6.14.2017

Current Crush: topless & barefoot, constellation, and hipsters

Crushes can be so fun! During the first part of them.

I mean they are are called "crushes" because they ultimately crush your soul.  At least the high school romantic varieties of crushes. I am SO GLAD that part of my life is over.  And as a romantic side note, I ended up marrying my college crush and am happy to report I have continued to have a crush on him for almost twenty years..... Holy CUSSword!  Almost Twenty Years.......
Torii and Elizabeth

Wow.

Okay, back to my current crushes that don't actually crush my soul and are not of the romantic variety.  I have three current crushes and they make me feel a little bit more giddy than might be normal.  I mean, these are just ordinary things that I have a little crush on.

First up:  topless & barefoot nail polish from Essie.  Described as a "barely there soft beige pink", I kind of love this nail polish color.  It just makes me happy when I paint my nails this color when it starts to get warmer.  It looks natural, or maybe I should say neutral, but a little polished.  I used to paint my nails all the time and have noticed that I am not so religious about it anymore.  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I do know that I always love it when I paint my nails this color!

hands hold mug
-----Essie Topless & Barefoot nail polish from laurens-list.com

Next crush:  Aquarius Constellation Ring.  I found this ring at a local store and kind of loved it.  Mine is silver with crystals as the stars, and it was a fun idea to wear my birth constellation as a ring.  I am not into "my sign" or horoscopes but this ring kind of charmed me and I smile when I look down and see I am wearing it.  I found some online at luulla.com if you are interested in having a constellation ring of your own!

constellation ring chart

Third crush:  Hipster Cocktail Radio on Pandora.  Pandora is a music streaming service that let's you create stations by songs, artist, or themes.  You can create a free account and thumbs up or thumbs down songs to curate your music stations.  Free accounts have a few commercials and paid accounts do not.  I stumbled across this music station in a store.  I was there with my sisters and we commented how good the music playlist was.  The girl working told us it was Hipster Cocktail Radio on Pandora and I have been hooked ever since.

So there you have my current crushes.  The everyday items that are making me a little more giddy about my day than I normally am.  And lucky for me, these crushes will probably turn into lasting relationships!

6.09.2017

A well placed accessory

This morning I wanted to wear my pajamas to work.

Figuratively.

I was tired and didn't want to get dressed.  It happens near the end of the spring semester.  The burn out / draining / do I have to go to work feeling.  I guess I should consider myself lucky that it doesn't happen more often.  I hear there are people that feel like this everyday they have to go to work......

So I pulled myself together and got ready for work and two things happened.

The first is that I put on a big black and white striped / geometric scarf that I got at H&M during the New Orleans trip and the second is that I wore jeans to work.

JEANS! What is happening to me?

The truth, my work fashion is evolving and I just realized it.

This blog is not a fashion blog but I do talk about what I wear sometimes.  Ironically my number one blog post is my Lucky Dozen Challenge blog post which is a post about a clothing challenge the Little Sister and I did some years ago.  It was when I was at my previous job and I had a lot of reasons to look very professional. During my nine years at that job I curated a specific look and had a lot of people tell me they were always inspired by my style.  You can see some of my other Lucky Dozen challenge photos on my Flickr account.

When I resigned, my new job was close enough to my house that I could ride my bike to work.  A lot of my old work outfits didn't work on the bike so I modified them and over the first year (which just ended) and realized my work look had evolved.

There are a number of reasons for this.  Riding my bike to work was one factor.  My job is different and not so "public" facing so I am not always on display.  A lot of my colleagues are casual (college professors) and the building where my office is has a mix of really nice dressed people (the president and vice presidents) all the way to the student workers. It is a fashion mix for sure.

My own style has been evolving over this past year and today I wore jeans for the first time to work.  They were new jeans.  Dark and boot cut.  Very flattering.  I got them a few weeks ago and love them.  Never underestimate a good pair of jeans.  This morning I just wanted to feel comfortable for work so I put on the dark jeans, a black sweater, and some cute flats.  I then added the geometric scarf and headed to work.

I was comfortable and looked put together.  A little French-ish actually.  My day was open so I didn't need to see anyone in a meeting.  I was walking across the lobby when a colleague saw me and said, "You look fabulous.  A well placed accessory is everything.".  And just like that, I realized my style had evolved.  And that I might even wear jeans again to work. And that scarves can take a boring outfit and change it into something special.  It is the power of a well placed accessory.... and a power i need to embrace more often.


