nice saying on it. The ashes are a lot heavier then I expected. She probably only weighed about 80lbs when she passed. I couldn’t bear to look at them any longer and packed them back up in the box and put it in the closet next to my bed until Ron can come back down and we can form a plan to scatter them in one of her favorite places like Joshua Tree of Big Sur.

I am not sure how many days, if any, I have not randomly burst into tears since Keri passed on Xmas Eve. I know she is in a better place and is not suffering anymore and that makes me happy but the last month has been the hardest I have ever been through in my life. She was such a beautiful soul and touched so many peoples lives. I am grateful for our friendship and loved her like a sister. Maybe one day I will have the energy write about all the wonderful things she did and all of our crazy, fun times together. In the meantime I will leave you with a few words Ron, Wade and I put together to honor her.

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Kerilyn Marie Hendrickson
January 30,1975 – December 24, 2015
Keri passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve in her home with friends. She is deeply missed. She fought 3 types of cancer (breast, lymph and bone) over the last 10 years. She is survived by her four cats Pico, Black, Sabbath, and Wednesday (who are in need of a new home.) Keri touched our hearts with her kindness, humility and humor. She was a magical soul. She LOVED dancing, was an expert hula hooper, a taxidermy enthusiast, a punk rock hair/fashion model, musician, lover of music and quite possibly Lou Barlow’s biggest fan. She was strong, intelligent, independent and free spirited. Keri was a personal chef, developed raw vegan recipes for Mother’s Market, learned to cook exotic meats and developed recipes for Cafe La Rhonde in Florida, ran her own housekeeping business, obtained her motorcycle license at the age of 36 and graduated from IIN while she was battling cancer in order to help others as a health coach. Most of all Keri was a true friend.
In accordance with her wishes her body was donated to science. There will not be a service held because she disliked the idea of a memorial. You are invited to share photos, stories or messages here on her wall. Keri’s spirit lives on in all of us. We love you Keri!

 
 

Long Beach Eats

Long Beach is full of great food and new places are popping up all the time. I feel like you can get just about any type of food you desire within minutes except for Ramen. For some reason LB just doesn’t do Ramen…yet. There is a goldmine to be had for the person who opens a legit Ramen noodle bar with craft beer. Your welcome for the idea. Ok, enough with my Ramen rant. Lets move onto what new things I have tried lately and loved…

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Americana Steak and Fries
This place is in my neighborhood and yet it took me years to actually try it and boy was I missing out. The Supreme Steak and Country Chicken hot sandwiches are sooooooo good, the rolls are super soft and fresh, its inexpensive, and the people who own it and work there are super nice. Its a win, win, win!

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Elephant Thai Kitchen
This place is in an area that we don’t usually think to go to to eat although it is super close to where we live. Everything we had was delicious, the staff was very friendly and accommodating offering recommendations, and it didn’t break the bank. It is legit. Its clean, casual and they have a little parking lot in the back.

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Photo by Anne Watson
Padre
This place opened up in a space on Broadway that used to be several different places that were just ok…until now. Padre did a great job with the decor, there is a ton of indoor and outdoor seating and the food and drinks are on point. My favorite things are the fried chicken tacos, brussel sprouts and for a cocktail, well they are all amazing but my go to is the Watermelon Fixx. I love Happy Hour and they do it 7 days a week! Woohoo! They have an interesting railing leading upstairs when you walk in the main entrance. I won’t spoil it for you, you have to just see it for yourself.

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Pizzanista
This spot has a location in DTLA and just opened in Long Beach. It was founded in 2011 by legendary professional skateboarder Salman Agah. I call it hipster pizza but I mean that in the best of ways. It is New York style which I love. We had the Meat Jesus (pictured above) which was drool worthy, the white pizza that was delicious with Sriracha, and the Spicy Chopped salad that was just fine. They sell a ton of pizza by the slice including vegan and veggie which are about $4 and a whole pizza runs close to $30, so its not cheap but everything is super fresh and locally sourced. If you are into cold pizza they sell day old slices in their fridge for $1, so thats a deal! We passed on the garlic knots but they smelled amazing. Everyone who worked there was really, really nice. It’s a great addition to Long Beach!

