Lunch like an Italian with Lucini

After a long two weeks of winter (sarcasm intended), the sunshine has returned in Southern California and there’s no better way to greet spring’s perfect temperatures than dining al fresco. A few weeks ago, Soda Pop PR and Lucini Italia gathered friends together at one of our favorite succulent sources – Rolling Greens Nursery – to enjoy a long, leisurely lunch in the spirit of the Italian concept of “Dolce far Niente”; the pleasure of doing nothing.

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The afternoon featured four courses of Italian-inspired dishes by La Femme Epicure alongside an epic Lady & Larder cheese and charcuterie board.

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Seasonal herb cocktails were shaken up by our friends at The Spirits in Motion who created photo-worthy signature cocktails unique to the event.

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It wouldn’t be an Italian feast without gelato and if you haven’t had Nancy Silverton’s Nancy’s Fancy gelato yet, we recommend the Butterscotch Budino gelato and Chocolate Fondente Sorbetto with a little Lucini olive oil and sea salt on top. Trust us.

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We hope our afternoon of lunching like an Italian inspires you to gather some friends and enjoy a beautiful homemade meal of your own. Buon Appetito!

Team Soda Pop PR

5 Tips to Start Your Spring Cleaning

Inspired by the changing weather and a viewing of the documentary Minimalism, the Soda Pop PR team has been on a mission to declutter. There’s nothing like a serious office deep clean to fill your space with new creative energy and calm. In the spirit of the season, here are a few tips to help you kick off your own spring cleaning efforts.

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1. Pump the Jams: Every decluttering party needs a soundtrack. Upbeat jams and karaoke favorites work best and that happens to be where our music taste intersects in the SPPR office so we took the liberty of making you a little playlist. Crank it up and let the cleaning begin!

2. Eliminate Paper: Stacks of paper or overflowing filing cabinets are pretty much the opposite of the minimalism philosophy, not to mention anxiety provoking! We love using free apps like Genius Scan or Evernote Scannable to turn piles into PDFs and take our files digital (not to mention eliminating the need for a scanner/fax machine.) This is also a good opportunity to round up all of your bills and take them up on their “if you’d like to go paperless” option.

3. Purge: It wouldn’t be a spring cleaning roundup if we didn’t talk about the holy grail of decluttering: purging your closet. This subject is well covered ground and there is plenty of great advice out there (looking at you The EveryGirl) so we’ll leave you with just one piece: don’t be overly sentimental. The memories of your sister’s wedding will live on long after you’ve passed the dress you wore to it on to a new home.

4. Do a 30 Day Challenge: We’ve all been there. You wake up one Sunday morning in project mode but by noon you’re sitting in a sea of your possessions and you’re over it. Rather than dedicating an entire day to spring cleaning, try tackling one task daily for a month. This Refinery29 list of 15 things to throw away is a great place to start if you want to work up to that big closet purge.

5. Start Meditating: Now that you’ve cleaned out your physical space, it’s time to let go of everything you’ve been holding on to mentally. If you’ve always been interested in the benefits of meditation, spring is the perfect time to start a 21-day challenge with Oprah’s BFF Deepak or check out one of the many helpful meditation and mindful apps like Headspace.

SPPR New Year’s Goals: 2017, Let’s Do This

Everyone loves a clean slate and at SPPR we’re filling ours with a to-do list of fun projects and foodie goals for the New Year. Read on as the team breaks down our plans to eat, read and travel our way through 2017.

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(Photo c/o Oh Happy Day)

Dyan:
To Go: Sun Valley, Idaho. My husband and I have been talking about exploring a new winter destination for our annual ski/snowboarding trip for years. Aside from the picturesque setting, abundance of runs for beginners and an outdoor ice skating rink, it also has a rich history (Hemingway was a fan, he completed For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying at Sun Valley Lodge!)
To Eat: My dream would be to plan monthly trips to different cities with the sole purpose of trying the best culinary classics and hot spots in each location.  Realistically? I’d like to hit up the Roberta’s Pizza Pop-Up before closes. I’m also looking forward to my friend Steve Samson’s new restaurant Rossoblu which is scheduled to open soon!
To Read:  Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I’m a fan of his podcast and this book summarizes the best tools, tactics and learnings from his most notable guests. It’s over 700 pages and meant to be digested in small, manageable doses. It’s safe to say, I’ll be reading throughout the year.
To Do: I purchased a journal over the holidays with the goal of setting aside time to jot down my non-work thoughts and creative ideas. I have dozens of notebooks but they all contain work plans, meeting notes, to-dos, etc. Creative writing was a passion of mine in college (I’d die if you found any of my old journals, so “My So-Called Life”) and I’m eager to pick it back up.

