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Archive for February 28, 2014

Friday Fitness: February Wrap-up


It has been a whole month since I weighed myself.  We don’t have a scale here.  And it feels both odd and liberating.  I just have to go by how things feel and fit.

And I can report that there seems to be little change. Which is a victory, considering how much  Kona coffee ice cream, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, kahlua pork plate lunches and coconut pudding I’ve been putting away.  I never eat that kind of stuff back home… but here it’s new and exciting and… irresistible…

Nommy plate lunch! This one has Chicken Katsu, mixed Asian veggies, rice, macaroni salad and kimchee!

Nommy plate lunch! This one has Chicken Katsu, mixed Asian veggies, rice, macaroni salad and kimchee!

So it’s good to know that despite an increased calorie intake, I am staying about the same size.  Everything still fits.

And the reason for that is increased amount of walking.  According to Bitbit, my fitbit ONE, last week I logged 40 miles. That’s just walking with hubby to his work each morning, going shopping, and running errands.  When you don’t have a car, it’s easy to rack up those walking miles!

And I’ve also started doing a simple upper body routine with an 8lb dumbbell and I hang (and then unhang) laundry 3 times per week.

And while I don’t feel stronger — I still get winded walking uphill to the house, I know that I am getting stronger. And that helps make the sore feet and shoulders worth it.


My Zombie Apocalypse Team

Last week I participated in a blog commentathon.  It was a lot of fun and I came across some very fun and clever writers.  A post by Melissa at Home on the Deranged about who she would choose for her Zombie Apocalypse team inspired me to create a team of my own.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter that I have never seen a zombie movie or TV show and have no real desire to — although I did see an ad for a movie about teen zombies that looked like it might have been fun. Zombies (or vampires, for that matter) just don’t catch my fancy.

It is especially difficult to imagine zombies in Hawaii… on the other hand, if zombies were to invade Hawaii, there would be no better place to survive.

On my team I’d want people with mad skilz… skills that would keep us all alive — but also make the adventure as fun as a survival flight could be.

1. Les Stroud of Survivorman.  He has the skills to make shelters, recognize potable water, harvest edible plants and trap prey. Although he is very focused on survival, I think he might have a better sense of humor than Bear Grylls, the other guy who could survive anything.

2. and 3. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters.  Not only have they tackled survival on a tropical island in a fantastic episode, they also conquered zombie myths. Plus, my husband would love spending hours discussing science with them. He’s a big fan.


4. Martha Stewart.  She would add flair and style.  She could help us fashion stylish clothes from pounded bark and ti leaves.  And I’m sure she’d think of uses for coconut shells that would delight and amaze.

5. Andrew Zimmern.  As the host of a show called, Bizarre Foods, Andrew travelled around the world trying strange and wonderful things.  If any man can make bugs palatable, it’s Andrew!

6. My hubby.  As an astronomer, he can read the sky.  He can tell which direction things are by the position of the stars (and also which of those stars have exo-planets).

7. Myself.  I’d be able to lug the team sunscreen and duct tape. I’d help Martha make kohl out of charcoal and beeswax — after all, we still need to keep up appearances even if the rest of civilization has been wiped out.  And I could use native dyes to create fierce tribal body art on our warriors.  If all else fails, my ukelele playing would terrify even a zombie!

Who would you choose for your zombie apocalypse team?


Cuckoo for Coconuts!

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

Surfer on a wave statue at Waikiki Beach celebrates surfing culture in Hawaii

There are a few things you cannot avoid in Hawaii.

1) The culture of the ocean — surfing, snorkelling, swimming, beaching

2) Palm trees and coconuts

I can’t go to the ocean every day… but I can enjoy the delights of coconuts!


Coconuts and coconut oil have gotten a bad rap over the years becoming stigmatized as the evil forces of saturated fats that will clog your arteries if you just look at them.

However, recently there has been a coconut revival and even Dr. Oz touts their health benefits!  It turns out that unrefined coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that actually helps you regulate your blood sugar and lose weight. Studies have shown that women who ingested about 2 tablespoons a day of coconut oil did not gain extra weight, but in fact, lost abdominal fat — the kind that is notoriously difficult to lose!

