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At the start of 2017, I took a peek into my kitchen and decided to make some changes toward a more eco-friendly existence. It’s still a work in progress, but here are my tips for creating a greener kitchen:
Replace plastic. 
Plastic puts a huge strain on our environment, especially marine life. When you can, choose materials like wood, steel, aluminum, or glass. These materials are more durable and easier to recycle or dispose of later. If possible, replace your current plastic items before they break. That way you can donate them instead of putting them in a landfill. Some easy options pictured above: stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, a wooden dish brush, and bamboo utensils. All under $10.

Eliminate single-use paper products. Paper napkins, paper towels, paper cups, paper plates. They’re convenient, but they’re not necessary. Recycling centers won’t accept paper products if there’s food stuck to it, so it’s a huge waste. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently quit my paper towel addiction. I purchased some cute cloth napkins to ease the transition, and I love them!

Invest in high-quality cookware. Stainless steel or cast iron are great options. If you care for them properly, they can last you a lifetime. Plus, they won’t release toxins into your food like teflon or other non-stick coatings. My personal favorite is cast iron!

Reduce food waste.  Plan out your meals in advanced, and take inventory of  your fridge/cupboards regularly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased the same thing twice or let things go bad because I was too lazy to look through the fridge. It’s something I’m really trying to work on!

Compost food waste. I wish I’d started this years ago! It’s really not that difficult, especially in Portland with curbside compost pick-up. We keep our compost in the freezer so there’s no issue with smell, and take it out every two weeks. I’m amazed at how much less goes in the trash now! Coffee grounds, tea leaves, veggie peels/scraps, etc. It all adds up! Another benefit is not having a smelly trash. If you don’t have curbside pick-up, you can also find a community compost, or take scraps to the Farmer’s Market compost.

Consider your food choices. The way food is grown, transported, and packaged impacts the environment. Consider purchasing local, organic, and fresh food. Reducing the amount of animal products in your diet is the number one thing you can do to reduce climate change, which is part of why I love eating vegan! If going vegan sounds daunting, try a “meatless monday” —  any bit counts!

Remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Implementing just one of these things can make an impact, and it might even save you some money in the long run. Do you have any tips for a more eco-friendly kitchen?

Let’s talk about acne and self-confidence. I was just looking through some old photos for a throwback shot, when I stumbled across a few images of myself. It kind of took me back to the whole experience, and I wanted to share it with you. One year ago, I went on a little photo adventure to Joshua Tree. I had the best time exploring, meeting some other photographers and models, and taking tons of photos. I shared those images on my photo blog last year, which you can check out here.
everyday allegra joshua tree_0001I remember how crappy I was feeling about myself at this time. My skin was so broken out from stress and I’d never dealt with so much cystic acne before. I kept caking makeup on, which only made things look worse, and the thought of meeting new people was seriously intimidating. When another photographer asked me model for a few shots, I was hesitant. My first question was, “can you photoshop out my acne?” She pointed to her own face and said, “only if you photoshop out mine!” The weird thing was that I literally hadn’t noticed her acne until she pointed it out.
everyday allegra joshua tree_0003They threw a giant mustard sweater on me, I got in front of the camera, and for just a few minutes I completely forgot about my acne. It was a really freeing experience, and left me feeling amazing for the rest of the day. everyday allegra joshua tree_0004I often find myself not wanting to leave the house when my skin is bad. When I do go out, I worry that my acne is all people notice – I’m hesitant to introduce myself to new people, or get chatty with baristas/cashiers/etc. But thinking back, if I could model for strangers when my skin was at its worst, I think I can do anything. Besides, most people are too busy thinking about their own flaws to notice everyone else’s.
everyday allegra joshua tree_0002So here’s a little encouragement to not let your insecurities stop you. Keep trying new things and meeting new people. Jump in front of a camera even when you feel crappy. Yes, the magic of photoshop is real (as you can see by my “flawless” face in these pics), but the magic of self-confidence is even better. When you carry yourself with confidence, people get the chance to see your best self. You might even get a chance to see it too. everyday allegra joshua tree_0005xoxo
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Portland had a record snow fall this week, with up to 15 inches in some areas. It felt like a completely different world. portland snowday_0005portland snowday_0007We were without power the first day, so we adventured out to stock up on food.
portland snowday_0002portland snowday_0011Everything looked so magical, and everyone was so friendly. portland snowday_0012We were SO excited to see that Rae’s was open so we could warm up with a hot meal. raesportland snowday_0008It was hard to resist taking a million photos, with all the new textures and tones outside. portland snowday_0004portland snowday_0001portland snowday_0006While I snapped pictures, Zachary turned into a child and made snow angels, snow balls and snow animals for most of the afternoon. portland snowday_0010portland snowday_0009It was definitely cold and cozy without power. We pulled out all the blankets and candles in the house and hoped for the best. We were about the eat cereal for dinner, but I had a major craving for Thai food. Zach jokingly checked to see if anywhere was delivering , and Postmates was! It took two hours, but it was totally worth it. For dessert we had candle s’mores, which might just be my new favorite thing. Just as we were crawling into bed with our hats and gloves on, the power came back on! It made me sooo grateful for a hot shower and a functioning heater. portland snowday_0003What’s your favorite thing to do on a snow day? xoxo

The last part of our trip was a quick stopover in Iceland. We landed in Keflavík and were greeted with crazy gusts of wind and snow. It was a dark hour-long bus ride into Reykjavík, and the anticipation was killing us! We finally arrived at the CenterHotel Midgardur, which had a lovely minimalist vibe. vegan in reykjavik_01

