With a new year comes new opportunity … and at times the wealth of opportunities can be a little (or a lot!) overwhelming. Adding new activities, commitments, challenges, and goals is a common way to start out a fresh January, but in my experience it’s not always the best way to find movement and growth. Consider making 2017 the year you subtract, instead. Eliminate what holds you back from doing what you crave – whether it’s letting go of an obligation, consolidating your commitments, or stepping back from a difficult relationship – these subtractions are an important part of creating your intentional life. Here are three Energetic Edits I recommend for modern midlife women in search of more fulfillment, clarity, and room for what matters most.

1. Clutter clear your life regularly – your external environment AND your internal environment. Keep your physical space free of untidy collections of papers, piles of clothing, and other items that don’t bring you happiness. Get comfortable with letting go of things that no longer serve you or bring you joy. Internally, become aware of the thoughts that regularly fill your mind. Are they positive? What kind of media/books/magazines are you consuming? How do they make you feel? Look at what you are able to release that would create space for more peace, happiness, and accomplishment in your life and home.

2. Eliminate energy vampires from your friendship circle. We all have them, and they come in all forms. You spend precious time listening to their ongoing issues either on the phone or in person…then suddenly you are exhausted and have nothing left for yourself. Pay attention to your personal energy and how people make you feel after conversations. Begin to cut down on time spent with people who do not bring lightness and comfort to your life.

3. Stop negative self talk. Our self talk has the power to affect the relationship we have with ourselves. Notice your internal dialogue and the things you’re saying to yourself – the negative judgements, “I can’t do that”, “I look awful”, “I’m so fat” “I’m so dumb” …. you get the idea. These words have great power over us. Be aware of the story you are writing, and don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend. Speak to yourself with love and kindness.

Editing our energy takes practice, so begin to cultivate awareness about how Clutter (in your home, head, and heart), Energy Vampires, and Negative Self Talk affect you – you can then begin to make the changes that will allow you to step fully into the intentions you have for your life!

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Joie de vivre – a wonderful expression, literally translated to ‘a delight in being alive’ – and it’s the feeling that drew me toward Amanda Bevilacqua when I met her at an intimate women’s retreat this past December. I was instantly taken with her lively spirit and effervescence, and fascinated to learn of her upcoming passion project: hosting a new kind of wine tasting event to bring her understanding to others. She draws upon her own education, talents and experience, and shares not just her in-depth knowledge but her joy of new discoveries. Amanda perfectly represents the champagne (bubbly!), the Cabernets (depth!), the Sauvignon Blancs (zest!) – and I can’t wait to learn more.

Amanda Bevilacqua, CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine), CSS (Certified Specialist of Spirits)

What happens to a kid who grows up in the restaurant industry? She becomes a foodie and a cork dork, of course. Amanda’s food, wine and cocktail-ing passions come naturally: she has logged over six years in the wine industry, plus countless hours of floor time in a variety of restaurants – from casual to fine dining establishments. Amanda and her husband Derek relocated to San Francisco from Washington, D.C. in 2013, to pursue their passions for wine and advertising, respectively. She continues to build her reputation as a Certified Specialist of Wine, and a Certified Specialist of Spirits, both earned designations from the Society of Wine Educators. Most recently, Amanda’s enthusiasm for wine (and a de-mystification of the sometimes overly-serious industry) has translated into a new endeavor: making wine more approachable through educational and social events. By focusing on unique wine pairings – think Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies & a smooth Merlot – and other fun, creative concepts, Amanda aims to de-snootify wine for all levels of wine drinkers. “Because after all,” she says, “It’s just wine—Drink it!”

Good advice is a gift — what is the best advice you’ve been given?

Speak to yourself as positively & kindly as you speak to your best friend. I’m still working on this one!

What is on the top of your bucket list?

European wine and beer adventure with my husband. We can’t decide on which countries we want to visit! He’s a home brewer and we both love beer and wine – it’s a tough choice.