Kelly:
To Go: Sedona! Since my husband recently got his pilot’s license, we plan to do a weekend getaway to this beautiful place neither of us has been to before.
To Eat: Erven in Santa Monica
To Read: I was gifted Big Little Lies, so I hope to read it before the TV series comes out
To Do: My goal is to shop my local Sunday farmer’s market more often in 2017. Shopping local is so important and in California we have an abundance of delicious, fresh food, I need to take advantage of it!

Becky:
To Go: Back to Italy; Our new client Lucini Italia has me missing the land of pasta and olive oil.
To Eat: Belcampo; I met the founder Anya Fernald at an event last year and have vowed to treat myself to an organic, highest-quality-you-can-get steak (or at least a Belcampo Burger) at some point soon.
To Read: I bought J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I have so much love for J.K. that I’m feeling guilty for putting it off.
To Do: Refresh my living space. I’ve had the same couch since my husband and I were dating and the same dining room table my parents passed down to me after college. It’s time to make some big girl furniture purchases.

Colleen:
To Go: I am hoping to make it back to Paris this year and spend my days writing in coffee shops and haunting Shakespeare and Company.
To Eat: I know I lose all of my LA foodie cred for this, but I still haven’t been to Gjelina! Definitely need to remedy that in 2017.
To Read: One of my all-time favorite authors Joan Didion has a new book coming out (in 61 days, not that I’m counting) so that is at the top of my list. Also, Infinite Jest. I swear this is the year that I finally finish David Foster Wallace’s epic and exhaustingly long masterpiece.
To Do: In light of our recent election results, I’m committing to take a more active role in opposing injustice and supporting causes doing good work.

Deidre:
To Go: 2017 is all about the U.S.! I have some fun trips lined up, including: Nashville, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco and NYC to name a few. Fingers crossed for an opportunity to go abroad – I’ll even be happy with Mexico if I can make it happen.
To Eat: There are so many in LA I am eager to go to! Especially wanting to hit up the celebrity hot spots, like NOBU Malibu, SUR and AOC.
To Read: The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive
To Do: I really hope to attend another Ellen taping! If not, attend a late night taping like Jimmy Kimmel, learn to meal prep/ spend less money on food and get outside more!

Camryn:
To Go: New York! I’d love to visit my younger brother who’s out there for school.
To Eat: I’ve really been wanting to try Maré on Melrose. You have to use a secret entrance!
To Read: A Gentleman in Moscow, a gift I received through our SPPR holiday book exchange.
To Do: Go to a cooking class!

Friendsgiving with Tillamook

November is the perfect time to give thanks, and we always look forward to sharing our gratitude with loved ones while happily embracing the excuse to reach for second servings and dessert (without judgment). One of our favorite new traditions however, is Friendsgiving, the chance to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with your buds before or after the family festivities. A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to spend an afternoon with some of our favorite creatives, writers, bloggers and photographers, celebrating #RealFoodSunday with a Friendsgiving Brunch hosted by Tillamook.

Old friends and new were brought together at Light Lab to enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving inspired brunch prepared by Barrett Prendergast of Valleybrink Road while learning more about Tillamook’s #RealFoodSunday movement.

Tillamook launched Real Food Sunday because of their devotion to making food the right way – with the highest quality ingredients, nothing artificial and without cutting corners to increase profits. Real Food Sunday is meant to make choosing Real Food easier for everyone, starting with one day a week. So why Sunday? Sunday is the day when big meals are cooked, families eat together and plans are made for the week ahead. Sundays are special. Tillamook believes Real Food should be a part of that, and we couldn’t agree more.

Seasonal décor styled by Anne Sage provided endless holiday inspiration and major #FOMO.

Guests enjoyed and took home some of our favorite real food goodies that were generously contributed by Alma Chocolate, Bob’s Red Mill, Entube, Health-Ade Kombucha, Hester & Cook, Jacobsen Salt Co., Le Grand Courtage, Mountain Valley Water and QUIN Candy.

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We are so thankful to have clients, partners and friends that value the importance of a shared meal and good food! Cheers to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Team Soda Pop PR

Food for Thought with Jami Curl

We talk a lot about food at Soda Pop PR. The team is constantly swapping restaurant recommendations and deliberations for where to order our weekly team lunch start at 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Which is why we’re excited to announce our new interview series “Food for Thought.” Each month, we’ll explore the business behind the food industry and how foodie creatives find inspiration and get through tough times.

This week we’re kicking things off with SPPR client and candy-extraordinaire Jami Curl who is the founder of QUIN Candy- a small-batch, handmade candy company headquartered in Portland. Jami has been dubbed the “new Willy Wonka” by Bon Appètit and is listed as one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business. She is currently working with Ten Speed Press on a book ‘Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes.’ For sale in March 2017, Candy is Magic will share Jami’s candy secrets and best stories. Read on to work up a creative appetite.

