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    Tuesday, December 26, 2017

    The Calm Before the Lights - Woodland Park Zoo WIldLights

    One of my favorite parts of working at the zoo is the calmness before WildLights opens to the public. It is so interesting to see the lights sparkle and shine against the quiet night sky. Once the doors open the area gets flooded with the sounds of laughter, lovers murmuring cute nothings, little ones clamoring for cocoa or the fresh doughnuts or to make s'mores, and parents and grandparents directing poses and stops for photos. It gets loud. Of course, I am happy for that loudness - for the people enjoying themselves and for the zoo. I also like this secret moment- before the crowds gather, when it feels like the lights shine just for me.

    If you'd like to see a similar sight, come to WildLights and be there first before everyone else arrives. I'd suggest bringing an extra battery charger, comfy shoes, a thermos of your favorite winter beverage, and a friend.

    You can get your tickets HERE!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Corgi Walk 2017

Had a lovely time at the Meetup.com Christmas corgiwalk around Greenlake! Over 100 cute pups in colorful holiday outfits brought smiles to all as we paraded around the path. Pics to share below: 

Group picture!

Leader of the pack!

Part of the pack - surrounded on all sides by sweater-dogs. Pye wouldn't like a sweater so I made her, and myself, matching scarves (and bun covers for me!) so we could be festive but not uncomfortable. 

This is Pye, another cardigan corgi, and an Australian cattle dog/corgi mix. 

Pyewacket meets some playful little elves

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Winter color

Lately the sky has been getting dark so fast!
To give myself a little perk up I went to one of my favorite winter hang-outs: Swanson's Nursery!
I love hanging out is the giant greenhouse/café and watching the friendly koi fish swim to greet little visitors to this local garden shop. The koi fish always come over to say hello.

My favorite thing is to grab something warm to drink and just walk around admiring all the colors winter has to offer - cyclamens, cabbage, neon green shrubs, winter pansies - just because it is winter it doesn't have to be all grey and dreary!



Sunday, November 12, 2017

33 Things

Happy birthday to me!!

I recently turned 33 and, inspired by posts like this and this, I decided to build my own list of 33 things. I had a lovely birthday exploring San Francisco - staying at an Air BnB with chickens outside the city and stuffing my face with delicious waffles, cannoli, and crunchy fries in between long walks to burn off all those carbs.

1. Enjoy today, you aren't guaranteed a tomorrow.
The world doesn't owe you anything and that bus is always just around the corner. Have fun today, laugh, spread some joy, make sure that if today is your last day - you did the best you could. No regrets.

2. Wealth doesn't guarantee happiness.
Being poor, you can still be happy. Being rich doesn't grant you happiness automatically. Having your basic needs met, health, a positive outlook, and something you are passionate about goes a long way to creating happiness.

3. The 3rd-world isn't far away. It is never, ever, far away.
There are always people suffering, without opportunity, without hope, in pain. Most of the time the general populace operates with a veil of willful ignorance, but it isn't hard to lift that veil. Challenge yourself to lift that veil occasionally, do something good for the people on the other side.

4. Beware desperation.
It is easy to fell into desperation if / when you do lift that veil. Desperation robs us of power. A desperate person is driven to do things they are ashamed of, a desperate situation shuts all routes of escape. Don't succumb to desperation. Recognize it, fight it, face it and let it go, but never let it rule you.

5. Learn to recognize and walk away from high-pressure or negging sales techniques.
We've all been there. The stereotypical high-pressure salesman of the used car lot seems obvious, but what about the college loan officer, the insurance agent, the health-plan navigator, your doctor, or that guy at the party who just wants your number? There's an adage about how to a surgeon even a papercut requires stiches...beware the motives of others, especially when they stand to gain financially from your situation.

6. Try new foods.
Try them. Even the wierd ones!

7. Tech is not almighty.
Working in tech isn't for everyone, and that's a good thing!

8. Wear sunscreen.
This recommendation is in almost every "things I wish I knew list," so, if you are reading this - listen!

9. Yoga.
If you don't use it you lose it. Watch the cultural appropriation - but stretching is generally good for you; as is taking some time for yourself, time to calm down, time to chillax. So, grab a space, clear your mind, touch your toes.

10. Go to the green.
Spend some time with nature if you can. Even if you are in the city - get a window box, grow some herbs on your windowsill inside. Low light? Try an orchid or violet.  Go to a park, stare up at a tree, get your hands dirty!

11. Water.
Drink it, conserve it, respect it - it won't last much longer.

12. Free public bathrooms.
Access to a bathroom is a privilege not a right...even though it probably should be. If you ever doubt this, try watching a homeless person get access to a coffee shop restroom. Watch the face they get, the "customer only speech," the rejection. Know where your free public bathrooms are. I base the friendliness of a place partially upon access to a clean, free, public bathroom.

13. An honest smile is the key to communication.
It will get you more from life than a scowl, and it buys grace when you don't know the language!