6.07.2017

Hiking Parker Lake, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra, California

It’s been a number of years since I started visiting the Eastern Sierra.  Sometimes it feels like I am stuck in the movie Groundhog Day and living the same day over, and over, and over again (hello ski season during the last drought).  Other times I am overwhelmed with how much I haven’t seen.  

The week following Memorial Day, Russia / Costa Rica / Iceland Mo and I spent five days exploring the Mammoth area.  One one of those days we hiked to Parker Lake.

Parker Lake Trailhead sign

Parker Lake is on the June Lake Loop.  The dirt path leading to the trailhead is off of Grant Lake.  The June Lake Loop is a road you can take that goes around June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake.  If you started the loop at June Lake, the turn off for Parker Lake is at the end of Grant Lake right before you hit Highway 395.  If you want to skip the June Lake Loop, you can catch the end of it on Highway 395 and drive into the dirt road for the Parker Lake trailhead.


Parker Lake was not on my radar and the reason we hiked it was because enough snow had melted that the trail was accessible and in good shape.  A ranger at the welcome center in Mammoth recommended it and I was glad she did.  It was a record snowfall this year and I didn’t realize how many hikes were still snowed in until this trip.  Mammoth Mountain (the ski hill) has said it will stay open for skiing until August if that helps to paint a picture.  Devils Postpile is hoping to open mid-July but still reports over 20 feet on the road.  Bottom line, California had a great snow year and I wasn’t thinking about that when this “hiking” trip was planned.  Lucky for us, we had Parker Lake.

My very old (1969) The Mammoth Lakes Sierra (Genny Schumacher) states the hike to Parker lakes is an “Intermediate Hike, 2 miles”.  I guess that is true.  My heart did get pumping during the first part of the hike, but then I got into a rhythm and it was a nice hike.  The trail was easy to follow and well maintained.  The first part of the hike is exposed (no tree cover) but then you come to some aspen groves for shade at different parts of the hike.  Starting out you are above Parker Creek and eventually the trail finds the creek and you finish the hike walking next to it to Parker Lake.


Parker Lake is another beautiful lake in the Eastern Sierra.  I don’t think they will ever stop taking my breath away. The U-shaped glacier carved valley makes a spectacular backdrops to the melted snow lake.  


 We did this hike on Memorial Day and there were a lot of hikers and even about four tents at the lake.  The day was sunny but not hot.  When we stopped at the lake for a snack and break, it was a little chilly in the shade.  As of the writing of this, the Parker Lake trail is dog friendly!

The hike back had a beautiful view of Mono Lake in the background.  


After the hike Mo and I drove the June Lake Loop back to June Lake.  Mo didn’t remember doing it before and it is a beautiful drive.  The area is technically called the “June Lake Basin” and in addition to the four lakes accessible by car on the June Lake Loop, there are numerous other lakes (like Parker Lake) you can get to by hiking.  I have hiked to Fern Lake before and was excited to see so many other lakes to hike in this area.

We ended the day at the June Lake Brewery and Mo took this funny photo with our beer and one of my water bottles.  Stay hydrated up there!  With water, not beer…..

5.11.2017

Camping at South Carlsbad in the rain

Airstream on ocean cliff

Last weekend T and I had a chance to camp with friends at South Carlsbad State Beach.  This is one of my favorite beaches to camp at because you are on the cliffs above the ocean and the pelicans fly by almost at eye level.  I have seen dolphins surfing the waves at dawn on past trips and have even camped there for New Years once.
Birds in clouds

This camping trip was a new experience at South Carlsbad because a storm came in and the wind roughed up the ocean.  I was glad I brought jacket!  Our friends were expecting the storm and had really anchored down anything that might fly away.  They also brought a fire pit with a lid that could be moved around if needed.  We moved  it out of the wind as much as we could and used it to stay warm.
Camp fire pit

The rain started late Saturday night and it was nice to listen to from inside the airstream.  The next morning everything in camp was wet and muddy as we packed up, but I had a great time.

We live at the beach and have amazing weather 98% of the time.  Being able to camp on the ocean cliffs and watch a storm come over the sea was a great way to spend last weekend!
Ocean and cliff

4.16.2017

Happy Easter!

My Mom's side of the family has thing we do to honor my late Grandmother. Well, kind of honor her as we all found it kind of funny as she was religious and most of us were not.

My whole life, on Easter she would answer the phone, "He has risen" and the reply is, "He has risen indeed" (if you subscribe to that train of thought).