In addition, coconut oil is full of antioxidants which nourish the skin and hair when applied topically.

Coconut Oil for the Skin
I use coconut oil to soothe my dry cracked heels, as a shaving oil, and as a facial cleansing oil.  It leaves my skin super soft.  I have had no problems using it straight on my face — in fact, I think my face loves this stuff! I massage the oil in, use a hot washcloth to rinse it off and then I have clean and moisturized skin!  Add a dash of brown sugar to that coconut oil and you have a super gentle scrub.

Coconut Oil for the Hair
I was hesitant to put oil straight on my hair at first.  My hair is baby fine and gets greasy easily.  However, being in the sun as much as I am, I decided to give my frazzled locks a coconut conditioning treat.  I simply massaged raw coconut oil into my hair, let it sit while I caught up on email, then washed it out with my regular shampoo.  I used a tiny bit of conditioner on the ends, then let it air-dry as usual and voila!  Lovely, shiny, soft hair!  And no frizz!  It did relax my curl slightly, but the absence of frizz is worth wavy vs. curly hair! Now I use coconut oil as a deep conditioning treatment once a week.

Coconut Oil in my DietI have become convinced that getting more real fat in my diet is probably a good thing so I have started cooking with coconut oil and eating coconut butter (which is super-yummy!) instead of peanut butter.  It is too soon to tell what kind of effect this is having — and I don’t really expect to lose abdominal fat. But two weeks into the experiment, I feel good — energetic instead of sluggish and my skin is clear and glowing (probably also due to the Honeygirl Organics regimen I am following).

I decided that the Coconut Diet by Cherie and John Calboum was not for me.  It is a modified Atkins type diet that eliminates whole food groups. Of course you will lose weight if you restrict what you eat. But I have found that I end up craving those foods even more and when the diet is over, I binge on things like pizza… and that is not the balance I seek.

So, in the interest of balance, I eat whole grain breads, lots of local produce and fruits, meat, rice and use coconut oil for cooking. And then, for the other side of the spectrum, we eat out a few times a week — our local shopping center has Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hawaiian BBQ, Italian, Mexican and Pizza places! It’s not really a diet for losing weight… but I’m not too concerned about that right now since this is a time to try new things and enjoy our surroundings, including restaurants!

I still have yet to experience a fresh coconut… that is on the list!




Friday Fitness: Unintentional consequences

exercise-womanI have thought about getting up early and going for a walk… and then I turn over and go right back to sleep.

How my schedule has changed!  Back home I would wake up at 7:00am and go for an hour’s walk, then return home to make breakfast and get ready for the office.  I was lucky if I got in 4 miles a day.

Now that we live (albeit temporarily) in Honolulu, I get up around 8:00am, make breakfast, get dressed and then walk with the Hubby to his office — about a mile away.  I might head off to the shopping center for groceries or down to the University or to downtown.  All walking.  I average between 5 and 8 miles per day.

My daily commute...

My daily commute…

What a difference not having a car makes! I no longer have to make time for walks; I have to walk if I want to go anywhere.  I do have a bus pass, but you have to walk to and from the bus stops.

Today I decided I needed free weights for my upper body. I’m taking a tree-climbing workshop in a month and I will need to be able to pull my own weight — literally! However, I didn’t bargain on the extra workout I got carrying the weight (I’m so glad I decided to just get one!) home on two buses and a quarter mile walk uphill. I’ll be strong before I know it!

It’s made me think about all the time and labor saving devices that have simplified our lives and taken exercise out of the equation.  I am grateful to not have to take the laundry to the stream and beat it with a stick, but I am aware as I now hang our laundry how much exercise just hanging laundry is (although in San Diego, it is so dusty that you’d have to wash it again as soon as it dried!).  And carrying groceries for a mile home instead of 20 feet to the car is another change.  It takes 20 minutes to walk home instead of 5 minutes to drive, but the fitness benefits add up.

When we return home, I am going to make a more concerted effort to walk my errands instead of drive everywhere.  Fitting in fitness — in a functional way!