As delicious and eclectic as the LB eats scene is, it isn’t known for its health food so if anyone from Lemonade, Tender Greens or maybe Urban Plates is reading this we need you! Downtown Long Beach is on the up and up! Come on down, we would LOVE to have you!

There are so many new places to try and we always say we are not going to eat at the same place twice until we try all the new spots but we still end up at our old faves all the time like Long Beach Thai for the curry noodle soup, Pho Hong Phat for the Pho, and Los Compadres for their amazing Molcajete.

What restaurants have been on your radar lately?

 
 

Holiday Gift Guide

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Whats in your stocking? With the holidays right around the corner I have rounded up some of my favorite things to make your shopping a little easier!

Beauty
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* Mixologie Custom Blendable Perfume Create your own signature scent everyday with these 8 awesome oils or follow one of the fun recipe cards like With A Twist-“For when you are going to chop off all your hair”. This is the perfect gift for any woman in your life.

* Derma E Purifying 2 in 1 Charcoal Mask This is one of my favorite masks because it leaves pores feeling clean and my face feeling soft. Its quick and effective!

* Louvelle Shower Turban In this time of Blow Dry Bars and dry shampoo no one is washing their hair everyday and everyone needs a shower cap. This turban takes it to the next level and is so much chicer then a clear, plastic throw away.

* Nivea In-Shower Hydrating Body Lotion This is brilliant. I thought it couldn’t get any quicker or better then a spray on moisturizer but this takes the cake. Its so quick and easy and leaves me feeling silky soft all day.

* Radical Skincare Starter Kit I am a huge fan of Radical Skincare and this starter kit is the perfect gift for everyone because we all like to try new things! You won’t be disappointed in how this line makes your face look and feel.

* Heliocare Vitamins These anti-oxident vitamins protect you from free radicals and sun damage from the inside out and I feel like they have strengthened my nails too! A great stocking stuffer!

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* PUR Contour Stick Contouring is all the rage right now and this stick is compact and super easy to use if you follow their picture. It comes with a blender and goes on super light and natural. Its the best one I have tried and comes in 5 shades.

* Itiba Lotion in Crucian Spice This lotion is special. It is super hydrating and is hand crafted in St.Croix. The Crucian Spice scent is a warm exotic spice blend that smells like the holidays!

Devices
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*Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X Why pay someone else to torture you when you can do it yourself? This laser hair removal system really works!

* Spiralizer Wow your friends by making fancy spiralized veggies! Works great with zucchini to use in place of pasta noodles for a healthy take on spagetti!

* reVive Light Therapy Anti-Aging System I am a sucker for any thing that is anti-aging and this little device helps stimulate collagen production to keep the skin plump and youthful. Perfect for the device lover on your list that has everything!

BOOKS
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* Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Divison and Me I am a huge music lover and Joy Divison/New Order fan and found it quite intriguing to get inside the mind of Bernard Sumner and the songwriting process.

* The Modern Girls Guide to Life. Revised Edition This revised book is perfect for the modern woman. With information on entertaining, etiquette, housekeeping, basic home repair, decorating, sex, and beauty, this indispensable book has everything today’s young woman should know-but may not!

* The Fire Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire Of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet I am not currently a vegetarian but found this book to be an extremely well written and informative guide to a heathly lifestyle. You can’t help but fall in love with Vanessa Chamberlin and want to follow in her footsteps to a healthier you. Its the perfect book to inspire you in the new year!

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* Bow Tie Bottle Opener How slick will your man look pulling out a bow tie bottle opener? So James Bond.

* The Carry On Cocktail Set Because every classy guy needs to create his own in-flight cocktail.

* Luxurious Italian Cashmere Socks You won’t know the magic of cashmere socks until you own a pair.