14. Don't hold onto clothes you'll "wear again someday."
Love yourself the way you are. Unless you are going through a dramatic a rapid body change - baby, surgery, cancer, etc - let the clothes of the past belong to the past.

15. You look fine.
You look better than you think you do and in 50 years when you look back at pictures of yourself, you'll want to see the real you - not some airbrushed, scrunched, and filtered version of a half-memory of you. Own yourself.

16. Don't read the comments.
It never ends well.

17. Figure out a travel kit and learn to become a traveler.
I keep a little travel kit, always good to go, and it saves me tons of time sorting out little bottles and finding that other pair of nail trimmers. Figure out what essentials work for you and build a little back-up kit.

18. Clean plain nails are fine.
I used to keep my nails painted all the time. For a while I felt pretty proud of the rainbow of nail polish I kept and I was obsessive about getting a chip in my manicure. But, it is a frivolity for me and healthy plain nails are perfectly fine...and much less maintenance! Now I save that time (and space) for things I enjoy more like sleep, baking, or playing cards with a friend.

19. Not everything has to be online.
Have an offline life. Life is not the internet and the internet isn't life.

20. Everyone has the right to die.
We tend to shy away from death in this country, and sometimes that causes us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. I'm talking about the man with the end stages of liver cancer, the one where treatment isn't an option, alone with no family, who is in extreme pain with no end.

I believe quality hospice care should be available for all, not just the rich. No one should have to blow out their brains, beg a friend, or craft a cocktail. If we have the right to quality healthcare(which I hope we do!), we also need to consider the right to a quality death.

21. Don't be afraid to stand for what you believe in, but don't be an ass about it either.
Simple enough.

22. Take good care of your teeth and gums.
You only get one adult set - so floss!

23. Soup.
Soup really is good for most things that make you ill. Chicken, barley, pho, doesn't matter - just get a cup of soup and things will be a little brighter tomorrow!

24. Be kind.
Simple enough.

25. Train your dogs.
If you have a dog, take responsibility for it - that means picking up poop, making sure it is fed and watered, providing it an education, watching out for physical and emotional needs. Dogs are super fun, but they are also a huge responsibility!

26. Read.
Grab a book once in a while. Grab a book more often if you can. Audiobooks are also a wonderful option!

27. Don't waste your time.
I often hear folks saying that they'd like to do more with their day but that there just isn't enough time to get it all done...but then they watch TV for 3 hours. If you need 3 hours of TV to chill, okay, but you can do some ironing while binge-watching?

28.  Life is what we make it.
Catastrophes happen. Laughter also happens. At the same time you are crying, somewhere in the world someone else is dancing, laughing, trying a new recipe, getting married, going on vacation, or finding their passion. We can focus on the sadness, or we can focus on the joy. Our lives are made or lost by that determination.

29. A good cup of tea is a little luxury.
Coffee might be your choice, or wine, or a beer - in any case, set yourself up to enjoy it!
Like all things - moderation is key.

30. Save your money.
Seriously, save as much as you can. Be smart with what you have, invest, experiment, get yourself something nice - but also save. Always be saving for that rainy day, for that house, for that retirement, for that medical bill.

31. Living a closeted life sucks. If you can, get out.
Some folks can't come out and that's more about our failure as a culture than theirs. They might fear losing their job, housing, physical safety, family relations, whatever - any reason to stay in the closet is a valid one, and I'm not going to judge that - but living in the closet is a tough life. If you can, get out.

32. The stuff you own really does own you.
It is a tired adage, but really honestly true.
Washing, drying, folding, ironing, cleaning, polishing, dusting, sweeping, painting, trimming - these are all activities we do for our things instead of for ourselves. See #27 and make decisions about what things are worth that time.

33. Always be improving.
We are all human and so we live in the space between being absolutely perfect in every way and eternally flawed. In any given moment we are exactly where we need to be, exactly the right size, right shape, right time, right everything. But - there's always little things we could do to make it better. That's not a negative thing - seeking to improve is not saying that we are horrible or bad, just little things that we can do next time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Holy Knee-Brace Batman!

Happy birthday to the best Batman ever - Adam West!

Nobody beats Adam West as Batman and as today is his birthday, he gets fist dibs on this blog post. SO - thank you Adam West for being an awesome batman!

I also adored Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. Oh, and T and I get into way too long conversations about which is the better Joker - Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson. Jack is seriously creepy, but Cesar is a great camper and works really well in the context of the show...see how this can go on?

Well, as much as I'd love to, there's no Batusi dance for me today. I already twisted my knee and so those Batman knee-bends are out of reach for me for the next few weeks at least.

You'll never guess how I twisted my knee - okay maybe you will:

Option A: Lifting a dog out of the car.
Option B: Digging in the garden.
Option C: Playing round in a giant bounce house.

If you guessed Option C, well, then there's nothing more to say. Your snickering is heard loud and clear.