Wardrobe update… hits and misses

It’s been 2 weeks of living with the limited wardrobe I chose before we left.  Some things have been very useful, and some not so much…


I chose 7 t-shirts (six short-sleeved ones and one tank top).  They are all made from wicking polyester blends, except for the black tank-top which is just cotton.  Of all the wardrobe decisions, this has turned out to be wise.  I have used every one of these shirts and they dry quickly.  It turns out that without a clothes dryer and very humid conditions, quick-drying performance fabrics perform beautifully!


I brought 5 pairs of trousers… but one (the convertible quick-dry ones from REI) did not survive sitting on rocks at the beach… rips in the bum forced their early retirement… alas.  I also brought a long pair of khakis — worn once (and then shelved because their length made them get wet as I walked in the grass (few sidewalks) and a long pair of skinny black jeans.  I wore the jeans once, but they are just too tight to be comfortable in this heat and they take too long to dry after washing to be practical.  The workhorses of the team are the two khaki capri pants.  I wear them every day.  And I really miss the convertible pants so I will be searching for a sporting goods store to replace them: the quick-dry fabric and loose fit made them the perfect garment for hiking in the tropics.

CSJ_SkirtsThese are new acquisitions.  I found the green rayon skirt at the Salvation Army and made the blue one from a pair of curtains (yes, that’s ALL hand-stitched) that turned out to be too short for our windows.  I don’t normally wear skirts back home, but here they are long enough to help protect me from the sun, but have enough ventilation to keep me cool.

CSJ_SweaterThis long-sleeved swingy knit “sweater” is perfect back home, but in the heat and humidity here, it’s just taking up space in the closet right now.

CSJ_Dressy_jacketThis sheer long-sleeved jacket from BSL Fashions at the El Cajon Mall, is light and dresses up my black tank top.  We had one formal dinner with our University hosts.  And there might be another dressy occasion in the next month or so.  Since this baby packs so small and doesn’t wrinkle, I have no guilt about it being unworn in my closet.

CSJ_DressThis is a pretty skirt/ tank top combo that I wore on Valentine’s Day (which ended up being a romantic dinner in). I am going to have to make an effort to wear this more often.  The skirt is super-comfortable, but I find I want to save pretty things for special occasions.  The truth is, there will be very few special occasions here in Hawaii.  I just need to accept that it’s OK to wear pretty things just to the store or to a museum.

CSJ_ShoesShoes were my splurge.  And I’ve been using all of them.  We actually shipped (thank you USPS Flat Rate boxes!) the hiking boots (perfect for walking when it rains) and the flippers.  I switch out the sandals depending on my outfit and rotate the walking shoes.  Since I’m training for a half marathon in April, I decided that two pairs of walking shoes was a good thing; each pair has its strengths and weaknesses. I still have not decided which will be the pair I’ll use for the race.

In addition, I brought a swimsuit, a long-sleeved swim top, black swim tights, mask, snorkel, and a sarong.

All in all, there are only a few wardrobe misses. Fortunately, although we are on an island, we are not in the wilderness.  I can find a Ross Dress for Less or JC Penney’s for another pair of capri pants and a sporting goods store to replace the convertible pants before our next hiking adventure.

AND, next month I am going to take a sewing class at a local fabric store.  Kuni Island Fabrics is within a half hour walk and not only has gorgeous Hawaiian print fabrics, they also offer basic sewing classes and free sewing time on their machines. I foresee a pair or two of flowy trousers and maybe a sundress in my future…


Sunscreens… more to consider if you snorkel or swim in the ocean…

As a person of fair complexion (and Irish/Norwegian genetic heritage), I need to be careful in the sun. This is fairly easy to do on land. Slap on some sunscreen, wear a hat, and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Beautiful Hanauma Bay on Oahu, Hawaii.

Beautiful Hanauma Bay on Oahu, Hawaii.

Things get complicated, however, if you want to stay protected from the sun AND like to visit our ocean’s coral reefs. There is a growing concern about sunscreen ingredients washing off people and causing damage to already fragile reefs.

According to scientific studies cited by National Geographic and NatureNews, chemicals in popular sunscreens trigger viral infections in the symbiotic algae within the coral and when the algae die, so does the coral… leading to a phenomenon known as “coral bleaching.” Dead corals.

The chemicals that appear to cause coral bleaching are: Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) as well as Butylparaben, a preservative, caused the release of viral particles and bleached the coral. Other chemicals tested from the sunscreens had no effect.

Their study concludes that mineral sunscreens are safer protection for coral reefs.

Not so fast! There are also studies that conclude the zinc and titanium particles from mineral sunscreens cause a sunblocking sediment on corals that keeps the algae part of the coral from being able to photosynthesize effectively.

Corals in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Corals in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii — the corals that are closest to the surface take a real beating from millions of snorkelling tourists each year…

What’s a white girl that wants to go snorkelling to do?!

Clothing. Wear UV protective clothing.  It doesn’t wash off.  It protects you very thoroughly and it’s re-usable.

Aloha snorkelling!

Aloha snorkelling!

Admittedly, it’s not a very sexy look.  But, it’s reef-safe and sunsafe. I got my swim shirt and tights from Coolibar.  There are other places with excellent UV protective clothing as well.

And then I use mineral sunscreen (click here for a review of a few of my favorites…) for the few parts that aren’t covered by clothing and just hope that it all balances out in the end.

The world’s coral reefs are facing many challenges with changes in the ocean’s pH levels, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels from global climate change.  Pressures from sedimentary run-off, pollution, careless tourists, on-shore development, and careless fishing practices don’t help matters.

As a concerned citizen of the world who loves the beauty of the ocean and coral reef systems, I have to try to minimize my impact. And to encourage everyone I meet to at least think about the world’s reefs and do what they can to help protect them. Something as simple as lessening the amount of sunscreen chemicals and particles that a reef is exposed to could make a difference.

At a deeper level, the corals in Hanauma Bay are much healthier and part of an amazing ecosystem.

At a deeper water level, the corals in Hanauma Bay are much healthier and part of an amazing ecosystem.


Isn’t it romantic?

Happy Valentine’s Day!


The day that is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year never fails… to be unromantic, that is.

This year is MUCH better than last… which was spent at a conference at the  most decidedly anti-romantic conference dinner…

A bouquet of kittens instead of roses...

A bouquet of kittens instead of roses…

This year Hubby thought about romance and was all set to buy this lovely bouquet of kittens for me… but by the time we got settled into our sabbatical home and his presentation for the Institute was over, the kittens were sold out… But truly, it is the thought that counts and I’m thrilled that he actually remembered and tried.

Our original plan was to go out for dinner to a nice Korean restaurant near the Institute, but since it is so rainy and windy out, we will just stay home for dinner and maybe try doing something fun tomorrow.

And that is just how Valentine’s Day goes at Chez Junkie… but it’s only one day in a lifetime and I am so lucky to have found my soulmate and adventure partner.  He may not shower me with flowers or get dressed up for fancy dinners, but we laugh together everyday and in the end, that’s what really matters.

But I might just get dressed up for dinner in.  And who knows what a evening of watching the Olympics will lead to…


What’s on my bookshelf?

I have been exploring our neighborhood and discovered a public library branch right next to Hubby’s office!  I am a big fan of public libraries so I checked it out — and was pleasantly surprised that non-residents can get a 3-month library card for a nominal fee.  Wee haw!  So I checked out a stack of books (and then had Hubby help me get them home since it’s a mile walk from his office).

What I'm reading now...

What I’m reading now…

First on the stacks is a biography of Nahi’ena’ena, a special daughter of King Kamehameha. I have just skimmed the first chapter, but it looks like a very interesting read about cultural clashes and Hawaiian life.

Hawaiian Street Names by Rich Budnick and Duke Kalani Wise is a fascinating little gem that translates the Hawaiian meanings behind the street names. It’s fun to have on the bus so I learn that Ala Moana means Ocean Road (name of a boulevard and a shopping center on that road), and that Ke’eaumoku Street (where the Walmart is, among other shops) was named after High Chief Ke’eaumoku, a Maui Governor and father-in-law of King Kamehameha I.

