Curvy Kate Star in a Bra 2017….I’m a Finalist! 

You guys.

I entered the Curvy Kate Star in a Bra competition week before last and I was super excited when I got an email last week to set up a time for a FaceTime interview with this amazing UK based brand! 

I learned I am one of the TWENTY FINALISTS! I’ll be flying to New Jersey in a couple of weeks for a “Live Audition,” and the photos from that photo shoot will be used for the official contest! 

One winner gets a modeling contract with True Model Management, as well as the opportunity to shoot for Curvy Kate’s Spring/Summer 2018 line on-location in Europe! 

Soon as the contest is live, I’ll update you all so you can hopefully help me win! YOUR votes determine the winner! 

Look for me and the other contestants on the latest Curvy Kate blog post! Make sure you check out their website too, for ADORABLE lingerie and swimwear for D+ cups! It’s a fantastic company to support, because they have both an amazing product AND message! 

Model Meals Kitchen: My Review!

I’ve been a big fan of Model Meals for awhile now.

I started another round of Whole30 after getting back from Italy and starting to prepare for my upcoming photo shoot in Greece this summer.

In an effort to set myself up for success this time around, I decided to invest in Model Meals meal delivery to save myself some time, money, and sanity.

Working 12 hour night shifts on weekends, I have a hard time getting motivated to meal prep and actually use all of the food I buy. It’s easy enough to get all the shopping done, but then once the food is in the fridge, my life suddenly seems harder.

Enter: Model Meals!

I got my delivery on Sunday, May 7th. Currently the service delivers to Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.

I ordered from the current menu:

  • Sonoma Chicken Salad + Market Greens with Balsamic Glaze
  • Chicken Fried Veggie “Rice”
  • Meatloaf with House Ketchup + Carrot Parsnip Pilaf
  • Pork Carnitas Taco with Celery Root “Tortilla”
  • Chorizo Scramble + Sweet Potato Hash
  • Bone Broth (there was a 2×1 special this week!)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but all of this sounds amazing!

I tried to get a few different items that sounded really good. Due to having my weight loss surgery in 2011, all of these meal portions really equate to 2-3 meals for me. So it’s a perfect way to get through the week, and I have some food on hand to prep for “filler” meals, as needed!

I’m really excited to try the bone broth also. A suggestion was to add a scoop of my Vital Proteins Collagen Powder and a teaspoon of ghee before bed as a “miracle potion,” and I’m ALL ABOUT that life.

So let’s get down to business-because I’m sure you’re wondering how the food was…some dishes don’t have photos…because as usual I was too excited to remember to snap one before eating!

Sonoma Chicken Salad + Market Greens with Balsamic Glaze


This is definitely one of my fave things EVER! It reminded me of my favorite chicken salad I usually buy at Trader Joe’s, but in totally compliant form! Also, the balsamic was pretty good…and I just came back from visiting a Tuscan balsamic estate, so I’m kind of an expert! Lol.

Chicken Fried Veggie “Rice”

I’m a big fan of the “riced” veggie trend, and this was interesting because it was a sweet potato rice! It was the perfect compliant way to enjoy fried rice, and it was a filling and hearty meal! Total comfort food, without the food coma! The flavor was different than I’d expected…really tangy due to I think the lime juice combined with the sweet potato made for a sweet/sour versus savory taste. Different, but still satisfying!

Meatloaf with House Ketchup + Carrot Parsnip Pilaf

Meatloaf is my jam! Oddly, I love tomatoes but despise ketchup. I started scraping this ketchup off and not even trying it, but then considered maybe without a ton of sugar, ketchup wouldn’t be so gross. And I was right! This added a little tang and zest to the meatloaf without that sickly sweet syrup-y taste. And the pilaf? Back to those riced veggies….love!

Pork Carnitas Tacos with Celery Root “Tortilla”


This dish had me at carnitas! The meat was tender and reheated well! It wasn’t bland or flavorless and I was really impressed with the texture of the tortillas! Also, the salsa verde was tangy, delicious, and the perfect consistency. Never in a million years would I have thought of something so clever as using celery root!