It happened exactly as you might expect. I saw the advertisement for the bounce house and thought to myself, "why aren't there more options for adults to play around in bouncy houses? When was the last time I was in a bounce house? Oh my! I MUST GO!" I gathered some brave souls to go with and we all took off our shoes and pretended we were 10 again.

The bounce house was huge. This is the world's biggest bounce house! It advertises itself as 10,000 square feet of bouncey air-filled fun. There is a live DJ at the center playing music, beach balls, a ball pit, inflated slides and obstacle courses, lounge areas, and a giant pink gorilla...because why not have a giant pink gorilla?

Our tickets were for the 60 minute adult session. That might not seem like a lot of time. I know when I bought the tickets that I was a little let down that we only had 60 minutes, but after the first 10 minutes of non-stop jumping...I understood why. Jumping is a work-out! I tried the obstacle courses, fell into the ball pit, tried my hardest to get on top of the giant balls in the giant ball pit, and merrily hopped to the beat the DJ laid down.

I made it a full 58 minutes.

When minute 58 came I was preparing to wallop a friend who was coming down a slide with a beach ball. I had my right leg out and my arm raised with the ball. He rolled at the end of the slide...slamming into my knee. I heard an epic 'pop' and grinding sound in my ears as I fell to the floor.

The next couple of minutes are a little blurry, but I was carried out by a lovely Scotsman, ice was brought, and some water and Tylenol came my way. My friends brought me to urgent care and we spent the evening talking about how cool my new prosthetic leg would look, discussing our hiking plans, and laughing through the pain.

I can tell  you - that shot they give you in the butt - that HURTS!

I'm happy to report that my ACL is not completely torn! I was on crutches for a bit, but I'm improving every day. This week I stopped using crutches and so now I'm just on the knee brace. I'm also doing some self-imposed physical therapy with yoga and swimming on top of RICE.

With any luck, perhaps I'll be doing the Batusi for Adam's next birthday!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tattoo ReDo

This is a seriously great before and after:

Short story -
I drew the design and brought it to the artist my husband used.
The guy seemed friendly and it was a small thing so he said it wouldn't be an issue.
I specifically asked him not to use black - I wanted it pale and subtle.
He agreed.
I got the tattoo.
He used black..."to make it pop" and couldn't figure out why I was so upset.
I felt really disrespected, hurt, and haven't had a tattoo since.
I have always hated and tried to hide it.

Then, on a particularly nice day when I was walking somewhere new, I happened to notice a small tattoo studio Ink and Paint on Stone way. I emailed the owner and operator, Nina, and shared my story and inquiry on if she did cover-ups and asked her opinion on what might be done. She immediately put me at ease with her calm, professional, but caring demeanor. Her shop felt really comfortable - a mix of eclectic cartoon cells, dinosaurs, and current projects but everything still clean and organized. It felt like the shop of a working artist.

We came up with some ideas and since I really like camellias I did a few drawings and she did one and we tried but couldn't make it work. The star shape, single color, and tight proportions weren't working out.

I started to look for star-shaped flowers figuring that if we couldn't easily hide the lines it might be better to accentuate them instead.

Some possible options were: fuchsia, bittersweet nightshade, morning glories, and lilies.

Bittersweet nightshade was my favorite.

I like it because it grows in the East coast where I grew up and it grows on the West coast where I live now. I like it because it is a very pretty flower, but also one that isn't as showy - it isn't a lily shouting out front and center, but its flowers and berries are bright little stars against a green backdrop. I like it because although it is small and pretty, it is also strong. Bittersweet nightshade can make a person ill if they aren't careful. If you don't treat it with respect it'll get the better of you - that's a sentiment I much prefer (literally) over the one where a man made decisions for my body without my consent.

Nina was great, loved the images I sent her, and worked up a second drawing that aligned much better with the existing ink. The colors were also much more flexible - shades of purple and green that could blend into the stars as opposed to a flat red that would have been for the camellias.

It took about a month to find time in Nina's schedule - which was perfectly fine, I wasn't in a rush.

On my actual tattoo date we went through the placement, she double checked the colors, and it went fairly smoothly. Getting a tattoo on the space behind your ear is painful and LOUD and I didn't want to talk or move my jaw in any way for fear of warping the skin behind my ear. So I passed the time staring at Nina's dinosaurs and still-cells from different animations.

After the tattoo was complete she went through the normal post-tattoo review for care and gave me a sample of Aquaphor and a card with aftercare review. It has been healing lovely and during a bike ride with D we even stumbled across some bittersweet nightshade growing wild along the Burke Gilman bike trail.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

  Lucky-Bunny: The revival!

Oh my gosh! It has been forever since I posted anything related to riding Lucky-Bunny.
This shall not stand!