The Coconut Diet by Cherie Calbom, is all about “the secret ingredient that helps you lose weight while you eat your favorite foods”… I love coconut, so I had to check it out… but I know my weight problem is due to eating too much of my favorite foods, not necessarily to whether or not I have enough coconut oil in my life.  But there might be a few interesting recipes and maybe an interesting factoid or two… a review will happen within a few weeks (which is when I need to return it.)

Driving and Discovering O’ahu : Honolulu & Waikiki by Richard Sullivan is a great resource.  It’s got tons of gorgeous photos and lots of useful tips.  This book is helping us plan our week-ends!  I may have to buy a copy…

Making an Impression by Geninne D. Zlatkis is charming how-to book on designing and making art stamps.  There a lots of project ideas.  I may not get around to making stamps, but I’m interested in her process and how she goes from inspiration to design.

Manoa: The Story of a Valley is a compilation of photographs and articles written by Manoa Valley residents. It is a fascinating look at this old Honolulu neighborhood and its many historic homes.  In fact, some of the homes mentioned in the book are right on our street!

It’s been hard to focus on reading lately.  I’ve been busy making curtains and organizing things — and in the evenings, we usually watch the Olympics.  But things are finally settling down and I hope to get some quality relaxation and reading in.

What’s on your current reading list?

Trying not to tan… in Hawaii…

Most people come to the tropics to lay out in the sun, get a fabulous tan and maybe see some sights.

I am not the tanning type.  I am of Irish-Norwegian descent (despite the Russian/Czech name) and as a fair-skinned redhead, I am at the top of the list for skin cancer susceptibility. I do brown somewhat… but I think that’s just a proliferation of freckles that make me look browner.

Since my both parents (and a sister-in-law) have dealt with pre-cancerous lesions and my mother-in-law’s best friend died from skin cancer complications, I now aim for the Australian policy of slip, slop, slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.

This is sometimes easier said than done. In practice, I hate wearing long sleeves when it’s hot because they make me feel hotter, and most hats mess up my hair.  I’m good about the sunscreen bit, though and even layer powder sunscreen over my cream to make sure everything is thoroughly covered.

But today, things might have changed.  I stopped by the Korean sundries shop, Woori Mart, on my way to the Walmart and found cooling sleeves.

Cooling arm sleeves

Cooling arm sleeves

These dorky-looking socks for your arms offer UV protection and LET the air in so you don’t sweat to death while you are covering up.  I had seen the mailman wear them, and after walking for 3 miles in the roasting sun, I decided I need something other than just sunscreen to protect my arms.  (I did actually wear a hat today — progress!) And having remembered seeing the display at the Woori Mart last week, I stopped in to get a pair.

Actually, I ended up getting 2 pairs since they feel fantastic!  And I wore them home.  Even in the hot, humid sun, they did not make me feel hotter the way long-sleeved shirts do.  I wish I could find shirts made from this material!  They’d be my shirt of choice for exercise!  But I will settle for arm sleeves.

Arm sleeve on one arm.  They are long enough to go from just below the shoulder to the wrist.

Arm sleeve on one arm. They are long enough to go from just below the shoulder to the wrist.

Honey do… Honey Girl!

We went to Kailua Beach on Saturday and it wasn’t really a swim in the ocean kind of day…

Overcast, windy and cool -- not the best day for the beach

Overcast, windy and cool — not the best day for the beach

So we headed into town to see what was there… and found a Whole Foods.  Whole Foods is one of those stores that is my nemesis.  I can never spend less than $100 there.  But, there we were and so we shopped.

I looked for local beauty products and found several.

Native Hawaiian products scored at Whole Foods

Native Hawaiian products scored at Whole Foods

I am usually a fairly minimal fragrance person and like things clean and green.  Pikake has become my scent of passion over the past week. It just makes my nose happy.