Who would you invite to your ideal Girl’s Night?

Can I choose more than one?! Beyoncé, Kate Middleton, Oprah, and my mom. There are so many reasons why I admire all of these women, but I also know it would be QUITE the party!

What is your go-to piece of clothing?

A super comfy long sweater that pairs well with leggings or jeans and boots. I am ALWAYS freezing and love to be bundled up while looking put together. The San Francisco weather is perfect for my style!

What do you sing when you are alone in your car?

Old school 90s hip hop. I’m a closet rap enthusiast – I rapped Juicy by Notorious B.I.G. at my wedding with my best friend from high school.

What was the best compliment you have received?

I’ve been told that I am a very thoughtful person. I appreciate that because I truly love taking care of and thinking about others.

How has your life been different than you imagined?

I never, ever thought I’d be a runner. But with the amount of travel I do, it’s the only exercise that can be super flexible! I also never thought I’d be traveling domestically – my major was International Marketing, and I studied abroad in Spain. I’ll just have to do my international traveling for vacation instead!

What is your most-used word? (And what word do you wish everyone would stop using?)

I’m a restaurant kid, so I have a restaurant potty mouth. My most-used word is not PG! I wish everyone would stop using ‘lit’. I just don’t get it.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Channing Tatum – he dances, he’s gorgeous, and seems like an amazing husband and dad. Also, he dressed up as (and KILLED his impression of) Beyoncé, which is an admirable feat all on its own.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Celebrity gossip & news – People.com is ALWAYS in my browser history, and I talk about famous people like they’re my best friends.

What is your favorite museum?

The Natural History museum in DC. I’ve gone there at least 20 times and always see something new! The butterfly exhibit is hands down my favorite.

What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

If they look me in the eye – that’s huge for me. I can sense immediately if they are genuine. I also really appreciate a solid handshake!

“Wine, like life, is meant to be enjoyed.” Richard Branson

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems like the lyrics to the iconic Christmas song should go something like this: “Have myself a merry little Christmas”, because my holiday shopping list might as well read:

• One for me, one for you
• Two for me, one for you
• Three for me, none for you
It’s not that I don’t want to find the best gifts for my best people – I totally do! And that’s the problem…as I am ‘seeking’, I always find irresistible things I love while shopping for others (especially when searching for special things for my ladies!). So I put together a little list. You could subtly suggest your husband/partner/kids might use these suggestions as they choose your holiday gift or you might find a perfect surprise for one of your girlfriends (who deserves everything good of course)…or, just treat yourself! (after all, we are the ones who make the Christmas magic happen, and who deserves a treat more than YOU!).



Here are a few of my last minute favorite gift ideas:

(click on photos for more info!)


A celeb-designed spatula to benefit a great cause (No Kid Hungry, ending childhood hunger in America)…and share some kitchen inspiration from Jimmy Kimmel, Chrissy Teigan, and more! A fun stocking stuffer for your pal who loves the kitchen.
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Are you addicted to the foam roller? I am…outer hip release? All day long! Trust me, your fascia will thank you!

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Anti-aging, anti-sleep crease, anti-bedhead pillowcase…no brainer! Living in the lap of luxury and I do wake feeling refreshed -Love the cold smooth silk against my face at night.

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Peonies delivered fresh to my door every month? Yes, please!

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This India Hicks tassel is a special touch for a key chain, or your favorite suitcase or handbag.

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Beautycounter ‘puts truth back in beauty’ with safer skincare. This is a company to watch…We all want to put the right ingredients in our bodies–and yes…on our skin! (I love the all-natural luminous nude lip colors.)

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The R + F Lash Boost delivers big lashes…without the negative side effects of other lash enhancing products. I have definitely noticed a difference in a very short time! Flutter away!

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French Macarons…with a holiday twist. Discovered these in Pure Wow (a fab blog my niece writes for), and – wow – are they divine!