Okay, well, I still love riding her but, with all the other things going on in the house and life, I took most of the winter off. I’m not a super confident highway rider. Every time I pass a weaving semi-truck or a Prius driver more concerned with their cellphone than the road I get a little shiver down my back knowing that these folks could easily kill me. Since the majority of my commute was high-traffic and high-speed – I’d get a lot of those little shivers and eventually feel pretty uncomfortable riding to and from work. Nearly every day I pass a car accident…granted there are a lot of drivers on the road so there is bound to be a higher percentage of accidents and statistically I’m just one of a million riders on I-5…but statistics can be made to say anything and statistically I ride at the most dangerous times of day (to/from work) and statistically I’m more likely to be injured in an accident than the driver of a car or truck would be, and statistically I’m lucky – that counts for good and bad luck.

So, over the winter, Lucky Bunny stayed in the garage and kept company with D’s bikes, the vacuum, and the canned goods.

In the spring I wanted to get the bike professionally looked over, again, safety first, before really going out for any long rides. My job, and therefore my commute, changed, so I did a couple runs in my car to check different paths of commute and decided on one that didn’t have any highway travel. I like twisty roads, little jumps, passing by pretty gardens, passing places that smell delicious and going along paths that have a great view – I don’t like going 80 MPH trying to dodge cars who merge into me without looking.

Happily, I can now take the scenic route!

Lucky Bunny and I are out riding a lot more and just having fun.

I’ve also been adding more stickers to the bottom half of my topcase. Unlike the bike itself, the topcase doesn’t have to be limited to MLP or Sailor Moon related stickers. I have really liked the staying power and bold colors of Enfu.

They have held up really well! I ran into their booth at Sakuracon and my only issue was making decisions on which stickers to buy! I decided on these two…so now, if you are driving around Seattle and see a motorbike decorated in waffle-fish or glitter sprinkle cupcakes…you know who is riding! J

Friday, June 23, 2017

Experiments in Vegetarianism

Funny story -
I was chatting with a partner about changes and challenges and I issued an experimental edict: he'd go vegetarian for one week, a work week, 5 days. Just 5 days. Easy.
A billion text messages later, a late night munchies shopping spree, and 2 weeks of massive transition and I'm a vegetarian while my partner is pretty much a carnivore.

My experimental edict where I got to dictate the diet of someone else became deciding the diet of myself!

Being a person who doesn't like to ask others to do things she herself won't do - When I asked my partner to adopt a vegetarian diet I also adopted the same diet so I could relate 1:1 in what he was going through. During this time I was also engaged in a giant project/conference with my job, transitioning to another job, had just finished hosting company, and had been doing some major driving time.

The first day or two was fairly confusing - trying to be supportive of another person while also trying to navigate my fridge, evaluate regular go-to food choices, and reflect on my overall health was pretty disorienting.

How much meat had I actually been eating? Where were meat and animal products sneaking in to my diet? I had always considered myself a fairly "light" meat eater...until I took a look at my diet over the whole day. Turns out I had actually been consuming a LOT of meat - chicken breast and banana for breakfast, egg and avocado toast for lunch, BLTs for dinner - I certainly wasn't shy of fruits and veg, but for some reason meat was a feature in almost every meal.

By day three I had spent more time in conversation about diet than I had during college nutrition class. It was obviously not going well for my partner, but, in an odd twist, I was feeling better, less groggy, and generally upbeat about the whole thing. I liked the way I was feeling. The biggest difference between us - It had been prescribed to him, I ascribed it to myself.

Even for me, there were some tough moments - Late night munchies where I called my husband and had a talk about what 'good' bad decisions might be, chicken parm at a company dinner, and a day where I didn't eat breakfast that almost put me in a meat-only greasy spoon - but these challenges were overcome. Late night munchies were fixed by the sushi aisle of the QFC featuring vegetarian avocado rolls and some peppered tofurky. I survived the chicken parm situation by actually looking at the chicken...really looking at it and seeing the flesh on the plate. It reminded me of the Butcher in Diablo III...eww. And the greasy spoon moment was resolved by enough will-power to go home and make myself a lunch and the resolution to make sure I prep breakfast the night before from now on.

Easy moments abound - swapping chicken for tofu in my pad see ew, grabbing an apple from the counter, making delicious faux chicken patties loaded with guac, tomato, and lettuce. I am blessed with the privilege of prior experience and experimentation when it comes to vegetarianism. I'm also gifted with a local fruit and vegetable stall where I can buy "seconds" - perfectly good fruits and vegetables at really cheap prices. These things have supported me during the transition to a plant-based diet and I'd suggest to other folks interesting in attempting this change to learn from my experience to find the things that can support them.

Tips from someone who has been there:

Stop trying to "replace" the meat. 
This sounds really simple - but ohmygosh felt like the most liberating idea. Once I gave myself permission to stop trying to replace the meat in a dish I became free to make a variety of vegetables the focus. I didn't need to buy a faux roast to make the main dish with a side of veggies...I could make the veggies the main feature!

I remember the first time I tried being a vegetarian and buying a bunch of frozen Boca burgers...After a while they got really boring. Instead of spending my time comparing my faux-meat product to a real juicy burger I should have been rocking roasted peppers, tossing brussel sprouts in orange glaze, and finding ways to make veggies, not meat substitutes, the stars of the show.