Our main plan for the night was a northern lights tour by boat. Sadly the weather was too extreme, and our tour was canceled. I was totally heartbroken! But on the bright side, it gave us some extra time to relax from our flight and explore the town. Even though it was dark for most of our time there, everything was so festive and cozy!vegan in reykjavik_04We braved the weather and walked to Vínyl, a record shop and vegan restaurant.vegan in reykjavik_03We warmed up with tea, veggie stew, and some other little snacks that I forgot to take pictures of. We ended up going back for breakfast since it was so good!vegan in reykjavik_02For our breakfast here, we had toast (sourdough for me, gluten-free for Zachary) with all the toppings.  The meal also came with any coffee drink and juice, so I went for a coconut latte and goji berry juice. Ugh, it was so delicious! The vegan cheese (Violife) was amazing — I’ve been searching for a way to ship some to the States ever since. vegan in reykjavik_06Once we had a few hours of daylight, we finally got to see how cute and colorful everything was. vegan in reykjavik_07sma portland senior photos_0040We made our way to Hallgrímskirkja, which is supposed to have an amazing view of the city. I was dying to get a cool shot from above! Sadly, the church tower was closed from the storm. Noooo.vegan in reykjavik_09With the few hours we had left, we checked out some little shops and found some snacks for the plane ride home.vegan in reykjavik_08vegan in reykjavik_11By the time we were done shopping, we were drenched! We stopped back at our hotel to warm up with some tea, and then it was back to the airport.
vegan in reykjavik_10It was a very cold, very short stopover, and definitely left me wanting more. Icelandair has amazing travel deals, so I definitely think we’ll be back…only we’ll make it a much longer trip next time!

After a few days in Paris, we headed back to London. This time, we were well rested and ready to explore.  Our Airbnb was tucked away in Islington, but getting into the city was a breeze. With the Oyster Card, we could use any public transport for our stay. The Metro was definitely the fastest option, but I really loved the views from the double-decker busses.vegan-in-london_0003

Since we had a whole week in London, I decided to divide this post up by my favorite attractions and food in each part of town. We visited during Christmas, so a lot of places were closed – but we did our best to see (and eat) as much as we could.

East London
This was probably my favorite area! So many cool streets to walk through and little shops to stop in.vegan in london_0011Tiosk was a great stop for some breakfast and tea. It was very Portland-y, and we felt right at home. I enjoyed some avocado toast, and Zachary pounded back some porridge. So yummy! The best part was the tea though – so fresh and perfectly steeped.vegan in london_0009The Geffrye Museum of the Home was a really fun experience. It takes you through British homes and decor from the 1600s to present day. I loved seeing the trends that have carried through to today (especially mid-century furniture), and Zachary loved getting inspiration for designing future sets.
vegan in london_0013We couldn’t resist the opportunity to try some gluten-free vegan pizza at Stingray Cafe. It was a win! Next time I’d get more toppings though.
vegan in london_0012The best part about walking around Shoreditch was the street art.
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Central London
This is where we spent most of our time, especially since our whole trip revolved around seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — tickets we booked almost a year and a half in advance. It was a two night show and completely blew my mind. I’m still thinking about it and wondering how they created so much magic on stage (literally).vegan in london_0020Central London has a ton of attractions, but my favorites were the British Museum and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Zachary’s favorite was The Globe, of course! I never really thought of myself as a museum person, but I think that changed on this trip. I could have spent multiple days at the British Museum!vegan in london_0023Saint Paul’s Cathedral was just so beautiful inside, especially all set up for Christmas. I was amazed by all the details in the paintings, stained glass and architecture. vegan in london_0024IMG_3020Downtown had plenty of vegan options for us. Ethos was a great spot for breakfast – more avo toast for me, and sweet potato hash for Zachary. They also had decent coffee and smoothies.vegan in london_0005sma portland senior photos_0028Mildred’s had a fully vegetarian menu with so many options we had to go twice! The beet burger was massive and definitely satisfied my burger needs. I also loved their vegan caesar salad and sweet potato fries (not pictured).vegan in london_0006But obviously the best part was dessert. Zachary had vanilla soy ice cream with a coffee glaze, and I had some sort of espresso flan with biscotti. Heaven!vegan in london_0007Speaking of dessert. Hands down the most amazing food experience was at Yorica. Zachary has a ton of food allergies, but he was still able to enjoy everything here. We’re talking gluten-free vegan waffles and crepes, froyo, and all the toppings. Yum!IMG_2918West London
We spent Christmas eve in Notting Hill, which was so dreamy! It was a bit chilly, but wandering around the neighborhoods was so much fun. vegan in london_0017vegan in london_0015Experiencing a fully vegan afternoon tea at La Suite West was a definite highlight. We toasted with bubbly, enjoyed finger sandwiches, scones with whipped coconut cream and strawberries, mince pies, two different chocolate cakes, carrot cake, and of course tons of tea. I’ve never been so full in my life.vegan in london_0014

North London
We visited this area on Christmas day, so there wasn’t too much going on. The main event was Christmas dinner at Manna. They had the option of a 6-course vegan meal,  but it was a little out of our budget. We decided to just put a bunch of sides together, which was kind of weird for Christmas dinner, but still delicious.vegan in london_0018vegan in london_0016We walked around a bit after dinner, but most places were closed. Still, it was fun to see another side of London.I know there is still so much more of London to see and experience! I’m so excited to go back someday for more theatre, museum-hopping and food.vegan in london_0021