Bee-utiful! Portland Bee Balm

I do love a good lip balm.

And I care about honeybees. The global epidemic of declining honeybee populations has serious consequences for the entire food chain, not just the supply of honey and beeswax.

And one way to support the honeybee cause AND protect your lips from chapping at the same time is to try Portland Bee Balm.

The balm comes in Oregon mint and unscented.

The balm comes in Oregon mint and unscented.

The good folks at Portland Bee Balm sent me a couple of samples to try and also 2 sets to share.

The ingredient list is super simple: Certified organic coconut and olive oil, Oregon beeswax, and Oregon organic peppermint oil. The unscented variety leaves out the peppermint oil.

The label is made from unpulped wood.  That’s right, it’s a very thin slice of wood instead of a paper label and the ink is sustainable soy ink. According to the website, their labels use fewer resources to create than conventional labels.  And they are also beautiful — the texture of the label begs to be touched.

The balm itself is basic and does a great job!  I use the Oregon Mint variety and it not only protects my lips, it’s a nice cuticle conditioner as well.

Hubby commandeered the unscented because it is the perfect balm for bearded gentlemen to use with snorkel masks — and we do hope to go snorkelling again, soon!

I have 2 sets of Portland Bee Balm (Oregon Mint and Unscented) to give away!

This is very quick giveaway since I leave for NY next Wednesday for a week of family wedding celebrations (sister-in-law is tying the knot!).

Have fun and good luck!
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Friday Fitness: Inching along

exercise-womanIt has been a quiet week here in Lemon Grove.  Hubby returned from his business trip on Sunday evening and I *thought* I was staying on track with my diet…. but… according to the scale, apparently, not so much.  When I weighed in yesterday, I had actually gained a lb from last week… but today’s weight is 1.5 lbs lighter.  Which makes the overall loss since starting the DietBet 5.1 lbs.

I have 10 days to lose 2 lbs for the final weigh-in.

I am pretty sure I can lose the 2 lbs by October 7th as long as I keep from drinking iced tea and lemonade — the slip-up I made when hubby returned was to drink sweetened drinks at meals again instead of water, and at 100 calories per glass, that adds up fast!

Exercise for the week has been steady: 2.5 miles each morning. My foot is feeling pretty good with Heel That Pain insoles and a slower pace. (I should get my custom orthotics in 2 weeks)  I follow my walks with 20-30 minutes on the exercise bike and am now adding in a second session on the exercise bike in the early evening as I wait for the Hubby to return home from work — which is usually an hour later than my stomach is ready for dinner.  This has stopped my 6pm snack habit and hopefully will become a healthier habit.

In 11 days we travel to the in-laws’ house in New York for the sister-in-law’s wedding and week of feasting. I just hope that I can keep from gaining back all the weight I’ve lost in September. And the plan is to do more walking than we usually do at Christmas because the weather will be much nicer and more conducive to walking than it is in December.

In the meantime, I must keep my eyes on my prize: 2 lbs to lose by October 7… so I can get my $30 back from Diet Bet.


Make It Monday: Honey, Honey…


Honey is a wondrous substance.  It sweetens tea, soothes coughs, and can also be used as a burn dressing (keeps the area moist and kills bacteria).

It is also a great addition to homemade masks, can be used as a gentle shampoo and also as a skin cleanser.

I have been using plain honey on my face as a cleanser for the past 3 weeks and can attest that it leaves it feeling clean but not squeaky.  Other cleansers with harsh ingredients can trigger eczema flare-ups and even break-outs.  I had that experience recently with a new cleanser I tried.  But within just a few days of using honey, my skin has calmed down, cleared up, and started to glow again.

The method is super easy.  Massage on some honey, let sit while brushing teeth for 2 minutes, rinse off with warm water.

Other ideas for using honey:

  • Mix a bit with plain yogurt for a brightening mask.
  • Mix a bit with your spirulina-water paste for a super nourishing mask.
  • Mix a bit with pineapple or papaya pulp for a refreshing (and delicious) enzyme mask.
  • Add a smidge of coconut oil to honey for a deeper cleanse
  • Mix with ground oatmeal for a gentle, exfoliating scrub
  • Or, mix with sugar for a more vigorous scrub
  • Dilute with water and use it to wash your hair — this is easier done with short hair than the long stuff.

Have you used honey as a beauty treatment?  Please share your stories and recipes!

Friday Fitness: Starting to see results!