Reframe limitations as strengths. 
Saying you "can't eat meat" carries a different connotation than saying you "prefer eating veggies." The overall result may be the same but the feeling is very different. One is a restriction - telling yourself you can't do something even if you want to, the other is choosing to elevate the aspects of yourself you like the best. Similar to the difference between saying you'll never run a mile or saying you are working towards running a whole mile. One shuts you down, the other builds you up.

Folks who shut themselves or others down tend to be on the negative side of things and that negativity can turn toxic if we let it. We don't need to do that to others, we don't need to do that to ourselves. When you come at something thinking of it as a limitation it can lead to feelings of anxiety or dread...and you shouldn't dread your diet. So, try giving positivity a larger role -
I can't do this  | I can't do this yet
I don't eat X | I prefer to eat A, B, C...

Support yourself and get support from others.
You should always advocate for yourself. Not to be selfish or to put your needs above others, but to make sure that the decisions you make aren't being made for you by others whose interests may not be in line with yours. There's a reason candy is put in the check-out lanes of stores...and it isn't because candy is a necessary food item they don't want you to forget. Candy companies want their items in the check-out lane - right in your face - as you wait in line and get agitated they stand a greater chance of getting you to purchase yourself a "treat."

Support yourself as much as possible - in whatever way is most rewarding to you. Get community support either online or in person for accountability, education, and affirmation. You might have to seek this type of support out - It may not be easy to find right away - but if you can read this blog on the internet - chances are you have a pretty good support network right at your fingertips. There are documentaries on Netflix about vegetarianism and veganism. There are videos of all sorts on Youtube. Post Punk Kitchen is a favorite resource of mine for recipe mining.

Experiment and cut yourself some slack. 
Maybe veganism is right for you. Maybe ovo-lacto-vegetarianism is more your style. Maybe you really freakin' like bacon and you can go vegan on all other things but bacon...do whatever you need to do - as long as you are moving in a positive direction. Cut yourself some slack - if replacing a fast food burger with one Morningstar burger is a massive change for you - that's friggin' awesome :-) Maybe being more educated means switching from the supermarket meat aisle to the family farm a few blocks down where the chickens roam free in the backyard. That's really cool.

In the end, a diet is whatever you eat. Taking control of your diet means making decisions for yourself - thoughtful decisions - about what you put in your body. If you have the privilege to make decisions about what you eat, why not make decisions that are well thought out? Experiment and cut yourself some slack if the experiment doesn't work out the way you thought it would. Alter your perimeters, try again, challenge yourself, and make fully informed decisions.


For Recipes:
Post Punk Kitchen
The Veganomicon

Meat Industry
Agriculture and Consumer Protection Dept (UN) Slaughter Guidelines
American Meat Science Association
Factory Farming - New York Times
Industrial Livestock Production - Grace Communications
10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Factory Farming
Temple Grandin - TED Talk
Holistic Livestock Management
Why Eating Meat is Ethical - Editorial
Is Hunting More Ethical Than Factory Farming? - Vegan Blog
Environmental Racism

Balanced Nutrition
Vegetarian Diet: How to get the Best Nutrition - Mayo Clinic
Omnivore - Wiki

Vegan / Vegetarian Support Group
Seattle Vegan Meetup Group
The Vegetarian Society

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Beach Please!

Three of My Favorite Maui Beaches
#3 Mile Marker 14 / Olowalu
There are plenty of shade trees to sling your hammock under at this beach. This is a wonderful boon to pale-folk such as myself. I snorkeled until my sunscreen alarm went off and then sat out under the shade trees to reapply.

It is very easy to get to. Right along the side of the road. Look for the mile marker sign and at mile 14 stop and park. Orient yourself to the sign! Straight across from it is the sand bar that will take you out so you don't get stuck!

One of the drawbacks to such shallow water is that it is possibly, very easily possible, to get stuck out there. Be careful snorkeling between the corals as the current may push you into them. Don't touch the corals!
The big channel is straight out from the mile marker, so when you first get to the beach, look back to check your location and then look out at the water itself and notice the different colors to see where the light path is. Stay on the light path as you go out. It should feel pretty straight.

The coral there is fairly brown and some is bleached out - but there are Convict Tang and Butterfly Fish out there. I also spotted some Moorish Idols and Bird Wrasse.

If you do plan to check out this beach - know that there are only porta-johns for facilities so plan accordingly. I'd also suggest bringing extra bottled water to rinse off with and leaving your sandals on - the trees have LARGE thorns. Most of the ones on the lower branches seem stripped off, but new ones from the top branches fall naturally and you wouldn't want one in your foot!

