Fresh Ride: Toyota Highlander

Back in December, I spent a couple of days in Carmel Valley and Monterey with Toyota to take the 2014 Highlander out for a spin along the central California coast. The Toyota Highlander is both a classic and perennial favorite in the mid-sized SUV market. As a lady who spends most of her time in more economic choices fit for the mean streets of South Lake Union (LOL), it was a treat to get out of the city and into the beautiful central California coast for a peek into the SUV life.

Toyota Highlander XLE. Black leather like butter.

We started our tour at the beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their jellyfish exhibit was so enchanting! We dined amidst hammerhead sharks, starfish, jellyfish, other fish, and the biggest sea turtle I've ever seen up close. Such a rad setting to get the first look at the Highlander.

*Note: All Highlander photos are courtesy of Toyota because all of mine turned out looking not as awesome.

The Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum is the epitome of swank as far as the mid-sized SUV goes. Moon roofs, wood grain detail, and the plushest, most luxurious leather backseats I've ever seen. All that and more await in the Limited Platinum edition!

Life seems to be a series of "getting out of your comfort zone" situations strung together by hard lessons in persistence. In just a few hours in the hills with the Highlander, I learned a lot about the kinds of things families (moms in particular) look for in a family vehicle. I might not be with family myself (one that I'm raising anyway), but I know a lot of you amazing readers are newly married or just getting into parenthood. This post is dedicated to you (and you too, travel bugs!) Check out all these storage space options and various controls in the driver's console. That middle console can fit like 59 juice boxes or something like that. There's even a microphone in your rear-view mirror to speak to (aka scream at) your kids in the backseats!

So my car was made before these spaceship touchscreen panel consoles became par for the course in new vehicles. I was in awe but admittedly overwhelmed by all the different things you can do in this Entune panel alone. So many apps! Backup cameras! Make a call from your steering wheel! Check out your vehicle maintenance status! Treat yoself to some movie tickets!

Alright, anyway. The next day, we took the Highlander fleet out for our test drives. Our kind tour guide made sure to show us a true central California experience, which naturally means Monterey coast and agriculture life. First stop, the quaint & awesome Pezzini Farms. This family-owned jewel produces a LOT of the artichokes that make their way to Seattle and other parts of the country, and their general store has artichokes in every form you could ever want them. They treated us to some fried artichokes and a behind-the-scenes look.

The Highlander LE Plus

Next stop was the larger but still (duo)family-owned Tanimura & Antle, home to many different kinds of greens that are often bagged into mixed salads. They run quite the operation there!


 A hybrid owner myself, I was most excited to drive the Highlander Hybrid Platinum. Such a smooth, quiet ride - but without the loss of any power. I really loved driving this one.

 Thanks so much for having me, Toyota! Peep more details on the 2014 Highlander at Toyota.com.


Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 is Coming! Headliners Include...

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 is coming! Headliners just announced half an hour ago:

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014

Music: ODESZA "My Friends Never Die"

You can probably guess who I'm excited about most:

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014

#Seattle Giveaway! Design Creative Workshop for Small Biz

Remember when I told you all about this really great design workshop I took that's specifically tailored for small businesses? And that they're coming to Seattle at the end of April?

What if I told you that you can enter to win a coveted spot in this very small group workshop?

It's true y'all. 

I have one spot in the CooperHouse Design Creative Workshop, happening Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th at 95 Yesler in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. And I want to give it to YOU!

This infographic was designed by your workshop teacher, Erin Cooper, one half of the dynamic CooperHouse design husband & wife duo. In it, you'll get just a small snippet of the things you'll learn at the Design Creative Workshop.