After she passed away the family started every year on Easter we have a crazy family group text to see who can say it first and who responds. It then turns into a full day text of well wishes, food pictures, and all around family bonding.

So it does honor my Grandmother as it brings family together and we all toast her memory.

I hope your day is filled with fun family interactions and special memories.

Happy Easter!

4.12.2017

Tech issues with the blog

Hi all,

I have not forgot you! Technology is great and always improving. Sometimes improvements cause speed bumps and I am stuck at one of those speed bumps. I am working on it!

Hope to have stuff (with photos) posted soon!

Fingers crossed.....
-elizabeth

3.22.2017

Costa Rica mistakes

First trip to Costa Rica, first time for a lot of mistakes.  This was an ongoing list as the trip progressed and after I got home and thought about what I would do differently next time I went to Costa Rica...

BRING RUNNING STUFF! 

How many times do I need to tell myself this?  I was doing so well and then I blew it for this trip.  I have been fighting getting a new pair of running shoes and then I was up early in a new place with nothing to run in.  Running in new places is one of my favorite things to do and I completely blew it.  Now I know I could go for a walk, and I might, and that kind of leads me to my second mistake……

Bring rain gear if you are going to a “RainForest”.

As I sat there looking at the rain I mean REAL rain gear.  Not the flimsy pocket jacket I brought that will probably be soaked once we start hiking or doing anything outdoors. We took the hotel shuttle from the airport for the THREE hour drive and that was not a mistake as the roads were muddy, had lots of potholes in places and it was POURING rain.  And there were not really street lights…… Our driver (Eduardo) said at one point, “Welcome to the rainforest” and I thought “I am going to get wet here”.  It was really raining and colder than I thought it would be.  I am not sure if I will also think I needed to bring warmer clothes.  That might be one of my mistakes too.

UPDATE:  The hotel had plastic rain ponchos and those saved many adventures in the rain forest.  We still got wet because a big storm came through when we were in the Arenal area as in trees blowing over and even the locals saying it was “mas agua” for that time of year.  I had my water resistant pants from Iceland and those were great for this trip. Eventually you get wet in a rainforest, but the plastic poncho was awesome!

Something that wasn’t a mistake, bringing a headlamp.  

I had joked with my sister that she had booked fancy hotels and we wouldn’t need headlamps.  Hmmmm.  Just kidding.  We arrived at our hotel and a tree had fallen on a power line during the rainstorm we were driving through.  They had a generator for the main lobby, but our rooms were dark.  Good thing we all had headlamps!  It really wasn’t that big of a deal but the hotel had free drinks for everyone and ended up buying our dinner.  It was unexpected and a nice gesture.  So headlamps, a good idea for Costa Rica.

Not bring (or having enough) Costa Rican currency or American dollars

This was another mistake I made. I exchanged some money before leaving and planned to use my ATM if I needed more cash but ended up not really finding an ATM or being near one when I needed.  A few times the ATMs looked questionable so I didn’t use them (as in wires coming out…).  Because of this I was low on cash during the trip and I don’t like having to budget for cash so carefully on trips.  Especially when some items are “cash only” and I am always counting how much money I have left in my head. Next time I will have more Costa Rican currency in hand early in the trip.

Staying at an “ALL Inclusive Resort” in Guanacaste after our zen / nature adventure in the Rainforest.

I wasn’t sure if I should include this as a mistake, but the All Inclusive Resort we stayed at in Guanacaste came as a bit of a culture shock to us after spending time in the Arenal Rainforest region.  The weather was AMAZING, but the drinking, gluttony, and loud party vibe was not our thing.  I feel a little “old” for saying this, but it was not my scene.  It also made me realize how great my first experience staying at an All Inclusive in Mexico was.  I was able to enjoy the “All Inclusive” stuff but also find some peace and quiet when needed.

Not a mistake, hiring a driver and not renting a car.

For our FIRST trip to Costa Rica I am glad we did not rent a car and instead hired drivers.  Especially in the Arenal - Rainforest region as I would not have wanted to drive there during the crazy storms we drove through.  I think we might rent a car the next time we go.  Maybe. Depends on where we are going.

Mistake, some clothing choices.