#2 Ulua Bay - This small beach has lots of people, full facilities with bathrooms, showers, and benches. If you are a person with special needs or if you have little children would be a great beach to check out. Parking if you aren't a resort visitor can be somewhat difficult to find as the public lot is very small and fills up fast. There is also less shade at this beach so go earlier in the morning to get a good spot and remember to wear your sandals as the thorn trees drop needles into the soft sand in the limited shady areas.

There are lots of little fish close to the shore at this beach. It felt like a fish nursery of sorts. Even just walking in and standing still in the water I could see little baby fish schooling about my knees. It was so much fun! I found Moorish Idols, Spotted Boxfish, and Yellow Trumpetfish in the clear water. There were also some Humu's (Reef Triggerfish) and baby Butterfly fish swimming about in the reef.

As for snorkeling - there really is only one large section of reef at this beach so be prepared to share the space with lots of other folks unless you go there in the morning. There were scuba teams starting up when I was visiting so occasionally something large and black would be swimming beneath me and out of the corner of my eye. Fairly frightening the first couple of times but I got used to it with so many of them around. That said, the coral shelf is beautiful and more vibrant than the one at Mile Marker 14.

#1 Honolua Bay - Chickens!! OMG chickens! I'm a big fan of chickens and Honolua Bay has plenty of these feathered friends.

Check the surf report before you go as this is an either / or beach. If the surf is too high the visibility is too low and the surfers claim the beach for the waves. Great for surfers, not so great if you wanted to snorkel.

This is also a harder beach to find but once you do you are rewarded with a lush rainforest path leading from the pull-out along the road down a vine-covered trail to a rocky coast. No sand here. No facilities except a questionable porta-john. Perhaps those reasons are why it was one of the least populated beaches we visited.

We came back to this beach again and again. Sturdy sandals, lots of extra water and snacks, and reed mats made it a more comfortable location. I loved listening to the roosters crow and watching the hens scratch the ground so all the little chicks could run in and peck the freshly uncovered earth. Cheep cheep! So cute!

The current was fairly strong and again, no sand, so getting smashed against the rocks in the shallows or pulled out from the bay if you go too far can be a potential hazard. This is not what I'd call a beginner-friendly beach like Ulua. Strong swimmers and experienced divers or snorkelers would do better out here. I suggest swimming out a bit as fast as you can to avoid the rocks and then putting on fins and a mask while treading water.

Right along the coast can be very murky but, once you get out into the depths, it tends to clear up quite a bit. The reef is beautiful with lovely colors and lots of fish. I spotted a huge baitball of tiny silver sardine-sized fish (not actually sure what type of fish they were) and it was amazing to watch them in person. I'd seen bait balls on tv, but seeing one in person is an entirely different experience. It was disorienting and mesmerizing and completely wonderful and very frightening all at the same time.

I spotted Racoon Butterfly fish, Ornate Butterfly fish, Bluespine Unicorn fish, Reef Trigger fish, Yellow Trumpet fish, bright little Christmas Wrasse, and huge and rainbow-colored male Redlip Parrotfish. There was also a beautiful spotted Moray Eel longer than I am tall free-swimming along the reef while being pestered by some other fish who it had apparently disturbed in some way. It ducked into a crack in the reef and coiled its body into the little cave to avoid the fish. Once they had left, it brought its head back out from the cave and stayed there for quite some time - mouth just slightly open, needle-like teeth smiling, as its head waved side-to-side with the current.

There were also some more aggressive fish in the bay. I'm not sure what type they were - flat, silver, oval-shaped fish about the size of two computer screens or a medium-sized dog. They repeatedly swam up and got uncomfortably close to me, spooking me behind my back or swimming up right behind my head to look me right in the eye. I suspect possible fish feeding...please don't feed the fish!

Also - Never Stand on a Reef! While out snorkeling one day a man from one of the tour boats decided it would be a good photo opportunity to stand on the reef. This was not acceptable and several people shouted at the man to get off the reef which, hopefully, embarrassed him and he'll never do it again - but it was still an injury to the reef. Standing on, touching, or purposely breaking off bits of reef for souvenirs hurts the reef and kills coral colonies. They are already stressed out enough -
please look, but don't touch.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Snorkeling Olowalu

I've been doing some snorkeling at Olowalu beach right at mile post 14 on the west side of Maui. The water is shallow, I mean scratch yourself against coral shallow, but there are lots of little fish nurseries and a large variety of creatures to find if you look around. The first time I went there were waves and I got a little nervous about getting trapped in the shallow coral. After getting scratched on my hand I decided to head for the sand and just watch the fish from the beach for a bit. 

Coral is not something you ever want to touch. First - it is bad for the coral. Second - it is razor sharp. You'll be cut to ribbons before you even notice. Third - coral is made of a bunch of tiny living things, things you don't want in an open wound. By the time bits of broken coral make it to the shore they have been polished near smooth, but living coral? Don't touch!

I went out again to mile 14 on a calmer day and the snorkeling was much better. There were so many fish! Still, I was wary of getting too close to any coral and preferred to stay in the deeper waters on the edges of the coral rather than trying to float above the large tables of reef. 