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Yes, I transformed my fitbit into a piece of jewelry! This is one of many options. It’s all about the “Wearable tech”

Custom monograms + cocktail napkins = the best hostess gift ever! Thoughtful, personal and luxurious. Love the many pretty detailed designs from San Francisco based Walker Valentine

Have a crazy cat lady in your life? Keep her calm with a coloring book! Maybe we are all a little crazy during this season and could use some quiet coloring time. Color me sane…

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And so it begins…
’Twas Three Weeks Before Christmas, and all through the house: lights are twinkling, trees are decorated, carols are on repeat, the table is set with Spode Christmas tree dishes, and my “most wonderful time of the year” has begun! I know it’s chaotic. I know it’s hectic. And I know it is a difficult time for many people – but for me it’s magic. I love the touchstone of Christmas, with the traditions and memories that bring me back home to myself year after year, and I love the quiet moments most of all; sitting by the tree with a cup of tea is just as special as an elaborate holiday party!

It comes as no surprise to family and friends that I’m not really a crafty gal, but decorating our Christmas trees (for hours…and hours!) is a creative joy for me, as well as a walk down memory lane. Sharing the Christmas spirit with my mother and grandmother is one of my earliest memories, and as I unwrap the carefully packed heirlooms of holidays past, memories and joy fill the room. My grandmother’s clothespin soldiers and pinecone skiers, and the beautiful ornaments my mom has passed on to me – these symbols envelop me with a spirit of timelessness and connection to generations and experiences that make me who I am today. A simple ritual of decorating the trees brings a range of emotions: laughter, tears, and – always – love. Love for my mother’s exquisitely chosen ornaments; love for my friends choices – who know me so well – I smile and chuckle at the fluffy bird from Heather, the toucan from Kim, Bert’s helicopter from Karen (and the rat for me!). I’m flooded with memories as I rediscover the ornaments found during my travels, handmade by my sons, and purchased from favorite shops (thank you Orchard Nursery and Filoli). Much thought is given to choosing the perfect spot for each of these treasures – the storage boxes are filled with much more than Christmas ornaments. Each piece holds a recollection or remembrance – and the act of decorating the trees is a gift to myself. I feel comfort and connection as I recall my special childhood under-the-tree memories—and those with my own kids through the years….and sometimes, my six-feet tall boys still join me under the tree. Magic.

I love the season so much, that I could think of no better celebration than a Christmas wedding…and that December 23rd (a few years ago…) was as festive as it gets! I still don’t know how my mom did it: red velvet bridesmaid dresses, red roses and pine sprigs, and silver Christmas tree forms with white orchids on the table. It was a Winter Wonderland. Filled with magic and love. And that, is what I wish for you this holiday season. In the midst of working, parenting, decorating, partying, shopping, and doing — find that moment of just being, whatever and wherever it may be. Wishing you magic and love. Happy Holidays!

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Cauliflower was reviled by many of us during childhood! The Paleo craze has many grown-ups now looking at the cruciferous vegetable in a new light, and cauliflower is enjoying its moment! Cauliflower rice and cauliflower mash are a terrific way to incorporate (sneaky) veggies in our diet – cauliflower rice made with coconut milk, and cauliflower mash with a little truffle…you’ll never know it’s good for you! But after the Thanksgiving holiday, my newest obsession was the discovery of cauliflower gratin!! – just as tasty as the potato version, with less starch.

Cauliflower is at its peak now, and is packed with phytonutrients, fiber, and vitamins C and K — throw in a little cheese (oh and some gluten free breadcrumbs-haha) and try one of these amazing recipes. I look forward to making a cauliflower gratin at Christmas…gratins are a dinner party host’s best friend, as you can make them ahead and bake as needed. Healthy, delicious, cheesy, and decadent. Yes, please!

Check out these recipes:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cauliflower-gratin-recipe.html
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015968-roasted-cauliflower-gratin-with-tomatoes-and-goat-cheese
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/cauliflower-gratin-recipe2.html