One To Nothin'

Studs & Tarot Cards

Last Sunday the only things on the agenda were brunch and tarot cards because these gals and I have a running Bay Area Bucket List. Since I'd never paid a stranger to tell me things I probably could have told myself, I had to give it a try. It was probably helpful in some ways, but then again so was afternoon wine, sweet potato chips and sushi with the ladies. I sort of pretended to care about basketball at The Brick Yard, but mainly I admired these studs sent by VDazzled Etsy shop in between sips of Pinot Gris. I love me some handmade jewelry -- check out the shop here (use the code "MacKensie" to get free shipping within the U.S.).

My Top Secret Project Color Inspiration Board
Friends, I've been working on a top secret project for the past few months. Okay, it's not a secret at all, but I'm psyched about it and I want you to be too, so humor me. I'm starting a new website, which is pretty scary/overwhelming/omgidontevenupdatethisoneenough, but it's happening and once I finally get everything together, I think it's going to be pretty badass. The site will be a stylish, comprehensive guide to lactose-free living. It'll have everything I wish I'd had access to back in 2008 when I refused to admit it, but late night pizza binges were destroying me from the inside out. 

I'm covering dairy-free alternatives to milk, lactose-free cream cheese that doesn't suck, the best places to find vegan ice cream in SF and WTF lactose even is (hint: it's not gluten). I'm ready to address the needs of anyone who's ever had to uncomfortably ask, "Does this have dairy?" I've got quite a way to go before launching, so I thought it might be fun to share some of this process with you guys. This is the original color scheme/inspiration board I came up with and since it makes me smile, I thought I'd give it a home aside from its private Pinterest board. 

If any of this biznass sounds interesting to you, feel free to follow along on social media leading up to the launch -- Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and newsletter. If you're local (or just love me a whole lot), let me know if you'd like to attend the launch party. I hear there's going to be ice cream involved. I'm stoked, guys. Get stoked with me?


Read Lately Part IV

One of my goals for 2016 is to read at least 12 books in 12 months, so right now I'm just ahead of the curve. Every so often I like to ramble about recent reads; you can see the last few roundups here, here and here - and we should obviously be friends on Goodreads here

A Dirty Job
by Christopher Moore
If you're a fan of Kurt Vonnegut's crazy writing style and aren't easily offended, you will love Christopher Moore. This book is ridiculous in the best way possible. Everything is over the top and absolutely insane (the main character is Death..), but you'll be laughing out loud and won't want to put it down. I read this one in Hawaii and it was just lighthearted enough to enjoy even after the sun and fifth pina colada made the words a little fuzzy.

Yes, Please!
by Amy Poehler
I'm a big Amy Poehler fan, and I loved Tina Fey's "Bossypants," so I knew this was a sure thing. Even though I generally can't stand audio books or podcasts/talk shows (turns out I only like listening to people speak under very specific circumstances.. #sorrynotsorry), I had a free trial so I got this one knowing Amy reads it herself. I was nervous, but it was amazing. I couldn't stop listening and it made my 40-minute commute go by in two seconds. She had guest speakers, bonus material and I laughed until I cried many times. I definitely recommend listening to this one even if that's not your thing. It's worth it.

by Rainbow Rowell
I talked about how much I loved Rainbow Rowell back when I read Eleanor & Park, especially since there was music weaved into the story and a very real and awesome playlist on Spotify created by Rowell herself. This book is so much better. Seriously, guys. I keep thinking about it months later. It gave me so many warm fuzzies and there are playlists for each of the main characters on Spotify again; just omg. I can't even write real sentences, that's how much I loved it. It's exactly the kind of book I hope to write one day. Think two BFFs writing emails to each other throughout the entire book  (I love unconventional story telling) plus too-real relationship issues plus an adorable D&D nerd who's actually sexy. It's not super serious or dramatic, but it'll make you laugh and smile and feel things. It's the ultimate summer book. Just read it, please.

All The Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
This book is heavy. I read so many incredible reviews of it, so I knew I had to do it. It was hard, guys. Don't get me wrong, the writing is absolutely incredible. There's poetry on every single page. Once I really got into it, I couldn't stop, but it hurt me the whole journey. I do love a story that makes me stop and rethink things that are so engraved in my mind, and this one will make you think, reconsider and ache. If you're okay with being a little confused (the timeline is all over the place) and trying to pronounce German words and consuming a grand, exciting, pulse-quickening story that takes a while to wrap itself up, go for it. Just know it's not a feel-good summer read.

The 5 Love Languages
by Gary Chapman
It seems like everyone is always talking about their "love language," so I thought I'd see what this thing was all about. I think Chapman made a lot of great points and knows a thing or two about the psychology of relationships, so I enjoyed this quick read. But if you're quick to roll your eyes, don't bother. Reading a quick overview (like this) should do the trick. Mine is quality time, FYI, just in case you want to love me mo' betta.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
This bad boy was recommended by my girl Alyssa, who's a fellow blogger and professional writer, so I knew I had to read it. I loved it, but I kind of think you have to be a literary nerd to appreciate all the things going on in this story. At first I felt like I didn't know the characters that well and the plot was moving along too quickly, but the more I thought about it after the fact, the more I realized many of the themes were foreshadowed and repeated in unexpected ways throughout. This made me love it more and more. A.J. Fikry is a bitter bookstore owner and he's good at it. I recommend this one, but let's just say must love books.

What have you read lately? Any recommendations?