Pictures below!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Make-up Bag

Heading out to Maui soon and so excited!

Today I got news that whales are passing by near the place I’ll be staying at. Very exciting! I hope that they’ll stay in the neighborhood just for a few more days so I get to see them in person. In the meantime, I’m packing up, wrapping up, and getting ready to go!
Last post I said I’d share my beach-friendly makeup bag with you, so let’s take a look!

I plan to spend most of my time in or on the water so I’ll be wearing reef-safe sunscreen and a snorkel mask most of the day. That doesn’t mean I’ve completely resigned myself to frizzy hair photos and sunburn. These are my go-to items for taming the frizz, detangling tresses, and managing my mane : Organix’s Moroccan Argan hair oil, Bed Head’s After Party smoothing and frizz control serum, and Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion texture spray. If I’m going to be tough to my hair – like hanging out in the surf and sand all day, I like to add extra hair oil to my tips and ends at night and then wrap my hair loosely in a top-knot to let the oil soak in overnight.  

I made my own hair ties with an old pair of tights (instructable HERE) so I have plenty of hair ties that won’t break or snag my hair. I’ll also use some mini claw clips, but I’m skipping the hairpins. It is vacation.

For face, my very pale and freckle-prone face, I use Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense tinted sunscreen. It is SPF 50 but feels fairly light and dries matte not greasy. It costs a bit more, but I wore it in Mexico and managed to avoid a sunburn or the freckles that would otherwise show up all across my nose and cheeks. The tint is a little dark for me – but I just use less and blend in well and it works. If you have medium toned skin it would be perfect.

I also love and have been a long-time user of Benefit’s They’re Real mascara. I use the mini set since mascara shouldn’t be kept for more than 3 months anyways. Price per oz is generally higher for these mini items, but if I bought larger sizes I’d have to make a higher initial investment and still end up throwing out a majority of the product. With the mini I do indeed pay slightly more per oz, but still much less than a full-sized product. I also use more of it – so less wasted. And, lastly but most importantly, I’m not tempted to keep it around longer in a misguided attempt to use all the product (must not waste it!) while putting myself at greater risk of eye infection.

For lips – I’ve been grooving on TonyMoly’s lip tint in Red. It stains the skin and so stays on all day and won’t smudge or weep. It will bleed if fresh and put on too thick, so I usually do just a drop in the center of my lower lip and then blend out with my pinkie. It is super quick, goes on under some SPF chapstick and stays on all day in the water or out. The only issue I have is sometimes I use my pinkie finger to blend and then the tip of my pinkie is red all day :-/ Tradeoffs.

That’s pretty much it! I have a solid perfume from Lush and a night crème to help my skin heal from any stray sun exposure – but I’m keeping my bag light for this trip. Maui isn't someplace where I can't get a bar of soap or facewash so I don't see the point of packing 2 week supplies of lotion soap or toner. The items I'm bringing with me are just the ones I do have a little trouble finding, that are easy to transport, and that I wouldn't be as happy without.

What are your must-have items for travel beauty?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Adventures in Maui : Preflight

I'll be heading off to Maui for the first time ever in just a few days!

Of course, I never bring checked luggage, even for a 2 week trip, so my capsule wardrobe must be able to adapt to just about any situation. There will be water activities - swimming, sailing, snorkeling; casual activities - hiking, biking, walking; and formal activities - luau, dinners out, family excursions. My bag has to hold clothing for all of it.

So - without much ado, my 2 weeks in Hawaii capsule wardrobe!


My dress is wrinkle-resistant and flowy, but it is a thin fabric that packs down into a large sandwich bag and from there I can squeeze all the air out of it.

I'm bringing 4 swimsuits. More than I expect to really need, but the one that it like a t-shirt is really good for snorkeling without getting a burn and I can wear it as a sport tank as well. I also hate getting into a wet swimsuit - so if anything this is my space splurge. I also like having different types of tops and bottoms to help balance out the sun burn I'm fully expecting to receive.

Tanks - 'cause layering. I like to get the same basic type and then just have it in different colors. It makes packing easy because all the clothes fold to exactly the same shape and size.

A sport tee for hiking and higher elevations and a sweater for the same things. I'm also always cold on airplanes so I'll probably wear the sweater on the plane and save the storage space.

Two skirts (skorts actually) and a pair of shorts and a pair of leggings. I love skorts because...well, they are cute shorts really. I'll also be wearing the leggings with the shorts on top for the flight so they won't be actually in my carry-on either.

Sanuk sandals and my Skechers for walking around.

Panache sports bra - best sports bra I've ever found. Seriously.

Travel cosmetic bag (I'll do another "inside my bag" post just for that) and credit card / IDs.

Skivves. I've been really enjoying Adore Me lately.

Basic jewelry - keeping in the same color range as the rest of my clothes and nothing too expensive. I made the mistake of wearing a beautiful set of earrings in the ocean once...once. :-(

Sunglasses - two pairs. I'd hate to lose one, but just in case, I bring a back up. They are prescription from Zenni.