It’s 10 days into the DietBet Challenge and I have lost 4.3 lbs!  Woo hoo!

I had a minor setback last Friday when I went to see the Podiatrist for nagging plantar fascitis and a heel spur.  His advice: stop walking and bike or swim instead.

Well, as an addicted walker, that was not what I wanted to hear at all.  I like walking.  I have a regular walking buddy who counts on me week-day mornings.  I enjoy getting out there in the fresh air each morning, surveying the domain, checking out the lawn projects and admiring my neighbors’ flowers.

Also, I don’t own a bike — never rode a bike as a kid, so I have no confidence in my ability to ride as an adult.  And we don’t have a community pool.  The Y, and neighboring gyms all require $$$ to join.

However, after some thought, I realized that I have seen improvement over the 3 months that I’ve been waiting to see the podiatrist and I have *walked* 2-3 miles each morning.  AND, I could look into getting an exercise bike.

I checked out Craigslist and found a couple bikes for $100, then decided to check out… and found a new one for just shy of $100 that has a full warranty… so I ordered it.

from the Amazon website... this in no way represents what *I* look like on this bike...

from the Amazon website… this in no way represents what *I* look like on this bike…

It’s a Marcy Upright Mag Exercise Bicycle.  It took less than an hour to put together and is super quiet.  It lives in the living room right now in front of the TV and next to Miss Java’s favorite box.  She doesn’t seem to mind having me pedal way just inches from her face — it’s THAT quiet.

So, now the plan is to reduce my morning walks to no more than 2 miles, then bike for a half hour while watching the morning news.  I had originally planned to put the bike on the back porch and listen to the birds while biking… but it is SO boring an activity, that I really need to watch TV.  However, it is a good workout — and I find it works different muscles than walking, so that is also a plus.

fat woman cartoonOn the diet front, eating a salad for both lunch and dinner has helped tremendously — I don’t feel hungry, I’m getting my quotient of veggies and they have fewer calories than other foods.  Counting calories on MyFitnessPal has kept me honest.

I’ve also stopped eating large breakfasts.  No more huevos rancheros or even large bowls of yogurt. A 165 calorie breakfast shake has been doing the job for just over a week and it 1) keeps me full until lunch, and 2) has 2 servings of fruit or vegetables (if I throw in spinach or kale)

All these diet changes have been relatively easy because the Hubby has been out of town at conferences.  When he returns, it will be more of a challenge to resist the call of the tortilla chips and to continue eating salads (he HATES salads).

It’s an ongoing adventure!

Friday Fitness: Keeping the Faith


Tuesday was the start of the DietBet.  I had to submit a full-body shot of myself in “airport attire” (which I interpreted as leggings and a tank top) as well as a photo of the number on the scale. It was humbling, to say the least.

And after 4 days of eating more salads, counting calories with MyFitnessPal, and upping my exercise, my weight this morning is exactly the same as it was on Tuesday.


But I also know that since I have my period right now, I am heavier than usual and my weight will drop when it leaves.  However, I’m in the middle of the CHANGE and sometimes my periods last up to 2 weeks…. and sometimes I don’t have them for 3 months…

So, I just will continue doing what I’m doing:

  • Walking 3 miles most mornings, and longer when I can.
  • Practicing yoga 15-30 minutes a day to increase flexibility — I’m using videos.
  • Strength training at the gym twice a week and at home at least once a week.
  • Drinking 10 or more glasses of liquid a day, mostly water.


  • Eating fruits and/or vegetables with every meal.  Adding in salads for lunch and dinner.
  • Keeping within my recommended caloric limits and tracking via My Fitness Pal.
  • Going to be before 11pm.  I’d like to get to bed earlier, but that is hard to do.
  • Waking up at 6am so I can get that yoga and walk in before it gets too hot!

Even though the scale doesn’t show any change, I already notice a bit more definition in my shoulders from the weight training.  I’ll take whatever encouragement I can get!


Make It Monday: Seeing Green

I am slowly getting back into the habit of blogging again after a crazy, busy summer.  And I thought it might be fun to share some DIY beauty recipes once a week.

To start off the series, I was inspired by Olivia at The Unknown Beauty Blog, who, in turn, was inspired by Lisa Lise at Natural Skin Care.  Inspired by what, you may ask?

By blue-green algae.  Cyanobacteria.  Spirulina.  Gorgeous stuff.

Spiralina growing in the clear, clean waters off the coast of Australia

Spirulina growing in the clear, clean waters off the coast of Australia. Photo from Super Greens Online.

Spirulina was grown by the Aztecs, dried into cakes and used as a travel food.  It is high in protein as well as B vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals. Since it is so easy to grow– even in space, both NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have plans to use spirulina as a nutrient source for long space missions.

I have been known to take a few tablets when the days are long and the junk food is calling.  I think it helps my energy levels so I can keep going even when I want to pack it in.

So when I read the post, “It’s so easy feeling green with spirulina” on The Unknown Beauty Blog, I knew I had to try it!

The Spirulina mask is very easy to make.  Just take spirulina power — or if you have tablets, crush them into powder — then add water and smear on your face.

Crushed spirulina tablets

Crushed spirulina tablets

It goes on very dark and is a gorgeous deep teal color.  My husband was mortified.

Looks like I missed a spot on my nose!

Looks like I missed a spot on my nose! I can’t smile because it dried so tight!

The mask dried into a firm film, so I took Olivia’s advice and rinsed it off in the shower. It rinsed off easily and didn’t stain anything.  I had expected such a tight, dry mask to leave my face tight and dry, but my skin was soft and hydrated and glowing.

LOVE at first smear!

Since then, I have tried the mask with:

  • water and smidge of honey — my favorite – leaves my skin super soft.
  •  water and a drop of grapeseed oil — very nice.
  •  water and a couple drops of lavender essential oil — smells heavenly!

If you haven’t tried putting blue-green algae on your face, you are missing out!  But maybe you should try it when your significant others are not around unless they are of stout heart and not easily scared…

Friday Fitness: Betting on myself

exercise-womanLast year I lost 20 lbs.

This year, it all returned.  I am officially back to where I started last March.  Sigh.

So it was serendity… or excellent timing… when I got an email from Prevention Magazine’s Fitness Goddess, Chris Freytag with an invitation to join her 28 day diet challenge on


The idea is that if you have an incentive (in this case, a portion of a cash pot), you are more likely to stay focused on your goal — losing 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks.

It’s an interesting idea… and one that I’ve been mulling over for months.  I first saw an article about it in June, but didn’t actually read it.  Later, All You Magazine ran an article in their August 2014 issue that looked at the experiences of 2 readers with Pact, an app for your phone (both Apple and Android) that rewards you with cash for meeting your workout and diet targets. One reader found the app very motivating and it was just the push she needed to meet her goals.  The other reader found Pact annoying, and it didn’t help her at all.

Another article in Women’s Health Magazine reviewed 4 programs. Each program was briefly described and the link given.

In the blog post, Dieting for Dollars Does It Work on Get Healthy U, Chris Freytag argues that scientific studies have shown that financial incentives can get people motivated to make positive changes.

It can’t hurt.  And I might make a few dollars.  The worst that can happen is that I will lose $30 at the end of the challenge.  But that’s a reasonable amount.  If the wager amount were $5, it wouldn’t be high enough to get me on the floor doing push-ups.  But $30? That’s 2 Skin Illustrator glazing gels, or a Benefit’s Watt’s Up Luminizer stick…

So come Tuesday, September 9th, I will weigh in and start the challenge.  4% of my current weight is 7.12 lbs.  I think it is a very doable goal.

Ready, Set, Lose, Win!

A few of my favorite sunscreens

It’s been a long summer and since I work outdoors most of the time, sunscreens play a vital role in my daily routine.

My "office" at Seaport Village in San Diego

My “office” at Seaport Village in San Diego

Here are a few sunscreens that I have used all summer:

Some of the sunscreens I have used most often this summer.

Some of the sunscreens I have used most often this summer.

Banana Boat Baby Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50



The active ingredients are: Titanium Dioxide, 3.1% and Zinc Oxide, 4.0%

This lotion is cheap, cheap, cheap at Walmart.  It’s goopy, very water and sweat resistant, and seems to last forever.  This is my go-to body sunscreen when I work outdoors.

Sunology SPF 50 for Face
Sunology sunscreen

Sunology sunscreen

Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 10.0%, Titanium Dioxide 7.5% Inactive Ingredients: Aluminum Hydroxide, BIS-PEG-12 Dimethicone Candelillate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Feruloyl Soy Glycerides, Glyceryl Isostearate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrated Silica, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Tocopherol.