I mentioned the rain gear above and I don’t know if I should have brought warmer clothes or not as the temperature was right on the cusp.  I think maybe one long sleeved warmer thing would have been a good idea for the rainforest area.  For the Guanacaste beach area I should have packed cheap flip flops.  I had sandals with backs and they were not that great when it came to easy beach walking.  I also think I needed one more warm weather shirt.  I ended up buying one in Guanacaste to wear on the plane home.  Basically I needed to really “Lucky Dozen” my outfits for Costa Rica so I could have mixed and matched, but I didn’t.  Next time for sure.  And clothes I am comfortable in.  I brought some shorts that I just didn’t feel comfortable in and I am even remembering that months afterwards.

Not a mistake, bringing sunblock!

I read that sunblock was expensive in Costa Rica and it was.  About $30 for a bottle when I can get the same bottle for $10 in the US.  For this reason we brought sunblock to Costa Rica and USED the sunblock.  I mention the USED it section because there were A LOT of people in Guanacaste who did not use sunblock and were very sunburned.  Costa Rica is close to the equator and you could tell.  When we got to Guanacaste and saw all the lobster red sunburns we were glad we brought sunblock.

Some of these mistakes were really lesson for the next trip to Costa Rica.  Some of them were me being lazy and off my travel game.  I mean, I know better!  Hello running stuff and Lucky Dozen clothes that all mix and match.  The headlamp, I am happy to report that I always travel with one now because of this trip.  Just in case the power is out at a hotel again….

What is the saying?

If you are not learning you are not growing?

Well I learned some stuff on this trip!  I am ready for you next time Costa Rica!

Currently in Baltimore

In Baltimore for five days. It is cold, but beautiful.

3.12.2017

New Orleans, Mardi Gras, Food, and Touchdown Jesus

40. Kind of a big deal. Especially in our society and for a woman.

Birthday cake

Well, maybe for other women. I was excited to make it to 40. Much better than my other option and I really have enjoyed my life so far and expect to keep enjoying it. I wanted to make 40 memorable and decided to visit New Orleans for the first time.

Flying to NOLA!

The trip ended up being a “GirlsTrip” when T let me know he would rather go skiing. (Don’t worry, he stayed home on my actual birthday when I had a wine / birthday party). My sisters, a neighbor, a cousin, my oldest friend, and two former co-workers joined me for four nights and five days in New Orleans. It was a crazy trip.

Why?

Well it turns out that “Mardi Gras” starts on January 6th (Kings Day) and goes until Fat Tuesday at 11:59pm. Fat Tuesday this year was February 28th and we visited February 16-20th. What that meant for us was that we were in New Orleans and the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. There were tons of parades, lots of beads, and SO MANY people. Locals told us it is going to be much more crowded the next weekend, so that was lucky. Here is a link to the New Orleans parade schedule for 2017. There were 25 parades going on the weekend we were in New Orleans.

NOLA house

I rented a house in the French Quarter and it was two blocks from Bourbon Street. The house was AMAZING and we really enjoyed it. Mo of Costa Rica and Russia fame had a friend that lived in New Orleans and way before we began our trip we had lots of things we could do and places we could eat. I didn’t want to book too many things and tried to keep events to one a day and only one food commitment. There were two walking parades in the French Quarter during our stay and it turned out that our house was even on one of the routes!

We arrived on Thursday night and were lucky to find a restaurant that might be my favorite of the whole trip, Cafe Amelie in the French Quarter. We had a round table for eight on the courtyard patio under trees and cafe string lights. It was beautiful. Our waiter Michael was so charming and immediately New Orleans stole my heart.

Cafe Amelie, me and Michael
Cheers to 40!

I have to give a special shout out to the Gumbo at Cafe Amelie. For bookclub I had read Gumbo Tales and it was all about food in New Orleans. Each chapter was centered around a specific food or beverage and the first chapter was all about Gumbo. I might of taken it with a grain of salt when the author discussed all the different types of Gumbo. She went on to describe how everyone would say their “Mama made the best gumbo” and then have a backup gumbo place they would go if their Mama wasn’t cooking one. Sure enough Michael told us his Mama made the best gumbo, but his second favorite gumbo was at Cafe Amelie. We sampled it that first night and it was amazing. I tried a lot of gumbo on this trip and Cafe Amelie was my favorite hands down.

Each morning I would wake up about 6:30am and go for a walk. I sprained my foot a few weeks before the trip and had put running on hold, so walking it was. I am grateful for this time of the day in a city and especially in New Orleans. I walked to the Mississippi River and watched the fog melt away as the city was cleaned up from the night before. Everyone was kind and hospitable with lots of “Morning Mam” or “Morning”. New Orleans is filled with music and even as the sun was coming up a lone trombone player welcomed it.