Lesportsac bag for travel. I always use this bag for travel. Found it at the thrift shop and I love it to pieces. It won't blend in like a black purse would so I'm less likely to leave it. It can do cross body or over the shoulder with a wide adjustable strap. It has plenty of pocket space without being too big and all the pockets are zippers so I can secure things a little better.

That should cover just about everything  - dress for more formal events and I can add the sweater if the wind picks up. Sweater, shorts, and leggings for the sunrise hike and I can remove layers as the day goes on. Skorts and tanks for hiking. Shorts and t-shirt for bike riding and off-road adventures.

To breeze through security I always skip wearing jewelry on flight days. I wear slip-on shoes with socks, stretchy clothes without zippers or buttons, an empty water bottle that I fill up after security and then drink religiously to stay hydrated and I organize my purse, carry-on, and cosmetic bag for easy inspection.

Do you have any advice on going to Maui? Any favorite spots to share or tips for dealing with the flight?

Happy travels!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Seattle Snowpocalypse!

Oh my stars - There's snow in Seattle!
In winter I dress like Paddington Bear
Streets are closed. Businesses are closed. Schools are closed.
Roads are impassable.
No one owns a shovel.
There's no road salt.
There's screaming in the streets...well, there's kids in the streets and they're shouting as they throw snowballs at each other...but you can sense the panic :-)

I waited until near the end of the Superbowl to head out to the grocery store, not because of the snow - just to get my weekly supplies! The snow was just an added bonus as everyone had already raided the store and it was open and easy to shop. I'm not sure where you are, but 6pm on Sunday night the grocery stores here are usually packed! Thanks to the Superbowl and the snow - I was in and out in 15 minutes.

By the time I got home it was coming down pretty heavily and had started to stick. I set my regular Monday alarm, just in case, but woke up to a wonderful white winterland I've never seen in Seattle before. A true New England-style winter holiday.

I checked the news and sure-enough everything was shut down for the day. No school, no work, no nothing.

So, for the first time in a long while, I had a snow day.

I got back in bed and napped.
I made a really real breakfast with eggs and toast and tea.
I watched cartoons.
I read.
I reorganized the pantry, dusted the wall art, and cleaned the tub.
I worked with Pye on Roll Over and cuddled with Fams.
I went for a walk with Pye and threw snowballs for her.
I made a snow angel. If you haven't made a snow angel in a while, this is super fun!
I took Pye to the indoor dog park and threw a ball and practiced tricks with her.
I had company and made a dinner to share, and breakfast, and cookies...I did some serious baking!

Thank you snow day, you were a lovely day.

Big snowball!




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year - Year of the Rooster

Happy Year of the Rooster everyone!

I celebrated the new year with a visit to the International District for their holiday festival. The area was full of food, people-watching, dancers, and fireworks. The streets were covered with red firework wrappers and my ears are still ringing from all the explosions!

While the lines were long, there was entertainment provided by dueling dragon dancers, children running all about, and the general chaos that is large crowds.

We got focused in on all the delicious food options around us. Many of the local restaurants offer a special $3 promotion meal where you can pick up a small snack and sample the foods that the particular restaurant specializes in.

While the guys dug into some crawfish tacos and rice bowls, I spied all the cake, crème puff, and other desserts available in the International District. We wandered from one place to another, skipping some if the lines were too long and working out divide-and-conquer plans for other shorter lined venues. It helped (and hindered) that the map of the food venues itself was off in a couple sections. The restaurants that had been mislabeled on the map had shorter lines. They had lovely food though!

I wore my yukata and cashmere scarf from Japan. I don't wear the yukata very often so it was a special fashion day as well! I enjoy wearing it though, and kimono in general, so perhaps I'll try to find more events and occasions where kimono would be appropriate.

Yukata are the casual cotton kimono for warmer weather. They are exceptionally comfy. Well, they are limiting on how big of a step you can take, but I don't have a large stride so it isn't so bad. Being cotton, they also wrinkle like a madhouse, so there's ironing to do - but they allow for a lot of airflow and are super absorbent and easy to wash. They also fold easily into perfect little rectangles so storage in the tiny-house isn't an issue.

After all the walking everyone needed a little nap! The guys and I spent the rest of the day on Sunday chores - house cleaning, a trip to the dump, grocery shopping for the week, and prepping meals.
General Sunday Stuff.

As a side note: The scooter decided it no longer wanted to start. So, once the dump trip was over, the guys picked up the scooter and put it in the back of the truck to bring it home so we can look at repairing it. Maybe a sparkplug issue?

Hopefully the Year of the Rooster brings good luck to us all and the scooter issue will get resolved before the cocks crow!

May the 5th, 7th, and 8th day of every month be sunny and joyful.

May the brown earth bloom in gold and yellow flowers to brighten your day.

May the scent of gladiolas float along on the southeast breeze.

Happy new year!