Our neighbor's pikake bush

Our neighbor’s pikake bush

Our neighbors have a pikake bush and they are as fragrant as they are elegant.  The shower gel by Hawaiian Bath and Body captures that scent without being overly sweet.  And the Bungalow Glow lotion (in Seaside Pikake) by Bubble Shack Hawaii also has gotten that fragrance just right.  The shower gel cleans without being drying and the lotion makes my skin super soft and silky with no stickiness.

5starsFive stars for both products.  They were not cheap — but nothing here is.  However, they smell fabulous and work very well.

The next find was Honey Girl Organics.

The sampler kit, the facial wash and a few extra freebies from the skin care associate at Whole Foods.

The sampler kit, the facial wash and a few extra freebies from the skin care associate at Whole Foods.

This was the only line of Hawaiian-made skin care they carried.  The sales associate said she liked the toner, but the creams were too rich for her 20-year old skin.  However, she said her mother back in Oregon couldn’t get enough of the Night Cream.

Mom likes it.  That’s good enough for me.  Sold!

My skin has been breaking out around my chin for the past month or so.  I thought it was due to the super dry conditions in San Diego.  But it has gotten worse since we moved to the super humid and hot weather in Hawaii. The shift  has been a challenge for both my skin and my husbands… both of us have had increased numbers of break-outs.

Enter Honey Girl Organics.

Concentrated skin nutrition made with: raw honey, beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly, blended with organic extra virgin olive oil and essential oils

CRUELTY FREE ABSOLUTELY NO: parabens, glycerin, fragrance, hormones, silicones, petroleum products, artificial preservatives, fillers, multisyllabic additives, unnatural additives

This line claims its products not only moisturize and condition the skin, but  that the honey, bee pollen and propolis are anti-inflammatory and help heal skin irritations and acne.

Their ingredients are simple: Hawaiian grown honey, beeswax, extra-virgin olive oil, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis.  You could practically eat their products.

I got the Facial Cleanser and the Skincare Kit (body cream, face and eye cream, lip balm) and two free samples from the Sales Associate: Night Cream and Extra Sensitive Night Cream.

I am not usually one who spends money on cleansers since they just need to clean your skin and are rinsed off too fast to do anything else. But the ingredient list intrigued me and it’s the early part of the trip so I still have some cash, so I got it.

Ingredients: Purified water, organic extra virgin olive oil, Beeswax with pollen & propolis, Raw Pupukea Honey, and essential oils. Hive ingredients are harvested from our holistically managed beehives.

You need to shake the bottle before using because the ingredients tend to separate.  Just one pump gives the perfect amount to massage all over the face.  Then you take a wet washcloth and wipe away the cleanser and all your make-up and dirt.  I tried it, and it worked!  I usually remove my make-up first with a cleansing cloth (love the Up & Up ones from Target), and then cleanse my skin — and given that I am now wearing a ton of waterproof sunscreen under my bb cream and sunscreen powder, that will not change.  But I did try the single cleanse with this product and it DID remove all my make-up and leave my skin feeling soft and fabulous.

The night cream (and the extra sensitive night cream) is a fairly thick golden cream. I can see how the young salesgirl with oily skin might shy away from it.

Ingredients: Organic extra virgin olive oil, purified water, Beeswax with pollen & propolis, Raw Pupukea Honey, Royal Jelly, rose oil, other essential oils.

During the day, I use the Face and Eye Cream which absorbs quickly.  It’s not as effective an eye cream as other products, but it works very well as a facial moisturizer.

Ingredients: Organic extra virgin olive oil, purified water, Beeswax with pollen & propolis, Raw Pupukea Honey, oil of rose, Royal Jelly, Vitamin E, other essential oils.

I was a little skeptical of slathering such thick products on my breakouts, but I tried it.  The next morning, the inflammation had gone down significantly and by the end of the next day, the pimples were gone.  After 3 days of using Honey Girl products, I am happily without any breakouts! And my skin is soft, moisturized and glowing.


The prices are comparable to other mid-range products such as The Face Shop or Vichy.  Not cheap, but not ridiculously expensive either.  I know that when my trial sizes run out, I am heading back to Whole Foods to find the full sizes!