Chorizo Scramble + Sweet Potato Hash


I hate eggs. I hate them. I eat them out of necessity because it’s a fast and easy way to get protein and one of the staples for my successful Whole30. These eggs weren’t so bad. My eggs have to be cooked “hard,” but when I put my hash and chorizo in the skillet with some ghee, I added the egg and diced it up fine like the chorizo and it’s like they weren’t there! Also, that hash is an A+! I’m a fan of chorizo, but typically find the grease to be so overwhelming that I can’t eat it. That wasn’t the case with this bad-boy! I ate every bite, and my mouth didn’t feel like an oil slick!

Bone Broth

Every batch I’ve ever made has fallen short-but this stuff is good! With or without the addition of collagen peptides and ghee, it’s great for sipping on before bed, or even as a filler when I’m not totally sure if I’m actually hungry. It’s satiating and comforting and I take extra comfort in knowing it’s good for me.

The Verdict

Model Meals is a dream! It’s convenient. It came right on time, with text alerts when it was en route and again when it was delivered. I don’t have to stress about what is or isn’t in it, and even when not on Whole30, the menu offers a lot of variety and food that tastes great across the board! Also, while the meals may seem pricey, it’s not as pricey as what I spend sourcing organic/grass fed/etc ingredients and driving all over town for them (I’m talking to you grass fed beef knuckle bones), these meals are what I’d spend or less than eating a decent/healthy/compliant meal at a restaurant. And for the added convenience of doing nothing more than pre-heating them-although they’re mostly all created to be eaten cold/room temp if need be-I’m not complaining!

I have a special part of my heart reserved for companies that go above and beyond to really hear their customers, be sustainable, and take pride in the integrity of their product. I love that Model Meals scores high in every aspect, and I’m already looking forward to my latest delivery….especially a Green Chile Chicken Soup! I promise I’ll try to be better about photos next time.

If you head to the Model Meals website and sign up for their email newsletter, you’ll also get a new recipe in each edition!

I got my latest order this week:

  • Scotch Egg with Breakfast Potatoes
  • Shrimp and Sausage Sweet Potato “Paella”
  • Green Chile Chicken Soup
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings with Dill Potato Salad
  • Beef Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch
  • BBQ Pulled Pork with Southern Slaw

Have you tried any meal services? What are your favorites? How do they help you? I want to know!

Bon Appetit!

Pisa, San Gimignano, Chianti, and Siena!

My first trip to Italy was the type of vacation where we had a lot of ambitious ideas for what we’d like to do, but got there having done so much at home that we ended up truly vacationing. Walking, drinking a lot of wine, eating a lot of food, and then drinking more wine….if it was too late for more caffe.

This time, we wanted to make sure we saw the things we didn’t get to see last time around! One of the main places on our list was San Gimignano in the Tuscan hills!

It turned out, I found this amazing tour for under  on Viator (you get $10 off with that link!), and it took us to Pisa, San Gimignano, stopped in Chianti Classico for lunch and wine tasting, and then to Siena to round out the day before heading back to Firenze.

As I mentioned before, I’m not too bougie to book a tour when it comes to traveling! It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground in a day, and to make sure you don’t miss the highlights!

Speaking of highlights, here is the best of this day tour through Tuscany!

Pisa

We started early in the morning at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station (and got there just in time to grab cappuccino and cornetto before the morning started), and boarded a double decker charter bus on our way to our first stop- Pisa! We were dropped off just outside of the famed Miracle Square, home to the Leaning Tower, church and duomo.

This part of Pisa doesn’t have much to see outside of the main square, which even early in the morning on an overcast day was full of people on the ground, in the air, and just all over the place trying to get their own tourist-y photo with the tower! Pisas beautiful historical center is a marvel with the detailed marble buildings and walkways!

San Gimignano

After we boarded the bus from Pisa, we started through the rolling hills of Tuscany toward San Gimignano.