Need a little more convincing? A word from Erin Cooper herself:

“At CooperHouse, we work primarily with small businesses and we feel that this unique demographic is often at a disadvantage when it comes to creating visual content for their websites & social media feeds. 
When a small business invests in a website & a brand, they may not always have the funds to hire a designer long-term to help reinforce the brand. Lots of businesses DIY their design for promotions, and we believe that teaching them the right way to design, and giving them the tools they need will help eliminate poor layouts, ineffective visuals, and embarrassing mistakes. Learning to be a professional graphic designer does take years and years, but the fundamentals necessary to learn basic promotional design using Photoshop & Illustrator can be taught in a workshop, especially if the student is diligent with practice.

Ultimately, our goal is to reach out to our community and offer something that could have an immediate effect on the success of these small businesses, and empower non-designers to create visual messages that are effective & help elevate their brand.”

Are you ready? Here are all the ways to enter to win your spot at the CooperHouse Design Creative Workshop:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See full workshop details at the Seattle CooperHouse Design Creative Workshop site. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me at jess@freshjess.com if you'd like more insight!

Giveaway runs through next Tuesday, April 22nd. You can enter to win each day until then!

GOOD LUCK! See you there.


Fresh Life: Strolling Around San Francisco with Emilee Goo

*One of my favorite things about my contributors is their thirst for culture and travel. Emilee Goo is in San Francisco. Follow in Em's day of adventure caught in a stream of photos. Strolling around the city at its finest!

Munch on a grilled chicken burrito and Mexican cola
Dolores Park

2:55 PM: Mid-day pick me up at Iced Four Barrel Coffee
Iced Four Barrel Coffee

3:16 PM: Mission vintage hopping 
Mission vintage shop


Sutro Hideaway

Sutro Hideaway

Take a walk
Sutro Hideaway

Bought my first succulent

 Wearing white Converse Chuck Taylor low & Zara bright orange leggings (similar on sale!)
White Converse low-tops, Zara bright orange leggings


Emilee Goo is an aspiring creator and adventurer living in Seattle, WA. She's currently a senior at the University of Washington double-majoring in communications and interdisciplinary visual arts. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but is Seattle-grown and Hawaiian at heart. She has had past experience working with Nectar Communications, State Farm Insurance, TEDxUofW, UW PRSSA and BSSP. She is a fashion enthusiast thriving on travel, food, culture, art and photography. She loves to blog ever since she discovered blogging with a friend during her high school years, and is now introduced to a whole new world filled with creative people. She loves sharing her interests over at her own blog, Life of Goobers.

Find Emilee on Twitter, and view all of her posts here.


Lookbook Love: Fitness Fresh with Alala Style

My birthday's coming up and as I compile a wish list, I've got workout gear on my mind. I need it. My fitness wardrobe hasn't evolved nearly as much as my actual fitness regimen has. When it comes to fashion, my personal style is a mixed salad of sass, sophistication and sexy - all the while still very much West Coast Fresh. It's high time I take this same style attitude with me into the gym/studio. Thanks to fitness trends that seem to churn as quickly as fashion does, there's a lot more options beyond basic yoga pant and tee shirts. Alala stuck out to me for this very reason.

From an early morning spin class to back to back meetings to a late dinner with friends, Alala is redefining the meaning of living an active life. That alone speaks volumes to me, and I'm sure many other ladies out there who've spent serious time wondering if yoga pants or this sports top can pass as part of a decent "rest of the day" outfit. Taking inspiration from their lives in New York City, Alala has the modern style-setters in mind, who demand both the best in fashion and function from your gear.

These are all my favorites in their latest collection:

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

Alala fitness style

For the complete lookbook & to shop, visit AlalaStyle.com.


For the Glow: Listening to Your Body is Easier Said Than Done

Happy Friday! It's been awhile since I've chronicled my fitness journey, and yet I'm still out here living it 24/7. What's been happening lately is a classic case of "What goes up, must come down," and as with many situations that bring us down, I haven't felt like writing about what I'm going through. Funny how that works, because I know writing is the very thing that's most therapeutic to me. So here I am. Maybe this is something you can relate to?