Front side of Touchdown Jesus church
Early morning, empty streets
Cleaning up Bourbon Street
Morning fog on the Mississipi

Traveling with a group can have it’s problems, but our group seemed to do okay. The Friday of our trip those of us who had not been to New Orleans before took a food tour with Taste Bud Tours and those who had already been to New Orleans went to lunch. We met up at the Krewe of Cork Parade in the French Quarter and it was so fun!

Sisters and cousin
Food tour fun

I should mention that my New Orleans trip was rated PG-13. There was no nudity and I never saw someone flash for beads. I did see a lot of people drinking on the streets (legal in New Orleans) and Bourbon Street turned into a crazy drunk fest at night, but for the most part the worst was nothing more than I remember seeing at Frat Parties in college way back in the day. I mention this because Krewe of Cork was my first parade during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I LOVED IT. The parade was all about wine and it was just fun. The streets in the French Quarter are one way and small. They were closed to traffic during the parade and the sidewalks were lined with people. The members of the parade tossed a few beads, but most of our group had members of the Krewe come up and place them over our heads. The marching bands had us cheering and yelling and dancing along to the parade.

Krewe of Cork Parade

Later that night we learned that parades can shut down the city when it took our Uber driver over an hour to get to Atchafalaya. The driver was newer in the city and half of our group were in another Uber with a local who knew all the back ways to avoid the parades. They arrived half an hour before us. The convenience of Uber is awesome but driving in a car during parade times can be ridiculous. We did it the next night to have dinner at Commander’s Palace and ended up walking a few blocks before and after dinner. I declaired Sunday, “No Uber Sunday” and was happy to walk everywhere.

Atchafalaya private room party
All dressed up for Commander's Palace.

Even though I tried to keep our trip simple, the days seemed jammed packed. Here is what we had planned:

Thursday: Arrive. Uber to house. Walk the French Quarter and have dinner at Cafe Amelie.

Friday: Tastebuds Food Tour. Krewe of Cork Parade. Dinner at Atchafalaya.

Saturday:Garden District walking architecture and graveyard tour form Two Chicks Tour. Dinner Commander’s Palace

Sunday: Brunch at Mr. B’s with live jazz. Barkus Parade. Cafe Amelie for dinner again.

Monday: Leave New Orleans.

Additionally we visited the Flea Market where I got a fabulous ring that looks like a green jelly bean. It is almost the green of Mardi Gras and I love it. My cousin and I saw the Krewe of Femme Fatale parade because we wanted to see a float parade. I went to Frenchman’s street with my cousin and my neighbor and we saw a reggae band and then a funk band. One night a few of us went to Bourbon Street and the Cat’s Meow where my neighbor rocked Karaoke. We visited our local grocery store often and I was amazed that it was open so late at night. I love visiting grocery stores whenever I visit someplace new! Speaking of that, did you know the bars in New Orleans only close once a year for one hour? Yep, once a year. And our Tastebuds Food Tour guide told us it was so they could close the books for that year and then open next year’s books. The bars have a three month period where they all take turns closing for that one hour.

Jazz brunch at Mr. B's

The house I rented was perfect for this trip. It was beautiful and we enjoyed the time we spent there. The kitchen was awesome but we only “cooked” coffee. My two former co-workers got a King Cake and birthday cake from a local bakery that were delicious. It was a decant trip and coffee and cake might of been breakfast a few days…. I mentioned earlier the house was close to Bourbon Street and it was a great location. Far enough away from the noise, but close to everything. Our first night in town we were trying to figure out how to get home and the Little Sister said, “Turn your back on Jesus and walk home”. This is because there was a big church at the end of our street and a statue of Jesus with his arms raised. At night Jesus was lit up and his HUGE shadow covered the church wall. We just needed to find him, and then keep him at our back as we walked home. We learned the locals refer to him as “Touchdown Jesus” and that made me laugh so hard!

Touchdown Jesus!
King Cake

I was always full of food in New Orleans, even though I worked so hard to not over schedule any meals. I feel like the majority of places I ate were more upscale than I usually eat at. They were DELICIOUS, but next time I am going to look for more hole in the wall kind of places. NOLA is an amazing food city.

Hot pickled okra! AMAZING!
 
The SMALL cup of gelato....

I had such a good time in New Orleans and can’t wait to go back. Maybe T will go, or the same group of girls. Either way, New Orleans is going to be a city I visit often. Thanks to everyone there for such a warm welcome and continuous hospitality. Your city has captured my heart.