On the way, our tour guide mentioned that the main piazza there had Gelateria Dondoli, famous for the Best Gelato in the World. I didn’t honestly hear much else after that….oh except something about the Great Pilgrimage, and how the rich built their homes up in tall towers so they could always see who was coming, and how of the 72 original towers, 14 are still there. Whoop, there it is.

San Gimignano is a very picturesque city…every street you take leads to an amazing photo opportunity, and there is an amazing white wine called Vernaccia that is specific to a type of grape only grown in this region! Of course, I bought some.

Also, yes we got gelato! I got organic strawberry and Zainab got a Saffron specialty flavor. Both were definitely amazing, but it’s hard to say the best in the world because all of the gelato in Italy kinda tastes like the best in the world…am I right?

Chianti Classico

Speaking of wine! After heading out of San Gimignano, we headed to Chianti Classico to the Casa Frassi Winery for wine tasting and lunch.

I cannot stress to you how much I love this place. From the moment we pulled in, it was the enchanting scene you dream about when you dream of a winery in Tuscany. The owner walked us through three of his wines as we overlooked the ever-rolling hillside, and then we went into what used to be a monastery (and is now the dining room) to enjoy a three course lunch. I snuck out of lunch a little early to buy some wine and olive oil to ship home, and took the opportunity to profess my love to him in the hopes that he’d let me move there and live happily ever after-which didn’t seem to woo him much. Lol.

Siena

Siena has some of the most breathtaking architecture I’ve ever seen. Grand churches and squares and even the banks are built with crazy details like heads carved into the trim of the building. This part of Italy is also very strict to this day on neighborhoods and family, and being born into your neighborhood. We actually were there on a “Bank Holiday” and got to see a parade, and all of the 14 flags/crests of each commune. It was pretty amazing!

Just before it was time to head home on the bus, we stopped at a cafe and had a coffee granita drink and it was the perfect end to a long day on our feet!

A Day in Cinque Terre

A rainy Sunday was the start to our second full day in Tuscany, and it wasn’t any less delightful!

I’ve seen photo after photo of these 5 coastal villages-and yet I still wasn’t prepared for how amazing they are!

When planning this adventure, I actually opted to book this Day Tour through Viator (new customers get $10 off their order when you use my link!), because it eased a lot of the transportation concerns for us. We left at 7:30 in the morning from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station on a bus and drove just short of 2 hours to La Spezia, an industrial city just at the base of the mountains leading to 5 tiny coastal villages ranging from populations of 300-3000 people.

On this trip, we visited 4 villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Monterosso, and Vernazza.

The weather made for some overcast photos, but I like to think they still captured the beauty of the villages and the fascination that surrounds the brightly colored buildings and blue waters.

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My favorite thing about taking tours like these, is that there is someone to guide you to the best photos and history in the area, but you also get the opportunity to explore independently and find your own gems. Plus, you’re sure to meet some interesting people-and even make some new friends!

Some of my favorite shots from this trip (PS, all of these photos were taken by Zainab and I on our iPhones!):

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When it comes to shopping, none of these villages really tickled my fancy. There are lots of small, rather pricey shops-which I’m sure ties into the whole “Population: 300” thing.

We did have an amazing blackberry tart at a small cafe in front of the ocean in Vernazza, some super strong caffe correto (espresso+grappa) in Monterosso, where I think we also found the small place that made fresh lemon slushes….and had an option to add vodka.

We added vodka, obviously.

I think moreso than anything, I was too busy taking in how beautiful and well-preserved these little villages were to get too preoccupied with the wares they offered. I saw a lot of the same kitschy and touristy trinkets and small bottles of liquor and oils that you can find most anywhere in Italy…so I stopped worrying about where to shop and what to buy and just enjoyed the ocean instead.

It’s worth noting that there is a train that goes from La Spezia into the villages. It’s very fast, and rather efficient! At the end of the day, there were at least 400 of us piled on the platform waiting for a train that was delayed over 30 minutes…and things got real. People were pushing and arguing and being rude! And it took FOREVER to get off of the train and to the meeting point with our bus because of the crowding and lack of manners!