* Sriracha Key Chain Sriracha has long been called “the new ranch” and this key chain size is perfect for the hot sauce addict in your life!

* Kikkerland Classic Survival Tool Cheap and fascinating!

* Arcona Toner Tea Bar This smells earthy and amazing and is perfect for any man who cares about his skin.

ART
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* Weavings by Farron My talented friend Farron makes these gorgeous weavings in all shapes, sizes and colors. Check them out!

* Pins & Nail Stickers by Sara Lyons My friend Sara is so cool and creative and makes super cute pins, patches and nail stickers!

 
 

Holiday Gift Guide with Beauty Collection

I love Beauty Collection stores and I am thrilled to be a part of their 12 Days of Holly Jolly Beauty. I don’t love being filmed but I have a passion for a bold, red lip and could talk about that all day, on or off camera! Here are a few of my favorite beauty gifts that you can find at one of Beauty Collection’s 5 Southern California locations or online. Cheers to a beautiful holiday season!

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*SMASHBOX Be Legendary Lipstick is always a good idea! ($20)

*VINCENT LONGO Perfect Shine Lip Glosses in Venezia Red because the Smashbox lipgloss I had mentioned in my video is sold out online. This is the next best thing! ($22)

*TRAPP Candles that smell like the holidays! ($24)

*MOROCCANOIL is great for all hair types and you can get a travel/sample size for just ($15)!

*TWEEZEMAN Spa Slant Tweezer in Signature Red are the perfect stocking stuffer. This brand is magical and every woman can use a good pair of tweezers! ($23)

*TATA HARPER Nourishing Oil Cleanser is super luxurious and has a rich, earthy fragrance. It works great, smells fantastic and looks pretty in your bathroom! ($64)

 
 

Villa del Palmar Loreto Mexico Day 3

Ahhh…day 3 in paradise at the Villa del Palmar. This day was so much fun and jam packed with activities! The beauty of this resort is that they have so many things you can do if you want to or you can just relax! Relaxing always sounds good to me but then I end up doing something. I love to explore and try new things!

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The perfect way to start this beautiful morning was with a guided hike. Carlos was so knowledgable about the geography, ecology and vegetation. He even taught us some survival skills!

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Photo by James Tiffany Photography
After the hike we met with Ivan, the Villa del Palmar Healer who is part of the Wellness Program. We did a sun salutation with him on the beach and he blessed each of us. It was a really beautiful and spiritual moment and one of my favorite parts of the trip. Ivan had great energy and the whole experience was really grounding.

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The afternoon was spent boating and snorkling around the gorgeous islands of Loreto. The landscape was unlike anything I had ever seen with cactus growing on mountains beside crystal blue water. Again, I felt like I was dreaming.

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Photo by James Tiffany Photography
Those 2 little snorkel heads are me and my friend Luci!

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After boating I took a very educational class on tequila, taught by the in house sommelier, and even got certified! I learned that Jose Cuervo is only good for cleaning toilets 😉 and I do like the taste of tequila, I just had to taste a bunch to find the right one!

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Our final evening included a “Fiesta Mexicana” dinner buffet at The Market Restaurant and a cultural show. I think my girl Kitty can totally rock a sombrero!

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The next morning I paddle boarded at 7am and absorbed all of the peace and beauty of the early morning on the Sea of Cortez before packing my bags to head home.

The town of Loreto and the Villa del Palmar dazzled me with its beauty and warm hospitality. This trip will forever fuel my spirit and warm my heart. I will definitely be back one day but in the meantime I will continue to be inspired by my experiences and the memories created there!

The Villa del Palmar Islands of Loreto is offering my readers a rate of $119 USD per night in a Deluxe Studio suite, plus taxes & gratuities. You can book your getaway now for travel through April 30, 2016. Terms & conditions apply. Blackout dates apply. Book your stay through reservaciones.vdpl@vgloreto.com. Please reference code FAMNOV15 to receive this special rate.

 
 

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