OTN Guide to Kauai

You guys! I cannot believe how long it's been since I returned from my 2-week Hawaiian adventure and I've only told you about ONE island. Check out my thoughts on visiting Maui and traveling the Road to Hana here and here, or just keep reading for my favorite of the three islands visited: Kauai.
Kauai is the Garden Island, meaning more nature and fewer people, which is already a recipe for Kensie-love. I was entirely enamored with the green, people and untouched beauty I found absolutely everywhere. We stayed at an Airbnb in Hanalei for the first few nights and after an amazing dinner at Tahiti Nui with live ukulele accompaniment, we headed out early the next morning to hike the Kalalau trail. I do a lot of hiking, exploring, running and lifting, but I don't think I've ever been less prepared for a hike in my life. We only brought one small water bottle and it was 80+ degrees and uphill almost the entire time.
Not only were we dehydrated and struggling up the hills, but we also had to cross rivers on slippery rocks and try not to fall face first into mud. It was a challenge for sure, but so worth it. I smile every time I look at these photos and the fact that I can still see the bruises on my toenails from it just makes me wish I was there sweaty and covered in mud all over again.

The first incredible site we came across on the trail was this rock beach. Stacked rocks were everywhere and I honestly had no idea this was a thing, so it blew my mind. It was such a unifying moment admiring the natural beauty mixed with the effort so many other humans who had experienced the majesty and chose to make it more beautiful just for the sake of delighting others. Naturally we stopped to take photos and create a few stacks of our own.

Then we set off for the waterfall. With a permit, you can do the full 11-mile out hike, camp overnight and head back the next day, but like I said we were ill-prepared and opted for the 4-mile out falls (and thank Buddha because 8 miles turned out to be all we could handle in that heat).

I slipped on rocks trying to cross the river at one point and got some gnarly cuts and bruises, but I rinsed them off in the freezing water and stared out at the massive waterfall in complete awe.

Then I felt totally lame as I watched little kids hop around the rocks and some dude carry a cooler full of beer to the falls. I may need to hone my hiking skills before my next big adventure..

The hike back was rough without water, but the sense of accomplishment, lack of sunburn and Puka Dog at the end made it a total success.

The rest of the trip was spent at the Sheraton Resort where we finally saw a luau and tried poi (hint: it's gross). I was way too excited to finally wear a lei and it was rad watching the hula dancers do their thang. I was particularly fond of the fire eater guy.

At the last minute we decided to book a helicopter tour of Jurassic Falls and while I wasn't all that impressed with the VHS and "free screen saver CD!" in the lobby, the ride itself was absolutely breathtaking. I kept thinking we were going to smash straight into the ridge, but instead we just hovered, perfectly steady admiring the massive waterfall featured in the Jurassic Park movie. It almost didn't even feel real, kind of like that time I went powered paragliding. There's really no other way to see views like that, so if you get a chance, I'd definitely encourage you to go on a helicopter tour.

Wailua Shave Ice was the other highlight of Kauai. I loved shave ice everywhere we went (I seriously had it about six times), but this one is particularly amazing. I got the Almond Joy flavor with Nutella and Chad got the Orange Creamsicle. All their flavors are made of natural, local fruit juices and the creamy goodness on top is made out of coconut cream, not cow's milk, so I was especially stoked on not having a stomachache afterward.

Basically what I'm getting at is if you ever get the chance to go to Hawaii, Kauai is a great island to visit. If you like hiking, low-key beaches, chill people and roosters (those dudes were EVERYWHERE), this is the one to check out. It was definitely my favorite.

Have you been to Hawaii? What islands did you visit?

You're The Best Around

Top c/o Mint Julep Boutique / Pants: Banana Republic / Booties: DSW (sold out - this & this are similar) / Lipstick c/o e.l.f. / Fringe Purse: Target
I don't really believe in ghosts or horoscopes or religion, but sometimes when you total your car, quit your job and end your long-term relationship all within a matter of weeks, you start looking to outside sources for confirmation.
Then you realize that Mars is in retrograde and all the hocus-pocus of the internet tells you not to make any big decisions for several weeks. Well, shit. You start to doubt yourself (while eating your feelings).

Maybe I should turn to a psychoanalyst instead of the internet, but hey, some things are just more financially practical than others.
Lately it's emails. I get emails from "The Universe," Mathias Jakobsen (a handwritten newsletter) and Alexandra Franzen (when I need a push to be a badass content creator). I'm a huge fan of inbox-spiration (I wrote an article about it here), but these three have been especially useful to me lately.
I even read my horoscope occasionally, even though I'd hardly consider myself a Leo, because while I don't believe in a supreme being dictating my life, I do believe in words. Sometimes the words you need are conveniently left out for you to find and sometimes you need to go looking for them.
I've been on the hunt. I need words to direct me to the light, to feel strong in my decisions, to fight the fear and to stay on track. Occasionally the words take me on a ride. Shots, concerts, clubs, creepy guys smelling my hair (seriously), but at times they leave me on the couch, doing a puzzle, watching "The Office" from the beginning for the tenth time and ignoring my to-do list because the thought of paying one more bill paralyzes me. 
But when you're almost finished writing a blog post about finding words that keep you going and your brother texts you the lyrics to this song out of nowhere, you know that even when you forget to look, they'll find you. 

"You're the best around! Nothing's gonna ever keep you down."

PS: Huge thanks to Mint Julep Boutique for sending me this adorable top. If you haven't yet, but sure to check out their shop. They're the cutest.



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