But I had expected way more tourists and crowding, especially on a Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised at how we had a lot of room to breathe as we made our way through Cinque Terre, moreso during the first half of the day!

This trip really made me want to focus more on the Italian coast on my next trip (although I just have such a love for Florence, and will probably start/end there always), because it really is one of the most beautiful, natural wonders. Sprinkled with history and character, it really draws you into its charms!

Have you been to Cinque Terre? What were your favorite things to see and do?

Happy Travels!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

 

 

 

Another Whole30: Week 1 Update

Man.

Remember how I kept saying during my first Whole30 last year that I was shocked at how easy it was? How impressed I was with myself for sticking to the script and making all of my meals and throwing parties while managing to stay compliant? Remember my post about Whole30 being life changing?

Well….this round isn’t that easy. My sugar dragon is my mortal enemy. My headaches were insane the first three days. I feel super sluggish and really sleepy. I have visions of sugary treats and cheese dancing in my head.

I was actually pretty disappointed in myself. All this healthy and delicious food at my disposal, and I’ve considered throwing it all away for Del Taco? Who even AM I?

But here’s the thing: it matters more to me to look and feel good, than it does to taste that Del Taco.

That can really be hard to remember when you’re doing Whole30. Especially in the beginning, and most especially when it’s not brand new to you anymore.

I’ve been putting myself under a lot of pressure for the upcoming photo shoot at the end of June in Greece.

I have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be captured in one of the most beautiful places in the world, accompanied by some of the most beautiful people I know (seriously, amazing people over there at The Boudoir Divas/Boucher, Inc) and I keep just feeling like I’m not….worthy.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I’m gonna take that back. I am worthy.

I. AM. WORTHY.

However, I am also human. And the human in me knows we can do and feel better. And I’m committing to Whole30 again, because the results were worth every moment of frustration for me every time I’ve done it.

My mind is clearer. I make better food choices. I feel more powerful around food and in situations where I normally turn to food for comfort. These are all really good reasons to do it, if you ask me!

So, has week 1 been a little challenging? YEAH.

Am I any stranger to a challenge? NO SIR.

Some strategies for success I’ve employed this time around?

  • I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Blueberry Pomegranate Green Tea. It’s great when I get tired of drinking water, and gives me caffeine for my night shift when needed. I quit coffee when I’m on Whole30, because I can’t do it black and don’t want to use the “cheating” of using date paste, blah blah (read…LAZY).
  • I set up my Model Meals delivery order! Use that link for $10 off of your first order! These meals are not only Whole30 in their entirety, but they are delicious and there’s a ton of variety. I have had the pleasure of meeting the founder/creator Danika Brysha…who is absolutely phenomenal in her own right. Not only is she an IMG-represented model, but she started this business from her parents garage and totally turned around her own relationship with food. She’s actually the reason I found out about Whole30 in the first place! My delivery started Sunday, 5/7 and I place my order every Sunday for delivery the following week. This is great, because it takes the stress and time of the prep and shopping somewhat out of the equation. I buy 4-5 meals and supplement them with other food in my house. Also, it takes a lot of the guess work out in terms of finding completely organic, pasture raised, grass fed meats and compliant condiments-which I find to be the most difficult and expensive part of the program, anyways
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Danika and I at the Food Freedom Forever book signing last year!

  • I’m back to journaling, and trying to be better about blogging too. I was talking to my friend Molly about Whole30 and how she also struggles, especially in the sugar department. She asked if I blog about my experience, and I thought “Why am I not more committed to this part?” If I can support someone else in their Whole30, I am happy to!

I’ll keep you all updated. I didn’t weigh myself this time, because I’m not focusing on numbers as much as focusing on how my body feels. But I’m sure I’ll see a shift from the last numbers on the scale when this round is over! After that, I have a Girls’ Weekend in Phoenix right as the round ends, and then I’m back at it until I head to Greece…where the food is fresh and delicious and relatively healthy!

Have you tried Whole30? What are your tips and tricks for staying strong and on track?

‘Til Next Time!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked