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Archive for January 31, 2014

Friday…. fitting it all in!

Xin Nian Kuaile! (Happy New Year in Mandarin)

Happy Lunar New Year!  In Mandarin, it’s 新年快乐! Xin Nian Kuaile!

Asian New Year’s is a great holiday — not only does it celebrate a fresh start to a new year, it’s 15 days long!  And it involves lots of feasting! Tonight we’re having noodles (for long life) and mandoos (Korean-style dumplings) for prosperity.  And oranges because they look like little bags of gold.  NOM!

I never write a yearly Christmas letter to friends and family because things are way too hectic that time  of year for me to focus… but I can always get a newsy card out by the middle of Chinese New Year’s!

This year, I had hoped to have the card ready BEFORE the start of the new year, but I’m afraid that the best-laid plans always are the ones that end up way-laid… so I’ll be sending them out from Hawaii instead of San Diego this year… c’est la vie…. or in Mandarin, 差不多有 (chabuduo… means almost…but has more layers of meaing than that; Chinese is a very nuanced language.)

We are down to the wire now. Tonight will be the final dry-run of packing to see what fits, what doesn’t and what needs to be sent in flat-rate priority mail boxes.  Loving the post office right now for flat-rate boxes — and I can pay for postage and print labels right at home and have our postal carrier pick them up!  So convenient!

For sunscreens, I am taking all of them… it’s a bagful.  But I figure I will use them and I can do a comparison post in a few weeks.

BB cream: Enprani won this battle: Enprani UV Essence Covering Cushion BB SPF 50+ PA+++ It’s the highest SPF of all my BB creams. It also is a perfect match to my skintone (21 Light Beige) and is moisturizing without being greasy.  I found it at the make-up kiosk in the front of Zion Market on Clairemont Ave in San Diego, but the link will get you to Amazon which sells it for a comparable price.

Eyeshadow palettes.  I have a quite a few.  Winnowing down to just 2 was really hard… here are the winners!

Urban Decay's Naked Basics

Urban Decay’s Naked Basics

You can tell that I use this palette a lot.  It’s perfect for that neutral, nude look… but the black shadow (Crave) adds extra punch.

Urban Decay's Smoked Palette

Urban Decay’s Smoked Palette

I hemmed and hawed over this one… but basically, I love the colored shadows as liners — and it’s got all the colors I need. And it even has a couple neutral shadows so I really could survive on a desert island with just this one… but I I really love Naked 2 and Faint on the basics palette… so I’m taking both palettes.

I may have shadow withdrawals when I get there… but that’s what shopping malls are for!

Art supplies are another matter… where do I draw the line?  I guess space will dictate what I bring and how many blank notebooks will fit…


And the next post will be from… Honolulu!  We get our internet hooked up on Tuesday morning… and I plan to check in soon after that!


Friday Fitness… kicked in the patoot!


This was a great week for exercise!

I started walking 3 times a week with my neighbor on the next block over and we chat and do about 3 miles — and then I do another half mile before heading in to get ready for work.  It really makes the time go faster to have a walking friend!

And yesterday, I did another virtual race — this time for Full Medal Runs — the Giving Hands 10k to benefit victims in the Philippines of Tyfoon Haiyan and Tyfoon Yolanda.  I went to Lake Murray Park which has a nicely paved 10k route (with porta-pots for each mile marker!) and did the race in 1:53 — which considering I had 2 pitstops and a quick chat with a neighbor, is not a bad pace at all!

Warming up for the Giving Hands Virtual 10k

Warming up for the Giving Hands Virtual 10k

And normally, that would have been good enough for the day.  But no, I had also scheduled to meet with my new trainer, Preza Ford of 180 Fitness in Spring Valley (just over the hill from Lemon Grove). My challenge to him was to create a strength training routine that I can take with me that doesn’t involve extraneous or heavy equipment.  And his challenge to me:
resistance band exercises, push-ups and modified calisthenics!

WOW!  I was never pushed beyond my capabilities, but I definitely did more than I thought I was capable of!  But a few muscle groups are currently complaining … Preza’s coaching style is relaxed and friendly, but definitely not one to let me slide. And I appreciate that. My butt does not (right now)…

The countdown begins!

10 days before we leave for sabbatical!

The apartment has been found, the tickets have been bought, the housesitter has the keys, the Mother-in-law is learning to live with cats…

And now the packing begins!

These will hold all the worldly possessions I plan to use for the next 3 months!

These will hold all the worldly possessions I plan to use for the next 3 months! (Yes, I did draw on them with puffy paint in a henna cone.)

Three months in Honolulu and only 2 suitcases for everything (including towels and bed linens, camping dishes, art supplies, and tax paperwork because it looks like I’ll be doing them over there unless those w-2s arrive really fast!)

Fortunately, the weather is warm so clothing is light and easier to pack than sweaters and down coats!  I’m not anticipating many dress-up occasions and none that would require real high heels and pearls…

The packing list so far:

3 pairs capris (one sport fabric, one khaki, one green floral)
1 green tank top (b/c I really don’t wear them)
5 nice t-shirts (white, blue, turquoise, green, purple)
5 wicking technical t-shirts (blue, green, turquoise, purple, long-sleeved blue)
3 pairs wicking technical capris (for long walking workouts)
5 pairs wicking socks
1 skirt/top combo that looks like a dress (shades of purple and blue)
1 pair black jeans (in case I have to dress up and the dress isn’t good enough)
7 sets underwear
1 swim suit
1 swim shirt
1 pair swim tights (because getting burned while snorkelling is no fun!)
1 light sweater
1 silk scarf
1 pair dress sandals
1 pair beach sandals
1 pair casual sandals
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair walking shoes
1 floppy sun hat

And hopefully that will be enough.  If not, Honolulu has some really great shopping centers where I’m sure I’ll find whatever I didn’t anticipate needing.

Skincare and Makeup:
This is a bit more difficult, and I’m still weighing my options.

  • The Face Shop Chia Seed Skincare set (toner, lotion and sleeping cream) is a definite.
  • Argan Oil and/or maybe that sample of Tarte’s Marajuca Oil from the 2013 Christmas special.
  • A BB cream pact is on the list… but I’m still not sure which one will make the cut.
  • Tarte’s cheek/lip gel stain (part of their 2013 Christmas gift set)
  • eyeliner pencils in teal, turquoise, green, bronze, black and grey
  • at least 1 eyeshadow palette and possibly 2…
  • several Tarte mini lippies that came with the 2013 Christmas set — I am totally sold on these babies — perfect size and very moisturizing
  • L’Oreal’s Concealer pencil — I need to replace this one and it’s been difficult finding it in my local drugstores… I may need to substitute something else
  • MakeUP Forever’s HD finishing powder sample — which may last me forever!  This stuff sets any pencil until you remove it with a sandblaster.  I am a convert!
  • And several sunscreens in face and sport formulas

Still a work in progress.  I’m happy to take any suggestions!

And of course, we will be close to shopping centers and Asian emporiums where I can pick up anything I might need or miss.


Friday Fitness… getting back into it.


I always underestimate the power of jet lag.  And I’m always reminded of it every time I travel.

This week I have woken up at 4 am, then pushed myself to stay in bed for 3 more hours.

A brisk 2.5 – 3 mile walk first thing in the morning has helped me face the day.

Although I eat lunch at noon, by 3pm, I am STARVING for dinner.

And at 7pm, I am nodding off on the couch…

Fortunately, I do not need to be anywhere at 7pm for the next several days and will have the time to ease back into my current time zone.

In the meantime, I am playing with green smoothies in my effort to ingest more vegetables.

My current fave is:

Green Goddess Goodness

1 apple1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 half cucumber
1 cup frozen kale
1 cup frozen chard
1/4 cup chopped dandelion greens
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 cups coconut water

Whir it all in a super-duper blender.  Makes several cups.

Yum! Tomorrow I am going to try adding in beets!


Home at last!

It was a hectic adventure… and although Newark airport had wifi last friday, it did not have wifi yesterday.

Delays, drama… but in the end my airplane arrived.

I got on.

And I got home!!! By midnight.