When it’s hot and humid, this is what I wear.  Yes, it looks greasy and goes on greasy, but that oil absorbs quickly and protection lasts and lasts.  It’s also non-irritating and reef-safe if you happen to be snorkeling or diving. Just a little goes a long way — if you try to glob it one, you will get white streaks.

Another perk of this sunscreen, my skin has not been as dry and irritated at the end of a long day at the park as it was last year when I used a different daily sunscreen. I like to think of it as a sun shield.  Our local drugstores no longer carry this product, so I found it on Amazon.

Mineral Fusion untinted mineral beauty balm, spf 30 all-in-one BB
Mineral Fusion Untinted BB Cream

Mineral Fusion Untinted BB Cream

Yes, it’s called a BB cream, but since it’s untinted, it’s really a glorified sunscreen.

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Sorbitan Stearate, Castor Oil, Polyglycerol-10 Laurate, Mineral-Peptide Blend (Magnesium Asparate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosa Canina (Rose) Flower Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

It is supposed to leave a matte finish, but I find that I get a more dewey look.  The tinted formulas only have an SPF of 9! And both shades are too dark for me.  I use this to lighten other BB creams that are too dark or I just use it on its own as a daily use sunscreen for non-outdoor days.  I am not sure how it stands up to sweating, so I don’t use it when I exercise or work outdoors.

Supergoop Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum, SPF 30
photo from

photo from

Active Ingredients:
Homosalate (Sunscreen) 8%, Octisalate (Sunscreen) 4%, Avobenzone 3%, Octocrylene 2%

Inactive Ingredients:
Purified Water (Aqua), Cyclomethicone, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Glycerin, Ceteareth-20, Polypropylene, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Xantham Gum, d-panthenol, Octanohydroxamic acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Triacontanyl PVP, Cetyl Dimethicone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, PEG-40 Stearate, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA , Pentylene Glycol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid, Serine, Urea, Sorbitol, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Oleyl Alcohol, Ethyl Linoleate

This was included in Sephora’s Summertime Crushes collection. It goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly.  I like to use it as a first layer of sunscreen underneath a physical sunscreen like Sunology or Mineral Fusion.  It is packed with moisturizers (glycerin, urea, sorbitol) as well as vitamin B5 and vitamin E. It is like a skin treatment with the added bonus of sun protection.

Murad Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35


from Murad's website

from Murad’s website

This is another gem from the Sephora Summer Crushes collection.  It’s a cute little stick that is non-greasy and very easy to carry anywhere.  Although it’s a completely chemical sunscreen, it’s still a useful tool to have in your purse or workout bag.

Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46


Active Ingredients: 9.0% Zinc oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Niacinamide, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane

I discovered this product last year and still am in love.  It’s broad-spectrum, has a physical sunscreen, and actually calms my skin when it’s feeling red and stressed. It is not water or sweat resistant, so it’s definitely not something I wear when I’m exercising or working outdoors. But for those days when I’m just running errands or doing a lot of indoor gigs, this is the sunscreen I reach for.

These are a few of my favorite sunscreens this summer.

Have you tried any of them?  What are your favorites?

We have winners!


I decided to choose 2 winners for my birthday giveaway!

Jenna from Turku, Finland!!!


Natalie from Raleigh, North Carolina!



It’s my birthday and I’m hosting a giveaway!

Woo hoo!  Happy birthday to me!

This year’s birthday wasn’t as spectacular as my 50th birthday last year.  Last year I was in Hawaii and went snorkelling with turtles on my birthday.


Hard to top snorkelling with turtles!


This year, I worked at Seaport Village. And although I was working, it was about as perfect a day as you can get at work… clear skies, slight breeze, happy vacationers… and I found a package of googly eyes and drew this panda on a little girl who was also celebrating her birthday!

A great day at the office!

A great day at the office!

So I decided to share the love on my birthday with a lucky winner:

My gift to one of you!

My gift to one of you!

In the bag:

  • A full-sized Makana Artisanal Soy Candle in a yummy Grapefruit/Lychee scent.
  • A Mineral Fusion Mini Nail Polish kit in the hot summer colors of Trinket (a red-purple cream), Lagoon (a carribean ocean green) and Blaze (a glorious red-orange cream)
  • A sample bottle of Acure Pure Organic Argan Oil
  • A sample of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap
  • Two teabags of Yogi Tea
  • Other stuff as strikes my fancy between now and the time a winner is chosen.

To enter, just tell me about your best birthday celebration.  You can enter more than once, but I’d appreciate a different answer per entry (just coz I read them all!)

Good luck!
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