Thursday, July 24, 2014

Style Jaunt TV: Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale

I'm reaching in to the archives yet again for Throwback Thursday with a visit to the Saguaro hotel episode of Style Jaunt TV. The colors! The food! The hair! I hope you'll enjoy the trip down memory lane to one of the coolest hotels in Scottsdale.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Travel Beauty: Birchbox for JetBlue

Travel Beauty: Birchbox for JetBlue by Style Jaunt

I was doing a bit of research for an assignment last week and came across an article titled 7 Awesome Airlines That Make Flying a Pleasure. It's basically a roundup of airlines that offer nice perks without hefty price tags. Unsurprisingly, JetBlue made the cut thanks in part to their new Mint class, which features lie-flat seats on transcontinental flights starting at $599. 

I'm sure the comfortable seats are pretty amazing, but I'm kind of geeking out over the fact that every passenger in the Mint section gets a Birchbox of travel-sized beauty products to use in-flight. There are separate amenity kits for men and women, and the featured products change regularly throughout the year. Included in the first round is a Wash and Stain Bar from The Laundress, Hand Cream Pomade from Baxter of California, "They're Real" Mascara from Benefit Cosmetics, Reviver Dry Deodorant Swipes and more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Interview with Beth Cochran on SuccessLAB

In Pursuit of a Passion...How to Trust the Journey with Katarina Kovacevic on SuccessLAB

Writing is my job. But more than that, it is my passion. I guess I never realized just how much I had to "trust the journey" when I decided to become a full-time writer, until I did this fun interview with Beth Cochran of SuccessLAB. In fact, I still do! But I think with a little self-reflection and a lot of hard work, anyone can fulfill their life's passion no matter what it is. If you're a writer, a media entrepreneur, or just someone who's looking to make a career change (big or small), join me and Beth for this 30-minute podcast: In the Pursuit of a Passion...Trust the Journey.

And stay tuned over the next few months as I announce a new and very exciting step in my entrepreneurial journey. I hope you'll come along for the ride!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Photo Tour: Dining in Scottsdale

There was a lot of good eating on my trip to Scottsdale. If you've never been, then you may not realize just how great the local dining scene is. Seriously, I wrote an entire book about it once! A few snaps from some of my favorite spots that we ate our way through:

Super Chunk Sweets & Treats: One of Scottsdale's newest specialty shops. Super Chunk is the delicious brainchild of Country Velador, executive pastry chef at two of the city's most iconic stops, Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar. Country and her husband Sergio designed the entire store around that patterned wallpaper. Try: The Chocolate Bacon Corn, made from bacon that's cured specially for Super Chunk!

FnB Restaurant: One of my favorite restaurants in all of Greater Phoenix! FnB always rates at the top of my list of recommendations when friends ask me where to eat in Scottsdale. You've probably seen Chef Charlene Badman's dishes featured in top magazines like Food & Wine. I love that everything at FnB is served family-style and meant to be shared. Try: ANYTHING! Badman's veggie-focused menu changes regularly and no one makes vegetables taste as delicious as she does. And, if you can, snag a bottle of frontman Pavle Milic's own wine.

Barrio Queen: Besides being a fantastic chef, owner Silvana Salcido Esparza is just an all-around awesome person. I always make sure to get my fill of quality Mexican food whenever I'm back in Arizona and Barrio Queen more than satisfied my craving! Try: The agua frescas and tableside Barrio Guacamole, taco trio with cochinita pibil, relleno, and carne asada chorizo azul. A little churro never hurts, either.

Other delicious visits that you won't regret? Sweet Republic for house-churned ice cream using dairy from a local farm, Food Truck Caravan, and Citizen Public House, where you'll find my favorite salad, The O.G. Chopped.

MORE INFO: Experience Scottsdale

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Style Jaunt TV: Hotel Palomar in Phoenix

On Travel Tuesday, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of a throwback to one of my first Style Jaunt TV episodes of the Hotel Palomar in Phoenix. Check out some of the more recent travel videos - from Zagreb, Croatia and beyond - on the Style Jaunt TV YouTube Channel.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Photo Tour: Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert

One of the things I miss most about Arizona is the desert landscape. The luxury of wide-open space is nice of course, but more than that I miss the colors. You see almost every shade in the spectrum on any given day: blue skies, green, orange and purple sunsets. It's pretty remarkable.