Today I managed to unpack most things, do some laundry, buy some groceries, take a nap and do my workshop.

Tomorrow I will go for my morning walk, tackle the office, look for more sabbatical housing possibilities and work a big corporate gig in the evening.




Not home, yet

It snowed on Thursday, and snowed and snowed… and even though it stopped snowing on Friday, the transportation system of the entire Eastern Seaboard was disrupted.

My flight was supposed to be on time.  I got to the airport and checked in, and then my flight was delayed by an hour.  No problem. Two hours, then three hours….

And after my plane had landed and all the passengers had disembarked, the announcer announced: “Flight 421 to San Diego is… cancelled.”

It was the last flight of the day.  The next available flight was Monday.  And because it was past 10:00pm, it was too late to retrieve my luggage.

Fortunately, I was able to return to my in-law’s house on Staten Island. My husband went to his conference in DC.  The weather warmed up, the snow melted… and now it is Monday.  My flight leaves at 6:30pm (the last flight of the day) and it is starting to sleet.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t spazz about things you can’t control.

It is very hard not to spazz right now.  The delays are already starting. I could miss going to the day job without penalty, but I really don’t want to miss tomorrow night’s gig or Wednesday’s or Thursday’s…. I am more than ready to go home.  Even though the in-laws are very nice, I feel like I am imposing and would rather be home.

I’d like to start my new year instead of hanging out in limbo.  It’s hard to remain calm and patient.

Deep breath.

What will be will be.

Deep breath.

The world will not end if my flight is cancelled again.

The event planners that matter will understand.  If they don’t understand and never hire me again, they weren’t worth working for.

Deep breath.

I can buy skincare stuff at the airport.  My luggage and all liquids are waiting for me in San Diego, so I have been winging it the past 3 days with what I had in my carry-on… which wasn’t much, but it’s been sufficient. And I can report that the Korres Sleeping mask is nice, but not on the same level as Bhaviphat’s Paprika Sleeping mask.  The Super Goji Perfecting Cream by Andalou Naturals has been the perfect antidote to freezing and dry Northeast weather and forced air heating.  IPKN’s Moist and Firm BB Cream is delightful — and that little tube would probably last 2 weeks — you only need a smidge for a light, even coverage.

This is what I've been using instead of my regular skincare routine for the past 3 days.

This is what I’ve been using instead of my regular skincare routine for the past 3 days.

And while my flight was delayed on Friday, I took advantage of the Body Shop’s Buy 2, Get 2 More sale.

Two lipstains, an eyeliner pencil and an eyeshadow cube were my haul from the Newark Airport Body Shop.

Two lipstains, an eyeliner pencil and an eyeshadow cube were my haul from the Newark Airport Body Shop.

I really like the pink lipstain — it works very well as blush because it goes on as a liquid and takes a minute or so to dry so you have plenty of time to smooth it around.  My main complaint about Benetint is that it’s instant and if I want to use it as a blush I have to mix a bit with lotion first.  The peachy liptint has a gold glitter component that doesn’t quite work for me after it dries down — so I have ended up putting chapstick on top and then it behaves much better.  The eyeliner pencil in a dark navy has just a hint of shimmer — when set with a bit of powder, it lasts all day. The color cube is pretty fun.  I got the one with aqua, teal, silver and deep green shadows.  All are very shimmery, but easy to wear.  I’ve been using the deep green as a shadow liner over the long week-end — and  I think it is a new favorite.  The packaging does not stay shut on its own and needs an elastic to keep the lid from flying off in my bag.  And each color is in its own little cube (with an easy to remove lid) as well.  Interesting, but not robust for real travel without a bit of outside help.

If there are delays this evening, I will stock up on trial-sized skincare stuff from the Body Shop just in case I end up camping at Newark Airport until there is an available flight.

And one good thing about Newark Airport… wifi hotspots.  There’s free wifi in the food court and at the gates. (at least in the United wing)

And there’s pretty good food in the food court as well.

But positive thoughts.

My flight will be fine; I will get on it and this time tomorrow I will be writing from San Diego.