Image via Pinterest

My family and I did the Big Climb a couple of Sundays ago, and the week leading up to it was a doozy. THANK YOU to everyone who donated, by the way! I felt like I was on top of my fitness game, and my diet was pretty good too. I'd been dipping my toes into barre, and loving the few classes I'd done so far. Barre is a perfect compliment to the variety that For the Glow workouts provide us, and I'd found in Pure Barre a team of really nice, really welcoming, and really talented women who know what they're doing. Even though I get my butt and all these little tiny muscles I didn't know existed kicked, I love every minute of it.

That week, I think I did like ten workouts. For the Glow daily morning group workouts in her studio, with a new For the Glow evening circuit class (my BFF Paula was finally able to make a Glow class for the first time and I wanted to be there), plus Paula's Zumba class, some barre and a lululemon Glow class. Lots of Glow, lots of sweat, lots of fun. All the while, a cough was starting to build that week, and by Saturday it was enough to head to the doctor.

Having the time of my life doing lateral elevated squats! (via For the Glow's Instagram)

"Oh, you've just got a cold." Doctor said. It didn't feel like one to me, but I went with it. That turned into a week of being almost bedridden with said cold and what turned into an even worse cough. I powered down so hard after the Big Climb! Even though I felt relatively fine, my body decided it needed a break.

The cold went away, but this cough is STILL lingering even today, not nearly as bad but enough to be annoying. I'm fairly certain it's a reaction to allergies since Claritin has done the best job of alleviating the cough for awhile, plus I hear it's going around. It sucks, but last week I was finally able to get back in the swing of things as far as working out and Zumba.

This Sunday, after my boyfriend's victorious MMA fight, I was getting ready for bed when I pulled a muscle right next to my ribs on my right side. I've never pulled a muscle before, and thought maybe I somehow stretched the wrong way and it'd go away overnight. NOPE. On Monday and Tuesday, I winced my way through For the Glow workouts, and when it was painful just holding planks or bridges, I knew I had to take some time off again. SERIOUSLY? I just got back!

My pulled muscle be like.... (Image via Pinterest)

Just getting over being sick then having this happen (on top of other "just not my luck" things that have happened lately - but that's another post) - let's just say the past couple of weeks have not been my best as far as optimism and positivity goes. It's scary how quickly your mind goes to dark places when you are thrown off your groove. I hate losing momentum, and I've struggled a lot this past week with that. You try telling a Type A to slow down! How quickly we become the complete opposite of everything we were just a few days ago. Not working out means I'm off my early morning routine, which means my mind is thrown off, I can't get my to-do list crossed off as quickly, I get lazy, I stop journaling, I stop eating right...etc. etc.

This is when I remember how therapeutic writing is to me. I force myself to write, then I let myself spill until I reach a point where I can't anymore. I naturally turn into my own healer, my own cheerleader. "Okay, you're bummed. Now how are we gonna fix this?" And I start thinking of all that I'm grateful for. All the things that have gone my way, even though my mind is fixated only on the bad. All the ways to get out of my funk and make progress as soon as possible. I am all for owning and reveling in your emotions, but I am also one for action. If I'm not happy, or thinking negative, destructive and non-productive things, I need to get myself out of that mindset quickly. My business deserves better, my blog deserves better, and most of all, my well-being deserves better. Nothing productive ever comes out of me staying feeling sorry for myself. 

So what's my biggest lesson this time around? Learning how to listen to my body, and understanding why it's so important to rest rather than trudge through pain. I'd rather rest for a few days and be back at it than prolong (or worsen) my injury. The adrenaline we get from working out is almost addictive, but the body needs rest as much as it needs to be challenged. I'm looking forward to getting back in the studio soon, but for now, I'm learning how to be okay with injured life - temporarily. ;)


Want to learn more about For the Glow? Head to ForTheGlow.com, and read up on her next program, Bikini Boot Camp happening May - June! Read all of my For the Glow posts here.


My Top 5(ish) Seattle Happenings: Week of 4/10/14

My top 5(ish) things to do in Seattle this weekend & the coming week. Good mix of things to do!

ann taylor kate hudson LBD

Ladies! Need a new little black dress in your life? The Kate Hudson LBD collection launches in Ann Taylor stores and online today!

Bring on Spring in Georgetown this Saturday! Le Objects For The Home will be hosting a free class on how to update your home interior on a budget. RSVP on Facebook.

Head out to Ballard this Saturday for Art Walk! Mood Boards: Exploring Color and Emotion is a collection of mixed media collages and abstract paintings by my blogger friend Melanie Biehle, debuting in Velouria boutique on Saturday. RSVP on Facebook.

Team Blitz Tackles MS Pub Crawl 2014

In the mood for a little pub crawl in the name of tackling MS? Join my friend Ross Asdourian and his brother Ryan (also affectionately known around these parts as the Seahawks' mascot, Blitz) for Team Blitz Pub Crawl on Saturday in Belltown! Get your tickets here.

seattle university on my block fashion show

The Fashion Club of Seattle University is celebrating the 7th annual "On My Block" fashion show this Saturday night! Tickets and more details here.

fred hutch container store

The Container Store is opening their newest location this weekend in Southcenter Mall! 10% of the proceeds from grand opening weekend will go to Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center. Do good while you shop for new organizational wares! More details here.

Tattoos & bulldogs! What could be better on a Sunday afternoon? Head over to Liberty Tattoo in Queen Anne for Body Art 4 Bulldogs. Meet the bullies of Bulldog Haven NW, donate to help BHNW rescue bullies all over the Pacific Northwest, and maybe even get a new tattoo for yourself for just $50 (restrictions apply)! RSVP on Facebook.

bumble & bumble hair model project

bumble & bumble is hosting a class at Salon Mogano in Auburn this Sunday & Monday (April 13-14), and they're seeking female hair models to attend and receive free professional haircuts. Interested? Email a current photo to model@bumbleandbumble.com. Please be sure the photo shows your current length and natural texture. For more info, visit: bbumodelproject.com

LUNAFEST Seattle 2014

LUNAFEST is almost here! Get your tix now for next Tuesday's film fest at 415 Westlake. It's going to be a lot of fun, with goodies and more from Yelp Seattle, Po Dog, Grim's, Hilliard's Beer, CLIF Family Winery, Gene Juarez, Uber and LUNA Bar. Proceeds will benefit Reel Grrls. Hope to see you there! LUNAFEST Seattle tickets here.


Luly Yang's Crescendo collection: Prelude

Music can evoke so much emotion, piercing our memories with the kinds of feelings that come rushing back when we reflect on the good, the bad, the passionate and the important stories that shape our lives. For Luly Yang, music has manifested itself in her newest collection, Crescendo. Drawing upon the musical tastes that have spanned her life - from the classical piano training she picked up during childhood to the sweet sonatas that provided ambience for her time in Vienna - the pieces in Luly's Cresendo collection come together like notes, rhythms and melodies to create cohesive, solid songs of style. 

Luly & team were kind enough to invite me to experience the Prelude set of the Crescendo collection last Sunday. Never one to overlook the tiny details that create an unforgettable experience, Luly and team took over The Capital Grille across from her boutique in the Fairmont Olympic for a luncheon runway show. We enjoyed mimosas, lobster cakes and petite lamb chops as models walked the Crescendo Prelude set down the restaurant's aisles. I can only imagine what the Sonata set in Vienna or the finale set in San Francisco will look like!

Thanks so much to Luly Yang and her team for having us this weekend. Enjoy some of my favorite looks below:

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Luly Yang Crescendo collection

Visit the Luly Yang boutique in the Fairmont Olympic for a look at the entire collection, or schedule an appointment for a custom fitting for your favorite dress. LulyYang.com.