Why Friends is the Best

This year marks 25 years since the first episode of the sitcom "Friends" first aired. While the 25 years celebrations are still ongoing (the anniversary was in September 2019) I just started watching a full rerun of Friends AGAIN on Netflix. I might be able to do another rerun just before the end of the year, when Friends is bound to leave the streaming service and go on to another adventure. Here I am going to explain why Friends is the Best, even after 25 years, and why I will keep watching it even when I am 80 years old!

The Storyline of Friends

Friends is about 6 friends: Rachel Greene(Jennifer Aniston) Ross Geller ( David Schwimmer) and his sister Monica Geller( Courteney Cox), Chandler Bing(Matthew Perry), Joey Tribbiani (Matt Leblanc) and Phoebe Buffett (Lisa Kudrow) who are living in New York City. It is mostly centered around a lilac colored apartment in the West Village on the corner of Grove street and Bedford street. Across the hall is a second apartment that gets a lot of air time. The friends spend a lot of time together, each have a special bond with one another, and you really see them mature in front of your eyes while we follow them in what life throws at them. Even though the storyline is a bit outrageous here and there, it is well-written by the shows creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and all show's main characters shine at their own times. The whole show is thought out so well, that every part is why the show is such a success and most people love to watch it over and over again!

Friends intro

First of all, the intro helps this sitcom be a success. You hear an upbeat song that is easy to sing along and you are excited to watch another episode. Even if you are watching episode after episode, I notice I do not skip the intro but let it play, as it really makes me happy every time I hear (and see ) it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs-HbHCcK58

 

Apparently the show was going to be called differently first "Friends like us" and the theme song would be REM's Shiny Happy People":

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl5751mttoE

As you can see this song is beautiful, but wrong. If they would have gone with this song and intro, I think it wouldn't have become such a success. Most people do not realize what an intro song does to how you perceive the rest of the show. The intro sets the tone. if the tone makes your heart make a little jump, most likely you also enjoy the rest of the show.

READ MORE: The story of the shoot for the final FRIENDS intro

Also, the lyrics (written by the Shows writers!) is like it really resonates with you.

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke
Your love life's D.O.A
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but....
I'll be there for you.....

Everybody has that feeling sometimes where everything is not going well and you have to keep the Faith and keep going!
or as Monica would say:

Welcome to the real World. It sucks, you're gonna love it

My thoughs on the storyline

Partly believable. For instance, the rent of the apartment of Monica and Rachel would be so high in real life they were probably not able to afford it. But what happens to each character in career and private life can happen in real life as I have been living in NYC for over 15 years and have seen even crazier things happen to myself or my friends! New York City is a place where spontaneous things happen. You go to a meeting and you end up at a theater show. You go grocery shopping and end up joining friends to a gallery opening. Anything is possible if you do not plan but just let life happen while being in NYC. (that's what I love so much about this City!) I also love Rachel and Ross getting together, even though I think Rachel was a bit hard on Ross at times. Chandler and Monica should have started dating earlier in the series if it was up to me. Phoebe had her shining moments with her songs "Smelly Cat" and others that stay in your head... Joey's storyline was great that he was so nice and struggling in his acting career but kept going and made it! Phoebe, Rachel, Monica and Joey all struggled throughout the ten years, but kept going. This is very normal in NYC. People never give up in getting a career. Ross had a steady job and even though Chandler switched jobs, he also had a more steady income stream. But most of all: I just love how most scenes happen at their cosy home. This is how I love my life too: with my best friends spending quality time at home!

Friends reruns over and over again

Why do I watch Friends reruns all the time and not other sitcoms? I mean, I watched other sitcoms, and also ones that are based in NYC like "How I Met Your Mother", "Seinfeld" and even "Sex and the City". But for some reason they all have something in the show that makes me not wanting to watch it again. Or that I am happy I watched it, but it was something that I watched during a certain stage of my life. Why do I keep watching Friends? I have thought about it, and these are my reasons why I still think Friends is the Best:

My 14 reasons why Friends is the Best

  1. Every time I hear the intro, it makes me happy!
  2. With everything bad going on in the World sometimes, it is great to just tune out and turn on a familiar sitcom you know is going to make you feel better!
  3. Everything was just better in the 90's/beginning of 2000's. When people did not have a cell phone yet and people would leave messages on their answering machines. If you watch the show episode after episode you see that this is a topic that comes back all the time.
  4. When I have to do household chores or work on my website or other serious things and I have to focus, I play a Friends episode in the background.
  5. Watching the show feels familiar as I also live in NYC and certain scenes are exactly like how a New Yorker would do it. For instance the episode where Rachel and Ross are going to do laundry together. It is so New York! (even though I am now one of the lucky few who has her own washer and dryer in her apartment, a true luxury in NYC!)
  6.  I walk by the street where the apartment is supposed to be located almost daily. Whereas the steps to the house of Sex and the City's Carry is not attracting as much attention anymore compared to years ago, the facade of the building that we see all the time in "Friends" episodes still gets many fans to visit to take pictures.. even though the apartment is not there as everything inside was filmed in a studio in Hollywood!
  7. The apartment itself is like a copy of my own apartment in NYC. I moved into my loft in 2006. My friends who have visited my apartment since, and who I have spent endless nights with chatting and cooking together remember the colorful green, orange, lilac, and blue walls all over, and the eclectic mix of furniture and little ornaments that I found at flea markets, the colorful and overpriced "Bazaar" ABC Carpet, or even sometimes on the streets of NYC (because New Yorkers throw out the most expensive stuff as space is expensive and storage is as well, throwing out a piece of furniture is a better financial option than storing it). I also had magnets on my fridge, I also had a weird lamp. Everything in my apartment goes together, while nothing matches and everything is all over the place. The way Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Joey, Monica and Phoebe use apartment 21, is how I have used my apartment over the years. A place to hang out for me and my friends and to host lovely holiday parties. While I have since toned down the colors on my walls ( I have grown up after all) the spirit of my apartment is still the same and I still love to have people over just like Monica did! And by the way.... I also have a naked guy in the apartment across the street in the Summers for years.
  8.  What Friends character am I? Reading the previous comment it is obvious that I am a "Monica". Or "Lonica" (how many people in the USA pronounce my name) I might just be a mix of brother and sister Geller. I am a cleaner, a cook and a perfect host, and a bit uptight sometimes ;) But I am also clumsy like Ross, I choose to be a bit naive like Ross, and I am funny when I am not trying to be funny, and I am not funny when I try to be funny: just like Ross. (and I might have been a bit like Phoebe for a while, when I was all into alternative healing stuff and a vegan lifestyle.) I am for sure not Rachel, Chandler or Joey.
  9. I have so many favorite scenes! Probably the ones with Ross (no not the Pivot scene, although it is good!) Like when he is on the phone with Julie and he has an issue to hang up and Rachel does it for him. And I loved the wedding of Monica and Chandler, and Phoebe in the Winter cold. Because I just love NYC in the snow.
  10. My favorite characters are from favorite to least favorite: Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe.
  11. My favorite guest characters are "Richard" Burke Monica's boyfriend played by Tom Selleck and of course.... JANICE!!
  12. I am not a crazy fan of Friends or the 6 celebrity lead actors, I do think they are great. These 6 people are one of the big reasons why this show is a success. What I am trying to say is that I appreciate all parts of the show equally. I also really like the writing and the way the show looked, the stages of the different scenes. It looked so colorful and cozy. Marta Kaufman once said the show is like comfort food, and I think that is exactly what it is!
  13. Rachel (I love her last name) ended up working at Ralph Lauren, Of course I love that because Ralph Lauren is also the reason why I could live in NYC.
  14. Is there something I don't like? Well, now I have matured myself, and now that I am married, I look back at the show a bit different than before. I now watch episode after episode, I noticed HOW MUCH DATING these characters do during 10 years! Just like Sex and the City this show is really pushing the notion that twenty year olds date a lot and sleep with a lot of different people in NYC. It is kind of normal. Now looking back, I think that part could have been a bit less.. But these love interests of the main characters have definitely given enough funny storylines in the show that is for sure!
A Holiday party with my friends at my apartment in NYC back in 2008/2009, when the walls were still bright orange and I had all this eclectic stuff everywhere!

 

Thanksgiving dinner with friends, hubby and my dog Vito at my home (when I had repainted the walls!)

Here are a few lovely scenes for you to reminisce, while I am going to overthink if I should get that "Friends" sweater that I saw at Urban Outfitters today...

Love, Lonneke

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKIauVdgk_Y


la Pause, Marrakech, Morocco

My job has taken me to amazing places, and I want to go back to one of my favorite memories.

One time, I spent at week in an oasis, in the desert about an half hour outside Marrakech. I shot there again for Scapa, this time in between horses, hills, desert and camels. And yes, I rode my first camel!

Although I did not get to see the beauty that Marrakech offers, I got a lot of serenity & beauty at La Pause. La Pause - the name says it all- makes the time stop, makes you chill out. This resort is as I mentioned before, located in an oasis, hidden in hills ,in the middle of nowhere.

La Pause Marrakech

Image courtesy of La Pause

You could either sleep in bedouin tents, or in the cubical houses, made of clay and hay. Inside you light candles to actually see a thing, because there is no electricity. The women who take care of this place, light dozens of them before you arrive back after your dinner. It is so romantic! There are working toilets ( I am still figuring out where the pipes go to...)and a shower gives a bit of hot water.

La Pause Marrakech 2

Image courtesy of La Pause

For a few days I was basically out of touch with everyone and I couldn't reach anyone, and that was kind of great actually. Be in the moment.  They had 2 super sweet dogs that would come keep me company when I was laying down in the sand on the hill, gazing at the thousands of stars in the midnight sky...

La Pause Marrakech 3

Image courtesy of La Pause

The food was great, a lot of fresh vegetables ( I mean A LOT) so for vegetarians it's heaven! Talking about fresh rucola that was still in the ground about half an hour before lunch... so nice!

But I think the meat and chicken are organic, so meat eaters, there is something for you too. Only problem?: You eat too much. Good thing: It is all pretty low calories,as cheese and fatty sauces are not used. I mean, where are they supposed to keep those things cooled? There is no electricity!

And phone service, if you are lucky , is only working on top of the mountain. And there is a generator, that once a day, will be turned on to clean the pool ( yes there is a tiny cute pool!) Plug in your phone charger if there is an outlet left!

And my favorite thing: we could go on a horse riding trip, by sunset for instance. What was great is that the foals of the horses you ride, actually go with you on the trip. This way it feels like you are in a wild group of horses, as they are running around while you are enjoying the view!

Besides that you can rent quads, ride the camels or use the homemade sauna.

Owner Frederic, arrived there years ago, and made la Pause a wonderful place to find tranquility, good food and wonderful nature.

I had a great time! I would definitely recommend going to this place on vacation. Or even go for lunch when in Marrakech. It is worth it! ( For instance, when I was there, ex-professional cyclist Richard Virenque visited La Pause for lunch with friends & family)

Below is a compilation of my favorite pictures from the photo shoot. I think it turned out great and captured the feeling of this magical place. Photos are by Paul Bellaart

www.lapause-marrakech.com

Love, Lonneke

P.s.: Everything was great but I was a bit upset about the many dogs , donkeys and horses I saw on my way to La Pause, that are trying to survive by themselves. A lot of people in Morocco see these animals sometimes just as means for survival themselves. If you want to do something, visit the websites of a few great charities below, that do their best to help animals around the world not suffer.

www.wspa-international.org


That time I did a 1 day juice cleanse

I once did a one day juice cleanse. All the way with the cheesy "I kiss my juice" pictures as proof.  I had a bit hangover from just drinking 2 bellinis at the Operation Smile Ball the day before. So when you don't feel so great, what do you do? Exactly you take care of yourself! Eating really healthy is your own medicine. So I decided to visit Organic Avenue.

About Organic Avenue

Organic Avenue was a vegan and rawfood chain in New York City. It was founded by Denise Mari,  and back in the day I did an interview with her. There were so many new Organic Avenue Locations popping up around town at one point. To me it seemed they had a lot of success, but they also seemed to grow too fast. After a few years Denise sold the company, and from what I've read, she came back on board to run the company.  OA incorporated different foods into the menu besides cleanses (the vegan chicken and waffles was great!) but eventually they went out of business :( . Sad story of a vegan health food store I enjoyed so much in NYC! I notice many of my favorite restaurants have gone out of business, it is just part of doing business in New York City.

Organic Avenue Soho location
Organic Avenue Soho location before it closed

Now back to the juice cleanse story: There used to be an Organic Avenue Location in Soho, close to where I live, and I decided to do their one day cleanses.

The 1 day juice cleanse

I received 7 bottles of juice. 1 small one to start the day with chlorophyll, and 6 juices.  You were told to drink water in between..

1 day cleanse from Organic Avenue
1 day cleanse by Organic Avenue

8.30 am

Let's start this juice cleanse! I woke up tired and had my first juice at this time. A chlorophyll shot that made my tongue green! It has a specific taste, but it is not bad. Chlorophyll comes from plants and is an "extremely important bio molecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light."- Quote from Wikipedia  

chlorophyll shot
chlorophyll shot

10 am

My first real juice is a nice simple orange juice. A great way to start a morning with some sweet citrus fruit juice.

orange juice
orange juice

12 pm

Green Love juice. Cucumber, celery, chard, spinach, pear, collard greens, kale, romaine, parsley, lemon juice. This one is a bit hard to drink due to the large amount of greens in this juice. So it took me a bit longer to drink this juice!

Green Love juice
Green Love juice

2.30 pm

Turmeric Tonic,  lemon juice, ginger juice, purified alkaline water, coconut sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cardamom, himalayan salt. This one was spicy but I actually liked this juice! It tasted a bit like something from the Middle East because of the spices. I drank it quite fast.

Turmeric Tonic
Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic

4.30pm

Veggie Vibe: carrot, cucumber, beet, celery, chard, spinach, ginger, parsley, lemon. This one is hard again! Took me longer time to drink. But you feel really healthy drinking it.

At this point I felt really energized and fit! Getting so many minerals and vitamins in, plus water is really doing good for your body, right?

6.30 pm

Spicy Avocado Soup: avocado, purified alkaline water, spinach, lime juice, celery, cilantro, garlic, Himalayan salt, jalapeño, cumin. This is my least favorite. maybe because of the garlic and that it is thicker. It took me some effort to drink it.

Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup
Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup

8pm

Last juice of the day! Fresh, sweet coconut juice. I love ending a day like this with something super yummy!

Although some people do cleanses a few days in a row, I think it was nice to just do a one day cleanse. This way it does not "shock" your body while still replenishing your body with the essential nutrients. It is also a great that for that day you have a plan, and the 7 juices keep you on track. You don't have to think what you are gonna eat or what's for dinner at night. The cleanse is telling you that already so it relieves stress that way as well!

Why a one day juice cleanse might be good for you

Because you drink the whole day so you are very much hydrated.  And you don't have much time to feel hungry. Right when you feel hungry, you have the thicker Spicy Avocado soup that is filling. I think anyone can do a 1 day cleanse to just feel better and get rid of toxins or indigestion, if you don't get tempted by any food! So do this during a rainy day when you are likely to stay at home, or if you are stuck at the office with no food in sight, that's my recommendation.

You start to appreciate food more while on a cleanse, that is for sure!

Why juicing might not so good for you

You notice there is a lot of parsley added to the juices. This is because parsley contains lots of Vitamin K, a lot of antioxidants, which helps our bones and strengthens our nervous system.(that's good!) But I only learnt later that Parsley, other green leafy vegetables and beets contain a lot of oxalates and goitrogens. I will go into that some other time why that is actually not so good for some people like myself (oxalates can form crystals in your body and can cause kidney stones, goitrogens slow down a thyroid). Not to mention the high sugar intake which research suggests due to the lack of fiber that helps release sugar slowly into the blood system, a juice is causing a sugar spike. And juices that are not pasteurized, can bring harmful bacteria to your gut which can cause a whole other range of issues.

Maybe, just maybe, juice cleansing was a hype from 2006-2016, and now people just have one juice once a while and are onto another fad, like Keto or Paleo?

Related: Why no one does juice cleanses anymore

Organic Avenue used to offer their juices in glass bottles, but they were more expensive as there was a fee for returning the bottles. Now they serve the juices in BPA- free plastic, I thought that was a nice thing! Of course with the demise of Organic Avenue, their bottles are gone too. (I just kept one as a souvenir).

If you want to do a cleanse, there are many places in New York City and beyond to get a juice from, including Juice Press, Pressed Juicery ,Blueprint and Juice Generation

Related: 5 cleanses that get delivered to your door in the USA

p.s. for my readers in the Netherlands: you can order from Sapmeesters.

Final thought on cleanses: You should decide yourself what works for you! I will now enjoy a small juice once a while!

Love, Lonneke

First Published on May 6th 2012, Updated with new insights in 2019

 


Visiting Brattleboro, Vermont!

I once went to Brattleboro,Vermont for 1 reason: The wedding of one of my best friend Johan van Lierop and his fiancee Brooke Magnaghi

Vermont

I had never been to Vermont, and as I like to travel, I was looking forward to go to Brattleboro. Vermont is known for beautiful skiing, the trees that change color in Fall, but the mountains are also very pretty in the summer. I love hiking, and lakes: It seemed I would get enough of that in Vermont!

Main Street Brattleboro

Brattleboro

Brattleboro (see Main Street above) is a small town of about 12.000 people, in the mountains of Vermont, and about 3.5 hours drive from NYC... if you don't take a detour. Check for everyone renting a car: Get a navigation system AND make sure "Avoid tolls" is disabled. Because if it is enabled, your trip takes about 3 hours more...

The first thing I noticed was that Vermont is very clean. I drove around a lot, walked a lot, and I did not see much littering going on. It seems the state has been on the forefront of taking care of the environment. Is that where the name "The Green Mountain State" came from? Everywhere I looked, I found signs of "going green". The clean waters of the river while I went canoeing (just make sure you put sunscreen on, I got a bit red!), or the recycling bins in the restaurants, and looking at the many antiques, vintage and organic clothing stores, the signs were everywhere!

canoeing VermontLonn Canoeing

Four Columns Inn

The hotel was very cute: Four Columns Inn owned by is a charming little place where we had I think the cutest green room. I would definitely stay here again. We were welcomed by the Innkeeper and she showed us the whole house and restaurant, plus the places where we could relax. My boyfriend and I sat on the front porch one night, just talking and enjoying the nice weather. It was really nice.

Lonneke at Four Columns Inn

The restaurant

The restaurant at Four Columns Inn is known in the area as a really good restaurant. We had to make reservations. The food was amazing, local and delicious, and to my surprise: a lot of vegetarian options, and all local yummy foods. Like gazpacho and veggie ravioli (see pictures below). I was super excited! The restaurant was also used as the breakfast room, and everyday some items changed, but the quality stayed 5 stars, and things you can expect is home made muffins, Egg frittata, fresh cherries from the garden.

gazpacho at Four Columns InnVegetable Ravioli at Four Columns Inn

 

The location of the Inn

I also swam in the pool, and while it was a bit cold, i t was really nice. The garden and lake around the Inn are very beautiful.

The center of Brattleboro is really small, but cute. ( see picture on top of Main street Brattleboro) There are a few places worth mentioning:

My favorite store in Brattleboro

This has to be Twice upon a time!  This is the mecca for Antique and Vintage shoppers. They have over 10.000 square feet of space full of anything from furniture, clothing to jewelry and things for your home. Their great concept is that they have over 100 vendors and over 3000 consignors sell their things in this store. The store has a lot of sections where each vendor showing their sales items. I spent a few hours browsing and found great things! Including a drawer that I loved right away, for 1 tenth of the price it would be in New York City. Other finds: A beauty-case in fun colors, 70's glas milk bottle, a gift for Johan and Brooke as they were expecting a baby girl (a 40's girl's baby food plate), an 60's chef's dress, a nice table cloth, a bracelet..vintage napkins I needed for the wedding because I was crying the whole time. A lot of things and I did not even browse the vintage clothing section!

Twice upon a Time 1Jewelry Twice Upon a TimeTwice Upon a Time 2Twice Upon a Time 3

 

Lunch in Brattleboro

And for breakfast or lunch: The Works Bakery Cafe. The pesto/artichoke sandwich was SO good! This take out/sit down cafe looks cute. It has many healthy options.

The Works Artichoke Sandwich

The Works Artichoke Sandwich ingredients

The Works Logo

When you throw your garbage away you see that you need to separate your waste into 3 bins. I think the words on the garbage bins say it all :)

The Works waste bin 1The Works waste bin 2The Works waste bin 3

 

Overall, I really want to go back to Vermont, because it has everything I love: Clean air, beautiful nature, lot's of green, mountains, rivers, creeks and lakes! I especially want to go for "Indian Summer": When all the trees change to beautiful colors: red, orange, purple. It is supposed to be amazing and I can't wait to see it!

Love, Lonneke

River BrattleboroVermont

 

Twice upon a Time,
63 Main St.
Brattleboro, VT 05301
(802) 254-2261

Four Columns Inn

On the Green,

Newfane, Vermont, 05345

(800)787-6633

The Works Bakery Cafe

118 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301
802-579-1851

 


First published on August 15th 2011, updated in 2019


Detox your information overload

Thanks to technology, our lives have become so much easier and better organized. We can search for and find anything we want, whenever we want, on the Internet. We read and learn about everything and anything. Now there are even apps for everything you can imagine. We order fashion, food and gifts online, we read the news, we watch videos. It is pretty great!

Social Media and information overload

Some of us interact with people even more on social media than in real life. But maybe all that technology and information comes at a cost. Many of us are suffering more and more from a so-called “information overload". How can we filter what we need to know without getting obsessed? How can we detox our lives from the ever-increasing amount of apps, websites and information that is thrown at us each day? And how can we keep focusing on things that matter in our own lives and live in the moment without losing sight of what’s going on around us? How can we find balance?

When I realized I had a problem

I once received an email from YouBeauty stating:“Distressing world news can make you feel worse about your personal life.”Yes, it’s true for me as well! When I read too much of the bad things that are going on in the World, I can feel pretty down because I feel the need to help everyone, fix the situation myself, and use my voice to let everyone know what is going on. I especially feel I need to inform the clueless people who have no idea what is going on because I think that they are not aware, and maybe even ignorant.

Protecting myself from an information overload

But maybe some of those people are not ignorant; maybe they are just better at filtering all the news and information. Maybe they are better at shielding themselves from bad news and too much information, and choose only to work with what they find the most important, and in the meantime live their lives the best way they possibly can. I used to check my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram multiple times a day, like every hour or more. I would send out messages to the World so much, and be interactive with others, that it swallowed up a large part of my day. I felt it was my duty to use my voice to inform people about global disasters, about why it is important to eat organic food and not GMO foods, why fracking is a no-go and why you need to adopt a pet instead of buying one at the pet store. I was doing so much at once, and I was not focusing at all.

The strange thing is that in the end it seems I did not make much of difference. It just took up a lot of time, and after every day, my head was spinning. I only realized how much time I spent on social media when I accidentally left my phone at home. I also realized most of what I was doing in my day on social media, even though it came from a good heart, wasn’t making me feel that great emotionally. It actually made me sad. I asked myself: Does it make me any happier seeing people “like” my picture or my story? Do I really make a difference this way right now? Do I really need to read all news? Do I really need to share all that makes me sad? The answer: not really. Also, when I noticed that every picture people took of me captured me typing away on my phone, I realized it was too much. I became a bit of an addict and I need to change that so I can live more in the moment, be consciously hanging out with the people I am with at dinners, and only take in the information I need so it does not drive me crazy.

Courtesy of Lonneke EngelNow I spend more time away from my phone, and doing fun things like walking my dog!

What did I do to change my addiction to information

  1.  First of all, I don’t sit on my phone or computer too late at night anymore. When you work on your computer or phone, or watch TV just before going to bed, it can disrupt the making of melatonin (sleep hormone), and it can make it difficult to sleep or have a good night of sleep at all. Sleep is so important for a healthy body and mind. Also, your head might still be working hard to process all that information you read, and you might still be thinking about it at night. It is good to do some meditation, or cuddling with your partner or pets just before you go to sleep, to have a better night’s rest.
  2. Check your phone at set times and only a few times a day. I do that when I am behind my computer working, for instance. I checked news and social media every hour before; now I check only one or two times a day. And not when I am in the company of people. People don’t like that because you are just not really present in the moment—your attention is somewhere else.
  3. Have a goal when you go online, and only visit websites, apps and social media with that goal in mind. Don’t just go surfing because before you know it, you are online for hours... information overload! And if you are shopping online, know what you are looking for, because you can get distracted easily and end up with three new dresses and a new handbag.
  4. Set a time limit if you want to just roam the Internet or social media, because it’s so easy to lose track of time.
  5. Leave your phone in your bag or even at home when going out to meet friends or spend time with your loved ones. When I don’t have it with me, I don’t feel the urge to check it every five minutes. Or turn all notification signals off if you want your phone with you for safety reasons.
  6. I deleted the social media apps on my phone. Not only does that save storage space, but you can’t log in easily and you are not reminded every time you get a “like,” tweet or message. It takes your attention away from your phone and social media.
  7. What also makes me feel more productive is to make a to-do list every day and just go at it point by point. With a to-do list, my work behind the computer became increasingly more productive. I was not surfing away on the Internet and wasting time and reading too many unnecessary articles.

I need to focus on my life, and I’m working on it! I need to live a life that I am proud of by focusing on things I find important, like only buying products from people and places that are either fair trade, organic or locally sourced. I also try to focus on doing something fun each day—cooking good food and spending time doing things I love with the people I love (and for which I did not have time before). Without my technology distractions, I get more out of my day and am much happier.The fact is, we can’t change the World all by ourselves, but we can change our own lives and hopefully inspire others with that. We need to use the information and technology at our disposal to our advantage, but without letting it take over our lives.

We must LIVE IN THE MOMENT, as once it has passed, that time will not return.

Love,Lonneke

Copyright text Lonneke Engel. First published on Youbeauty in 2013


Los Angeles Hotspots

Los Angeles (L.A.), the City of Angels, is a city on the West Coast of the United States of America.  I have visited LA many times for work, and this time I took 3 weeks to explore it in-depth on my California Road trip! Although it looks like LA is really spread out, it is in fact an area called Los Angeles County that consists of multiple cities (88!) like Beverly Hills, West-Hollywood and Los Angeles itself.

Day 1: We flew with Delta and arrived in the afternoon in LA. A nice breeze and the Sun hitting my face, I knew this trip was going to be great! We stayed at the famous Sunset Tower Hotel on the famed Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. I have stayed at The Sunset Tower hotel before for work (when it was named the Argyle hotel) and I remember loving it. A long time ago it used to be an apartment building where people like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor used to live. There is so much history in this place, especially from the 40's and 50's, and you can still feel it when you are there. Besides that, it is the first building that was built with reinforced steel, which is nice to know when you are in an area that is known for earthquakes.

We got an upgrade! A corner room with great views of the hills and downtown LA. It had a little sitting area, and a separate bedroom. The bedroom overlooked a big dogrun, which was fun, but also a bit hard as we had just lost our beloved dog Vito. One great thing about this hotel is that they are pet-friendly. So next time we will bring our new dog with us! We stayed here for 2 weeks and felt very much at home. Breakfast is in a really nice setting, but it's not the best breakfast I have every had (I must say). Roomservice is decent though! There is a mini swimming pool, and enough beds to sunbathe. but due to the small area most people decline to go for a swim. It is nice to look at though! Overall, I would definitely come back for the service, the hospitality, the nice ambiance and the good feeling this hotel gives me.

Day 2: I took time to recover from the flight, and we explored the neighborhood a bit. Even though LA is made for driving, the area where the hotel was, was nice to walk around. We could go to Melrose, and walk to Beverly Hills. Along the way we found a Le Pain Quotidien, which is always a safe place to eat when you are on a trip. They have organic bread and salads with organic ingredients. We did our shopping at Trader Joe's in West Hollywood.

Day 3: The main reason for our visit to LA was that my best friend of 23 years - Maruja Retana - got married to her longtime love Ross Palmer! She arranged a multi-day wedding which was so much fun!

On our way to the rehearsal dinner from Sunset Tower Hotel:

Maruja and Ross got married on Santa Monica beach (oh yeah!). A super clean beach with white sand just like you remember from Baywatch. Definitely worth a visit. Afterwards they had rented a nice house in the Hollywood hills with a beautiful view, and the hottest pool I have ever been in. Maruja and Ross hired a pizza chef and he made amazing pizzas fresh for all the guests, and the best gluten- free pizza I have ever had! Of course the dessert was Krispy Creme donuts, as those 2 are obsessed with donuts! (of course my wedding gift included some donut inspired gifts as well)

Day 4: We had brunch at the pool house. All the guests enjoyed the Sun, the pool and we made good food. It was such a nice experience as many of our mutual friends flew over from the Netherlands. It was great to catch up with them!

 

Day 5: Dirk and I met up with Maruja, Ross and the guests who were still left and went on a hike in Griffith Park. We walked all the way up to the Griffith Park Observatory and we bought tickets to see a show in the building. It is part museum and part a Planetarium. First of all, the walk gave us gorgeous views of LA, you can even see the Hollywood Sign (that means it could be crossed of the to-do list), but the show itself was unexpected but very nice! We watched the show that told us more about the Universe.

Day 6: after Dirk and I went to stroll around the neighborhood, with of course a stop at Urth Caffé on Melrose. They have good organic food options, I especially like the tea selections. This time I ordered their huge (decaf) cappuccino!  My advice: All of LA goes here so go there early before it gets busy. Afterwards we visited Beverly Hills, the City Hall and the Hermes store.

Dirk has a membership with a gym with a location in LA, so he went to train there every day. I enjoyed writing and walking around the areas with Dirk. We tried to find places to eat, and asked everybody in LA their favorite restaurant, but everyone we asked had a difficult time answering that question. (If you ask someone in NYC, they come up with a list of restaurants that you can't even try all in 3 weeks time!) We found a few nice places, by googling on "organic and vegan".

Day 7: Of course we walked to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Besides that I thought it was very unimpressive, I considered it a Place of Hell with all the tourist traps and homeless people that we passed along the way.  That is also Los Angeles: You can walk from one nice , clean super rich area, and one block further you see homelessness everywhere.

Day 8: we ordered an Uber and he brought us to Downtown LA. I told Dirk: "I want to go everywhere but not Skid Row!" (an area with many homeless people living on the streets) We were dropped off in a seemingly normal business area of LA, walked by the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry.

Dirk is a photographer in his spare time, and loves to take pictures. He was on the hunt for cool looking buildings like that building. But this seemed more difficult in LA. (I guess we are a bit spoiled living in NYC.) We did see an awesome art instalation at the Museum of Contempory Art, made out of old airplanes:

Downtown LA looks a bit more poor and unclean, with a few hidden gems, like the Grand Central Market,  which is nice to visit when your are downtown LA. One of the food vendors in the Market is named Eggslut, they have all egglicious dishes for sale. (They just opened a location in NYC in the Chefs Club Counter.)

When we looked on a map we noticed that the Art District was not far. We are used to walking as we are from NYC, so we went to walk over there. When we walked one block, we noticed it started smelling like pee. The second block we saw many homeless people, looking at us like we are 2 tourists who are lost. We asked a Police Officer how to get from there to the Art District, and he urged us to wait there at the Police station and order an Uber. Supposedly we had landed on the beginning of Skid Row. The Uber driver took us around Skid Row. Definitely not an area where the 2 of us should walk around. It seems many people have lived like that for a long, long time. I wonder why no one is doing anything about it? It is so sad!

Tip: Even though LA is a place you need a car to get around, getting around in LA without owning a car is easy! On top of that we discovered that Uber/Lyft in LA were very cheap compared to NYC!

The moment we got out of Skid Row we immediately arrived in a super nice area called Downtown Art District. Here apartments are millions of dollars, and again there is an Urth Caffé in a super nice art deco building, and a valet parking for the Urth Cafe visitors. It doesn't seem many people walk over here. They all arrive by car. This area has many nice old industrial buildings that are converted into lofts, just like in NYC. You can also find a few young designer shops around here. This place is definitely upcoming.

We had decided we had seen enough of Downtown LA, and went back to the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Day 9: We decided to move from the Sunset Tower Hotel to the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey. This is where all the boats are, and close to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. This way we can explore this area more.

The Ritz Carlton was nice because it had a lovely swimming pool I used every day. But the rooms were noisy, and it was definitely more of a fancy/luxury tourist hotel. I did like the restaurant a lot, for breakfast and dinner. The best part was that it was a nice walk from the hotel, along the Marina, to Venice Beach. Venice Beach is very much hippie and happening.

The vibe there is one of surf dudes and beach babes, most things are around Abbot Kinney Road and on the beach. Like the well-known outdoor Gym "Muscle Beach" . It's famous because of Arnold Schwarzenegger training there back in the day. There are enough vegan restaurants in this area, Like Cafe Gratitude. You can go to the toilet at any of the restrooms on the beach, but plan ahead as on busy days it is busy, and restaurants don't let you use the restroom if you are not eating there.

Day 10: I started the day with a swim, breakfast and off we went! Walking around the area. Maruja and Ross and some other guests who were still in LA joined us for lunch at Seed Kitchen in Venice Beach. it was a really cute vegan, macrobiotic restaurant but unfortunately they closed recently.

From Venice beach we walked to Santa Monica beach over the beach walk way. We walked on to the Santa Monica Pier with the fair, and watched the most beautiful Sunset. We walked into Santa Monica and had dinner at a small Sushi place which was pretty ok. It was such a nice end to our LA trip and say goodbye to the people we spent so much time with the past 2 weeks!

 

Day 11: I enjoyed a last day at the Ritz Carlton. Dirk worked a bit, and I packed our bags. We walked around Venice Beach at night, which was absolutely lovely. Especially the beach, and in alleys located between the cute houses, and the little canals.

The next day was going to be the start of our road trip!

Bye bye LA: It was good to finally really get to know you!

My tip for LA:

  • don't go for the tourist things (unless you go to Disneyland!)
  • It's nice to walk around West Hollywood towards Melrose and Beverly Hills.
  • Stay in Marina Del Rey as it is quiet, and you are close to Venice beach and Santa Monica.
  • Rent a car for a day to drive around, but mostly use Uber or Lyft.
  • There are a few good restaurants, but do some research yourself before you go.

You can read about the roadtrip and visit to San Francisco in my articles:

My California road trip, and My Best of San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

 

 

 


The best of San Francisco

San Francisco is a lovely city on the West Coast in California. A lot of people around the World know it as the place where Full House was filmed. But San Francisco has more to offer than the typical tourist hotspots, especially for those eco-conscious people. Luckily we went to visit our friends Jen Ferland and Daniel Zmak just before they were getting married, and Jen is like me a health-freak. They gave us great tips, and we also discovered a few ourselves! In total we stayed 10 days in the SF area.

Common touristic things to do

Going to the island of Alcatraz and learn about this once high security prison. In high season tickets are hard to get, reserve months ahead of going is advised.

Ride a cable car. Pretty cute way to see the city!

Visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, you probably have seen that famous orange bridge on TV before! We drove over it, but we also went to get a gorgeous view from the Presidio National Park in SF. On the other side of the bridge is a cute town you should go visit, named Sausalito.

Walk around Fisherman's Warf, one of the most touristic and busy areas of SF, but you have to see it so you can cross it off your list.

Visit the Painted Ladies. A row of Victorian houses, overlooking a park (known from the last shot of Full House intro). By the way, we saw much better looking Victorian Houses on our many walks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EL65KLdEHE&t=5s

Climb the Twin Peaks, and overlook SF. We thought it was nice to see, but very windy, as I had fear of heights I was worried we were going to get blown off!

2016-08 San Francisco Twin Peaks

Lombard Street: The famous street with 8 hairpin turns in Russian Hill. It is fun to drive down to show your manoeuvre skills, or just take a picture in front of it. A cable cart stops right in front of it on the top, so that's easy.

Coit Tower observatory. A little climb up the stairs and you get a beautiful look of San Francisco. (pictures below: #1 you see me after the hike up to the Coit Tower, #2 Coit Tower on the right on the hill, and Alcatraz Island in the middle)

Go to a Game of the San Francisco Giants, in their AT & T Park stadium which is located literally right on the water. You can also canoe like some people do, and catch a ball.

Well that's all great, but I think there are better reasons to visit San Francisco than only for the famous tourist attractions!

My reasons to visit San Francisco

San Francisco( SF) has a lot of hills. It is actually said to be built on seven hills. It is easy to explore the many different neighborhoods by walking. Yes, you can take the typical cable cars, but climbing those hills are a great workout for your behind! SF is definitely a place to be active. And being active is good for your health. Great! You can really get a good view of the cute victorian houses, not to mention get great pictures of those crooked houses on the steep hills. I know I had a lot of fun with it as you can see:

Every neighborhood in SF has its charm, and there are many neighborhoods all together! Great to explore on foot. Our favorites are:

Family oriented: Noe Valley. A nice flat area with a Whole Foods (we love that) cute houses and cafes, and a nice view of all the hills surrounding it. Oh, and the rumor goes that Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook guy, lives here when he is in SF. There is also a very fun store called Green 11 (UPDATE 2019: this store is permanently closed unfortunately), where they have all your household and personal items for you to refill your bottle or jars. Very eco-friendly I must say!

2016-08 Green 11 Noe Valley2016-08 Noe Valley inspiration

Gay: Castro. For the colorful amongst us, the gay-oriented Castro is a nice area to see and hang out.

Young and hip: Hayes Valley. Maybe my favorite area. A relative new neighborhood in SF, I love that they have sustainable fashion stores like Alternative Apparel, which is one of my favorites stores in NYC. Also seen are many juice bars and healthy coffee stores. The houses are cute, the stores are cute, no wonder many young and hip people gather around here.

2016-08 San Francisco Alternative Apparel Hayes Valley

People and Character: North Beach. This area is like little Italy with cute Italian cafés to get your morning coffee or a good pasta at night. It even has a Washington Square Park like NYC has. Great to walk around. You can walk to the Coit Tower from here.

Lights and fun: China Town. Of course no city is complete without a China Town. Many lights, and many restaurants: it's even considered the largest China Town outside of Asia, and the oldest in the USA!

Hippie Chic: Haight-Ashbury, The district in SF which is considered the birthplace of Hippie Culture. Great shopping! I especially loved the vintage stores, Wootbear/(like KidRobot, which sadly closed its store in SOHO, NYC) and the specialized socks shop, I found a nice pair of socks made of bamboo by Goodhew.

2016-08 Sockshop on Haight San Francisco

Beautiful homes: Walk around Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and Nob Hill. The latter one is also a great place to stay in a hotel. We also liked driving around Sea Cliff, where many rich people have their mansions overlooking the ocean.

Historic ambiance: Stay at the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill (like we did) or have a lovely breakfast or tea here.

2016-08 Fairmont hotel 12016-08 San Francisco Fairmont Hotel roomservice

The vibe is great in this beautiful historic building, and in the hall ways towards the tower rooms you find many historic photographs explaining its long history of Presidents and other important people visiting. We had a room with a fantastic view of the whole city, with Alcatraz lying right in front of us. And did you know this hotel has like the largest Penthouse Suite totalling 6000sq feet spread over the entire 8th floor? Famous NYC Vlogger Casey Neistat was lucky to spend a night here:

[youtube id="8sqY6QXtTsI" align="center"]

3. Parks: We loved Mission Dolores Park! We were lucky to visit it on a Sunday, and locals were enjoying themselves in this parc, even having little picnics, like I am used to in Central Park in NYC and Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Alamo Square Park (the park across from the Painted Ladies) was under construction at the time, but that seems to be a nice park too. But Golden Gate Park is a must-visit, which is close to Haight Ashbury on one side, and the residential Richmond district, with the nice Botanical Garden which we visited, and the Japanes Tea Garden, the oldest in the USA.

2016-08 San Francisco Botanical Garden Bamboo

4. Drinks: There are other nice places close to the Fairmont to visit. The Fairmont has a famous Tonga room & Hurricane Bar in its basement. A place that serves tropical cocktails and food, and has a thunderstorm show every 30 minutes. Also across the street you can find the Scarlet Huntington Hotel with it's restaurant The Big 4 (named after the Four men who were for a long time reigning supreme in San Francisco). This restaurant is very chic, and the inside give you a feeling of going back in time. Usually a Pianist is playing. The "Top of the Mark" bar in the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins (Mark Hopkins was one of the big 4) is also a place with a great view. I loved reading about the history of how San Francisco started, with Nob Hill and these residences in the center of it. I am sure our favorite areas I mentioned before have more nice bars, so check it out! (We just preferred drinking Kombucha and going to bed early to get a good rest)

5. Food: We were lucky enough that our friends cooked for us one night. Daniel and Jennifer made the best deviled eggs, sautéed scallops and 2 salads. We brought baked treats for dessert that we gathered on our walks through SF. I love their cute Miniature Bullterrier Tusker Bear who was best friends with my late Bullterrier Vito.

Even though San Francisco does not have a Le Pain Quotidien which is my favorite easy-going organic place to go to in NYC, there are other healthy food places to try out. Jane on Larkin or Jane on Fillmore for instance, is a hip place to get your avocado on toast, and glutenfree treats. The Plant Cafe is totally organic, and has many locations. Our favorite was in the Dogpatch Neighborhood (an upcoming artist oriented neighborhood), as the kitchen was extremely clean and organized, and we ate the best food here. I found that the other locations needed a bit of improvement on certain things after visiting it twice.

2016-08 The Plant Cafe Dogpatch lunch

We also found a French bakery with organic baked goods and delicious treats. So many, we couldn't choose which ones to take! The first time we came in, the owner was very rude. We hoped the owner (French?) had a bad day, and because her treats were so good, we decided to go back and give her another chance. Well... she was rude again! I guess she doesn't want customers coming in and buying her food. Anyway, if you don't care about how you are treated and just want nice organic and glutenfree food, BIO Cafe is the place to go. (picture is us trying out all the goodies at our friends house in SF!) UPDATE 2019: I heard this place went out of business,and the link is now a health page?

2016-08 SF baked goods Jen Ferland

We also went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's in Pacific Heights, and went to Gracias Madre restaurant in The Mission area, which we didn't think was as good as the one in LA, but still o.k. to go to. Their kitchen was very organized and clean as well. We also had a lovely dinner at neighborhood restaurant Olea in Nob Hill.

6. Shopping: Union Square has all the high-end shops, and is usually very crowded. There are many artists in the square showcasing their art. I prefer to shop along Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights in one of the many little boutiques, as well as Haight-Ashbury area for vintage and Hayes Valley for modern and sustainable options like Alternative Apparel and Amour Vert.

7. Nice unknown places to visit:

  • Sutro Baths. This historic landmark is nice to walk around, and learn about its history, built in the 1800's by Adolph Sutro, a selfmade millionaire. It used to be a magnificent glass public indoor saltwater pool, once the largest indoor swimming pool facility in the World. but a fire destroyed this beautiful glass and steel structure decades ago. Now you can see the remains, and enjoy a tranquil walk around, get a tea at the cafe, shop at the shop, or have lunch or dinner in the restaurant Cliff House. If you drive a little further, you find a beautiful beach as well, called Ocean Beach.
  • KitTea. San Francisco's first cat Adoption Café. If you want to hang out with the cats in the cat lounge it is recommended to make a reservation in advance, as space is limited for walk-ins.

8. Weather: SF is colder than for instance LA, and the weather even changes in what neighborhood you are. If you don't like the heat, or the cold, SF is the place to be. It is almost always pleasant. San Francisco does get foggy frequently, which sometimes clears up during the day. The valleys are usually more grey, foggy and dark, and the hills experience more wind and sunshine. it is always smart to bring a light sweater even if it seems hot out. You don't know if you end up somewhere more windy or cold. High season is not the best time to visit San Francisco. The best time to visit San Francisco is September to November. Tip: bring a bodywarmer like Dirk did. I borrowed it most of the time!

Best overall tip for San Francisco: Rent a car for a day. Drive all around San Francisco neighborhoods, and take a drive to Palo Alto, THE place where the tech World comes together. Facebook, HP, Tesla and other tech companies are based here. But don't dream of buying a house here; the prices for even a small house are ridiculous, everyone wants to live here it seems. But it is nice to see it all for sure! Also visit Stanford University with its beautiful buildings, which was founded by Leland Stanford, who started this little town.

 

2016-08 Palo Alto Stanford University

You can also drive by the little garage in which Hewlett Packard started many years ago. It is just in a suburban neighborhood, but it shows you that you can make it with a good idea, even if you start small. We did not have a lot of time here, but we had a great gluten free and health lunch at LYFE Kitchen before driving back to San Francisco. UPDATE 2019: too bad this place is also out of business, otherwise you could have tried the chia ginger cooler.

2016-08 LYFE kitchen chia ginger cooler

And when we were early for our car return, we did something fun: we went up and down the high hills of Nob Hill, which was scary and fun. All together we had the best day!

I hope you enjoy San Francisco just like we did, let me know what you think, or  love about San Francisco?

Also check out my articles about My Los Angeles Hotspots and My California Road Trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

Photos Copyright Dirk Verest, Lonneke Engel & Organice Your Life ©

First published in 2017, updated in 2019


Making of Model Chocolate

Carolina, Fabio, Dirk and I spent some time in my Organice Your Life® kitchen in NYC making delicious chocolate treats! We first went through the Model Chocolate book by top model & OYL contributor Abigail O'Neill, and picked our 2 favorite recipes.

Lonneke & Carolina making chocolateLonneke & Carolina 

Model chocolate book

Australian model Abigail just released her first chocolate & super foods book full of yummy desserts & treats called "Model Chocolate". And send us a copy too to try some desserts! So we spent the whole night preparing the recipes and we had a lot of fun!

From the many, many recipes, I chose the pie Love Me Bittersweet Jaffa Pie and Carolina chose the cookies.

model chocolate book

Love Me Bitttersweet Jaffa Pie

The pie is a mix of pure, organic ingredients like shredded coconut, pure chocolate nibs & powder, orange oil, orange juice, macadamia nuts and dates.  It is probably the most expensive pie I ever made, as most of the ingredients are not cheap, but it is one of the best pies I ever tasted! The amount of each ingredient was really perfect, you could really taste the orange oil & juice in the "aftertaste". And all the ingredients are uncooked, organic and actually healthy for you! Of course you don't eat the whole pie at once, so after the pie was made, and we all had a piece with a nice cup of tea, we split the remaining pie and Carolina & Fabio took their half home. We later found out we all ate a little piece each night after dinner as a treat until it was finished! So the whole week we all enjoyed it. So in the end it was something we could enjoy for so long it wasn't an expensive pie at all.

macadamia dates coconut flakes 1The ingredients for the crust of the pie are mixed together in a blender.

making crust of raw pieFabio is making the crust of the pie by pressing the pie mixture really well to get a solid and strong bottom of the pie

pouring of chocolateFabio ads the chocolate mixture onto the crust

Carolina pouring chocolateCarolina sprinkles raw cacao nibs on top.

Model chocolate book 1Model Chocolate book with the chocolate pie after coming out of the fridge.

Model Chocolate pie 2We love a piece of this chocolate pie!

The whole recipe for this delicious pie you can find in the Model Chocolate book .

Chocolate cookies

The cookies were a mix of ingredients like chocolate powder, spelt meal, maca, macadamia oil, coconut oil. These pictures are going to be posted in an article by Carolina so stay tuned!

What are you making next from the Model Chocolate recipe book?

Love, Lonneke

All pictures copyrighted by Organice Your life® 

First published in 2013, updated in 2019


Lonneke Engel BMW I

My story of working for the BMW i3 & i8

One of my first steps into promoting a Greener lifestyle, was to tell my agent IMG I wanted to only work with companies that are trying to do their share to make today's life & energy demand more sustainable. I am not interested in modeling just for money, I only want to try to connect my face and image with a brand that is doing good. When BMW said they were coming out with electrical cars,  the BMW i3 and i8, and needed to make promotional videos, of course I wanted to do this!

BMW going green

BMW, although they always were on the forefront with their cars already, started thinking how they can make their business more sustainable. They believe in hydrogen, and tried to use this technology in a BMW 7, but now it was time to make an all electrical car.

The BMW i3 is made more for everyday city life, while the i8 is a true sports car. Since I have always had a love for design, I get excited when I see totally new concepts like these ones! Although at the time of the shoot I did not see the actual cars, as they were not present, I know I will soon.

Shooting for BMW

I shot the campaign shots in a studio in NYC, and for the video I travelled all the way to Munich. The shoots were really well arranged and I had a lot of fun doing it. It was my first time to Munich also. I did 2 campaign images and 5 shots for the video:

modeling for green and good brands

When I decided for myself I did not want to model anymore for brands that are known to be not so healthy or good (think junk food like cheap chocolate, alcohol or cheap clothing brands that are known to produce their clothing not in a good way) of course this shrunk all the possible collaborations for me and possible ways to make a living. But I was adamant I wanted to only work with companies that were trying to make a difference.

I always loved BMW's and wanted to promote Green initiatives, I wanted to do this campaign! So I asked my agent Peter from IMG models NYC to push for me, and I got the job! As I was very picky the past years with jobs, I was happy I would also make some money doing something good, so I could support myself. I just want to try to make it the right way.

Learning about BMW

At the shoot, I also learned a lot about BMW's new way of thinking. They told me that besides producing the BMW i3 and i8, they were also looking at ways to make all their factories carbon neutral, and they said even small and simple changes that are sometimes overlooked, saved so much energy (and money) that now they claim their factory is indeed the World's most Sustainable factory.

This is the commercial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQap4ot5wpI

Love, Lonneke

video & pictures by BMW

First published in 2012, updated in 2019


My California Road trip

One Summer, my husband Dirk and I went on a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I do think you need to do a California Road trip once in your life! And if you do, you have to do it the right way.

For a road trip along the pacific coastline of California you have to use highway 1, official name California State Route 1. This route stretches from just below Los Angeles in Orange County, all way up to Mendocino County, just above San Francisco. A road trip from North to South along this highway 1, will give you the best view of the ocean, but at some parts you are very close on the ridge of the beautiful cliffs. If you are not afraid of that, it's nice to start your road trip here. From LA to SF is also very beautiful (but you see the cars in the lane between yourself and the beach), Highway 1 has no alternative routes around Big Sur unfortunately.  So when a big forest fire was threatening the nature around Big Sur when we were there, we had to drive a long detour around Big Sur through the vineyards. So we haven't seen Big Sur, the place everyone wants to visit on a road trip. Although we did not see it, we don't feel like we missed anything because the whole trip was really beautiful.

2016-08 Roadtrip California 1

You can do the whole trip within a day, with 6 hours drive covering about 380+ miles, but I don't recommend it. We did it in 3 days, but I wish I did it in 4 or 5 days, there was so much to do and see!

Renting a car in California is not as expensive, even in high season, as in some other places like New York City. If you reserve in time, you get an even better rate. You can only rent from LA at the airport LAX, but you can drop it off in the middle of San Francisco city center. We rented a standard car, but got upgraded to a small SUV. Some people like to drive this route in a typical American Ford Mustang. A convertible is a nice option too!

During our trip, we stopped many times to take pictures of cliffs, mountains, beach and the sea. So make sure you have enough time in your travel plans to take it easy along the way, and enjoy the beautiful views!

We stayed a few nights in LA with our friends Maruja and Ross who were getting married. This was a nice way to connect again with my best friend of 20+ years, her family and our mutual friends. We enjoyed LA and we feel like we explored every neighborhood really well. We loved walking around West-Hollywood, towards Melrose and Beverly Hills believe it or not. Some neighborhoods are really cute to explore, and are easy to walk, even though LA is known as being a city to drive.

wedding Maruja & Ross

This was our itinerary of our California road trip:

Day 1:

  • 11am LAX Avis car rental: We rented a car at LAX. This is the only place in LA where you can rent a car to drive up north and leave it at another location. First of, we drove all around LA, the nice neighborhoods, Mulholland drive with the amazing view from the mountains looking down to LA, Beverly Hills, Bell Air, Hollywood.
  •  2 pm: We parked our car, and stopped at Gracias Madre for a delicious vegan brunch.
  • 4pm: We drove up North towards Santa Monica, Malibu. We stopped at a few lookouts for pictures. Onwards on Highway 1 we enjoyed looking at people on the beach having fun, the beach waves rolling onto the beach, and the beautiful mountains on our right.2016-08 Roadtrip California 3
  • 6.30pm: Within 2.5 hours we arrived in Santa Barbara, a little town with many cute restaurants and shops, I loved it here so much! We went to eat dinner at The Savoy Cafe, a cute family owned restaurant with a lot of organic, healthy and gluten-free options.  It was so good!
  • 7.30pm: We stayed at the La Quinta inn, which was 1 minute drive from the restaurant. It was cheap clean and fine, and we could park the car at the hotel. ( I had noticed a comment on Trip Advisor saying that the sound of the fridge in the room turning on and off was keeping a woman awake. Well, I was kept awake by it too, despite the comfortable bed, and nice large room.) We checked in and dropped our luggage in our room.
  • 8.30 pm: we walked from the hotel straight onto the Main Street in Santa Barbara. This is a really fun and alive street in the middle of Santa Barbara, that ends up at the beach and the pier. We walked all the way to the pier I loved how the homeless were creative to get money from people. They built games in the sand, so people could try to throw their coin on a certain target, which would activate something like music playing. This gave the people passing by a challenge too, and many were eager to try it out. The street had many fun little bars and restaurants. The vibe was really good!
  • 10pm bedtime!

Day 2:

  • 8.30 am: breakfast. The hotel had very simple breakfast. People could make their own waffles which looked cute, but we wanted something healthier. We went back to The Savoy Cafe for breakfast, and I ordered the Gluten-free Lemon french Toast, yum!2016-08 Savoy Cafe Glutenfree Toast 1
  • 9.30 am: Shopping! I had seen this cute vintage shop on Main Street, called Renaissance, and I wanted to check it out. There was a couch for Dirk to sit while he waited (sorry Dirk!) But we ended up having a great conversation with the sales person, and another customer.  They had so many amazing pieces. I bought a few (fake) pearl necklaces. Overall a great success! 
  • 12 noon: We stayed a bit too long at the vintage place so we had to rush to check out. And again, we went to Savoy for lunch, before we went on with our trip. I wish this place was close to where I live in NYC!
  • 3pm: Drive to Monterey. We first drove all around Santa Barbara to really get a good idea what this town is all about. Cute Spanish inspired houses with many red roofs, I really liked it! Unfortunately there were many forest fires in the time we were in California, so the highway 1 was closed off for days around Big Sur. We couldn't go there, so we took the detour route through the vineyards.2016-08 Roadtrip California 2
  • Sunset: We arrive at the Intercontinental hotel, which was on the water. our room was nice. Out of our room we could see the small swimming pool. We called it a night and ordered roomservice. We wanted to get a good night sleep.

Day 3:

  • 6.30 am. We were on the 4th floor, but we were woken up by loud noise and shaking of the ground. I thought we were experiencing an earthquake. I did not know what was going on, and it kept going for at least 1.5 hours. We called downstairs what was going on, and they would check. Later on it turned out some guests used the fitness area, which turned out to be on the 2nd floor. They were throwing weights around. The people below us must have heard and felt it much harder than we did. Also, the walls were paper thin, and I could hear the neighbor cough like she was in our room. When at breakfast we saw a seal in the water next to the hotel. The staff heard about our rough night and offered a free fruit plate. The town of Monterey is very much a fishermen's town, and I wish we could explore it more, but we did not have much time. We drove around though. (which is my favorite thing to do anyway).
  • 12.30pm: We had lunch at organic Tillie Gort's cafe, which was o.k. (UPDATE: after 49 years this place has now closed) The menu is very American, with a few organic and healthier options included. I wish we went to the Studio Cafe at Wave Street Studio, which have an organic salad bar. Oh well, next time!
  • 1.30pm: Driving to San Francisco. We could drive part of the highway 1 again, and enjoyed the views. We stopped at a cute coffee place that looked not great from the outside, but had the best gluten-free home-baked brownies! It was a gem, and I can't find the name anywhere on internet, but it was a little place stating "coffee house" on a sign that I believe was yellow.
  • 5.30pm: We arrived in San Francisco! Getting fuel and dropping of the car at Avis, and via Uber brought to our hotel.2016-08 San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Lonneke Engel 2

We loved this little 3 day trip! We stayed a week in San Francisco and explored it like locals. Please check out my article on my Los Angeles Hotspots, and my Best of San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

 

 

 

 


Sunset at Palmetto Bluff

My stay at the Palmetto Bluff Resort

Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin (now known as Hailey Bieber) got married at this beautiful resort in South Carolina, called Montage Palmetto Bluff resort. Funny thing is that I had a photoshoot there for Ralph Lauren a few years ago, and I wrote an article for Organice Your Life about it! 

My trip to Palmetto Bluff

I am so lucky that I get to go to amazing locations for shoots. One time, I landed in Savannah, Georgia, and drove to a nearby town called Bluffton, where this amazing resort was located: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff.

The Cottages on the property.

Photo shoot

Here I shot Ralph Lauren, together with John Dennis, a male model I know from way back, when we shot Ralph Lauren when we were really young. That's the nice thing about the Ralph Lauren team: you really get to know each other, and become friends! This team was again a group of people that I have worked with for years, so it almost feels like going on vacation! 

The Spa plus pool & Gym

The resort itself

Back to the resort: The Palmetto Bluff is located on a 20.000 acres (!) piece of land. It used to be owned by a big industrial company, but then got sold and became a resort around 2006. And in and around 2008 it was taken over by the Auberge group, and it seems that in 2013 it was taken over by Montage Resorts . Now it is just an amazing resort with cottages, little villas, a little wedding chapel and located next to the beautiful May river. The food is great and you can find the southern hospitality here.

 

My roomservice salad with green beans, yellow beets and goat cheese.

The rooms

My cottage had a fireplace that turned on with the switch of a button. It also had a steam shower (loved it!) and a nice bathtub. Wireless internet is also for free, and there are a lot of local tv stations. You get a bike for free with your cottage so you can ride anywhere yourself (smart!). Or the golf carts can bring you anywhere.  Since our flight got delayed a day, we ended up spending more time at the resort, which was definitely not a bad thing!

The fireplace.

Ghost stories

I was told a story about a possible ghost haunting the premises, but I have not seen him! It is supposedly a little boy, who died over 100 years ago on this property. The manager of the resort told us he appeared to cleaners in the gym/spa area, and now nobody dares to clean by themselves. Honestly, I was fine, was not scared by that ghost, but did watch out for the alligators that are in the waters in the area.

The cemetery on the property of Palmetto Bluff. one of the people who died is a 3 year old boy, is he maybe the ghost?

Staying at Palmetto Bluff

But back to the good stuff: I really like the nature, the water and the resort in this area, and think it is beautiful to have a luxurious vacation, golfing or enjoying the high-class spa, or even get married! (This is most likely the chapel that Justin Bieber and Hailey got married in.)

 

The little chapel where you can get married, really cute and romantic!

Palmetto Bluff in the early evening.

 

I hope I can go back again sometime! I can recommend this beautiful property for a wonderful vacation or even a wedding. Wishing the Biebers lots of love in their marriage!

 

Love, Lonneke

First published on December 3rd 2010, updated in 2019


Candle 79 Restaurant review

When you go organic & vegan, most people think you eat the most boring foods. WRONG! Candle 79 (and its sister restaurants Candle Cafe and Candle Cafe West) show that vegan food can be inspiring, warming and delicious! A great restaurant in New York City especially if you love original vegan food!

Candle79-2

Romantic vibes

Candle 79 is a romantic restaurant with nice low lights and candles (the name says it all)  located in the posh Upper East Side neighborhood, and serves high-end vegan cooked foods since 2003. They have a great selection for raw foodies too, but most of it is true home cooked meals brought to another level by owners Joy & Bart. They have been rated #1 vegetarian restaurant by Zagat twice and everyone who loves vegetarian food raves about this place. They bring food from the farm to your table without harming anyone and any animal, only healthy food in a holistic way.

The menu has many options to choose from

When I get here, I never know what to choose, their regular menu already has too many options that make my mouth water, but they also have a few daily specials. What I love here the most is that they are the best at preparing seitan, and all their seitan dished are amazing. (Notice: NOT Gluten-free!) The World Famous Seitan Piccata is one of my favorites, as well as all their dishes with roasted fall vegetables and mashed vegetables. Every dish has many flavors on one plate and that's why this is one of my favorite restaurants in the World. Candle 79 has many homemade original cocktails, with organic alcohol or virgin ones. the coconut and ginger blend is great, as well as the rosemary infused sparkling pear juice.

Candle 79 -2

Seitan entrée with fingerling potatoes, onions, butternut squash, apple & more.
Candle 79 -3Tempeh Entrée with string beans, brussels sprouts, fennel salad, mole, mashed pumpkin

Candle 79 - 4Dessert special: soy vanilla ice-cream, candied figs, almonds & sauce.

Our favorites at this restaurant

  • Anything with their seitan : it's amazing! Like Seitan chimichurri, or seitan piccata with lemon caper sauce.
  • Avocado tartare with kale chips
  • Their ravioli or any other pasta
  • Dishes with any of the following: garlic mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, mashed pumpkin, roasted brussels sprouts, porcini mushroom sauce, marinara sauce, grilled tempeh, grilled seitan.
  • Seitan piccata
  • Their daily specials
  • Any of their virgin cocktails  or "Smooth sippers" as they call them.
  • Also, even if you never take desserts: Candle 79 makes desserts so good you can't believe it is vegan!

 

Cookbooks

They also have great cookbooks!

I love to make their seitan piccata lemon caper sauce from this cookbook (Click on picture for more information and/or purchase)

 

And they also have a great vegan Holiday cookbook! (Click on picture for more information and/or purchase)

Address

Candle 79

154 E 79 street

(between Lexington & 3rd)

Or try their other 2 cafes in NYC!

Love, Lonneke

First published on November 28th 2013, updated in 2019