Friday…thinking of fitness

exercise-womanI have been in NY visiting the in-laws for the past two weeks.  Our family’s favorite sport is eating… outside of the Christmas Day feast (of Turkey and 15 side dishes), we have had pizza of several varieties (my fave is the Fra Diavolo pie from Village Maria on Staten Island, a perfect thin and crispy crust topped with oodles of spiced chicken and delectable sauce), giant fresh bagels, eggplant parmesan, steaks, mac and cheese, strombolis, Gun Mandoo (korean fried dumplings), hot and sour soup, Thai curries, Indian curries….and then there were the desserts…incredible cookies from The Cookie Jar on Staten Island (all of them are amazing, but my fave is the pignoli cookie), ice cream, chocolate covered almonds, candied praline pecans (contribution from my Tennessee Mama), cocohodo pastries (little Korean walnut shaped pastries stuffed with walnuts and red bean paste that are curiously addictive), and free-range pistachio nuts.

It’s all been incredibly delicious….

New York has things that you cannot find on the West Coast….

Espresso Coffee Soda

Coffee Soda! Imagine it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Chopstix Kosher Chinese

Chopstix Kosher Chinese


I miss public water fountains on the West Coast… they are in every public space on the East Coast… and in the Museum of Natural History, they brag about the NY municipal tap water!

Most of our time here was spent hanging/eating with the various relatives, but we did manage a few days of exercise.

Sister-in-law took us to the Grounds for Sculpture for a 4-mile hike; if you are ever in Hamilton Township, NJ, you should definitely check it out.  It has 42 acres of beautiful landscaping with peacocks that roam freely among hundreds of statues in a variety of styles.

A statue from the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.... acres and acres of amazing sculptures in a gorgeous setting.

A statue from the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey…. acres and acres of amazing sculptures in a gorgeous setting.

On New Year’s Day, hubby and I took a lovely walk around Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island which is a real treasure of jogging/bike trails, horse paths and urban wildlife (Canada geese, herons, squirrels, etc.)

And yesterday, hubby, brother-in-law and I spent the day at the Natural History Museum.  We always love watching the planetarium show and walking around the permanent exhibits on minerals and meteorites.  In addition we went to the current exhibit on Poisons (fascinating!) and then spent time in the sultry, temperature-controlled Butterfly Exhibit… all of which added up to 4.5 miles door to door.

yellowButterfliesAnd then it snowed… it’s not a NY Christmas vacation without some snow.  But although flights were cancelled yesterday, so far my flight today is scheduled for an on-time departure.

I will miss my wonderful in-laws and all the culinary delights… but it will be good to get home, get back into my walking routine, eat a few more vegetables, and not have to wear 20 layers of clothing each time I leave the house… Current temperature on Staten Island is 16F… Current temperature in Lemon Grove is 67F…

The cats adjusted quickly to their new environment and have trained Grandma to give them lots of treats.  I will miss them, but know they are in good hands while we are on sabbatical.


Java feels right at home in Grandma’s house!

In just one hour I will start the trek to Newark Airport and my journey back West. Hard to believe 2 weeks went so fast!




Happy New Year! Welcome 2014!

Happy New Year 2014 replace 2013 concept on the sea beachWishing you a fantastic New Year filled with light and joy!

2013 was a great year and I am so grateful that you were a part of it! I didn’t accomplish all of my goals, but I also achieved many things that I didn’t anticipate in January.  In the end, the balance is tipped in favor of the positive. The goals that I didn’t accomplish will be re-evaluated and if valid, tweaked to make them more easy to reach.

I am looking forward to an exciting 2014. I am leaving my day job to go on sabbatical with my husband for 3 months — which means I am leaving my financial security blanket behind.  It also means leaving behind time constraints that prevented me from taking a few excellent gigs. And I am gaining time to focus on honing old skills and learning new ones — which will make me a better artist and blogger.

You can bet that I will share my adventures and discoveries with you!