The Sonoran Desert just feels special, too. Considering it covers a portion of Arizona and northwest Mexico, and just a small part of California, you definitely get the sense that you're seeing and experiencing things you can't elsewhere in the world. Take the Saguaro cactus, for example. Did you know that it only grows in the Sonoran Desert? There is literally no other place in the world where the Saguaro grows naturally. That's insane!

(By the way, keep this in mind the next time you see the Saguaro used in the logos of other destinations, which shall remain nameless. It's not factually accurate!)

On my recent visit to Scottsdale, I hit the trails of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with the experts at Arizona Outback Adventures. I've been on a number of excursions with their team over the years and I can safely say that they're the best tour guides in the area. Check 'em out for hikes in the Scottsdale area, even kayaking adventures or backpacking trips to the northern reaches of the state.

Here are a few choice shots from our early-morning hike:

Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, Style Jaunt by Katarina Kovacevic

MORE INFO: Experience Scottsdale

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Recently, a certain men's media site published an "article" in which the writer listed all of the reasons why he thought Greater Phoenix was "the worst place ever." I use the word "article" loosely because this was an extremely one-sided, sensational piece that was obviously meant to incite scandal more than it was to tell any kind of worthwhile story.

Honestly, I don't know what annoyed me more - the fact that this guy (a Phoenician) wrote such a mutinous piece, the fact that said media site published such poorly written, whiny garbage, or the fact that several local news organizations only added fuel to his egotistical fire by naming him and the site, and linking to his post. It was all very obnoxious.

But I digress! Point is...

There are a lot of really great people doing really great things in Arizona.

Sadly, you don't always hear their stories because scandal draws more eyes and ears than goodwill does.

But we can work to change that, can't we?

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

One of my favorite, most inspirational people that I met on my last trip to Scottsdale is Ken Singh of Singh Farms. A hungry businessman turned farmer, Ken's story, when he tells it, is laced mostly with anecdotes about the people that he loves: his father, his uncle, his wife, his kids - all of whom were, in some way, motivation in creating the sustainable utopia that is Singh.

In my pre-trip post about Scottsdale, I categorized Singh Farms as a "farmer's market," but as my friend Laura aptly pointed out, "It's so much more." On Saturdays, there is a market where you can buy fresh, local produce. (Go early - locals love this place and it sells out quickly!) What I failed to mention is that this fresh, local produce is picked literally moments before the market opens. Nothing you buy from Singh has been out of the ground for more than a few hours. And, yes, it all comes from the desert! Ken grows artichokes, corn, squash, tomatoes, peaches...the list goes on.

Think of Singh Farms as an agricultural amusement park. There's the farm shop, plus food stands where local vendors make pizzas, tamales, fresh-pressed juice and other treats from Ken's goods. There's live music, flowers for sale, tables for picnicking, even a teepee for kids to explore - all under the natural, green canopy that Ken created.

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

All of this - the market, the food stands, the sense of community - was an unplanned but vital byproduct of Ken's ultimate goal: to change the way we eat. When he first bought this plot of land off the side of Scottsdale's 101 freeway, it was nothing but unforgiving caliche dirt. He worked the soil...and he worked it and he worked it, all with the intention of creating a parcel of nutrient-rich, balanced earth that would someday grow nutrient-rich, balanced food.

Today, Ken supplies many of Phoenix and Scottsdale's top restaurants with fruits and veggies for their menus. He also, and this is my favorite part, hosts and leads school field trips at the farm where he explains to kids that No, carrots don't come from the grocery store, they come from the ground. He lifts up rocks to show them the rolly pollies that live underneath. He takes them to the chicken coop so they can see what eggs really look like.

They chase butterflies. They play in the dirt. They sit quietly and listen to the sounds of nature.

For many of the kids, it's their first time seeing lettuce that's not stuffed into a plastic bag.

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

Destinations: Singh Farms in Scottsdale by Style Jaunt

There are no chemicals or pesticides in use at Singh Farms. It's all about a natural cycle because, as Ken smartly poses, how can we use pesticides to kill off bugs and expect it to not kill our soil and our bodies?

A visit to Singh Farms is very eye-opening, if you want it to be.

Otherwise, it's also just a relaxing place to start off your weekend. Bite into a juicy peach, play hide-and-seek with your kids, experience what real corn and cheese tastes like when it's spread on top of homemade pizza dough.

Enjoy life.

It's what Ken wants you to do.

MORE INFO: Singh Farms