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1. Staying inspired is EVERYTHING for a creative and we can all feel stuck sometimes. How do you get unstuck?

I am very thankful to have many things going on at once – so, if I’m stuck on something I’m writing, I can switch over to a recipe I’m trying to work out. Or, if a recipe isn’t quite working, I can walk away from it and focus a bit on marketing or something we’re promoting at QUIN.

I do tend to have zero separation between work and home – I work on work at home and I work on home at work. I work all hours of all days – whether it’s 6am on a Saturday or 11:30pm on a Tuesday. Because of this, ahem, “variety” of types of work and working hours, I rarely find myself stuck.

That said, I never give much thought to inspiration. It might just be because of how serious I am about work – but I rarely sit back and wonder or think about what’s going to inspire me on any given day. Not to get too Psychology Today on you, but I think it has to do with the fact that I rarely seek outside “help” for inspiration or energy. I rely only on myself for that stuff. This self-reliance is threaded through my entire life, not just work life. I rarely ask for help, I don’t look to others for happiness, I know in my heart it’s my responsibility to make myself happy, fulfilled, inspired, and motivated. (Note: I am an INTJ (Myers-Briggs) – so that might explain a lot. And, if you haven’t Myers-Briggs’ed yourself, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.) Anyways, all my motivation and ideas come from the inside – not the outside. I basically just keep working and ideas keep coming. I truly hope it stays this way for the rest of my days because there’s really nothing like it.

 2. Can you share one of your first “pinch me” moments when you realized QUIN’s success was real?

“Success” is tricky because it’s a word that is generally controlled and defined by outside sources instead of the internal self. My self-defined version of success is this: that I wake up each day happy. Happy to be where I am in life, happy that my job is this job in candy. I feel successful when I’m fulfilled. When the ideas in my head tumble out and they somehow make sense to others – these moments are my successful moments.

By that definition, I have to say that one of the “pinch me” moments has to be the first day of the QUIN cookbook photoshoot. A group of very talented women surrounding me, I explained a vision – and they set to work making it come to life in photos. On so many levels I couldn’t believe it was happening – it made the book more real, it validated my vision for the candy in the book, it solidified and made visual thoughts and ideas that previously only existed in my head. I wish I could explain how totally crazy that feels – but, let me tell you – IT FEELS TOTALLY CRAZY!

In terms of success for QUIN – I think the “pinch me” moments are smaller moments – little bits of positive news, or a great new account, or a good piece of press – all of these moments add up to this experience that is overall absolutely, definitely a “pinch me” situation. That QUIN works at all, even in our slow times, is still totally unreal to me.

3. You have a very fun, active social media presence. How do you “unplug” or turn off when you need to recharge?

Oh, thank you. I actually think I’m the worst social media person. The first problem is that I’m pretty much a conscientious objector to the use of hashtags. I can’t get over the full paragraphs of hashtags that people add to posts. I 100% understand their usefulness, but that still won’t convince me to do it. Still, I like to have fun with social media and I’m a total weirdo at home, so I share a lot of that.

I spend a lot of time every day unplugged and turned off because I love to read. When waiting for an appointment or meeting to start, for a coffee or for a table, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’m reading a book. I never, ever leave the house without the book I’m currently reading. Those minutes during the day of leaving my phone in my bag and grabbing my book instead – they’re super essential mini-breaks for me.

I also schedule a full hour of reading every night before bed – it’s my favorite part of every day because I read with my little boy – each of us in a side-by-side twin bed, reading our books. I push through each day to get to this most magic of hours, I love it and treasure the time with him so much.

One other thing – I take a long walk (about 5 miles) every morning. I’ll allow myself to listen to a Podcast or music, but I don’t allow myself to check social media during my walks. Walking is the best because it’s really easy, and it’s mindless enough to allow yourself to be mindful (I swear that makes sense if you think about it.)

4. There’s a lot of buzz around the “habits of highly effective people.” What are some of your own personal habits for productive days and helping QUIN run efficiently?

I don’t keep a calendar or a to-do list electronically. I write EVERYTHING down. On paper. I keep a physical paper calendar/planner with me – and I basically just check it often (super often) to make sure I’m on track. I’m pencil obsessed, so that helps, but writing out lists, calendars, ideas, goals – actually WRITING it (not typing it or merely thinking it) helps to keep me on target.

I don’t sleep in. I get up at 6 every day (even on weekends) and try to do at least three things right away that will make me feel like I’m on track for a productive day. This could be as simple as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry, answering emails or writing a thank you note, organizing receipts or working on book edits – just three things right away – I find it sets me up for success all day long (three things PLUS coffee, that is.)

5. As a veteran of Feast Portland, what are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m excited about the candy we’re doing for Night Market – something we’ve never done before that has our entire staff TOTALLY EXCITED. I love stuff like that – a super fun candy that we can all get behind.

I think it’s great that Feast is five this year and that they’re putting the effort into celebrating that fact. I am also so happy that QUIN is part of the celebration – we created a special candy to help Feast celebrate this milestone birthday, and I was so honored that they even asked us to do it. I think the feeling of celebration is what Feast is all about – celebrating food and creativity and the bounty of Oregon and the people who work so hard to put out great food in restaurants – it all combines and the result is this string of days that all seem like a party. It’s almost like college again – everyone in town is kind of focused on the same thing, and I love that feeling of crazy unity. I’m looking forward to that spirit settling in on the city for a few days, for sure.

Follow along with Jami’s adventures at Feast PDX and beyond here.

SPPR Retreat: Celebrating 5 Years!

Every summer, the Soda Pop PR team heads out of the office for a little bit of relaxation and inspiration at our company retreat. These days are filled with good food and fun activities as we revisit the year’s highlights and our goals for the future. This year, the SPPR team was excited to celebrate five years with a Malibu getaway.

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The Malibu Beach Inn spoiled us with endless ocean views and proved the perfect escape from the hustle of Hollywood. Equipped with swag bags and custom Milk Jar Cookies we settled in to talk leadership, strengths and company growth.

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Retreat activities included a wild time at Malibu Wine Safari, complete with flower crowns and the famous celebrity giraffe Stanley as well as a photoshoot on the pier with photographer Courtney Paige.

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It’s not an SPPR trip without some amazing food! With locally sourced food and Pacific Ocean views, Malibu Farm became a mainstay for the team while in the ‘bu. We’re still talking about their quinoa oatmeal and many laughs were had over their yummy cocktails at our team dinner.

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Five years is a milestone for a small business and we are proud to be doing thoughtful, inspired work for a roster of incredible clients. We’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported us along the way, and continues to support us as we grow. Looking forward to another five years of fun, creative work and all of the exciting milestones yet to come. We’ve only just begun!

Cheers to the next 5!

Team Soda Pop PR

SPPR Travels: Flying Solo

Our very own Colleen Dunn just returned from a trip to Spain and in addition to being her first time in the land of sangria and siestas, it was also her first time traveling abroad solo. After two weeks exploring Madrid, Córdoba, Valencia and Barcelona Colleen breaks down some tips for taking on a new city alone.

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All photos c/o @colleenadunn

Set the Mood: Music has a huge impact on my mood so before the trip I made sure to load my iPhone with feel-good jams and girl power anthems. I’ve also been known to cry in public while finishing a sad book so I made sure my reading selections embodied the kind of trip I was hoping to have (which meant leaving Me Before You at home). I brought Wild by Cheryl Strayed for a strong dose of bravery and Where I was from by Joan Didion for a bit of home. Having books by two of my favorite lady writers along for the ride took all the loneliness out of flying solo.

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Don’t Use Airbnb: One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting interesting people and nowhere can you do this better than in a hostel. Airbnb’s are great for having your own space to cook and unwind when traveling as a couple, not so great for discussing Justin Bieber over beers with people from four different continents. Hostel World is a nice resource for booking which features photos and reviews from other travelers. If sharing space with strangers weirds you out, a bed and breakfast is a lovely option since many host happy hours that allow you to mingle with other guests.

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Walk it Out: The first thing I did when I arrived in a new city was sign up for a walking tour. Not only did it give me the lay of the land and some much needed historical context, it also gave me something planned to do first thing when being alone felt a little daunting. Companies like Sandeman’s offer free walking tours all over the world and their local guides are also a great resource for restaurant recommendations and city tips.

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Forget the List: It doesn’t matter how many lists the city’s best art museum is on, if you don’t actually like museums, you don’t have to go. The best part about traveling alone is experiencing a new place in a way that’s authentic for you. For me, that means tracking down the best coffee shops and stopping in every bookstore I see. Don’t get so caught up in crossing things off a to-do bucket list that you forget to leave room to explore a spontaneously discovered garden or hike up to a look-out point some people you met in your hostel are headed to.

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Be Smart: There are a lot of articles about how to be safe as a women traveling alone and if you read all of them you will be convinced something bad is going to happen to you. I’ve never been one to wear a fake wedding ring or strap my passport to my torso. I think the only advice you need is to be smart. Always pay attention to your surroundings, make sure someone back home knows where you are and trust that funny feeling you get in your gut when something’s off. Soon you’ll find that being alone isn’t nearly as scary as you thought it would be, in fact, it’s pretty great.

Follow along with Colleen’s next adventure on Instagram @colleenadunn