So there they are:


1. Stop sweating the small stuff.
It doesn’t matter if the in-laws have a different feeding schedule for the cats or don’t scoop the box as often as I do; as long as they are fed and happy, I will be happy.  It doesn’t matter if the housing issue doesn’t resolve itself on my schedule; as long as I continue to look and make inquiries, we will find our good-enough sabbatical home. It doesn’t matter if I can only do 10 minutes of strength training, some is better than none and the results accumulate.

2. Take at least 3 continuing education courses outside of sabbatical this year.
I think one key to avoiding burnout is to keep learning new things. Last year I got over-busy and neglected to fill the pot with new ideas until I was good and exhausted.

3. Stay hydrated.
Water helps maintain a stable body temperature, remove wastes and lubricate joints. Hydration is essential for good health. But it’s really easy for me to forget drinking enough when I’m in the midst of working.  I tend to zone out and focus entirely on what I am drawing… and when the clients are back-to-back for hours on end, I am a very thirsty puppy when the line ends!  This year I aim to get a little timer to remind me during gigs to take a sip or two.  I always have a water bottle with me, but remembering to drink is another story.

4. Eat more vegetables.
Last year my goal was to eat more salads and when that didn’t happen, I was a failure.  This year, I don’t care how I get more vegetables into my diet, I’m just going to go for at least 4 servings a day (2 at lunch and 2 at dinner).  I allow myself to put them into smoothies, mix them in casseroles and stir-fries and sneak them in any way I can. They can be fresh, frozen, freeze-dried or cooked. I have a sweet tooth so eating fruit is no problem… and last year I discovered that I liked eating frozen cherries just as much I liked eating cherry ice cream, so I ditched the ice cream and just ate cherries — a positive outcome that wasn’t on my goal list…

5. Get consistent with strength training.
Last year I got consistent with walking.  And I tried to introduce strength training by going to a gym with a trainer… but as soon as the holidays and bad weather arrived, my best intentions dissolved.  This year I will get onto a regular strength training schedule early in the year so it becomes a habit — and I’ll work with a trainer as well to make sure I learn how to do the exercises properly.  The last thing I want is to injure myself by doing something with sloppy form… that fear of injury may have contributed to my reluctance  to practice on my own.  The other constraining thought in my head that stopped me was ALL or NOTHING… if I couldn’t do the entire routine, it wasn’t worth it.  But in reality, even 5 minutes is useful.

6. Walk at least 1 half marathon.
This one will be fairly easy since I have already registered for one in April.  I plan to train sensibly and continue walking long distances — which I discovered I really enjoyed last year.  A mix of real and virtual runs will keep me motivated to keep pushing.

7. Carry lotion in my purse and apply it after washing my hands.Last year I wanted to take care of my hands, but the goal was sufficiently vague that I ended up forgetting about it. By simplifying the goal to a concrete action, I think I will be more likely to follow through consistently.

8. Use clothing as sunscreen for times of long sun exposure.Last year I continued my good habit of daily sunscreen, but I could step things up a notch by making use of sun protective clothing — light long-sleeved shirts, jackets, hats, etc. This will be especially important while snorkelling because 1) it’s difficult to cover all exposed areas with sunscreen and 2) many sunscreens wash off in the water and harm the reef.

9. Be gentle with my skin.
I need to stop man-handling breakouts with benzoyl peroxide, over-cleansing and extractions.  Although I have experienced how treating my skin gently with hypo-allergenic products during times of irritation has calmed things down, my impulse is still to pile on the harsh products to beat the breakout into submission. This year will unlearn that habit and replace it with kinder, softer treatments.

10. Lose 25 more pounds.
I lost 25 lbs in 2013 (OK, I’ve gained back a few at this moment).  25 more will bring me to my goal weight of 140lbs.  I will continue using MyFitnessPal and my Fitbit One as motivators.  My diet and exercise routine have gone on vacation right now (I’m visiting in-laws and eating is what we do… pizza deliveries, eating out at least once a day with a different relative, and all the holiday feasting.  Having Tennessee praline pecans on the living room table doesn’t help, either…)… but the rest of the year will be healthier. More exercise, more vegetables, less fast food.  I am looking forward to being stronger, leaner, and more energetic than I was in my 40s… I know it can be done.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?  What are some of your goals for 2014?